Jeff Gonzales: When it Comes to Pocket Carry, Keep it Simple

Pocket carry is hardly new. People have been stuffing derringers in to their vests and Colt 1903’s in their jackets for well over a century. But the method seems to have grown in popularity with the liberalization of carry laws and expanded interest in concealed carry. During our Concealed Carry Tactics class at The Range at Austin we demonstrate various backup guns along with their their pro’s and con’s. Stuffing one in a pocket seems to be the favored method for toting a backup gat for most students.

Necessity is the mother of invention

My first experiment with pocket carry arose out of necessity when it took longer than expected to get an ankle holster I’d ordered for my J-frame revolver. The delay forced me to find a backup carry method for my backup gun, and that was a good thing.

I’d played on and off again with various forms of pocket carry over the years, but until my new rig arrived, I was determined to do a proper evaluation. To see just hat works, what doesn’t and why. My six-month test lead me to a conclusion . . .

One size definitely does not fit all

Those who pocket carry come in all different shapes and sizes as do the firearms they select. My gun of choice for this little exercise was a Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380. I started off with the most common pocket carry position — front pocket, strong side.

But I discovered a major problem right off the bat. Access can be questionable under certain circumstances. Since I commute to work, sit at a desk a lot while working and during meals (most of the time), easy access in those situations was severely hampered.

I don’t care what type of clothing you wear, it’s almost impossible to retrieve items quickly from a front pocket while seated. Try pulling out some loose change next time you’re sitting. Notice how you end up arching your back and doing a hip bridge just to get all the way down there.

To add to the problem, the girth of your hand increases when it’s wrapped around your gun in you pocket. Depending on the fit of your breeches, that makes a smooth, quick draw even more challenging. Add to that various sizes, depths and access angles of front pockets and at the very least, you’re going to severely degrade your drawstroke.

Monkey trap courtesy The Guardian

Wrapping your mitt around a pistol in a snug front pocket can be like the old Indian monkey trap. When the critter grabs a fistful of delicious rice, he becomes ensnared. His closed fist is too large to fit back out through the hole. Similar result with front pocket carry. I resolved not to be that monkey.

So with all the variables of pocket size, depth and angle of access, I switched to a rear pocket instead.

Most back pockets are of a patch design and even if they’re not, they’re all pretty similar in size. The only hitch: back pockets are usually fairly shallow and pistol the size of my snubby can sometimes poke out the top. That’s usually easily addressed with a proper cover garment, but when sitting in public while back-pocket carrying, I have to be more mindful.

The big benefit, though, is that access can be a lot quicker from a back pocket. When I preformed side-by-side baseline tests of front and back pocket draw strokes, the back pocket was more consistent and, in my experience, more reliable.

Those tests, however, were done while on my feet. When seated, it wasn’t even a contest. A slight shift of my butt cheek while reaching back coupled with a clean clearance of the cover garment netted me a consistently smoother draw stroke from the rear.

The takeaway: I’ve grown fond of carrying two guns lately. And ease and speed of access I get with back pocket carry offers me what many of the other backup gun carry methods failed to do; it keeps things simple.

Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned unapologetically to the world at large. Currently he is the Director of Training at The Range at Austin. Learn more about his passion and what he does at therangeuastin.com.

comments

  1. avatar beefeater says:

    I don’t sit on my wallet, I’m not sitting on a pistol. Maybe try carrying in a cargo pocket?

    1. avatar polarbear101 says:

      I’ve pocket carried in a cargo pocket and you can carry more gun that you might think. A p30sk with one of the sticky holsters in the pic above is easy to throw in a cargo pocket and forget.

      The issue is the draw. The holster always comes out of the pocket still on the gun.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “The issue is the draw. The holster always comes out of the pocket still on the gun.”

        Easy-peasy.

        Cargo pants by (usual) default have drain holes at the bottom.

        Sew on (or otherwise firmly attach) a pair of cords that will thread through the drain holes on the bottom of your pocket holster.

        When you go to put on your holstered gun at the start of your day, feed the cords through the drain holes and knot them off.

        When you draw your gun, the holster stays in your cargo pocket.

