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Old November 29, 2012, 07:57 PM   #1
cogito
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Options for Wife's Personal Defense Pistol

My wife is very petite (5', 98lbs). She really struggles racking the Bersa Thunder I bought her and can't pull the trigger on the other pistols I have (either because she can barely reach the trigger or it is too hard to pull).

She doesn't want to carry (or store) the pistol with a round chambered or the slide open. Although I've worked with her on techniques to rack the gun, we've decided that if she is going to carry, she needs a pistol that she can EASILY handle.

So, here are the criteria:

1. Small pistol or trigger close to grip, so her fingers can reach
2. VERY VERY easy to rack
3. VERY light trigger
4. Magazine capacity at least 10 rounds
5. Preferably 9mm (don't worry, will be using Critical Defense or similar ammo to get the most stopping power out of caliber)
6. low recoil (so probably metal vs. polymer) -- say <5 ft-lbs
7. Manual Safety (she won't compromise on this)

#2 (and sometimes #3) is what I find very hard to determine from online research.

Thanks.
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Old November 29, 2012, 08:40 PM   #2
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My sister in law has midget size hands; no joke. The M&P series seemed to fit her best. The factory pull is 6.5lbs; I bet she can handle it.

Also in terms of racking a pistol, unless she has a disability my guess is she needs some information on technique. Kathy Jackson, a member here, runs a website called corneredcat.com with lots of helpful tips for women and new shooters that I suggest you check out. I've taught many, many new female shooters and from 8 year olds to 80 year olds and after a little confidence building they'd get it eventually. Decent video here of one technique that works about 90% of the time:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbayNc6D9HY

There are others as well and most are explained at Ms. Jackson's site above.
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Old November 30, 2012, 12:32 AM   #3
chris in va
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Carrying a defensive pistol without a round chambered is not acceptable.

Easy way to convince her of this. Have her draw the gun with one hand.

In addition, flicking off a safety during a stressful encounter requires hours of practice. Couple that with no chambered round and it's a recipe for disaster.
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Old November 30, 2012, 12:36 AM   #4
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I think the SR9c would match your requirements well.
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:15 AM   #5
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Friend, your best bet is to take your wife to a range and rent various handguns until she finds something that she is comfortable with.

That being said--if you are in a position to help make th3e choice, your post positively screams for a 1911 type pistol.

And don't be fooled--I have helped train female officers who have a real problem reaching a trigger on the XD pistols, HK's, SigSauers or even Glocks--but they used and handled a full sized Government Model very well.

If you want a shorter pistol, something along the lines of a Colt Defender would fit the bill. 1911 autos are available in .45 ACP (of course!), but are also readily available in .40 Smith and Wesson or 9mm as well.
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Old November 30, 2012, 02:17 AM   #6
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When I started to read your post about her having trouble racking the slide, I immediately thought of a tip-up barrel design like the Beretta Bob/Tomcat and Taurus PT series. Then I read your other criteria and ruled them out...
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Old November 30, 2012, 03:19 AM   #7
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I would think about an EMP, yes I know its kinda pricey but it is a compact 1911 that is all steel. It shoots quite well for a little gun and if the trigger pull is too much get it tuned. I would get your wife some of those grippers that you squeeze to build finger muscles and they will help with her trigger finger as well as racking a slide.
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Old November 30, 2012, 07:02 AM   #8
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I would try to talking with her more about the chamber being unloaded and having a manual safety. Until you guys get this issue hammered out I think you're going to have a tough time finding a gun. In fact, I wouldn't continue discussing which gun to get until this issue is resolved.

Anyway, have you guys given the S&W Shield any thought? It's capacity is a little low, but should be easy enough to shoot. It also has a manual safety.

You may already have the answer! His and Hers Bersas/PPKs. She is probably familiar with yours so training will be a snap. It has a manual safety, and she could always keep the hammer forward (no slide racking) instead of having an empty chamber, so she would have that redundant safety-safeness she is looking for.

Finally, there are the old, all-metal S&W handguns like the 5906. If the size will work for her then you have all of the other requirements. Minus that first double action trigger pull will be heavy. Again, I come back to the safety and unloaded chamber point.

