Top Five Autoloading Pocket Pistols

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:

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.

SEE ALSO: Beretta Nano Micro 9mm Pocket Pistol – New Gun Review

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.

***Shop for a Beretta Nano on GunsAmerica***

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.

SEE ALSO: Diamondback Firearms DB380 & DB9 – Range Report

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.

***Shop for a Diamondback on GunsAmerica***

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.

SEE ALSO: GLOCK 43 – A New 9mm Single Stack – Hands On Full Review

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.

***Shop for a Glock 43 on GunsAmerica***

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.

SEE ALSO: Kahr CW380 & CM45 … Plus 10″ Desert Eagle Barrels

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.

***Shop GunsAmerica for Kahr Pistols***

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.

***Shop for a Taurus Curve on GunsAmerica***

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:

***Purchase Your New Concealed Carry Pistol on GunsAmerica***

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.

{ 59 comments… add one }
  • Prehensile May 3, 2019, 8:10 pm

    I have 3 Taurus models the 738 had issues 6 months after I got it. Mainly cause I modified 10 round mags to reload less at the range. Started self ejecting factory mags. Sent it out they fixed it no problems since. Got the G2C 1000+ rounds not 1 issue, G2S now has 300+ not 1 issue…. They ain’t my G31 but I got 3 for the Money I spent on the G31, let alone what it cost to hotrod it. Companies have noticed how popular the G2 lins have become and are making upraded components for em.

  • Bobo May 20, 2018, 11:40 pm

    When we talk about pocket pistols then we should talk about a gun you can put it your pocket comfortably and not waistband or shoulder holster. Inside the waistband goes my old colt detective 38 special which I’ve carried since 1973. If you’re talking about a pocket pistol then I carry my ruger lCP 2 in 380 with a extra mag in my POCKET. The gun is very reliable and plenty accurate on a man size target.

  • Billy Bob May 20, 2018, 10:36 pm

    XDS all da way.

  • Roy bluntsfeild May 20, 2018, 7:38 am

    All you guys are wrong!! The best ccw pistol is a Schniggenfluchel P50. It’s a .50 cal short barreled auto loading revolver. It hold 12 shots in the wheel and 15 in the magazine. When I carried this magnificent gun into battle in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy would run at the sight of the bulge in my pocket. No, not my d!ck, it was my ol Schniggenfluchel!! The gun has an 18″ barrel for better concealment, lots of extra metal in the right places for strength, and a 2-28×54 scope for deadly accurate shots. My longest kill with it was 344 meters. Try that with any of your so called pocket pistols. I got mine refinished in pink gold melamight after returning from fighting in west Africa, it looks really sharp. It sometimes is a little hard to shoot and hurts my ankle after about 400 rounds, but I get a lot of attention at the range. Nobody believes that I carry such a cool weapon. Go out and get one before they sell out again.

  • mike May 19, 2018, 4:41 pm

    the LCP, Bodyguard380, LW seecamp, or kahr PM9 should have made the list.

  • Rane May 19, 2018, 4:10 pm

    I own/owned a Glock 43, Sig 938, Kahr CM9, Kahr mk40, shield 40, XD-S 9, and Walther PPS 40 gen 1. The only gun I still carry and trust to be completely reliable and accurate is my PPS. It fits in my pocket with the 6 rd mag. I gifted the Glock to my mother after installing several hundred dollars of aftermarket hardware and sights just to find it’s still not as good as a walther. But it is easier to rack, which is why my mother chose it. The 938 is my second choice, but the single action trigger and safety can confuse people in stressful situations. Great shooter though, shoots almost as accurate as the Walther. I would consider the P365 once sig irons all the wrinkles out. For now I’ll stick with my PPS. I feel very confident carrying 7 rounds of .40 that produce over 600 ft-lb of energy in a gun that fits in my pocket and can hit exactly what I’m aiming at even in rapid fire. Those who want to fact check: the load I’m using is a 135 gr Sierra hp with 11.5 gr of longshot powder. Velocity from my Walther averages 1440 fps. From my USP it’s 1475. No joke.

  • E.V. Smith May 18, 2018, 11:22 pm

    My Taurus Gen 2 Millennium (PT 111) in 9mm is my overwhelming choice. Nice trigger, accuracy,balance, everything a 9mm should be! Holds 12+1. I carry mine in a Blackhawk holster made for Glocks. I carry it in the woods all the time. It stays put locked in the holster till I want it. Price is only about $235.00. Super gun!!!!!

    • Jim May 19, 2018, 2:11 pm

      My Taurus PT111. Took to conceal carry certification class. It came apart during shooting.

