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Pocket Pistols


Here's an update a few of you may not like if you carry a pocket pistol. But before you get all bent out of shape, remember from my classes I have said even I will carry a pocket pistol at times as my primary handgun, though I know I'm am seriously behind the power curve when I do.


Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch said it best, "The gun that's with you is better than the one at home in the safe". I could not have said it better.

In a recent NRA magazine, they had an excellent article about a class they held at a major firearms school with just pocket pistols. First, they had to find instructors willing to hold a class on pocket guns. Most professional training facilities will not allow small pocket guns in a defensive handgun class and they don’t usually have classes on just those types of handguns.

What they learned & their advice, with some of mine mixed in --
Establishing a bond with a pocket pistol means accepting certain compromises.

In this case preserving your life is the goal and pocket pistols whether diminutive semi-automatics or small-frame revolvers do their part in that they are comfortable to carry and easy to carry concealed. To stop a violent attack, you must be prepared to counter force with enough adequate force to end the confrontation.

Therein lies the compromise.

In exchange for realizing the benefits of a pocket pistol's small size, lite-weight, and ease of concealment, you trade accuracy, capacity, ease of handing and stopping power. While a pocket pistol may be the most convenient tool to have at hand, it is often far from ideal. The first step in dealing with its limitations is realizing it will likely be much more difficult to defend yourself with a pocket pistol than any other firearm. Unfortunately, many citizens who carry pocket pistols are lulled into a false sense of security and don't recognize and plan for the relative deficiencies of their small handguns; this is true even of those that carry them as backups to their primary guns.

Key Points

1. Think Before You Carry
The location of where you carry your pocket pistol will change when you are carrying it either as your backup or your primary gun. In either case, you want to make sure you can get a hold of it as efficiently as possible. The front pocket is a very common place to carry a pocket pistol, but what will you do if you are sitting down? Sure you can stand up to access your pocket gun, but at that point you've giving the bad guy several critical seconds to recognize you as a threat and you most likely will be shot as a result. So what about keeping it in a jacket or vest pocket? This can be a good compromise but being able to get a pocket gun out of a jacket or vest that is moving at the same time may delay the draw for several critical seconds.

2. Practice Effective Presentation
Pocket pistols require a more determined focus on handling than larger handguns to safely and effectively present them from concealment. Simply put, they are not as easy to grab when needed. Everything is more difficult with a small pistol. Depending on where you carry your pocket pistol it may require more motion or effort to make it accessible than with a larger handgun.

Dry practice is essential in getting to your pocket pistol.

The time you find out a drawing technique doesn’t work is not the time when you need it in defense of your life!

Once clear of the holster, it’s important to keep your support hand, arm and other body parts out of the way. These guns have short barrels, and if you’re not careful you will cover yourself with the muzzle. Accidentally shooting yourself will take you out of the fight long enough to cost you your life.

You should never mix keys, coins, extra magazines or other items in the same pocket with your pocket gun as they can interfere with the presentation or at worst come out with the gun and cause you to have a bad grip or possibly drop the gun altogether.

3. Deal with the Faults
The physical attributes that make pocket pistols so attractive for concealed carry also limit our ability to use them effectively for self-defense.

First, there’s the problem with accuracy. Pocket pistols have short barrels and short sight radiuses. This makes precise aiming very difficult. Combine a short sight radius with small sights that can be tough to discern even in broad daylight and you’ve arrived at the perfect recipe for misalignment.

The downrange performance of pocket pistol bullets make shot placement on a threat much more critical. There’s no substitute for shot placement, especially with a pocket gun. Most pocket pistols have a reduced capacity of five to seven rounds. A few misses and a couple marginal hits, and you could suddenly be faced with an empty gun while still fighting for your life. Carrying a reload. . . carry a couple of reloads. A reload is as important as carrying the gun itself. A reload is not just a's a full size backup!

4. Take time together
Make it a priority to spend quality time with your pocket pistol at the range and in repeated dry-fire practice at home. This is the chance to work out your differences.

You’re the one who will have to change for the better of the gun and the sooner you do, the better off you’ll be. Becoming complacent with your pocket pistol is a good way to make mistakes and develop bad habits, so focus on each step of the presentation sequence and every fundamental of marksmanship. Pocket pistols have a lot to offer, but they require a lot of attention in return. The more time you spend with your pocket pistol, the more confident you’ll become.

Final Thoughts
The big name experts from all the big name professional schools will tell you that small pocket guns are 'expert guns' – good out to arms length or maybe the width of a car.

The operator of a pocket gun needs to be confident, competent and proficient in the use of the pocket gun. Will they stop a fight? Sure. I had a man in my class who had already been through a fatal defensive handgun shooting with a small caliber handgun. A man with a baseball bat who had already beaten several other people approached my client whom had a Beretta PX4 Storm in .32 caliber. He emptied all 8 rounds from the gun into the man's chest. The man walked away seemingly unharmed, got into his car and drove himself to the hospital where he died a few hours later. My client did indeed stop the fight with his pocket pistol! Remember, the gun that’s with you is better than any gun at home in the safe. Like many top name instructors, military and civilian operators and everyday citizens, I choose to carry the ‘big end’ of the stick with plenty of backup. My backup is a pocket handgun. When it comes to protecting that which matters most there can be no compromises!

Be Safe and Stay in condition Yellow,




Rick Cross
Be Safe Firearms Instruction
Multi-Disciplined NRA Instructor & Lifetime Member
Nevada & Utah Certified CCW/CFP Instructor
Sabre Civilian Defense Instructor
Frontsight Lifetime Member