The Best Low-Recoil Pocket Pistols

One of the most beneficial steps the gun industry has taken to be more inclusive is a focus on low-recoil handguns. S&W released the EZ line, Walther has the CCP and the PD380, SIG produces a lower recoil .380 variant, the P365, Ruger has the Security-380, and I could go on and on. These lower-recoil handguns are great for shooters who can’t handle more powerful guns. The downside is their size. They aren’t large, but they aren’t small. This leaves a gap in the market for low-recoil pocket pistols.

To most people, a pocket pistol means pain. Most modern pocket pistols are .380 ACP for semi-autos and .38 Special for revolvers. The downside to these two calibers is that they aren’t great in guns that weigh mere ounces. They have sharp and unpleasant recoil that can be painful and downright tiresome.

More recoil means less speed, potentially less accuracy, and certainly less training and practice. If you’re recoil-sensitive, these guns just suck. Where are our low-recoil pocket pistols? Where are our convenient-to-carry pistols that don’t bite when fired? They exist, but sadly, they don’t often get advertised as low-recoil options, meaning they escape most people’s perception. As a guy who dislikes .380s, I’ve got three low-recoil pocket pistols for the modern shooter.

The Best Low-Reocil Pocket Pistols

Let’s dig into a few low-recoil pocket pistol options and their pros and cons.

Ruger LCP 2 in .22LR

One of the current kings of the low recoil pocket pistol genre is the Ruger CLP 2 in 22LR. This gun is the same size and shape as the .380 ACP version. This version uses a straight blowback design with some stainless steel parts for easy cleaning. The little gun holds ten rounds of .22LR in a flush-fitting magazine, and that’s a fair bit of ammo for a small gun.

There is a nice larger set of sights across the top. They are blacked out, and the contrast sucks, but a little white fingernail polish works wonders. There is almost no recoil, even with hot rounds. The gun is straightforward to control. It’s a favorite of my wife’s, who hates recoil. With this gun, she can put ten for ten into an ISPC A-zone in seconds.

The LCP 2 in .22LR is remarkably reliable for a micro-sized .22LR. It does tend to prefer hotter rounds like the CCI Velocitors and Federal Punch loads. Some of the cheaper bulk loads aren’t always reliable, and this gun is not built for subsonic rounds.

KelTec P32

The P32 originated in 1999, before the pocket .380 ACP craze. KelTec got it right with the P32, and no one else listened. The P32 is smaller and lighter than most .380s, and the Gen 2 model weighs a mere 6.6 ounces. You’d think the recoil would be hand-slapping badly with a gun this lightweight. However, using the short recoil system and the .32 ACP cartridge results in a very pleasant recoil impulse.

It’s not as light as the .22LR LCP 2, but it doesn’t slap your hand or beat you up. It’s controllable and easy to shoot. The gun’s small sights don’t do it any favors, but it’s a capable weapon at pocket pistol range. The use of the .32 cartridge gives you better penetration and a bigger wound track on top of the more reliable nature of centerfire cartridges. Eight rounds aren’t bad for a pocket pistol.

The downside is good luck finding one. KelTec doesn’t seem to make many of these guns. If you get one, hold onto it. They are great little guns and tend to be quite affordable.

Beretta 30X

The Beretta 30X Tomcat has replaced the Beretta 3032. The 30X Tomcat makes numerous improvements to the 3032 series, including the overall durability of the gun, which was a concern with the original 3032. The 30X series is a blowback-operated pistol that fires the .32 ACP cartridge.

The gun features decent-sized sights suitable for a pocket pistol. It’s surprisingly accurate and easy to shoot. I found myself consistently ringing a ten-inch gong at 25 yards. Even though it’s a straight-recoil firearm, the recoil is tame, and the gun is controllable. I hit a target six times in under two seconds from a pocket draw.

Sadly, the 30X is a bit thick enough for pocket carry. At 1.36 inches the width is a bit much. Pocket size varies, and for me, it’s not a huge deal, but the size might be too much for the pockets of most female shooters.

The Next Low-Reocil Pocket Pistol

Three isn’t a lot and there are arguably more, but these represent three modern low recoil pocket pistols. Each packs a caliber capable of stopping a threat, and each is available to purchase. These pint-sized fighting guns aren’t for everyone, but they fill an important niche in the concealed carry market, and if my endorsement counts be comforted knowing that I own all three!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
medical gear, med kit, SIG P365, air gun, Accomplice Mag Carrier, concealed carrier, concealed carry, responsibly armed, home security, home defense, weapon-mounted light, Streamlight, tlr-7, Streamlight tlr-7, self-defense, lds, light defender series, home defense firearms, tlr-1, tlr-6, Streamlight products

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.

 


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