There is a certain expectation one has when considering the purchase of a pistol classified as a “pocket handgun.” The idea itself is more than 200 years old. Of course, pockets were bigger back in the day when petite, singe-shot flintlock pistols could be hidden in one’s waistcoat to discourage highwaymen and other miscreants bent on mischief. Interestingly, today’s pocket handguns are no larger, and most are actually smaller, can carry from six to ten rounds and disappear seamlessly into a trouser pocket with a proper holster. Calibers back in the days of the flintlock and caplock pistol were anywhere from a lead ball no greater in dimension than a pea to the robust .454 (roughly a .45 caliber round ball). Fast-forward almost 200 years and the choices are pretty much the same, .25 ACP all the way up to .45 ACP. The means of operation and the capacity of handguns, however, have charged significantly!

To qualify as a 21st-century pocket handgun, a subcompact revolver or semi-auto must not exceed an overall length of 6.5 inches, be no greater than 1.25-inches (or less) in width and under 5 inches in height. None of these pocket-sized dimensions, however, have any bearing on caliber today, with modern pocket pistols ranging all the way up to .45 ACP. With semi-autos, average capacity for pocket carry is six or seven rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber; revolvers generally are limited to five-round cylinders. This category also includes two-round over/under pocket pistols in comparable calibers, while many of the latest pocket-sized semi-autos offer the same large-caliber defensive firepower once reserved for compact and subcompact holster carry models.

While pocket pistols are, by design, intended for close-quarters personal defense situations, the same handgun kept bedside is no less of a deterrent to an intruder who would violate the sanctity of one’s home. In point of fact, today’s pocket pistols are by far the most universal of all handguns, a verity that would no doubt amuse a 19th-century Philadelphia gunmaker named Henry Deringer.




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Show Comments
  • Franco Eldorado

    I love small handguns for edc. I’ve tried a vast array of them. I pocket carry mine due to work restictions and dress code. The way I look at it pocket carry requires many challenges for a gun builder. It has to be thin, light in weight, safe and reliable. In the major calibers that is a tough bill to fill. Anything light is hard to hold on to in 9mm and up. The LC9 was close but still a tad too heavy with a horrendous trigger. The SW360 too much recoil and slow to reload. In major caliber the cm9 kahr has been close to perfect but still on the high side of size and weight. That leaves you with a 380 or lesser sized gun. Of all the nice firearms I have to pick from a cheap Taurus TCP has actually found its way into my daily carry. I’m almost embarrassed to say it but this thing is the most comfortable to carry, been 100% reliable over about 600 rounds and unbelievably accurate. One positive about carrying a cheap gun is if you have to toss it you haven’t lost much. I like my cm9 so much I might try to find a cw380 to replace the TCP. Why? I hate carrying a Taurus.