Pocket pistols What’s the best thing about the firearms industry?

If I had to answer, I’d say it’s that they make a gun for everyone, in every size and almost every purpose.

Pistols of every size!

For example, pocket pistols!

And that’s the topic for today. We’re going to explore these small-framed handguns and get to the bottom of why you might want one in your concealed carry rotation.

Pocket Carry Range
Is that a gun in your pocket? Yes…Yes, it is. (Photo: Brownells Daily Defense)

I’ll lay out what pocket pistols are, and then we’ll dive into some recommendations. By the end, you’ll be a pocket pistol pro…or at the very least, know which models we prefer for pocket carry.

So keep reading!

Summary of Our Top Picks

Table of Contents

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What’s a Pocket Pistol?

Pocket pistols are excuse-free guns. Excuse-free means that you have zero excuses not to carry it.

These guns are so small, so easy to carry, and so easy to conceal that your excuses not to carry them are silly.

It has pockets
If you have pockets, a pocket pistol is the one for you!

The name explains it all. A pocket pistol is a gun small enough to fit in your pocket without issue.

That said, you’ll still need a holster. A good holster ensures safety when carrying a firearm in your pocket. (I prefer Blue Force Gear and Desantis pocket holsters.)

Carrying handgun in back pocket
Yeah, no…don’t do this. Get a holster!

For more on how to pocket carry effectively, check out our article dedicated to Pocket Carry!

Mouse Guns vs. Pocket Pistols

Perhaps you’ve heard the term mouse gun and thought, “What’s the difference between a pocket pistol and a mouse gun?”

Not all pocket pistols are mouse guns, but all mouse guns are pocket pistols.

Beretta Jetfire
Take the .25 ACP Beretta Jetfire, for instance. It’s both!

Mouse guns are typically small-bore pistols in calibers like .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .22 LR, and .22 Magnum.

.380 ACP is where a mouse gun usually becomes a pocket pistol. Since .380 ACP typically requires the gun to be a bit larger, we start to move out of that mouse gun zone.

Why a Pocket Pistol?

In the modern world, there is no reason to leave a gun at home. So many pocket pistols make carrying pistols easy.

Pocket pistols are not the best fighting pistols, but they are better than ill intentions and a sharp stick. Convenience is the biggest reason to carry a pocket pistol.

Better Pockets
Ugh…women’s fashion.

In times when a bigger, more capable gun is tough to carry, a pocket pistol gives you options. Sometimes it’s impossible to carry anything bigger due to your clothing and activities.

Dressing formally often requires a smaller gun for maximum concealment. Other activities like working out make it tough to pack a Glock 19 with an RMR and a Surefire X300U.

Best Pocket Pistols

1. Beretta 3032 Tomcat

Tip-up guns are so utterly cool, and the Tomcat is just the coolest. Beretta’s .32 ACP Tomcat looks like the whiny little brother to the Beretta 92 series with an open slide and exposed barrel.

That barrel pops up and allows the user to load a single round into the “tube” without having to rack the slide.

Beretta 3032 Tomcat Inox
Beretta 3032 Tomcat Inox, banana for scale!

Since all mouse guns are pocket guns, I have no problems including a mouse gun in this list. Especially a gun this small and comfortable to shoot.

An all-metal 14.5-ounce frame combined with a .32 ACP cartridge results in a rather soft shooting pocket pistol. Soft shooting is relative, but for a gun this tiny, it’s quite comfortable.

Beretta Tomcat action open (Buffalo's Outdoors)
Beretta Tomcat, action open (Buffalo’s Outdoors)

The sights are rather nub-like, but the DA/SA trigger helps a bit with accuracy. Popping the trigger into single-action mode delivers a lighter and shorter trigger pull that helps you out when it comes to shot placement.

The Tomcat is predictably quite small, with a 3.7-inch overall height and a 4.92-inch overall length. But it’s a little wider than most, with a 1.1-inch width.

Even so, it’s easy to carry in your pocket and delivers performance on par with its coolness.

2. Ruger LCP II

The LCP series by Ruger might be the flagship for pocket pistols.

Ruger mass-produced a reliable, pocket-sized .380 ACP that was surprisingly affordable. It conquered the market, and Ruger refined it with the LCP II.

Sinterfire .380 ACP 75 grain HP Frangibles and a Ruger LCP II. If you like .380 ACP you really should check out Sinterfire’s frangibles
LCP II

At 10.6 ounces with an overall height of 3.71 inches and an overall length of 5.17 inches, this little fella slides comfortably into nearly any pocket without a fight. There is very little to snag on its way in and out.

Ruger did equip the LCP II with proper sights that are much better than the original LCP’s sights. Ruger also improved the trigger, but it’s still no 1911.

