When Smith brought out their first "Mountain Gun" in 1989 I figured I needed one pretty bad. It looked to me like a near-perfect woods gun and revolver-of-all-work.
When it arrived its K/L roundbutt gripframe wore a pair of small Pachmayr Compaq rubber grips that seemed out of place, but had been mounted for their recoil absorptive ability. I replaced them pretty soon. Notice that the grips it now wears don't fit it perfectly. They are off an L-frame snubbie. But they'll do until I get something a little more elegant for it.
Basically this revolver is an N-frame .44 Special with a heavily chamfered .44 Magnum cylinder. It weighs 39 ounces dry and 44 loaded with six 240-grain Keith SWCs in .44 Special cases. An N-frame by any other name is still not a lightweight. My 624 .44 Special with 6-1/2" barrel weighs 46 ounces with the same loads. You could argue that for the extra two ounces it would be worth it to tote the 624 for its 2-1/2 extra inches of velocity, but there is always the greater convenience of carrying a 4" and also the matter of the availability of full-house .44 Magnum loads when needed.
Truth to tell, I rarely shoot Magnums out of it. There are no grizzlies hereabouts and well-crafted .44 Specials do everything I need from this gun. I particularly like 7.5 grains of Unique with a 240-grain bullet. This load is plenty powerful, reasonably pleasant to shoot, and about as accurate a load as can be had out of this revolver.
There isn't any reason why this pistol couldn't or shouldn't be used as a carry piece for self-defense. On the negative side, of course, are it's weight and difficulty of concealment, and possibly the follow-up shot complications if using full-bore ammunition. On the positive side, particularly for open-carry gun-belt wear, it's definitely a can-do piece in the spirit of those who have carried Big Revolvers for their health for many, many years of our country's history. The clincher is probably that it won't really do more in this role than a good lightweight 1911, and maybe a good bit less in terms of the overall picture.
But there is no denying that it is a fine revolver, and surely one of the finest pieces that an outdoorsman could carry.