The Pocket Pistol

Pocket pistols come in all sizes and calibers. Choose the best one for you based on your true perceived need and not based on emotion or tradition.
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Pocket pistols come in all sizes and calibers. Choose the best one for you based on your true perceived need and not based on emotion or tradition.

You know the pocket pistol.

It’s that little gun that you bought years ago, but you stopped carrying when you realized that John Wayne only carried a 1911. Heck, you can’t even take it to “gun school” because many trainers will sneer at your pocket pistol, admonishing you for not carrying a “real gun” like a full-size Glock in .45 ACP. Just like they do. Still, in many places and in many cases, those little guns are the only things available for carry.

 

The smaller caliber will mean fewer tactical options available to you simply from the lack of ballistic capability.

 

Guys that have never been to a true NPE (non-permissive environment) in their lives, or those who have the “Badge of America” card, don’t worry too much about hiding their guns, so their perspective is perhaps not so applicable to most of us. A non-permissive environment, by the way, is a place, time, or environment where the risk of being discovered carrying a pistol is too high, and carries too many risks. These places include work environments, social environments, or situations where the dress code precludes the CCW tuxedo seen in many places today.

Yes, it would be nice to be able to carry your Glock .45 with a full complement of magazines and ancillary equipment everywhere you go, but the world being what it is, you simply cannot live up to that wish. The requirement to go armed (since only you can truly protect you) does not go away. So the thinking man arrives at the conclusion that he needs to get a smaller weapon… something easier to hide. Enter the world of the pocket pistol.

 

What the pocket pistol is not:

  • It is not a full sized service handgun capable of proactively solving a problem
  • It cannot reach as far as a full sized gun (accurately anyway)
  • It is not as easy to use as a full sized handgun
  • It does not hold as much ammo…and perhaps not as powerful ammo as the full sized gun

What the pocket pistol is:

  • It is a compromise. At least you have a gun
  • It is intended as a close range “airbag”—used when everything else… including running away, fails • It is intended for face or eyeball shots just out of arm’s reach
  • It is generally carried in a pocket
  • If you plan on using a holster, any type of holster, you can carry a bigger gun
Concealed carry: One of the smallest and yet most useful and concealable pocket pistols is the excellent Seecamp 32.

One of the smallest and yet most useful and concealable pocket pistols is the excellent Seecamp 32.

One attribute of the pocket pistol is “hideability.” Some guys can hide a Desert Eagle in a pocket; they probably don’t need a gun. Others can’t seem to hide a Spyderco.

Another attribute is accessibility under duress. If you can’t “pull it” fast, why bother? The pistol should extract quickly from the pocket, as well as live well hidden in the pocket.

One interesting attribute is the capability to divorce from the pistol quickly. It may not be an issue here in the USA with credentialed CCW folks, but I have students who travel in the dangerous urban areas of the world, and who do very special things for special deniability is an aspect of important consideration. I am aware of some of these men needing at various times to quickly disarm themselves to avoid detection by unfriendly forces in urban areas.

Once you need to alter the clothing, or get a holster, it is not so easy to divorce oneself from the holster or clothing modification. In such cases, the ability to carry in a pocket is an asset. Ditching the pocket pistol totally removes it from the operative in question, to be recovered later as needed.

Incidentally, I see the pocket pistol as belonging to a separate category from a “Reduced Size Service Pistol.” For example, some guys may be able to carry a Glock 27 in a pocket, but I am not a little guy and unless I am going to wear a Zoot Suit, a Glock 27 won’t fit in any of my pockets. Now, I can certainly stuff it in there, but if I want to be able to deploy the Glock 27 with any speed (and avoid the Mae West “happiness” comment) it is not a wise combination. The Seecamp 25 or 32, a Beretta 25, a Sig P230, a Rohrbaugh, or even a J-Frame are pocket pistols. The Glock 26/27, the S&W 2” Model 19, the Colt Officers Model, or the Compact XD are all reduced size service pistols.

Concealed carry: The Rohrbaugh 9mm Pocket Pistol, shown here at approx. actual size, can be considered the Cadillac of the genre—as well as the most expensive.

The Rohrbaugh 9mm Pocket Pistol, shown here at approx. actual size, can be considered the Cadillac of the genre—as well as the most expensive.

Pocket pistols may be available in any caliber from .22 LR to .45 ACP, but the bigger the caliber and the smaller the gun, the less usable it will be. I recall that a certain .45 ACP pocket pistol was very popular with undercover operators about a decade ago, (I don’t recall the name) but the stresses of shooting it tended to break the weapon and discourage its repeated use or carry.

When choosing a pocket pistol I would look for a compromise in caliber and size of weapon. The smaller the gun you need to be able to conceal and deploy from concealment, the smaller the caliber you will have to accept. I need to make it clear that not only is fitting in a pocket a requirement, but so is being able to draw. I had one guy recently show me he could pocket a full sized 1911. Trying to “draw” it quickly, however, was not possible.

While a Glock 26 or a Colt Officers Model will fit into a pocket on some guys, in my opinion it is still a Reduced Size Service Pistol. This doesn’t lessen the capability or utility, if you can carry it that way, but it is not in the same category as a Kahr, Kel-Tec, or J-Frame.

Concealed carry: The most popular version of the pocket pistol is the modern short barreled 38 Special such as this J-Frame.

The most popular version of the pocket pistol is the modern short barreled 38 Special such as this J-Frame.

The smaller caliber will mean fewer tactical options available to you simply from the lack of ballistic capability. To illustrate the point, there are things you can do with a Glock 17 that you will not be able to do with a Seecamp 32. Conversely, the Seecamp may be able to go places the Glock cannot.

 

Good choices:

  • Walther PPK/S
  • Seecamp 32
  • Rohrbaugh 9mm
  • Beretta 25
  • Sig P230
  • S&W J-Frame .38

There are certainly others, but these are some of the ones we have seen in class.

Before we mistake the point here, I want to add that the pocket pistol is not my first choice, nor should it be anyone’s first choice. The first choice should be a full sized fighting pistol in a proper holster backed up with a couple of magazines. The pocket pistol is a compromise when carrying a proper fighting pistol is impossible due to various societal factors. So, make your choices based on your true perceived needs. I think few of the scoffers would scoff at a magazine full of .25 auto rounds in their smiling faces.


CONTACT:

Gabe Suarez
Suarez International, Inc.
www.suarezinternational.com
www.onesourcetactical.com
www.warriortalk.com

 


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