Lightweight vs. heavyweight carry

This is a discussion on Lightweight vs. heavyweight carry within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I wanted to discuss lightweight carry in response to this thread: But I did not want to do it in the OP's thread because ...

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Thread: Lightweight vs. heavyweight carry

  1. #1
    Ex Member Array azchevy's Avatar
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    Lightweight vs. heavyweight carry

    I wanted to discuss lightweight carry in response to this thread:

    what's considered OVERKILL when concealing?

    But I did not want to do it in the OP's thread because as you can see below I intended on getting particularly long winded. I just want to know why you carry what you do.

    For years I was one of those who subscribed to the mentality that full sized weapon and 2-3 extra mags, plus a backup weapon and a couple knives was the way to go. I wanted the firepower to deal with anything. Carrying a BHP, then 1911, then Glock 17, then G29SF..... As I got older and started researching self defense situations, doing a lot of internet reading and I realized that the odds of me needing all of these items was really pretty low.... so I slowly started changing my thinking. Putting away all of my full sized auto loaders and looking for more lightweight effective ways to carry. I should have learned back in the day when I was carrying a hi-cap as a civilian and had to use it and didn't even have to fire enough rounds to clear out a snubnose. But I was younger and taking classes and training that frowned upon lower capacity weapons and especially wheelguns.

    In my effort to find the perfect lightweight weapon for me, I went through multiple lightweight autoloader platforms (P3At, G27,g26, LC9, G36, XDm... so many!!). Still with no real satisfaction. Some would say I went back in time, but I actually started playing with snub revolvers. My first was the Taurus 651, which turned out to be a lemon, almost turning me off to wheel guns altogether, then I went to the Smith J-Frame, 340 to be exact and I just didn't like it, so that was short lived, I got a 66, liked it but not a SS fan. Then I got the Ruger LCR and fell in love. That is when I started actively carrying and really training full time with it. It was a learning experience as some of you saw me fumbling with the reloads, with poor technique, but as time has gone on I have become very proficient with the speed loaders and the strips. I now have the heirloom Cobra and I couldn't be happier.

    Then I spent a lot of time trying to identify a useful knife that I could use as a tool, opened like a pocket knife, and had tool capability.... and a useful flashlight that was bright, light, used common batteries, had multiple settings, was tough as nails,long battery life, and fit in my pocket. My mentality is that what I carry is more than adequate for my day to day. I am not going into a combat zone, I am not responding to dispatch, I am a day to day person who just doesn't want to be burdened by excessive weight and or bulk in my pockets and on my hip but still wants the balance of utility and self defense.

    At any rate I feel that what I have decided on, a 6 shot colt cobra, a maratac AAA light, and a leatherman skeletool are more than adequate for me to get through my every day. Depending upon where I am or where I am going I may toss the speedstrip or the speedloader or both in my back pocket but by using my brain, my feet, my phone, and god forbid my weapon there is not much I am not prepared for. I do carry a hicap autoloading rifle in my truck at all times however. Especially living rural. It is a must have IMHO.

    So my question to you is, if you carry lightweight, why? If you carry heavyweight ( i.e. extra mags, hicap autoloaders, multiple knives, tac lights, etc) I would like to know why. I have no issues with those who disagree, I am just trying to understand what your mindset is and it would be cool to see a pic or two of your setup.

    Here is mine, day-to day and with all accessories

    IMG_3883 (Large).jpg IMG_3881 (Large).jpg

    Mine is under 2lbs total:

    Cobra loaded with 6 135gr Speer Gold dot for SB 38 +P 19.4 oz
    Leatherman Skeletool with lanyard 5.3oz
    Maratac AAA light w/ battery 1.2oz

    Total of 25.9oz for everything minus keys/wallet/phone just a little over 1.6lbs

    I typically carry it AWIB but have been known to pocket carry from time to time.

    of course adding the speedstrip and speedloader add a little weight but still only about 5 oz eachwhich with both hits a little over 2lbs

  2. #2
    New Member Array 1stTankerSki's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Olympic Peninsula, WA.
    It's been awhile, but the first time I was mugged and robbed, of $200.00 by two punks, one had a knife, and I swore I'd get a snub nose .38, well six months later on the way to Grandma's house in the evening, I had just parked the car, walked around to help my wife out, when a punk came up behind me from no where, and pointed a small cal. auto in my back, wanting my money. I turned slowly reaching for my wallet, moving his gun hand out of the way, I swung my left fist into the back of his hand and the gun flew out under the car behind us, with the look of 'Duh! on his face, my right jab found his nose and knocked him to the ground, we ran half a block into Grandma's brownstone, in Brooklyn. And called the Police. I cussed myself out for not getting a gun.

