As the number of concealed-carry permits issued in this country continues to grow, so does the demand for subcompact semiauto pistols. These lightweight guns, usually chambered in .380 ACP, are easy to conceal and can effectively stop an attacker at close range when paired with modern defensive ammunition.
One reason these semiautos are so popular is they are extremely convenient. Many subcompact .380s weigh less than 15 ounces and have slides under an inch wide. And while you would never dream of toting a full-size 1911 Government or a Glock 17 in your pocket, the current class of .380 pistols is light enough and small enough to carry in the same compartment as your keys and cell phone.
But there’s a problem. Having a subcompact handgun loose in your pocket is not an effective or safe carry method. The gun could rotate and become inaccessible or—worse yet—if you decide to carry a round in the chamber holster-less pocket carry is inviting a negligent discharge since the trigger is unprotected. To remedy this, many holster manufacturers have offered up a variety of different holsters designed specifically for those who prefer the simplicity of pocket carry.
Over the course of several weeks I tested five of those pocket holsters, and I’ve compiled a list of my impressions of each model. My loyalties changed throughout the test period, favoring one and then another of these holsters, but in the end all of them were effective for concealed carry.
Sure, a pocket holster isn’t ever going to provide the rapid access or stability of a Kydex outside-the-waistband holster, but pocket holsters make day-to-day carry—traveling to the supermarket, the hardware store or a restaurant—much more convenient.
The gun used throughout the tests was a Remington RM380, a bread-and-butter compact .380 pistol with no external safety and basic sights. As far as clothing, this proved important because all the holsters performed better when paired with the right garment. A durably constructed pair of jeans or khaki pants with relatively roomy pockets allowed me to draw the pistol far more quickly and effectively than a pair of baggy jogging pants or shorts. A good belt that held the pants firmly in place made drawing from all these holsters simpler as well.
Two points reinforced to me during this test were how important it is for the holster to be positioned properly in the pocket and how crucial it is to practice until you learn the proper draw stroke that will free the gun from the holster and the pocket each time.
What follows is a rundown of all five holsters tested complete with my impressions on each one. In the end your choice will ultimately come down to your budget—although none of these holsters is particularly costly—and your tastes.
The Nemesis from DeSantis (DeSantisHolster.com) is a good place to start this examination of