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Old July 28, 2009, 03:40 PM   #1
ExtremeTolerance
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Looking for a .38 for my wife

So the threads that Neon started were helpful but I am looking for a few specific recomendations to serve as a starting point as I have spent no time looking at .38s.

Looking for a gun for my wife. This could end up being a CCW. She likes my P22, it's a good size for her but does not pack enough punch. She prefers semiauto over revolver (thus why I am posting here).

She has shot my XD9 but I think outside the range it would be unwieldy for her. Also I have not settled on a specific .38 cartridge.

She is also quickly becoming a proficient shooter.

Thanks in advance
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Old July 28, 2009, 03:46 PM   #2
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Try taking her to a range that rents and let her try a bunch of different ones. We can all help you pick guns that we like and agree on, but it does no good if she doesn't like it. Best to let her pick, and be ready for the chance that what she likes is a gun you don't like, or think is appropriate.

There aren't many .38 automatics around that are defense guns. Do you mean .380, or maybe .38super?
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Old July 28, 2009, 06:02 PM   #3
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We are on out way to that range tonight. I ask more to get a sense for the market, I know there is no replacement for the "test drive".

Also thanks for pointing out the .38/.380. When I originally wrote the post I was thinking .38. But as you point out .38 autos are very scarce. .380 are a possibility. Although at that point are you better off just going with 9mm?

As you can see we are still in the early stages of this discussion.
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Old July 28, 2009, 06:10 PM   #4
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.38 special = revolver (with extremely rare exceptions that are pricey and mostly pointless for self defense).
.380 auto = tiny autos such as the Walther PPK or Keltec P3AT or Ruger LCP.
.38 super = "Race gun", meaning mostly shot in non-defensive oriented guns that are 40 ounces or heavier, and premium defensive ammo is scarce.
9mm = The "everyman" cartridge. Light recoil, cheap ammo, lots and lots of choices.

All these cartridges shoot bullets that are about 0.355 to 0.357 diameter and 90 to 160 grains in weight.

The two you should look at in automatics are the .380 auto and the 9mm. .380 if a teeny-tiny purse-type gun is desired, or 9mm if something a bit larger is the goal.
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Old July 28, 2009, 06:24 PM   #5
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You can get 380's that are more 9mm sized, like the Bersa Thunder so recoil isn't so bad. HOWEVER, at this time, 380 ammo is VERY scarce.

If you look at some ballistic charts, you'll see that the 380 is right at 38 levels, while 9mm is much higher. In guns of approximately equal weight, then a 380 and 38 will be close in recoil, while 9 will feel a little more snappier. (+P's notwithstanding).

For a CCW gun, you can go from mouseguns (little in size, big in recoil, to larger sized that are less in recoil. Good that you're test-driving some to find what she can handle.
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Old July 28, 2009, 06:43 PM   #6
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The Ruger LCR is a fine weapon, good price and totally reliable
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Old July 28, 2009, 07:09 PM   #7
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What's the backstory that has you shopping for her gun? Is she reading these threads too, or are you doing all the research?

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Old July 28, 2009, 07:19 PM   #8
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The part about our suggestions not working for your wife hit it on the nail head. My wife when we met was 5'1" 105# out of all my guns she loves my .45acp 1911 and at 15 yards without her glasses stays within the 9 ring on a B-27 target, others not as good..

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Old July 28, 2009, 07:30 PM   #9
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Not sure how important the feminine factor is, but my wife loves here Lavender Lady (Charter Arms). She is very handy with it.

Of course the .38 special +p is a totally harmless round only effective against Munchkins ... but she likes it.

John
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Old July 28, 2009, 07:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
What's the backstory that has you shopping for her gun? Is she reading these threads too, or are you doing all the research?
Yup. As with most decisions we make, I do the research. With this one I will probably do the leg work. All she will do is handle/shoot and make her decision. She might read the threads.
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Old July 28, 2009, 07:59 PM   #11
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Okay... so here's my advice for her.

1) Forget about buying a dual purpose gun for now, unless she's already 100% SOLD on the idea of carrying a concealed weapon, OR you have a budget that absolutely would not allow you to purchase a dedicated gun for carry six months from now. As long as she is simply learning to shoot, and thinking "maybe down the road I'll CCW..." then you should concentrate on the learn-to-shoot mission first. The ideal characteristics for a learn to shoot handgun are quite different and even antithetical to the ideal characteristics for a carry gun.

2) Visit www.corneredcat.com/FirstGun/tryongun.aspx for a quick visual lesson about how to check handgun fit. That's information she'll need when she makes her final decision.

3) Have her try out different TYPES of firearms. Not just "semi-auto versus revolver" (you've already got that part done), but striker-fired versus single action versus DA/SA. Each action type has very different trigger pull characteristics unique to that type. Encourage her to try several of each type to narrow down the type she might prefer -- and to do that before trying to narrow it down to a specific model of firearm. Focus her attention on the trigger pull characteristics and the different controls unique to each type as she shops.

4) Tell her not to allow herself to take shortcuts. If the firearm is DA/SA, encourage her to fire the first shot in DA mode every single time, and SA mode only for the second or subsequent shots -- and she should decock or safe the gun when she comes off target. If it's a single action with a thumb safety, have her use put the safety back on every time the sights come off the target. Whatever switches or levers are on the firearm, she'll get her best idea of the utility & enjoyability of the firearm if she uses these controls as they are intended to be used while she is shopping.

