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#92494 - 03/13/08 08:40 PM Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices.
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3591
Loc: Texas
This post is not about whether you support carrying a side arm in the backcountry or not.

Question for those who might know....Kel Tec P-3AT, PF-9, S&W 340PD, and the new Ruger LCP .380.
I'm curious if anyone has explored these ultralight choices?
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#92495 - 03/13/08 08:59 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Not to wanna channel Jeff Cooper on ya Dryer, but really, IMO skip the 380 - if you're going to go with one of those social type calibres, just go down to .22LR and you'll save a lot of weight. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

While I'm not normaly a wheelgun fan, the 340PD will at least be reasonably ergonomic and shootable (I've shot someone's 342, which is roughtly same dimensions but heavier) and at least can pack a wallop worth carrying it it. Can't comment on the pf9, other than a hot loaded 9 will do just fine as well. But for "backpacking" type applications where 5 shots should do ya fine, I think save the couple of ounces over the PF9 and go for the smith.
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#92496 - 03/13/08 09:23 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: phat]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3591
Loc: Texas
I'm thinking the same thing. I have a .380 now (colt pony made by FI), and the P-3AT weights HALF as much! The PF9 is interesting because its thinner and lighter than the 340PD and you get three more chances. Both can handle +P's. I've owned one wheelgun out of many automatics but the 340 has merit.
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#92497 - 03/13/08 09:41 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Dryer
I have a 5 shot Taurus revolver? from south America in stainless steel with Pachmayr rubber Grips. Its tiny but its 38 special <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />and atleast a wheel gun can handle real slugs <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> not little pointy things that feed nicely in an automatic. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />Its a "fishermans gun" - great for snakeshot.

Unless you're superman <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> its hard to hit anything with a light gun with the stopping power worth carrying, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />better to carry one you're comfortable shooting or nothing at all. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#92498 - 03/14/08 02:56 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Jimshaw]
Gary_N9ZYE Offline
member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 48
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
I have a S&W 337 AirLite Ti with a 3" barrel. J-frame rated for .38 Plus P loads. Empty, the pistol weighs about 12 oz. I made a chest rig for carrying while backpacking.
_________________________
Gary

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#92499 - 03/14/08 06:16 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
rotifer99 Offline
member

Registered: 08/25/03
Posts: 66
I have the Kel Tec P-3AT. Very light. 11 oz loaded (7 rounds). Shoots well at close range. I do not have large hands, and fits well. I put one mag of +P rounds thru it and gave the box of ammo away. It knock the hell out of the gun. I don't even know if you are suppossed to put the +Ps thru it. I don't think that gun was made to shoot 1000s of rounds, so it not a plinker to play with. You can buy a little clip to put on the frame, similar to the clip on a lot of pocket knives these days. It is not my main sidearm, but for a light weight trail gun it does the job well.

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#92500 - 03/14/08 06:47 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: rotifer99]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3591
Loc: Texas
According to Kel Tec, the 3AT is supposed to be rated for "limited use" +P's....which I never understood statements like that. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> What happens? The thing blows up after 20 rnds.? The slide stops fail and you end up testing your safety glasses? I've also heard rumors those are good for about 600 shots, then you hear about folks that have run into the thousands....they must be wearing padded gloves. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> My attitude is that any of these lightweight sidearms are for deep cover concealment and were never intended to be plinkers. It's 'lead based pepper spray' kind of thinking, so I don't have any misconceptions of quality and purpose here. I've got target pieces and plinkers. It's just that my current .380 is built like a mini-1911, weighs accordingly, and is a rust magnet. I even thought about having it parkerized but the little plastic guns literally cut the weight in half and better fit the need, at a comparable cost.
The Ruger LCP is supposed to be a Kel Tec knockoff but with beefier innards...and 2 .oz more weight. It's not available yet and I don't like first run arms anyway.
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paul, texas KD5IVP

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#92501 - 03/14/08 07:18 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
6brnorma Offline
member

Registered: 05/11/05
Posts: 252
Loc: Arizona
Paul,

I went with the S&W 340PD several years ago and have never regretted it. The 357Mag gives additional stopping power, it's very easy to conceal, extremely lightweight but not a 'plinker' (unless you use 38's). A day at the range to qualify is not for the faint of heart....you WILL have sore wrists....especially 'off hand'.

