Pocket and Ankle Carry

Right: A holster with attached mag pouch is not well thought out. Left: This Adams Holsters pocket holster would fit in a pair of dress pants.

Right: A holster with attached mag pouch is not well thought out. Left: This Adams Holsters pocket holster would fit in a pair of dress pants.

Question: I am a business professional who frequently wears a suit, but not always the jacket when I am in the office. I am somewhat above the recommended weight for my height which makes it difficult for me to carry anywhere in the waist area. What do you suggest?

Answer: All of us would like to be a few pounds lighter and have the weight distributed a little differently than it is.

The majority of the country’s population is in that category.

Although I can carry comfortably on the waist, inside or out, I carry a Double Action Only (DAO) pistol in my front pants pocket most of the time. A good pocket holster will break up the outline of the gun and stabilize it so that when you make the draw it isn’t out of position. The holster should have some friction material on it so that it stays in place when the draw is made. Drawing both together wastes time, as you will have to strip the holster from the gun in order to use it.

Spare ammunition is carried in the opposite side pocket to balance the load. Nothing else should be carried in these pockets, as under stress, you could just as easily draw your keys as your gun or magazine.

Some holsters have a magazine pouch attached as part of the holster. In my opinion this is not well thought out. Envision having your dominant hand occupied with a gun that needs to be reloaded. Do you have the range of motion to be able to reach across your body with your non-dominant hand and into your dominant side front pocket to draw the magazine? Not likely, so keep your gun and spare ammo where you can get to it easily under stress.


If you pocket carry, nothing else should be carried in that pocket. Under stress, you may find yourself drawing your keys instead!


Another option is to carry a gun in each of the front pockets and don’t worry about the reload. The weight in your pockets will be balanced and therefore more comfortable. This, in addition to the possibility that your dominant hand may be busy with other things—making it impossible to draw from the dominant side—makes two guns a better option than one.

Holstering your pistol is as simple as putting your hand in your pocket. Remember to keep your finger off the trigger when doing this. If you feel resistance or sense misalignment, shift the gun to the other hand and remove the holster from the pocket, and then mate the two properly and place them in your pocket.

Looser fitting trousers and having your tailor reinforce your front pockets will enhance the comfort and utility of front pocket carry.

Some other options that I don’t particularly recommend, but might find favor with you are the belly band and the ankle holster.

The belly band is uncomfortable for those of us who are more round than flat, plus it tends to migrate if we wear it loose enough to be able to sit and walk comfortably. It requires a loose fitting shirt of an appropriate color so that it does not print or show through. (A white shirt won’t cut it.) It is also prudent to replace the buttons on the shirt with Velcro so that access can be easy, rather than having to tear the shirt or rip the buttons off of it in order to draw the pistol.

Spare ammunition is usually carried on the belly band, but you need to be sure it is accessible. After the incident, restoring the pistol and magazine to their original location is not much of a challenge, but explaining a shirt that looks like you got caught in a buzz saw might be. The use of Velcro becomes a plus here.

belt band holster

If worn correctly, a belly band is an option.

Ankle holsters are convenient if you have the range of motion to get to the pistol when you need it. Most drawing techniques involve bending the knees significantly whether squatting, kneeling, or standing. Those of us carrying a little extra weight may find that accessing the gun, or moving out of the position required to access the gun to find cover or a better shooting position might be difficult at best.

Another concern that I have with ankle holsters is weapon retention. If you find yourself in a physical altercation with your hands occupied from waist level and up, there is little likelihood that the gun can be protected from a second attacker or the original attacker if the fight is taken to the ground and he can reach your feet. Invariably, your pant leg will displace far enough to expose the holster and or weapon in a ground fight, thereby giving up the concept of concealment.

Reholstering to the ankle is not a problem if you have time. On the other hand, if escape is more tactically sound, putting the gun in your pocket might be the best option.

My recommendation without meeting you personally is the pocket holster for the above reasons. If that is not your cup of tea, you should be able to make an educated alternate decision with the information mentioned in the previous paragraphs.



This column from longtime writer George Harris addresses questions that concern new shooters and people just getting started with concealed carry. Email your questions to questions@usconcealedcarry.com

27 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. mr.johnnyspencer

    you know ankle holsters to me are for back up weapons or deep concealment. and i can not get even the smallest of guns in my pocket. but the cell pal holster in a board room situation looks like one newest and best inventions of our time. check um out

    1. I am not a big fan of ankle carry, too awkward for this old man, my LC9 is a perfect pocket pistol and has all the stopping power I need at 10-15 feet… awsome weapon..!!!!

