Millions of Americans own firearms for self-defense, but not everyone feels comfortable carrying around a full-sized handgun. For these people, a concealed carry pistol is the perfect solution. Pocket pistols (aka mouse gun, pocket gun, micro-compact pistol, pocket revolver) are extra small, lightweight, and extremely easy to conceal — even more than a typical concealed carry handgun. Some of the best pocket pistols offer the same level of stopping power as larger handguns. If you’re looking for an easy way to pocket carry a handgun, a pocket pistol is the answer.
You might be wondering why you should consider concealed carry pistols or a pocket carry gun over other types of handguns. Well, if you’re like most people who are simply looking for self-defense, then a lightweight pocket pistol is going to be easy to access and still pack a punch. The best pocket pistols offer several advantages over other types of firearms. They are small enough that you can easily conceal one in your pants pockets, jacket, vest, or purse — but they also have the power to stop an intruder or attacker!
You don’t even need a pocket holster to store or conceal a pocket carry pistol (but a pocket holster will prevent a gun from falling off your person). Moreover, first time gun owners will love the fact that some of the best pocket pistols are relatively affordable, making them a great option for anyone on a budget.
If you’re interested in learning more about the best pocket pistols for concealed carry and self-defense, keep reading! This guide to the best pocket pistol for your individual needs will break down everything you need to know about these handy firearms and why you should own one.
A Brief History Of Pocket Pistols
Pocket pistols have a long and rich history. Dating back centuries, these small firearms were designed for concealed carry. A lot of pocket pistols were popular with law enforcement, while other pocket pistols became handy with civilians, thanks to their remarkable portability and reliable performance.
One of the predecessors to the modern pocket handgun is the notorious Derringer flintlock, small percussion handgun produced from 1852 – 1868. As firearms technology evolved over the years, so did the “mouse gun”. Over the years, pocket pistols became more powerful and reliable, with many different types and designs emerging that became popular among many types of people.
For example, semi-automatic .25 caliber pocket pistol designs became popular during the Prohibition Era with gangsters like Al Capone who needed a reliable and discreet self-defense option. From the Derringer flintlock muff to pocket revolvers and semi-automatics, modern pocket guns of today feature innovations such as “hammerless” firing mechanisms, lightweight (snag-free) polymer designs, and integrated laser sights. They are becoming increasingly popular among concealed carriers and self-defense enthusiasts as a concealed carry option and have since become more powerful and reliable compared to their predecessors.
What Exactly Is A Pocket Pistol?
A pocket pistol is a small, concealable handgun that is perfect for when you need self-defense in a tight spot. Nowadays, these pistols are typically semi-automatic, and are much smaller than your average firearm. This makes them easy to carry around, and ideal for concealed carry.
A true pocket pistol needs to be small, light, and slim enough to be smoothly and easily drawn from a pocket or purse. This means their dimensions should be approximately:
- 4 -6″ in overall length
- 0.75 – 1.25″ in width
- 3.5 – 5″ in height
Some pistols might vary slightly outside these ranges but still function perfectly as pocket guns.
The difference between a pocket pistol and a concealed carry handgun
Generally speaking, a concealed carry handgun is defined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as “a handgun that has been specifically designed, made, or adapted to be concealed on the person.” This means pocket pistols and concealed carry pistols fall under the same category.
However, the main difference between a pocket pistol and common concealed carry handguns is that a pocket pistol is a smaller firearm which is designed to be easily carried inside a pocket or purse. It is usually chambered in a lightweight cartridge like a .22 LR or .25 ACP (or 9MM, 32 ACP and 380 ACP). A concealed carry handgun (which includes subcompact pistols) is a bit larger than a pocket pistol, but still smaller than many full-sized handguns. Yet both are designed to be carried concealed under clothing. Concealed carry handguns are chambered for ammo cartridges like 9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson, and .45 ACP.
Micro-compact handguns have a shorter effective range than compact or full-sized pistols. This is mostly due to barrel length, sight radius, and handling instability.
