Pocket Pistol Vs. Compact


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I am going to get my ccw and I am trying to decide what gun to carry. I have thought about a pocket pistol, like the Ruger LCP or the Taurus TCP in .380. I have also thought about getting a compact gun in a larger caliber that is a little more comfortable to handle. I like the idea of carrying a pocket pistol for the concealability aspect but I don't like how small they are. I would rather have a larger gun and carry in the waist band but I don't know how comfortable that would be and if I would find it to uncomfortable to carry. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

The bigger the better. Hmm That's what she said! Well just save some money and get both and see which one you carry more often. Seems simplistic but it is the only you will know for sure. If you carry the sub then you can also carry the LCP as a BUG:wacko:
Many people have contemplated the same question. My best suggestion would be to discuss it with people you know that already have their license or trusted instructors.
A lot of people want a small pistol for the simplicity of concealment, but a large pistol say a full size 1911 can easily be concealed as well with the right holster.

I also look on a LOT of forums and a LOT of people have been selling their compacts and going more with a full size or mid sized pistol.

I personally started with a compact...it wasn't long til I went to a full size and have no problems with all day carry of it.

Carry safe, carry often and practice!!
When I started, I wore a Colt Detective Special in an inside-the-pants holster. On summer days, I carried a j-frame in a pocket holster.
Then I got proper training, from a school that lent me a Glock 19. I discovered that the Glock 19, which carries 16 shots, was no bigger than the six-shot Colt. What's more, without the bulging cylinder it is much flatter and more comfortable. I switched to that and feel a lot more confident.
I am going to get my ccw and I am trying to decide what gun to carry. I have thought about a pocket pistol, like the Ruger LCP or the Taurus TCP in .380. I have also thought about getting a compact gun in a larger caliber that is a little more comfortable to handle. I like the idea of carrying a pocket pistol for the concealability aspect but I don't like how small they are. I would rather have a larger gun and carry in the waist band but I don't know how comfortable that would be and if I would find it to uncomfortable to carry. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.
This one of those questions that has no one size fits all answer. Pun may have been intended. :unsure:

There are so many factors that need to be considered. Your size, weight, body shape and strength. The climate were you'll be carrying, your prefered mode of dress and the postition you intend to carry in. You also have to consider what is important to you in your choice of weapon... Magazine capacity, weight, construction materials, etc. The list of possibilities is long and will potentially change with your situation and experience.

I'm not a particularly big guy, 6' and 190. But depending mostly on the weather I manage to CC everything from a Hawes .25 ACP to a Glock model 21 along with two spare mags. And more often than not I carry more than one gun.

The point that I'm trying to make is that the only way you're going to find out what works for you is by trial and error. In my experience, seldom is a person completely satified with their first choice of gun, and never are they satisfied with their first choice of holster. That's why most of us have more than one possible carry gun and all of us have a "holster box".
Get a pocket gun of at least 380.caliber. You will carry it all the time and forget you have it on you til you need it.With most larger guns you know you are wearing it all the time and it gets old.
couldn't agree more... I have several larger guns that I love.... but rarely carry...the .380 that I can just stick in my pocket I have with me all the time... I know about the knockdown issues.. but the one you have with you when you need it.... is always better than the one you like but left at home
I initally carried a Makarov in a shoulder holster and somtimes IWB, then got a Kel-Tec P11. Love how the Kel-Tec fits in a pants pocket, and that it fires a bigger bullet, but the ergonimics leave something to be desired. It's a little too small for my hands, and that coupled with the snappy recoil and long heavy trigger pull make it difficult for me to be accurate with.
I'm likely either going to break down and buy a shoulder rig for my Taurus 24/7 9mm, and/or get the Glock 19 I've wanted for years and get some leather for it.
My suggestion is to try holding and shooting a few examples of guns you want, and get the one that's the best combination of handling and concealability for your situation.
my opinion is get a gun that you shoot the best with. having trained quite a few people i always laugh when they say they want a larger caliber handgun. i have them shoot my 9 then shoot a 45 that they think everyone carrys. low and behold they shoot the nine better. my wife just got a smith and wesson double action with a laser, 380 cal pocket gun. my duty gun was a glock mod 34. i could have carried a cannon but i shoot better with the glock. so do you want something that has alot of recoil or something that you can hit something with when it counts. as for a backup i carried a mod 26 glock. best shooting gun i have ever used for a compact model. i also love my officers mod colt 45 and shoot it great, but it weighs a ton. for a ccw holder and not a gunfighter carry something that your good with, i dont care if its a 22. a little fact most people are shot with a 22 cal.
I have gone through the same process. I currently have an old .25 Model 9. It is in my pocket and no one would ever notice it. Unfortunately I suspect the BGs would not either it hit with that round.

What I need is something that would not show summer or winter. Lots of people here would freak if they knew I was carrying. Inside the waistband displays the mounting hooks. Granted, you have to know what those hooks mean. Ankle holsters are relatively inaccessible and may have issues with crossing legs. My feeling is I need a pocket pistol. That will fit normal pants pockets.

