8 Best Pocket Pistols for Every Day Carry [2024]

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / March 21 2024

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. Practice with it just enough to adapt those skills.

Overview

Sig p365
Pistol Size 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.
Frame Material Alloy.
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.

Which pocket pistol is right for you? First, let's start with your hand size. Get a tape measure and measure your hand, around the knuckles:
How to measure your hand for glove sizing: Wrap a tape measure around your palm at the knuckles. Small is <8 in., Medium is 8-9 in., Large is 9-10 in., and XL is >10 in.

  1. I Have Small Hands
  2. I Have Medium or Large Hands
  3. I Have XL Hands


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. Why? 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. Most gunfights are within 7 yards.

  1. Under $400
  2. Over $400

Best .380 Pocket Pistol under $400

Ruger LCP MAX

If you want a pistol that will fit nearly any outfit, get the Ruger LCP MAX. 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. That cuts your grip strength (and recoil control) by about 40%. If it's too small for your hands, an extended magazine should do the trick.

The Ruger LCP MAX is an upgrade over the Ruger LCP II. It has better sights, ammo capacity, ergonomics, reliability, and recoil. It makes the LCP II obsolete.

And unless you just love Glocks, it makes those pistols obsolete, too. This is just an amazing pistol.

The main downside for this pistol is weak aftermarket support compared to bigger brands like Glock and Sig. But unless you have a problem with the pistol, why fix it?

Updated hourly

Ruger LCP MAX
$347.49
$339.99
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$339.99 @ Impact Guns
$347.49 @ Ammunition Depot
10+1 or 12+1
0.66 lb
5.17"L x 0.81"W x 4.12"H
  • Best wardrobe compatibility and comfort for conceal carry
  • Best ammo capacity
  • Upgraded sights
  • Upgraded slide serrations for easier racking
  • Compatible with most Ruger LCP II holsters
  • Grip may be too short for larger hands (unless you get an extended magazine)


Best .380 Pocket Pistol over $400

Glock 42

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. 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. It's no concidence that two of the most common aftermarket upgrades for Glocks are for those parts.

Updated hourly

Glock 42
$479.79
$398.89
@ Ammunition Depot
Compare Prices
$398.89 @ Ammunition Depot
$399.0 @ Impact Guns
$399.99 @ Primary Arms
$463.0 @ Impact Guns
$479.79 @ Impact Guns
6+1
0.76 lb
6"L x 1"W x 4"H


Top 4 Pocket Pistols for Medium and Large Hands

A 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 about double the power and recoil of .380. Having larger, stronger hands helps with shooting it out of a pocket pistol. What does more power do for pocket pistols?

  • More effective range with hollow point ammo (50 yds instead of 15)
  • More consistent expansion with hollow point ammo
  • Better performance with FTM ammo

  1. Under $500
  2. Over $500

Best 9mm Pocket Pistols under $500

Budget Pick: Ruger EC9s

The cheapest option that's still quality is the Ruger EC9s. The trigger is further out than all other pocket pistols. If your finger can't reach it, your accuracy will suffer. The sights are also poor; get a laser sight for it if at all possible.

Glock Lovers: Glock 43

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.

If you're just looking for a 9mm pocket pistol that fits your outfits, try other options first. Why? The Glock 43 has a dismal ammo capacity (6 in the magazine). The Ruger EC9s has 7, the Sig p365 has 10, and the Springfield Hellcat has 11. A Springfield Hellcat is smaller than a Glock 43, yet has almost twice the ammo capacity.

If you're new to Glocks, try before you buy. Make sure the slide release and magazine release are no harder to use than other pocket pistols. Many of my students had issues with them when doing reloads, locking the slide open, clearing jams, etc. Two of the most common aftermarket upgrades for Glocks are for those parts. If it wasn't broke, why do so many people fix it?

Updated hourly

Ruger EC9s
$289.99
$243.99
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$243.99 @ Impact Guns
$249.99 @ Primary Arms
$249.99 @ Primary Arms
$249.99 @ Impact Guns
$259.99 @ Impact Guns
$269.99 @ Impact Guns
$279.99 @ Impact Guns
$279.99 @ Impact Guns
$279.99 @ Impact Guns
$286.59 @ Impact Guns

Glock 43
$529.79
$448.00
@ Primary Arms
Compare Prices
$448.00 @ Primary Arms
$448.00 @ Gritr
$529.79 @ Impact Guns
7+1 6+1
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 price
  • Worst trigger
  • Trigger is too far out to reach properly for small hands.
  • Worst sights
  • Sights can't be changed


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.

