More Americans are concealed carrying today for personal protection more than ever before. The result of this in recent years has been an explosion of sales for pistols designed specifically for concealed carry.
For this reason, in the past five or so years, the market for .380 pocket pistols (also known as pocket rockets) has skyrocketed. Now, there are more pocket pistols available than ever before.
But does this mean that every pocket pistol is worth your consideration to serve as your concealed carry piece? Not at all. Some pocket pistols have proven themselves to be of the utmost quality, while others have demonstrated repeatedly that they are unreliable or simply poorly made.
To help you along, we’ve compiled a list of five of the best .380 pocket pistols that are currently available for concealed carry. No pistol is 100% perfect by any means (what gun is?), but they have shown through their track records to be the most reliable and practical offerings for a pocket .380 today.
Presented in alphabetical order, here they are:
COLT MUSTANG XSP
If you ever wanted a 1911 small enough to fit in your pocket, the Colt Mustang is definitely the gun for you. The Mustang was actually one of the most successful pocket rockets ever produced, and in the 1980s and 90s, it was especially popular as the Pocketlite model.
But the one big downside to the Pocketlite was its all-steel frame, which made it heavy (at least for a pocket pistol). In 1987, Colt remedied this by re-crafting the Mustang Pocketlite into the Mustang XSP, which is a more modern and polymer framed version.
The Mustang XSP features a total weight of 11.8 ounces, with a length of 5.5 inches. It holds 6 rounds in the magazine, though an extended 7 round magazine is also available.
Like the 1911, the Mustang XSP is a single action handgun, meaning the gun can only be fired with the hammer cocked back. This means that there are two different ways to carry the Mustang: either with the hammer cocked back and the safety on (cocked and locked), or with the hammer down. Although the latter method may feel safer, it will be significantly slower to draw and fire since you’ll need to manually pull back the hammer before firing.
Colt still produces the Pocketlite variant today, so you do have options. But the XSP represents the lighter and more modern option.
While the G42 is easily the biggest pistol on this list, it’s still small and light enough to fit into a pocket. As with the rest of the Glock line-up, the G42 is striker fired. It has no manual safeties, other than the blade on the trigger that must be depressed to the trigger to be pulled back. In other words, takes the reliability and the simplicity that Glock is known for and has condensed it into their smallest package yet.
The G42 weighs less than 14 ounces and is just under six inches in length. While that’s slightly larger than the other pocket .380s on this list, the trade off is that the G42 to be easier to fire (.380 pocket pistols tend to be snappy in general). The higher profile sights and longer sight radius are two more major advantages.
If there’s a downside to the G42, it’s the six round capacities. While that’s the standard capacity for a pocket .380 pistol, the slightly larger size on the G42 should make one expect a larger capacity of seven rounds at least. If you train yourself to be accurate with it, it shouldn’t be an issue.
RUGER LCP II
The Ruger LCP II is the second generation of the LCP pistol and makes several significant improvements over the first generation. It’s safe to say the original LCP took the pocket pistol market by storm, and become enormously popular with civilians as a CCW and with law enforcement officers as a back-up weapon.
Nonetheless, the original LCP has many flaws. The trigger pull in particular is regularly condemned for being long and gritty. The slide won’t lock open on the last round signaling the gun is empty.
Ruger has completely redesigned the LCP with the LCP II, and while retaining the original size of the LCP, they have greatly improved the trigger and included a slide release that works on the pistol. For safety reasons, the Glock-style blade safety is now present on the front of the trigger and must be depressed for the gun to fire.
All in all, the LCP has proven itself to be a reliable and dependable .380 pocket rocket. The sights are minimal, but a Crimson Trace laser sight can always be installed as well to help increase accuracy. The original LCP is still available from Ruger for sale, but the LCP II makes many significant improvements and may be the more desirable option for you.
SMITH & WESSON M&P BODYGUARD .380
Smith & Wesson’s answer to the Ruger LCP, the Bodyguard .380 is the smallest gun in Smith & Wesson’s world famous M&P line-up. But unlike other M&P semi-automatic pistols, the Bodyguard is hammer fired. Other than that, it’s basically a full size M&P that’s been shrunk down and re-chambered for .380.
The M&P Bodyguard has a weight of 12.3 ounces and a length of 5.25 inches. The slide is constructed out of a rust resistant stainless steel and then coated in black so it’s less visible. It features a slide stop lever so unlike the original LCP, the gun will lock back after the last shot to tell you it’s empty.
Two variants are available, one with a manual safety on the frame and one without it.
TAURUS PT738 TCP
There are those who will be looking for a gun on a budget, and for those looking for a .380 pocket pistol on a budget, the Taurus PT738 TCP will be their answer. The TCP can easily be found new on the market for less than $200, which is far less than other pistols on the market.
You might think that this means the TCP is of lower quality than the other pistols on this list because of the price reduction, but the opposite is true. The TCP has been found to have equal reliability and quality as its predecessors.
Coming in at just over 10 ounces in weight and with a 6 shot magazine capacity, the TCP is optimal for deep concealment in the pocket. Thanks to its locked-breech design, recoil is manageable for a pocket .380.
As with all Taurus firearms that are produced today, the TCP comes with Taurus’s trademark security system. If a key that comes with the gun is inserted into a lock on the gun and twisted, the gun will be rendered useless and unable to fire.
This could either be a plus or a minus depending on how you look at it. A plus is that your gun will have virtually no chance of firing should a child find it while it’s being stored away, but a minus if you forget to switch the key off when you carry it, you won’t be able to defend yourself with it in a life-or-death situation. For this reason, you have to make it a habit to make sure that the lock has been switched off before you carry.
Any one of these pocket .380s represents a solid option for deep cover pocket concealed carry. None of them are perfect and none of them are going to be the most fun gun to shoot, but they are perfectly at home in your pocket and will be reliable in a self-defense situation.
Since your pocket .380 is a pistol that you will be likely be carrying with you every single day, it’s vitally important that you choose the one that is the most comfortable to you. This importance simply cannot be overstated.
Physically hold onto each of them at the sporting goods store and even consider shooting a few of them at a range that has them available for rent. This is the only way to truly determine which pistol will be the best choice for you and deserves to ride in your pocket on a daily basis.