I am going for a 9mm that fits a pocket. That would seem to me to be the optimal CONCEALED carry. Hand in pocket not an exceptional action. No printing a requirement; thus semiauto. Small capacity magazine unavoidable. +P a "duh" plus. The 9mm seems to be a good effectiveness point with modern ammo.
The painful truth........

There are a ton of good points here, most important is "Go with what you feel comfortabe with". One of the things that is not being said is that if you ever have to use a firearm to defend yourself, you are not going to care what the size is.

Getting shot is getting shot, it dosent matter if it is a 22 or a 45.

It is not entirely about the damage that your gun will do, because there is a massive psychological effect on anyone who ever has to stare down the barrel of a gun. When someone who would do you harm is looking down the barrel of a .380, it is going to look like a .45acp.

There was a great example of this in Texas about 10 years ago where a man was shot by someone who was trying to rob him 13 times with a 9mm. He returned fire with a single shot from a .380. And while the man who was being robbed survived, the man trying to rob him did not.

When someone goes into panic mode, they don't care what kind or caliber gun you have, they only care that you are about to open fire.
Where is your heart?

Calico said it best.....

Not being sarcastic, but where is your heart in relation to what gun you want to carry?

Like hp-hobo, I am 6' 195 with a 30" waist. I have to buy pants that are bigger in the waist...which came in handy because I carry IWB.

I carry a G20 with G29 BUG and 2 spare mags. It can get uncomfortable when taking a nap or sleeping, but other than that, it rarely gets that way.

Overall, you gotta go with what you are comfortable with. A full size gun can be concealed without a bunch of clothing.
What do I carry?

Everyone's advice has been good. I started with a PX4 9mm full size Beretta and a Walther PPK/S .380 pocket gun. I also have a .40 S&W Springfield XD. The PX4 STORM and PPK/S are both DA/SA with safety/decocker. The XD is double action only with a trigger and grip safety. All three can be carried using the DA with the safety/decocker off.

However, the PPK/S didn't work too well because it is, basically, heavy. I now use a Ruger LCP in .380. It is very light and a couple magazines can go into any pocket. Really easy to conceal. Depending on weather and clothes I use it if I can't carry a larger pistol and as a BUG. I can put it into a pocket when wearing shorts, an outside holster with a long shirt, or a waistband holster if in sweats. The little gun is handy and good in your pants pocket as a back-up gun or in the glove compartment (which is right next to my right hand), or set-up for a cross-draw when driving.

I like both the .40 and 9mm I have, but both although concealable weren't that concealable. It depends on your clothes, weight, and the holster. I use a Crossbreed combat cut in the quick-attachment version. Crossbreed will make you a leather backed plastic holster for your individual weapon. If leather is your thing look at GALCO. If all plastic try BLACK HAWK. Holsters are something you talk to everyone about, and everyone will tell you to get a different one. You will likely find it harder to find holster than a gun.

What I am using for a carry weapon now is another STORM in 9mm, but it is the 3.5" sub-compact version instead of the 4" full size. Advantages. Small and compact with a 13 round magazine, including one with a little finger support it is lighter (mostly due to the lesser number of rounds). Much easier to hide. I can also use the 17 and 20 round magazines for my full size STORM in it, so I can carry 13+1 in the gun and one 20-round spare magazine, plus the .380 LCP in a pocket and a couple 6-round mags for the LCP in another pocket.

You need to shoot several different pistols in different sizes. The XD(M) or XD, a Glock, and one of the little .380. I do not recommend the Ruger LCP mainly because it has horrible sights and doesn't lock back when empty. Not that you can't hit at 25 feet with it, bad sights or not, but you need to try several of the little pistols AFTER deciding on your main carry gun. A really small .380 may be too small-depends on your hands.

I would also suggest you look at keeping a smaller carry gun like the GLOCK 26 in 9mm or .40 S&W the same caliber as a full size gun if you decide on both, and with interchangable magazines if possible. My 13-round STORM magazines don't fit my full size STORM but the 17-20 round full size STORM magazines fit both my sub-compact STORM, full size STORM, and my Beretta CX4 Carbine.

Oh, and definitely bring up this subject with your instructor at your CPL class. He may be able to guide you. Also find a range where you can rent - you need to shoot several different guns before buying. :wacko:

I've carried a XD45 ACP compact for several years now ( 4" barrel), I have just
recently switched due to my recent Christmas gift, a XDm 40 S&W, it has a 3.8" barrel and two 16 round mags and adjustable grip with a matched barrel. It's comfortable to carry, and had good stopping power with the 155-165gr home defense rounds. Most ranges have rentals, I would suggest that you try before you buy. I would also suggest you check out this Springfield - Very hard to beat! shoots great!
Chose a weapon that is comfortable for you to shoot, that you can afford to practice with regularly. A couple military surplus weapons that I like are CZ82, and the Tokarev TT-33. Enjoy.
A lot of good advice given so far tpaul513. It is a process and hearing what others have tried, liked and disliked helps. Yet, in the end, it comes down to what works for you. If how easy it was to carry was the only issue it would be a NAA .22LR. If I knew I was going to be in a fight it would be an AK47 with a Mossberg 500 as BUG; some where in the middle of all that is the compromise we find.