Best Value: Springfield Hellcat

The Springfield Hellcat has more ammo capacity than the Sig p365. It's an overall better value for the money. But if it doesn't fit your hand well, there's only so much you can do to fix that.

If you're absolutely sure the Springfield Hellcat fits your hand, then it's the better pick. Make sure your finger can reach the trigger easily. When holding the gun in your shooting hand, see if there's enough room left on the grip for your index and middle fingers. That's the minimum for me.

Most Modular: Sig p365

The Sig p365 has better aftermarket support (holsters, upgrades, etc.). If you don't like anything on the p365, you can change it. That includes the whole grip!

Hand to gun fit is more important in pocket pistols than any other type. The Sig p365 can fit just about any size of hand. You just have to install the right grip module and maybe get a new magazine.

If you choose the Sig, buy new or beware when buying used. Watch out for used p365s with a serial number lower than 66A100000. Those should be sent back to the factory for repairs to the striker.

Updated hourly

Sig p365
$599.99
$479.99
@ Gritr
Compare Prices
$479.99 @ Gritr
$599.99 @ Rainier Arms
$599.99 @ Impact Guns

Springfield Hellcat
$663.00
$489.99
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$489.99 @ Impact Guns
$498.99 @ Ammunition Depot
$505.99 @ Gritr
$509.99 @ Impact Guns
$526.99 @ Ammunition Depot
$526.99 @ Ammunition Depot
$535.99 @ Gritr
$535.99 @ Gritr
$572.99 @ Gritr
$630.00 @ Primary Arms
10+1 or 12+1 11+1 or 13+1
1.11 lb 1.14 lb
5.8"L x 1"W x 4.3"H
(4.7"H w/extended mag)
6"L x 1"W x 4"H
(4.5"H w/extended mag)
  • Best trigger
  • Upgraded sights
  • Great aftermarket support
  • Proprietary rail; verify that any lights/lasers mounted to the rail are compatible with the p365.
  • Early models had issues; look for models with a serial number greater than 66A100000

Top 2 Pocket Pistols for XL Hands

Most Modular: Sig p365X

The Sig p365X seems like the clear winner here: It takes an optics-ready p365 and puts the p365XL grip and a flat-face trigger on it.

If you already have a p365, you can swap the grip out yourself for about $60 and 5-10 minutes of tinkering:

Best Trigger: S&W Shield Plus

The other contender is the S&W Shield Plus. The Sig p365x has better sights and ammo capacity. It's optics ready, it has an accessory rail, and the grip's magwell makes reloading easier.

But the Shield Plus has a better trigger - the best out of any pistol on this page. Aside from its ho hum iron sights, the Shield Plus is the easiest pocket 9mm to shoot.

Which is right for you? Measure your pockets to find the max height your pistol can be:

Minimum pocket size for pocket pistol and holster.

So if your front pants pocket opening is 6.5", you can fit a pistol up to 5" high.

Then compare the heights of each pistol below and gauge which configuration best fits your hand.

Maybe the p365x with a flush mag fits best (4.8" H), or the Shield Plus with an extended mag fits better (5.0" H). If your hands are HUGE, a p365x with extended mag is your best bet (5.5" H)...if it fits your pockets, that is.

Updated hourly

S&W M&P Shield Plus
$599.00
$399.00
@ Ammunition Depot
Compare Prices
$399.00 @ Ammunition Depot
$399.00 @ Ammunition Depot
$399.00 @ Gritr
$449.00 @ Ammunition Depot
$569.00 @ Primary Arms
$569.00 @ Gritr
$599.00 @ Gritr

Sig p365X
$619.99
@ Ammunition Depot
Compare Prices
$619.99 @ Ammunition Depot
10+1 or 13+1 12+1 or 15+1
1.26 lb 1.11 lb
6.1" L x 1.1" W x 4.6" H
(5.0" H w/extended mag)
6" L x 1.1" W x 4.8" H
(5.5" H w/extended mag)
  • Best trigger
  • Least recoil
  • Compatible with nearly all aftermarket parts for the M&P Shield and Shield 2.0 (holsters, lasers, sights, etc.)
  • Worst sights
  • No rail
  • Upgraded sights
  • Great aftermarket support
  • Compatible with all Sig p365 and p365XL parts, holsters, etc.
  • Best ammo capacity
  • Proprietary rail; verify that any lights/lasers mounted to the rail are compatible with the p365.


Can't Decide?

Take the Pistol Quiz to find the right category for you, and from there, the one pistol that best fits your needs.

Pistol Quiz
Take our quiz and get a recommendation based on your needs. We'll check what you need a pistol for, how you'll carry it, and what you need most from a pistol.


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