It’s essential to know how much your gun weighs – your weapon’s weight plays a vital role in its accuracy, balance, and portability. And while it is possible to put your gun on a scale and weigh it manually, that isn’t a good sample size. So, then, what are the typical weights of rifles and pistols?
An average fully loaded rifle with scope weighs between 6 and 7lb. That is the ideal weight to balance between recoil and maneuverability. Pistols weigh about 1.5lb when loaded or 1.1lb when unloaded. Any lighter and they are inaccurate, while heavier pistols are too large for concealed carry.
Now that we know the average weights of these guns, we can examine this question in more detail. This article will look at why rifles and pistols have such standardized weights and how that helps us be better shooters.
We’ll also go over the weights of standard American guns and answer some questions about them.
How Much Do Rifles Weigh?
An average rifle weighs between 6 and 7lb when loaded. However, that weight is subject to customization and caliber. An AR-15 can weigh as little as 4lb, less if chambered in .22LR. But it could also weigh more than 10lb depending on what you add to it.
Because of this, there is no perfect standard for a rifle’s weight. While 7lb. is a good benchmark that gets a solid balance, recoil management, and portability, it isn’t for everyone.
Depending on what you’ll use a rifle for, it will weigh different amounts. Generally, the more you have to carry a gun, the lighter it should be.
So, a rifle for personal defense or use on your ranch would typically be heavier than one you would use for hunting in rough terrain.
Likewise, a rifle’s caliber also has an impact. Because larger calibers result in higher-energy shots, a heavier gun is needed to absorb that recoil. You can expect the average weight to increase slightly as its caliber becomes heavier.
Keep in mind that rifles do have a minimum weight. Below a certain threshold, a gun will be too light to hold steady easily. Not only that, but its recoil would be too heavy to shoot comfortably. Therefore, making rifles more lightweight than 6lb., while doable, isn’t a good idea.
How Much Do Sniper Rifles Weigh?
Sniper rifles are different, though. Compared to popular hunting rifles, they’re far heavier. This difference exists because sniper rifles have fundamentally different purposes than hunting rifles and are designed differently.
For a sniper rifle to be deadly, it needs to shoot at extremely long range. Because of that, it must have a very long barrel, as well as a built-in bipod or tripod for stability.
Not only that, but sniper rifles also require a unique stock that counters the powerful recoil of the weapon’s shots. Similarly, a sniper rifle also needs a powerful telescopic sight to spot targets at these long distances.
Because all of these accessories are not standardized (and neither are the designs or calibers of sniper rifles), these guns can weigh up to 28.5lb, or nearly 13kg!
Your Accessories Add Weight
While your average rifle weighs between 6 and 7lb., that isn’t counting all of its accessories and carrying equipment. Depending on what you add to it, it’s possible to increase the weight of your rifle by a significant amount.
Adding a scope is one of the most popular accessories for a rifle, but a scope isn’t weightless. Similarly, a sling or harness, a folding stock, and a free-float rail can collectively add almost another pound of weight to your gun.
Not only that, but most people don’t carry their rifles on slings either, especially not for extended periods.
A high-quality case can be an extra 10lb. you’ll need to carry, and lower quality bags or cases still add weight too.
We stress this because this is practical information.
If you plan to go on a long hunt, managing your weight is essential, and you’ll have to factor in the mass of the accessories alongside the weight of your gun.
How Much Do Pistols Weigh?
On average, a handgun weighs 1.5lb (0.7kg) when loaded and 1.1lb (0.5kg) when unloaded. Unlike rifles, because pistols are so small, the weight of their ammunition is relevant. Therefore, don’t be surprised to see a handgun listed with a loaded and unloaded weight.
The loaded weight assumes that the pistol’s magazine is fully loaded (at maximum capacity). Depending on the gun you’re using, this capacity could be anything from a single shot to an impressive eighteen rounds.
While extended mags exist, these often defeat the point of carrying a pistol.
A pistol needs to be compact and maneuverable as a personal defense weapon. Even though an extended mag might allow you thirty shorts before reloading, it throws off the pistol’s balance and makes it clunkier. In personal defense scenarios, that is not ideal.
Similarly, a loaded pistol has low weight because it must be concealable. We don’t necessarily mean concealed carry here either. Instead, a gun must be small enough to carry in your holster. Adding mass to it will eventually make than unviable.
