Pocket carry (courtesy girlssecurity.com)

Mike B (yes that Mike B and no flaming allowed) writes:

I’m a regular reader of TTAG and wondered if you’d share your thoughts on the issue of pocket carry. This is the recent story that got me thinking about it [via taylors.patch.com]: “Greenville deputies said a 2-year-old child is in the hospital after an accidental shooting in Greenville County. Deputies said the toddler and his father were visiting the child’s grandparents on Fenwick Lane in Berea, when the toddler reached into his father’s pocket and grabbed the weapon. The gun fired striking the toddler in the chest.” Would you say that carrying a gun in this manner without a pocket holster is irresponsible? Are there certain makes or models of handguns which are exceptions, which are safe to carry in the pocket?

102 Responses to Question of the Day: Is Pocket Carry Irresponsible?

  1. Its not a good thing to do…i mean look at the article referenced with the toddler. I wouldn’t even keep a round chambered if i did my pocket, over a holster. Hell i dont even keep a round chambered when its in its box in my house, BUT the mag is in! lol

      • Jees, unless you’re some sort of a yahoo, how could you not use a holster.

        And if you are a yahoo, in the end you’ll get what you deserve…and if you’re *lucky*, you’ll ONLY get it n the “end”.

        Absolutely AAA+++ to above comments.

        • Right. Hence my sarcastic question. Who doesn’t use a holster? What is that? We gangbanging now? Pocket carry is responsible. Not using a holster is asking for it no matter where the gun is on your person. The question should read: Is no holster carry not responsible?

      • It’s irresponsible when a toddler grabs the piece and pulls the bangswitch. If you’re going to purchase a .380 or other such mousegun, have the gun secured in a pocket holster which covers the trigger.

        I can’t imagine that the responding officers, Judge, or jury would be very sympathetic to an incident where a toddler was shoot due in part to a firearm that was carried in a negligent manner.

        • Right. That’s why I asked. For me, pocket carry follows this setup. Gun, in holster, in pocket. Pocket carry. What’s wrong with that?

  2. I pocket carry a hammerless j frame smith. This is probably the safest pocket carry gun out there. I always have it in an uncle mike’s pocket holster. I see no reason not to use a pocket holster. They’re plentiful and fairly cheaply priced. YMMV.

  3. One would have various questions-what was the trigger pull being a toddler got it to shoot? where was daddy’s mind (drunk,under the influence?), knowing he had a gun and a toddler, yet being unable to keep them apart? We do not have all the facts in this case other than the gun was in the pocket.

    • Maybe I watch CSI too much, but I’m having a great deal of trouble visualizing any scenario in which a toddler reaches into Daddy’s pocket, finds the trigger to Dad’s pocket pistol and is still in a postition to be shot in the chest. Can someone diagram that for me?

      • I have some loose shorts that a two year old could get their hand in the back pocket and pull the trigger on a gun pointed down and hit themsleves in the chest if they were standing really close behind me. Or maybe cargo pants or a jacket pocket. Normal jean or slacks pockets, I dont see any way it could happen, but the story is a little short on details.

  4. The only safe way to carry a gun without a holster is to not have a round in the chamber. If you aren’t willing to buy a holster that covers the trigger then you really shouldn’t carry.

    They even make little tiny holsters that only cover the trigger guard that pull off when you draw it. Use one of those then.

    • There’s no safe way to carry a gun without a holster. The tiny holsters that only cover the trigger guard are unsafe. I’ve already seen one blog post with photos from someone who shot themselves using one of those “minimal” holsters. Use a real holster. Every time, all the time.

  5. My wife just got her ccw and we stopped into a shop to check out some options for her. They showed us the diamondback db9 which I wasn’t fond of at all. She “didn’t mind it” which I’ll take to mean it could get better. I was pleased to see TTAG did a review on it and said it is a gun you will always carry whether it would be pocket carry or otherwise. So that being said its a nice but of coincidence this the the QOTD.

  6. I think the question here really should be: is carrying without a holster irresponsible? This happened because of Plaxico-esque carry.

  7. I have seen the results of a few negligent discharges with pistols. A short rundown goes like this;

    1) A seriously worn (soft floppy) holster that collapsed in and caught the trigger while someone was re-holstering. Owner grazed his leg.

