Pocket Carry Part 1: Why Pocket Carry?

by Keith Coniglio

With advances in both modern materials and design, concealed carriers now have the viable option of carrying a duty-sized caliber in a “mousegun”-sized package, and many citizens are choosing pocket carry for these diminutive defensive tools. However, there are valid safety and reliability concerns with this method of CCW. So … why choose pocket carry?

For many, it’s simply a convenience issue. Strapping on a decent belt and holster rig simply to walk down to the mailbox seems like overkill, whereas discreetly slipping a wallet-sized pistol in a pocket is an acceptably small price for peace of mind. In other cases, environmental factors come into play. For those living in extremely hot climates, a wardrobe designed for concealing a belt-holstered pistol might not only be uncomfortable, it would likely make the wearer stand out in a crowd. Those in frigid environments may find a J-frame .38 in a parka pocket much more accessible than a full-size .45 under layers of clothing.

Arguably, though, most pocket-carriers do so because they spend much of their time in places where CCW may be legal but is “socially unacceptable,” making absolute concealment paramount – something more easily achieved with a firearm completely ensconced. Many corporations, fearing liability issues, have blanket “have gun, will terminate” policies. Those self-employed in anti-gun regions run a very real risk of losing considerable business if word gets around that they go about armed. And, especially in light of recent acts of terrorism, being “made” by a member of the non-carrying public may inspire a panicked call to police, with potentially disastrous results.

Whatever your reasoning, if you choose this mode of carry, be aware that it is not a “fire and forget” method. In fact, it could be argued that it requires even greater diligence in practice. Loosely carrying without protecting your trigger guard begs for a negligent discharge, and the closed environment of a pocket makes for a veritable lint factory. Use of a pocket holster can mitigate both risks, but pay attention to the fine details.

  • Ensure that your selected holster fully encloses
    the trigger guard, and that there isn’t a gap which might allow fabric from clothing or the holster itself to snag on the trigger.
  • Make it a habit to holster the gun outside the pocket, where you are able to see anything touching the trigger, and then positioning the combined unit as desired.
  • Don’t carry anything else in the pocket with your gun! Items such as keys may work themselves into the trigger guard even with a holster, and rummaging around for cash can open the door to a negligent discharge.
  • Even holstered, lint and debris will collect in muzzle, slide frames, and revolver cylinders. Inspect your pocket-carried pistol regularly, and clean both it and its holster dutifully.

Choosing to pocket carry your defensive pistol also has some unique challenges in terms of printing. In Part Two, we’ll cover some scenarios for accidental exposure that you might not have considered – but should!

Keith Coniglio is a father, software tester, NRA-certified pistol instructor, and devoted Second Amendment advocate.
He is also the editor-in-chief of Descendants of Liberty Press, a site dedicated to rekindling Americans’ passion for – and defense of – their Constitutional rights and personal liberty.