A while ago, there was a list of some great pocket pistols options if you’re inclined toward a small .380 ACP pistol for concealed carry and/or self-defense.
Here are a few more. Before we get started, a few things must be mentioned.
First, make sure you get a gun you can (and will) actually train with. If you can’t hit the broadside of a barn or run the gun worth a darn, it’s basically useless.
Second, be sure to carry with appropriate ammunition personal defense rounds in your carry gun. Modern ammunition has made .380 ACP more than just “merely adequate.” for EDC purposes. It has also made 9mm arguably the perfect round for personal defense. Don’t even start with that stopping power stuff; handguns just don’t have any. We’ve been over this…get an elephant gun if you want it.
Third, carry in a pocket holster…something that covers the trigger. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. The typical “accidental discharge” story that gets in the news is some yahoo who decided to pocket carry without a pocket holster. Sometimes, they just get embarrassed by their stupidity and their carelessness. Sometimes, the outcome is tragic.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about some more excellent choices of pocket pistol. This time it’s going to be a little different. The last list was heavy on .380 pistols, and this one won’t be.
The SIG P238 is one of the most popular tiny .380 pistols, but the thing is, the SIG P365 is just better. It’s just as easily carried in a pocket, as the dimensions are amazingly close. The P365 is less than 0.5 inches taller, less than 0.5 inches longer, actually a hair slimmer, and only a few ounces heavier than the P238.
The P365 also has the benefit of not being single-action, so newbies don’t have to fret about the manual safety. The P365 is chambered in 9mm instead of .380, and carries 10+1 instead of 6+1. It also has the benefit of being cheaper. Pay less, get a better gun. That’s a good formula
The ur-pocket pistol, of course, is the .38 Special snubnose revolver and at that, the Smith & Wesson J-Frame. There are several dozen models to choose from. Though “best” is kind of subjective, there is one that offers a lot when you look at the whole picture.
The Model 638 Airweight has been around for quite some time, but sometimes the old ways are best. The 638 has a shrouded hammer, so it’s streamlined for concealed carry, but still offers the user the ability to fire in single-action rather than just DAO like the 642 series.
The Airweight model has an aluminum alloy frame, bringing unloaded weight down to 14.6 ounces. This pistol has been around for more than 50 years (originally called the Model 38 Bodyguard when released) because the darn thing just works.
I wouldn’t recommend the 649, which is the same gun in .357 Magnum. Why? Because .357 Magnum fired a snubbie is just painful. Frankly, if you wanted a compact maggie, save up for a round-butt/short barrel Combat Magnum. Then you’ll be able to shoot the thing worth a damn.
Some people would think that the next entry will be another classic carry gun like the Walther PPK or Walther PPK/S, but no. If I was going to tell someone to buy a small Walther…
I would point them at the PPS M2. It’s a bit bigger and a bit heavier for a pocket pistol, at 6.3 inches long, 4.4 inches tall, 1 inch wide and 21.1 oz unloaded. That’s right at the limit for a gun one might carry in a pocket. So why do I mention it?
Well, it carries 6+1 of 9mm instead of 6+1 of .380 ACP. It’s more affordable than a PPK, and has a trigger that you can actually use. In fact, it’s probably the best trigger among single-stack subcompacts. It’s a better gun than the GLOCK 43 (that’s right, I said it) and putting up with a few extra ounces is worth it.
But let’s say someone DOES like old-school guns but wanted some modern appointments?
The Ruger LCR series of revolvers are fantastic concealed carry-cum-pocket pistols, but with modern features. The lower frame is polymer to reduce weight, and the DAO trigger of the base model is tuned for a smooth pull with minimal stacking. And they deliver.
Of all the small revolvers I’ve handled and fired, these have the best DA trigger. You get rubber grips, a rear sight cut into the top strap and a front blade sight…and that’s about it for the base model.
While there’s nothing wrong with this gun in .38 Special, I’d recommend the Ruger LCR in 9mm because there are more short-barrel optimized loads for it and because 9mm is cheaper. The cylinder is machined for use with moon clips, and the 9mm LCR comes with three. MSRP is $669, but it’s more like $500 in stores. The front sight, incidentally, isn’t machined onto the barrel; you can actually upgrade it if desired.
Yeah, the LCP would be easier on the budget and carries more bullets. But the LCR is just better.
A solid budget gun would be the Remington RM380.
Remington’s reputation has taken some knocks over the years, but guns like their 1911 pistols and the RM380 are worthy EDC choices. TTAG has covered the RM380 before (see Dan’s RM380 review) but the greatest hits goes like this:
Remington bought Rohrbaugh and bippity-boppity-booped the Rohrbaugh R9 (a very well-liked but niche and expensive compact 9mm) into an economical all-metal .380 pistol. Ambi magazine releases and dual recoil springs were added, but the finery was reduced until a svelte, compact pistol (5.27″ long by 3.86″ tall, 12.2 oz unloaded, 6+1 capacity) was created, and for about $300-ish on the street.
A long DAO trigger is about the only common complaint, but that’s to be expected with most pocket pistols.
But I didn’t mention the GLOCK 42, you say?
This is a GLOCK 43, which is slightly taller (4.25″ vs 4.13″) slightly longer (6.26″ vs 5.94″) and a bit heavier (16.23 oz vs 12.17 oz unloaded) than the GLOCK 42. However, the G43 carries 6+1 of 9mm rather than .380. While .380 is fine, you only have to put up with a slightly bigger, slightly heavier pistol in the pocket to get more choices in carry ammunition which is also cheaper.
Any other pint-size pistols for pleasant packing you felt got left off? Say so down below. Feel like the Bruins got ripped off? The Blues deserved the win, so you’re wrong, but those blown calls were terrible.