Without a doubt, the most convenient way to go armed at home or concealed in public is with a gun in the pocket.
Though often not thought of initially, convenience is one of the primary considerations for concealed carry. If donning a gun and going on your way isn’t as simple as pocketing your wallet, keys or phone, an excuse not to carry will invariably evolve over time.
While the objective of shooting is hitting your target, teaching or participating in a concealed carry class specifically focused on pocket carry emphasizes the handling aspects of the gun — with safety being at the top of the list. Realistically speaking, an individual considering pocket carry should be an individual with some experience in the foundational skills of shooting, including marksmanship and safe gun-handling.
Unfortunately though, when an individual is inserting and removing a handgun into and out of a pocket, there is a high likelihood of the gun’s muzzle covering body parts that he or she would rather not have shot. Taking it a step further, when a person is seated, walking up or down stairs, reaching for something high on a store shelf, or bending over to pick something up, the gun’s muzzle is likely to violate the “laser” rule to which many of us adhere: In essence, if an individual is adamant that the muzzle of a gun should never point at anything that he or she wouldn’t want to destroy, he or she should reconsider attending a pocket-carry class. Perhaps a better option for such an individual is to find a way to carry concealed using another method.
However, with the very popular inside-the-waistband appendix carry or belly-band carry (among many other examples), the muzzle of the gun “covers” body parts almost continuously. It’s an undeniable fact that an individual must compromise if he or she is going to carry a gun in the appendix location, in a pocket, in a belly band or even on the hip while conducting daily activities.
When one considers that a quality, well-maintained gun will not fire without its trigger being pressed all the way to the rear, the aversion to where the muzzle might be pointing should lessen. Understanding how a trigger operates mechanically in a pistol and a revolver, as well as the internal passive safety systems with which each is equipped, will satisfy many of the reservations a user might have.
Such an education leads to an increased interest in the triggers on various pocket-carry handguns. This is also usually when the manual-safety discussion happens. These concerns could be offset by the pistol or revolver in question being equipped with a double-action-only or otherwise long, heavy trigger mechanism (such as the KelTec P3AT in the SwapRig CargoPack II holster at left). Practically every snub-nosed revolver is double-action-capable, and many semi-automatic pistols have that option as well. The longer, heavier initial double-action pull makes it less likely that the firearm will be discharged during administrative handling.
If an individual wants to be absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt sure the pistol won’t fire when he or she is reholstering or handling it, a mechanical safety that the user consciously operates can see to that. And although there may be concerns as to where the muzzle points when he or she is carrying concealed, addressing those issues by strongly considering the trigger and mechanical safeties should help most any pocket carrier allay those worries.
The Rules Remain the Same
When instructing on or training in pocket carry, the same basic rules apply no matter where the gun is being carried.
The primary rule is that an average observer cannot determine that a gun is present on your person. Concealed carry, by definition, means that others don’t know you have a gun on you, regardless of its location, unless you somehow make them aware of it.
As such, the outline of your gun must not be distinguishable when you’re carrying in a pocket. The cut of your clothing, the depth of the pocket and the location of that pocket all contribute to the gun’s concealment. Loose-fitting clothing makes it easier to conceal a gun and any accessories that might go with it. The pocket must be deep enough that no part of the gun shows out the top. And although most people think of the dominant-side front pocket as the ideal carry location, a cargo pocket or back pocket offers a good option in the right circumstances.
A pocket holster is excellent for breaking up a handgun’s outline, and a good one will keep the gun positioned properly for access when it’s needed. A pocket holster also protects the trigger from being pulled inadvertently and protects the gun from pocket lint and other material that tends to collect there. And a good pocket holster helps with retention in a physical confrontation by keeping the gun stable in the pocket until it’s needed.
In addition to concealment and retention, access and recovery are absolute essentials when you’re carrying concealed. The pocket is one of the most difficult carry locations from which to draw, and if you’re in any position other than standing, the draw is tenuous at best. The physical characteristics of the carrier heavily influence the efficiency of the draw from the pocket.
Recovery to the carry location can be equally as challenging for some of the same reasons. Recovery to the pocket should be done deliberately and with conscious thought to ensure the trigger is protected from contact with anything that would cause the gun to discharge. Ideally, the holster should be removed from the pocket for reholstering.
Keep At It
When training on pocket carry, the instructor — as well as the students — will find that there are many compromises to address, which differ from conventional everyday carry methods. It is prudent to initially practice any pocket-carry handling techniques using dry-fire — slowly and deliberately for safety. Once a student is fully familiarized with the necessary manipulations to comfortably carry in a pocket, the convenience factor will go a long way to ensuring the gun is there when the need arises.