    2) A pistol thrown into a purse loose. The trigger was snagged by -something- in the purse while the owner was rummaging around at a later time. Side of purse was blown out, no persons injured.

    3) Hammerless revolver pocket carried (no holster), trigger snagged by a keyring in the same pocket. Minor flesh wound and powder burns.

    4) Hammerless revolver pocket carried (no holster) in a windbreaker. Trigger snagged by an ID badge lanyard as it was pulled from the pocket. Powder burns on the torso and EXPENSIVE damage to a large plate glass window.

    I take two lessons away from this list. Firstly, always use a quality holster in good condition that covers the trigger and secondly, don’t keep other stuff in the pocket with your firearm.

    • Throwing it loose into a purse? Just pull the damn thing out, wave it around, and randomly pull the trigger. At least then, you won’t be surprised and have awkward bodily expulsions when it goes off.

  8. I pocket carry an LCP in a Desantis Nemisis holster. Never had a problem. Absolutely nothing else ever goes in that pocket. Looking to switch to a S&W 442 or 642 in the future for pocket carry.

  9. In the hot summer months here in TX, I pocket carry an old S&W bodyguard snubbie with a DeSantis Nemesis holster. One of the best advantages of pocket carry (for me) is that I can have my hand indexed on the gun in any situation (parking lot, alley, walking home from the store) and not cause any concern to people around me. Now having any gun stuffed in a bag, pocket or pants without some sort of holster or device (Raven Concealment VG2) to cover the trigger guard is irresponsible and dangerous for sure.

    http://www.desantisholster.com/store/SEARCH-BY-GUN-MANUFACTURER/TAURUS/85CH-2/POCKET-HOLSTERS/The-Nemesis

    • Hmmm… I can see a single action revolver, or a double-action with a 463-1/2 pound pull being a non-issue. ‘Course, it might also be a non-use.

  10. I pocket carry routinely. I don’t always holster up if I’m wearing shorts or sweats, but I’ll stick a Smith 649 in a jacket pocket in a Nemesis pocket holster. Or a Keltec P11 in a pocket holster. Don’t carry ’em naked, but if the trigger’s covered and there’s nothing else in the pocket, perfectly safe and better than leaving it at home.

      • Y’all can see for yourselves if you go over to Mike’s blog. His comments were to the effect that All pocket carry was irresponsible. Another commenter, Greg Camp, and I argued with him on that issue, and we pointed out the need for a holster covering the trigger both in pocket carry and other types of carry.

        His post here was part of his new re-framing of the issue, trying to paint us as insane and outside the mainstream.

        Same old Mike; New depths of deception.

        • Was there really a need for him to repeat what I said? Especially when you ignored the mention of the holster and merely continued telling us that pocket carry was negligent in and of itself?

        • T., please show us where Greg was talking about the safety of pocket carry being dependant on a pocket holster. He didn’t. He clearly argued that even without one it was acceptable and safe.

        • Greg didn’t mention pocket holsters because even after I addressed those, you kept on about how pocket carry was irresponsible no matter what. He never said that you didn’t need a holster; he just didn’t bring it up because you were still harping on the general principle of pocket carry.

        • Since Mikeb feels the need to mischaracterize me, I’ll respond. He showed himself to be unwilling to listen to any details and instead made a blanket statement that all pocket carry is irresponsible. Since complexity was lost on him, I left off arguing with his simplistic beliefs.

          This is not meant as a flame. I am defending myself from a clear attack from Mikeb.

      • Greg and T. Why were you at mikeyb’s blog site arguing with him? You realize that you just doubled the number of hits he got for the day. Let him come to TTAG for the arguments. That supports a pro gun blog.

        • It’s just too much fun to address his foolishness at the source. Does it increase his hits? A bit. But it pushes him to greater heights of irrationality, and it makes a nice contrast for some of his other readers.

          A while back, some liberal reader wrote in that Mike’s irrationality in the face of our counter arguments had persuaded this guy to become pro gun.

  11. Pocket carry is fine IF you’ve got enough working brain cells to handle a firearm. Yes, you should use a pocket holster but there are several out there that cost less than a delivery pizza.