  • Randy May 18, 2018, 4:39 pm

    I’ll stick with my P938.

  • Stephen May 18, 2018, 3:52 pm

    Best I have found is the Sig Sauer P238.

  • Bobo May 18, 2018, 1:51 pm

    A glock 43 but no glock 42? No LCP? Not the top 5 by any stretch, but you did choose 5 decent guns.

  • Troy Schroeder May 18, 2018, 1:37 pm

    I have a Kahr CT 380 that I purchased after I had the CW 380. The CT is a way better pistol it holds 7+1 and has a 3″ barrel
    All the Kahr’s are Browning tilt barrel and not blowback so they don’t kick at all like the Taurus, Ruger, Keltec pistols. It is a JOY to shoot and is as accurate as a .22 pistol
    Go check one out you will like it

  • Charlie May 18, 2018, 12:12 pm

    Easy to carry.HARD to shoot with any degree of accuracy.Comfort guns.Just hope you never have to use it if you have not practices to be very good or better with these handguns.

  • FirstStateMark May 18, 2018, 10:53 am

    WTF? No S&W Shield, no Ruger LC9s. Last time I listen to you people.

  • Hill Creekmore May 18, 2018, 10:48 am

    Forgot 709 didn’t they

  • Rangemaster11B May 18, 2018, 10:29 am

    I’m amazed that the S&W Shield is not included. I would be willing to wager that salesw figues alone would put it at the top of the list.

  • Jim Morrison May 18, 2018, 10:01 am

    I find the S&W M&P380 Bodyguard (no laser) to be extremely easy to carry. I frequently wear a brand of work pants that has a small interior front watch pocket that perfectly holds the gun from moving. With this combination I can forego my pocket holster. The BG380 is small and thin so no one can tell I am carrying concealed. It’s also great for summer wearing shorts and a t shirt without printing.

  • Larry Thoreson May 18, 2018, 9:48 am

    I own about 3 dozen firearms…..I shoot everyday. For concealed carry, I love the Glock 43 in a shoulder holster. Or a Glock 42 which fits in the same holster. If I’m really concerned about potential danger (think big city travel), I carry a Sig Sauer P320 RX in a shoulder holster. Holsters by Kirkpatrick in Texas.

  • Steven Nelson May 18, 2018, 9:28 am

    I vote for the Bersa Thunder 380 – reliable and very accurated.

    • Tom May 18, 2018, 10:01 am

      The front sight slid right off of my Berra Thunder .380. Not so accurate.

    • James Smith May 18, 2018, 10:29 am

      Kinda hvy and fat for a pocket , isn’t it ? Maybe a winter jacket pocket or waist holster .

  • robert May 18, 2018, 9:26 am

    I compared a few at the gun shop and purchased the Keltec P3AT. I’ve had it few years now and it’s been a fine gun when one wants a super safe to carry, reliable, very easy to carry protection/self defense gun. My previous carry was one of my S&W Chief Specials, also great, but a bit more bulky.

  • Gary May 18, 2018, 9:24 am

    Thanks for taking the time to write the article. Many people don’t realize you don’t actually own all of these pistols. That you would normally have them for a test period, and that can be a very short period of time.
    I know we would ALL like to believe that every maker just pulls a gun off the line and ships it out, but I have never believed that to be true.
    Let’s face it..they are trying to sell these things. So we can either believe you are a compulsive liar, as would be all other gun writers. Or that you MAY just get one of a dozen or two that MAY get a little extra attention before they leave the factory for a better review. I know they ALL buy advertising on your sites and magazines, but I still don’t believe all gun writers are liars.
    As MOST writers find the maker of the Taurus line of hand guns to work reliably. I have owned two of their revolvers, as well as their PT1911, and the Curve. All of which I would probably trade for a good club if needed! I won’t go into how unreliable they have been, I think that is well known by now. I won’t trade them or sell them to another that may have less means than I do to replace it, and they need to depend on it to save their lives.
    I do take them to the range a few times a year and let folks that are considering buying one of those models the chance to actually fire one first. They NEVER buy one after that. ;).
    That is just MY way of getting even for waiting on hold for probably a week out of my life to have them repaired. (Then they often come back Worse than they went in!)
    I carry a stainless Colt Officers Model 1911 45 ACP in the cold months of NY. (There are plenty.) In warm weather I usually carry either my 9 mm baretta, or my S&W 380 pocket guns. Inhave Never had a FTL or FTE on either of them..and they fire every time I squeeze the trigger. I Can’t ask for more than that.
    I used to put a LOT of faith in gun writers opinions on the guns they reviewed. They are all dead now, and I miss them dearly. Most of what I keep as safe queens we’re suggested by those fellas, and I love them all.
    Today I read what the readers of THESE opion sites have to say before I ever go to my dealer to even try one out. Since then I have bought no more worthless dogs! Only pure breeds for me now.
    Keep sending in your opinions folks..people like ME depend on them, along with my gun club friends. (Unless they want to sell it to me that is. 😉 )

