The Experts Choose Their Best Pocket Pistol

Here are Smoking Barrel USA we have been looking a lot at what is the best of a certain category. Recent examples include what is the best 45 pistol, what is the best 22 LR pistol, etc. Today we want to figure out what is the best pocket pistol.



A lot of folks will opt to carry a compact or sub-compact pistol for concealed carry. If you want to carry concealed but do not necessarily want to carry a gun on a holster on your person, a pocket pistol is a good option. Pocket pistol are small enough to be carried in a pocket, a bag or briefcase without being too heavy or showing off much of a print.

Looking around, we noticed there are a lot of opinions out there about what the best pocket pistol is. A LOT! But no one seems to agree on one single pistol as being the best pocket pistol hands down…so we decided to list the top picks.

PistolFrame MaterialCaliberWeight (oz)Overrall lengthRounds Capacity
Kahr PM9Polymer9mm145.426
Springfield Armory XD-SPolymer9mm/.45ACP21.56.37
Ruger LC9sPolymer9mm17.267
Colt Mustang XSPPolymer0.380ACP12.55.56
Beretta PicoPolymer0.380ACP11.55.16

Kahr PM9/CM9

kahr pm9The Kahr PM9 and CM9 are technically two pistols…but in reality the CM9 is just a cheaper version of the PM9. Richard L Johnson from BearingArms.com feels that the Kahr PM9/CM9 is the best pocket pistol as they offer exceptional reliability and accuracy with a smooth trigger and good sights.

The Kahr PM series (Polymer Micro) is a series of double action only (DAO) hammerless, striker-fired, short recoil operated, semi-automatic pistols manufactured by Kahr Arms. The target market for the PM line is the civilian concealed carry market, as well as being intended as backup weapons for law enforcement officers. As the name (Polymer Micro) suggests, these pistols are made from polymers and are really small (in fact as far as we know they are the smallest models that Kahr produces). The pistol is not entirely made from polymers though, the slide is made from stainless steel which rides on steel inserts within a polymer frame. This helps to prevent the wear which would otherwise be inherent with metal slide to plastic frame contact.

The Kahr is known for having very smooth and consistent trigger pulls (of approximately 6 pounds), as well as having large and easy to see sights in various configurations including night sights. Concealment is promoted by the pistol as it does not have manual safety level, and thus reducing its print.

There are apparently some criticisms of the Kahr though. All the pistols in the Kahr PM series require a “break-in” period with at least 200 rounds having to be fired as part of the break-in process. Other known PM series deficiencies include excessive trigger travel.


Springfield Armory XD-S

Springfield XD-STom McHale over at OutDoorHub.com believes the Springfield Armory XD-S is the best pocket pistol. Tom had this to say about the pistol: “It’s a great-shooting pistol, and it’s large enough to get a positive grip yet small enough to easily conceal.

The XD-S is a small gun that packs the punch of a much larger gun. Where a lot of the best pocket pistol options come in the .380 caliber, the XD-S is available in either 9mm or .45ACP caliber! The XD-S is a trimmed down smaller version of Springfield’s XD series. The XD stands for extreme duty.

The XD-S is a polymer framed Single Stack pistol (Springfield Armory’s first such pistol). The slides are made from forged with a Melonite finish, while the frame is a polymer frame.

As Tom rightly points out in his article, the XD-S is a consistently flat pistol, which makes it great for concealment.

We have to point out that Springfield announced a recall of the XD-S in August 2013 in order to upgrade the pistol with new components to eliminate the “possibility of a potentially dangerous condition“. In their recall statement (which you can read here) they say that they determined that under exceptional circumstances some XD-S pistols (specifically the 3.3 XD-S) “could experience an unintended discharge during the loading process when the slide is released, or could experience a double-fire when the trigger is pulled once. The chance of these conditions existing is exceptionally rare, but if they happen, serious injury or death could occur.”

