Winter is here, time for coat pocket guns

One of the best things about winter is getting to break out the coat pocket gun. I am actually a huge, huge fan of this method of carry, because it allows a person to be walking down the street in a completely non-threatening manner, but with your hand on or near the grip of a defensive firearm. It’s really fantastic. Here are some criteria that I use to select a coat pocket gun.

1. It must be light
While I love all-steel revolvers for their shootability, a Ruger SP101 or S&W 640 Pro Series doesn’t make a great gun to sit in the pocket of a coat. It’s heavy, and that makes your coat hang awkwardly, which can compromise concealment. So lightness is key. For example, if we’re going with the revolver route, we’d want something like a Ruger LCR or a 638, both of which I happen to have.

2. Revolvers should have no external hammers or shrouded hammers

638 j-frame

The big advantage of a revolver as a coat pocket gun is that in extreme circumstances you can fire it through the coat pocket. While this isn’t generally recommended unless you want to wreck your Burberry (in the case of my readers, your Carhartt) it remains a compelling reason for revolvers as a coat pocket gun. If that’s the case, a hammerless gun or a shrouded hammer gun is the way to go, because it means there’s nothing on the gun to snag inside the pocket. If you want to have the option of retaining the hammer, a 638 with its odd little nubbin hammer would be the way to go.

3. Your gun pocket is for your gun and that’s it
If you’re carrying a gun in a coat pocket, that pocket is reserved for your gun only. No car keys, pens, chapstick, loose change, nothing. Just your gun. The same pocket gremlins that can tie your headphones into a reef knot in your pocket are also capable of slipping a dime into your gun’s trigger guard inside your pocket holster and making a loud noise at the wrong time. Gun in pocket, nothing else.

4. Semi-autos should be true DAO, hammer fired, or have a safety
I know that this is where people will disagree with me, and that’s fine. It’s okay for those people to be wrong about stuff. However, as mentioned above, when you’re dealing with pocket carry, the opportunity for an ND is something that should be recognized and mitigated. I carry a DAO revolver in a pocket because the trigger is 13 pounds, and it would take an unusual occurrence to make that go off accidentally. With semi-auto pistols, I think the same caution should be exercised. Pistols carried in the external pockets should have at least one of these features: true DA/DAO triggers, be hammer fired, or have an external manual safety. Striker fired guns with no safeties? Hard pass for pocket carry.

Whatever gun you end up choosing for winter, make sure you spend some time practicing getting it into play. Again, the advantage of a coat pocket gun is that you can have your hand discreetly on a weapon without other people knowing, which can give you the initiative advantage in a potential life threatening situation. But that won’t do you any good if you’ve never practiced drawing and shooting from that pocket. So make sure you get your trigger time in.


  1. I would seriously consider a pocket holster; protects the trigger and helps keep all the fabric fuzz and other stuff out of the gun’s action. Otherwise very good points.

      1. You are kidding, right? 10 minutes on YouTube taught me never to over estimate the intelligence of a gun owner.

  2. I always use a pocket holster (PCS “No See Um”) with my 642 and am very happy with the holster and pocket carry. I even use the pocket holster if the gun’s in a bathrobe pocket.
    Where I live a fleece or wool vest is frequently worn indoors so in winter I will often opt for my 2″ Model 64 in crossdraw under the vest. The hammer is bobbed to an extent that it is less likely to snag on the vest even if the vest is fastened (and yes, I practice this draw from both seated and standing positions). The 64 is a gun I can shoot much better than the 642 owing to a better grip (Blu Magnum) and being a heavier gun
    My other option is a Rossi 720 3″ .44Spl DAO, but I’ve yet to find an apporpriate crossdraw holster. I’m not much on Brazilian guns but this 720 has proven itself over the years.

  3. Imagine the deposition after shooting through clothing:

    What training have you taken?
    Have you shot a gun from your pocket before you shot my client?

    What training have you taken in firing from inside clothing?

    Do you have any record of your firearms training?

    I found an internet account of such shooting and it was not encouraging.

    Now if a shoot from the pocket pocket pistol match starts up there may be some participants. I’ll watch the video, thanks.

  4. “While this isn’t generally recommended unless you want to wreck your Burberry (in the case of my readers, your Carhartt) ”

    I think you mean ‘your Members Only’. Don’t judge.

  5. When I worked in a northern clime I often carried a 3-inch Model 65 or Speed-Six in the pocket of my M-65 or parka. If I had to draw it (which happened a few times), I put my thumb over the hammer spur to keep it from snagging on anything. I never had a problem, but maybe I was just lucky.
    DM- An agent I worked with regularly practiced shooting his 638 from his coat pocket. He used a nylon windbreaker and wore a leather glove on his non-shooting hand to put out the fire the muzzle blast made (true story).

  6. I’ve got to pluck the KyTac “Pocket Locket” here. Best pocket holster I’ve ever carried. (5 years now). S&W M&P 340. He stopped taking orders a while back because he was so back ordered. The thin kydex and the HUGE flange that retains the holster are the secret. I’ve got one for my Glock 26/27 as well.

  7. After numerous winters of concealing a full-size gun under a heavy winter coat, today I ordered my first true pocket defensive option: a S&W Model 642 (Talo edition). I have carried a G26 in a vest pocket before and occasionally an M&P 9 Compact but both of those are still so heavy I constantly felt that it was patently obvious that I was carrying a gun. Not a problem most of the time in this central WA town, but sometimes it would just be nicer to have something much lighter as a concealment choice.

  8. I have had two 642 and a 638. Only reason I dumped them was to get the tritium “small dot” sight on the 340. Your going to love it. Once you have a snubbie you’ll always have one

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