You can expect a rather long pull that’s light but does have a long stacking portion before it fires. Having an ND with an LCP takes a special kind of person.

.380 ACP Round
.380 ACP Round

The aggressive grip texture makes the gun a bit easier to hold onto between shots. A .380 ACP this small bucks and kicks, and you need to be ready for it.

It’s not always pleasant, but it always goes bang and tends to put .380 projectiles where you want them. As long as you do your part, of course.

Best .380 ACP

259

at Firearms Depot

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Get all the details over at our hands-on review of the LCP II!

3. Sig Sauer P938

As far as pocket pistols go, the Sig Sauer P938 is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever fired, especially for a 9mm. Something Sig did to this gun makes it very comfortable to fire and handle.

Maybe it’s Swiss/German/New Hampshire magic, or maybe it’s the all-metal frame.

Sig Sauer P938 Scorpion
Sig Sauer P938 Scorpion

Regardless, it’s comfortable to shoot and doesn’t beat your hand with every shot. It’s 1911-like, but not purely 1911.

If you love 1911s, you’ll appreciate this mini fella and its ergonomics. The thumb safety is present, as is the single actiononly design and single-stack 9mm magazine.

Controls are very similar to a 1911
Controls are very similar to a 1911

The small size makes it easy to pocket carry, but admittedly the safety, hammer, and large sights have some snag potential. Best way to deal with that is a properly fitting pocket holster.

At 16 ounces, it’s hefty, but hefty helps with comfort when the gun goes bang.

P938 in Rose Gold
And it’s STYLISH!

Unlike other pocket pistols, the Sig P938 comes outfitted for exceptional accuracy.

The single-action trigger, large sights, and excellent ergonomics make it easy to snap shots off at 25 yards with good technique.

Best Ergonomics

649

at GrabAGun

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Don’t believe me? We’ve done an in-depth review on the P938, too!

4. Glock G43

Glock took their sweet time getting to the single-stack 9mm market, but when they did, they did it right. The Glock G43 just barely makes the cut for a pocket pistol.

It’s 4.25 inches tall with the magazine and a rather long 6.26 inches long. Luckily, the G43 is lightweight and thin. 

Glock G43
Glock G43, another banana for scale!

With only six rounds in the magazine, you have to make your shots count. But that’s not too hard with the G43.

If you’ve mastered the Glock trigger, then you’ll do fine with the G43s. You probably don’t love Glock sights, but on the G43, they are large and capable — and easily replaceable.

Glock keeps the simple theme going with the G43. It’s just pure Glock.

That means the gun is remarkably reliable and capable of withstanding some serious abuse. Shoot it a ton, drop it in the sand, beat it up, and it will still go bang.

Glock 43 and magazine
Classic Glock, just smaller.

Blasting away with the G43 reveals some recoil and snap but no serious hand discomfort some pocket pistols deliver.

Ergonomically it’s a Glock. Somehow Glock found a way to copy controls from their massive pistols to their mini pistols. If you know Glocks, you’ll have no problems switching over to the G43.

Ultra Reliable Single-Stock CCW

Want to know more? Catch our hands-on review of the Glock G43! (Or for the latest in the G43 series, check out the G43X.)

5. Sig Sauer P365 SAS

The P365 is another gun sitting on the edge of a pocket pistol and standard sub-compact. It’s a bit big, and if you want the best pocket carry experience with the P365, go with the SAS model.

Sig Sauer P365
Sig Sauer P365, standard model

Sig took anti-snag to new limits with the P365 SAS and cut off the sights, trimmed the slide release, and made the takedown lever require a flat head tool to operate. Snag-free was the idea behind the design, and a snag-free gun is often a suitable pocket carry gun.

Sig makes a variety of magazine options for these guns, and for a pocket carry experience, the flush-fitting 10-rounder is the way to go.

Sig P365 SAS Sighting System Side By Side
Sig P365 SAS Sighting System

Keeping the gun small is a priority, so sacrifice the pinky rest if you can. Because it’s a little on the larger side, the Sig P365 is relatively soft shooting and made to last.

The SAS model comes with a set of sights that requires some serious practice to master. They are not as intuitive as standard sights but fit flush with the frame to increase concealment.

Sig P365 SAS and Johnny
Look ma, no sights!

To make the gun a little easier to control and to help maintain a sight picture, Sig ported the barrel and slide to reduce muzzle rise and keep the gun on target.

The P365 is one of the best overall concealed carry pistols out there. The SAS model makes it pocket-friendly.

Best Snag-Free Design

599

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Not sold on the snagless sights? We have a full review of the P365 SAS for you to check out.

6. Seecamp LWS 380

Seecamp pistols are fascinating. When someone asked how small can we make a .380, Seecamp answered with “smaller.” That’s my headcanon, anyway.

