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Old September 11, 2004, 06:21 PM   #51
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Heloo Magic92,

There is a ton of advice here, some good, some not so good. My wife has the same problem as you. She cannot operate the slide on anything bigger than a .22LR automatic, and not all of those. I've had her 'test' operate just about every pistol and revolver I can think of. I ended up with a Beretta Model 21. This is a very small, light semi-automatic in .22LR. While this particular cartridge is not the thunderous 'man-stopper' that some might prefer, it does have some advantages.

These advantages are, it does not recoil very much, and it does not have a huge scary flash. It is true that it isn't the most effective handgun round available. So what? It is unlikely that you will be facing more than one or two people intent on doing you harm. The Model 21 holds 7 rounds (cartridges or bullets, if you will). Since it has a 'tip-up' barrel like the .32 caliber Tomcat Beretta and the Model 86 Cheetah, you can load a round in the chamber without dealing with 'racking' the slide. This gives you eight bullets, meaning you can shoot four each at two people, if needed, or two each at three attackers, with a couple of spares. Two or three .22 caliber rounds will discourage most people from continuing to attack another, even if they don't kill immediately. The Model 21 is a double action pistol, meaning that once you have a round in the chamber using the tip up feature, all you have to do is pull the trigger to fire the weapon. It is fairly simple, light, with not a ton of recoil, and if you shoot until it is empty, and hit what you are shooting at, it will accomplish what you intend, if you intend to enable your own survival as unharmed as possible.

Revolvers are also a good choice, but only if you have no particular problem mustering the strength to pull the trigger in the double action mode. They are extremely simple, as has been noted. Very safe, in the sense that they are easy to check loaded or not, and negate all of the strength issues regarding slides. The double action trigger certainly requires no more strength than a double action semi-auto pistol, on a properly set up weapon. There are several high quality revolvers available, and at not great expense. Smith & Wesson, Models 10, 15, 36, etc, to mention a few of that brand. Ruger's SP 101 is also popular with the ladies. There are others. The 'LadySmith' is just a version of the Model 36 from S&W. If the double action trigger of a S&W pistol is too hard, they can be adjusted by a competent gunsmith, within acceptable limits, without a large investment in money or time.

As some here have already advised, it is best to go to a few stores, and find one that the staff will let you test a few examples of some or all of the wepons mentioned here. This is not hard to do, in my experience. Even the crustiest, most obstinate gun store sales person will usually go a long way to assist someone in your situation. They will normally give you every consideration, and a great deal of time. All you have to do is ask. Don't worry about anything. We all started somewhere.

I hope this helps. As others have already mentioned, you have already made the largest and hardest decision, which is to take responsibility for yourself. There are a great many people who will be happy to help show you the way down the path you have chosen.


Last edited by trapshooter; September 12, 2004 at 08:39 AM.
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Old September 12, 2004, 07:58 PM   #52
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Thanks to all

I want to thank everyone for your input. I have learned so much by your reply's. I am trying to find a gun store that has a wide selection.I live in Indiana . Any suggestions? I am a little concerned because of my hands. I have a neuromuscular disability that exercise will not strengthen. My hands not only lack grip strength, but my fine motor skill are greatly deminished as well. But thanks to all of you I at least know where to start.
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Old September 12, 2004, 08:14 PM   #53
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Hmmm, not scientific, but I figure if you can handle a full tea kettle you can probably handle a middle weight revolver OK. You will, of course need some training and practice, but I think you'd be fine with a S&W Ladysmith or equivalent. You might wnat to PM Preacherman for a more informed opinion, as he works with handicapped and older folks on self-defense issues, and he's a great resouce in that respect. Good luck & stay safe.
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Old September 13, 2004, 08:43 AM   #54
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Magic92 said:

I need a hand gun that can protect me and is very easy to load and fire .
Odd no one noticed the phrasing and pointed out that no gun can or will protect her. She can use a gun to protect herself, but having a gun, no matter how simple to opertate, is not sufficient. She must have the will - she can develop the skill - to put her own safety above that of an intruder who means her harm.

Pax posted a poem on THR about this.

My first thought was a k-frame Smith, or Ruger Security Six, Speed Six, or the like - with the admonition to forgo .357 mag ammo (in the house) in favor of .38 (maybe Nyclads if still available). However, many of y'all have pointed out that (almost) anybody can learn to shoot any gun, if they set their mind to it - so don't rule out anything until you've tried it. Training is fundamental to safety as well as skill.

