Safety Reminder on Pistols in Pockets


Derringer Handgun in Holster on Wood Background
A carry-pistol must be carried and secured in a suitable holster, which completely encapsulates the trigger-guard and thus isolates and protects the trigger, making the trigger inaccessible when the pistol is holstered.

Ft Collins, CO –-( Pistols in Pockets!

A company making a line a small, concealable carry-pistols, Cobra Firearms, includes in its list of products an over-under Derringer.

This small pistol has been accused of not being drop-safe, as it has been implicated in at least two cases where pants in whose pocket it was placed where thrown on the floor, ostensibly causing the pistol to discharge, injuring the owner.

I have no opinions on any of these cases, as I don’t have a set of facts, and I am unfamiliar with Cobra’s product line. I personally don’t own any.

However, we should all be warned against throwing pistols, any pistol, unprotected, into pants pockets, handbags, etc.

For a personal defensive pistol to be truly useful, it must be loaded when it is carried upon the person. The practice of carrying pistols with no round chambered is confined to the realm of idiots.

That being the case, a carry-pistol must be carried and secured in a suitable holster, which completely encapsulates the trigger-guard and thus isolates and protects the trigger, making the trigger inaccessible when the pistol is holstered.

Such holsters can be on belts, ankles, or incorporated into handbags.

The point is that pistols, rattling-around loose in pockets, briefcases, handbags, etc are a veritable invitation to catastrophe, no matter what kind of pistol is involved, and the practice is thus highly not recommended by any competent instructor I know of, including me.

When you decide to go armed, you need to get serious, with serious gear and serious training. Otherwise, my sincerest recommendation is that you abandon the whole idea.


Defense Training International, Inc

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or in-actions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

  • 24 thoughts on “Safety Reminder on Pistols in Pockets

    1. The safety on my S and W bodyguard .380 is a little hard to take off but that makes me a little more comfortable carrying it in my pocket. There places that you go and clothing that you wear that makes it hard enough to conceal just the gun. Concealing the gun and a holster would be even more difficult. I know where the safety is located and can disengage it pretty easily. Guns without a safety would be a terrible risk to pocket carry unless you kept the chamber empty.

    2. Some states carrying a handgun not in a holster is a crime. Always use a holster, even if you pocket carry. Open carry is legal in Texas for holders of a LTC, provided the handgun is in a shoulder or belt holster.

    3. Carry a lightweight snubbie or a small 380 double action auto. More shots, much faster into action, and not going to shoot your junk off.

    4. Condition 1, or 3, is a choice for the individual. After 6 years in the military, 2 1/2 years as a city cop, and the next 40+ as a minister, I choose condition 3 for my current carry weapon. With my background, my current church asked me to carry as part of our safety team. If an armed person comes in our church, none of the 10 or more men carrying weapons are to confront the individual with their weapon. If an imminent threat is made, or a shot is fired, the shooter will be put down. My carry weapon of choice is a Glock 43. I willfully made the choice to carry condition 3 due to the lack of a safety, 7 grandkids, and… the extra second or so it takes to go to condition 1. (I practice a lot.) I want ‘pulling the trigger’ to be the last resort in that situation. The reason I quit the police force was what I experienced the first time I had to pull my weapon on duty. It was the recognition that I could, and would, pull the trigger, and as a ministerial student that was the last situation I wanted to be in. The men we don’t want on our safety team are those who think the best answer to seeing an armed person is to ‘shoot first and ask questions later’. Does that ‘pause’ put some of our members at risk? Yes. But we as a church would rather hesitate, evaluate the situation, and use all other options before taking the life of another person. We have an FBI level shooting instructor in our church and train regularly. Mr. Farnam suggests that we are ‘idiots’ for our defensive choices. I would suggest that ‘all life’ is sacred, and making a willful choice to exhaust other options before taking a life does not reflect poor judgement. Perhaps Mr. Farnam does not value life strongly enough. Some potential church shooters can, and have been ‘talked down’. Proper situational awareness training can make that extra second potentially life saving. However, if a shot is fired, the response at our church would be almost simultaneous, and deadly, from multiple directions. It is easier for us to make that choice because of our faith and respect for life, not timidity or stupidity.

