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Handgun Size Classification

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Mr. Mosin, Sep 5, 2021.

  1. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    With all these new fancy marketing terms and new fancy handguns coming out, do traditional handgun classifications regarding size still stay the same ? I’ve always labored under the impression of the following, scaling downwards as we go:

    Full size: 1911 Gov’t, Colt Python

    Compact: Glock 19, S&W Mdl 10

    Subcompact: Sig 239, Ruger SP101 3”

    Pocket gun: Ruger LCP, S&W Mdl 442 (1-7/8”)


    Do these classifications stay the same, are they even applicable outside my mental process, what’s your thoughts ?
     
  2. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    You summarized it. What more do you need? Affirmation? O.k. you have it.
    But the BFR and Desert Eagle and S&W 460 and 500 need a category. Super size?
     
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  3. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Where do new-ish sidearms like the LCP MAX, Sig 365, etc go ?
     
    qwert65 likes this.
  4. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    What?

    I would propose:
    Full size: enough grip for all the relevant digits to participate (magazine pinky lips don't count). All 1911s, XDs, M&Ps, Glock 19, K-frames
    Monkey in the Middle: smaller than full size, larger than pocket, awkward all around.
    Pocket: it fits in the front pocket of your slacks without inciting awkward questions. LC9, 642.
    Shirt Pocket: it fits in your shirt pocket. LCP, Browning 25ACP.

    I haven't addressed barrel length because in my experience it's less relevant than grip length and thickness. I'd conceal any 1911 (3, 3.5, 4.25, 5, or 6) before I'd take on a Glock 19, because they are thinner, and that's more important.
     
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  5. Navy87Guy

    Navy87Guy Member

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    There’s no standard…one man’s compact is another man’s sub. Now they’ve added “micro compact” into the mix.

    The labels are pretty meaningless. What matters is how a gun fits your hand or conceals/carries for you. What arbitrary label someone applies to it is relatively useless. If a gun sounds interesting, then go to the specs and compare it to guns you know to get a sense of how it will stack up. Or use a resource to do an objective comparison, like:

    www.handgunhero.com
     
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  6. Navy87Guy

    Navy87Guy Member

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    There - I fixed it for you!

    There’s no absolute standard when it comes to carrying…it’s personal for everyone. Thickness matters to you, but for me barrel length (and digging into my leg) is a much bigger factor, while it’s clearly less important to you.
     
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  7. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    I've always classified them into 6 categories:

    Full sized: 1911, Glock 17
    Compact: Glock 19, SIG P229
    Sub Compact: Glock 26, M&P 9 Subcompact
    Micro Compact: SIG P938, M&P Shield
    Pocket: LCP, SIG P238
    Mouse: Baby Browning, NAA .22 revolvers
     
  8. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    IMHO, they more or less follow the many iterations of the 1911.

    Gov't - Full size XD's, long slide Glocks, SIG 320, etc..
    Commander - G19 and the like.
    Officer's - G26 and similar.

    The gray area is guns like the Ruger LC9 and SIG 365, occupying the same real estate that the larger .380's like the Beretta 84 used to inhabit.
     
    Mr. Mosin likes this.
  9. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    They all sound good to me.

    The only addition in my mind is I call my larger Blackhawks. RedHawks, 629’s etc. “hunting guns”, as packing a large frame, 6.5” to 8” barrel (and up) isn’t done for ccw very often. :)

    Stay safe.


    .
     
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  10. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    I despise them because of recoil...
     
  11. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    Except that a "Commander" has a full size grip and a shorter barrel. The G45/19X were Glock's first "Commander" size guns.

    A G19, in 1911 terms, is really like a CCO. A shorter slide, and shorter grip than the duty size gun.
     
  12. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    Try not to take it too literally.
     
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  13. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Smith Wesson revolver frames have their own classifications.

    JKLN

    Baby bear, Momma Bear. Big Momma bear and Poppa Bear
     
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  14. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

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    The P938 and P238 are the same dimensions, but different size categories?

