Pocket guns?


September 24, 2003, 02:51 AM
I live in a non-carry state so I don't have the ability to thoroughly test out my carry theories. I do carry at home often but there is a difference between a couple hours and all day. I am getting a FL non-res permit, but it isn't finished yet. Even when it is, there is also a difference between carrying all day a few times a year and day in and day out.

Anyway, I have been thinking that I'd want to carry a primary and a backup as much as possible. Because a J-frame or Bersa sized pistol can fit fairly easily in a pocket I had pretty much planned on those as my backups (no ankle holsters for me since I am on the large side right now and I don't know of a ankle holster that will fit comforably over my calves). However, just because it can fit in a pocket doesn't necessarily make it an ideal pocket pistol. Sure, when I am going a bit lighter and only carrying one (and the pocket gun is it) then it should probably be at least my Taurus 85 or Bersa, but as backup to something else is it even realistic?

I've been thinking on and off over the past month or so that I might want to consider a true pocket pistol of some kind. Of course that brings a couple questions:
-Is it really needed? For most people, once day to day carry begins, is carrying two guns really realistic or is it too heavy and just too much for most people to bother? If it isn't realistic to think that I'll carry two then when I go with pocket carry for deeper concealment I'll probably want at least a .380 or .38spl since it would be the only gun carried.
-Similarly, is carrying a J-frame (or Bersa) along with a larger gun easier than I might think?
-This might be where smaller is truely better and the only real criteria (since I'd be carrying something bigger already). I probably would want something around .32acp power levels, though I suppose I might consider .22lr or .25acp. What is your (collective) take on this?

Also, what are some suggestions? Most aren't legal for new purchase here anymore since few have internal locks, but I can probably find most used. I also may wait until I move out of MD, but since I'm really not sure how long I'm stuck here I will probably not put off anything until I leave (if I find what I want I'll probably get it). Anyway, here are some of the guns I'm considering (more or less in order):
-Beretta Tomcat. It is pretty small, fairly light, and in the fairly decent .32acp.
-NAA Guardian in either .32 or .380. A little on the expensive side, but a top choice if I can afford it. I seem to recall the .32 is a bit more reliable and it should be much more controlable, but the .380 is a pretty decent cartridge and great in this size gun. I think these might be a bit on the heavy side for this class of gun though.
-NAA mini-revolver. Probably in .22mag (even out of a 2" or slightly shorter barrel these should be close to, or above in the right loadings, the typical .32acp power levels), possibly in .22lr (easier to control and with proper load selection it is more powerful than a .25acp even out of these short barrels). Very light, very small, virtually disappears. One potential drawback, rimfire ignition issues, is less of an issue on a revolver (just pull trigger again) and with CCI I've never had an issue in my rifles.
-Kel-tec .380. Very small and light. Probably a bit harsh in this size gun though. Also, I'd have to wait until I left MD since none are MD legal (no lock, none made before Jan 1st). I'm a little worried about Kel-tec QC.
-Kel-tec P32. Very small and light. Fun little gun and surprisingly accurate (I had the chance to shoot one once). Inexpensive, and some should be on the used market. Only drawback is possible QC issues in a class of guns that must work every time.
-Beretta Jetfire or 21A. Yeah, these are only .25acp and .22lr respectively, but they are classics and typically very reliable and accurate (for pocket guns).
-Taurus PT22 or PT25. Small, but weak calibers and these are probably the least reliable Taurus pistols made. Also, while small and inexpensive they are probably the biggest in their class and caliber. The biggest advantage is that this is the only one mentioned so far that has the built-in lock and is thus MD legal for sale new. That means I could buy new and that it would be the easiest to get (no worries about trying to find one locally or bother transfering and possible quality issues with a sight unseen internet purchase).

Wild cards:
Get a lightweight alloy snub since the weight would probably be the biggest issue against using the snub along with another gun. If I do this I'd probably go lower powered for controlability, the 6 shot .32H&R mag Taurus 731 in aluminum or titanium, the 8 shot .22mag Taurus 941 in aluminum or titanium or the 9 shot .22lr Taurus 94 in aluminum or titanium. If I went aluminum I might go .38spl or 9mm too, though the aluminum along with another primary gun still might be too much weight. Also, how important is bulk in a backup or am I right that weight would be the primary impediment to carrying two? These all have the internal locks (as would the equivelent, new, but more expensive S&Ws in similar configurations) so if I couldn't find what I wanted I could always order them (new) from any local dealer if I so desired.

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September 24, 2003, 08:36 AM
Try a serious cartridge ,the Kahr PM9 is a polymer framed 9mm weighing about a pound and is quite small.

September 24, 2003, 08:57 AM
FYI the NAA mini-revolver must be manually cocked.

