gb, deanadell, would either or both you guys be willing to tell me your perception of the relative recoil of your wife's gun? It's the one thing that can't be checked while standing at the counter in the gun store; since your wives don't have "normal" pain perception, it'd be helpful if someone who did gave some feedback on relative recoil. Thanks.
Sure -- No Problem!
I like shooting her model 15, well, except that if it were mine I'd change those grips for something meatier (I've got pretty large hands), unless of course I were going to be CCW'ing it. Those slim grips conceal well for me IWB.
About my perception of the relative recoil of the gun: First thing to keep in mind with a .38 Spl is that it all depends on what you are feeding it. You have a wide selection of ammo choices of varying intensities available for it, especially if you reload (which I do). I don't shoot all that much of her lighter wadcutter loads, but what I have shot of them (while working up the load) -- well, they are more intense (if "intense" is even a word that applies to .38 Spl WCs!) than shooting a full size .22 lr, but in the same ballpark from a "pleasantness" standpoint. There is more recoil, but since it is a fairly heavy bullet (148 gr) at low velocity (less than 700 fps) it comes across as just a "push" -- not snappy at all, little muzzle rise, and not at all unpleasant. I could shoot them all day long, no problem. This is essentially what the bullseye shooters shoot. From what she tells me, the "push" is not as painful to her as the more "snappy" recoil of other rounds, given her RA. Apparently, it doesn't jar the inflamed joints nearly as bad. Oh -- and one other thing about that model 15 with the light wadcutters: that dude is a TACK DRIVER! Then again, I haven't found any loads for it that DON'T shoot well...
I usually shoot my "normal" practice .38 Spl load through SWMBO's model 15 -- the same "low intensity" (for me) practice fodder that I usually shoot through my 4" S&W 686. And that is a "factory duplication" standard pressure 158 gr LSWC. That load has more perceived recoil than the light wadcutters, and there is more muzzle rise -- even then it is, to me, a creampuff. But, since this is a somewhat lighter revolver than the L Frame 686, it has more perceived recoil than the same ammo through the somewhat heavier magnum revolver. Still not bad at all, I could shoot it all day long with that load (and have done so), no problem. Accuracy is outstanding.
Now, when we are talking about +P SD/HD loads, the perceived recoil goes up some more, and at the same time becomes more "snappy" with increased muzzle flip. Again, the same loads seem milder and have less muzzle flip through my 686 than with her 15, but that is to be expected since the 686 is heavier and has the full length lug. As a data point, a 125 gr +P JHP through her 15 (which is what hers is loaded with for SD/HD) does not recoil anywhere near as much as a full strength 158 gr JHP .357 Magnum in my 686. Even so, that .38 +P load gets a little lively when you take it in the context of her RA. But, it is still a "pleasant" load for me to shoot, about like shooting standard 9mm hardball range fodder through a full size autoloader. To me, it seems like a "standard service load", from roughly similar to down to noticeably less than any of the other popular service gun combos out there from a recoil standpoint. This is especially so given the advent of and popularity of polymer frame autos vs this steel frame revolver. I wouldn't have any problem shooting that round/gun combination all afternoon. FWIW, I have had SWMBO shoot a few rounds of those full strength Magnum loads through my 686 just for familiarization. Not to be "macho" or mean or anything, but so that she knows what to expect if she has to use that gun in a "social situation" since it is my bedside gun. She handled it, but didn't like it, about what I expected. This is why I advised her to not bother getting a .357 Magnum back when we were looking, since she wasn't going to be loading her gun with magnum loads anyway -- just too intense for her to practice with. At least she can practice a little with the .38 Spl +Ps without it hurting her too bad. I figure that in a "social situation" the last thing she is going to be worried about is the recoil which is why she mainly practices with the lighter ammo.