I also own the Kel Tec...don't much care for it, have shot the PF-9...interesting and have never even handled the new Ruger. My personal choice is the S&W.

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#92502 - 03/14/08 08:20 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
StepChld Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 43
Loc: Garland, Texas
This reminds me of the old joke about the two guys going backpacking in bear country. One guy notices that his buddy is packing a .22 cal. pistol. He asks him why take a .22? Why not a bigger gun? Especially if they're being chased by a big Griz! His buddy responds saying, "I don't have to faster than the bear, just faster than you." <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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#92503 - 03/14/08 08:58 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
My brother HAD a kel-tech 9mm. I don't recall the actual name of it, it was an automatic that claimed to be the smallest on the market. He sold it because it shot like crap. I would stand 5 feet from the target, and aim and shoot the whole clip, with nothing near center, or even a consistent shot group. Then I would take a .22 revolver, or another 9mm, and shoot a much better group. Basically, it shot everywhere BUT where you aimed. He traded it for a .38 special revolver, and it shoots a lot straighter. If you want accuracy with a small gun, go with a wheel gun. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#92504 - 03/14/08 09:52 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: finallyME]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1813
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I need a sidearm with fairly light recoil due to painful arthritis in both hands. This limits me to the recoil level of full-sized pistols of 45 ACP octane and less. I can shoot a 38 Special all day unless it is one of the 2" barrel, 5 shot revolvers. The smaller pistols move around in my hand too much and are pretty painful after the first shot.

On those occasions when I choose to carry a sidearm, I now carry an FEG, 380 ACP. This is a Hungarian police and military pistol, has a hammer drop safety, the first shot can be fired double-action and the gun holds eight rounds including one in the chamber. With a nylon holster, full magazine and a round in the chamber, it weighs 15 oz. So far it has been reliable and will feed 88 gr hollow-points with nary a bobble. The sights are typical of those used on light semi-auto pistols; rudimentary. But, the gun will shoot 5" groups at ten yards if I do my part.

The muzzle energy of the 380 (ca 180-190 foot pounds) is about 85% of that of the standard 38 Special and 75% of the plus-P 38 Special. The lighter, faster expanding bullet used in the 380 lacks the penetration potential of the typical 158 grain bullet used in the 38 Special but is similar to that of the 125 grain bullet available in the 38.

For those of you who are sensitive to recoil for whatever reason, the 380 is a nice compromise between power and light recoil and a lightweight firearm. It surely lacks the stopping ability of a 44 Magnum or 357 Magnum or even a +P 38 Special but is definitely better than throwing rocks.

About the only time I carry a gun with me on hikes is when I am traveling in the mountains here in Arizona that are close to the Mexican border. There is a lot of drug smuggling and illegal immigration here and I feel a bit better when I am armed. A lot of the smugglers carry AK-47's or the like and a 380 is clearly outmatched on that score; I try to avoid these groups of free-enterprise pharmaceutical transporters. But, in the past, I have encountered groups of illegals who wanted me to share my food, water and money with them (small groups of young males). When I produced the 380, they lost all interest in sharing and wished me a pleasant journey.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#92505 - 03/14/08 10:36 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
Hector Offline
member

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 325
Loc: LA/ARK/TX corner
When I carry, a Para-Ordnance CCW. Not ultralight by any means, but ultra-effective at deterring ill intentioned two-legged varmints who can't be shaken by the simple expedient of walking away. The LDA trigger pull is the next best thing to a 1911's single action. Most sweet (and thanks again, Tom!).

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#92506 - 03/14/08 01:32 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Pika]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3591
Loc: Texas
Quote:
About the only time I carry a gun with me on hikes is when I am traveling in the mountains here in Arizona that are close to the Mexican border.


