9 Best Pocket Pistols for Every Day Carry [2021]

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / October 02 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.

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 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.

  1. Under $400
  2. Over $400

Best .380 Pocket Pistol under $400

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, 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.

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

And unless you need the easy-racking of the S&W Shield 380 EZ, or just love Glocks, it makes those pistols obsolete, too. This is just an amazing pistol.

Updated hourly

Ruger LCP MAX
$449.0
$359.99
@ GrabAGun
Compare Prices
$359.99 @ GrabAGun
$373.99 @ Guns.com
$379.89 @ Impact Guns
$399.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$399.99 @ Brownells
$449.0 @ MidwayUSA
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 Pistols over $400

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.

Updated hourly

S&W Shield 380 EZ
$606.0
$369.99
@ Primary Arms
Compare Prices
$369.99 @ Primary Arms
$379.99 @ Brownells
$379.99 @ Brownells
$382.99 @ Guns.com
$382.99 @ Guns.com
$386.99 @ Guns.com
$389.99 @ Sportsmans Guide
$399.0 @ 1800 Guns and Ammo
$403.99 @ Impact Guns
$409.09 @ Impact Guns

Glock 42
$566.59
$399.0
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$399.0 @ Impact Guns
$399.0 @ Impact Guns
$399.0 @ Impact Guns
$399.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$399.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$419.99 @ GrabAGun
$422.89 @ Impact Guns
$432.99 @ Guns.com
$479.98 @ Impact Guns
$499.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
8+1 6+1
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
  • Easiest pocket pistol to shoot.
  • The slide is the easiest to pull back.
  • Too large to fit with some outfits; may need to have pockets tailored, or extra holsters to accommodate your wardrobe


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 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.

  1. Under $500
  2. Over $500

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.

Updated hourly

Ruger EC9s
$409.99
$249.99
@ Palmetto State Armory
Compare Prices
$249.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$249.99 @ Sportsmans Guide
$269.09 @ Impact Guns
$279.99 @ GrabAGun
$299.00 @ Brownells
$299.99 @ GrabAGun
$302.39 @ Impact Guns
$309.99 @ GrabAGun
$310.99 @ Guns.com
$310.99 @ Guns.com

Glock 43
$599.99
$448.00
@ Primary Arms
Compare Prices
$448.00 @ Primary Arms
$448.00 @ Impact Guns
$448.00 @ Impact Guns
$449.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$449.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$454.99 @ Guns.com
$467.00 @ 1800 Guns and Ammo
$499.90 @ MidwayUSA
$499.99 @ GrabAGun
$518.99 @ Guns.com
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. 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.

Updated hourly

Top 2 Pocket Pistols for XL Hands

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 15 minutes of tinkering:

The other contender is the S&W Shield Plus. The Sig p365x has better sights and ammo capacity, it's optics ready, it has a (proprietary) accessory rail, and the grip's magwell is made for easier reloading. But the Shield Plus has a better trigger - the best out of any pistol on this page. And thanks to its overall weight and balance, it has the best recoil, too. 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
$649.99
$449.99
@ Palmetto State Armory
Compare Prices
$449.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$449.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$450.90 @ MidwayUSA
$459.90 @ MidwayUSA
$475.00 @ 1800 Guns and Ammo
$479.99 @ Primary Arms
$479.99 @ Primary Arms
$499.99 @ GrabAGun
$499.99 @ GrabAGun
$499.99 @ Brownells

Sig p365X
$659.99
$599.99
@ 1800 Guns and Ammo
Compare Prices
$599.99 @ 1800 Guns and Ammo
$599.99 @ Rainier Arms
$599.99 @ Impact Guns
$610.99 @ Guns.com
$649.99 @ Palmetto State Armory
$659.99 @ GrabAGun
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


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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