POCKET PRO­TEC­TORS

EASY TO CARRY AND CON­CEAL, SMALL HAND­GUNS CON­TINUE TO BE POP­U­LAR CHOICES

Concealed Carry Hand Guns - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - STORY AND PHO­TOS BY LEROY THOMP­SON

Easy to carry and con­ceal, small hand­guns con­tinue to be pop­u­lar choices.

By Leroy Thomp­son

Hand­guns have been slipped into the pocket for con­ve­nience and con­ceal­ment for cen­turies. And to­day’s small hand­guns are bet­ter than ever for this pur­pose.

A LOOK BACK

From der­ringers to com­pact 19th cen­tury re­volvers from Colt and S&W to pow­er­ful We­b­ley Bull­dogs, pocket hand­guns had evolved into re­li­able and con­ceal­able com­pan­ions by the first decade of the 20th cen­tury.

By that date, the au­to­matic pis­tol of­fered a slim­mer de­sign for pocket carry, elim­i­nat­ing the bulge of the re­volver’s cylin­der. Colt and FN of­fered early mod­els in .32 ACP and .380 ACP and for “vest pocket carry” in .25 ACP. By World War II, dou­ble-ac­tion au­tos such as the Walther PPK, Mauser HSC and Sauer 38H were avail­able, of­fer­ing a slim­mer al­ter­na­tive to the re­volver that still of­fered a fast first round with just a pull on the trig­ger.

CON­CEAL­ABLE, EASY TO CARRY

As pop­u­lar as pocket pis­tols were his­tor­i­cally, how­ever, it was pass­ing shall-is­sue con­cealed carry laws in much of the U.S. that has made pocket hand­guns more pop­u­lar to­day than ever.

Rea­sons for their pop­u­lar­ity should be ob­vi­ous: These guns may be car­ried con­cealed even in sum­mer cloth­ing yet be read­ily at hand, they may be pre­sented quickly and un­ob­tru­sively from the pocket, and they can al­ways be avail­able when needed.

There are so many pocket hand­guns avail­able to­day that the choice can some­times be dif­fi­cult. I’ve car­ried a pocket hand­gun as a pri­mary weapon or a backup weapon for years. I have found some work espe­cially well while some con­ces­sions may have to be made when car­ry­ing them.

SNUB-NOSED RE­VOLVERS

In my case, at least, oldies are still good­ies. I still like the S&W Mod­els 638 and 438. These re­volvers are light in weight and read­ily fit into most pock­ets with a pocket hol­ster. Both have shrouded ham­mers to aid in a pocket draw yet al­low the ham­mer to be thumb-cocked for a longer shot.

I fre­quently carry the 638 as a se­cond gun so have a left-hand Thad Ry­bka pocket hol­ster with loops for two spare rounds that I’ve been us­ing for al­most 40 years. The 438 takes +P .38 Spe­cial loads, giv­ing it more strik­ing power. I also still carry an­other oldie: an early model Colt Agent with ham­mer shroud. The Agent of­fers one more round in the cylin­der than S&W J-frame snubs and, sur­pris­ingly, with the orig­i­nal short butt, con­ceals eas­ier in a pocket.

I rate other snub re­volvers highly. S&W’s Model 42 Clas­sic is a light­weight ham­mer­less de­sign that in­cor­po­rates a grip safety, thus mak­ing it an espe­cially safe pocket choice. I’ve also tried S&W’s M&P Body­guard with Crim­son Trace Laser and found it fast out of the pocket and fast on tar­get.

Ruger’s LCR is an in­ex­pen­sive, light­weight, re­li­able .38 Spe­cial snub with shrouded ham­mer. It will also fire +P .38 Spe­cial loads. I do use one snub re­volver that does not have a shrouded ham­mer. Smith & Wes­son’s Model 360PD in .357 Mag­num packs a lot of power into a snub re­volver. Some years ago, I had a bro­ken an­kle and had to wear shorts be­cause of the cast. My 360PD loaded with 158-grain JHP .357 Mag loads was in the pocket. Re­coil is no­tice­able. I nor­mally fire only 10 or 15 rounds when I train with my 360PD, but I have faith in its stop­ping abil­ity. For it, I use a pocket hol­ster that cov­ers that ham­mer so it does not snag. My wife car­ries a snub Char­ter Arms oc­ca­sion­ally, though she prefers .380 au­tos. Her Char­ter south­paw is de­signed for left-handed users. When she car­ries it, it is in a win­ter coat pocket.

.32 AND .380 POCKET AU­TOS

Still on the oldies but good­ies, I carry a Walther PPK some­times in a pocket hol­ster. It has an ex­posed ham­mer but it is rounded and less likely to snag. When I use a Walther, these days it is nor­mally a .380; how­ever, in the past, work­ing over­seas I some­times car­ried a PPK-L in .32 ACP. I also have used and still use a FEG R-61, an al­loy-framed PPK copy in 9x18 Makarov cal­iber. It car­ries as eas­ily as a PPK but hits harder. The larger 9x18mm Makarov PM pis­tol has be­come pop­u­lar in

“...THESE GUNS MAY BE CAR­RIED CON­CEALED EVEN IN SUM­MER CLOTH­ING YET BE READ­ILY AT HAND...”

the U.S. as a carry gun and can also fit in a good-sized pocket.