      1. Sorry, but I consider the LC9 a tad too big and heavy for pocket carry. The LCP is much better suited for that role. I wear a shirt and tie to work everyday, and my LCP just disappears in my front pocket. A co-worker carries an LCR in the same fashion. Also makes a great backup to a hip holstered weapon.

  2. While I agree the ankle holster is a problem for us larger people to draw quickly. That said the ankle holster works for me when other ways don’t and I really do forget it is there sometimes.
    A gun on the ankle is better than no gun!

  3. Cell Pal is great and so is the Smart Carry.
    Each has their benefits and minuses depending on your clothing etc.
    With the Cell Pal it helps to have pleated pants or even one size larger than normal for the best concealment.
    Smart Carry is the most concealable but some people complain about the heat build up under the holster. I wear it if I have jeans on and a T shirt and you cant even see that you have a gun.
    Its good to have multiple choices of holsters to pick from.
    IWB is great if you have a jacket, sweatshirt or hoody on.
    I prefer the White Hat Holster since you can swap the Kydex cheaply for other guns without buying a whole new holster.
    Ankle is good as long as you can get to it quickly. I have circulation problems in my legs so I only use it if I have no other choice.
    You need to see what works for you and more important than anything is to make sure you have a gun no matter where you put it.
    It wont help if you left it at home.

  4. Word of warning Cell Pal Holster is in my opinon junk didn’t work out for me. Had problems trying to return it, no response so found a use for it hanging off the side of my bed for night concealment. Also they make it so that you have to buy a Phone case for it to work, can think of a better way to spent around $90.00 Bucks,JC

  5. I have an assorment of holsters. Each has its function, but I try to always carry in the same position. I have recently been wearing my belly band more and more in all situations. I were it at the belt line and allow my kydex reinforced belt to secure the weapon in the same place each time. On occaision, I need to rotate the weapon into a crotch carry, similar to a smart carry holster position; this is generally when I go into a place that is performing a general pat down. On a general pat down, the security officers only pat the sides and front to the level of your belt line and never on the crotch. I am not recommending that you carry in places that do not want you to do so, but I personally carry EVERYWHERE except Federal buildings where there are plenty of armed police officers inside to handle a rogue shooter. CONCEALED is CONCEALED.

  6. I carry my snub-nose Charter-Arms on duty 38 spl.
    in a “Uncle Mike’s” pocket holster..it is very comfortable
    and after a few training sessions of dry fire..it works well for me..

  7. Douglas H.Habig

    Something this person who is overweight might think about is, if not wearing the jacket, he might wear a vest! Something to think about also is getting pants a couple of sizes larger, just so you can have the extra room for a inside the pants holster and gun.Right now I’m in Florida for the winter.I have ordered some shorts a couple of sizes large to try this theory out,I really believe it will work! A thought just came to me also, with certain shoulder holsters I think a vest maybe just a “hare” larger might,”git er done.”

  8. I tried pocket carry with the LCP without a holster. One day I reached inside my pocket and found the muzzle pointed up, right at my hand. I bought a pocket holster right after that and would not go without it.

  9. I could never advise anyone to use an ankle holster. One of my fellow officers working Vice carried this way. When he unknowingly confronted two robbery suspects he was shot and killed because he was unable to get his revolver out of the ankle rig fast enough.

  10. sporew@frontier

    Very good article. For me the pocket holster works best. In some of my casual and dress pants there is an extra small pocket in the right pocket. I don’t know what it is for but being that I am left handed, that extra pocket works great for my backup magazine it holds the magazine upright for easy retrieval. I am sure that a tailor could put an extra pocket in any pocket you want front or even a back pocket, what ever works for you. I recommend a front.

  11. I also have tried several holsters. I am 6’2″ and 280 lbs. An ankle holster has been my favorite for long pants. In the summer, I use a fanny pack.

  12. Tie and slacks every day so I have a pocket holster 95% of the time for my LCP. Works great and very well concealed. When in jeans however, pocket holster doesn’t do well so I have a Cross Breed mini tuck IWB. Like this one because I can also use it when I tuck in my dress shirt (the other 5% of the time). Cross Breed advertises that it is the most comfortable holster you will own….they are right.

