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Old April 24, 2013, 01:12 PM   #1
Schwerms
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Arming an Older Woman

A brief bit of background: My 61 year old mother is in the process of going through a rather painful divorce. The other party involved is unstable, and an all around crappy person. Soon, he will be moving out of the house, leaving my Mom alone in a rural area, with nothing to defend herself with other than a dog that would lick an intruder to death. I am writing this to both seek advice and feedback on the conclusions I've reached so far.
She has reached the point where she is ready to apply for her carry permit and purchase a firearm the very second he moves. I've had her shoot multiple times with me, but always just a few rounds here and there in the backyard. While she is not a complete virgin to guns, she's far from proficient at this time. I have been going over the options for what will suit her needs best, and simplicity is one thing that continually enters my mind... The less she has to think about in a time of stress, the better. First question: Revolver or semi? The simplicity of a revolver is alluring, but the long DA trigger pull is likely to make accurate shots harder for her. Also, the issue of capacity comes into play. Like I said, she's no Anney Oakley.
While I haven't ruled out a wheel gun entirely, I am leaning more and more towards a double stack semi-auto, chambered in 9mm. With so many options, I've come up with what I believe to be a good plan: Get her to the range ASAP, and have her shoot as many models as possible in an effort to see what she feels most comfortable with. After that, we head to the gun counter an pick out Mama's gun. DA/SA, striker fired, LEM style actions- Oh, the choices... In regards to striker fired models, I like the XDM a lot for this situation. Enough safety features to ensure it will only fire when intend, but no external safety that could easily be forgotten about in a time of stress.
Oh hell, I could go on for days... I am taking this entire situation very seriously, and I would greatly appreciate everyone's input and suggestions. Thanks guy!
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Old April 24, 2013, 01:18 PM   #2
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You've answered the main question. She has to pick a gun that suits her, and needs to try as many as possible to pick one with which she's comfortable.

Does she have a shotgun in her home? It would be a good thing for her to have available in addition to any handgun she acquires. Possibly something in twenty gauge.
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Old April 24, 2013, 01:25 PM   #3
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Even a .410 is fully up to the job.

Really a .410 is an often overlooked and under-appreciated long gun fully capable of doing the job.

Furthermore, .410s frequently are available in youth models which often fit women better to start with.
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Old April 24, 2013, 01:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
I've come up with what I believe to be a good plan: Get her to the range ASAP, and have her shoot as many models as possible in an effort to see what she feels most comfortable with. After that, we head to the gun counter an pick out Mama's gun.
This. Well done.
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Old April 24, 2013, 01:39 PM   #5
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1. Get an additional dog. One suited for watch dog duty.

2. Get her the book called "Cornered Cat" then get her some self defense firearm training ( not just plinking paper targets). Even taking a hunter safety course would instill some firearms safety. Firearms safety should always be taught before teaching firearms.

3. A full size handgun is easier to shoot but harder to carry. Will she want a house gun or a carry gun? That will determine full size vs. compact. It would be best to learn on a full size handgun. Small guns are hard to master.

4. Closed hammer revolvers are probably the simplest (like a Ruger LCR). A Glock is probably the simplest of the semi-autos to fire.

5. If a shotgun.... then a 20 gauge pump (Remington or Mossberg) or a single shot break open. .410 shotgun is an option. Those Taurus Judge 410 /45colt revolvers might also be an option.

6. For her age and lack of firearm experience the largest caliber she should work up too and eventually carry is probably .38 or 9mm.

7. It would be a very good idea to start with a full size 22 handgun as a training tool to learn the basics before she has to learn recoil management.
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Last edited by twobit; April 24, 2013 at 01:47 PM.
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Old April 24, 2013, 01:41 PM   #6
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You might also let her go visit The Cornered Cat.
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Old April 24, 2013, 02:22 PM   #7
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My 4'11" grandma was an Annie Oakley with her 30-30 but not a handgun, there were none in the house and the 12 gauge was to big for her. I'm inclined to think for house gun a youth model shogun in 20 gauge would fit her needs admirably but not to think about a handgun till you have had her try a variety. Don't discount the revolver either, My grandma's sister in Iowa used her husbands ex service revolver shooting single action to retire a mope who kicked in her door one night. Apparently he didn't believe her when she said she had a gun and when he saw the gun didn't believe she would shoot it. Old Bohunks who grew up on the prairies of South Dakota in the early 1900's didn't scare very easily. You didn't mention your moms size, her hand size or her grip so that and mechanical aptitude will play a role. That and as much range time as you can talk her into will do wonders for her proficiency and confidence level.

