7 Best Pocket Pistols for Every Day Carry 
Bryan Hill / March 10 2021
Pocket pistols can be carried in a pocket in a pocket holster. They don't need a belt or shirt to conceal, so they're the easiest to carry all day, every day, even at home. They are the hardest type of pistol to shoot, though.
Pocket pistols can do home defense, but should be paired with a larger pistol. Why? Pocket pistols have so much recoil that extended practice can wear out your hands. If something is unpleasant to practice with, most people won't practice.
If you can have two pistols, get a larger, heavier pistol to build your skills. Carry the pocket pistol when you can't carry the bigger one and practice with it just enough to adapt those skills.
Length: 5.0-6.0". Any longer and they become harder to fit in a pocket.
Width: 1". Any wider and they become harder to draw from a pocket.
Height: 4-5". Any higher and they become harder to fit in a pocket.
|Weight||0.75-1.25 lb. Any heavier and they become painful to carry long-term.|
|Ammo Caliber||Ammo caliber: 9mm or .380. For pistols weighing less than 1 lb., .380 is better.|
|Ammo Capacity||7+ rounds. More is better.|
|Best Upgrades||Laser Sight, Pistol Light, Upgraded Iron Sights, Extended Magazine|
|Storage||Pocket holster or quick-access safe.|
Top 3 Pocket Pistols for Small Hands.380 pocket pistols are made to fire .380 ACP, which is smaller and recoils less than 9mm. They're the better choice if:
- Women: You wear gloves size medium or smaller
- Men: You wear gloves size small or smaller
- Your grip strength is under 80 lb.
Pocket pistols are harder to shoot because they're smaller and lighter than other pistols. If you have smaller hands or low grip strength, a 9mm pocket pistol will probably have too much recoil for you. A .380 pocket pistol has about half the recoil, and the loss of power isn't a big deal for a concealed carry pistol. Remember, .380 ACP is still effective in self-defense up to 10-15 yards, and most gunfights are within 7 yards.
Best .380 Pocket Pistol under $300
If you want a pistol that will fit nearly any outfit, get the Ruger LCP II. It's the smallest pocket pistol that you can still get all your fingers around. Anything smaller, and you won't get your pinky finger around it, cutting your grip strength (and recoil control) by about 40%. If it's too small for your hands, an extended magazine should do the trick.
Ruger LCP II
|5.17"L x 0.75"W x 3.71"H|
Best .380 Pocket Pistols over $300
The S&W Shield 380 EZ is the easiest to shoot pocket pistol and its slide is the easiest to rack, so if you have trouble with racking the slide, or with recoil, give it a shot. But when you do, also consider how you'll carry it. It's a great purse gun, but will only fit in larger pants pockets. You may need to tailor them to get the pistol to fit.
If you love Glocks, get the Glock 42. Like all Glocks, it's easy to switch from one Glock to another, and it has great aftermarket support.But, if you're just looking for a .380 pocket pistol that fits your outfits, try the Ruger LCP II first. It fits the same role in a smaller size, and a better price.
If you're new to Glocks, try before you buy and make sure the slide release and magazine release are no harder to use than other pocket pistols. Several of my students had issues with them when doing reloads, locking the slide open, clearing jams, etc., and it's no concidence that two of the most common aftermarket upgrades for Glocks are for those parts.
S&W Shield 380 EZ
|1.16 lb||0.76 lb|
|6.7"L x 1.15"W x 4.98"H||6"L x 1"W x 4"H|
Top 4 Pocket Pistols for Medium and Large HandsA 9mm pocket pistol is the better choice if:
- Men: You wear gloves size medium or larger
- Women: You wear gloves size large or larger
- Your grip strength is 80 lb. or higher
9mm has double the power and recoil of .380, so having larger, stronger hands helps with shooting it out of a pocket pistol. What does more power really do for pistols? In this case, it's just more effective range, and mildly better performance with defensive ammo like hollow points or FTM rounds.
Best 9mm Pocket Pistols under $500
The cheapest option that's still quality is the Ruger EC9s. If you have short fingers, skip it. The trigger is further out than all other pocket pistols, and if your finger can't reach it, it will hurt your accuracy. The sights are also poor; get a laser sight for it if at all possible.
If you love Glocks, get the Glock 43. Like all Glocks, it's easy to switch from one Glock to another, and it has great aftermarket support.
But, if you're just looking for a 9mm pocket pistol that fits your outfits, any other option is probably better. The Glock 43 has an unusually low ammo capacity (6 in the magazine), while the Ruger EC9s has 7, the Sig p365 has 10, and the Springfield Hellcat has 11. Think about it: A Springfield Hellcat is marginally smaller than a Glock 43, yet has almost twice the ammo capacity.
Furthermore, several of my students had issues with the magazine and slide release when doing reloads, locking the slide open, clearing jams, etc., and it's no concidence that two of the most common aftermarket upgrades for Glocks are for those parts. If you're new to Glocks, try before you buy and make sure the slide release and magazine release aren't much harder to use compared to other pocket pistols.
|1.07 lb||1.12 lb|
|6"L x 0.9"W x 4.3"H||6.06"L x 1.02"W x 4.25"H|
Best 9mm Pocket Pistols over $500
The title of Best Pocket Pistol for most shooters is really a tie between the Sig p365 and Springfield Hellcat. The Springfield Hellcat has more ammo capacity, but the Sig has better aftermarket support (holsters, upgrades, etc.), a slightly better trigger, slightly less recoil, and let's face it, it's more stylish.
If you choose the Sig, buy new, or beware when buying used. Used p365s with a serial number lower than 66A100000 should be sent back to the factory for repairs to the striker.
|1.11 lb||1.14 lb|
|5.8"L x 1"W x 4.3"H||6"L x 1"W x 4"H|
Unsure of which to pick?
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