  13. Glad to see a rig of mine in a picture;) I use that Shark Bite rig for my Kel-Tec P3AT in casual clothing too, usually I’m wearing jeans and my little .380 is my constant left pocket companion. I generally wear a matching .380 mag carrier along with my flashlight in my right hand pocket just to keep that setup separate from my primary gun. Usually I’m carrying one of my larger guns on my hip, mags on the other side. I will say though out of all of these pocket rigs that I’ve sold, allot of guys do decide to carry them as a primary often times in dress clothes in areas where other methods of carry might not be as concealable.

    I do agree with your assessment of the holsters with the integrated mag carrier. Generally I get the request to build that type of holster a few times a week. Once I explain why I don’t build them they are glad I took time to explain it.

    A. You have to reach all the way across the body with the weak hand to draw the mag.
    B. You are putting even more weight on one side of your body essentially making that nice light handgun that much heavier for carry.

    In nearly all scenario’s your better served by carrying your mag on your weak side in a separate carrier.

    Good article love reading the magazine!


  14. At first I thought a 380 ACP round was out of the question for self defense. But, after reading articles and forum responses as well as starting off by buying a 9MM Ruger and adding a High Point 45 ACP for home protection and getting range practice, I agree with the statement “accuracy is everything”. I can pocket carry my Bersa Thunder Plus in a leather holster with 16 rounds “fully” loaded and no-one knows it. I’ve adjusted to the slight bit of weight transfer but agree with most that this is only a small inconvenience for my personal safety.

  15. I love my Taurus .357mag revolver in my right pants pocket. All the time, anywhere, it’s right there.

  16. Since retirement, I carry my PPKS in a fanny pack with an xtra magazine. I am able to draw standing, sitting or lying on my back. The fanny pack also clips around a steering wheel of vehicles and boats and is always a concealed carry, although it takes time to unzip and draw.

  17. I pocket carry my Kahr P380 when out and about. However, I find ankle carry better while at my desk during the day, and it also allows easy access while driving. So I typically end up ankle carrying during the work week, and pocket carry on my days off.

    Regarding the holster with attached mag pouch: I can see this being very functional for appendix carry. The mag and gun would be accessible with either hand if needs be. Think I may have to try one out.

  18. I use a tuff roo pocket holster for my s&w 360 and a speed strip. Sometimes I also have and ankle holster with my ruger lcr as backup.

  19. I have carried a Baby Browning for years. I have carried it in a pocket holster everywhere except where there are magnetometers (metal detectors). I have other concealable weapons, but Galco makes the best holsters out there. Go to a neighborhood gun store and try out different ones for best fit and draw. Yeah, you can get a cheaper holster, but you get what you pay for. I go to gun shows and see all kinds of gimmick holsters out there, they make me chuckle. You can alway sell the holster you don’t care for.

  20. nidan 11 said he carries everywhere exept in Fedral Buildings. I also carry everywhere even if they have a no firearms sign, but I do not carry in any establishment that sells any kind of alcoholic beverage. In Missouri that is against the law and you could lose your conceal carry permit.

  21. I carry my S & W 357 Mag. in my right pants pocket. And I’m very comfortable knowing it is available quickly to protect me and my family.

  22. Nothing beats my Glock19/Lasermax in a Kydex paddle holster on my belt. If not possible, I have used the Guru pocket holster with a KelTec P3AT and Hornady Critical Defense ammo. Best pocket holster I have seen. Great if you have to wear a suit!
    A DeSantis ankle holster for the same KT has also served me well.

  23. My Bersa Thunder Plus Thunder (16 rds) goes in my front left pocket. My Rossi (made by Taurus) .357 Magnum goes in my right front pocket (I am right-handed). I don’t carry extra ammo. If ever needed, I’ll go for the Rossi first, the Bersa second. If that is not possible, vice versa. If 22 rounds doesn’t do the job for me, I’m in deeper than guns can help with.

    I carry only occasionally because I don’t frequent places where there are likely to be a lot of B.G.s. When I do carry, it’s because my wife is with me and she has to enter theatres by the back door; she’s a concert violinist. Her safety is paramount, but she also carries an extremely valuable instrument. She does not know I carry concealed.

    I am also an old guy with COPD. I no longer have the physical ability to take anyone on in fisticuffs. I’ll just pull and shoot first. I qualified Navy Pistol Expert and maintain my training by practicing at least twice a month.

  24. As a newcomer to the CC arena I found all of these comments helpful in my educational process. Thanks to all.

  25. Retired P.O. I’ve ankle carried for 50 years off duty,then retired. It is handy and comfortable even with my Para 10 45cal with 11 rounds of very potent firepower. When it is time to defend your life or that of a loved one, you want the best.

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