Also second her logging into Cornered Cat, and TFL if she is a computer user.
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Old April 24, 2013, 02:54 PM   #8
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You've forgotten the most important thing

You've forgotten the most important thing. As soon as he moves out you need to have a locksmith re-key your Mother's house locks. It isn't "breaking and entering" if he has a key. If he can walk in on her a gun may not help.

Lot's of people don't want to spend the money to re-key locks (about $10 per lock, $20 for a dead bolt). Your area may be different.


After you've done that then you can proceed with all the other recommendations made here. But make sure she is resolved that if the man brakes a window or door she should be resolved to shoot and not be victimized.
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Old April 24, 2013, 03:18 PM   #9
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And 61 sure isn't too old, don't be mislead that age is a big limiting factor. It does have an effect, but mostly this is her being resolved to protect herself from him or anyone else.
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Old April 24, 2013, 03:47 PM   #10
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You might also let her go visit The Cornered Cat.

START THERE
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Old April 24, 2013, 04:42 PM   #11
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Seek expert advice starting with PAX here on TFL and her website: Cornered Cat.com.
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Old April 24, 2013, 04:54 PM   #12
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First change the locks, then look at other house security issues such as window locks. As others have suggested, have her visit The Cornered Cat. The site contains a lot of excellent information.
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Old April 24, 2013, 05:08 PM   #13
shouldazagged
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Quote:
And 61 sure isn't too old, don't be mislead that age is a big limiting factor. It does have an effect, but mostly this is her being resolved to protect herself from him or anyone else.
I'll second that. Sixty-one isn't that old if she's in reasonable health. And doesn't think of herself as really old.

I'm qualified to say that, I'm 75...
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Old April 24, 2013, 05:11 PM   #14
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And after she has a look at the Cornered Cat, have a look at this thread in which some of the same issues were discussed.
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Old April 24, 2013, 05:33 PM   #15
Siouxlynn
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Female Opinon

I am 66. I carry a S&W .38 Detective special and a Glock Model 22 in .40. I am very accurate at 50 yards. I did not need to go through a divorce I just started paying attention to the news..No one is going to blind side me. I am afraid that our society is headed in the direction of everyone needing to carry.
God Bless American and she really needs it.
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Old April 24, 2013, 11:26 PM   #16
JimmyR
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I agree with the suggestions about improving the home's physical security.

Plan of action in regards to a firearm purchase, IMHO.

1) Get Grandma TRAINING- By learning from a professional, she can learn proper technique, and get quality instruction on using of handguns, in addition to the laws related to firearm use. I know in my state (IN) a person can keep a firearm in the home without a License to Carry a Handgun.

2) get Grandma HER GUN- Once she has recieved some training, it's time to pick out a firearm. Some choices need to be made. Hopefully, many of the questions will be answered based on the training session.
2a) FUNCTION: What will the gun be used for- home defense, concealed carry, bedside weapon, animal pests, etc.?
2b) PHYSICAL ABILITY: What can she fire competantly? Can she rack a slide easily, can she manage the recoil of a 20 guage, can she manage the grip of a revolver, etc?

3) Get Grandma PRACTICE- Keep her shooting, and continue to train as she is able.
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Old April 24, 2013, 11:39 PM   #17
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I gave my mom a .38 wheel gun and 20 Gauge shotgun to keep at home with loads tailored to being easy to shoot, but still effective for anti-thug use. Can't get much simpler than that. She definitely wouldn't want anything remotely complicated or devoid of a real safety.
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Old April 25, 2013, 08:25 AM   #18
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If your mom is not familiar with handguns, I'd suggest a .357 revolver loaded with some good 38 special defensive loads. S&W makes some really good 8-round .357 revolvers. I think Taurus might have 8-round revolvers as well.