Last edited by Departed402; December 1, 2012 at 06:01 AM.
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Old November 30, 2012, 07:14 AM   #9
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Does it have to be a semi auto? I am not usually one to suggest something different then what the op asks but it seems like a medium sized .357 revolver loaded with .38 is what you need. Something like a 3 inch Ruger Gp100 with a set of small grips. Double action might be heavy but she has the option of cocking the hammer and it sure is easier to load and chamber with racking a slide. Heck you could even keep an empty chamber under the hammer yet still have a round immediately ready to go. Have her try the guns. Don make choice for her.
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Old November 30, 2012, 08:09 AM   #10
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small and easy to rack usually do not go together. look for something with the biggest slide she can find. the gun doesn't have to be big, but if the slide is tall and wide, she will be able to get a better grip. my wife is tiny, and she can't rack my cz's, but she can handle my p226. i recommend a da/sa pistol, since the slide will be easier to rack after first pulling back the hammer.
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Old November 30, 2012, 08:27 AM   #11
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i have found most women including young daughter cannot rack slide of whatever pistol i have out.
if op does not want snall snub nose revolver-i have several that avoid this problem-then they should go to large gun store and try slides. i do not know of one a smaller female can operate outside of .22 caliber.
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Old November 30, 2012, 10:42 AM   #12
cogito
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Thanks for the suggestions.

Regarding having a round chambered, that is NOT something I would want her to do. It is just something we have discussed (and has been suggested to us).

There are a lot of guns out there that she can rack with proper technique, but the concern is, in a moment of stress, she'll not do it right. BTW, I've also had her cock then rack -- which helps alot, but again, she wants something as simple as possible.

There has been a spate of robberies in the parking lot of our local malls. We live in a VERY safe neighborhood (and we have a monitored alarm system), but my wife also always takes out a gun for her nightstand when I'm away on business. She doesn't want a revolver because she wants to have the gun unloaded at home, but loadable in an instant.

I've had her work with the speedloader for a .38 special we have, but she still wants a semi.

I think what I'm looking for on this thread are specific pistols that users know to have a very very easy slide and light trigger. So, please, keep the specific suggestions coming. I'll then go to local stores, try them out, and if I find one just right, I'll bring her to try it.

Lastly, I've decided to get a D-spring for my stoeger cougar (imho a very good gun for the $). It is actually very easy to rack (vs. her Bersa, my CZ, etc.). She can't pull the trigger, but maybe the D-spring will lighten it enough. It is a bit bigger than she wants, but if I can reduce the trigger, that may be the choice at least for home defense... but still a bit too much for her purse.
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Old November 30, 2012, 10:47 AM   #13
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With their locked breech, the P238 and 938 are both very easy to rack, since they don't require the heavy recoil springs of a blowback design.
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:32 PM   #14
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Based off of your criteria, I would recommend a XD subcompact. My wife is about the same size (5'3", #105) and has petite hands as well. She absolutely loves the XD subcompact wit the pearce grip extension. It meets basically all of your criteria:

It has a small grip circumfrence with a relatively short trigger reach
Tall slide easy to get a firm grip on to rack the slide
Relatively light trigger, 5.5 lbs
13+1 rounds of 9mm
Usually polymer guns have smaller grips than steel framed guns due to not having grip panels
It does have a grip saftey, so without a proper grip on it, the gun wont fire.
Lastly, it has a loaded chamber indicator, so she will know when its loaded.
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:41 PM   #15
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i'll second the xd subcompact. the slide is nice and big, so she can get a good grip, and the trigger is pretty standard for striker fire. a little nicer than the glock IMO.
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Old November 30, 2012, 02:08 PM   #16
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I would nix the XD subcompact in this case because of the low-profile grip safety that locks the slide from moving when it's not depressed. It works well for the majority of people, but someone with small hands who is already struggling with slide racking will almost certainly have trouble with it.

My strong suggestion to you is that you invest in some quality training for yourself and your wife, even before you invest in a gun specifically for her. With just one day on the range with an experienced instructor, you might find that some of the things she's struggling with really should not be a problem after all. That will open up a lot more possibilities for her firearm.

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Old November 30, 2012, 02:17 PM   #17
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^This.
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Old November 30, 2012, 03:13 PM   #18
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Training. Most people who 'can't rack the slide' have simply never learned how to do so. The recoil spring on a 9mm pistol will only be about 16-21 lbs, so you would have to be exceptionally weak (as in, some serious musculoskeletal medical condition, not simply petite) to not be able to learn how.

