Keep It In A Pocket Holster If That’s The Case.
By Tom McHale
In what became the most exciting college chemistry class ever, an Idaho State University professor demonstrated a really bad experiment. During his lecture he managed to shoot himself in the foot with a small caliber handgun he was carrying in his pocket. Specifics are sketchy, but we do know the gun was in his pocket and it never left his pocket, even after perforating pants pocket, shoe leather and foot.
If I had to bet, I’d wager he wasn’t using a proper pocket holster. And, while it’s technically possible pocket junk caught in the trigger area caused the shot heard ’round the classroom, I’d also bet he was handling his handgun while pontificating about chemical reactions. It’s kind of ironic he caused one in the process.
Carrying a gun in a pants or jacket pocket can be a perfectly good and safe carry method if done right. First and foremost, however, it requires a quality pocket holster — always.
What A Pocket Holster Does
Above all else, a pocket holster protects the trigger. Guns don’t “go off” as often reported in the news. Most any modern handgun requires a deliberate movement of the trigger. The pocket holster prevents that until you draw the gun and stick your finger in there.
Next, a pocket holster also must keep your handgun oriented consistently in your pocket. If you go to draw your gun, and it’s upside down in the pocket, you’re going to have a bad day.
Then a pocket holster must allow for a functional draw. This means it must have some means of staying put in your pocket while allowing your gun to come out. Some holsters use their shape to anchor inside the pocket while others use texture to “stick” inside the pocket.
Finally, a good pocket holster will help hide your gun. Your holster should cover or break up the outline of the gun in your pocket. If someone can read the serial number of your snubbie revolver through your skinny jeans, you might want to consider a better holster.
Equipment is important, but so is procedure. The most important procedural tip is to always, always, always use a pocket holster. Like the chemistry experiment mentioned previously, most self-perforation events involve someone trying to carry a gun without one. The other most important tip is to always insert the gun in the holster before putting the holster in your pocket. By holstering the gun first, you greatly minimize the risk of drilling holes into your lower parts while wrestling a loaded gun into the tight confines of your pocket.
Oh, one more important thing. Never, ever carry anything else in the same pocket as your gun. Your life might rely on your ability to quickly and smoothly remove your gun from your pocket, so the last thing you need is to have to draw through a tangle of car keys and random breath mint wrappers. Worse, some pocket junk (like keys) can get caught in your gun’s trigger area or action, thereby contributing to an involuntary aeration.
With that said, let’s take a look at some solid pocket holster solutions. Different companies use different techniques to meet safe pocket holster criteria, so we’ll check out some different approaches.
Galco Pocket Protector
I use this one all the time to carry a Springfield Armory XD-S 9mm. The metal-reinforced top allows easy holstering, but more importantly, a smooth draw. Galco makes the Pocket Protector from steerhide, so it’s tough and will last nearly forever. The rough side of the leather faces out to help the holster “stick” to the inside of your pocket during the draw. It also features a hook shape on one side, so the holster will catch on the inside of your pocket during an aggressive draw. MSRP: $29.95
Recluse Two-Sided Clamshell
The folks at Recluse take stealth to a whole new level. They design their two-sided holsters with a front-facing leather flap. Its sole purpose is to present a flat and ambiguous shape against your pants. From the outside, if anyone notices a bulge in your pocket, it looks like a smartphone or wallet. The flap is hinged like a clamshell so you can easily insert your hand between the flap and your handgun to assume a firing grip before you start to draw. They make models for standard and larger cargo pockets. MSRP: $59.95 (Cargo Model $74.95)
CrossBreed Pocket Rocket
Like the company’s flagship SuperTuck holsters, the Pocket Rocket is a hybrid too. The leather “backing” is actually the front and designed to align against the front of your pocket to shield the outline of your gun. The handgun itself is secured with a Kydex half-shell to keep the gun in place and protect the trigger area. Available for regular and cargo pockets, the Pocket Rocket is available for many compact semi-autos. MSRP: $32.95
BLACKHAWK! makes a series of holsters relying entirely on a mystery material that sticks to anything. While I can’t get the company to admit this, I suspect they harvest the goo from spider’s feet to use on the exterior of TecGrip holsters. This stuff will stick to glass, so needless to say it does a great job of sticking to the inside of your pants pocket. The interior is high-density, closed-cell foam, so your gun draws smoothly while the holster remains firmly stuck in your pocket. The company offers four different sizes of pocket models to accommodate snubbie revolvers, .380 autos, 3.5″ barrel sub-compacts, and even those teeny tiny .22 and .25 ACP pistols. MSRP: $18.95
Galco Front Pocket Horsehide Holster
This model is also constructed rough side-out to help it remain in the pocket. The interior is smooth leather, facilitating an easy draw. Unlike the Galco Pocket Protector, this one does not feature a reinforced mouth, so it’s a little thinner and more concealable. I have been using one with a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center snubbie with great success. It’s well molded to the shape of the revolver and does a great job of positioning it. MSRP: $65.95
Bianchi M152 Pocket Piece
The Pocket Piece uses a dual-hook shape to plant it firmly in the pocket, but also adds a twist to facilitate a holster-free draw. On the back is a vertical-assist pad. As you draw, your thumb presses down on the pad, ensuring the gun comes out of the holster smoothly. Made from leather and shaped to your specific gun, the Pocket Piece is currently available for about a dozen models. MSRP: $29.75
The Nemesis takes the soft and squishy approach. It’s made from three layers, including pack cloth inside for a smooth draw, a foam center to provide structure and break up the outline of your gun, and a super-sticky material on the outside. The Nemesis features a large wing to help stabilize it in your pocket, so even top-heavy semi-autos remain in the correct orientation. MSRP: $25.99
Blue Force Gear Double Magazine Belt Pouch
Hey! Wait a tick. This isn’t a pocket holster! No, it’s not, but it does help with successful pocket carry. One problem with carrying a gun in your pocket is you tend to run out of pockets really fast unless you dress like a National Geographic field photographer. Here’s an idea: use a piece of gear like this to free up pocket real estate by stowing other stuff there. The Blue Force Gear Double Pistol Magazine Belt Pouch includes two flexible pockets attached to its Velcro-adjustable belt loop mounts. Certainly, you can store magazines in there, but given the stretchy nature of the pockets, you can store a variety of other gear like small flashlights, a Leatherman tool, or whatever other stuff you tote around on a daily basis. This frees up pocket space for your holstered handgun. MSRP: $26
Galco PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier
If you carry a compact semi-auto in a pocket, you’ll still want to carry a spare magazine, not just for extra capacity, but as a backup against primary magazine malfunction. Just as one of the functions of a good pocket holster is to hold the gun in the right orientation, a pocket magazine carrier does the same for the spare magazine. Reloading is much smoother and faster if the spare is stored and presented just right. Like a pocket holster, this steerhide single magazine carrier uses shape and hooks to keep in your pocket as you withdraw the magazine. MSRP: $24.95
Once you’ve picked out your pocket holster, you have one more important responsibility — practice. By its very nature, pocket carry is more finicky and less forgiving than traditional belt carry. Pants pockets vary in size and shape, so you need to verify the pocket opening is large and forgiving enough to allow you to insert your hand, assume a firing grip, and remove the gun smoothly. Many pocket openings are large enough to insert your hand but too small to allow you to pull it back out when it’s full of handgun. It’s important to test your pocket holster (using an unloaded gun) with every pair of pants you intend to wear to make sure it works. While you’re doing that, also verify your gun comes out while your holster stays put.
After all, it’d be kind of embarrassing to find yourself pointing a holstered gun at an attacker, wouldn’t it?