September 24, 2003, 09:19 AM
Back when I bought my P32, I also considered the Tomcat and NAA Guardian. The Tomcat and Guardian didn't make the cut because the LOP (is there such a term for pistols) was too short and the trigger pull too stiff for me to fire easily. I felt "bunched up" at the end of the trigger pull. The P32 fit me much better. Shame too, 'cause I love the look of the Guardian.

For the P32 naysayers out there, mine has been nearly as reliable as my revolvers. Out of 500rounds, I had 4 failures to extract with a single brand of ammo (and it's been over 300rnds since those failures), one that I no longer use. No fluff 'n' buff or any other magic. I just took it out of the box, cleaned/lubed it, and started shooting.


September 24, 2003, 09:21 AM
Stay with the bigger calibers. Kahr makes nice semi autos in 9mm and .40 that are extremely tiny.

My opinion though, J Frame sized revolver chambered in .357 magnum that is no lighter then 15-16 oz. I don't like the Scandium/TI guns not because they are too light but because they seem to require a bit too much special care. Can't shoot x weight of bullet, have to be careful with the coating on the TI finish etc. Probably not a big deal but factor in the cost and that fact that 20-22 oz in the pocket dissapears and I don't even remember it is there. I think the Aluminum/Steel guns weighing in at around 15-16 oz are probably about perfect.

I really think the snub nosed revolver is the original and still champion CCW pistol. It offers safety, reliability, ease of maintenance, ease of operation, small size and very potent calibers in a very easy to hid package.

I frequent carry a M60LS stoked with some kind of .357 HP or another as my primary when I don't feel like putting on the holster and the mag carrier etc. Throw it in the pocket of my shorts, maybe grab a speedloader or two and I am gone.

Remember with a .357 snubby if you miss but they are close enough you may just set them on fire. Think of it as an added benefit.:D Just kidding.

September 24, 2003, 11:03 AM
I have tried a LOT of handguns in the pocket. I carry full-time in my right front pocket and do not use a back up. Here is a partial list of guns I've carried in pocket holsters:

Beretta Mod 21 .22LR
NAA mini revolver .22mag
Taurus mod 85 .38 spcl
Taurus mod 605 .357 mag
Kel-Tec P11 9mm
Kel-Tec P32 .32 auto
Smith mod 638 Bodyguard 38 spcl
Smith mod 340SC Scandium .357 mag

I learned two major things about these guns: Most of them are either too large or too heavy (or both) for full-time pocket carry.
With the type of clothing I prefer, anything over a pound and over 1" in width is too heavy/large.

The best of the above bunch? The Kel-Tec P32 is head and shoulders the best, NAA mini revolver next and either of the Smiths (which can get lumpy and hard to conceal). My next pocket pistol? The Kel-Tec P-3AT.

September 24, 2003, 11:21 AM
I've had a little Jetfire for a while now & have been very satisfied w/ it. As a pocket gun goes, it works great since it's easy to carry (doesn't print!) and is 100% reliable.

Mike Irwin
September 24, 2003, 11:23 AM
My primary carry gun, which I carry constantly when I'm not at the office, is a Smith & Wesson 042.

That's a limited production Centennial Airweight made in the early 1990s, and chambered for .38 Spl.

It's 5 shots, and wears a set of Hogue full-size J-frame grips.

I carry this gun one way -- in an Uncle Mike's pocket holster in my left front pocket.

September 24, 2003, 12:59 PM
I like the KelTec P32, and the P3AT.
I've carried a P32 for several years.
Just replaced it with a P3AT.

The P3AT is a handful to shoot, but is easier to shoot than the .32 Guardian that I once owned.
For a gun that heavy, it was brutal to shoot.

I wouldn't consider carrying a .22 or .25 myself.
A .32 is small, but can get the job done.

If you want a 16 oz. gun (ala Guardian, .32 or 380) I second or third the recommendation of a Kahr PM9.

Felonious Monk
September 24, 2003, 01:18 PM

I'll have to give the nod to my P-32 as well.

I've got a Ruger SP101 .357 that's just a GREAT gun (thanks Eric!), and a nice lil' Rossi snub .38, and a KT P-11, but for carry, you have to remember the tiny likelihood of a social situation where you actually shoot (unless you're a Bone Thug or a LEO).

My P-32 has been totally reliable through 7-800 rounds (1 FTF with FN SWC ammo), is accurate and very comfortable to shoot AND carry.

I don't think you have to worry about Kel-Tec QC if you buy one with a ser# later than 100K.
To each his own.


September 24, 2003, 01:20 PM
The best pocket gun EVER was the .380 Colt Mustang Pocketlite. I think anyone who has ever shot one of these would agree. Plenty accurate, extremely reliable and locked breech to control recoil from the tiny gun.

