7 Tips for Pocket Carry
Article first appeared at American Rifleman.
Carrying a small pistol or revolver in a front pants pocket is a comfortable and convenient way to go heeled. It’s a carry method that has steadily grown in popularity over the last decade. A wide variety of pocketable pistols in calibers both great and small are readily available these days to those who are looking to carry in their clothing instead of on their hip. But as with any carry method, there are rules and strategies that should be adhered to in order to gain the most benefit and to avoid uncomfortable problems. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when packing in a pocket:
1. The “Biggest Gun” Rule Still Applies As a proponent of deeply concealable handguns for personal protection, I always flinch when I have to say this: Pocket pistols are wimpy. No matter what caliber of ammunition they use, pocket rockets on the whole just don’t have the same oomph or accuracy as their medium- and full-sized compatriots. In acknowledging that pocket pistols have notable limitations due to their compressed size, it only makes sense to counter the drop in stopping power as much as possible by using the largest caliber you can safely handle and practice with. In other words, if you can comfortably fit a sub-compact 9 mm in your pocket, then don’t settle for a .380 ACP or .32 ACP.
2. Pack In A Dedicated Pocket By a dedicated pocket I mean absolutely nothing else goes in the same pocket as the pistol. Ever. Guns and pocket paraphernalia don’t mix with positive results. Just imagine all the excitement that could be generated by having a set of keys, a pen or a lip balm entangled in a pistol’s trigger guard. What about desperately needing to draw the pistol only to find the grip blocked by brick-a-brack? There’s also that unenviable chance of having the gun fall out onto the ground while fishing around for something else. The safest way to go is to give the pistol a pocket all to itself.
3. Use a Holster Pocket holsters should be employed for the same reasons larger handguns are carried in hip holsters. Pants pockets are sweaty, dusty places that leech away gun oil and heap lint and grit into a pistol’s action. Using a holster will protect the gun’s finish, help to keep action-jamming dirt out, and cover the trigger to prevent unintentional discharges. Good pocket holsters also keep the pistol properly oriented, diffuse or hide the pistols outline, and provide for a smooth draw from the pocket. Holsters for pocket carry are as plentiful and diverse as the pistols they protect and many are affordably priced.
4. Carry Spare Ammunition The temptation to leave spare ammunition at home can be strong with any concealed-carry handgun and even more so with light, compact pistols intended for pocket carry. But remember the first point on this list: Pocket pistols are wimpy. If it makes sense to carry a couple of extra magazines when packing a full-size .45, then having more ammo to feed a little pistol or revolver should too.
Several companies offer pocket holsters that have retention pockets for extra ammo. For revolvers, ammunition strips like the Tuff Products Quickstrip or Binachi SpeedStrip provide a flat profile so the ammunition can slip into a back pocket. Many single-stack pocket semi-auto magazines are small enough to fit into a belt sheath or utility pouch with a fold-over flap. This allows a small magazine to hide in plain sight.
5. Practice the Draw The best way to understand the advantages and limitations of pocket carry is to experiment with drawing from several different positions (using an unloaded pistol of course). Work from the positions you are in most of the time, like standing at a counter or sitting at a desk. Next try some possible positions you could find yourself in during a defensive situation, such as on your back after being knocked down or on your hands and knees while trying to stand up. You may find pocket carry is just the right fit for your lifestyle, or, the pistol may need to be carried another way.
6. Beware of Printing It was funny when Mae West quipped, “Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” in the 1933 movie “She Done Him Wrong.” But an obvious gun-shaped bulge on the thigh defeats the purpose of pocket carry, which is to conceal a pistol completely. Depending on how tightly your jeans fit when you sit, it may be necessary to make some changes to your wardrobe.
7. Hands Off In a properly fitted pair of pants, with a supportive belt and holster in place, a pocket pistol is unlikely to draw much attention. Unless, that is, the person packing telegraphs its presence by handling it or squeezing the grip. Over the years, I’ve heard stories from self-defense practitioners and law enforcement personnel who spotted a pocketed pistol because the owner handled it needlessly. So keep your hands off the gun and completely out of the pocket unless you need to stop the pistol from falling out or to draw it in defense of your life.