    Also, ANY gun that is pocket carried should either have a longer DAO style trigger or a reliable manual safety. Small frame revolvers and small auto’s like Kahrs come to mind here (yes, those are what I pocket carry). If the safety drifts off on it’s own that gun has issues and shouldn’t be pocket carried until it’s been repaired or replaced.

    I’ll second the question of what type of gun the father was carrying that a toddler was able to pull the trigger while standing in down range of. Think about the angles involved here. I suspect Dad was carrying something that required a manual safety that may not have been engaged. I’m not familiar with them but what is the trigger pulls like on the tiny Beretta and Taurus auto’s?

    Steelheart

  12. Depends.

    F’rinstance, a small revolver or un-chambered automatic in a coat pocket with no kids in the mix: why not?

    A Glock with one in the pipe, kids or no: mabel not so much.

    Depends.

  13. I think it’s more appropriate to suggest that this story is another in the long line of irresponsible gun owners. Anyone with a cursory understanding of firearms and methods of carry will understand the safety issues with each kind of concealed carry. The guy was a dumb @ss … nuff said.

  14. So we’re to believe a two year old reached into his father’s pocket and fired a revolver? Not bloody likely.
    My Colt Detective Special has a trigger pull of about 12#, pretty common for a revolver, and not something a toddler could reach into a pocket and fire even if you suppose the cylinder could turn freely in a pocket.

    • I read the article and it is rather thin of pertinent detail. I can’t see this happening unless the toddler pulled the gun out of the pocket–angles are all wrong for a shot through the pocket. Having had kids, I can remember plenty of raids on my wallet, but I can’t recall them ever reaching into my pants pockets except when I wasn’t wearing them. And I can’t believe that the father would not know that the child was in his pocket and didn’t do something to stop him. The story has a rather fishy smell.

      That said, I completely pocket holsters and nothing else in that pocket are the only responsible way to go. ESPECIALLY if it is a single action like a Mustang/P238 (which have 8# triggers).

    • Were there any witnesses to this incident? If I were the investigating officer I would more likely suspect that Dad had reached into his own pocket, negligently set off a round, and shot his kid. Obvious, if immoral, solution is to lie to the police and blame the kid. I repeat, someone diagram this for me in ANY way that such a shot is possible if the kid was reaching into the pocket.

    • Agree, and it should depend on the circumstances into which one is carrying. There are times, though rare, when it should be bare and essentially in one’s hand in the coat pocket. This has been a life saver for some with a shrouded-hammer revolver, when firing through the coat pocket (or extremely fast presentation) is required. Over-broad interpretation of ‘brandishing’ statutes can necessitate such preparation. Under-covers and patrolmen in deep winter also come to mind.

  15. TO: All
    RE: THIS….

    ….is sounding like the way President Nixon’s secretary managed to erase some of the tapes, as she was—off hours—a professional contortionist with Circus Soleil.

    Piston in pocket. Double-Jointed Child with Rubber Bones reaches in and triggers it. Shooting itself in the chest.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [The Truth will out….]

  16. In Arizona, the CCW requires that you use a carry device aka holster. A pocket is not considered a carry device. Thus pocket carry is not allowed unless your holster fits inside the pocket. I’m not sure how it is in other states.

  17. Ok its off topic but still worthy to mention. As we as a community try to reach out to the broader world I wanted to commend you for including a good looking woman of color in your post. I do hope that you are extending invitations to go shooting to each and every one of these ladies!

  18. I’m a carpenter, so my tool belt prevents me from carrying one of my full-sized pistols. My work gun is a SIG P238 in a wallet holster. It would take a couple of seconds for me to release my belt, in order to draw my gun. That’s still better than having it locked in my car.

    • Hmmm… Nail pouch on one side, hammer loop wherever and holster on the other.

      I’ve done that, when working late in Bad Places.

      • I carry concealed. I have one co-worker/friend who knows I carry. He carries, also. Some general contractors have a “no firearms” policy. What they don’t know, won’t hurt them. I live in Wash. State and I’m not violating any laws. I don’t carry where it’s illegal (police stations, schools, federal facilities, etc.

