If we’re disciplined with concealed carry and are able to, we carry our guns 90% of the time or more. Most will go their entire life without needing to use it. What am I getting at? We spend much more time carrying our CCW than using it. This is why comfort plays such a large role in concealed carry. Some have more or less tolerance to handgun size and weight, but everyone wants to be comfortable.
If you can comfortably carry a full-size or compact handgun all day, every day, that’s great. However, for the average carrier, this is too cumbersome. I always believe it’s better to have a small gun on you than a big gun left at home.
I am not an action hero, and I don’t play one on TV… yet! After getting my LTC, all I had was a Glock 19. I made due and carried it every day for about two years. As with everything, after a while, you get used to it, but there will always be times where the gun is uncomfortable.
I knew I needed something with a smaller footprint. Thickness and weight were my main concerns. I began to test some of the popular subcompacts, micro 9s, carry .380s, and snub nose revolvers to see what would work best for me. Additionally, carrying on the waistband, though made easier by a smaller pistol, was still causing some discomfort. That is when I turned to pocket carry.
As I mentioned, size is your main consideration when selecting a firearm. The pistol will not only need to fit in your pocket, it will need to do so discreetly, without obviously bulging and printing. This will need to be done with a proper holster, which can add bulk depending on the material and construction.
Do you want a semi-auto or a revolver? What caliber are you comfortable with? These are a couple things you should consider. There are tons of great pocket carry guns, but we’ll take a look at some of the most popular options.
It seems every firearm company nowadays is making a micro 9. Most run accurately and reliably, it’ll be up to you to decide which one fits your hand or you shoot best. The SIG P365, Springfield Hellcat, S&W Shield Plus, Canik METE MC9, Taurus GX4, Glock 43, Ruger Max-9, and many others are great. However, these are right on the line of pocket carry. Depending on the size of your pockets, they may or may not fit without printing, if at all.
For something smaller, there are plenty of great .380s and even some smaller 9mm options. The Ruger LCP Max, Glock 42, Diamondback DB9, Kahr CM9, and Beretta Tomcat (.32 ACP) are incredibly small and easy to carry. This is a safe zone for carry handgun size that I believe would work for most everyone.
Revolvers have a different silhouette and therefore tend to conceal a bit better in the pocket than semi-autos. Smith & Wesson J-Frames are the gold standard, but there are other great snub nose revolvers. Most of your snub nose revolvers will be chambered in .38 Special or .357 Magnum, but you will also see .327 Fed Mag, 9mm, and .22s.
If you find yourself only able to carry the smallest of firearms, there are some tiny options that will disappear in almost any pocket. These will typically be chambered in .22 LR or .22 WMR. The Standard Manufacturing Switch Gun, Trailblazer LifeCard, and NAA Mini Revolver are worthy contenders. Although some consider these novelty guns, they have some self-defense merit.
A good holster is essential for safe carry because it will cover the trigger and prevent a negligent discharge. Sticky Holsters makes a simple and inexpensive option constructed of a thick nylon fabric with a rubbery “sticky” outer texture to keep the holster in the pocket during the draw. These “universal fit” holsters are available for different size handguns, but offer very little retention. As you use the holster, it will begin to mold to your gun and provide more security, but it will never be as snug as a true fitted holster.
There are leather and Kydex options that will offer more security over the trigger guard. Kydex tends to be thinner and more durable. I stay away from leather as it tends to add bulk and make my leg sweat. The trick is making sure the design allows you to retrieve the pistol from your pocket without taking the holster with it. The gun does you no good if it’s stuck in the holster. Most pocket holsters will feature a sort of wing that will hook into the edge of your pocket to catch the holster as you draw the pistol.
One good minimalist option is a trigger guard cover with string. This is a Kydex guard that snaps over your trigger guard to cover the trigger and nothing else. It is secured to the belt with a loop of cord and then tucked into the waistband or pocket. The cord attaches the holster to the belt so that it is peeled away during the draw stroke. This will add the least amount of bulk to your setup, but is not as secure.
At this point, you’ve probably already decided on whether or not pocket carry is for you. It likely comes down to your propensity for danger, or at least perceived propensity for danger.
As convenient as pocket carry is, you should also consider your skill level. Don’t carry a gun you can’t use safely and effectively, it may be taken from you, or you may cause injury to innocent bystanders.
Be realistic, most people won’t carry a full-size Glock 17 with a Streamlight TLR-1, Trijicon RMR, and 33-round mag. I am exaggerating for effect, but you get my point. If we try, we will burn out and give up. Some will likely stop carrying altogether. Give yourself a break and try out pocket carry.