I don't understand why Colt stopped making them. I don't understand why somebody else (Kimber, Springfield, etc.) doesn't create another. There's room for a little improvement - field stripping is a PITA and the sights could be higher profile. Whatever company gets off their behind to bring the concept back will rule the pocket pistol market for some time to come.


September 24, 2003, 01:47 PM
Some good points have already been made.

You NEED a holster for pocket carry.

A pocket CCW needs to be light or it will bother you.

It needs to be small enough so you can draw it quickly if the need arises. Most pockets don't have big enough openings for extracting decent sized guns. They're designed to keep things in, after all.

It needs to be thin so it doesn't print or make you look like you're carrying a thick book in your pocket.

Thick leather holsters or composite fabric holsters work okay, but they contribute to making people wonder.

I prefer P-32/P-3AT sized pistols in Kydex holsters. The gun in the holster is less than an inch thick.

I'm don't like the idea of ankle holsters because getting the gun into an unexpected fight is way too awkward and time consuming even without considering the extra steps you have to take to get your clothing out of the way.

September 24, 2003, 02:42 PM
Just a quick reminder, what I am looking at here is a pocket backup. I am already settled on what I will use when I use my pocket to store a primary. As a primary I am not comfortable with anything weaker than a .380acp or .38spl. With what I currently own it will be my Taurus 85 (unless I find a snub I like better, maybe the 9mm Taurus 905 when it is out, and/or decide to use an aluminum variation) and my Bersa .380. When I get a Kahr (it may be a K9, P9, or PM 9 with a smaller chance of it being an MK9) it might take over from the Bersa and my S&W 908 (when I finally get it) might take over from the Bersa (making the larger Kahrs unnecessary).

For the backups there has been some good advice already.

The Kahr PM9 was supposed to be on my "wild card" list but I forgot to list it. It is a bit bigger than the smaller guns on the list and a bit heavier than the lighter guns but it is a 9mm.

I didn't even think about the Colt. I do love the 1911. Only thing I'm not sure about is a SA auto in the pocket, I'd rather have the long DA trigger pull (or SA revolver that necessitates hand cocking it like the NAA mini-revolvers). Still, that might be something to look out for.

It sounds like a lot of people like their Kel-tecs. They are quite a bit cheaper than most of my other options. They are certainly no where near a 50% lemon rate. Maybe I should consider both the .32 and .380, that way I can justify two (they are different guns), it is highly unlikely that I'd have two lemons, and I might just get two good ones. Size and weight, these two probably would be the most promising other than possible QC concerns. How do you guys like this idea?

A holster is a must. Most of the guns I'd plan on using are DAO or if I'd use a DA/SA I'd probably just decock it and not use the safety. I don't like the idea of having the trigger exposed in such a situation. Also, I don't like the idea that lint might jam up the works.

As for the ankle holster, since this is for backup ideas only, I'd consider one if someone knows of one that would work well for someone on the large side (heck, the only holster better when sitting might be a shoulder holster so I really wouldn't mind an ankle holster for a backup gun).

September 24, 2003, 02:46 PM
Only thing I'm not sure about is a SA auto in the pocket,

It goes without saying that NO gun should be carried loose in the pocket. You need a holster to make sure the thumb safety stays engaged (with a SA) and to break up the outline and keep lint, etc, from getting into the action on any style of gun.

Edited to add: Most popular "pocket" guns have holsters available that are designed to stay in the pocket when the gun is drawn. Or, you can take something like an "Uncle Mike's" and sew a stiff piece of leather out from the muzzle end of the holster to catch on the pocket fabric as the gun is drawn.


Mike Irwin
September 24, 2003, 03:22 PM
When they're new an Uncle Mike's will stay in the pocket. They have a piece of sticky synthetic rubber type material around the outside.

It wears out over time, though, and doesn't work anymore.

MTNBRK has an interesting synthetic holster for his P32 by, I believe, Desantis that looks as if it should stay in a pocket no matter how hard you try to pull the holster from the pocket with the gun.

September 24, 2003, 03:37 PM
MTNBRK has an interesting synthetic holster for his P32 by, I believe, Desantis that looks as if it should stay in a pocket no matter how hard you try to pull the holster from the pocket with the gun.

MTNBRK=Mountain Brick ? :scrutiny: :D

It's a DeSantis Nemesis. I dunno what it's called, but the material is sort of rubberized, or feels so. It does stay well in the pocket. Pricewise, it was a dollar or two more than the Uncle Mike's. My only complaint with the holster is that it fits the gun looser than I like (if you hold the gun and not the holster, the holster will fall off). I have the pocket clip on the P32 and this helps hold the package together when not in a pocket. The clip holding the gun to the holster has no affect on draw.


