Pocket pistols are really nothing new. Since the earliest example of the breed—the Queen Anne Flintlock Pistol—came into vogue in the early 18th century, the idea of a small, concealable, easily carried pistol has been a consistent theme among defense-minded citizens. As design, materials, manufacturing methods, and ammunition improved, pocket pistol technology has evolved tremendously. Today’s compact pistols are more accurate, reliable, and potent than ever before—and they continue to get better all the time.

Tools, however, are only part of the equation. If you really want to rely on a pocket pistol to save your life, you need to power it with a solid skill set and a sound set of tactics. You also need to make sure that those skills and tactics are consistent with the limitations of your chosen hardware. To that end, here is a template for some of the basics you need to consider when you carry a pocket pistol.

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