I have found that some people who are not around guns often have difficulty putting their full strength into manipulating the gun out of a combination of wariness about the gun's dangerous nature and a mild fear of somehow breaking the gun. Treating the gun gingerly will do nothing to make the gun more safe, and I don't think most of us could even physically break a Bryco or Jennings pot metal gun with our bare hands.

Once your wife has the push/pull technique of slide racking down, she should be fine with anything.
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Old November 30, 2012, 04:03 PM   #19
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My wife is essentially the same size and we had a real hard time finding something for her. I learned quickly to not buy what I thought she would want, stupid male ego.....

But anyway, we went to a range and rented three guns: Walther PPK(?? Single stack striker 9), Sig P238 and S&W Shield. She did not like the Sig, too small and hard to control, she was indifferent about the Walther but really enjoyed the Shield so we got her that. This was of course after trying out like 7 different guns between mine and friends. We went to the range last weekend and she was smiling ear to ear. Said she really enjoyed shooting it and had no problems with any of the operations of the gun. She was pretty accurate too. We def found a winner. The recoil was a nonissue as well, she probably put 100+ rounds downrange w no problems at all!

I know it doesn't meet all of your criteria, but definitely give the shield a chance!
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Old November 30, 2012, 05:34 PM   #20
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What about the Walther PK380???

It's a locked breech .380 with a very light spring, so it should be very easy to rack, especially compared to a blowback design like a PPK or Bersa. It has light recoil thanks to the caliber and locked breech, is DA/SA and weighs a very light 19.4 ounces.

Capacity is 8+1, so a little lower than you want, but not bad.

Trigger pull in DA is 11 lbs, while SA is 4 lbs, so that might not work, but recoil would be substantially less than a 9mm.

http://www.smith-wesson.com/wcsstore...ochure_web.pdf

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...06&isFirearm=Y

Last edited by testuser; November 30, 2012 at 05:43 PM.
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Old November 30, 2012, 06:28 PM   #21
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My wife does not like my XD9 or 92FS so we got her a LC9. She ended up hating it. She had the toughest time shooting it, loading the magazine and racking the slide. We took her to the range this last time and she was still having a tough time with it.

So.... I went inside to the shop and got a box of .380 for my Sig P238. She loved it, it was easier to load the magazine, easier to rack the slide, easier to take the safety off, easier to pull the trigger, easier to control and easier to do double taps.

She felt more comfortable with the Sig after one mag then she did with three range trips with the LC9. Much better shooting too.

I have ended up losing my P238 that I had for about two months after wanting one for three years.

She is not adverse to carrying it either..

Bottom line, if your wife is tiny like mine she will probably be more comfortable with something like the P238. I know you were thinking 9mm and a higher round count. But, if it is a choice of getting something she will carry OR getting a higher capacity 9mm I would choose the smaller one that she would actually carry.

I never thought I would get my wife to carry but now she is. Right now she is carrying with no round in the chamber and the safety on. I know it is not ideal but we are taking baby steps here...
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Old December 1, 2012, 12:46 AM   #22
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Most women in know go for the S&W body guard..
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Old December 1, 2012, 03:09 AM   #23
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Quote:
My strong suggestion to you is that you invest in some quality training for yourself and your wife, even before you invest in a gun specifically for her. With just one day on the range with an experienced instructor, you might find that some of the things she's struggling with really should not be a problem after all. That will open up a lot more possibilities for her firearm.
Best answer, right here.
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Old December 1, 2012, 06:16 AM   #24
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If nothing bigger works get a Ruger .22 pistol with a crimson trace.
I've been shooting possums on the run at night in my back yard with mine.
It holds 10, the slide is easy to rack and she can take a felon's eyes out with it.
Zero recoil, ├╝ber fast followup.
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Old December 1, 2012, 08:23 AM   #25
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Why a semi-auto pistol? Seems a Revolver would be a better fit for her....No slide to rack, no safety to fiddle with, no magazine to worry about. J-frame Smiths often fit small and relatively weak hands.

If she's not into guns, she may not have the patience to train with all of the features that make a semi-auto unsuitable for her. Small size autos have little surface to get a grip on for the racking motion, and their recoil and mainsprings are often stronger too...just compounding a difficult situation.

If you're dead set on getting a semi-auto for her...at least take her to a large gun shop or range and let her pick it out herself.

JHMO, Rod
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