September 24, 2003, 03:41 PM
My Uncle Mikes is the IWB style, not really designed for pocket carry. It is pretty "sticky" as you say, but I have a piece of stiff leather that fits under the little plastic belt loop thingy and projects out to keep it in the pocket. I mean to permanently attach that but somehow I never get around to it. It works as is, so...


September 24, 2003, 04:14 PM
This reminds me of something that was posted (& confirmed) either here or on 1911Forum.

There was a meeting of 10 or so bigwig directors (or maybe it was organizers) of a pistol organization. Just for kicks someone asked everyone to put the gun they were presently carrying up onto the table. Every single one put up a snub-nose revolver.

Regardless of the possible features or "perfections" of automatics, the pure simple utility of a snub-nose can't be denied.

September 24, 2003, 04:21 PM
My current carry piece that I've had for over a year is my Cop .357.


It's not light, but it conceals well in my front right pocket with an Uncle Mike's #4 pocket holster and I load it with .357 hollowpoints :evil:. Luckily I don't have to sell it anymore either. I would like to get a Kahr PM9 and a Beretta Tomcat .32ACP for work carry. I'm not a fan of the .380. Not enough "oomph" behind it for such a wide diameter round IMO only of course :)

I was wondering about the titanium Tomcats....I always thought it would be lighter since it's made of titanium, but according to the specs of a couple of different sellers the Tomcat titanium is 16.8oz. while the stainless is supposedly 15.6oz. Is this correct??? :confused:

Mike Irwin
September 24, 2003, 04:28 PM
OH OH! You were talking about modifying an IWB holster. Didn't catch that.

"MTNBRK=Mountain Brick ?"

Well, I guess that's better than MTNBRF (:barf: ) :)

September 24, 2003, 04:37 PM
I'm not a big fan of the Unkle Mike's pocket holsters anymore (though I think they are a good budget choice for an IWB if you get one with the velcro "snap"). I have one for a J-frame that also works with my Bersa (actually it fits my Bersa a bit better than my Taurus 85 or prior Taurus 605). It is just a pouch that loosely holds a gun. I can easily see that if you don't sit "just right" it can send the gun falling out of your pocket. I'd much rather have something that holds the gun a bit firmer. Another issue is that it doesn't do anything to "mask" the outline of the gun. I've seen pocket holsters that have a leather foot that is probably to help anchor the holster but it also might help mask the outline a bit. The biggest issue is poor fit. It is obvious that the J-frame sized holster was made specifically for the .38spl S&W J-frames. The "2in" S&W .38s had 1 7/8" barrels, while the .357s are a bit bigger- the "2in" Taurus 605 has a 2 1/4" barrel and the Taurus 85 is a true 2". I found with the 605 I had that at the trigger guard the holster came right to the trigger and in my 85 it barely covers the trigger. Like I said earlier I'm extremely uncomfortable with not having the trigger covered in a pocket gun.

I'm thinking about getting a form fitted leather pocket holster that is about $24 in the Natchez catalog (I think it is a DeSantis, but I'm not sure offhand).

This does bring to mind one more question. Who can give me some suggestions for good large scale production pocket holsters (for a J-frame or Taurus equiv., for a Bersa, for a S&W 908 and for whatever guns you suggest to me)? Are there good production holsters or are you best off with the custom or semi-custom holsters for a pocket holster (esp. given my concerns about Uncle Mike's pocket holsters above)?

September 24, 2003, 05:04 PM
I was wondering about the titanium Tomcats....I always thought it would be lighter since it's made of titanium, but according to the specs of a couple of different sellers the Tomcat titanium is 16.8oz. while the stainless is supposedly 15.6oz. Is this correct??? Yeah, I heard before that the titanium Tomcat is about an ounce heavier than the stainless. Seems odd and I have no clue how that happens, but it seems to be the case.

C.E.R.T. 9mm
September 24, 2003, 06:37 PM
The 9mm is more suitable for self defense. You' have to think about caliber penetration. The .380 - .22 - .25 calibers are potent and defensive provided you're up close and personal to the threat. The picture changes as the seasons do! These calibers will not deliver the same power in the colder months when the threat/assailant is wearing heavier clothing. It's not unusual for these rounds to "bounce off" heavy clothes!

As a L.E.O. I've fired many different weapons and calibers. For my personal back up gun I've chosen the KAHR PM9. It's easy to conceal -- ultra lightweight 15 ozs. - slim profile less than 1 inch - comes with 6 +1 & 7 + 1 Magazines. The .40 caliber takes time to master. Most people aren't familiar or don't like a hard recoil as with a .40 caliber. There's a little recoil with the PM9 but not all that much.

I'd definitely recommend the PM9 hands down!

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