5) If at all possible, don't pick a firearm in the gun shop. Pick it on the range and then purchase it in the shop. There are a lot of firearms that are very pleasant to handle in the shop that are very annoying on the range -- and vice versa. Since she wants a gun to shoot, she should narrow her selection by taking guns out to shoot.

6) As a general rule, she should be aware that heavier firearms are more pleasant to shoot and somewhat more manageable for new shooters. She'll figure that out on the range on her own, provided you both put enough rounds downrange to give the firearm a true workout (hint: don't just limit each test firing to five shots. Give it a real workout to see where the hitching spots might be).

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Old July 28, 2009, 10:48 PM   #12
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You'd be surprised what she may shoot the best. My friend gets the most enjoyment out of my full size Sig 220 .45, with the CZ Kadet 22 a close second. Her least favorite? All-steel j-frame 38 special. She hates it.

"Too much kick"
"Hurts my finger"
"Not enough bullets"
"I don't like loading it"
"Trigger is too stiff"
etc.
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Old July 28, 2009, 11:12 PM   #13
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My wife's handguns are a 4" S&W model 66 and a Browning Hi Power in 9mm.

The 66 is on the right.
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Old July 28, 2009, 11:24 PM   #14
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armsmaster270

is that a 5906 in the top right corner
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Old July 28, 2009, 11:40 PM   #15
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Kahr PM9

Have her look at the Kahr PM9 ruger LCP380 Kel-tec 9mm bersa 9mm. I would lean toward the kahr PM9 compact easy to use recoil not bad but $$$$$$ good luck
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Old July 29, 2009, 12:09 AM   #16
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Well I think you could buy a dual purpose gun now.

Since it's for your wife she has the option of purse carry. As for us men we have to find a gun that's small enough to conceal in our pocket or find a decent rig to wear.

If it's .38 there are many options out there. You have the S&W airweight and many others like the Ruger LCR someone mentioned above. The P3AT from Kel Tec is what I got but, it does kick and is not much for for range shooting.
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Old July 29, 2009, 05:18 AM   #17
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Terminator: close, Stainless so its a 6906 9mm
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Old July 29, 2009, 05:31 AM   #18
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emp in 9mm

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Old July 29, 2009, 11:30 AM   #19
ExtremeTolerance
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Pax, Thanks for the advice. We actually have been going to the local public range that is run by the cops. I like taking her there because its very clean, safety oriented and has a large selection of rentals. Your thoughts are well taken.

Chris is va, I know exactly what your talking about.

Thanks again for the recomendations, I will start looking some of these up and figure out where she can give them a test drive.
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Old September 2, 2009, 06:59 PM   #20
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So she tried a bunch of guns and after her third time to the range decided that 9mm was not as scary as she first thought. Now she wants a Glock 19.

Watching her groups tighten up I think she will be shooting better than me in under a month.
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Old September 2, 2009, 07:12 PM   #21
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Get her some lessons, in a class intended for women. If she still hasn't picked a gun by that time she can use a rental.
The odds are good that she will end up a better shot than you.
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Old September 2, 2009, 07:15 PM   #22
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Don't forget the Makarov

As usual, I am late to the party and I hope my two cents is not too late when choosing your (her) carry gun.

I noticed that the list provided by azredhawk44
Quote:
.38 special = revolver (with extremely rare exceptions that are pricey and mostly pointless for self defense).
.380 auto = tiny autos such as the Walther PPK or Keltec P3AT or Ruger LCP.
.38 super = "Race gun", meaning mostly shot in non-defensive oriented guns that are 40 ounces or heavier, and premium defensive ammo is scarce.
9mm = The "everyman" cartridge. Light recoil, cheap ammo, lots and lots of choices.
left out the 9mm Makarov (a.k.a. 9x18) It is usually pretty cheap in ammo cost and the guns are pretty reasonable, too. The cartridge case is right between the 380 ACP and the 9mm Parabellum (9x19). And then, there's the .357 Sig just to be comprehensive.

Happy Shopping/Shooting

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Old September 2, 2009, 07:40 PM   #23
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I would second the recommendation of a Ruger LCR. They are dead simple to operate, have a beautiful trigger, and are nicely balanced. I found it more pleasant than a comparable S&W.

In contrast, I evaluated the Ruger LCP but decided against it. Didn't like the trigger pull or the lack of sights. I bought a Sig P238 (with night sights)instead.

You will not find a .38 in a semiauto (other than some oddball), but you could find either a .380 or 9mm. A 9mm Glock 26 or 19 is a fine, fine weapon. That is my daily carry. The 9mm cartridge can be quite powerful (moreso than .45ACP in some loads), and certainly is a good contender vs. .40S&W, which may be a bit much of a recoil.

My vote would be Ruger LCR, 9mm Glock 26 or 19. You could look at .380, but be warned that ammo is very difficult to find right now in .380. Of all the gun shops here in Portland, Oregon, there is only one that has .380 in stock right now, and that is only until the word gets out (i.e., it'll probably be gone tomorrow). Searching online is pretty tough, too. If you are going to buy a .380, I would obtain a cache of .380 ammo first.
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