The point is, having a gun is not enough, Magic92 needs to learn to handle and shoot whatever gun she chooses, and needs to make the decision up front that she will use it as necessary to defend herself.

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Old September 17, 2004, 05:11 PM   #55
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Many ladies have a problem racking the slide of the auto-matic. There are some good small revolvers out there, and since you are not a "gun nut" like most of the other's here I might make some suggestions that will seem "stupid" to them.

The main thing about a firearm is that you don't really, ever want to have to use it!

In the event you do have to use it, the gun should be as simple to operate as possible. Point, pull the trigger, also a couple of screams while your shooting will usually cause the subject of your attention to flee!

This brings us back to the revolver.

There is a "ladysmith" Smith & Wessojn which is designed for women, small hands, it is in a reasonable caliber for home defense.

However, there is also a Beretta 32 caliber, auto, with a tip up barrel which means you don't have to have the muscular strength to pull back the slide. I believe it is in Double action only. I believe that this gun is also made in the "cheap" inexpensive .22 caliber. The main thing about owning a gun is being familiar with how to operate it, and that like anything else in life means lots of practice!

The .22 is about the cheapest caliber to practice with. Perhaps purchase one in .22 and the other in 32 or better yet a 380.

Your best bet would be to go to the local range and see if they know of a woman NRA instructor (National Rifle Association)...women's needs in firearms are a little different than what most men would require.

If any of us can help you, please feel free to ask us questions...I get on this website and am amazed at what some of these people have figured out!

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Old September 17, 2004, 05:50 PM   #56
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Hello again:

Was thinking about your situation...I don't know what your general overall health is, but there is one other gun which hasn't been mentioned.

The North American Arms Derringer...this gun is about the size of a lighter, it is stainless steel, and will fire 5 shots.

The gun people consider this gun to be one step above fang and nails, it is really a very, very, last, desperate use weapon!

Its advantage is that it is small, stainless steel, and reliable.

Its downside, it is SINGLE ACTION ONLY, very slow to reload, and use's a .22 caliber bullet out of a shot barrel....again, I repeat, this would be one step above fang and nail...however, most Gremlins don't really know what your using, combined with a blood curdling scream and the bullets wizzing by them, their normal reaction is to RUN LIKE HELL!

Up close, it would be most efficent in ruining a Gremlins "love" life!
Why bite like a fly when you can STING like a bee!

It is available in 22 magnum, but with the small barrel I don't know if that would be much advantage!
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Old September 27, 2004, 01:59 AM   #57
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Normaly I would say GIT A GLOCK!
However in this case I'll have to recomend a good old fashioned S&W K frame .38Spl. or .357Mag. in a 3 or 4 inch barrel loaded up with some good quality defense .38Special +P loads. A model 14, 15 or 19 come to mind or even one of their stainless counterparts.

Good luck!
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Old September 27, 2004, 08:30 PM   #58
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My wife has a similar problem.

Here are some guns that she is able to shoot and operate easily.

Colt Govt. .380.
Colt Mustang or Mustang +II
Keltec P32
Beretta Model 86

Personally, I'd recommend the Beretta as a starting point. It's probably the most shootable gun of the bunch. Next would be the Colt Govt. .380.

I typically recommend revolvers for beginners, but if you go that route, DON'T get a small revolver. The DA trigger pull and the recoil can be difficult to deal with for someone with hand strength issues. Go with a 4" bbl .38 like a S&W 64 or perhaps a Ruger Speed Six or Security Six. If you do think a small revolver is a good fit, PLEASE shoot one before you make the decision. My wife has found revolvers to be a very poor choice for her.

If nothing on the list above fits you, I recommend that you either go with 9mm in a full size pistol (try some to see if they work--the H&K USP is another gun my wife likes), or .380 in a relatively large pistol. The Colt .380 pistols are an exception as they have locked breech which lowers the recoil impulse.
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Old September 27, 2004, 09:22 PM   #59
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I just wanted to add another nod towards the S&W K frame.
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Old October 4, 2004, 02:09 PM   #60
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I like the Beretta 86 Cheetah idea the best in your particular situation, because it can be loaded without having to rack the slide, then manually cocked, and carried "cocked and locked" (safety on with a round in the chamber and the hammer cocked, Magic).