If you want a small pistol that still packs a punch, the XD-S is a serious contender (especially in a .45 ACP caliber). We would recommend buying one new though so you know you have one which does not have the design flaw that the older second-hand XD-S pistols might have.

Ruger LC9s

ruger lc9sNext on our list of the best pocket pistol options is the Ruger LC9s, which Paul Scarlata from Tactical-Life.com believes is the best pocket pistol.

The Ruger LC9s is an improved version on the LC9. The “s” in LC9s is to indicate the striker-fired design. Different to other pistols, the LC9s is made from a Fiber-filled Nylon frame. Inside the frame is a hardened alloy insert that provides additional strength and includes rails that the slide reciprocates on. The slide itself is machined from hardened steel with a blued finish.

While the LC9s still has many characteristics of its LC9 brethren, its striker-fired trigger mechanism boasts a shorter and lighter pull that breaks around 5.5-pounds. The LC9s also uses a trigger safety on the face of the trigger which must be engaged to fire the pistol. The LC9s has a manual safety lever, which will introduce a bit more of an uneven surface. This of course results in an increased print, which reduces concealment. One item found on the LC9s and not on the LC9 is the trigger safety that comes with the change over to striker firing.

Colt Mustang XSP

Colt XSP MustangIf you ask Dennis Adler from PersonalDefenseWorld.com which pistol does he think the is the best pocket pistol, he will tell you that it is the Colt Mustang XSP.

The Colt Mustang is a line of two lightweight, single-action pocket pistols chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge, produced by Colt’s Manufacturing Company. The firearm line was produced from 1983 to 1996 as the Colt Mustang Pocketlite, and from 2011 to present the Mustang Pocketlite was reintroduced along with an updated polymer frame version, the Mustang XSP. Apparently the XSP is sort of a carry-over from Colt’s XSE series of pistols and they changed the “E” to “P” to reflect the polymer grip frame.

As mentioned, the XSP is made from a polymer frame, while the slide and barrel are machined out of solid stainless steel bar stock, then given a blackened finish. The XSP is a single action pistol with a single stage trigger and single stack magazine.

When Nick Leghorn reviewed the XSP for TheTruthAboutGuns.com, he determined that the trigger pull of the XSP is really good…but the accuracy of the pistol was not to his liking (in fact, he described it as terrible!). This is due to the small sights on the XSP and the short grip.

Beretta Pico

Beretta PicoThe Beretta Pico gets Nicholas O from OffTheGridNews.com‘s vote for the best pocket pistol. And it is easy to see why…

This is another .380 ACP caliber pistol which is specifically designed with the civilian self-defence market in mind. The Pico is a Double Action Only (DAO) pistol. In terms of construction, its frame is made of polymer while the slide is made mostly from stainless steel.

As one of the slimmer pocket pistols around, the Pico is designed to be “snag-free” ensuring smooth and fast extraction from a holster. The pistol measures a very slim width of 0.725 inches!

What sets the Beretta apart form other pistols is its modular design (which seems to be the way new pistols are being designed). This allows you to change out certain parts and experiment with other grip frame modifications. Unlike most small DAOs, the Pico is fired by a conventional hammer instead of a striker, has restrike capability and does not have a magazine-disconnect safety. The Pico’s DAO system does not store any energy until the trigger is pulled, eliminating the potential of accidental discharge if the pistol is dropped.

The Pico is designed to pleasant to handle and quick to recover on target. This is achieved through the Pico’s barrel tilt of 1.4 degrees when fired. Apparently this increases feeding reliability for cartridges coming from the magazine into the chamber.

What Do You Think – What Is The Best Pocket Pistol?

The pistols listed above are the top picks from around the web. The pistols were not picked using any form of scientific method, rather the guys who picked them thought they were the best pocket pistols due to their own experiences and tastes. So there is not really one overall best pocket pistol, but we would love to hear what you think on the subject? If you have any thoughts on what you think the best pocket pistol is, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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