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.

PistolWeight (oz)Overrall length
Kahr PM9145.42
Springfield Armory XD-S21.56.3
Ruger LC9s17.26
Colt Mustang XSP12.55.5
Beretta Pico11.55.1

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 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.

In case you were wondering, the PM in Kahr PM9 stands for (Polymer Micro). So as you would imagine, the weapon is made from Polymer. However, it is not entirely made from Polymer, as the slide is made from stainless-steel. The slide rides on steel inserts within the Polymer frame. What this does is to help to prevent the wear which would otherwise be inherent with metal slide to plastic frame contact.

The PM series from Kahr are striker-fired, double action only, short recoil operated semi-automatic pistols.

Kahr designed this weapon as a concealed carry weapon, aimed at the civilian market. Of course it is also a good option for law-enforcement forces as a backup weapon. Kahr guns are typically know for having consistent and smooth trigger pulls. Folks will also like the large and easy to see sights in various configurations. As this gun is designed for concealed carry it does not have manual safety level, which helps to reduce any 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 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.

If you want a small gun that really packs a punch, then the XD-S might be the best pocket pistol for you! This is because where a lot of other pocket pistol options usually come in smaller calibers, such as .380 caliber, the XD-S is available in 9mm and .45 ACP caliber.

The XD-S is the smaller and trimmed down version of the Springfield XD series. In case you were wondering, the “XD” in the name stands for extreme duty.

As with the Kahr, this is a Polymer framde pistol. It is Springfield’s first Single Stack pistol.

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”

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 believes is the best pocket pistol.

Kind of like iPhones, the LC9s is an improved version on the LC9. However, in this case the “s” indicates that this pistol has a striker-fired design.

While the Kahr and Springfield are made from Polymer, the Ruger frame is made from Fiber-filled Nylon. The slide is made from hardened steel with a blued finish. The inserts inside the frame are made from hardened alloy, which provides additional strength and includes rails that the slide reciprocates on.

The LC9s shares a lot of similarities with the other LC9 models, however its striker-fired trigger mechanism boasts a shorter and lighter pull that breaks around 5.5-pounds. Another feature of the LCP9s is the trigger safety on the face of the trigger which must be engaged to fire the pistol.

One thing that is not ideal about the LC9s is the manual safety leaver. This is not the best for concealed carry, as it will introduce a bit of a print.

Colt Mustang XSP

Colt XSP MustangIf you ask Dennis Adler from 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 lightweight, single action pistol that is chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge. The Mustung started out as the Colt Mustang Pocketlite, which was manufactured between 1983 and 1996.

However, in 2011 the Mustang was reintroduced as the Mustang XSP, which has an updated Polymer frame. 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, 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‘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.