Of course, where it is legal, a pistol should work for concealed carry. Since you must hide the weapon on your body, a large handgun is unhelpful. Its outline can be more easily seen against your clothes, and it probably won’t be comfortable either.
Not only that, but pistols are handguns. They need to be comfortable to shoot when held only in your hands (and not braced on your shoulder). In that case, after a specific size, a pistol becomes a carbine and functions differently.
However, there are risks to smaller pistols too. Like all lightweight firearms, the smallest pistols are less accurate and have more recoil.
That is especially true for pistols because their barrels are short. While a lightweight rifle is inaccurate because of recoil and balance, a handgun can only get so small while still letting its bullets become supersonic. After a certain point, a pistol’s barrel risks being too short, and the gun won’t be accurate even across a room.
Weights Of Common American Pistols
|Magazine capacity (including the round in the chamber)
|Weight loaded (lb.)
|Weight unloaded (lb.)
|Springfield XDS mod-2 9mm
|Glock 19 9mm
|Glock 26 9mm
|M & P Shield 9mm
|Sig Sauer p938 9mm
|Glock 43 9mm
|Ruger LCP 380 Auto
Why Does The Weight Of Your Gun Matter?
The weight of your gun directly affects its handling. Heavier guns feel more anchored and are more stable to shoot, but they’re uncomfortable to carry for long periods.
Similarly, lightweight guns are portable but lack the mass needed to manage recoil best. So, they are somewhat less accurate overall.
Light Guns Are Less Accurate
The more mass your gun has, the steadier it will be. More of the shot’s energy will be absorbed by the gun when you shoot it. In turn, that means that heavier guns will have more recoil. Lighter guns will kick harder.
If you’re shooting at a fast rate, then controlling recoil is vital. For sports shooting, having low recoil can mean the difference between first and second places. And it can save your life in a personal defense scenario.
The less recoil your gun has, the more comfortable it is to shoot. Not only that, but you can fire it more quickly.
Because of that, lighter rifles are generally less accurate than heavier rifles of the same caliber. Of course, you can get around this issue with a rifle rest, but those are not guaranteed in many situations where you’ll need to use your gun.
However, if you’re a trained shooter, using a light gun you’re experienced with should not impact your performance.
This issue can also be addressed with proper training. Depending on your size and physical fitness, guns feel heavy, or light to you will vary.
Similarly, your stance affects how heavy a gun will feel. You can change how weight is distributed across the rifle by changing your posture. Doing so can make a weapon feel lighter since no part of your body is overcompensating to keep it steady.
A Heavy Gun Weighs You Down
Of course, weight isn’t only an abstract idea or something that only applies when we’re talking about recoil management. A heavy gun can, quite literally, weigh you down.
For sports shooting and personal defense, this is not typically an issue. In the first case, you’ll have opportunities to put your gun down and rest. You hopefully won’t need to use your gun for an extended period in the second.
However, a gun’s weight is significant for hunting. Hunters hike through the wilderness to find their targets. All the while, they must carry their firearms.
So, would you prefer to carry a 6lb rifle or a 15lb rifle on your back for a whole day? While that weight won’t be an issue for the average person, it can add up when considering all the other accessories and equipment a hunter should carry. Or if they must bring the carcass back themselves.
Now, some people will say, “just get stronger, and it won’t be a problem,” but we think those people don’t understand what the problem truly is here. Of course, we should aspire to be physically fit and capable, primarily if we hunt.
However, a heavier gun is not necessarily more helpful when hunting than a lighter gun of the same caliber. After a long day’s work, many hunters report that their bodies are too tired to aim a heavy gun perfectly consistently.
Although, for some, the opposite issue is valid. Physical exertion affects your ability to keep your muscles stiff and your arms straight. In that case, a lightweight rifle is worse because you must use more effort to keep it steady.
Ultimately, the best weight for a hunting rifle is still the standard weight for a gun. While exceptions exist, don’t swing to an extreme until you’re familiar with the average.
To conclude, the average loaded pistol is 1.5lb, while an unloaded pistol weighs about 1.1lb. Rifles are far heavier, and a standard model weighs slightly under 7lb with essential accessories.
Understanding the weight of a gun helps improve our accuracy with it. The heavier the weapon, the less recoil it will have. However, this weight can add up and be uncomfortable to carry around or aim for a long time. Therefore, a good middle ground is best.