Defining A True Pocket Pistol


SOF Support
Feb 8, 2007
Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
Defining A True Pocket Pistol
Dr. Marshall C. St. John

The author's Kel-Tec P-3AT
How do YOU define a "pocket gun?" Obviously, this is a very subjective thing, and people will have a variety of opinions. For example, I found this comment on an internet forum:

"For some reason, people like to take compact firearms and try to claim that they are pocket guns. You want a test: here is one. Go into a gun store wearing jeans. Take a gun and put it into your rear pocket. If it can be totally concealed in your rear pocket, then you have found a pocketgun. If a little of it peeks out, then you have a small gun, but not a pocketgun...My personal test as to what is a pocket gun and what is not, is the guns ability to be fully concealed in the rear pocket of a pair of slacks."

Someone else said: "My definition of a pocket gun is one that can actually be carried in,and drawn from, the pocket effectively in public, not merely being able to fit in one's pocket."

There are some who say they are able to conceal a full-size 1911 handgun in their pocket. I don't believe it. On the other hand., by strict definition, a pocket gun is any gun that will fit in a pocket. That's pretty broad and inclusive!

more here...
Fairly interesting article.
Got one of those, Kel-Tec P3AT's, .380. Its small, light, accurate and fits in a pants pocket easily. With a pocket holster it does not pattern like others do and the light weight makes it the most comfortable little pocket gun you will ever have. In an ankle holster, you will never feel it there.

The manufacturer is great to work with if there is any problems with it. Some early ones had extraction issues. After contacting the factory, within a couple days you have the parts needed to repair it (new extractor, spring and pin). If that dont fix it, send it in and turnaround time is very short.

I give it 2 thumbs up!
Kel-Tec has a good rep. I still like my NAA for the ballistics. This one does a good job of not printing either.

Unfortunatedly do I have no further info.
I tested the ammo on a level IIIa kevlar vest and the round penetrates. the performance should be similar to a 9mm, but the small diameter compared with steel core makes the difference.
Maybe someone who have an account can provide serious tested information.
the Beretta 21a-22

It may be a small cal. but it is small with 8 rounds of stinger ammo it is better than nothing at all. I carry it in my front pocket in side the pocket holster and it is easily taken out and fired.
This is my prefered pocket gun!

The bullet penetrates a level IIIa bodyarmor without any problems (front+back panel).

I use this as a BUG or for pocket carry.

Some other tidbits on that round from the article:
The only real (although of doubtful value) advantage of the new 5.45x18 MPTs round (official designation 7N7) is its deeper penetration, especially against soft body armor at short range. The stopping power of this round is so miserable that some police operatives officially refused to carry this pistol in harm’s way, asking for the venerable Makarov PM instead.
-and this:
The PSM pistol (Pistolet Samozaryadnyj Malogabaritnyj – self-loading small pistol) is one of the thinnest self-defence guns ever made, as it is only 17mm (2/3") thick; but it is also one of the least useful defensive weapons, as the pointed, jacketed bullet of small caliber and moderate velocity (about 300 m/s) can seemingly take forever to disable a target, even in the case of middle-of-the chest hit. Of course it is better than bare knuckles, but far too many cases were recorded when people suffered fatal shots from 5.45x18 bullets (usually in the chest area) but continued to fight or run for as much as half an hour, then suddenly collapsed and died from internal bleeding.
I have a Beretta 22, it is a great little carry piece.

Now if I knew I was going to walk into a fire fight, I would rather have my battle rifle, lots of ammo, all my friends with rifles, some A10's, tanks etc. Maybe even get the Navy and Air Force to soften the position before I go in.

I have conceal carried for a long time and never had to use the pistol. It can be more of a burden than a blessing.

Also the advantage of conceal carry, is that a perp is not expecting it. I live in a repetitively safe place. It may no matter what I carry or even if I carry. All of this needs to be taken into consideration in picking a carry piece. (Ones needs a fair assessment of their own abilities too)

I have several choices and what I choose to carry, or even if I carry depends. Cross country travel, for my travel trailer I have a Mossberg 590 and a pistol in 40 caliber of better.

The neat thing about the 22 Beretta is weight and size. That also is a advantage for many different clothing styles based on weather.
My preference rather than a mini is to carry something heftier and risk the bulge. Down here in FL and the tropics we don't wear much more than t-shirts 80% of the time, so concealed carry usually means inside the belt and under a baggy t-shirt.

I think if I had to pull my piece I'd like it to speak with a big voice.
My preference rather than a mini is to carry something heftier and risk the bulge. Down here in FL and the tropics we don't wear much more than t-shirts 80% of the time, so concealed carry usually means inside the belt and under a baggy t-shirt.

I think if I had to pull my piece I'd like it to speak with a big voice.

I think it boils down to; Personal preference and hopefully based on understanding one's skill, their A/O, risk involved, availability of choices, and "secret sauce" (That unknown something).

I consider myself to be very blessed. Out side of work in the last 40 years, I had only needed to arm myself once and was able to avoid a confrontation. That does not include some possible high risk situations that never went any wheres.
One thing that comes to mind is that a "pocket" pistol will probably be used in a last minute surprise self defense situation, probably at near contact distance where the usual "center of mass" target may become something more like "behind the ear", or some other such "contact" target. Which makes a mousegun more usable.

Here's mine...but it's kinda limited to vest/coat pocket, or IWB. I kinda like that "bigger voice" idea also.