Additionally, some low-powered caliber handguns (such as pocket pistols) rely on a “blowback” system (inertia from spent cartridge) to automate the loading of the next round. This is quite common with .32 ACP and .380 ACP pocket pistols. More powerful calibers such as 9mm or .45 ACP may require some form of locked-breech operation.
A general rule is that a lot handguns over five to 6 inches in overall length may be called a “concealed carry” or compact pistol (even “subcompact” at the lower range). Truth is, any handgun can be carried in your waistband or a holster. But beyond 5.75″ in overall length, they can start getting a bit uncomfortable (or impractical) to be carried inside a pocket or purse depending on the user.
What to look for in a pocket pistol
There are some important design features that any serious buyer needs to take into consideration regarding any of the best pocket pistols in this guide:
The length affects the ease of draw and concealability of the pistol. Longer barrel lengths tend to provide higher accuracy and better recoil control. Shorter barrels are easier to conceal. In terms of weight distribution, if the pocket gun is heavy on the bottom (magazine floor plate), this should reduce muzzle flip when firing.
This refers to the overall height of the concealed carry pistol (usually including the magazine) as well as the how high above the trigger the bore axis sits when firing (this is important if recoil will be an issue).
Refers to the width of the pistol frame, slide, or grip. It affects the concealability, weight, and hand grip characteristics of the firearm.
The caliber of a pocket pistol refers to the diameter of the firearm barrel (or bullet). Larger calibers are more powerful. Choose a caliber that you are comfortable shooting and that offers adequate stopping power. For example, the .22 caliber is popular because it’s small, lightweight and easy to shoot accurately. Plus it has very little recoil which makes it ideal for new shooters or those who have arthritis in their hands.
Some pocket pistols have front sights, finger grip extensions, or a dovetail design. You’ll need to decide whether these design features will be more of a nuisance or benefit to you.
Make sure to choose a best pocket pistol that is the right size for your hand. You don’t want one that is too large or too small. It might be important to look for ones with a textured pistol grip, since smooth grips can cause the gun to slip in your hand during rapid fire or when you sweat.
Most pocket pistols hold between six and eight rounds of ammunition. Make sure the pistol you choose has enough capacity to meet your needs. A single stack magazine is thinner than a double stack magazine, which saves width, but also means fewer rounds.
Why Own A Pocket Pistol?
Not everyone needs a more expensive, full-sized handgun that fires a larger caliber. Some people don’t want to have something on their person that could potentially be noticed by someone else, while others simply have small hands or want a very lightweight firearm. Ultimately, pocket pistols provide a level of concealability that no other effective handgun can match. Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why you should consider a pocket pistol:
Easy to conceal
The main reason why some people might want to own a pocket carry is because they can fit in your pants, jacket, or purse without altering your appearance or causing any holster discomfort (such as from metal clips digging into you during daily activities). Pocket pistols are some of the smallest, lightest, and most convenient types of firearms. This means they are among the best concealed carry pistols on the market.
Whether you’re at the gas station or in your bedroom, it only takes a few moments for an intruder or attacker to cause harm. For this reason, many people want a small firearm that can be stored near their bed or tucked away somewhere close by (like in a drawer). Drawing your firearm quickly will make all the difference; plus you’ll know exactly where it is and won’t have to waste any time searching around for it.
Great for women
Pocket pistols are also great for women to store in their purse. Not all women are comfortable with the idea of wearing a holster on their body. Some concealed carry handguns can be too bulky to wear under a thin dress (not to mention dresses don’t have any pockets). Women find mouse guns and other pocket pistols to be appealing because they can easily slip into a purse or bag.
Our Favorite Pocket Pistols For Concealed Carry & Self-Defense
There are a lot of different pocket pistols out there – each with their own unique features and designs that make them better or worse than others (depending on your personal opinion). Here is our list of the the most popular models and brands of pocket pistols on the market today (in no particular order):
The Glock G42 White Dot 380 Auto is a classic that’s renown for its proven durability and reliability in the field. Glocks are military-grade pistols that see regular use in law enforcement. The G42 has an affordable midrange price and its micro-compact dimensions give users one of the smallest Glocks on the market while maintaining the shooting characteristics of larger models like the G19. You’ll likely be firing this pistol a lot more as an active shooter rather than keeping it as a safety precaution. It comes with the Glock Safe Action system and multiple safety features (e.g. thumb safety).