Now, having said that, the other advice here about trying several things out is good advice. So, after having tried out several guns, then I would say get a small revolver chambered in .38 special IF, AND ONLY IF, you have enough strength and finger length to pull the trigger in its double-action ("normal") mode. I would suggest that you forget all about any idea of cocking the thing each and every time you plan to use it, because, as has been pointed out, the trigger in single-action mode (after you manually cock the hammer back) is extremely LIGHT, and therefore dangerous, unless you're very well trained, both when it comes to possibly accidentally shooting someone (a "friendly"), and when it comes time to decock, if you don't end up firing. So a revolver is preferred for its simplicity of loading and using IF and only if you can easily pull the longer double-action trigger with your index finger (trigger finger). But if you find that you cannot reliably, then the Beretta 86 Cheetah becomes an almost perfect's a more powerful round than the .22 which some have suggested. It's chambered in .380 auto, aka .380 acp, and has the tip up barrel for ease of loading. Then, you can cock it and carry cocked and locked. Have someone explain "cocked and locked" to you if you don't understand what I mean. Then, the only things requiring strength will be loading the magazine (not too difficult, and someone can help you with this), and also I suppose cocking the pistol initially after loading it - you can use both thumbs to accomplish this, without help, I should think. Then, if you ever need to use the gun, it will re-cock and re-load itself each time you fire after you initially pull back the hammer before firing the first shot. Remember, if you carry cocked and locked, you must train so that taking the safety off in an emergency becomes second nature to you.

Another thing that would be helpful to know is how much of a budget are you on? A .22, being relatively inexpensive, might be good for you if you're on a tight budget. A .38 revolver is also far less expensive than some of the autoloaders that have been mentioned.

Don't forget, whatever you end up getting, you must train/practice with it, in order that you'll be proficient with it if and when you ever need to use it. As someone pointed out, a gun by itself can't protect you - YOU must train with it until you're comfortable with it. And a lot of responsibility for safety comes with becoming a gun owner. Please carefully peruse and commit to memory the 4 rules of gun safety - someone posted a link above.

Also, welcome!

Also, if you don't mind making your location public on this board, then post your location and then see if any helpful TFL members (people on this board) live in your area. Chances are that someone here would be willing and able to meet up with you or help you over the phone. You can private message someone that you see lives in your area if you like.

The Colt Mustang or Gov't .380 are also good ideas, BUT, if you're able to rack a slide, then a 9mm slide isn't much different from a .380 slide, in terms of strength needed, so in that case, I'd just get a Springfield XD pistol in 9mm and be done with it - then you'd have a powerful but manageable round for self-defense in a gun that has revolver-like simplicity. Also, remember that the amount of strength needed to rack a slide on a semi-auto pistol is a function of not only the weight of the spring, but also of the length of the slide. Therefore, a full sized semi-auto pistol, with say, a 4.5-5" barrel, in 9mm, with a 17 pound recoil spring is going to be EASIER to make function (rack the slide) than a gun with a compact slide - say, a 3.5-4" barrel, even if other factors remain the same (17 pound recoil spring), if I'm not mistaken. Thus, if you do get a semi-auto (without a tip up barrel like the Beretta Cheetah), then I'd get a full-sized one. Unless of course, a full-sized gun doesn't meet your needs in terms of carrying/storing - that will depend on the way in which the gun is employed in self-defense - is it a home defense gun? Or are you going to carry it? If the latter, how? In a purse, or in a holster, or what? That's a whole nuther can of worms, as to the best size and configuration for different modes of carry. But assuming this is for a home defense scenario, then I'd get a full-sized gun if getting a semi-auto. If getting a .38 special revolver, I'd get a 3" barreled, small framed revolver.
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Old October 4, 2004, 04:19 PM   #61
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I, too, am from Indiana and I would highly recommend the following two stores if you are near the greater Indianapolis area.

1. Bradis Guns (

This is the friendliest and most helpful gun store I've ever been to, hands down. Decent prices and great people. They will cut you deals, so don't pay asking price. Often they have the best deals on Sunday, as business seems to be slow.

2. Another place is Plainfield Shooting Supply. Plainfield is in, you guessed it, Plainfield! The people there are nice enough and all their guns are cost + 10% mark-up + tax. Good deals on lots of guns. They have a little bit of everything as well.

