We live in a century where smaller, faster and smarter is better. And not surprisingly that philosophy has reached the world of personal defense handguns. The established guidelines for the Pocket Carry category, with an overall length of no more than 6.5 inches, has generally put larger, more effective calibers like .40 and .45 ACP out of reach, but that is no longer a limitation. Groundbreaking new semi-auto models like the Springfield XD-S chambered in .45 ACP and 9mm, and the Beretta Nano chambered in 9mm, along with advanced small frame revolvers such as the Charter Arms Pit Bull, chambered for .40, have put the kind of defensive firepower once reserved for compact and subcompact holster carry sidearms into pocket sized pistols.

The two most important criteria: • No more than 24 ounces. • No longer than 6.5 inches

For this category the principal considerations are weight and overall length combined with the all important width of the frame and grips, which traditionally are the make or break factor for practical pocket carry versus holster carry. The average man’s trouser pocket is from seven to eight inches in depth but most are fairly tight, thus any handgun carried in a pocket has the potential to “print” through fabric making the “concealed” part of concealed carry problematic. A well crafted pocket holster will alleviate most, if not all of a small pistol’s footprint, and holster use is the final determination as to how well any subcompact or micro-compact pistol will conceal in a pocket.

Pocket pistols are, by design, intended for personal protection in close quarters situations, but they can be equally effective as a home defense gun if finances or logistics make owning more than one gun impractical. Remember, the only ineffective handgun is the one you don’t have in time of need.

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