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Concealed Carry: All About Pocket Carry

Pocket Carry Range
When IWB isn’t an option, pocket carry presents a solution. We go over how to pocket carry safely and give you some tips for CCW success.
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    So far, we’ve talked about Appendix Carry and Strong Side Carry, discussing the pros and cons of both. 

    Today, we’re moving on to another concealed carry style — pocket carry. 

    Daily Defense Pocket Carry
    Pocket Carry!

    We’ll take some time to explore the ins and outs of this carry mode, lay out why you might want to consider it, and, as always, leave you with some tips for success.

    That said, Brownells Daily Defense has an awesome episode dedicated to pocket carry that you’ll definitely want to check out for more tips and tricks! 

    Table of Contents

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    What Is Pocket Carry?

    One thing we love about the gun world is its naming scheme — usually self-explanatory. This style of carry proves no different. 

    Pocket carry is a means of concealed carrying a gun in…you guessed it, your pocket.

    Daily Defense Pocket Carry Draw Front Pocket
    Pocket carry entails…well, your pocket.

    It can be front or back pocket, just depends on your wardrobe and preferences. (We’ll talk about that more in a minute…)

    While we don’t recommend pocket carry as our first choice for concealed carry — that honor goes to strong side carry — sometimes, you can’t carry any other way. 

    When lifestyles, careers, or clothing dictate a need for something away from the belt, pocket carry is a solution. 

    Pros of Pocket Carry

    We kind of already touched on the biggest attractor to this mode of carry — it does not rely on a belt. 

    If you cannot carry strong side or appendix, pocket carry gives you the ability to still carry a gun. To that end, it’s pretty convenient. 

    Pocket Carry
    Pocket Carry (Photo: USA Carry)

    You don’t have to buy a holster AND gun belt to make it work. You just pop the gun in your pocket (in a pocket holster, of course) and go. 

    Finally, pocket carry can provide a more discreet way to draw the gun. No one really suspects the person with their hands in their pocket of producing a gun — not in the same way a regular IWB draw stroke does. 

    Cons of Pocket Carry

    Pocket carry does come with its disadvantages, though. 

    It stands as one of the more limiting concealed carry options in that not everyone can do it. 

    I’m looking at you, ladies. 

    Our clothing does not readily support pocket carry due to our pocket-size (and sometimes even non-existent pocket option). So, it’s not a great option for us. 

    Better Pockets
    Our pockets can’t even handle phones…

    If you really want to CCW via pocket, my best advice is to invest in some men’s jeans. 

    Men, you’re not completely free from the grasp of the fashion industry, either. Not every pair of pants will work well with pocket carry, so you’ll want to make sure what you have in your closet sports pockets large enough to carry your chosen CCW pistol

    And that brings me to my next point. 

    Pocket carry limits the size of the firearm you can carry. It’s best suited for smaller guns like micro-compacts and subcompacts. 

    Concealed Carry Guns
    Out of these threes, the Sig is your best bet. (L to R: Gen 4. Glock G19, Smith & Wesson Shield, Sig Sauer P238)

    Sorry, Glock 19 fans, you’ll have to sit this one out. 

    Even if you opt for a tiny gun, the draw stroke can be difficult and slower — more than a holster on the belt. Think about it. You have to reach in your pocket, overcome the pocket (and depending on the holster, prevent the holster from escaping the pocket on the gun), and then present the gun. 

    This can be overcome with training, but it still isn’t as efficient as a holstered IWB, OWB, or AIWB gun. 

    Finally, let’s be real…pockets are dirty. Even if you don’t stuff spare change or gum wrappers in there, you still must combat the dreaded pocket lint. 

    Pockets Glitter
    Gotta keep those pockets clean.

    While this might seem like no biggie, pocket lint can get trapped inside the barrel and work its way into the gun, causing issues down the line. 

    So, if you choose this method, make sure to regularly clean your pockets and gun. 

    Clean Patch Glock
    Regularly clean your guns…

    If you need help cleaning your firearms, check out our handy guide.

    Should I Carry in the Front or Back Pocket?

    Front or back pocket — the answer is…it depends. 

    Back pocket gives you the most access to the gun as it is often the wider of the two pockets, and the draw stroke is somewhat similar to strong side carry. 

    (If you regularly strong side carry and only switch to pocket carry on the weekends, then back pocket probably works best.)

    Brownells Daily Defense Pocket Carry
    Carrying in the back pocket feels more familiar for many.

    Front pocket situates the gun right in front of your body, but that pocket on my pants tends to be a bit tighter. With a firing grip on the gun, it can be tough to draw the gun. 

    Not to mention, front pocket carry can feel a bit weird while sitting down. (So if you work a desk job, it might not be the best option.)

    My advice? Test it out. See what works best for you, given your lifestyle and your pant selection. 