My wife likes .380 au­tos with lasers for her pocket guns. She uses ei­ther a Kahr P380 or S&W Body­guard .380. For small pock­ets, she uses a Kel-Tec .32 auto without a laser.

The only other .380 I carry in my pocket from time to time is a Seecamp .380 LWS. It is a close-range pis­tol, most use­ful at 10 yards or less be­cause it is a DA-only without sights. But it con­ceals in very small pock­ets.

9X19MM POCKET POW­ER­HOUSES

For side-pocket carry to­day, I use one of the com­pact 9x19mm pis­tols now avail­able. Though com­pact, the “Pocket Nines” are larger than most .380s. Still, most will fit in typ­i­cal Levi or slacks pock­ets. The first 9mm pocket pis­tol I started us­ing was Kahr’s PM9. I still carry one. At 5.3 inches over­all, it con­ceals re­ally well. Its striker-fired de­sign al­lows it to be ham­mer­less, yet also have a good trig­ger pull.

Com­bined with good sights that are still low pro­file, these fea­tures al­low the PM9 to be shot ac­cu­rately to 25 yards and beyond. Mine has night sights. Some­times, I carry the PM9 as my only hand­gun, in which case, I carry a spare mag­a­zine in the other pocket. Flat-bot­tomed or ex­ten­sion mag­a­zines are avail­able for the PM9. I nor­mally only use the flat-bot­tomed ones.

The PM9 is also avail­able in .40 S&W or .45 ACP, but these mod­els are bulkier and harder to shoot due to the small grip. I’ve tried both, but have stuck with the 9x19mm ver­sion.

The other com­pact 9x19mm pis­tol I carry is the Glock 43. At 6.2 inches over­all, the 43 takes a slightly deeper pocket than the PM9, but it still con­ceals well in most pock­ets. It has a car­tridge ca­pac­ity of 6+1. The Glock 43 has all of the fea­tures that make the other Glocks pop­u­lar carry guns. I have a half dozen friends who use it as their carry gun.

I would stress that be­cause of the Glock’s safety lever in­cor­po­rated into the trig­ger, a good pocket hol­ster that fully cov­ers the trig­ger guard to pre­vent neg­li­gent dis­charges is a ne­ces­sity. Ac­tu­ally, I rec­om­mend a pocket hol­ster for any hand­gun car­ried in a pocket, but one is nec­es­sary for the Glock 43. As with the PM9, I carry a spare mag­a­zine when I carry the Glock 43.

I’ve had friends who car­ried a Glock 26 as their pocket pis­tol. It is only slightly longer than the Glock 43 but of­fers 10+1 car­tridge ca­pac­ity. That wider grip also re­quires more room in the pocket, though.

HIGHER MAG­A­ZINE CA­PAC­ITY POCKET NINES

I am not op­posed to larger ca­pac­ity 9x19mm pocket pis­tols. Most of my Le­vis or trousers have pock­ets large enough that I can carry an HK P30SK, thus giv­ing me 10+1 rounds, night sights, and er­gonomic fea­tures such as an am­bidex­trous mag re­lease. Mine has the LEM trig­ger, which gives me a con­sis­tent trig­ger pull (about 5.5 pounds) and no pro­trud­ing ham­mer.

I carry the P30SK enough that when a dealer friend of mine or­dered a cou­ple at a bar­gain price, I bought a se­cond one to use for prac­tice. I find it espe­cially com­fort­able to shoot as it comes with in­ter­change­able grip pan­els and back straps that al­lowed me to tai­lor it to my hand. I prac­tice head­shots with the P30SK to 25 yards and nor­mally con­clude a 50-round prac­tice ses­sion with one mag­a­zine on plates at 50 yards.

There are other 9x19mm pocket pis­tols I have shot and liked. Ruger’s LC9 is only 6 inches over­all and has a 7+1 car­tridge ca­pac­ity. A DA-only de­sign,

the LC9 draws read­ily from the pocket. I would rec­om­mend that any­one us­ing one as a pocket gun change out the fin­ger rest mag­a­zine base for the op­tional flat one to lessen the chance of snag­ging.

Spring­field Ar­mory’s XD Com­pact 9x19mm of­fers some ap­peal­ing fea­tures. I use the XD 3-inch that is only 6.25 inches over­all, which is within the pocket carry range. With its flush fit 13-round mag­a­zine, it gives its user 14 rounds without car­ry­ing a spare mag­a­zine. Its sights are good and it of­fers both an in-trig­ger lever safety and a grip safety en­hanc­ing its se­cu­rity in the pocket. I’ve shot the XD 3-inch quite a bit and have found it re­li­able and ac­cu­rate.