    I now switch off carrying three guns, and nothing is too heavy for a drugged up punk, my main revolver is a Rossi 462, .357 Mag. my 2nd is a Colt 1991/1911, .45 cal. APC, my 3rd is a CZ 52 7.62x25, that will shoot through three punks standing in a row. Ever since packing, I've not been accosted again, but you never know! And it never hurt to take them to the range or field and shoot them once in awhile, so you have to clean them, and know them.

  3. #3
    Member Array Randleflagg's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Pittsburgh PA.
    Sit back and let me tell you a love story.

    Well I started out with bad luck in autoloaders. I could never conceal them enough for my liking. I've always loved the look and feel of revolvers a lot better. A bit like you though through various sources I was lead to believe an autoloader was the way to go for cc. Well long story short I was in the market for an all steel(ss) snub nose revolver mostly because I like the look of them. Well I went to gander mountain with a buddy to look at what they had in shotguns for him, low and behold they had a s&w model 60 with a 2.125 barrel chambered in .357 and I was in love. I walked out of the store with the gun, some snap caps, some target and defense rounds in both .38 spl and .357, and a nice leather IWB holster for it. I was so excited when I put it on and for the first time ever I didn't have to work hard to keep the gun hidden. Looking back I should have gone with my gut in the beginning and use a snubbie unlike everybody was telling me. I ended up ordering two quick strips because I found out after getting a speed loader that even with the hogue grips I use being cut out for one it doesn't fit in the j frame gun. So my EDC is now the model 60 usually in an IWB at 3:00 and two full reloads on the quick strips. I find that it's to easy to put them in my pocket when I go out and they don't weigh me down that why not. I am now looking for a good light(I work nights) but haven't found one I really like yet. The best part is how everybody who told me the worst thing about a snubbie is how inaccurate they are are dumbfounded when I can hold one inch groups at 15 yards and yes they are also in the middle of the target. So in my opinion I carry light. Only because I don't have to go out of my way to carry the extra reloads.
    DanielC and arizona like this.

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array shockwave's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    Same thinking here. Started with big revolvers, scaled down to compact and subcompact autoloaders, now moving to J-frame. Will likely alternate the LC9 and the 638, depending on occasion and clothing.

    As time goes by, lightness and ease of carry seems to become increasingly desirable. Sure, you can carry a full-size 1911 if you want. Carry two, you want. Nobody's gonna sue you.

    For general go-about-my-business sort of carry, I've found that "don't even notice I'm carrying it" is a real plus, and Corbon DPX HPs in 9mm and .38 spl. aren't weak rounds. Guns, like knives, have individual characteristics and it makes sense to me to select one that matches the circumstances at hand.

    Also, I'm very curious to know what the new S&W offering is going to be. If it's that single-stack M&P, I'll certainly give it a look. (Edit: Yep, it's the M&P Shield Pistol.)
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
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    My primary focus is not on the weight of the gun, but more so on its versatility. The weight is a factor, although a secondary consideration. Working the streets, dives, and hoods, I learned that if I was in uniform, that there was a difference in what I was willing to carry vs what I carried in street clothing.

    In my uniform, I could get away with more, a triple retention holster, and supportive belt that allowed uninhibited carry of all manner of things. I would also carry a j frame in my off side front pocket, that I could access with my weak hand.

    Off duty or working plain clothes, I found less was better. Since my primary was concealed, I didnt worry about the "gun grab", and, substituted a can of OC spray in the front left pocket to bridge the gap between non lethal and lethal force.

    I also over time, desired a lighter weight gun that still had the versatility to handle a wide variety of tasks. While I can shoot a j frame well, it lacked the capacity that gave me a self imposed margin of safety. I found the G26, with a flush fitting magazine to be the perfect all round gun for my off duty needs. It is small enough to work in a variety of dress styles, has double the capacity of the j frame, is robust enough to function well with full throttle loads, and get a good shooting purchase on.
    Unlike the current craze slim, petite pistols, it can be shot easily with accuracy out to 150 yards and beyond giving confidence of making man sized target hits quickly and easily.
    The air weight j frame, is the other carry gun of choice for me. It is light enough for pocket carry, and loaded with a good hardcast bullet, and accompanied by a speed strip or loader, rides handily along in situations where dress attire makes a cover garment impossible. In a pinch, I can hit a man at 100 yards, but can also have my hand on it in the pocket, ready to fire unnoticed by anyone around looking at me, even through the pocket if necessary.