Length: 5.94″ / Width: 0.98″ / Height: 4.13″ / Weight (empty magazine): 13.76 oz.
Kimber Micro 9
The Kimber Micro is a single-action, miniature 1911-style pistol, chambered in 9MM or .380ACP. It was designed by the legendary firearms maker, “Kimber”, to fit into a woman’s hand and be carried conveniently in a purse or pocketbook. The Kimber company has been making high quality compact pistols for decades. Like the classic 1911, this pocket variation feels just as solid and reliable. It’s single action has a short, smooth trigger pull for heightened accuracy. The Kimber Micro 9 is also ideal for small-handed new gun owners who desire minimal recoil for a variety of applications. However, there are a couple of features that make the Kimber Micro not as “snag free” as other conceal carry pocket pistols, notably its iron sight and beaver tail design.
Length: 6.1″ / Width (frame): 1.06″ / Height: 4.07″ / Weight (empty magazine): 15.6 oz.
Bond Arms Barn Roughneck
The only featured Derringer-style pocket revolver, the 2-shot capacity Bond Arms Roughneck is a mean-looking pocket gun that’s designed to stop whatever stands in its way, no questions asked. The Barn Roughneck comes in .357 Mag, .380 Special, .45 ACP, or 9mm (offering some of the highest calibers of any pocket carry on this list). It features a standard rubber grip, cross bolt safety, trigger guard, and front blade, fixed rear sight. It’s tiny 2.5″ barrel length means you can conceal this mouse cannon practically anywhere, but you better only draw it in close-range defensive situations.
Length: 4.5″ / Width: / Height: / Weight: 19 oz.
Sig Sauer P365 SAS
The P365 SAS is the micro-compact version of the P365 and carries with it all of the supreme quality, durability, and performance of Sig Sauer military-grade handguns. The P365 SAS has a completely snag-free design and textured grip. It was definitely designed for serious concealed carry users wanting fast draws, smooth sight acquisition, and clean & crisp trigger pull. Additional design features include a cut-off sight, trimmed slide release, and a takedown lever requiring a flat head tool. It has a stainless steel frame, carbon steel barrel finish, and includes two 10-round magazine capacity.
Length: 5.8″ / Width: 1.0″ / Height: 4.1″ / Weight: 17.8 oz.
Bersa Thunder 380 CC
The Thunder 380 Concealed Carry is a lightweight semi-automatic pistol chambered in .380 ACP that looks and feels like a James Bond pocket gun. It has similar design features to the Beretta 70 and Walther PPK (but its more affordable). Its aluminum alloy frame makes the Thunder 380 feel light but also carry enough mass to help control recoil. It has a blowback, fixed barrel design for increased accuracy (one of its perks). Having a snag free design made possible by a bobbed hammer and low profile sight, the Bersa Thunder 380 CC is a reliable and accurate self defense piece that will fit firmly in average to larger-sized hands. It comes with a 8+1 magazine capacity.
Length: 6″ / Width: 1.0″ / Height: 4.6″ / Weight (unloaded): 16.4 oz.
Beretta 3032 Tomcat
The Beretta 3032 Tomcat is a simple, semi-automatic blowback pistol with a single or double action trigger mechanism. Uniquely popular for its “tip-up barrel” (classic to Beretta small-frame pistols), which does not require the user to rack the slide to chamber a round, the Tomcat has an all metal frame and is chambered in .32 ACP. It relies on the “blowback” energy of the fired cartridge to extract the round. this pistol is perfect as a backup weapon or for concealed-carry. The Beretta 3032 Tomcat provides accurate fire power in a pocket sized package that feels like carrying a cell phone (it’s one of the shortest mouse guns on the list).
Length: 4.92″ / Width: 1.1″ / Height: 3.7″ / Weight (unloaded): 14.5 oz.
Seecamp LWS 380
Seecamp designs some of the smallest handguns of all of the best pocket pistols featured in this guide, really lending credence to the term “mouse gun”. This little .380 ACP gun holds 6 rounds and despite its all-metal frame only weighs 13.65 oz. when fully loaded. The LWS 380 is ideal for close range shooting and fits discreetly in a pocket or purse. It has a 6+1 cartridge capacity.
