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Pocket Handgun Carry Done Right

by Walt Rauch   |  January 20th, 2012 21
pocket holsters and guns

Clockwise from top: S&W Model 42, Del Fatti Custom prototype; Ruger LC9, Bianchi Pocket Change; Taurus M709, Uncle Mike’s Inside the Pocket; Kahr PM9093, DeSantis Nemesis; S&W M12, Safariland Model 25 holster (left hand); and, center, Kimber Solo, Galco Pocket Protector.

There’s more to pocket handgun carry than just stuffing the handgun in your pocket. You have to be able to get the gun in hand in a reasonable amount of time without fumbles, yet it needs to ride in your pocket such that it won’t stick out (or fall out) of your pocket while going about your normal daily activities. Of course, the gun should be concealed so it goes unnoticed by casual inspection.

If the pocket-carried gun is your primary or only handgun, being able to get a good grip on it while in your pocket should be your starting point. With a firm grip, whatever prompted you to start to draw, you are more likely to still have the gun in hand.

You don’t want to be teasing the gun out with a few fingers, completing the draw as the gun clears your pocket—somewhat like shuffling cards in a card game. After some practice, the entire grip, draw and directing of the gun should be reflexive.

By and large, a holster is necessary for pocket carry. And not just any holster nor just one holster—unless you only wear one type of pants, all of the same material, with the pocket the same size and opening, and which all fit you the same.

In my experiences with pocket carry, I’ve found there is no single right holster or right gun. With traditional blue jeans, my S&W J-frame five-shot Centennial revolver is too large; the pant pocket pulls too tight to allow any sort of a decent grip on the gun, and the general tightness of them creates an unsightly bulge.

My solution is to carry a small semiauto such as a Seecamp in a compatible holster. However, that came with its own set of problems. Carrying the Seecamp in cargo pants I quickly found both gun and holster too small for the large pockets. The combination rotated and shifted as I moved and I found myself digging, squirrel-like, to get a good grip on it.

If I feel I need a bigger bore, I switch pants and guns or change my mode of carry. I also find I need a different holster and/or gun when wearing dress chinos or slacks.

Most importantly, of course, your pocket holster should stay put. You don’t want to draw your gun and find when you direct it at a threat, you’re holding a holster-wrapped gun in your hand.

The proper holster should retain the gun, and the pocket should retain the holster during your daily activities. Most of the modern pocket holsters have some sort of stiffening encircling the holster mouth, and the holster bodies are either molded to the gun or do mold to it after some use.

One downside to the latter: I’ve had the holster, after much continued use, become molded rearward over the top rear of the handgun, which then made the gun stick to the holster, so I was in danger of drawing a holster-wrapped gun.

Some pocket holsters, though, are made with an upward vertical projection that actually catches on the pocket. This works, particularly when coupled with the practice of dragging the holster’s forward area against the pocket’s interior when drawing the gun. This is just one more thing to forget to do, however.

Along with all this, you should be able to reholster as smoothly as you withdrew the gun. Stuffing the gun back in and having it hang up on the mouth of the now-closed holster can allow the gun then fall back out. And yes, I’ve done this too, but fortuitously not until I had belted myself in my car.

One last item is personal comfort. Some holsters are made with the leather rough-side out or with a rough finish to a composite surface so that the holster drags on the pocket. This works, but if the pocket material is thin, the constant rubbing of the holster’s rough surface on your leg is irritating, and you might then develop the habit of “handling” the holstered gun to alleviate this, which can draw attention to the gun.

Again, you need to make careful choices on guns, gear and dress. And you definitely need to try out whatever choice (or choices) you make at home before venturing forth into the real world.

A final note. If you do not yet use pocket carry and decide at some point you’re going to try it, you must take this rule to heart: Nothing else ever goes in the pocket with your handgun. Not once. Then you will never have any stuff keep your handgun from functioning or more important, preventing or hindering you from getting your gun when you need it. A holstered pocket gun always rides alone.

This article originally appeared in the December/January issue of Handguns magazine.


  • cjj

    Pocket carry works good for me!

  • builtchevytuff

    quick question would any of u guys consider carrying the new sr22 from ruger

    • Lee

      I carry a 22 alot I also have a 357 and a 40 I carry. Don't let people tell you a 22 wont hurt you. I shot my 22 auto using CCI Stinger and my brother shot his 380 at a Houston phone book. He nows carrys his 22 Mag. One advantage is you can put all your shots in the some place verry fast.

      • mseanb

        what's a phone book?

  • Guest

    @builtchevytuff – 22 rimfire is not usually considered a self defense round.

    @walt rauch – Good article. Worth pointing out that the picture shows holsters that prevent things from inadvertently getting inside the trigger guard. If your pocket holster doesn't do that, then it's time to find one that does.