        I thought you Polar Bears were supposed to be cunning and smart… 🙂

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          If your cargo pants have no drain holes in the pockets, have a seamstress add them. Your wife or sister should be able to assist you.

          It would be wise to add them to both sides of the pants so they look symmetric…

        2. avatar Rusty says:

          Indeed. Because of the range of motion I need as a mechanic, I can only carry in my cargo pocket. It is comfortable, accessible, and safe. I use (and HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend) a BORAii holster. The hook makes it look like my lcp2 is a cellphone if I carry in fitted jeans, covers the trigger securely, but pulls off every time I want it too in a draw. I had the lcp fall out of the pocket holster that came with it – yikes.

  2. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

    Sitting on a gun would def be bad for the back.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      That’s exactly what my chiropractor would say. I try to keep nothing in my back pockets for two reasons: easier to pickpocket and bad for the back.

    2. avatar BLoving says:

      Nothing in the back pockets for me. Don’t want anything to interfere with the profile of my shapely derriere.
      🤠

    3. avatar How_Terrible says:

      To hell with the back problems. I’d be more worried about constantly having a sore ass.

  3. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Carry LCP in right front jeans pocket.

    I can get it while seated in a restaurant or normal chair by leaning back.

    Harder in my truck but i have full-size pistol in my front seat organizer.

    The LCP carriers much better than my old JFrames.

    My first legal carry was a Smith Centenial in a kramer horsehide….needed khakis or BDUs.

    The LCP in a Desantis holster is my “always” gun. I sometimes carry an LCR as backup.

    1. avatar DrewR says:

      I have basically the same setup, though I’ve switched to the LCP II.

      I have a variety of guns I may carry in addition, but that little 380 is always on me, with a spare mag in a Clip draw in my left pocket.

    2. avatar HP says:

      I’m with you – LCP and DeSantis in pocket. I sometimes carry an MP Shield .45 or Glock 19 in an IWB holster, but as much as I love those guns, they often lose out to the LCP for a matter of sheer convenience.

    3. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      I have a “second series” LCP w/ it’s improved trigger which is a perfect fit in my Levi’s watch pocket. I like it and can shoot well enough with it, that I’ve decided to pass on the LCP II. This combination works in most situations, although I think it’s prudent to carry a separate SCCY in my car or truck.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Amen to that.

        I find my second Gen LCP has a much better trigger than my original.

        I shot my father-in-law’s LCP Custom last weekend and could shoot a little faster and better than my second gen. I would round the sides of that aluminum trigger though, the are sharp.

        Better an LCP in my pocket than just an SR9 in my truck…..

  4. avatar Occam's Laser says:

    My M&P Shield 9 in a Desantis Superfly works quite well in cargo shorts or pants– and the holster stays put on the draw.

  5. avatar JDC says:

    Kahr CW380 in Recluse holster back right pocket all day every day.

    1. avatar JK says:

      I had one of those once…I can’t imagine pocket carrying that thing. Only gun I ever sold. I think I could throw it straighter than it shot. And it was the gun and not the holder… I’m classed Master in IDPA and A in USPSA.

  6. avatar Mark H says:

    Seated in a chair is much different than seated in a car. I can easily draw my P3AT from my front slacks pocket (Desantis Nemesis pocket holster)

    In my car, I’d probably grab the full size 9mm in the console.

  7. avatar ATTAG Reader says:

    If baggy shorts or jeans with cargo pocket in front, a Sig 238 disappears in a Remora. A Shield or LC9 is about the same size and should do the same. If dressier, Taurus TCP in the rear pocket in a leather holster with a wallet flap on the strong side and the wallet on the weak. You are not sitting “on” the gun unless you are slouching back. Those of us who were scolded in elementary school for slouching know this. If wearing a suit jacket, TCP in a cheapie Uncle Mikes pocket holster in the inside breast pocket or the wallet holster in the rear pocket. An advantage of smaller guns in pocket holsters that was not mentioned in the article is they can go from coat or jacket pocket to pants pocket or vice versa quickly and relatively unobtrusively as you go in and out of buildings. Not so with IWB.