    5. ; Many derringers carry instructions to carry half/cocked; NOT fully cocked or hammer down. A friend of mine, now deceased, was five time New York State police pistol champion. He said one went off in the police station; after which instructions were given that officers who carry derringers should have them on half/cock.

      It would be good if modern derringers had hammer blocks like modern single action frontier style revolvers. Older single action revolvers were best carried with an empty chamber.

      1. The one pictured here has a rebounding hammer. That means that the hammer falls, hits the primer, and then rebounds back clear of the firing pin. The only way this type would fire would be if dropped on its muzzle(since such types generally also have in inertial firing pin, like a 1911a1), as opposed to the old style SAs which fire if dropped on the hammer. Cobra does not make clear whether this gun has an inertial pin or not. If not, then the hammer just bounces back to a half cock position automatically.
        Its hard to imagine a situation where a pistol firing as it’s dropped on its muzzle would be dangerous. If it must hit the ground muzzle down to fire, then it can only fire into the ground. Perhaps if it managed to fall directly unto someone’s head from above… but how would it get there? If it gets dropped on a head from a building it will probably kill whoever it lands on just by blunt force trauma, even if it doesn’t go off! Perhaps it could land on a foot and blow a pinky toe off or something, but that’s about it.
        Old style SAs were much more serious, firing when the hammer spur hit the ground, which puts the muzzle up at a perfect angle to hit people.

    6. “a carry-pistol must be carried and secured in a suitable holster, which completely encapsulates the trigger-guard and thus isolates and protects the trigger”
      Mr. Farnam: Doesn’t it seem like you should reword this so that it applies only to glocks and other pistols lacking any safety systems other than a trigger lever that goes off automatically at the slightest touch of the trigger?
      This says for everything at all times, but it obviously cannot apply to all firearms, for example SA revolvers(trigger does nothing until hammer cocked), Modern DA revolvers such as every one made since the 1970s, and even the derringer pictured here. Its SA. The trigger does nothing with the hammer down.

        1. Another person who believes in the marketing hype over the facts. Oh, well. Believe whatever you like, you have that right.
          But I also have the right to point up how silly you are. Did you believe; “if you like your doctor you can keep him”, also?

          1. Kenneth, I agree with the “glock safe-action trigger” and clones being mostly marketing hype. However, with that said, I confidently carry a handgun with no external safety every day. An external safety is just another system that can fail. No handgun should EVER be carried without a sturdy holster that covers the trigger guard completely. A handgun is only as safe as the operator. An external safety is no replacement for knowledge, presence of mind, and training. If you pocket carry a handgun without a holster, you are asking for trouble.

            1. If, as you state, “If you pocket carry a handgun without a holster, you are asking for trouble.”, no matter what the handgun type is, then why did so many people pocket carry DA revolver without problems? I’ll bet you money that you cannot find even one example of a dropped, caught( or whatever) ND of a DA revolver with a triggerguard. Because they just don’t happen.
              I have a S&W SD9ve. It’s fine as a carry piece but then, it has a DA trigger, vs. glock and others semi-cocked, UN-“safe-action” system. The large rash of NDs going around happen to be almost all with “plastic fantastic” glock clones with the ‘safe’ action trigger system. Any handgun that can be set off by a piece of clothing or a loose thread touching the trigger, MUST, NATURALLY, have the trigger completely covered because it’s an accident just looking for a place to happen. So, obviously the type of handgun matters greatly, thus all the blanket statements about “all handguns” and etc., must be false, since only certain types are the big offenders.
              Now, I do me and you do you. I don’t care who carries what or how. My only point is the different types need to be known and recognized(esp. by firearm’s authors) for their various strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise they aren’t informing the newcomers(the main reason they exist), they’re just spreading yet more “fake news”, except now its fake advice. Just as bad or worse.

            2. Kenneth, I suppose we will have to agree to disagree. Just because you have done something without negative consequences doesn’t mean that it SHOULD be done that way. I think that your position comes from experience, and I respect that. But I think it is a very bad idea to tell tell the target audience (those without experience) that it is acceptable to carry any gun without a holster. You have the knowledge to make an informed decision based on the type of firearm you chose to carry. Are you confident that everyone who reads your advice will have the same?