    Either of these provide the optimal dependability, shootability, and versatility and concealability that I mandate for my personal needs, and they do it without hurting my sciotic nerve.
    " Blessed is that man, who when facing death, thinks only of his front sight"
    -Jeff Cooper

  6. #6
    Member Array dnilson's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
    Mustang OK
    My primary CCW is a Glock 23 (.40 cal, compact, 13+1 rounds). I always carry 2 extra mags, OC spray and a S&W M&P knife that's scarier looking than the gun! I also carry a 900 lumen light with strobe (surprisingly small). I doubt it's actually 900 lumens, but my TLR2s is 200 lumens and the flashlight is WAY brighter. I sometimes carry a BUG, sometimes not...depends on where I'm going and whether or not I'm alone. I have a severe nerve injury in my leg, so I have to use a cane, have a noticeable limp and I'm unable to run away. I'm probably just paranoid, but it makes me feel like I'm viewed as an easy mark. I often think about how I'd handle various situations. If it was just one person, I'd like to think I could disorient them with the light, then a good dose of OC spray and pray they'd just run away. If it's more than one person, I'd just pull my G23 and pray that they'd run away. Honestly though, I don't think most of us really know how we'd react until the situation presented itself. I have a Ruger SP101 (5 round, .357 mag, revolver) for my BUG. When I take it, it's carried in the small of my back. I doubt I'd ever need it G23 is new, but so far has never malfunctioned. I also have a G30SF (.45 cal, subcompact 10+1 rounds) but it's actually heavier and bulkier than the G23 (which is why I got the G23). I've put hundreds of rounds through the G30 and it's never once malfunctioned, but you never know, which is why I carry the extra mags. Also, for extra safety, I've put lanyards on everything!!! If anything ever happened, I'm afraid I'd probably drop my weapon!!!!!
    Last edited by dnilson; April 13th, 2012 at 11:16 PM.
    Pistols: Glock 21SF, Glock 30SF, Colt 1911 GCT (all .45ACP), S&W Shield (9mm)
    Revolvers: Ruger SP 101 (.357MAG/.38SP), Judge (.410G/.45LC)

    Long guns: Daniel Defense AR-15's (M4V4 and M4V5), Mossberg Shotguns (400 and 500, both 12G), Ruger (.22;LR)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Array jdsumner's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    riverview, fl
    I've always favored a full sized gun. Started seriously carrying a gov mod 1911. Up till then, I always had a model 29 in my truck (did cattle/farm work at the time). I've tried going smaller. Really, I have. Commander, Officer, Kahr, jframe, g26/27. What I found out, either thru classes or some limited competition, was that under stress, I simply shot and manipulated a bigger gun better. Since I don't ever skimp on gear, I've always been fairly comfortable, as I've purchased quality belts, holsters, etc. I've spent the last year carrying either a g23 or 22 in aiwb using one of Dale's ArcAngels. Almost on a dare, just to see if the claims were true, I orderd a Tier 3 rmr'd g17, and a Seraphim. In the short time I've had this gun, I've made some real gains PRIMARILY in nondom hand shooting. It's also mucho mucho easy to manipulate the slide using the rmr housing. It's pretty much a win win for me. No less difficult to carry and conceal, easier to shoot accurately and fast out to stupid distances, and improving my nondom shooting exponentially. The only downside so far is, I end up sharing it at the range w my crowd. In comparison, the g19/23 sized gun may actually be slightly easier to conceal, this, I've begun saving for a TSD g19 and g19 trigger assembly to convert my 23 to a TSD g19.

    Backup gun, (I've always hated that term, I much prefer 'other' gun), very, very situationally dependant. If it's just me out and about, no. However, IF my wife is with me, or wife and kids, then I will probably have a Jframe/g27 somewhere about my person. Not for a protracted gunfight, but to arm my wife with. Yes, it'd be easier if she just carried. She doesn't. But she will inflict great harm on anyone posing a threat to our children. Oh, and before anyone derides me for arming her with the Jframe, that ain't how it happens. She gets the full sized auto, because she can run it, and it's easier to shoot, and I get the Jframe/miniglock because I've put enough time into it to be proficient with it.

    Knives; been carrying Spydercos for, what, now? Almost 20yrs. Whatever the large, unserrated model in my right pocket, and the smaller, 1/2 serrated in the left. In testing knive deployment designs, ie, thumbstud, thumbhole, auto, the hole always won out for me. And yes, I realize a fixed blade is the fastest of all. Have carried a HAK, and will continue when prudent. Somehow, I always managed to cut my thumb when working a thumbstud design, and under pressure of a fight, especially once already engaged and grapling, I never could hit the button on an auto, so the Spyders won out.