Seecamp LWS 380 in hand
Seecamp LWS 380

Seecamp’s LWS 380 stands a mere 3.25 inches tall and is 0.91 inches wide at its thickest point. This little fella weighs 13.65 ounces loaded with six rounds of .380 ACP. It sports an all-metal frame.

Sights are nothing more than a trench across the top, and it’s tricky to use at anything other than belly ranges. This little blaster truly emphasizes what a pocket pistol should be.

Seecamp LWS 380 punisher skull
Oh…they really will put a punisher skull on anything.

It conceals with ease, disappears in a pocket, and is ultimately very snag-free. As such a small gun, it tends to be rough handling recoil-wise.

Yep, it’s snappy, and snappy is as good as it gets from a gun this small.

Also, the DAO trigger is about 11 pounds. Combine that trigger weight with the trench sights, and you get a gun designed for close-range use and nothing beyond that.

Everything is about compromise, and the Seecamp is a compromise inside and out. It’s superbly light and easy to carry but can be tough to shoot.

595

at L.W. Seecamp Co.

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. Beretta Pico

Beretta’s Pico is a fascinating gun. Beretta did their own version of the SAS configurations when they molded the Pico.

The company trimmed, cut, and slimmed down the Pico as much as possible to ensure total concealment and deep carry.

Beretta Pico (USA Carry)
Beretta Pico (USA Carry)

That’s inherently valuable for a pocket pistol.

The trimmed slide release, magazine release, and the take-down lever sit flush with the frame. Sliding the Pico in and out of your pocket will be snag-free by design.

With that said…swapping magazines and dropping the slide prove to be a challenge. I don’t think most people packing pocket pistols concern themselves with a reload anyway.

Beretta Pico in lavender
It does come in all sorts of pretty colors…and you can add an extended grip, too!

It’s also a Beretta, which is a name that carries weight. Like any Beretta, it’s reliable, accurate, and well-made.

The Pico is a standout from the days of mini .380s and is an under-appreciated option for concealed carry.

Interestingly enough, users can remove the chassis and swap the grip frame to vary the color. Who doesn’t want to swap black to FDE or bright pink?

Runner-Up .380 ACP

370

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Have you tried the Beretta Pico? If so, give it a rating below!

8. Trailblazer LifeCard

Pistol usually refers to a semi-automatic autoloading pistol. However, this is a wildcard.

The Trailblazer LifeCard is literally a card.

As in, it’s a folding handgun that is the approximate height and length of a credit card. Obviously, it’s a good bit thicker but still quite small.

lifecard folding .22
Boom. Wildcard.

The card unfolds into a more traditional gun when it’s ready to be fired. As such, it’s a single-shot .22 LR or a .22 Magnum that is striker-fired and a single-action design.

The LifeCard requires users to manually cock the weapon prior to firing.

life card holster
The LifeCard fits nicely in a purse or even small pockets.

As a single-shot rimfire weapon, the LifeCard has limited use defensively. No one wants to get pegged by a .22 of any kind, but admittedly I’d prefer something a bit bigger for defensive use.

However, the LifeCard offers you a firearm that doesn’t look like a firearm until it’s ready to be fired.

This makes concealment superbly simple in every kind of pocket. It fits in a shirt pocket, a jeans pocket, and even a dress pocket.

370

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

9. KelTec P32

A great alternative to the Tomcat is the KelTec P32, another .32 caliber offering. This pocket pistol is hammer-fired and also features a double-action-only trigger.

KelTec P32

Despite the small size, the P32 is easy to shoot, utilizing a short recoil operation instead of direct blowback. This helps tames the recoil impulse that can make smaller pistols difficult to handle.

The P32 tucks away easily, being just over 5 inches long and .75 inches wide. It only weighs 6.6 ounces too. This makes it fairly close in size to an iPhone.

KelTec P32

While this KelTec isn’t going to win any beauty contests, it’s very functional and affordable. Being compact, easy (and fun) to shoot makes the P32 a perfect addition to this list.

421

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

For a detailed look, check out our full review of the P32 here.

Final Verdict

There are only a few things that you can pocket carry for defensive use: a knife, some pocket sand, and a pocket pistol.

Clearly, the pocket pistol is the most capable weapon; it just barely beats pocket sand as the true winner.

Pocket Sand
Nyah!

Pocket pistols are a compromise in size and shooting capability. They don’t have the same fighting capability as a Glock G17, but they can be carried day in and day out without issue.

Nothing’s perfect, but pocket pistols offer you a hidden stinger for the worst situations imaginable.

What’s your pocket pistol of choice? Let us know below! Looking for how to concealed carry in your pocket? Check out our guide on Pocket Carry. But if you’re after something a bit bigger, see our list of Best CCW Guns.

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