Right....same with me but along the Texas Rio Grande. I've had drug planes fly BELOW me and the hill I was camped. It's pretty common knowledge that if 'mules' see you seeing them, you're going to be in deep peanutbutter. So, I only carry when hiking alone, on the border, or when working in my park (ferral dogs are the problem there). I don't really enjoy hauling a chunk of steel/lead at all. The current trend of plastic and alloy ultra-lite CC BUG's makes carrying a bit more comfortable.

About S&W 340pd....dang they're pricey! That just seems wrong for a compact snubby wheel gun. Anything above it's 12 oz. and I'm back to what I already own.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#92507 - 03/14/08 01:57 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
ShadowAngel Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 14
I'd personally recommend either a S&W 642 Airlite or a Taurus M85 of the Ultralite persuasion. Can get a pretty compact .38special that takes +P ammo and weighs under a pound.

Weighs a bit more...but my hiking gun is a Ruger SP101 with a 4" barrel in .357. Thing is built like a tank... I have no doubt I could toss it off a cliff and retrieve it later without any non-cosmetic damage. Plus it gives me access to a more powerful defensive round, and higher velocity snake shot.

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#92508 - 03/14/08 06:32 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1813
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Quote:
It's pretty common knowledge that if 'mules' see you seeing them, you're going to be in deep peanutbutter.

That's pretty much the story around here too. I was hiking a lightly traveled trail in the Santa Rita Mountains and encountered a "pack train" of about 20 mules and bales. Fortunately, I saw them first and was able to get off the trail into a thicket. The guy in front and the guy in back were both carrying AK-47's. The rest were just carrying weed, from what I could see.

The smugglers will try to steal dope from one another and fire-fights between groups of smugglers are not uncommon along the border. Near Tumacacori, which is close to my home, there were 3 people killed in a recent drug shootout. The dopers are known to shoot first and then ask questions. Most of the illegals are not looking for trouble and will avoid you if at all possible; they are just trying to find work.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#92509 - 03/14/08 06:52 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
DayStar Offline
member

Registered: 08/26/07
Posts: 15
Loc: Utah
Shoot Dryer, here's what you need, it's light, effective, and can be set from a stunning blow to total annihilation. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

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#92510 - 03/15/08 12:50 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
jshannon Offline
member

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 410
Loc: North Texas
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#92511 - 03/15/08 09:38 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
Salish Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 129
Loc: Seattle, Washington
I'm unfamilar with most of the models you've asked about, except for the S&W 340PD. I've never shot one, but a friend has one and I've examined it. It's close enough to mine that I'll comment on it. I rarely carry a handgun anymore, expect when I'm hiking solo and around human activity. When I do it's usually an older S&W Centennial "Bodyguard" snubnose in .38 Special, rated for +P. Mine is the version with the built in hammer shroud, which I prefer over hammerless models. I've owned just about every incarnation of the original J-frame Model 60's and I like the ability to use single action, yet have the safety of the concealed hammer. My Centennial has good recoil absorbing grips, and for heavy loads the bulky frame that conceals the hammer seems to aid in recoil. I do not like shooting +P ammo in this revolver because of recoil and muzzle flash, but I don't regularly shoot it with the +p shells. I may upgrade some day to the more modern S&W super-lightweight handgun in.357mag, but I really don't see the need for it right now. My Centennial fits perfectly in a waist pack, or in my Dana Design wet rib chest pocket.

Cliff

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#92512 - 03/15/08 11:38 AM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Salish]
apestate Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/15/08
Posts: 5
Hi guys, first post

I am fond of automatics and a big fan of Glock. Glocks are $450-$600 autos that are really well-shooting, solid, safe, and durable guns. That being said, the typical Glock is a giant chunk of 4140 steel with some features machined into it. Heavy, and they seem altogether wider than they need to be.

