best pocket pistol

Best Pocket Pistols for Self Defense and CCW

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Pocket pistols are some of the oldest CCWs and have been an accepted standard in the USA for well over 150 years. But with all that history and modern innovation, what are the best pocket pistols?

Pocket pistols pose some perplexing possibilities that you should ponder before you pay out your personal pesos and go purchasing one of these palm-sized protectors.

From holsters to external safeties to what exactly makes for a great pocket pistol, we’ve got all that and a lot more! 

  • Sig Sauer P365 SAS
  • Bersa Thunder/ Firestorm
  • Bond Arms Bullpup 9
  • Glock G42
  • Ruger LCP II
  • Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380

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What Are Pocket Guns?

It’s a gun that fits in your pocket. Total surprise, right?

Normally in smaller calibers like .380 ACP or 9mm a pocket gun is a slim, small pistol that can easily fit in your pocket.

The downsides are limited capacity and a small form factor, but they are highly concealable and handy.

best pocket pistol

You won’t find a “pocket gun” section of the gun store, but most sub-compacts and micro-compacts are small enough to do the job.

If you’re rocking the cargo pants, then I guess something even as large as a stock Glock 19 might fit.

But generally speaking, you’re looking at guns that are about half the size of a G19.

Why Carry a Pocket Gun?

Sometimes it’s just really convenient. My main EDC CCW is a custom Glock 19 with a red dot and Modlit PL350. That’s a lot of gun to stuff down my pants when I just want to make a quick In-N-Out run.

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In-N-Out, the #1 reason why the West Coast is the best coast.

It’s also a lot easier to carry a pocket gun in a wide range of clothing, being small and light is a big help when it comes to the summer months.

With modern defensive bullets, newer high-capacity sub-compact pistols, and some pretty nice pocket holsters — a pocket gun is a lot more capable than it used to be. 

External Safeties and You

These days, most people choose to not have external safety on their CCWs. Internal and trigger safeties render modern guns very safe and easier to use under stress.

However, pocket pistols are often more exposed than a standard CCW.

All pocket pistols should still use a pocket holster, but I know many people don’t.

And while a pocket pistol should be the only thing in that pocket — accidentally dropping your keys or a pen into your pistol pocket is going to happen sooner or later.

A manual safety gives you a major layer of security and protection against negligent discharges.

For a pocket pistol, I’m a big fan of the thumb safety.

Best Pocket Pistols

Sig Sauer P365 SAS

The P365 is probably one of the most popular sub-compact pistols on the market right now and for good reason, it’s pretty awesome.

But while the base model is good, it’s not perfect for pocket carry. With that in mind, Sig came out with the SAS — Sig Anti-Snag.

9mm, 10+1 capacity, this has all of the goodness of the P365 but with some new twists.

With a redesigned outside with rounded-off corners and smoothed-out lines, the SAS is designed in every way to be a slippy little gun that comes out of pockets with ease.

The biggest innovation is the FT Bullseye sights. No more standard iron sights on this little guy.

Instead, the FT Bullseye is a self-contained unit that doesn’t protrude from the slide at all giving you an entirely smooth slide.

The thing is… the FT Bullseye is a little strange to shoot with. Instead of looking through irons, the FT Bullseye is like looking into a straw with a light in the back of it. 

best pocket pistol
Sig Sauer P365 SAS Sights22

Get it lined up correctly and you’ll see the light. Put the light on the target and it acts kind of like a red dot.

It’s really hard to put into words, but it works really well in person.

It does take a learning curve — if you’ve spent years shooting irons or red dots, you’ll need to take a minute to get used to the FT Bullseye.

Once you do, it is intuitive and accurate.


Bersa Thunder/ Firestorm

My Bersa Firestorm was my EDC gun for over 2 years. Recently I added a Glock 19 to my CCW permit and I’ve switched to mostly carrying that — but the Firestorm still comes out at least a half dozen times a month.

Modeled after the Walther PPK, Bersa has done a great job of building a small, sleek pistol that is not only cheap but very reliable.

.380 ACP with 9+1 magazines and an external safety, I love this gun as a pocket carry because it has a good amount of capacity and it is ultra-safe for me to carry in a pocket holster.

Being a simple blow-back pistol, the Firestorm is really snappy to shoot — but that’s the nature of the beast in this case.

I have at least 1,000 rounds through it by now and I’ve never had a malfunction.

best pocket pistol

The only downside is that it comes standard with a magazine safety meaning that if there isn’t a magazine inserted, the trigger won’t work. I removed that the day I bought it, but it does come standard.

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Bond Arms BullPup 9

If you want a gun that is just cool because of super odd engineering, this is the pistol for you.

Most people have seen bullpups like the AUG, IWI Tavor, or MDRx — but a bullpup pistol is very rare.

Bond Arms bought the rights to the BullPup 9 fairly recently and took over production of it. They’ve done a great job and the samples I’ve shot have all been outstanding.

What makes this gun different is that the loading and action of the pistol are behind the trigger. This gives you a very short gun with a surprisingly long barrel (for a pistol) and makes the whole package a lot easier to fit in your pocket.

However, it is a little thick. If you wear pants with small pockets, this might not work out.

It takes a little getting used to working with the magazine to efficiently load it, but after that, this is a super reliable and just very cool little pistol.


Glock G42

A Glock is a Glock, but this Glock is in .380 ACP, carries 6+1, and is really small.

I’ll be honest, I’m not crazy about the G42. Mostly because of that 6+1 capacity. But if you want a gun this small, that is what happens.

Even being so small, the G42 still feels like a Glock in your hand. If you’re used to a larger Glock, the G42 feeling so Glock-like can be really nice for when you throw it in your pocket.

Also, since it’s a Glock, you know that this is hands-down one of the most reliable pistols you can have.

Personally, this is my least favorite option on this list. Normally, I don’t like external safeties — but for a pocket pistol, I’m a fan of a thumb safety. Since Glocks are Glocks, you don’t have that option.


Ruger LCP II

Ruger’s LCP II is one of the OG pocket pistols of the modern era and is a massively popular option.

With loads of models to choose from that come in different colors, with or without integrated lasers, there is an LCP II for almost everyone.

Another 6+1, .380 ACP pistol, a very small gun. Like, super small. If you have small pockets, this is one of the best options. Skinny jeans!

Sadly, no external safety, but the internal and trigger safeties are highly effective.

Normally, I’m not crazy about lasers on my guns — but for a pocket pistol when the sights are hard to pick up and you’re only ever going to be shooting at very short ranges — one of the integrated laser models makes some sense, though adds about $100 to the price.


Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380

6+1 capacity, .380 ACP, comes standard with a thumb safety, sights that can be drifted for a better zero, comes with or without a red laser, and is super slim. To me, the M&P is basically an LCP II but made better in almost every way.

I love the M&P Bodyguard because it feels like a gun that S&W then added upgrades to until they felt it was the best it can be.

Plus, it’s fairly cheap.

While on their own the draftable sights and thumb safety aren’t huge deals, they are very nice additions that help push the Bodyguard out of mediocrity and into being a respectable CCW option.


Wrapping Up

There are a lot of great pocket pistols on the market right now and these are the best of the best.

Personally, I would choose the P365 SAS as the best one you can get. 10+1, super sleek, it’s amazing.

The runner-up for me is my Bersa Firestorm.

What is your top pick?

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