There is a fine distinction between pocket pistols and compact carry handguns since all of the semi-autos and revolvers in the pocket handguns category can just as easily be worn in a belt, inside the waistband, or in another type of concealment holster. By comparison, the majority of handguns in the compact carry category measure only 0.5-0.75 inches in greater length and a few ounces more in weight, making many of them equally suitable for pocket carry. What it ultimately comes down to is how easily a compact handgun can be concealed by an individual, and that can vary according to clothing, time of year (weather conditions), and how adept one becomes at carry techniques regardless of the handgun’s size or weight. An individual’s height, weight, and build (and yes, even gender) will have an influence on what size gun is suitable for proper concealment. And proper not only means keeping the firearm out of sight, but being able to effectively access and draw it with relative speed. Compact carry handguns are the best suited to this purpose.
Compacts represent one of the largest handgun categories available with a great diversity of makes, models, sizes and calibers, from lightweight 9mm’s up to heavy-hitting .40 S&W and .45 ACP semi-autos. The average overall length of a handgun in this category is 7 inches with an average weight of 24 ounces, only a slight step up from a typical 9mm pocket pistol. The greater differences are in grip size, slide width (on semi-autos) and the overall height of the gun, which can make or break pocket carry but will have little or no effect on holster carry. The advantages to compact carry handguns include a higher average capacity (both semi-autos and revolvers), reduced felt recoil, larger grip size for ease of handling, and a greater selection and price range from which to choose. The most common calibers in this category are .38 Special or .357 Magnum for revolvers, and 9mm and .45 ACP for semi-autos.