Shotgun - someone suggested .410. It'll get the job done, but if it's just a double barrel, you only get two shots. Pump or semi-auto - perhaps too complicated.
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Old April 25, 2013, 03:05 PM   #19
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Take a look at the Mossberg 500 HS410 pump shotgun. It only weighs 5.5lbs, holds 9 rounds of .410 and has a pistol style foregrip. A good friend's 12 yr old son & 10 yr old daughter do quite well with it.
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Old April 25, 2013, 05:48 PM   #20
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Ahh, go all in and get her a Saiga .410, pistol gripped with the 30 round drums
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Old April 25, 2013, 05:58 PM   #21
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There's a fairly new training facility near you in southern Ohio.
Can't think of the name, but a web search should find it.
The type of gun your Mother will be able to handle will change dramatically, after getting good instruction.
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Old April 25, 2013, 07:39 PM   #22
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I love my .45, but it is tough to reassemble (keeping the slide back long enough to get the slide catch in the notch). She needs to know how to fieldstrip it, clean it, reassemble it, and how to clear a jam. If that is too much for her, a .357 with .38 special rounds is a fun gun to shoot. And don't forget the hearing protection and a good gun safe or lock.

The important thing is, take her to the gun range and have her try, more than once, any gun she wants. She needs to feel comfortable with it. If you can find a woman instructor, all the better! It can get kind of intimidating when it's only guys behind the counter. And check the shelters; they are full of big, wonderful dogs who would love to be her buddy and protector.
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Old April 27, 2013, 01:17 AM   #23
Schwerms
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Thank you to everyone for your responses! "Cornered Cat" is now at the top of my must watch list. I am certain I can give her the training she needs- its more a matter of finding a sidearm she feels most comfortable with. Sadly, a flood took my 22 pistol out of the equation. She'll cope with 9mm, though. The thought of a long gun in the hands of a scared woman makes me worry - I know how easily a muzzle can be swung in a struggle. In my mind, I'm pretty much sure Momma needs a pistol. Range time will tell, though... If I'm not confident in her ability to put rounds on target after a few hundred shots, a low recoil shotgun may be in order (don't judge- ammo is precious these days!). Thanks again, guys!
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Old April 27, 2013, 05:02 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwerms View Post
I am certain I can give her the training she needs
With all due respect, I would consider having someone else train her. Most of the people I have dealt with, including my own experience, seem to gain more from instruction given by an unrelated professional as opposed to a family member. Your results may vary, but you might want to consider whether or not your mother might benefit more from an "outsider" training her.
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Old April 27, 2013, 06:54 AM   #25
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How strong is your mom? The reason I ask is I recently went shooting with a female friend of mine (25 years old). She is very petite and had difficulty manipulating the slide on my semi-autos. While she was able to do it, it was a real struggle for her. A wheel gun is probably the best option if your mom's hand strength isn't up to the task. I would recommend that you have the trigger worked on since most revolvers have long heavy trigger pulls. Most people recommend against cocking a double action revolver in a self defense situation since the trigger is so light in single action. A small 5 shot revolver is probably ideal, but make sure it has nice grips on it. My friend had a .38 special revolver that kicked quite a bit and hurt her hand when she shot it. To be honest it hurt my hand too. While the gun had rubber grips, it didn't cover the back of the grip and the frame of the gun recoiled directly into my hand.

The other option is to go with a little Beretta with a tip up barrel. I bought my wife a Beretta Tomcat in .32 since she isn't able to rack the slide on my semi-autos. Semi-autos are much more efficient for concealed carry since they can be much slimmer than revolvers (no cylinder). For the same sized gun, the semi-auto will have a longer barrel which gives higher velocities and better accuracy. For the same size, semi-autos typically hold more rounds and reloads are much easier to carry since they are flatter. While revolvers can be loaded very quickly, most people can reload a semi-auto much faster.

If hand strength isn't an issue, a good option might be the Kahr P9. I personally carry a PM9, but the small size only allows me to get 2 fingers on the grip. That makes it harder for novices to shoot well. Another good option may be a sub-compact Glock such as the 26 if she hands are big enough to hold the fat grip.

Best of luck to you and your mom. A few things to possibly consider doing immediately:
- Already mentioned above but... Change locks.
- Buy her some pepper spray such as Fox Labs.
- Get a monitored alarm system.
- Install a CCTV system in her home.
- install arrive way alert system such as http://www.drivewayalert.com/?gclid=...FUyY4AodbzwA4g
- Create a "safe room" with a reinforced door, strong locks, and good hinges.

I am not crazy about getting a aggressive dog since she may not be able to handle it. Besides, dogs can always be poisoned or shot.

Hope this helps!
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