Pocket pistols are often the butt of jokes all around the gun world. It’s easy to see why that’s so: tiny, underpowered, low capacity and generally lacking in the attributes that you want in a proper fighting handgun.
Even when you can excuse their lack of firepower, you’ll often see them derided as guns for little old ladies. Pocket pistols are easy targets for mockery today.
And yet, they have certainly been around forever, as a class. Pocket pistols, or mouse guns, for all the jokes aimed their way, have undeniable advantages. Namely they are so small there is almost no situation they cannot be carried with total concealment and comfortably.
The appeal of simply dropping a real, live gun into your pocket whatever you are wearing and heading out, versus strapping on gun belt, holster, mag pouch, etc. is undeniable for some.
Say what you want about these pint-sized pistols, but I’d rather have a little Beretta Bobcat at hand than a Callahan Mega-Magnum at home in the dresser when a mugger decides I’m his next payday. Even so, carry of these little pistols relies on special holsters and special techniques and preparation that do not necessarily perfectly cross over from traditional carry of larger guns.
Learning the perks and quirks of these little guns is essential to be able to run them at a level where you can depend on them.
In today’s article, we’ll be offering you a selection of the best pocket carry holsters to let you get these mighty mice into action with speed and safety.
Table of Contents
What is a Pocket Pistol?
Pocket pistol describes a class of semi-auto handgun that is capable of fitting into an average pocket easily. Ok, I can hear you wiseguys mouthing off from here. It bears further explanation because not every gun capable of fitting into a pocket is a pocket pistol.
Huh? Consider a large pocket on a parka. I could drop a fullsize handgun into one of those no problem, and carry it ready to draw there. Is a Glock 17 or Sig P320 a pocket pistol? Of course not.
Aside from their small size, pocket pistols are further defined by their caliber, typical any of the smallest centerfire and rimfire cartridges. Exemplars in this category are the .380 ACP, .32 ACP, .25 ACP, and .22 LR.
Some argue the .380 is not a proper pocket pistol cartridge, but the number of tiny pocket pistols currently on the market defies their exclamations to the contrary.
Small revolvers, or snubbies, are sometimes lumped into this category, but as a rule stay in their own class, though their mission has much overlap with pocket pistols. Similarly derringers are sometimes thrown into the pocket pistol class also, but derringers are also uniquely terrible and you should never carry one.
Any pocket pistol must of course be small enough to fit in a pocket as mentioned, and specifically a front pants pocket like you would expect to fins on a pair of slacks or khakis.
With a form factor this tiny, pocket pistols can be carried almost anywhere, but are typically best employed from the front pocket so long as they are set up correctly.
Quintessential examples of pocket pistols, old and new, include the Beretta Bobcat and Jetfire, North American Arms Guardian, Ruger LCP and LCP II, Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless and Kel-Tec P32 and P3AT.
Importance of a Pocket Holster
By far the biggest mistake I see made with carry of pocket pistols (except complete lack of practice with them) is that they are not carried in a pocket holster, merely dumped unceremoniously in a pocket to toss to and fro as they please. There is a lot wrong with this methodology. In a word, everything.
The only way you can ensure anything approximating a clean draw from the pocket with a pocket pistol is by use of a dedicated pocket holster.
A pocket holster does several important things for us. First, it holds the gun upright in the pocket, presenting the grip so that we may acquire the gun correctly as with a larger pistol carried on the belt.
Second, the average pocket holster is usually shaped in such a way that it will help the gun print “wallet” or “phone” in the pocket, not the distinctive ‘L’ or oblong shape of a pistol, and further is also designed to remain firmly in the pocket when drawing the pistol.
The Best Pocket Holsters
The following holsters are some of the best currently available. Some are new, others have been around a while, but all represent the best in breed for pocket pistols.
Blue Force Gear ULTRAcomp
The thinnest pocket holster on the market. A high performance pocket holster made with hybrid materials that are far more durable than the average everyday nylon often used for pocket holsters, and has baked-in moisture repelling properties.
Offering model-specific fits, this holster is easily recognized by the large, stiff “fin” that helps anchor the gun in the pocket and also reduce printing.
This is one holster that complements a pocket gun perfectly.
DeSantis’ Nemesis holster is an excellent option when you have a pocket that is a little more generously cut, or you have a very small pocket gun. The Nemesis is characterized by an extremely grippy rubber-like exterior that positively grabs the interior of the pocket to anchor the holster and the gun it carries.
The interior is slick pack cloth for a clean, snag-free draw. Between the two layers, a thin sandwich of foam increased comfort and decisively busts up the outline of the pistol.
If you can afford its slight increase in bulk, its comfort and concealment is almost unmatched. Get it here.
Galco Pocket Protector
Taking their working philosophy for no-frills, hard-use leather and applying it to the smallest of their holsters, the Pocket Protector has a punny name, but is more than deserving of Galco’s reputation for kick-ass gunleather.
The Pocket Protector is made from sturdy steerhide, and features a reinforced mouth with an internal steel band, just like their larger holsters. A sharply hooked tab and rough-out texture keep this holster where you place it.
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If you just have to have leather for your pocket holster Galco’s is a no-brainer.
Blade-Tech Pocket Bug
Blade-Tech’s Pocket Bug is one of the very, very few hybrid holsters that will ever get a passing grade from me. Relying on modern materials married to a traditional design, the Pocket Bug is made from leather, but has a layer of plastic integrated on the outer side to ensure that wear and use will not lead to the pistol printing.
Innovative and made well, the Pocket Bug is a fine choice for those who like leather but want the performance of a hard material to prevent printing.
Gould & Goodrich Wallet Holster
The last pocket holster on this list is a special-purpose holster for an already special purpose class of gun. The G&G Wallet Holster features a large, sewn on rigid panel on the outer side.
This perfectly rectangular outline mimics perfectly the silhouette of a, yep, wallet, no question. This configuration does hamper what is already a fussy draw, but for a certain class of person the benefits in concealability are worth it. This holster also works equally well in a back pocket.
Before we wrap this up, check out this YouTube for more pocket holsters:
Pocket guns have been around for ages, and despite the modern, hard-charging gunslingers’ claims to the contrary, these little, convenient, easily hidden guns are going to be around for an age more.
By taking the time to master their unique use and carry requirements, you too can find comfort knowing that wherever you go, you can have one of these little pistols with you.
Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.