    It's no different than vehicles. A full size truck can be anything from a 1 ton, 4 door dually with 8' bed, down to a 2wd, half ton single cab with 6' bed. Add in mid size that has 4 doors and it may be bigger than the smallest "full size". Then there's compact trucks, which are twice the size as compact cars...sub-compacts, smart cars etc... You'll see the labels can be misleading. Get one the size you need that does what you need and don't worry about what size they call it.
     
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  15. Old_Grouch

    Old_Grouch Member

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    I was wondering the same about the Model 10 and Python. Both medium frame revolvers virtually identical assuming same barrel length. I'd class both as full size.
     
    Howland937 likes this.
  16. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Hmm,
    Bigguns
    Middlins
    Lill't'ns
    &
    Teensies
    usually works for me [:)]
    Not that I'm in charge of such things. And I'm glad we are not discussing this in German, lest we have großschweresmittle, schweresmittle,leichtesmittle, und klienesleichtesmittle und so wieder.
     
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  17. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    SP101 sure ain't a sub compact, at least by weight. My fave, by the way.
     
    Rexster likes this.
  18. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Eh.... isn’t a Colt Python roughly S&W ‘L’ frame sized ?
     
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  19. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    Well, the “heel” of the grip of an SP101 reaches all the way to the “heel bone” of my hand, which is something that a Glock G19 does not do, so, I have a hard time thinking of the SP101 as “sub-compact,” if a G19 is “compact.” Handgun grips that stabilize well, against the “heel bone” of the weapon hand, have always been more accurate, for me, than those handguns with shorter grips, or grips that are too-rounded-off, at the heel.

    I think of a K-Frame, such as the S&W Model 10, as being a full-sized duty handgun, built on a “medium frame,” with the GP100, L-Frames, and Python being “medium-large-frame,” while the N-Frames and larger are “large-frame.”

    I used to roll my eyes, when someone would call the SIG P229 a “compact” pistol. The P229 may be somewhat short, in barrel length, but the grip is large-volume, and, when measured, with magazines IN PLACE, a P229 is as tall as a P226 or P220. A P229 is, to my mind, a handgun like the old-school N-Frame S&W Model 27, with a 3.5” barrel, that was so favored by some FBI agents, in the Thirties, to the Fifties or Sixties, or so. Short-barreled, but full-sized. (For reference, I carried N-Frame duty revolvers, in the Eighties, and a P229 duty pistol, 2004 to 2015.)
     
  20. UncleEd

    UncleEd Member

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    Large, medium and small. You be
    your own judge. Knew a fellow who
    measured 5 feet, 3 inches tall. He
    told me anyone beyond 5/5 was
    a freak of nature.
     
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  21. Old_Grouch

    Old_Grouch Member

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    Yes, but the only difference in the L and K frames is a few hundredths of an inch difference in both the window and the cylinder diameter. It's so close that a K speed loader will work in an L frame and vice-versa. They don't work as smoothly as the proper one but they work.
    There's quite a bit more difference in an N frame and an L frame than between a K and an L, so if a K is a compact and an L is full size, what would an N frame be classed as?
     
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  22. UncleEd

    UncleEd Member

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    What would an N frame be classed as?

    Answer: Clunker
     
  23. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    Size matters and I’m confident in what I have so I’ll leave it up to you to debate size ;)

    back when all I had was a Super Redhawk and a GP141 I named them Big Willie and Little Willie, life was simpler in the 90’s
     
    Mr. Mosin likes this.
  24. 1942bull
    • Contributing Member

    1942bull Contributing Member

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    I just cannot get hung up on the lexicon of gun sizes. For example, my Ruger Security 9 Compact would be a subcompact using the OP criteria. Do I care? No!
    I just know it will get the job done if need be.
     
    Old_Grouch likes this.
  25. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Entires arbitrary.

    How would one measure? LxHxW? The volume of the smallest box that would hold it?
     
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