  • tanstaafl2

    I carry a Kel-Tec P3AT in a front pocket holster – sometimes that's the only way my locale/attire will let me carry. The big problem I have is that the magazine release sometimes gets depressed while the pistol is in my pocket – effectively making my pistol a single shot. I really, REALLY wish Kel-Tec and other makers of true pocket semi-autos would switch the magazine release to the heal of the gun like is found on some European pistols (and they adopted it for exactly the same reason – to securely hold the magazine and avoid unintended magazine drops)

    • Nashville

      I have ground all 3 of my Keltec releases flush, no problem now. Could get you killed! My Pf9 didn't need it.

      • tanstaafl2

        Good idea – I'll have to look into that.


    • J Smith

      I would not want the mag release located…should be able to buy a replacement and grind on it or modify it if you dont want to mess up a pretty gun, I will grind mine down if I find any problems like that, kel tecs are notorious about the mag dump problem. I think there is a heavier spring available for this as well as grinding on the release should solve the problem

  • 357magman

    I started carrying my Ruger sp101 with a Mikes Sidekick in my front pocket. Overall it's relatively comfortable and I believe it gives me a fairly easy access to a good controlled draw. Hopefully I never really need to find out just how "easy" it can be, but, practice makes perfect ! RKBA,,, 'til I fade away ! ;<)

  • Dobie

    The DeSantis Superfly was not mentioned in this artical.
    I've been carrying my Ruger LCP or my S&W Bodyguard in this pocket holster for a few years now.
    It fits the pocket well, it stays in the pocket, the gun draws quickly and best of all there is no outline of a gun in your pocket.
    The only outline looks like a wallet in the pocket and the best part is that my Democrat girlfriend doesn't even know that I'm carrying.

    • Roger Rodger

      Somehow I don't see a happy, long term relationship in your future lol. Nice holster choice tho.

    • Judy

      not to late to trade her in ……..ha ha

  • …jrose

    I carry the Ruger LCP in my right front jeans pocket loose with no problem. Its 12 oz loaded weight is like nothing is there. I can get to it quickly and come out firing if I need to.


  • apuzyr

    An excellent article, covering many aspects of this "art". One final word…PRACTICE with what you carry so it becomes intuitive to both draw and shoot. Andy P (author of Concealed Carry Revealed)

  • Dirty Devan

    If I was a law enforcement agents or a cop I have pockets pistol.

    • Dirty Devan

      I mean with official gun too.

  • Muhammad Naveed Muhammad Naveed

    new gun model 2012 send images

  • Kevin k. Queens N.Y

    Just purchased a sig sauer 380 HD.feels great in my hand and easy to conceal.bringing it to the range soon.paid $600 ,it came with a sig lazier and extended mag.until I shoot it I will stick with my g-26

  • Bob

    I pocket carry a Colt Mustang Plus II in Stainless Steel. I tried several holsters, and found I really liked the Don Hume 001 No. 60. It retains the pistol snugly, and stands upright in my pocket very well. Other holsters seemed to rotate in my pocket, not having the grip stand at the ready as I felt it should. I wear bib overalls 99% (+) of the time. The pockets are roomy and loose, so they don't print easily. I have practiced the draw with an empty gun on a number of occasions, and feel very comfortable. The only time I drew quickly, I was taking a close look at a snake my son had killed earlier which was across a barbed wire fence. I was leaning heavily on the barbed wire with infirm footing and tall grass, and suddenly heard a rattlesnake at my right. Fearing that if I moved, I'd get struck. I quickly drew my pistol and fired twice at the snake. The pistol cleared the holster, but the holster flew about five yards behind me as I drew. The snake was coiled, and I hit both shots within the coil, but still didn't kill it. We both withdrew unharmed. He backed away, and so.. did.. I… My wife brought out a 357 we keep loaded with rat shot, and I got the snake. Point is, pocket carry is very comfortable and accessible. Nothing goes in that pocket but the pistol. It collects lint, sawdust, sand, and dust. It must be cleaned often. Stainless is the only way to go for me. I've been in situations where I was unsure of what was happening, and stood there with my right hand in my pocket, fingers wrapped around the grip, and looked much more inconspicuous, and much more at the ready, than anyone would with a hip or shoulder rig. I feel that for my situation, a pocket pistol, with the right holster, is the way to go.

  • Ray

    About 6 years ago, I was stopped while changing a flat tire at night in light rain. Two men in their twenties walked up from behind and offered to help me. I said thanks but I can handle it. One of the men asked if I had any spare money. I said no and continued to turn the lug nuts on the spare tire. Then one of them said that
    if I didn't fish out some bills he was gong to kick my ass but good. I stood up and one man had a knife in his hand.
    I said here you can have my wallet but don't hurt me. I reached into my coat pocket and I fired my 38 S&W air weight while in the pocket holster at the ground to the side of the two men. They both said "Don't shoot", I pointed my coat pocket at them and said to drop the knife and leave.
    The knife hit edge of the road and both men turned and ran down the road out of sight. I left the flat tire on the side of the road and drove to the next gas station and called the police. Three hours later I was allowed to leave and I got home around 4:00 in the morning. The pocket gun saved me that night. And I now carry it with me all the time .

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