Firearm: Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380 with Crimson Trace laser (MSRP: $461)
To keep space to a minimum and fit the largest number of pockets or other small spaces, we’ve gone with the Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380 with Crimson Trace laser. Chambered in .380 ACP, this 6+1 round pistol offers decent sights, a reasonable trigger and a laser sight. While recent offerings like the SIG Sauer P365 do feature greater capacity and a more powerful chambering, these pistols are still just a little big for a fair number of pockets. When true deep concealment is needed, the micro-380 class of pistols are still the smallest and lightest options.
Another significant advantage of this particular Bodyguard 380 is the inclusion of a Crimson Trace red laser. With small pistols, there’s a tradeoff in sight radius that makes aiming more difficult; adding the laser in makes this a little easier. The laser does need to be turned on as part of the aiming process, which does add level of complexity, but the button is positioned such that the support-hand thumb or trigger finger can activate it easily.
Controls on the Bodyguard are simple and well-placed. There’s a manual safety, for those that want such a device on a handgun carried in the pocket. There’s a slide stop, of course, and a takedown lever that assists in field-stripping the Bodyguard for cleaning without requiring the trigger be pulled. The magazine release is a tiny little nub, but given the small size of the pistol in general, this is unsurprising. Also, as you might expect, the finger-and-a-quarter grip results in the ring finger resting on the gap between the bottom of the grip and the magazine floorplate, while the pinkie finger winds up curled under the pistol. Be aware that you may need to strip empty magazines from the pistol, as your firing hand may impinge on the magazine.
When it comes to a pocket-size semi-automatic pistol, there’s a bunch of great choices, and that’s a good thing. Smith & Wesson’s M&P Bodyguard 380 brings decent sights, a Crimson Trace red laser and solid ergonomics to the table. Whether you’re looking for a backup gun to your standard M&P, a pocket pistol for deep concealment or simply a light, easy-to-carry option, the Bodyguard’s a strong contender.
Holster: Galco Pocket Protector (MSRP: $36)
Galco’s Pocket Protector holster brings an affordable steerhide option that checks all the necessary pocket-holster boxes: It protects the trigger guard from anything getting inside, it keeps the pistol in the proper orientation in the pocket and it stays in the pocket on the draw. The Pocket Protector accomplishes this last piece in two ways: There’s a wing section built into the design that catches the inside edge of the pocket, and the rough-out design of the steerhide is naturally grippy. The Pocket Protector is available for a wide variety of small handguns and works for right- and left-handed shooters.
One note on pocket holsters in general, though. Best practice when reholstering is to remove the holster from the pocket before starting the process. Leaving the holster in the pocket might save a few seconds, but leaves the door open to potential mishaps. Be certain that the muzzle does not cover your support hand when reholstering, too.
In keeping with the deep concealment, smaller-is-better mindset, we’ve got one of the smallest flashlights we’ve ever featured, the Fenix E02R. With an astounding 200 lumens on high and 15 lumens on low, this tiny light is definitely not short on power. At 1.9-inches long and weighing half an ounce, you won’t even notice it’s there, until you need it. It comes with a keyring, too, so adding it to your car or house key set is easy.
Best of all, the E02R is USB-rechargeable like a lot of new flashlights. It even comes with a USB cable, although I’d guess most of us have quite a few of these kicking around anyways. The E02R is available in black, brown and blue and comes with a spare O-ring in addition to the USB cable and keyring.