If you have a Ruger LCP or another small pistol and are looking into pocket carry, then this guide is for you. We will answer many of the questions you have about pocket carry and give you a list of the best pocket carry holsters that we recommend.
There are times that strapping a pistol to your belt is just not the best option. Rarely is it any better to carry on your ankle; access can be a real issue.
Occasionally, it's better to have a pistol that you can stick in your pocket and go. But there are some details you should probably consider before you shove your favorite compact in your cargo pants.
What is Pocket Carry
To give a firmer definition, we are really talking about the pocket pistol. Something that can be carried in a pants pocket. Some coats could accommodate a full-sized pistol, but that is an exception to the rule, let’s keep it simple.
Pocket carry is any time you choose to forgo your IWB or OWB holster and place a pistol in the pocket. Sometimes there are drawbacks to pocket carry, but it is a great option to have. With the proper setup, you can make pocket carry work for you. Better to go armed inconveniently than unarmed.
Why Pocket Carry
There are many reasons to pocket carry, as well as reasons NOT to pocket carry. Here we will look at both.
Sometimes our job, lifestyle, location, or another factor prevents us from conveniently carrying in another location.
If you are in and out of a location that does not permit firearms, you may have to remove your firearm frequently. If it is strapped to your belt, this can be a pain and we all know when carry becomes difficult, it's easy to stop carrying.
A good example of a time most people go unarmed is when working out. Your gym shorts aren’t going to have a belt and you need that belt to support your rig. Having a small, lightweight pocket gun is a perfect workaround. Runners take note!
The real pro is that it is very easy and convenient. If you are making a quick run to the supermarket, you can simply arm yourself with a small pocket pistol. I doubt there are any real statistics, but it is well known that for quick trips, most people don’t want to bother with carrying their usual carry gun. It's just too big and too much work when you are just going to be out for a few minutes.
Is pocket carry a perfect setup? Not by any means. There are definite cons as well. One of which is we will have to carry a smaller pistol and that means less accuracy, ammo capacity, and smaller calibers.
Your draw stroke will also change dramatically and become much slower. Done incorrectly, it can pose a risk of discharging your firearm in your pocket. It takes a lot more practice to nail down and the pants you wear will greatly affect how you draw.
The worst con, you can’t or at least shouldn’t attempt to draw from your pocket while sitting. When it is possible, getting a strong grip on your pistol is near impossible. The rim of your pocket can snag any exposed part of the frame. It's nearly impossible.
Pocket carry has been used for as long as small pistols have existed. Mobsters, gunfighters, and all those others that have relied on their pistols for survival often carried a small backup in their pocket. There has to be something to it.Pocket carry solves those problems as long as you are willing to accept the negatives and learn to do it right!
How to Pocket Carry Successfully
All positions of carry require a few things. Proper gear, technique, and practice. We need to break all of these down and learn to do it right. When you do it right, you do it safely and that should be your first criteria.
There is a lot that could be said about gear selection. You could cover articles on pistols, holsters, and spare ammo. To keep it brief, we will give gear its own section down below. Once you know the technique, you can practice with your personal setup. For now, we need to isolate the technique.
- Don’t carry a pistol without a holster. This is rule number one and the rule you need to nail into your brain. Even a small revolver is not safe when carried in your holster with nothing covering the trigger.
- Keep your carry pocket free of any other items. You need your pistol pocket to be just for your pistol. Don't carry it with your keys, knives, wallets, and cellphones. All of those are just clutter in the way of your draw at best. At best, they can make drawing your pistol difficult. At worst, they can snag your pistol on the draw and cause a discharge.
- Don’t attempt to re-holster your pistol while the holster is in your pocket. Take the holster out, place the pistol in the holster, then replace the whole rig in the pocket. You may need to get your pistol out quickly, but you have the time for a cautious and safe re-holster.
Even though pocket carry is a minimalist approach, don’t neglect extra ammo. A spare mag or speed strip in your offhand pocket is a must. With the size of most pocket gun magazines, they usually won’t take up much room. This also means you should minimize clutter in that pocket as much as possible.
Practice pocket carry. Just as you should be practicing your draw with your IWB/OWB carry gun, make sure you practice your pocket carry.
Also, just as with your IWB/OWB gun, make sure you do it SAFELY. I recommend getting professional training on pocket carry either when you take a regular self defense shooting class, or sign up for a one-on-one class and let the instructor know you want to work on pocket carry.
If you want a quick overview on what to practice, there is a great article on the Perfect Pocket Draw from Personal Defense World.
