If you’re looking to get into conceal carrying or just need a new holster, pocket holsters are a casual yet safe option for small pistols. These holsters help you carry responsibly without the discomfort you can sometimes get with carry methods like IWB. Or the hassle of a shoulder holster that does not fit right. So how do you pick the right pocket holster? Let’s dive in.
Even with COVID-19 and murder hornets on the lose, our Outdoor Methods’ team has been fearlessly researching this subject for you. Our research consisted of hours of research and testing. It also consisted of my grandmother saying she cannot give back any of the holsters she tested due to COVID-19..
Top Pocket Holsters
For Glock 42
For Glock 43
For S&W Shield
For Ruger LCP
For Ruger LCP II
For Smith & Wesson J-Frame
What Should You Think About Before Buying a Pocket Holster?
Is This The Best Method To Conceal Carry?
Some people might describe pocket carrying as lazy, but it has a few advantages. Especially in the summer months, because pocket holsters have excellent concealment even when you are wearing fewer layers. Our other favorite reason to conceal carry is the IWB. Yet this method of carrying is sometimes uncomfortable and can cause the gun to rub against your side.
Is Pocket Carrying Right For you?
If you spend a lot of time on your feet, pocket carrying is a viable option, as it’s easy to get a gun out of your pocket when standing.
However, if you’re seated at a desk or behind the wheel of a car for a sizable portion of the day, then pocket carrying is not for you. Believe us, you do not want to have a difficult time getting to your gun in a life-threatening situation. We recommend you you look at a shoulder holster or ankle holster for these situations btw…
Pocket holsters also have an advantage that you may not have thought of–the element of surprise! It is one of the easiest ways to access your firearm without arousing suspicion. After all, people stand with their hands in their pockets all the time, just saying.
What’s The Best Way To Use A Holster Designed For Your Pocket?
Generally, when using one of these rigs, you want a holster that accomplishes a few objectives:
- Holds your gun in a draw-ready position.
- Protects the trigger to prevent accidental firing.
- Conceals the shape of the gun.
- Protects the gun from pocket debris.
You could theoretically just throw a .380 in your front pocket and go about your day, but carrying without a holster makes it difficult to draw when seconds count. A holster, especially one designed for the exact model of gun, will hold the firearm in place while in your pocket.
Even if you’re using a holster, most concealed carry experts recommend only having your holster and gun in your pocket. You don’t need keys, flashlights, or anything else getting in the way if you need to reach for it. Another tip for pocket holsters is pockets tend to collect lint and other debris. Therefore you will need to clean your gun regularly to avoid any debris buildup.
We almost forgot one other consideration is whether you want to carry a spare magazine. Since most pistols used for pocket carrying are small, they don’t have extended magazines. So many people opt to carry an extra magazine in case they need to reload. If you want to carry a spare magazine, then make sure you take that into account when picking out your holster. Just an FYI, though, most shooting matches are done within 2-4 shorts.
The Best Pistols For Pocket Carrying
If you’re shopping for a holster, you may already have a gun that you intend to pocket carry. If you don’t, we’ve found a few weapons that are small enough to carry yet have enough power to defend you if needed.
Glock 42 and 43
The Glock 42 is a popular subcompact .380 designed for concealed carry. It’s exceptionally light–even with a full magazine, it weighs less than a pound. The Glock Safe Action system is safety built into the trigger, so there’s no separate manual safety. Once the trigger is released, the safety components re-engage, minimizing your risk of accidental firing. This gun’s standard magazine holds six rounds, which is standard for most .380 pistols.
The Glock 43 is a similar small pistol but in a 9mm caliber. This gun is slightly more substantial, and it’s a higher caliber, so some people might find it preferable. Either way, both the Glock 42 and the Glock 43 are great options for concealed carry (and specifically pocket carry).
Smith & Wesson is one of the best-known gun manufacturers, and the 9mm M&P Shield is an excellent choice for pocket carry. It also has a higher-capacity magazine than many carry pistols–the standard magazine holds eight rounds. It weighs just over a pound when unloaded, so it’s a little heavier than some options, but it’s an excellent choice for a self-defense gun.
The pint-sized Ruger LCP .380 is an excellent option for concealed carry. It has an exceptionally ergonomic grip. As a bonus, you can also purchase a model that’s equipped with a laser sight. It has a six-round magazine and is the perfect size for carrying in a pocket.
The LCP 2 is another .380, but it’s mostly an upgraded version. If you have larger hands, you might appreciate the LCP 2’s larger grip. The LCP 2 also has a bladed trigger that’s significantly less heavy than that of the LCP. Many buyers also state that the sights on the LCP 2 have a significant edge over the views on the LCP.
