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Old April 22, 2012, 09:51 AM   #26
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Model 10 or a FiveseveN.
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Old April 22, 2012, 11:17 PM   #27
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My father died last November. He was not a big firearm fan like me but he had to qualify with them for over 30 years while working for the Federal Prison System and we always had a pistol or two in the house for home defense.

I use him as an example because he was an older man and did not routinely practice shooting like most of us. He liked simplicity and ease of use. Over the years, the main gun in the house was a Smith & Wesson .38spcl service revolver. Later on, it was replaced with a Kahr MK9. The Kahr seemed to be a better choice because of the lack of recoil (semiauto and all steel) and the trigger was smooth and lighter but still plenty long, so an accidental discharge is not anymore likely than with the revolver.

That said, 84 years old is up there in age. I think you need to be sure he is physically and mentally capable of safely handling a firearm. (Also, you should look at his driving ability.) MOST people that age are lacking EITHER the physical or mental sharpness to drive a vehicle. If he does "limited driving" then his firearm use should be limited too. (e.g. Supervised by you or someone else.)
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Old April 23, 2012, 12:29 PM   #28
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Many of us will make it to 84, and will need a handgun during our daily rounds and for home defense, a handgun to be carried at all times because at 84 one can become a vulnerable target.

At this age a reliable, easy to operate, small handgun is paramount, which unfortunately rules out semi-autos (ie must rack the slide, jams a problem, etc.) and larger-bore handguns such as 44 spl and 45 ACP.

My choice would be a small no-snag J-frame 38 spl S&W 438 with cowboy load ammo, i.e. Black Hills 158gr RNL, an old time effective, yet recoil friendly cartridge.

Good luck.
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Old April 23, 2012, 12:57 PM   #29
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Dad wants me to get him a gun

Take your DAD shooting. A local indoor range or just outdoors.
See how well he can handle a gun. If he has the necessary dexterity my
recommendation is a RUGER SP-101. The caliber should be worked out
between you and your dad.
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Old April 23, 2012, 01:41 PM   #30
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Beretta makes a line of small-caliber pistols with tip-up barrels that make them very easy to load. Available calibers are .22, .25, and .32.
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Old April 23, 2012, 02:41 PM   #31
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my dad carried an old model 10 for a long time but has retired it to the sock drawer and for the last some odd years carried a bond derringer in 38.He doesn't do much except feed his horses and tends garden(he is 89)

He has killed a few critters like snakes and stuff, it works great and isn't bad to shoot.The only problem I have is him not cleaning it like he should.He turns me down everytime i offer to clean it.I have taken my gun cleaning kit out there several times and it's still no.
it's better to have a gun on your hip than one to your head
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Old April 23, 2012, 03:02 PM   #32
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I would look for a S&W snubby for him in .38. The older model 60's and 640's are .38 special versions and have better triggers than the current, and the all steel frames will make recoil more manageable. If you go with the airweight revolvers he can always stick to standard .38's if the recoil of the +p's is too much. Also depending on his hand strength a good trigger job and a 14lb rebound spring will help alot with the trigger pull. I do not recommend changing out the mainspring since it could effect reliability and cause light primer strikes.

Now if this is strictly a home defense gun I would go with a model 10 as others suggested. The trigger pull is buttery smooth and even an old timer should have no problem with it. I would rule out semi-autos because I do not know many 80+ year olds who can manipulate a slide very well.

Here is my 640 I picked up for $300 used. Put a 14lb rebound spring from the factory 18lb, and stoned the trigger and polished the internals. I have yet to feel a better trigger on a J frame.

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Old April 25, 2012, 09:15 PM   #33
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You might want to consider a Ruger LCR in .22 cal. You have an 8 shot, soft shooting (low recoil), reliable revolver. A .38 snub nose can be a handful for someone of diminished strength...
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Old September 15, 2012, 11:09 PM   #34
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Solution, thanks for your input

We've had a few discussions, and decided on getting him a 2 way voice pendant. (Competitor to the "I've fallen and I can't...", but with no monthly fee.)

18 months ago he was able to handle several guns, including some of the guns discussed in this thread (especially some of the J Frames). How do we deal with it in 2 - X years? I'm not sure that's an easy answer, and am concerned with a 16 year old burglar, much less a pro, taking it from him.

I sincerely appreciate all of your input.

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Last edited by TXAZ; September 16, 2012 at 02:24 PM.
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Old September 16, 2012, 04:46 PM   #35
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I have a similar thread as this one currently active in the Revolver Forum. What I'm finding interesting is the well thought-out but very diverse recommendations being sincerely offered. I'm starting to understand the stark reality that there is no really good one answer and that I was naive to ever have expected one.
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Old September 22, 2012, 06:11 PM   #36
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My Dad decided he wanted a gun for home defense when he was 81. He chose an S&W revolver in .38 Special. No slide to rack, no levers to remember.