Pocket Carry Gear
We need to start off with some pistols. There are too many options to cover every possible pistol you could carry easily in a pants pocket. Generalization should work well enough. You know what you feel comfortable carrying.
With automatics, you can easily carry anything like the Shield, G43, Ruger LCP, and so many others. The .380 was always a popular choice, but the size of 9mm pistols has decreased to a point where .380 seems a little obsolete. There are even a couple of small .40 cal pistols that will work well.
Revolvers have been a preferred pocket gun, but they have special considerations. 38 is a popular caliber, but there are some fine 9mm and .45 ACP pistols that make great (if expensive) pocket guns. Most important is the size and weight. Generally anything that is the size range of a J-Frame revolver is good. You can opt for ultralight if you want, but it is hardly a deal breaker.
A popular option among many in the past generations was a .22. This could be a revolver or automatic. While there is a strong downside to such a small caliber, it's better than nothing. These pistols are often very light and small, making them a decent choice. A better option may be something like the S&W 351 which gives you 7 shots of .22 magnum.
My choice is my Sig Sauer P365. It is extremely small and holds 10 rounds. And yes, my P365 was made AFTER the fixes and has been tested with many rounds.
While the pistol is the exciting choice, the holster may be more important. We can give some examples, but first we need to talk criteria.
A holster should ALWAYS do two things:
- Hold the weapon securely until needed
- Cover the trigger to prevent accidental discharge
No matter where you carry your pistol, always keep these two features in mind.
With a pocket holster, the first point isn’t that big a deal. The tension of your pocket should help the holster. The second point is an even bigger deal! Soft fabric is not enough. The trigger must be covered with something rigid enough to prevent the holster from being pressed inward into the trigger guard.
Usually with a Kydex holster, it is recommended that you get one that is specifically designed for the pistol you carry. That can be neglected with pocket carry as long as the holster fits your pistol snugly and covers the trigger well. The holster should also fit your pocket so that the pistol remains upright.
A final consideration is that the holster should be shaped or made in a way that the holster remains in your pocket when you draw. Believe me, this will save a lot of problems down the line and speed up your draw stroke.
There are a number of decent leather and synthetic options that work quite well. Most big name manufacturers make some form of pocket holster.
Best Pocket Carry Holsters
Here are some of the Best Pocket Carry Holsters that we like to use
- Desantis Nemesis
- Sticky Holsters
- Bianchi Pocket Piece
- Galco Front Pocket Holster
The below holsters are excellent pocket holster choices. If you need other holsters, we have a great article Best Concealed Carry Holsters that covers many other types of holsters that we recommend. You can also check out our article covering the Best Gun Belts For Concealed Carry, as they are just as important as a holster.
Now on to the pocket holsters:
The Desantis Nemesis is probably the king of all pocket holsters. It comes in models for almost every pistol made. It is well molded and the entire holster is textured. It will stay in your pocket with your draw, no matter your pants.
I own one of these and it is my go to when I pocket carry. Not only do they work very well, they are very inexpensive!
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The Sticky Holsters are also a pretty popular choice...and for good reason. They are made of quality materials and hold firmly in place like a good pocket holster should.
You can find these to fit most small pistols such as the Ruger LCP, Glock 42/43, or many others.
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Bianchi Pocket Piece
The Bianchi Pocket Piece is a great leather option. It is made of premium full grain leather and is well stitched. While I prefer the holsters listed above due to the fact that they stick more in the pocket on the draw, there is no denying that this holster is made well and a great choice for those that prefer leather.
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Galco Front Pocket Holster
The Galco Front Pocket Holster is a leather holster that is somewhat pistol specific and fits quite well. The mouth is steel reinforced and the shape keeps the gun upright. It generally has enough tension in the pocket to stay in place when you draw.
As with the Bianchi Pocket Piece, this holster is very affordable for what you get.
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While we have shown the Pros and Cons of pocket carry, it is important to remember that IWB and OWB are much better for when you need to draw your firearm. However, pocket carry does have a place in my life, but I try to keep it to a minimum.
There are some truly dedicated men and women out there that always carry a full sized gun in their waistband...and props to them! For me however, the occasional ability to just grab a pocket holster allows me to always have my firearm with me. I know that if I didn't have a pocket holster, there would be times that I may go without...and as we all know, we NEVER know when we are going to need our firearm.
Another option for non-traditional concealed carry is an off body backpack. While I don't recommend it for everyday carry, it does have its uses that I talk about in the article Best Concealed Carry Backpacks.
With the low cost of the above holsters, there is no reason to bypass getting one and having it "just in case".
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