Length: 4.25″ / Width: 0.91″ / Height: 3.25″ / Weight (loaded): 13.65 oz.
Sig Sauer P938
The P938, chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum like other Sig Sauer most accurate 9mm models, is an extremely reliable subcompact single-action pistol offering the advantage of owning a 1911-style pistol in a pocket pistol package. With an overall length of just 5.9 inches and weighing in at 16 ounces unloaded, this handgun can be easily concealed and carried discretely for users who like a heavier feel. The P938 also features Sig Sauer’s new “Nitron” finish for corrosion resistance and reduced wear, coupled with aggressive grip checkering to ensure a stable firing grip under any condition.
Length: 5.9″ / Width: 1.1″ / Height: 3.9″ / Weight: 16 oz.
Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380
The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 is a lightweight, highly compact semi-automatic handgun that is often deployed as a law enforcement “backup” weapon. The .380 ACP cartridge delivers good stopping power, making this gun perfect for concealed carry and self-defense. This little gun has a lightweight high-strength polymer frame, sleek stainless steel slide release, aggressive grip texture (with finger grip extension), and a snag-free design. It’s one of the more thinner and lighter guns on the list too. The Bodyguard 380 design implements several design features found in larger handguns like an integrated laser sight option for quick and accurate target acquisition. It comes with a 6 or 7 round magazine capacity.
Length: 5.3″ / Width: 0.84″ / Height: 3.78″ / Weight: 12 oz.
Ruger LCP II
The Ruger LCP II (Lightweight Compact Pistol) is definitely one of the best pocket pistols on this list and for good reason. It’s compact, lightweight design blended with excellent ergonomics (e.g. larger grip frame to distribute recoil forces) and easy-to-rack slide makes this micro-compact pistol an ideal backup firearm for law enforcement and self-defense pocket pistol for civilians. The Ruger LCP II is a rugged subcompact pistol that provides a high level of comfort. Because it’s designed for a variety of holsters, and used by law enforcement, it doesn’t have the most snag-free design (i.e. finger grip extension and iron front sight). It comes with a 6+1 capacity.
Length: 5.17″ / Width (slide): 0.75″ / Height: 3.71″ / Weight: 10.6 oz.
The CPX-2 is a hammer-fired, double action only semiautomatic pistol chambered in 9×19mm Parabellum. It’s a very affordable and compact firearm featuring a staggered column, removable magazine with 10+1 capacity. The CPX-2 has a 9 lb. trigger pull, 3-dot sight system (with available red dot configuration), stainless steel slide, and polymer frame. Affordable, compact (and packing a serious punch), the SCCY CPX-2 is a excellent choice for serious gun owners needing a solid pistol for concealed carry and self-defense.
Length: 6.0″ / Width: 1.1″ / Height: 5.26″ / Weight: 15 oz.
Trailblazer Lifecard .22WMR
The Trailblazer Lifecard is the only folding, single-shot .22 pistol featured on this list. It gives the ultimate meaning to “pocket carry gun” and is one of the thinnest (and lightest) firearms ever created. It’s literally shaped like a stack of credit cards when folded and weighs only 7 ounces. It’s obviously crafted for maximum discretion with a sleek, snag-free frame and full size handle when unfolded. Ambidextrous, corrosion-resistant, and safely designed, the Trailblazer Lifecard a truly unique pocket carry firearm.
Length (closed): 3.38″ / Width: 0.5″ / Height (closed): 2.13″ / Weight: 7 oz.
The RM380 is hammer fired, double-action, single-stack, semi-automatic .380 ACP. It’s an affordable pocket carry gun which can fit easily in your pants or jacket. It’s double-recoil spring design makes the 416 stainless steel slide easier to operate than other pocket guns (always a big plus). The RM380 is basically a redesigned version of the Rohrbaugh 380 & R9 models, which is reflected in its intelligently subcompact design that’s optimized for concealability: beveled slide, minimal sights, spurless hammer, and forward-angled rear segment of the slide. In terms of safety controls, the RM380 doesn’t have a manual safety or takedown lever. It has a triangular magazine release button. And despite having a relatively long trigger pull, this pocket pistol is still ideal for close range self-defense applications.