            3. gun guy; I am confidant that anyone who actually reads the advice will, because the why is included in the advice. And for those who won’t read it, what difference does it make since they won’t hear it anyway?
              Besides the advice is not for those who already understand. All of those already know this advice is stupid. But newbies will be misled and end up thinking that DA revolvers have the same limitations as the unsafe, semi-cocked striker semis, which is complete B.S., and very bad since they will likely continue the lie on to the next generation because they “heard it somewhere”.
              Please note, you have no idea which way I carry or what. I have said nothing about my personal preferences. Your statement about what I do not being correct just because I got away with it, is just a straw man, since you haven’t the slightest idea what I do, or don’t do, or how I do it.
              My only point was: Instructors should not pass false beliefs unto young and impressionable minds! Now if you want to disagree with that, feel free to. Your belief system is none of my business. But when I see a professional instructor doing so, I have a duty to attempt to correct it. That’s MY belief system, which is my business.

    7. Mr. Farnam calls everybody who carries condition 3 an idiot and then turns around and gives his blessing to everyone who carries in condition 1 so long as that condition 1 firearm is secured in a safe holster and then it is placed in: a pocket, a briefcase, or a handbag, etc. The denigration of condition 3 carriers is supposedly due to the Impossibility of bringing the condition 3 firearm into use in a timely manner. Perhaps someone should perform a comparison of the two and see which is faster in reality. I don’t think I have ever seen such a study. Of course that might then show a popular notion is sometimes not true. “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.”

      1. And that’s another issue. I’ve learned in six decades and loads of instructors in various disciplines, never trust any instructor that talks in absolutes. They are invariably either using the “everything is this, absolutely, at all times…” as a cover up for something, or they are a religious fundamentalist(a true believer… in whatever) who cannot conceive of any case where the ‘rules'(of whatever book they like) are less valuable than experience. Or perhaps just repeating a memorized phrase that an attorney suggested they say at least X number of times per class… OR ELSE.
        Such instruction is not worth the time it takes to attend. If everything can be covered so simply as memorizing rules, then what use is an instructor? All one would need is the book. A real teacher should be attempting to get the students to think and reason for themselves, not memorizing crap that isn’t even valid.

      2. You can deploy a rock much more quickly and effectively than a condition three firearm. It’s a lot cheaper, too.

        1. Well, that settles it for me; no more condition 3 carry. Of course if I were in a situation where my chance of being faced with a loaded gun every day I would be carrying my G19 with a round loaded in the chamber. But, that is not the case. Doing what I do is my choice made after careful deliberation and practice. Admittedly, I have pulled my pocket carry gun on only two attackers in the last six years so maybe I just got lucky. YMMV.

      3. That test that you propose is meaningless. Standing in front of a piece of paper and drawing and chambering a round is one thing; doing it while someone is shooting at you is entirely something else. Chances are VERY good that you wouldn’t get it done. You’re likely to not even remember that it needs to be done under those circumstances. Would you actually be so foolish as to bet your life on it? (Or the lives of your loved ones?) The same is true of manual safeties, even if you do it thousands of times. Rob Leatham (I believe) recently lost a match because he forgot to take the safety off. I think he’s been doing it for a while . . . . .)

        1. I remember Rob Leatham at a IDPA Nationals Match at Tunica in the early 2000s bitching and moaning about a “procedural penalty” he received on a stage. My son and I told him he got it the old fashioned way, he earned it. That would also be the year that his cover garment did not meet the requirements and yet he was allowed to shoot the match. Rob was/is a very good shooter but he still has feet of clay.

        2. Given your line of reasoning I suppose standing in front of a “piece of paper” for 22 years, every year, to requalify was a foolish thing to do. And therefore, by extension, all those hundreds of thousands of other LEOs were also just wasting their time, and the public’s money, doing the same thing every year sometimes several times a year. Not to mention all that time and money spent on my own at a range. It is hard to take you seriously Charles when you write silly stuff.

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