With concealed carry now legal in most states, pocket holsters are a popular means of carrying small handguns. But pocket holsters aren’t new. They date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when police officers often carried their medium-framed, double-action duty revolvers in a pocket holster on the hip. In the classic “Sixguns by Keith,” Elmer Keith discusses an ex-gunfighter friend of his who carried a short-barreled Colt Single Action Army revolver in a pocket holster: “Sam could stroll along the streets of any town with his right hand in his right pants pocket and coattail covering the gun, yet in a fraction of a second his hand could slide out of the side pants pocket, grasp the gun and draw it shooting.”

But it was holster pioneer Chic Gaylord who popularized the modern pocket holster. Gaylord produced the first hand-molded, boned, friction-fit holsters in his New York City holster shop in the 1950s and 1960s. I recently purchased an 8-by-10, black-and-white press photograph dated October 9, 1955, showing a close-up of a Colt snubbie in a Gaylord “8-Ball” holster being inserted into a side pants pocket. The caption read, “The 8-Ball Side Pocket Holster for small guns is a favorite of detectives, bankers, jewelers, shopkeepers and people who want to carry a concealed weapon.”

And such people may find that the pocket holster works as well today as it did in 1955. As Chic Gaylord said in his book “Handgunner’s Guide,” “The logical pocket in which to carry a small gun is the side pants pocket. It affords both comfort and concealment when you’re standing in a casual manner with your hand in your pocket. It affords one of the fastest and sneakiest draws possible. Many a bandit intent upon sticking up a jewelry or liquor store has died with an incredulous look on his face after running up against a side-pocket job.”

For more information about the pocket holsters featured in the gallery above, please visit the following sites.

Don Hume Model 001
donhume.com

DeSantis Nemesis
desantisholster.com

Dillon Precision El Raton-DL
dillonprecision.com

Frontier Gunleather Pocket Pal
frontiergunleather.com

Galco Front Pocket
galcogunleather.com

Safariland Model 25
safariland.com

This article was originally published in “Pocket Pistols” 2018. To order a copy, go to outdoorgroupstore.com.

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