    • James Smith May 18, 2018, 10:22 am

      The only Taurus I like, are the Older bootgrip model revolvers with shrouded hammers , I have 2 , one Air Lite .38 and one .357 ( use the same holsters , speedloaders all loaded with .38 +P, convenient ) . NEVER had a problem with them . Now , Charter Arms newer revolvers, I WOULD trade for a club . New out of the box and it shaves bullets ( some cut my arm , some hit my glasses …. ) Ooof , a st. steel framed .45 ? , that’s hvy . I have a Kimber with light frame , LOVE IT .

  • James May 18, 2018, 9:13 am

    This article loses all credibility when it excludes the SIG P365.

    • James Smith May 18, 2018, 10:16 am

      The 365 is bulkier than those listed . Tho I am surprised they don’t list the KelTec P3At ( No , i don’t own one . I carry a Kahr CW 9 or a Taurus Air Lite .38 normally .

      • Ken May 18, 2018, 12:01 pm

        Sig P365 is not “bulkier” than the Glock 43. I’ve carried the 43 for three years and the Sig is virtually the same size with a narrower grip and, of course, 10+1 vs. the Glock’s 6+1.

    • Dano May 18, 2018, 10:21 am

      Yup. But the Curve? That thing is an abomination..

  • Mr. Sparkles May 18, 2018, 9:03 am

    Surprised the author did not list Ruger’s LCP.

    • James Smith May 18, 2018, 10:13 am

      I have personally witnessed 2 of the gen one LCP’s blow up at the shooting range . I like older Ruger revolvers,maybe even the LRP , but most of their new stuff – I stay away from .

  • Jerry Jones May 18, 2018, 8:24 am

    I guess the author doesn’t read other GunsAmerica articles…..When the Glock 43 was introduced, they had a shootout of 10 ccw guns….That shootout inspiredme to buy the Walther PPS which matched the reliability of the 43 but shot more accurately.

  • J. Newman May 18, 2018, 8:18 am

    I carry the SIG P938 everyday, everywhere. I use a DeSantis pocket holster when I have to be discreet, and the supplied holster when I’m providing security at church. I’ll be getting the wife a P238.

  • Raael May 18, 2018, 8:11 am

    I carry the SW 380 Bodyguard, unfortunately Taurus is not good I had one and got rid of it.

    • L.W.Parrish May 18, 2018, 10:34 am

      Sir that’s my carry with a crimson green laser does me fine

  • Patrick May 18, 2018, 7:37 am

    SIG P938 if you want a small pistol with the feel of a larger one.

  • srsquidizen May 18, 2018, 7:32 am

    Agree with the first sentence but not the picks. IF you’re going to carry anything in your pocket that’s about as bulky as a J-frame then just get a small-frame revolver. IF it’s real small & light you want then the LCP II should be on ANY list of best pocket auto-loaders no matter what the criteria. And if you want really really small & light for your summer shorts, the Kel-tec P32 has got to be mentioned. Can’t think of any other mouse gun, especially with 8 rounds on tap, that even comes close.

    • Tom May 18, 2018, 10:06 am

      I have and carry a Kel-Tec P32 but the trigger is terrible.

  • Richard Hilton May 18, 2018, 6:57 am

    After the Taurus 709 Slim came out I happened to be looking for something easier to conceal since I had just gotten my permit. A salesman at a gun shop spent quite a bit of time convincing me how perfect it would be, easy to conceal. decent caliber, and how Taurus is such a long standing manufacture of ” quality firearms “. What a joke after that experience I would never put a Taurus on any list unless it was a shit list. That thing never fed 3 consecutive rounds in a row, and sure as hell would have cost me my life in a serious situation. After calling them 3 times and wasting time on the phone they decided to cancel the lifetime warranty. Don’t bet your life on a Taurus. The Ruger LC9 I replaced it with have never had a hiccup feeds whatever I put in the magazine first time every time.

  • Lee Haiber May 18, 2018, 6:35 am

    I know it’s a newcomer but the Sig P365 would have been a better choice than the DB9.