Smith & Wesson J-Frame
If you’d prefer to conceal a revolver, Smith & Wesson’s J-frame models are compact, lightweight choices. The J-frame model 642 can hold five rounds and has an ergonomic rubberized grip. Since revolvers are often more reliable, they’re the carry gun of choice for some. J-frame revolvers take 38 special ammunition, which is a larger caliber than .380.
How to Choose The Best Holster
The best pocket holster for you depends on several factors. However, these here are 3 critical features:
- Holds the pistol securely and safely
- Allows a clean draw from the pocket
- Prevents the printing of a firearm in your pocket.
For the first point, it’s essential to make sure a holster you choose fits your gun. Most manufacturers make different versions of the same holster to fit specific models. If you have an unconventional weapon, you may need to try out a holster in person to see what fits best. The goal is to have the holster keep the gun ready to draw as well as to protect the weapon from a misfire.
For the second point, it’s vitally important to make sure you get a clean draw. This may take some practice–you don’t want to accidentally pull the holster out of your pocket when drawing, and you definitely don’t want it to get stuck to the barrel when it’s time to shoot.
For the last point, if you want to stop the gun from clearly printing in your pocket, you may want to look for holsters with a built-in panel that covers the weapon. Many of these make it look like you’re carrying a wallet. In some cases, you can remove this panel to reduce the bulk of the holster.
What Material Do You Need?
Holsters come in a variety of different materials. Here are some of the common elements you’ll likely find as you search:
Leather–Leather is a popular material choice. It’s usually rigid enough to hold a gun in place, and it wears nicely. Over time, a leather holster will typically conform to the shape of the wearer’s body, making it more comfortable to wear.
Nylon–Nylon is a very affordable material, and it’s very lightweight. Some lighter nylon types may not completely break up a weapon outline in your pocket.
Kydex–This composite material is very lightweight and very strong. It’s still relatively new on the holster scene, so you may not find Kydex holsters for every model of carrying a gun like with IWB holsters.
What Clothing Material Can You Use It With?
Before purchasing a holster, it’s a good idea to think about the types of pants you usually wear. Most holsters will fit comfortably in the front pocket of a pair of men’s jeans. However, the pockets of women’s jeans are often too small to accommodate a holster.
Some holsters are designed specifically for back-pocket use, and these holsters are more likely to have a square or rectangular panel that hides the gun.
The Best Pocket Holster: Our Picks
For Glock 42
This comfortable, low-profile holster is made of a foam core with a woven cloth exterior. Thanks to an extremely tight weave, this material has low-friction, making the draw easy. Notably, this holster is ambidextrous and can fit in either front pockets.
- Lightweight woven material is low-friction
- Dense foam core breaks up the gun outline and prevents printing
- Glock 42-specific design ensures a tight fit
- The holster is larger and may not fit in some pockets
- Does not conceal handle of pistol well
This unique holster design grips to the inside of your pocket as you draw your gun. The interior of the holster is made of an especially slick material, making it easy to draw your weapon quickly. This design is also meant to fit most smaller .380s–it isn’t made specifically for the Glock 42.
- Design is compatible with a few different models, so you can use it with other small-frame .380s as well
- The exterior grips the inside of your pocket making it harder to accidentally pull the holster and gun out of your pocket
- The high-coverage design conceals firearm well
- The holster doesn’t always grip looser pockets
- There isn’t a lot of padding, so some guns might print if your pants are tight
For Glock 43
This holster is virtually identical to the Desantis holster for the Glock 42 described above. This one also has a slick interior for a quick draw. While there’s a low risk of accidentally pulling the holster out of your pocket, some people who use it with shorts note that a looser pocket sometimes means you’ll pull out the holster with the gun. On the plus side, some buyers have said it’s also compatible with pistols similar in size to the Glock 43.
- The extra-slick interior makes it easy to quickly draw when needed
- The full-coverage design completely protects the trigger and trigger guard
- It’s sized to fit the Glock 43 but also works with other pistols
- It may not stay put in looser pockets
- Some buyers have said the thin design doesn’t totally stop printing
This holster has a square bottom, which gives you an advantage–to the casual observer, it just looks like you have a wallet or phone in your pocket. Most buyers say it’s thick enough to completely stop printing, but no so thick that it becomes uncomfortable or overly bulky. Like many pocket holsters, it has a grippy outer surface that’s meant to stay put on the draw.
- Square-bottom design is ideal for concealed pocket carry
- Grippy outer layer keeps it in place
- Unlike some holster options, this one is padded enough to stop printing
- Some buyers say the holster needs time to break in before you can draw normally
- In some cases, the holster seems to not stick in place in the wearer’s pocket
For S&W Shield
This rig is essentially a holster, and a wallet rolled into one. Unlike some options that come with a “grippy” or rubberized outer layer, this one has two non-slip bands designed to hold it in place. There’s a built-in side pocket for keeping cash or cards, too. It’s thick enough to stop printing, and most buyers note that it stays in place on the draw.