Then there's the new, slim Glock 36, single stack 45 ACP subcompact with a 3.78" barrel length. This pistol is 1 1/8" wide. It is all of .050" thinner than a regular Glock!

http://www.remtek.com/arms/glock/model/45/36/index.htm

However, I find the new Para Ordinance Carry GAP more interesting. This is a miniaturized Colt 1911 style pistol, and the .45 GAP is gaining ground in the auto cartridge world. Expensive ammo, and probably will go obsolete like the 10 mm, but still a nice hideout gun.

http://www.paraord.com/product/product.html?id=105

Interestingly, the .22 magnum has as much muzzle energy as some 9mm parabellum rounds. Not that a .45 ACP packs much more.

I have a Glock 38 in .45 GAP. This gun is 1 3/16" wide, and has a 4" barrel. I find it quite bulky and quite heavy.

These aren't really lightweight, since a loaded pistol and holster might weigh up to a kilogram, but I guess if it's worth carrying a firearm, it's worth carrying one that can shoot 50 feet.

How about a discussion of packable rifles?

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#92513 - 03/15/08 12:37 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: apestate]
Salish Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 129
Loc: Seattle, Washington
Apestate,

Welcome to TLB. Lot's of interesting questions you have here. I am a huge fan of the .45 Auto and the Colt 1911 in particular. The PA GAP you've mentioned here looks nice for a backpack firearm. As I mentioned earlier in this thread I prefer to carry a small S&W snub nose revolver to anything else, but my second choice is similar to the GAP. I have an older Colt M1911 Lightweight Commander, in .45acp. I think it weighs somewhere around 27 oz, but I'm sure the weight changes dramatically when you add seven rounds of 185gr shells. It's kind of an older and larger version of the GAP, minus the more modern enhancements such as the bobbed hammer and DA action, and it uses an alumnium frame, as opposed to steel. These 1911-style handguns fit perfectly on my waist when using a backpack without a hip belt, and they seem to "nestle" there better than a revolver, at least for me.

I really like Glocks for what they are - an incredibly durable and function free semi-auto, but I've never cared for their larger, wider squared-off slide. I think they are safer than the 1911 design, though. If I carry my 1911 (which is rare these days) I always carry it unchambered. It doesn't make for a fast shot, but it takes less than two seconds to rack the slide and chamber a round.

Packable rifles - always an interesting topic, since I'm a hunter, too. My 1950's Winchester Model 94 30-30 fits perfectly on the side of my conventional packs, and it's 20" barrel doesn't stick out too high from the pack. It carries seven rounds in the tubular magazine so there is no need to carry extra shells or a separate magazine. My trouble is that my eyes aren't what they used to be so I have some difficulty with iron sights. I've been thinking of buying a Ruger Compact in 7mm-08, and topping it with a small Leupold scope. The Ruger weighs in at under 6 lbs without a scope, with a 16.5" barrel. You lose some velocity with the shorter barrel, but unless you're hunting at long distances I don't think this is much of a problem. I think there are several higher end custom rfiles that can be built for backpack carry, but for an off the shelf rifle, the Ruger Compact is pretty interesting.

link: http://www.centerfirecentral.com/productreviews/rugercompact.htm

Cliff

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#92514 - 03/15/08 01:11 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Salish]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Packable rifles? easy. Savage 110 (or the stevens synthetic) lightweight. in .308 - they're cheap enough you don't feel bad bobbing the barrel to 19 inches, and drilling holes in the stock to lighten it, and they still shoot well. Whack off the stock kifaru style and top it with a lightweight leupold.

and if you're only hunting deer at moderate ranges with it instead of elk or moose, then load it with 150 gr 30/30 bullets and 7895 at 30/30 velocity and save your shoulder <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
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#92515 - 03/15/08 01:17 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
12Step Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Although I am a beginner in backpacking, I can tell you one of best side arms as far as quality, light weight, and safety.

The S&W Model 642 Titanium. http://www.snubnose.info/docs/m642.htm


It's around $600.00, but it's lightweight, safe to carry. You may find one cheaper if you shop around.