    • James Smith May 18, 2018, 10:32 am

      The 365 is bulkier than those listed . Is it not ? He was speaking on “Pocket” guns ./shrugs

  • MB May 18, 2018, 6:07 am

    Since this is an opinion article, here’s mine. Ruger LCP2, Kahr CM380, Glock 42 ,S&W Bodyguard 380, KelTec P3AT, The reason no 9mm is easy, there are no 9mm that fit in your pocket, that don’t weigh 1 pound or more. Why no SIG 238 or 365, DB380 or Taurus Curve , here is hint SIG 238 = price+weight, SIG 365=Reliability or I should say lack of it+ price, DB 380 and Taurus Curve = Jam-O-matics…

    • What? May 18, 2018, 7:52 am

      MB, please write in English. I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say!

    • First May 18, 2018, 4:59 pm

      I easily understood what you were saying, and I agree.

  • Dave B May 18, 2018, 5:44 am

    I have a Beretta Pico .380 with the laser grip module and find it the easiest to pocket carry- had to make my own holster.

    LCP II comes in second due to weight. S&W 360PD is my go to if the pocket is in my jacket, not pants.

  • Kenneth May 18, 2018, 5:12 am


  • Kenneth May 18, 2018, 5:10 am

    I know you can’t list all the guns that qualify but the Ruger LCP and LC9S are two of the best packet guns on the market. IMO.

  • Steve Schwartz May 18, 2018, 5:00 am

    What about the Seecamp line? The .380 used to be hard to get, but supply has gotten better after the ownership change. It’s still somewhat pricey, but very well made, and extremely small……a delight to carry.

    • Mad Mac May 18, 2018, 9:17 am

      The Tiffany of pocket pistols, beautiful to behold.
      My .32 is the only handgun I’ve been able to carry all day, every day for days on end.
      They come with pride of ownership.

  • Ken Scheinker May 18, 2018, 4:26 am

    After my most recent Taurus PT92 fiasco, I would never buy another Taurus. The pistol that arrived had the worst quality control I’ve ever seen, no problem, they have a lifetime warranty. Translated that means sometime in my lifetime I Might see the gun again. Hard to tell, since I have received no updates and it is IMPOSSIBLE to contact customer service for any kind of update on repairs. After hours on hold, you get the vibe.

  • trevor_phillips May 18, 2018, 3:42 am

    What? You didn’t include the Smith and Wesson M&P SHIELD?

    • James Smith May 18, 2018, 10:33 am

      Pocket guns , not waistband holster CC …

  • SuperG May 16, 2018, 10:52 am

    These articles are always subjective. I like my Nano, but it is a little heavy. So I went to my LCP, but that hurts after 50 rounds at the range, so now I’m carrying the Tauarus Spectrum. Combined with Polycase ammo, you don;t even know you have it in your pocket, and it is a dream to shoot over the LCP.

  • Somesmrtguy May 16, 2018, 8:21 am

    We should use Kolibri pistols because they won’t exactly cause deaths because the bullets are the size of the tip of a pencil

  • Jim Hovater May 15, 2018, 10:31 pm

    What: No SA XDs…in ANY call beer? Yet the bargain basement Diamondback makes the list?

    • Rocky May 18, 2018, 8:48 pm

      Yeah… kinda what I was thinking too. The Taurus Curve makes the list, and not a single Springfield XDs? Something’s fishy there; like maybe that one was thrown in fishing for others’ opinions on what might be the top 5.

      Have an LCP 380, see a lot of folks bragging them up, trigger on mine is horrible! Belly gun only; if you’re more than 10 ft. away you’ll do good to hit someone with mine. Have laser added, have dry fired it to some length, trying to find the problem, and it is NOT me. The gun jumps right every time when the sear breaks. It did it over and over and over dry firing it, focusing, squeezing the trigger very slowly, trying to prevent it. It simply was not controllable.

      When the XDs came out, picked one up in 45 AP. While it is big enough you can’t carry it in a wallet holster, it does carry very comfortably, and conceals well IWB. It’s been very reliable, and is amazingly accurate for a short barrel, large caliber gun. A lot of people complain about recoil, but I personally don’t find it any worse than my 1911. The checkering on the grip is a little harsh, so I installed a Pachmayr grip sleeve, under $15 w/shipping.

  • shane rankin May 15, 2018, 6:44 pm

    In the link to the review under the DB9, you have a “do not buy” recommendation and yet you’re calling it one of the top 5 auto-loading pocket pistols in this article?

    • S.H. Blannelberry May 16, 2018, 9:39 am

      Good catch! Two different authors and two different opinions. Personally, I’d swap in the Springfield XD-S for the DB9.

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