An­other com­pact 9x19mm pis­tol I like a lot is the Walther PPQ SC. It has a lot of the fea­tures I like about the P30SK, in­clud­ing good sights, com­fort­able grip, and 10+1 car­tridge ca­pac­ity. At 6.6 inches over­all, it is the long­est of the Pocket Nines that I use. It is striker-fired with a 5.6-pound trig­ger pull. As with the Glock 26, it re­lies on an in-trig­ger lever safety, so a pocket hol­ster must be used and the user must train to keep the fin­ger away from the trig­ger un­til the pis­tol is on tar­get. That should al­ways be the case any­way. Walther also of­fers the CCP, which is sim­i­lar to the PPQ. I like Walther hand­guns and like both of these pocket 9x19 ones.

“...CHOOS­ING THE RIGHT HAND­GUN IS A TRADE­OFF BE­TWEEN STOP­PING POWER, CAR­TRIDGE CA­PAC­ITY, AC­CU­RACY, AND EASE OF CARRY AND CON­CEAL­MENT.”

THE POCKET .45 AUTO

There is an­other cham­ber­ing for pocket au­tos that ap­peals to some shoot­ers who like big­ger car­tridges. These could be termed the “Pocket .45s.” The only “pocket” pis­tol of tra­di­tional 1911-type that I have car­ried lately is the Kim­ber RCP—cur­rently avail­able from the Cus­tom Shop as the RCP II. Only 6.8 inches over­all, it has a mag­a­zine ca­pac­ity of seven rounds and is de­signed for slim­ness.

The ham­mer is bobbed to lessen the chance of snag­ging, and “trough” sights are used, also to pre­vent snag­ging. I pur­chased mine years ago and have car­ried it oc­ca­sion­ally in a pocket as a backup to one of my carry .45 au­tos. Cur­rently, though, it is quite ex­pen­sive. Three of the com­pact 9x19mm pocket pis­tols can be pur­chased for the same price.

For those who like the .45 cham­ber­ing, other com­pact pis­tols are avail­able. For ex­am­ple, the Spring­field Ar­mory XD-S 3.3 is avail­able in .45 ACP.

MODERN DER­RINGERS

One of the ear­li­est pocket hand­guns was the der­ringer and var­i­ous it­er­a­tions are avail­able to­day. The Dou­ble Tap over-and-un­der two-shot der­ringer is avail­able in 9x19mm or .45 ACP cham­ber­ing. It is light and slim and fits read­ily into a pocket. But, I found re­coil heavy with the 9x19mm round and hor­ren­dous with the .45 ACP round.

Amer­i­can Der­ringer Com­pany of­fers der­ringers in an ar­ray of cal­ibers for those who like the “Old West” style der­ringer. I fired both the tra­di­tional SA Amer­i­can Der­ringer M-1 and the DA38 model in .38 Spe­cial and found them us­able. To be hon­est, though, I find that one of my snub .38 Spe­cial re­volvers con­ceals as read­ily and gives me more rounds.

CARRY COM­PRO­MISES

For pocket carry, choos­ing the right hand­gun is a trade­off be­tween stop­ping power, car­tridge ca­pac­ity, ac­cu­racy, and ease of carry and con­ceal­ment. For­tu­nately, to­day, the con­cealed carry li­censee can choose among clas­sics such as the snub .38 Spe­cial re­volver or the .380 Walther PPK or cur­rent com­pact fight­ing hand­guns such as the Glock 43, Kahr PM9 and nu­mer­ous oth­ers in 9x19mm.

Which­ever pocket hand­gun you choose, you must prac­tice with it of­ten enough to use it ef­fec­tively if it has to be drawn for self-de­fense. Com­pact guns gen­er­ally re­quire more prac­tice to shoot well. CC

“WHICH­EVER POCKET HAND­GUN YOU CHOOSE, YOU MUST PRAC­TICE WITH IT OF­TEN ENOUGH TO USE IT EF­FEC­TIVELY IF IT HAS TO BE DRAWN FOR SELF-DE­FENSE.”

The 9x18mm Makarov PM is an in­ex­pen­sive, re­li­able pis­tol that car­ries in a hol­ster but also con­ceals in a good­sized pocket.

Above: The ham­mer­less S&W Model 40 or 42 re­mains an ex­cel­lent pocket re­volver. Thomp­son prefers the Model 42 for its al­loy frame and, thus, lighter weight in the pocket.

Above: Thomp­son’s “heavy duty” Pocket Nine, the HK P30SK shown in a Don Hume pocket hol­ster, with spare mag­a­zine in Galco pocket mag pouch.

Spring­field Ar­mory XD 3-inch Sub­com­pact, along with its Remora pocket hol­ster.

Thomp­son’s fa­vorite .45 auto for pocket carry is the Kim­ber RCP. Right: S&W’s Model 438 Body­guard of­fers a shrouded ham­mer that al­lows thumb cock­ing for longer shots but keeps the ham­mer from snag­ging dur­ing a pocket draw.

Draw­ing the Model 438 from a left-hand jacket pocket; note that de­spite ap­pear­ances the fin­ger is not on the trig­ger.

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