  19. When I was young and reckless, the only guns I would pocket carry were a Beretta 21a (hammer down, stiff DA trigger and stiff safety) or a NAA mini revolver (hammer down on safety notch). Nothing else in the pocket.

    Now, I’d want a pocket holster that covered the trigger.

  20. If I pocket carry my Sig p238, it’s always in a holster. They’re cheap. Even if you choose a $200 exotic custom pocket rig, the protection they provide is well worth it.
    Even then, nothing else goes in that pocket.

    Anything else would be irresponsible at best, and completely negligent at worst.

  21. I Call Shenanigans…

    “Greenville deputies said a 2-year-old child… reached into his father’s pocket and grabbed the weapon. The gun fired striking the toddler in the chest.”

    First, visualize this, he must reach into the pocket and pull the trigger AWAY from himself…
    Second, How in the hell are you such a negligent parent as to let your two year old put their hand into the SAME pocket as your loaded firearm?
    Third, I know from experience how difficult it is for a 4 year old to pull the trigger on a P22… nevermind a pocket pistol with a 7# trigger.
    Something smells fishy if not outright criminal

  22. Sorry, but mom said if you can’t say something nice about Mike B numbers, well, don’t get banned for flamming him. I will say that waiting for the mob hit I pray for is taking longer than expected . . .

  23. Pocket carry is best accomplished if you use a pocket holster.

    Depending on the type of gun, the pants, and the construction of the pocket I think pocket carry is fine if there us nothing else in the pocket and it fits the gun like a holster.

    -D

  24. Holster is a good idea, but not a necessity. Depends on a lot of factors: type of gun, type of clothing, situation, etc…

  25. IMO, if there is one in the chamber a holster is a must. If not chambered, then depends on a few factors.

  26. I can think of times when my 1 yr. old has tried to disarm me of my pens. The thing to remember is that everything requires most of their strength. My son will easily put 8+. Lbs on pulling a pen sideways out of my pocket. Most likely the kid got his fingers on the trigger and then put his “back into it”, Pushing the gun up/away from front of the business end of the gun.

    I agree with the above, always use a holster. How the dad didn’t know the kid was fooling around, I’ll never know.

  27. you know, weren’t there handguns designed essentially for pocket carry prior to the time when quality pocket holsters were really being made/marketed?

      • i am going to add that i was personally thinking of that Colt M1908 Vest Pocket era. i would shameless carry one in a pocket while feeling no need for a holster.

  28. This is not a story of pocket carry being dangerous, this is a story of holsterless carry being dangerous.

    A simple pocket holster would have prevented this. I pocket carry my LCP in a Blackhawk pocket holster. It cost me a whole $10 at Walmart, and would have prevented this.

    Holsters exist for a reason.

  29. I pocket carry a heavy all stainless S&W 45, no f’n holster, flame on. I do this with Blackhawk tactical pants that are reinforced & make Levi’s look wimpy. I carry safety on 1 in the pipe, Randy

    • Well, I won’t flame you as you’re still running a double action firearm and you’ve added a manual safety. While I will disagree with your choices I agree that you do have some level of safety there.

      My questions would be what model of Smith 45 and how often to people think you’re happy to see them?

      Steelheart

  30. The question and the story don’t really jive. There’s nothing wrong with pocket carry if done properly. The guy in the story pocket carried improperly on, potentially, several different levels.

    There are a couple glaring variables that aren’t explained; what pocket was the gun in and was the guy wearing the article of clothing at the time? I can’t imagine how this could possibly happen if the gun was in a pants pocket and the guy was wearing them so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume it was a jacket pocket or an unworn article of clothing. I will also assume it wasn’t in a holster.

    Now, from there I can draw these conclusions. If the jacket was being worn, then the child manage to reach into the jacket pocket, turn the gun around towards himself, and pull the trigger before the dad was able to stop him. If that’s the case then the guy wasn’t paying attention to his son, or his gun. If the gun was in a discarded article of clothing then the guy was not only not paying attention to his son or his gun, his gun was unsecured.

    The most likely scenario I see is the gun in a jacket pocket, without a holster, hanging up on the coat rack by the door. The child reaches into the pocket and, with the gun pointing down towards the child’s chest, pulls the trigger.
    1. Pocket carry with no holster. (Not a bad thing on it’s own, but when considered with other circumstances smacks of irresponsibility.)
    2. Pocket carry with no safety.
    3. Unsecured gun.
    4. Unattended toddler.