I started with a .38sp IWB strong side. Switched to a PF9 and moved it closer to 4 o’clock. Then to a LCP that was either in the pocket or SOB. At present I carry a Warthog IWB cross-draw. Each has had good and bad points. The .38, like almost any revolver, was reliable but the cylinder made it harder to conceal. But then when you first start carrying it feels like the whole world can spot your weapon. So I suspect that played into it also. The PF9 was easy to conceal, comfortable to carry but had reliability issues that Kel-Tec never could/would resolve. The LCP was so nice to carry in a pocket I never thought about going without it. However, while .380 will get the job done with good placement and not that I would want to get shot with it, my confidence in the round could be better. The long trigger pull and poor sights added in had me feeling this was a better BUG than primary. (from what I have read on this group Taurus has a 380 that resolves the trigger issue.) The Warthog uses a round I have every confidence in .45. It is extremely accurate and unlike what some will say of Paras it is reliable when used with the right mags. I have 11 rounds with it and 10 in the clip I carry in a ankle holster (a hold over from carrying the LCP there for awhile). But once more. However, it is a thick pistol and weighs a ton by the end of the day. My journey of discovery continues.

As hp-hobo mentioned, get your self a box for all the holsters you will try. If you are lucky and live near a range that rents guns try several to see how they shoot for you. Even then a gun that shoots great may well carry lousy for you. A lot of guns feel fine for the first 30 min you carry them. If you happen to find a way to discover that perfect carry pistol/holster without the expense of trial and error, please, let me know. My wife would appreciate it.
Carrying a firearm is the act of giving up some comfort, for some comfort. That's my assessment after 3 years of CCW.

The question is, how much comfort are you willing to give up to get the comfort you really need?

Full disclosure: I'm the type of guy that won't wear a wristwatch because it bothers me. I wear no jewelry or trinkets, and don't like big key chains or fat wallets in my pockets.

With that said, my general advice is to err on the smaller side and don't fall for the bigger is better argument.

I thought I would buy only one or two handguns, so I started with a big 5" 1911 at 40 ounces figuring it would grow on me. Not! It got old very fast. But thankfully I found out I was a gun nut.

I eventually worked my way down, and back up to a tolerable and flat Kel-Tec PF9 at 12 ounces and a Kahr PM9 at 16 oz. Plenty of oomph in a small package, Kel-Tec doesn't possess the most confidence inspiring workmanship and materials (but very cheap so get two).

A Kimber Pro Carry II with alloy frame will fit the bill if you think a single action 1911 cocked and locked is the way to go. But that is not for everyone. Though I can handle either, I personally prefer a double action pistol with no external safeties at all and a really good holster for everyday carry.

I'm not opposed to any caliber and sometimes carry even a wimpy Walther P22 loaded with CCI stingers... You can laugh but I'd never wanna get shot with that thing. I carry all that I own for at least some period of time each year, so I am very intimate with all my little friends.

I've got quite a few now, but for carrying I consider the 19 oz Kahr 45 to be the "biggest gun" I'll ever carry ever again (Outside the Waist Band). And a Beretta Bobcat 22LR to be the smallest. (keep it anywhere you can hide it, which is just about everywhere).

Some people don't want a dozen, so do yourself a favor and start smaller rather than larger, then you will have something that you'll be able to carry under any circumstance for certain. I like the Kahr PM9 but it's not cheap, and not fun at the range either. That and the PF9 are about the smallest big guns I have. The PM45 is way too hot for my hand. Kahr is quality, and there are zero external safeties. It's like a revolver but it's a pistol... a simple and reliable self defense concept. But if you pull the trigger with your finger or other object, it will go off, no extra chances.

None of these are comfy like pajamas, except the little mouse guns come close, but many can be impossible to carry comfortably depending on body type and holster choice.


P.S. Buy anything you want for the range, but go 100% practical and as reliable as gold for everyday carry. Plan the date of your second purchase now so you don't mess up your first purchase 8-)

When I started out, bigger sounded better, and my eyes were much bigger than what my belt could carry...

P.P.S. All the odds say that if you are unfortunate enough to need it, it will most likely happen at bad breath distance. You'll probably know you're in the fight after you hit the ground. Easy quick access may be as important as having it with you. AND! They say big guns make good clubs too. I'm not helping am I?
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Very Very well said sassedbygov......I love to carry either my LCP or my G19, and I feel no need whatsoever for anything bigger. Either of these with a hot load can open a can of whoop ass, great shot placement seals the deal even quicker.
I own two .357 revolvers, a Ruger Security Six and a Rossi 461. I also own a Taurus PT145 and a PT709, (I occasionally carry the Rossi or one of the bigger Taurus auto's). But what I carry all the time is my little TCP .380 either in my front pocket or in a IWB DeSantis leather R17 holster, plus a spare mag on my belt. I keep the little guy loaded with Buffalo Bore 90gr. +P rounds which are pretty darned hot! Hopefully I never have to use any of them, but I've always got at least one on me at all times... :biggrin:

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