  8. avatar James69 says:

    I use the Kel-Tec clip on my P3AT. Pistol goes under the belt (weapon is between my belt and my pants)and the clip secures it. With the extended mag(10 shots total – ARX) it’s an easy draw. Left rear hip or right rear hip or front. Depending on which side the clip is mounted on the gun. You just have to wear a shirt untucked to cover. So far no “kabooms” or “fumbles” just gotta watch it when you goto the can. Some jeans you can tuck it into your watch/change pocket as well. Barrel and trigger are covered.

    *** Check the bore once in awhile, it’s amazing the crap that gets into it ***

    If in the truck I can just grab the shockwave…. 🙂

  9. avatar Steve says:

    For the last few months I have been using a superfly with a lc9 in my front right pocket with cargo pants. I find this works quite well and when I stand I can draw very easily. No doubt it is more difficult if I am sitting or in my vehicle. I started out with an sr9c and found it to be just a tad big to be comfortable. Yes it shot nice and I could hit really great with it but it seemed to defeat the purpose of conceal carry. The lc9 even though it’s a little snappy when shooting I still hit great with that, so it was a no brainer. I played around with all types of holsters and different ways to carry, but it seems that the pocket was simple and very effective. I even tried the smart carry which works well also, but is just not as convenient as the pocket. I tuck my shirts in almost all the time, I can carry in the pocket anytime of the year and no one has a clue it’s there. I don’t have to wear any shirt to cover anything. I do wear cargo pants pretty much all the time, and yes the pockets are roomier then say jeans. I practice drawing from different positions and yes you can fine tune it and get faster with practice. I found that it was more important to make sure I have my gun with me and comfortable then to worry about the speed of draw from a sitting position. My biggest problem is I have nothing but my gun in my right pocket, so everything else pretty much goes into my left front pocket, keys and things. I do fumble with grabbing stuff out of the left pocket all the time now, but that will come with time.

  10. avatar Mark says:

    Not sure why you need to be concerned about drawing your BACK UP GUN while seated as you should be reaching for your PRIMARY GUN which should be conveniently located in your holster at the 4 PM position or 12:30 PM position if you are an AIWB afficianado. A pocket gun in a back pocket is a lame idea especially if you find yourself on your back in some sort of scuffle.

  11. avatar tdiinva says:

    Bad advice from a gun security point of view. The back pocket is much easier to pick. Never put anything of value in your back pocket.

  12. How about a tactical fanny pack? Put a medical emblem on it and the gayness goes out the window.

  13. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    This is a little off-topic, although relevant. A black fabric “cell-phone” holster (mine is made by Proteck) is another viable carry alternative. With the popularity of larger I-phones, the somewhat larger size—which is perfect for a Kel-Tec or LCP—is so unremarkable looking that people just tend to ignore it.

  14. avatar rt66paul says:

    What you need is one of those .9mm handguns. They fit well into your watch pocket and are much easier to get to with one finger.

  15. avatar raptor jesus says:

    I wear a suit daily. I pocket carry a P238 in a DeSantis Nemesis in my left front jacket pocket.

    Off the clock I carry IWB but might supplement with my Beretta 950 or P238 pocket carried in the same location in a winter jacket in the Nemesis or Superfly.

    Pocket carry in my pants pockets does not work. Way too awkward.

  16. avatar Phil LA says:

    Slacks and LCP in back pocket holster. Extra mag and wallet in other back pocket. I forget they’re there. 100% concealable and easily within any dress code. Looks like a wallet.

  17. avatar Russ Davis says:

    My casual EDC is a SW Bodyguard 380. I’m backwards so needed a custom left hand IWB draw. What was delivered from Taguan was a nifty holster that clips onto the left front pocket with the gun/holster package inside of the pocket but easily accessable. Since it does not sit inside of the pocket but offers the grip just outside allows for an easy pull on the item at hand without extracting the holster in the process. If in the truck and things get serious, there is always the hidden 1911. I can easily pull the SW from a sitting position and a seatbelt does not cause a problem. The trick is not to bury it at the bottom of the pocket but wear something, a long t-shirt, polo shirt, untucked dress shirt, etc., to hide the grip. Just don’t reach for the granola on the top shelf at Wally World.

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