For some time, I've been experimenting with pocket-carry of a Glock model 43 in a DeSantis Super Fly Pocket holster in a pants pocket of slacks or cargo shorts. My motivation is to replace my other deep cover concealed carry option, a Smith & Wession J-Frame .38 Special model 442 carried in an ankle holster for the infrequent occasion when I cannot carry my Glock 19. I have a several reasons to prefer the pocket holster over the ankle holster.
I find ankle holsters very uncomfortable; I hate having constrictive stuff around my ankles. I once wore an ankle holster for five days in a row, and I don't know how much longer I would have been able to make myself keep carrying that way. It's difficult enough to carry my minimalist medical gear on an ankle, much less a heavier object where I actually have to get the wrap on pretty tight for stability.
I know, I know, concealed handguns aren't supposed to be comfortable. But there is a limit to the amount of discomfort anybody will put up with before they start making up excuses to leave the gun at home. Ankle holsters are very close to my personal "I probably won't need it today" limit.
It's slow to draw from the ankle, and completely obvious that you're doing something weird when you start clawing at your own ankle. Three shots in three seconds isn't happening -- for me, at least.
Drawing from a pocket while seated (at a table or in a car) requires some contortion. It's difficult to accomplish safely, and seems impossible to accomplish subtly. The ankle holster is a clear winner for a seated draw, while the pocket holster is a clear winner for a standing draw. As usual, moving away from strong-side belt-line carry is a compromise.
Drawing with your support hand only is much easier from an ankle holster. While it's not impossible to draw from your opposite front pocket, it's difficult and makes the dominant-hand draw seem speedy by comparison.
Drawing while sidestepping to the left or right is something I'm still trying to work out. Getting the back of the pistol out of the top of the pocket before I start moving seems to work best. If I try to move explosively first, so far I've been likely to end up with my hand and pistol kind of trapped in my pocket during the sidestep. This problem is exaggerated by blue jeans and pockets with small openings. Notice that there's no "drawing while moving" with an ankle holster, unless you're much better at hopping on one foot than I am.
Like an ankle holster, if you're starting with your hands at your sides, establishing your full firing grip on the gun is the slowest part. Unlike the ankle holster, given any forewarning, and if you're standing, you can establish a full firing grip in the most polite company without drawing any undue attention. (The ankle holster has some of this same advantage while seated, especially in a car.)
Reholstering, with both ankle and pocket carry, is not a quick process. For me, it's slower with pocket carry, because I have to move the holster to the gun, then replace both in my pocket. Here's my pocket carry re-holstering procedure:
- Make a conscious decision that I'm done shooting.
- Scan to make sure it's safe to reholster.
- Transfer the pistol to the support hand only. I do this by grasping the slide in an overhand, "horseshoe" grip with my support hand. The muzzle is now pointed straight down.
- With my dominant hand, remove the pocket holster from my pocket.
- Transfer the holster to my support hand by trapping the pocket holster between the thumb pad and thumb-side of my index finger.
- Transfer the pistol to the dominant hand. Grasp the pistol normally with my dominant hand and release the slide from my support hand.
- Move the pistol into the retention position, Position 2 of the drawstroke.
- Look into the holster; ensure it's free from brass and debris.
- Holster the pistol, being careful not to point it at your support hand, even momentarily.
- Hold the pistol-and-holster as a unit with your support hand only.
- Reach into your dominant-side front pocket with your dominant hand and ensure it's free from brass and debris.
- Take the pistol-and-holster as a unit with your dominant hand and place the bundle into your dominant side front pocket.
Many of the preceding steps can be customized to suit your equipment, clothing, and dexterity. The four that are highlighted, however, are non-negotiable.
I never shot that little revolver often enough.
Small guns are hard to shoot well, and less pleasant to shoot at all. They transmit recoil to the shooter differently, and often trade better conceal-ability for a full-hand grip. To wit, my pinky finger pretty much hangs off the bottom of the Glock 43. Even with the extended magazine floorplate, the bottom of my hand hangs off below the backstrap a bit. Despite those drawbacks, I can shoot the Glock 43 faster and more accurately than I can my J-Frame, and it's much more enjoyable.
Above a certain threshold of reliability, gear is rarely a deciding factor in a fight. But time is a scarce commodity. In almost every way, a Glock 43 is more like a Glock 19 than any small revolver. Sight picture, trigger manipulation, and administrative handling skills are very similar. That means I need less dedicated practice to maintain an equivalent level of skill. And skill decides far more fights than equipment.
Choose equipment that magnifies your training effort and allows you to maintain an acceptable level of skill while minimizing you investment of time and effort.
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