    Pocket carry isn’t irresponsible, this guy was irresponsible.

  31. If a good pocket holster is being used then this shouldn’t happen. Also, if the gun is a semiautomatic then the manual safety (if applicable) should be used. The only gun I pocket carry is a Ruger LCR (DAO revolver), which, iirc, has about a 12 lb. trigger pull & isn’t likely to be accidentally discharged. Even so, I still use a pocket holster & keep *nothing else* in the pocket with the gun.

  32. Pocket carry, with or without a holster, is not irresponsible. Letting a kid reach into a pocket that contains a firearm is irresponsible.

  33. Good discussion. I like the DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster for my J-frame S&Ws, and the smaller Kel-Tec .380, for several reasons:

    – Covers the trigger so you do not get other pocket junk or your finger onto the trigger until you have the pistol out and gripped properly.

    – Keeps the gun vertical and properly aligned in the pocket so the grips are available for gripping, without having the gun turn sidewise in your pocket (very embarassing when you are in a hurry to extract the firearms under stress).

    – Keeps pocket lint and other crud out of the action of your pistol.

    – Disguises the shape of the pistol, so it doesn’t “print” on your pocket (it is supposed to be “concealed” carry).

    – Makes it a lot less likely that the pistol will fall out of your pocket when you move around.

  34. I carry an AMT DAO in 45ACP in an Uncle Mike’s Action Direct pocket holster. It does two things for me. First it covers the gun almost completely and keeps the gun from “printing” the outline and, second, allows for an easy draw. “I’m reaching for my money Mr. Robber.” There is always a round in the chamber since it’s hammerless and since the trigger pull is 10 pounds it isn’t going to go bang until I make it to go bang.

  35. About the toddler. I witnessed my friends 2 year old grab and pull a table
    cloth full of plates, silverware, glasses, and the spiral-sliced ham, half way
    of the table before we knew what was happening. That was at least 20lbs
    of food and flatware. That’s strong enough to pull a wide range of triggers.
    “Assume,” is a word that is most commonly used…by idiots.

    • Yep. My kid is three and she has a death grip. For kicks one day she wanted to help take in the groceries. She weighs 27 pounds. She carried a gallon of milk and a 10 pound sack of potatoes from the car to our door 50 feet away. She didn’t set either down once. She is the reason I never have one in the chamber. I know she can’t rack it… but for sure she can get enough pull to move that trigger.

      • Children as young as three have demonstrated using a table edge and their weight to rack an auto. They’re human: give them a challenge and you’ll frequently find that they are up to it.

  36. I always carry my P-3AT in a pocket holster (DeSantis Nemesis). I never worried about needed a pocked holster with my old Colt Mustang because it had a manual safety.

  37. I carry a Sig 220 or a Glock 20 when walking to and from work in fall/winter.In the pocket of coat,no holster.I call it my gun coat,no snags.Lots of practice shooting from hip.DOA.Thats the way it will happen if need be.Summer,switch to smaller pocket pistol plus hip holster full size.

  38. Pocket carry is fine. Not a smart idea with a pistol with light trigger pull or no safety, IMO. A PPK or similar DA auto/revolver? Not a problem.

  39. Here’s the real deal on pocket carry.
    1. Use a holster that’s in good condition.
    2. Don’t have 1 in the chamber around kids, ever. The reason is because when you sit down you are most likely pointing a loaded gun at them.
    3. However, when I am without the kids and I am going into an area that feels a little less safe, i will put one in the chamber and reholster before I get out of the car. When I get home, before I get out of the car, I go back to no round in the chamber. And yes, I can pull out my gun out of my pocket and put a round in the chamber faster than most can untuck their shirt with one hand and pull out a loaded firearm or reach down and pull their pants leg up, or reach into their pants as if they are a public pervert and draw a loaded weapon.
    4. Don’t carry anything in that pocket but the holster and gun.

    Pocket carry is the best combination of practical, fast, and comfortable to me. I hope you find you like it too. Just be safe and smart.

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