When we discuss what is “practical” in the gun community we may as well be discussing beauty. Certainly, practicality is often only determined in the eye of the beholder. However, if we try to be pragmatic, we can come up with some generalizations. For example, carrying an equivalent tool that is less weight would certainly be deemed practical by most. Often, though, such a pragmatic choice will be trumped by an individual’s preference, and there is nothing wrong with that. As an example, my first decade of carrying a gun witnessed only a 1911 chambered in 45acp in my waistband. I had no use for those toy-like plastic fantastics with their comparatively terrible triggers. A gun was supposed to be made of steel and have been invented by John Moses Browning, correct?
Well, once I got tired of the constant maintenance demanded by that platform and transitioned to a striker-fired plastic gun I suddenly realized how much the weight difference meant to me, even though I realized that after the fact. While I don’t want to sound like a wimp, a 43 once 1911 makes its presence known by the end of the day. Unlike many couch commandos who will remind us that carrying a gun “should be comforting, not comfortable” I actually carried that 1911 my every waking hour. While doable, it was a burden compared to other options.
Another obvious example of where the weight tips the scale towards less practical for carry would be medium-frame all steel revolvers. An S&W Model 66 is a great gun, but at well over 30 onces for only 6 rounds, I have a hard time justifying the carry of such when you can have a Glock 19 or equivalent with 15 rounds at almost 10 ounces lighter. Does this mean carrying a steel revolver is a stupid thing to do? Absolutely not, but we should accept that to make such a choice this day and age is to do so because we are an enthusiast for that particular weapon. A dedicated revolver fan will make such a choice, but let’s not deny the practicality of the modern polymer framed guns.
Regarding revolvers, the small-frame light-weight versions certainly swing back towards absolute practicality. The S&W air weights clock in at about 15 ounces, the standard Ruger LCR at 13.5 ounces. While this makes for a miserable shooting experience, such guns fit the deep concealment role well, greatly due to this feathery weight.
Several years ago I worked extensively with a Ruger SP101, as I decided to put in some significant time with a revolver that year. That particular gun is a dream to shoot even though it is very small, not much larger than an LCR or J Frame. The problem, however, is that the same weight that makes it so nice to shoot makes it harder to carry. It is by no means a heavy gun, but for what it is the weight makes it less versatile in carry compared to light weight revolvers. Why carry a 26 ounce small revolver with 5 rounds when my Glock 26, loaded with 12 rounds, weighs roughly the same? Practicality would dictate not.
Ultimately, we will carry according to our preferences and there is nothing wrong with that, but I think weight makes a big difference in a carry gun for those who want to be practical about it.