He's comfortable with it, and that's worth more than magazine capacity or ballistics.
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Old September 24, 2012, 09:41 AM   #37
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If this is strictly for SD, I would recommend a jframe revolver with standard pressure .38spl loads as well. Certainly more effective than a .22lr, very little manual dexterity required, recoil should be manageable, and very reliable. The bigger bore size may provide additional intimidation benefits for those up close and personal moments.
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Old September 24, 2012, 10:02 AM   #38
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I agree with the revolver suggestion, but NOT a snubby. A four inch barrel, medium framed revolver that can handle .38Spl +P is fine.
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Old September 25, 2012, 02:22 AM   #39
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I agree with the revolver suggestion, but NOT a snubby. A four inch barrel, medium framed revolver that can handle .38Spl +P is fine.
I agree, a model 10 with a 4" barrel, loaded with 147g wadcutters for quick fallow up shot's (low recoil), and good penetration. Or, some std pressure 158g SJHP's. I use both in my M37 Airweight, first shot a 147.
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Old September 30, 2012, 10:26 AM   #40
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The last thing he probably wants is a complex piece that requires lots of attention.

A simple Ruger or S&W .38 SPL 4" would suffice. If he can't shoot a mild .38 SPL, he probably shouldn't be shooting.
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Old September 30, 2012, 10:35 AM   #41
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A J Frame or LCR with wadcutters.
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Old September 30, 2012, 10:59 AM   #42
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For someone not familiar with hand guns I would recommend a 22lr or 22mag3-4inch barrel 8/9 shot if possible. Then take him out often to shoot. I'm just not a big fan of 38sp stub for older folks. I seen a recent story of a senior in Kentucky I believe who stopped a home invasion with a ruger 10/22, light weight, short, 10 rounds.

I like the idea of any person having the ability to protect themselves sadly 911 usually arrives after the fact.
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Old September 30, 2012, 11:15 AM   #43
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Since the gun is to be used for home defense instead of concealed carry, I really see no advantage to a small handgun. A full-sized semi-auto or revolver will have more weight to soak up recoil, a longer barrel to give higher velocity, and a longer sight radius to make accurate shooting easier. Also, small handguns often have longer, heavier triggers than their fullsize counterparts for a variety of reasons.

If he prefers a revolver, a medium frame gun in .38 Special or larger (depending on what level of recoil he can handle) with a 3" or longer barrel would probably be the best choice. Good guns that fit this category include S&W K-Frames like the Models 10, 13, 15, 19, 64, 65, 66, and 67, S&W L-Frames like the Models 581, 586, 619, 620, 681, and 686, the Ruger "Six Series" revolvers including the Security Six, Police Service Six, and Speed Six, and the Ruger GP100. Colt has also made some good medium-frame revolvers including the Police Positive Special, Official Police, Lawman, Trooper, Python, and King Cobra, but Colt DA revolvers are not longer made, have limited factory support, and relatively few gunsmiths are familiar with them.

If a semi-auto is more to his liking, a full-sized gun (4" barrel or longer with a full-sized grip) in 9mm or larger (again depending on what level of recoil he can handle) would probably be best. While polymer guns are nice and have certain advantages, the extra weight of a metal frame would be advantageous in this particular case because it will help to dampen recoil. Good semi-autos to consider include 1911's, Sig P220-series guns (220, 225, 226, 228, and 229), Beretta 92/96 series, CZ-75/97, S&W 3rd Generation autos, Browning Hi-Power, or even the Walther P38/P5.

Other factors that should be considered are the fit of the gun's grip to your father's hands, what sort of sights he can use easiest, availability of ammunition in his area, complexity of the manual-of-arms/ease of use, the level of recoil he can handle, and of course budget.

If he decides that a long gun would be a better option, you've got a few choices to make, but since you posted this in the handgun forum we can only presume that a handgun is his/your preference.
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Old September 30, 2012, 07:56 PM   #44
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Something no one has mentioned that my wife and I are looking at with MY FIL is where does he live? My 90 year old FIL lives in a retirement home and still has a Model 10 in his closet, and refuses to give it up. We're very concerned that he might decide to handle it one day and have an AD, or think he has a need to use it for SD and shoot it. The problem is that a round could very likely go through the thin sheetrock walls and injure someone else in the retirement home several apartments away.

He was a very active hunter back in the day, but his physical situation has changed greatly in the last 15 years or so. We don't think he's really capable of safely handling a firearm any longer, and we're trying to deal with this situation without making him too angry. I think one day we're just going to have to walk in and pick up his gun and remove it. Always look down the road at any future changes in physical and mental abilities.
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