I think the best pocket guns are actually revolvers, but there are a lot of good choices for autoloading pocket pistol pistols too. Assuming an autoloading pistol is reliable and accurate (these days, most are) and can actually fit in your pocket and be deployed quickly, then you have found a good thing. Autoloading pistols have several advantages over revolvers, such as higher ammunition capacity, faster reloading capability and a flatter profile.
The key metric that makes an autoloading pistol suitable for pocket carry is its height. The height includes the distance from the top of the rear sight to the bottom of the magazine base plate. But you can’t get a gun that’s too short. If you do, you will not be able to adequately hold on, and your shooting may suffer. So, what’s the right height for an autoloading pocket pistol? Based on my top five picks, anywhere from 3.7 to 4.25 inches.
Keep in mind that I can’t possibly know about or accommodate the myriad variations of pockets out there. Just a quick Google search yields over a dozen different pocket types and styles depending on the clothes you wear. I covered my top five pocket holsters in a previous piece here. With that, here are my top five autoloading pocket pistols. Your picks, pockets, and holsters may vary.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Magazine Holsters
- Top Five Night Sights for Handguns
- And Top Five .38 Special Self-Defense Rounds
- Top Five New Old Guns
- Top Five AR-15 Accessories
1. Beretta Nano (Height: 4.17 inches)
This 9mm, 3-inch barreled six-rounder weighs just under 20 ounces and offers one of the most balanced, reliable and accurate shooting experiences you can find in a small pistol. And it carries great too.
An eight-round magazine can back up the six-round magazine, and the trigger sports an additional safety to keep it from moving back unless pressed intentionally. The Nano can handle +P ammunition, but the instruction manual warns against “extended use” of it.
Other features include a reversible magazine release, a striker deactivator, a snag-free design for comfortable carry and draw, adjustable three-dot sights; a durable, low-shine coating; a serialized chassis and a polymer frame you can swap out for different colors.
Made in the USA, the retail price for the more basic Nano models (black, pink and flat dark earth) is $450. Available on GunsAmerica for $398 and lower. Upgrade to a Crimson Trace model for $650.
2. Diamondback DB9 (Height: 4 inches)
The Diamondback DB9, another 9mm pistol made in the USA, retails for $299 and thus presents a tremendous value (as low as $210 on GunsAmerica). In addition to its 4-inch height, the DB9 is only 0.8 inches wide. It is accurate and reliable, and at a mere 11 ounces, it is probably the snappiest of the guns in this list.
With a three-inch barrel and six-round capacity, the DB9 demands you use bullet weights not exceeding 124 grains, and no +P rounds are allowed.
Despite being such a lightweight, the DB9 sports some significant use of steel. The trigger is made from steel and uses dual connecting bars, the magazines are made from steel, and the magazine catch is made from steel. That adds up to durability but not weight.
The DB9 can be outfitted with a laser aiming system too. Pictured is a DB9 with a LaserMax Centerfire trigger-mounted laser.
3. Glock 43 (Height: 4.25 inches)
Glock’s Model 43 may have replaced Models 26 and 27 (or any other “Baby Glock”) as the darling of the concealed carry market. There is no question that it is a great concealed carry gun with an excellent heritage behind it.
But in this lineup, it is also the tallest and therefore a bit more difficult to carry in a pocket. If you can pull it off, great. You will enjoy legendary reliability, terrific accuracy and a million holsters and accessories to choose from.
With 3.39 inches of barrel and six rounds in the magazine, the 43 weighs 22.36 ouches, making it also one of the heavier guns here. All the familiar controls, textures and sounds let you know this gun is a Glock through and through. MSRP: $619.19. Though, street prices on GunsAmerica are in the $450 range.
4. Kahr CW380 (Height: 3.9 inches)
Known for producing very small but very reliable pistols, Kahr’s CW380 is, as the name implies, a .380-caliber pistol. Its magazines hold six rounds, and the gun measures under 4 inches from the top of the slide to the bottom of the stock, making pocket carry much easier.
Sporting a 2.58-inch barrel and a .75-inch-wide slide, the CW380 weighs 10.2 ounces without the magazine inserted. This is a small gun. As one might suspect, the ease of carry makes it a bit more challenging to shoot.
But it is not a bad tradeoff; if you practice, you can do very well drawing and shooting accurately. The .380 rounds provide a bit of snap as they work against the small dimensions of the gun (nothing unreasonable, but this is going to be a gun you carry a lot but shoot a little). The Kahr CW380 retails for $419. Available on GunsAmerica for around $350.
5. Taurus Curve (Height: 3.7 inches)
Providing an interesting mix of design and features, the Taurus Curve is so named because it literally is curved in order to provide maximum concealment when carried in a pocket. The gun’s contour sort of wraps around your leg and makes the gun look like a wallet when in your pocket.
Adding to the concealment factor is the integrated light and laser combo, which again results in the gun not looking like a gun when it prints. It is certainly different to hold and fire this gun, but you get used to it. It is super snappy and does not have much to hold on to. In fact, you really start to appreciate the curved design and the concealment possibilities created by it.
SEE ALSO: Carrying the Taurus Curve
Six-round magazines sit flush with the stocks, and the gun is super smooth all the way around. There really are not any sights, save for the sort-of trench sight offered by the loaded chamber indicator and “bore axis system.” The light and laser combo does the work for you.
The Curve retails for $419 (found for under $300 on GunsAmerica) and weighs only 13 ounces. You can clip it to your belt or use it with the included holster system to carry it safely in your pocket. You can even automatically activate the light and laser upon drawing. At 3.7 inches high, it is the shortest of this bunch and the easiest to conceal in a pocket.
About the Author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.