    Tips to Successful Pocket Carry

    1. Wardrobe

    We usually start with clothing for a reason. Evaluating your current wardrobe will help you narrow down which outfits work and don’t. 

    The biggest factor in success for pocket carry is…pockets. You’ll need to ensure your pockets are large enough to accommodate your chosen pistol and holster. 

    Unlike AIWB and IWB/OWB, shirt length doesn’t really matter so long as you can get to your pocket if you need to. 

    2. Holster

    The key to safe and successful pocket carry is a good holster. Do NOT throw a pistol in your pocket without one. It’s unsafe. 

    Carrying handgun in back pocket
    No…just no

    There are two styles of holsters.

    The first is basically a sleeve that the gun slips into, then the whole system slides into the pocket.

    These are collapsible, so reholstering means taking the holster out. (We don’t recommend blindly reholstering in the pocket with these.)

    DeSantis Pocket Holster
    DeSantis pocket holster is a sleeve style.

    The downside to the sleeve style is they often come out of the pocket with the gun when the gun is drawn. Sometimes, they even stay on the gun.

    The second style works slightly better by creating some separation between the gun and holster, often through the use of Kydex. This allows the holster to remain in the pocket while the gun is drawn. 

    Crossbreed Pocket Rocket Holster
    Crossbreed Pocket Rocket offers a molded design.

    Either way, a good holster should keep your gun positioned in the best manner to allow you to draw safely. 

    3. Train & Practice

    We always end with practice and training because your gear is only as good as your skills. 

    Dry fire drills are an exceptional means to train at home for free and give you a good sense of how the carry setup will work in the real world.

    Daily Defense Pocket Carry
    Put in the time to train!

    I suggest trying on different pants, tossing the holster and gun into the pocket, drawing, and seeing how the setup works. 

    Also, don’t forget to practice from different positions — sitting and standing — to make sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way. 

    Conclusion

    Pocket carry provides a means to concealed carry if IWB, OWB, or AIWB just isn’t in the cards for you. Utilizing either a front pocket or back pocket paired with a good pocket carry holster, you’ll be able to stroll around town with ease. 

    Daily Defense Pocket Carry Back Pocket Draw

    Remember, that pocket carry does limit you to smaller guns — think, micro and subcompacts. Also, NEVER toss the gun in your pocket without a holster. 

    For more pocket carry tips, make sure to watch the Brownells Daily Defense video below!

    What are your thoughts on pocket carry? Let us know in the comments below. Missed out on our other CCW articles? Check out Strong Side Carry and Appendix Carry here. 

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    8 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Bruce Darby

      I'm more comfortable carrying in my front pocket but finding the right pants with the pocket cut in a way for a quick draw is the challenge. I wear cargo pants so I can carry my keys in a zippered pocket. I carry a SIG P365 with a flush mag.

      November 26, 2022 7:50 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      PocketGunner

      I have been shooting Pocket guns every since the LCP first came out. Belong to a club that shoots them weekly. First of all, diligent training with them and you would be surprised what you can do. Fast heads shots at 15 yds is common in our club. The also have the defense ability to do things that large guns cannot. They are fast to the draw, sneaky and fantastic concealment. The defense they offer is not understood or appreciated.

      July 10, 2022 9:19 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Wyo

      I pocket carry a j frame 642 and appendix carry another steel j frame. Gives me a discreet hand on gun option which pocket carry is the best at and a seated position option as well as when I didn't see the threat coming. AIWB is faster if my hands are not in my pocket and pocket carry is fastest if I have hand on gun. I don't trust tiny semi autos especially in a grappling/ground fighting situation.

      April 4, 2021 9:35 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Kendahl

      If you are going to carry in a front pocket, don't wear jeans. When seated, it's hard to get your hand into the pocket much less get it back out while wrapped around a pistol. Instead, wear pants with a front pocket that has a vertical opening on the side. It doesn't close up when you sit. This is typical of dress pants.

      April 2, 2021 12:13 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Steve Sherridon

      Actually the authoress has missed a major point. My work requires formal attire.-Black creased pants....
      I had my tailor install enlarged jeans-fabric pockets on all my pants and I have been carrying a G19 or an M and P compact absolutely comfortablely, daily for 5 years. (granted I do need some trendy braces to support the weight- but then again- I also carry a 17 round spare mag in my other pants pocket). Drawing is just as fast as owb if not faster and no one has a clue I am packing heat.....

      March 30, 2021 10:19 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Nilsigne

      It must be nice having clothes with pockets...

      March 30, 2021 8:59 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bill

      Kahr PM9 and a superfly pocket holster works great in Jeans, cargo pants. I carry it everyday!!!

      March 29, 2021 6:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mike

      Cargo shorts, a Galco horsehide pocket holster and a Glock 26. It's worked very well for 20 years .

      March 29, 2021 4:37 pm
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