Length: 5.27″ / Width: 0.95″ / Height: 3.86″ / Weight: 12.2 oz.
Beretta 21A Bobcat
One of the few .22 LR mouse guns on this list (also available in .25 Auto), the highly concealable Beretta Bobcat is a rugged DA/SA small caliber pistol with a tip-up barrel, and all the advanced engineering and strict quality control that Beretta is renown for. Like all Beretta models, the 21A Bobcat is precisely engineered for accuracy and durability. It has a high-strength stainless steel slide, barrel, and frame. Additionally, a user-friendly design (e.g. snag-free contour) makes the Bobcat safe, reliable, and practical for concealed carry and self-defense. An aggressively textured grip will fit snuggly in any hand, big or small.
Length: 4.92″ / Width: 1.1″ / Height: 3.7″ / Weight (unloaded): 11.8 oz.
The Kahr CM9 is trigger-cocking 9mm DAO with “Browning-type” recoil lug, passive striker block, and is a 6+1 magazine capacity. It’s meticulous black polymer frame and matted stainless steel slide gives the CM9 a sleek and imposing look. Kahr is a highly respectable brand of subcompact and micro-compact handguns. The CM9 is known for its smooth and crisp double-action trigger pull (8 lb. break) that requires some conviction on the part of its user. Having said that, Kahr’s double-action triggers are revered by handgun enthusiasts. Moreover, the Kahr CM9 is known to be plenty accurate and reliable.
Length: 5.42″ / Width (slide): 0.9″ / Height: 4.0″ / Weight (loaded): 15.9 oz.
Last, but not least, is the iconic 007 gun itself: the Walther PPK. This 6-round semi automatic blowback-operated pocket pistol features a double-action trigger mechanism, fixed barrel, and single-column magazine design. The PPK is chambered in .38 ACP, with .32 ACP and 9mm versions, while the cheaper PPK/S is chambered in .22 LR. Featuring a sleek, ergonomic design with superior engineering, the Walther PPK doesn’t need that much of an introduction thanks to its classic design and iconic status as James Bond’s pocket pistol. The original PPK design was invented over 80 years ago and was one of the first true conceal carry (military-grade) pistols. Although its a robust and high-performing firearm, it’s all-metal design does make it heavier than other similar-sized pocket guns.
Length: 6.1″ / Width: 1″ / Height: 3.8″ / Weight (empty magazine): 19 oz.
Pocket pistols are popular because they’re micro-compact, convenient to carry, and easy to conceal on your person in case of emergency. In most cases, pocket pistols are used for personal defense. If this is the reason you need one, then make sure it has enough stopping power without compromising your ability to control it. You don’t necessarily need extra magazines or fancy sights and triggers. So you’ll be more interested in models that offer reliability rather than competition performance. A stylish pocket pistol can make a great gift for gun lovers.
If your a first time gun owner, you should know that smaller pistols may be a little more difficult to control and fire accurately compared to heavier handguns with longer barrel lengths. In other words, you may have to trade accuracy for concealability, which is why the tiniest pocket pistols are more suited for close-range situations. Having said that, some of the pocket pistols listed in this guide are highly accurate and can be used at the practice range for fun.
As the saying goes, there are two types of people in the world: those who have been held up at gunpoint, and those who will be. If you don’t want to be part of the first group, you should buy a pocket pistol. These small firearms may be tiny, but they’re mighty – and can provide you with the protection you need if an armed robbery or home invasion occurs.
However, no matter how reliable and popular these small firearms might be, they are still handguns that come with inherent risks. One must always remember to practice safe handling techniques when using or storing any type of firearm.
Thank you so much for this wonderfully enlightening article. I am in search of the perfect gun to conceal and carry. This article gave me some great information as to what I’m looking for and not looking for.
I appreciate the concise information and easy to use site.
I am a 61 year old female whose owned a few guns in my adult life.
I will recommend your site to others.