Some people want to carry as little a gun as possible and some folks like having a small backup in case their primary gun fails. And plenty of gun owners just want to carry a pistol that’s small, light and slips into a pocket for easy concealment. The good news, however, is that today’s purchaser of pint size pistols has a lot more to choose from than they used to.
In previous eras, there were some tiny guns out there but most of them were cheap Saturday Night specials. (Got a barrel that’s blue and cold, ain’t good for…never mind.) However, manufacturers have significantly stepped up their quality when it comes to fun-size firearms.
Today, there are a good number of these guns that can easily be relied on for concealed carry and self-defense. It’s a good idea to stick to guns that are at least chambered in .380 ACP, as .25 and .32 calibers (though exception could be granted to .32 H&R and .32 Federal, but that’s for another time).
Some people disparage mouse guns as underpowered, but there isn’t any such thing as stopping power short of an elephant gun, so we won’t get into that here. Yes, it’s true that .380 ammo doesn’t perform as well as 9mm in terms of penetration and expansion. However, it works well enough that it can get the job done if need be provided you do your job and place it properly. So, if you’re committed to a tiny gun, be sure to train with it.
Also, if you mean to carry a pocket gun, do it in a pocket holster. Yes, my main gig is at Alien Gear Holsters and yes we sell pocket holsters, but carrying a loaded handgun in your pocket without protecting the trigger guard is an accident waiting to happen.
Google “accidental discharge.” Find ten individual instances, and note how many of them are people who were pocket carrying without a holster. You’ll find plenty of them. So if you’re going to pocket carry, get a holster. Even if it’s someone else’s…ours is better, but that’s beside the point.
Anyhow, what are some great choices in pocket pistols? Here are a few you need to consider.
One of the most popular is the SIG SAUER P238. It’s a micro 1911 in .380 ACP, basically SIG’s clone of the Colt Mustang though with some differences. It’s a single-action with a thumb safety for Condition One carry, and it holds 7+1. Typical of Sig Sauer, there are a plethora of options of finish and other baubles, but the black Nitron carry model can be had for around $600.
Yes, you’re paying the SIG premium, but this tiny pistol is easier to shoot and more accurate than you’d think it had any right to be. All models come with SIGLITE night sights, so you are getting something for it. If SIG’s aren’t purty enough for you, there’s also the Kimber Micro…which is the same darn gun.
Another solid choice is the Springfield Armory 911 in .380 ACP (commence to grumbling, comments section). The 911 is basically the same thing as the SIG P238 (micro 1911, .380 ACP, single-action) but the 911 Alpha model has a much friendlier MSRP at $429. Street prices will be lower.
The specs are almost identical, save the standard magazine capacity (6+1, but you can buy a 7+1 extended magazines for it) and it shoots just as well as the P238. You have to deal with white dot rear sights and a fiber optic front sight, but that’s very do-able.
Not everyone likes the single-action operating system, though. Fair enough. Some great options exist in DAO guns. You might think that double-action only is the best operating system for a tiny gun. Some gunmakers agree, and there are some excellent options there, too.
First up is the Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard .380. It’s a barebones pistol, with a DAO trigger and internal hammer. There is a tiny manual safety, but it’s so small and stiff that you’re better off not using it. The 8-lb trigger pull acts as a passive safety. You can pick one up pretty easily for $400 or less. Sights are drift adjustable white dots, but you can get a laser-equipped model for about $30 more.
Another good option is the Kahr CW380. Kahr pistols are all DAO, single-stack pistols. You just choose size, capacity and what trim level you want. The CW380 is a micro-size pistol in their budget line. It carries 6+1 of .380, has an 8-lb trigger pull, and has white dot express sights, with a bot at the bottom of the rear sight notch and a white dot front sight. MSRP is $419, but Kahr pistols have a quiet fanbase that revels in their no-nonsense design and build quality relative to the price point.
If you want real budget friendliness, Ruger makes a few pocket .380 pistols. Of their offerings, I would recommend the LCP II. It’s a micro .380 pistol just like the original LCP, but the tabbed trigger is better than that of the original LCP. You get 6+1 of .380, textured grips, a pinkie rest and…that’s about it. Sights are fixed, though you can get a laser if desired. MSRP is $350, so you’ll find it in-store for a song.
If you haven’t heard, the Taurus Spectrum can now be bought in stores rather than looked at on websites. Though it lacks the Pittman trigger system of the TX22 (in-joke from SHOT Show; don’t ask) the Spectrum is a striker-fired .380 micro. It’s small enough to carry, holds 7+1 of .380, is surprisingly ergonomic, and costs less than $300. Say what you want, but Taurus’ quality has been improving a lot in recent years.
There are others, of course. If there’s a pocket pistol you felt merited inclusion but didn’t get in, sound off in the comments!