By Ralph Mroz, American Handgunner
Guns smaller than “full-size”— usually referred to as “compact” or “mini” — are primarily carried because they are more convenient to carry than full-size guns. You might counter they are carried mostly because they conceal better than full-size handguns. But really, with very few exceptions, you can conceal just about any size handgun effectively if you put some thought and effort into it.
So the concealability factor is really, fundamentally, a convenience factor. The extra concealability a small gun offers is really just one form of convenience it offers. I’m not trying to be a semantic jerk here. Almost anyone can conceal almost any normal full-size handgun. Way back when I was my adult height but weighed maybe 155 pounds soaking wet, I routinely concealed the 4″ L-frame S&W 686 which was my duty gun at the time. With factory stocks, no less. It can be done. In fact, it wasn’t difficult.
Nonetheless, concealability is certainly a valid concern. I’m officially an old guy now, but in order to get to be an old guy I first had to have been a young snot. In those days I just shook my head in consternation at the old guys who carried 2″ snub-nosed revolvers — with oversized stocks. I understood the big stocks helped to shoot the little gun better, but those silly old men were missing the entire point. Small guns concealed better — that’s why you carried them — but it was the stocks which were the most difficult part of the gun to conceal. They were usually what printed through your clothing. How could they be so stupid?
Well, guess who turned out to be stupid?
A 2″ snubby with oversized stocks hits the sweet spot, despite the seeming incongruity
of those two elements. Note the large stocks, even in a straight-drop Bobby Macs
holster, don’t take much away from the gun’s concealability.
I was conflating the separate factors of concealabilty with carryability. There are characteristics of a gun making it easy (or difficult) to conceal, and there are characteristics of a gun making it easy or difficult to carry. There’s some overlap between these two characteristics, but they are separate things. The short barrel of a small gun, such as a snubby, does far more to make the gun easy and convenient to carry than it does to make it more concealable.
And while oversized stocks do make the gun a little harder to conceal, the decrease in concealabilty is much less than the increase in carryability the short barrel offers. And, of course, the oversize stocks also help to mitigate the decreased shootability inherent in a small vs. a large gun. In short, you can still easily conceal the gun while using bigger stocks. And those bigger stocks make the gun several levels easier to shoot.
So those dim-witted old guys were actually finding the sweet spot maximizing the effectiveness of the package they carried while minimizing its disadvantages. In mathematical terms they were finding the optimal solution to a linear programming problem. Not so dumb, after all.
I used to think putting oversized stocks on a short-barreled gun was
to stupidly miss the entire point of a smaller gun.
Here’s the AIWB concealable and carryable package of one now-old guy,
all stuff designed in the ’50’s, ’60’s and ’70’s: Colt Agent, Chic
Gaylord-designed holster from Bell Charter Oak, Nyclad round and
Stupid Old Guy
And here’s one more (now) old guy who has settled on the same solution — literally. The vintage Colt Agent shown here with its oversize Pachmayr stocks could have been carried by one of those old guys I used to criticize. But now it’s my local carry gun (I live in a small town in the Northeast, not Memphis). It’s been factory re-barreled, sports an XS front sight, and has been tuned by Karl Sokol (while there’s very few gunsmiths these days who will work on Colt revolvers, Karl’s one of the few who should.). It shoots right to POA with 125-gr. Nyclads at 10 yards. It carries easily and I shoot it well.
But no doubt some young kid today is probably looking at me and saying: “Look at that stupid old guy.”
Thanks to American Handgunner for this contribution. Click here to visit them – click here to get American Handgunner delivered to your door for $9.95 a year.