    I do keep a light on me at all times. My home has Surefires at each door location, in each vehicle, and in my grabngo bag. On my person, is either a Streamlight Junior LED especially at work. If I'm wearing cargo shorts casual, I'll have a NovaTac 120M in my pocket. Great little light btw. Small, variable output, very strong pocket clip.

    So that's a quick n dirty of my evolution in carry. And it IS an evolution. Gear gets better, materials get better, training and understanding gets better, and I try to adapt and adopt to get better. Granted, its not a gear race. A good Jframe will work in most any given situation. But for me, IF IT were to go beyond those five rounds, I will run a bigger gun better.

    Hope this helps,

    SpongeBob TacticalPants

  8. #8
    Senior Member Array jdsumner's Avatar
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    riverview, fl
    yeah, yeah I ain't the only one who gets longwinded.

    SpongeBob YaddaYaddaPants
    azchevy likes this.

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array Richard58's Avatar
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    I almost always pocket carry if my pants pockets are big enough for my smith 642. If not I IWB Carry my PF9. In the winter cold months K frame 38 +p 4 inch or a smith sigma 40ve in a shoulder holster.

  10. #10
    Member Array Eldon Hickey's Avatar
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    May 2010
    Bethpage, TN
    Comfort, concealability, reliability and power add up to a 642 for me. I occasionally carry a p3at or a 2nd snubby as backup. I load the .38 with homebrewed FBI loads giving me 815 fps from the short barrel. Very occasionally I carry a Smith 327pc which though bulkier at 21 oz is still a lightweight.

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    I don't really think of it as "heavy" vs "light." I think of it as "what scenario are you prepared for?"

    Common street crime - the most likely scenario. A snub is fine, as the assailant(s) will most likely run at the sight of ANY gun, and pick a less protected target.

    Mentally ill/drugged-up/psychotic attacker - less likely, but a much more dangerous situation. This type of attacker may well press his attack, even knowing that you are armed. May not stop until you render his body physically incapable of persisting. A snub may NOT be enough.

    Active shooter/terrorist incident - least likely, but most dangerous. You may be faced with multiple, motivated and heavily armed attackers who will not stop unless you stop them. Best chance of survival is to get out of the kill zone, but you might need to fight your way to safety. A snub is almost certainly NOT going to be enough.

    In addition, you need to think about other factors. For example, if I am out with my family (wife and 2 small kids), then I am not going to be able to move very quickly to escape or evade. I will have to stand and fight. Same is true for those who are not as young as they used to be, or who have physical disabilities, etc.

    I live in a gun-unfriendly area, yet one that is also a very likely target for terrorist attack. Our church is known for its support of Israel - to the point of having demonstrators show up to protest. The probability of a psycho or terrorist targeting our congregation is "higher than normal."

    What this means for me is that I carry as "heavy" as I can, while still maintaining discretion. I always carry two guns; both are autoloaders; and I carry a reload for each. The second gun is as much for off-hand access, and arming my wife (who only rarely carries), as anything else.

    Depending on clothing, you may find me with my G26 plus a PM9; or a PM9 plus a LCP. Sometimes, if I need to be very discreet or the clothing dictates, it is two LCPs. When there have been specific circumstances (like the 10-year anniversary of 9/11), I have even carried a G19 (Smartcarry) plus my G26 AND PM9. On duty, it is usually my G30 or G19; plus the G26.

    I do not carry a long gun in the vehicle, due to the possibility of theft. I also feel that the probability of being able to get back to the vehicle to retrieve the long gun in time for it to be of use is very low.

    I carry a small light (Energizer 1 W LED, AA-battery), a Quik-clot dressing, a small Swiss Army knife, cell phone, wallet, keys, and badge wallet. Cargo pants are my friend.

    I had a snubbie (SP101), and while a fine gun, I never felt comfortable with only 5 rounds on tap, plus the slow reload. I think a snub is a fine weapon, as long as you carry two of 'em. A G26, however, is much better.
    shooterX likes this.
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off. - member
    Usual carry - Ruger SP101 .357 DAO snub + LCR .38

  12. #12
    RKM is offline
    Distinguished Member Array RKM's Avatar
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    May 2010
    If I could make accurate hits in a hurry with my S&W 442, It would be all I carry (slow fire, staging the trigger, it's an accurate little thing. Rapid fire.... I suck real bad). But I only carry my 442 when I'm forced to carry in deep concealment (front right pocket) which is Monday-Friday. When I have more freedom to carry what I wish, like evenings and weekends, it's a compact sized Glock, G19 or G30 (which I can shoot fast accuratley) a spare mag only because it's relativity easy to carry with me. My cell phone an Streamlight ProTac 2L in my front left pocket (flashlight is for any type of use... likely NOT defensive use, but I won't rule it out). Folding knife clipped to my right pocket (again, not for defensive use, but it's there. If I'm forced to sue it defensively, then that really sucks). I have a Leathermen Multi-tool, lighter and a pen in my right front pocket. I carry them for obvious reasons. Though I don't smoke. So I'm not really sure why I have a lighter. I threw it in my pocket one day and it's just stayed with me. Then, my wallet and keys.

