For anyone not accustomed to it, carrying a concealed weapon can be a challenging thing to get used to. Even the smallest of handguns, when loaded, can produce noticeable discomfort. There is also a degree of psychological discomfort that can accompany the idea of carrying a loaded gun on your person. Having that thing pointed to your leg when you have the gun at your side, or even worse, when you are appendix-carrying, can conjure up all sorts of fear and hesitation.
Practice will help you get use to all of these things, but for some of us having an intermediate step between not carrying and carrying a compact 9mm can be helpful. One solution can be a subcompact pocket pistol.
The Pocket Pistol
Most subcompact pocket pistols come in small calibers; .22LR, .25ACP, .32 and .380 Auto, are generally the ones you can find. Of these the largest is the .380 Auto. Some subcompact 9mm pistols are advertised as pocket pistols but they are close to being too large for some people to consider them as pocket models.
Pocket pistols have many advantages and disadvantages, both of which need to be considered.
First, the obvious; since they are small they can be carried in a pants pocket, jacket pocket, or vest pocket. They are lighter and less uncomfortable than even a compact pistol carried inside-the-waist.
In general, it is very easy to get used to having one in your pocket, giving the person who is not yet ready to carry that compact 9mm a way to have a concealed handgun. It is a compromise, but for some it is a compromise that can achieve a purpose.
As one would expect, all of these guns will have limited magazine capacity, usually around the neighborhood of five to seven rounds. They also have limited power. And while many ammo choices do come in hollow point versions – which are usually considered the type of ammo needed for a defensive handgun – these pistols often do not generate enough velocity to produce expansion of the bullet.
Paul Harrell video on 380 ammo selection
These handguns are small and one might think that because of this they are easier to shoot than a larger handgun. But in fact just the opposite can be true. Many of these guns are so small that you can get only two fingers around the grip, and, because they are light, they can have more recoil than one might expect. And because the short barrel length means a short sight radius, accuracy at hitting the target can be a challenge, certainly at longer distances.
As stated before, for the purposes of defense, a .380 caliber gun is probably the smallest you should consider. There are many pistol models to choose from but the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard, the Ruger LCP II, and the Beretta Pico are three popular ones, just to mention a few.
Sootch00 video on S&W Bodyguard
Hickok45 video on Beretta Pico
When choosing a pocket pistol it is my opinion that you should have a gun with a double action trigger. Single action, striker fired guns that have a short, light trigger pull present too great a threat of negligent discharge when being removed from your pocket. The Double-Action Only guns which have a long heavier pull are much less likely to be a problem. This means that you will have to get use to the heavier trigger, but I have not found that to be a problem, and I think the safety factor is worth it.
You should also consider a pocket holster for your gun. Without it, the pistol will have a tendency to rotate in your pocket. This will make pulling it out awkward and dangerous. The pocket holster will keep this from happening. A popular holster is the DeSantis Nemesis.
Admittedly, the pocket pistol has its detractors. Some people dismiss the pocket pistol as being too small to be effective and one can certainly argue that, in this case, size does matter. But it has often been pointed out that the best gun to have is the one you actually carry. To that end, a small pistol in your pocket can be more valuable than a Glock 19 in your closet.