Anyway, if you go to Bradis and talk to Donna tell her the Bible College kid told you to visit.. everytime I go there and buy something I end up discussing theology with her.

Happy hunting for a new gun.
Caution: Author suffers from foot in mouth disease.
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Old October 4, 2004, 07:56 PM   #62
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This poses a couple of problems that have been addressed, ease of operation and lack of hand strength. They are at odds with one another.

I would recommend a revolver of a S&W J frame size if you can reach and pull the trigger 5 times in a row.
The revolver is easier to reload, and poses no problem as to strength in reloading. It has the disadvantage of a long and heavier trigger pull than a semi auto, and you might not be able to reach or pull the trigger.

The semi auto has the advantage of a light trigger, but if your hands are not reasonably strong, you will be unable to cycle the action to unload and load it. As has been stated, however, the Beretta semi automatics that have the tip up barrel might just fill the bill for both requirements. If the revolver is too difficult for you, then the Beretta is the way to go. Other semi automatics will be too difficult for you to cycle.

Good advice has been given, and it would be great if you can try several guns before buying one. You might find that the clerks at the gun shops know less than the average gun owner. Don't depend on the gun store clerks.

Best, and it is wise to realize that you need some ability to defend yourself. Ask qny question here, and someone will be able to give a good answer.
Ecclesiastes 12:13  ¶Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
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Old October 5, 2004, 10:18 AM   #63
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My hands not only lack grip strength, but my fine motor skill are greatly deminished as well.
This sentence is important, and strengthens my belief that a revolver is the best choice.

A revolver has one exterior switch - a nice big plunger on the side, and the ejector rod can be worked with an elbow (admittedly not the recommended method, but you get the point ) An auto has a number controls. Often these are small and require a great deal of effort to operate under stress, even for those who are highly trained and in top physical condition. Also, the revolver will be far easier to maintain, as routine cleaning does not require disassembly, which will undoubtedly be difficult for someone in magic92's situation.
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Old October 5, 2004, 12:25 PM   #64
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Fit is the most important thing

Hi Magic

Been gone for a while and just came across your question. There are some
really good answers. I, and some others, teach classes, for women only,
that are for gals with little or no experience with guns. We are of the
opinion that the most important thing about any gun is that it truly fits
your hands.
We let the gals try and shoot a very large number of different guns,
revolvers and autos. I firmly believe that as long as the gun fits a woman
can handle an automatic just fine. There are a few more moving parts
and a little different manual of arms than those for a revolver - however
any one who can cook 2 things on the stove and get them to be ready
at the same time can handle an automatic. Heck I carry an auto and I
can't seem to get the cooking thing to come out right.
I would reccommend that you get a copy of Effective Defense written by
Gila Hayes of Firearms Accademy of Seattle. She is an excellant teacher
and writer and her book covers some of the fit questions. She is also
just a real great person. It is an excellant defense book for women.

Take Care.... Stay Safe.... Only Good Hits Count
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Old October 31, 2004, 03:52 PM   #65
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need a gun that is easy to use

hello magic.... a taurus model85 ul 38special is a very light revolver. my lady has one and is very small handed and shoots very well... ask your local firearms shop or go too

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Old November 10, 2004, 09:51 PM   #66
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Get a Glock 19. It holds 16 altogether with high cap mags. It is very easy to use and fire. Very easy to clean to. If you want more info PM me.
Always will be a Glock Fan
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Old November 11, 2004, 12:57 AM   #67
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So how does the G19 solve her hand strength problem with racking the slide, sir?
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Old November 11, 2004, 05:53 AM   #68
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A viable option to consider might be a Ruger 10/22 semi auto carbine for home defense.

The American Rifleman's Armed Citizen section often contains reports of someone defending house/home & life/limb with a .22 rifle or carbine.

While far from an ideal choice (IMHO), they do work and don't require anywhere near the level of dexterity required for proficient use of a handgun.
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Old November 11, 2004, 07:46 AM   #69
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I have considerably less experience in this sort of thing than most of the posters above, but I'd echo the "get training first" advice heartily, and I'd suggest a small rifle or (better yet) light shotgun instead of a pistol. They are far far easier to manipulate and aim, if it is purely a home-defense firearm then concealability is not a factor, and the firepower (for a shotgun anyway) is both more controllable, more tolerant of aiming problems (via the shotshell pattern) and less likely to go through walls.

Here's what the NRA has for Indiana training courses:
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