Taurus makes a model about $100.00 cheaper, that's just as good. I believe they make both models in .357 also.


I personally carry off duty (I'm a police officer), a Glock (mini-Glock) Model 27 40cal. It's not the most lightweight, but it's fairly compact and it holds 10 rounds. I may carry it backpacking.


Tom
_________________________
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#92516 - 03/15/08 03:55 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: ShadowAngel]
WyoBob Offline
member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 204
Loc: Buffalo, WY
Quote:

Weighs a bit more...but my hiking gun is a Ruger SP101 with a 4" barrel in .357.


Hmmm. I thought they only came in 2 1/4" and 3" barrel?

Paul, I have the 2 1/4" SP101 Ruger .357 and it's a great, 5 shot gun. I carry it every day on our 4 mile walk. A 3" GP100 Ruger will give you 6 shots in an slightly larger package. Both the SP and GP 3" have fixed sights.

S&W makes some nice revovlers, as well. The lightweight's can hurt to shoot depending what grips are installed and will "shoot loose" if too many stout loads are fired through them. Since firing these can be punishing, you tend not to practice like you should. If you're going to depend on a handgun for protection, you need to practice.

For semi-autos, I'd look at the Smith & Wesson M&P compact or Springfield XD sub compact. These are lightweight poly guns. I own both and neither one has missed a lick in thousands of rounds. These come in 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP.

Ruger makes the new SR9 which looks good on paper but it's new. It's 9mm with 40S&W supposedly to come shortly.

9mm would be my minimum recommendation for caliber and there's a lot of ammo choices and it's probably the lowest cost ammo.

Anyway, just a few more ideas for you to kick around.

WyoBob

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#92517 - 03/15/08 04:26 PM Re: Lightweight sidearms....interesting choices. [Re: Dryer]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3591
Loc: Texas
Lots of EXCELLENT discussion here.
As I said, I've got handguns now that weight under 24oz. loaded. It's the new conceal carry BUGs (back up guns) that are really interesting because they cut the weight in half of what I now own. As more states (41 now) adopt Conceal Carry License laws, manufactures will more and more meet the demands of lighter weight and more easily carried sidearms, and this works right into the 'ultralight' backing philosophy.

As far as packable rifles go, I can speak about two.....Win. model 94 30-30, and Ruger 10/22. Off all the rifles I've owned I keep coming back to those two. Both easily packable (on slings), light, rugged, and they just plain work. The 30-30 round is a pig ballistically, but I've not found anything it won't drop in 100m. In Texas it, or the Marlin version, is the standard "brush gun". I like iron sights.

The Ruger 10/22 is lightweight and modeled after the M-1 carbine (which is my second choice over the 30-30). For small game or just plinking around, they run all day and can go a lifetime without cleaning.

Shotguns...the Rem 870LT, 20ga. Built in a .410 frame, with mahagony stock and forend. It's almost too light.
_________________________
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#92518 - 03/15/08 04:39 PM packable rifle, sidearm [Re: phat]
Wolfeye Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 413
Loc: Seattle, WA
Packable rifles are fun. My dad recently bought a Marlin 70PSS, though he almost bought the Henry AR-7 instead. The idea behind both guns is that they can be taken apart of easy packing and can be used for hunting small game. They're only .22 long rifle, so they're not big enough for protection but are still a fun way to hunt. For bear protection I've had my eyes on a Marlin 1894SS, which takes .44 magnum to a whole new level of power over revolvers. It's only good out to 100-150 yards or so due to the relatively low bullet velocity, but sounds like it would make a good gun for the brush.

When it comes to handguns I've always been partial to revolvers; they can pack a lot more wollup per ounce than automatics and can have more ergonomic grips. People talk about the S&W model 329 as the end-all, be-all for lightweight protection, but it sounds like the recoil is downright punishing. I'm waiting for them to do a rerun of their model 629 Mountain Gun, which is a .44 magnum that only weighs 39.7 oz. That's very light for such a large caliber, yet it's more pleasant to shoot than the 329. It used to be very popular with archers.

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