- Most buyers say that it’s very comfortable in the pocket
- For some users, the bands aren’t enough to hold the holster in place
- Unique design stops printing
- Some buyers have had issues with bunching or creasing on the interior
- For some users, the bands aren’t enough to hold the holster in place
This holster isn’t designed only for the Shield, but it fits just about any subcompact. As the name suggests, the holster is engineered with a unique sticky substance that can adhere to most types of material. This feature makes it great for those who don’t wear belts. The sticky content is more effective at keeping the gun in place than most designs that rely on having a tight pocket. This one is a little more expensive than some on the list, but many buyers seem to think it’s worth it.
- One-of-a-kind sticky outside stays in place
- Can be worn either in the pocket or as an IWB holster
- Works with similar-sized guns to the Shield as well
- It’s more expensive than some options
- Some users have said that the Shield sits too far down in the holster
For Ruger LCP
Like some of the holster options we’ve covered thus far, this option has a non-slip band instead of a grippy outside to keep it in place. The inside is soft enough to protect your gun, and nylon casters help make drawing easier. The bottom of the holster is shaped a lot like a wallet, making it easy to conceal.
- Square footprint helps reduce printing
- Outer bands hold it in place while making it easy to draw
- Most users say it is sturdy and well-made
- This is wider than some holsters, so it may not fit in every pocket
- If you have a Ruger LCP with a laser sight, it may not fit
The “spiderweb” in this holster’s name refers to the sticky spiderweb design on the outside. Like Sticky Holsters, you can wear these holsters inside the waistband as well. The lining is extra slick to make drawing easy, and it’s padded enough to stop printing from giving away the fact that you’re carrying.
- Unique sticky design can be worn as an IWB holster or in your pocket
- Custom sizing ensures that it will fit your gun just right
- The slick interior makes it easy to draw quickly when needed
- Some users have reported issues with the web material sticking to pockets, making them accidentally draw the holster along with the gun
- In some cases, the company’s sizing seems to run small
For Ruger LCP 2
This holster features a rubberized, sticky outer material, which is an improvement over other Desantis holsters. Like always, the inside is lined with extra-slick cloth for an easy draw. This holster is thick enough to break up the outline of a pistol in your pocket, and you can order it for front or back pocket carry.
- Sticky, rubberized outer layer ensures that the holster stays in your pocket
- Ambidextrous design makes it very versatile
- Has enough padding to stop printing
- The holster can become too loose for the gun over time
- In some cases, the rubberized exterior starts to lose stickiness or peel completely off
Like some other holsters on the list, this one has a non-slip band that keeps the holster in place when you draw. This holster is also more cushioned than many–it protects your gun from excess sweat and protects clothing, too. The slanted top provides more coverage than many holsters and prevents buttons and levers from catching.
- The cushioned design prevents printing
- Square-bottom design keeps it in place and makes it look more like a wallet
- Design holds gun upright to make drawing easier
- It can be a challenge to keep the holster in place when drawing
- With tighter clothing, it may not always prevent printing
For Smith & Wesson J-Frame
This is one of the few leather holsters on the list, and its square-bottom design makes it ideal for pocket carry. The Leather is thick enough to stop printing in most cases, and the leather interior won’t catch as you draw. Plus, as the Leather becomes worn, it develops a beautiful patina.
- Cowhide leather construction is exceptionally durable and thick enough to stop printing
- Leather will wear evenly and conform to your body over time
- Unique design can be worn in your pocket or used for purse or backpack carry
- The holster has a habit of not staying open after drawing, so re-holstering may become an issue
- It’s somewhat expensive compared to other options on the list
This holster is especially heavy-duty- and is made from ballistic Nylon and can stand up to even extreme conditions. It also comes with a separate magazine pouch. The rig is sturdy enough to reduce printing. Like many holsters designed for pocket carry, it’s squared off at the bottom, as is the magazine pouch.
- Ballistic nylon construction is extra sturdy
- Bonus magazine pouch lets you carry additional ammo
- Design helps minimize printing
- The outer layer doesn’t have a sticky or “grippy” surface, so it may not stay in place when drawing
- It’s somewhat expensive compared to others on the list
While we think any holster on the list is worth looking into, we especially like the Sticky Holsters MD-4 medium. (And if you don’t have an S&W Shield, Sticky Holsters makes a holster for just about every handgun.) This holster is made with a unique coating that lets it stick to the inside of a pocket, your undergarments, or even skin, which means you can use it as both a pocket and an IWB holster.
It’s rare to see real innovation in the holster field, but we think this is truly groundbreaking technology. Whether you choose the Sticky or another holster, make sure to double-check your sizing and select something safe and comfortable for you. After all, if you carry a gun most of the time, it’s worth the investment of time and money to choose the holster that fits your lifestyle.