    But as far as firearms go, if I could shoot my 442 better I'd probably carry it almost exclusively. But for now, I'm not bothered by a mid-sized Glock. Will I need 16 rounds of 9mm? Probably not, even in a gunfight. But it certainly doesn't make me feel bad that they're there. I've tried full-sized pistols... too big, too heavy. A G19 is about as big as I think I can comfortably go, so that's what I do. The G30 is hardly different in size. Slight shorter in both length and height and just a bit wider. IWB, I can hardly tell the difference between the two. I'll admit, I do feel "better" with my G19 because I can shoot it fast and accurate. It just feels better. The G30 I can shoot fairly quick and accurate. I'm comfortable with it. The 442, I can shoot accurately, but slowly. Once I start firing the 442 quickly, rounds go all over the place. It's bascially my "better than nothing" option.

  13. #13
    Array QKShooter's Avatar
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    When I go lightweight these days it's with my trusty old SIG/Browning BDA in .45ACP.
    It's a full size firearm but, it has a lightweight alloy frame and the Euro slide is lighter than the SIG P220 slide.
    Some folks wouldn't even consider it because it has the BUTT magazine release which some deem to be too slow and awkward.
    Magazine reloads are decently quick though....with practice. (like everything else)
    The OWB holster that I had made for my BDA was crafted by Matt Del Fatti (who made it with a lot of extra forward cant) and it's just such an incredibly designed holster that I honestly forget that I have the pistol on.
    I always carry one spare magazine in an OWB that I also made myself.

    My belt is good, stiff, Hermann OAK (made by me) and that distributes any weight quite nicely.

    My knife is the SOG Pentagon Elite II BECAUSE since Pennsylvania has no blade length restriction I want a 5" penetrating blade that will reach critical internals.
    The knife is not an assisted opener but it deploys quickly and easily with a flick of the thumb.
    With my keys I have a very small old SCHRADE knife that I use for mundane daily cutting chores in order to preserve the flesh ripping edge on my SOG.
    I always want that to have an extremely keen hair popping edge for obvious reasons.

    I am NOT a "flashlight" guy. I mostly just carry a very small Gerber single AAA flashlight (with a Lithium battery) just so if I happen to be trapped in an elevator during a power failure or I find myself in a building etc, during the same I'll be able to navigate my way out.
    I have great night vision and "I'm not afeared of the dark & I don't think the Boogie Man is going to get me." so just enough light in case I ever need it to locate the circuit breaker box is fine with me.

    I always have an OC Spray (keychain unit) in hand when I'm walking the dog.

    I often pop a KelTec P3AT in a back pocket as a lightweight BUG but, I'm thinking seriously about switching over to the Heizer Double Tap in .45ACP as a back pocket BUG.

    I need to actually SEE one and check it out first hand though.
    Pic from back when my great Del Fatti holster looked new.
    Rock and Glock likes this.

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array claude clay's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    crazy people are mobile and mostly look a-ok till something sends them over the edge.
    they seem to want to share their feelings, like the kinder, gentler way they were taught in school,
    with any close to them.
    so im carrying re my percieved needs.

    mix and match according to the seasons and how im dressed:
    sig C-3 or a S&W 3" 357
    secondaries may be a S&W 332 or KT P380

    primaries are heavier than years past ( defender @ 23 oz vs C-3 @29 oz) cause
    arthritis doesn't take kindly to being punished by recoil.
    You plug 'em, I plant 'em
    ...kid can't read at 17 (Garcia/Hunter 1985)
    Lack of preparation on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on mine

  15. #15
    Member Array Randleflagg's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Pittsburgh PA.
    I wanted to ad I'm not a fan of the airweight snubnose revolvers. I figure that 1.5ish lbs. like my j frame model 60 is already light for a gun IMO. No need to take it down further just to beat on your hand more. Oh btw I carry 158 grain federal hydrashok's .357 in mine, just for reference
    : )

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