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Old October 30, 2013, 08:28 PM   #1
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Handguns and arthritis

I am beginning to have some trouble with my hands. Since my fathers side of the family often has arthritis so bad it twists their fingers, i figure it may be in my future. I am thinking any future gun purchases might do well to take this into account.
I would like to hear from any of you with arthritis. Which type of gun is easiest for you to use. Autoloaders have slides to manipulate and double actions have fairly stiff trigger pulls. Am wondering if a single action revolver might not be best. They have light triggers, large grips and could be cocked with the heel of your left hand if necessary? Would appreciate any and all input from those who have trouble with their hands.
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Old October 30, 2013, 10:26 PM   #2
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I get flare ups from time to time. Hurts so bad I can't close my fingers on any gun. It is really debilitating when it comes to handgun shooting.

I find a lot of exercise helps keep the joints limber. Always working my fingers in a rolling motion while sitting at TV or reading. Does help.
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Old October 30, 2013, 11:52 PM   #3
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While I’m probably stating the obvious larger guns tend to be easier on the hands since the larger mass of the gun dissipates the recoil a little better than smaller guns. I’d also be a little proactive and have a discussion with a Rheumatologists and what steps they might recommend to minimize the progression of the condition.
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Old October 31, 2013, 08:41 AM   #4
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I have arthritis plus the result of a couple of hand operations for Carpel Tunnel years ago. I find using Hogue mono grips as they help allot holding the gun.
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Old October 31, 2013, 09:46 AM   #5
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I have arthritis in both wrists, and cannot rack the slide on any auto. I recently was in the market for a carry type pistol, and tried a small 357 thinking I could load 38's for it. Couldn't handle that either. Settled on a SP101 in 327, with Hogue monogrips.

I practice with 32 long or light 32 Mag loads I load myself, and carry factory 327's. I figure if I need to use it, a couple rounds would be the least of my worries at the time.

One word of caution though. I found the 32 caliber round so fascinating that I have subsequently started collecting them. I now have five, looking for more.
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Old October 31, 2013, 11:56 AM   #6
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Lighter rounds, heavier guns, padded grips, and exercise for hand strength.

Beretta has a tip up barrel pistol that saves you from racking the slide. It is a pretty light gun though. Model 21 Bobcat
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Old October 31, 2013, 03:03 PM   #7
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A double action revolver used as a single action when your hands are being a pain?

Autoloaders are the easiest to hold and shoot, though.
There's lots of ways to rack a slide without straining your hands.
Like adding a slide racker-rear sight replacement.
These are designed for guns with optic sights, but can be welded to regular open sights, too.
Or just be crude about it, and push the front sight/top of the slide against a table top.
Fingers off the trigger, of course.
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Old October 31, 2013, 03:17 PM   #8
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How timely . Just got 2 shots in the hand the other day for arthritis. i'll bee watching this thread for sure.
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Old October 31, 2013, 04:11 PM   #9
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I have arthritis in both hands and wrists.../ good and bad days....but I still shoot about 10 boxes a week thru my handguns ( 9mm to .357 mag ) and about 4 boxes of shotshells a week...( and I'm in my 60's now )....

Key is reducing recoil ....lighter loads(reloading your own ammo really helps), heavier guns, and picking guns that fit your hands - and to some extent maybe having guns with rubber grips, or wearing shooting gloves ( like a pair of winter golf gloves ) might help.

I shoot more 9mm than anything else in my handguns ( a 1911 in 9mm ...and I carry a 1911 in .45 acp ) ...but on bad weeks, I don't shoot the .45 acp. When I shoot my revolvers....I don't go with a .44 mag very often / instead I favor .357 mag ...and on bad days I'll shoot .38 spl's in them...

Today as an example ...knuckles on my shooting hand are not very good ...and I'm going to the range this afternoon ...making it a revolver day ....a S&W model 617 ( .22 ) ....a model 66 2 " (K frame) a model 19 in a 4" (K frame ) both .357 mag....and a Freedom Arms single action in .357 mag.../ if the 2" and 4" K frames bother me, I won't shoot them much ...and go back to the .22 or to the Single Action.../ the large frame Freedom Arms is heavy and it fills my hand - so its easy on my hand. I have 4 boxes of
.357 mag ....and 400 rds of .22 .../ and the point is to have some fun / do some shooting without beating my hands up.
a steel 1911 9mm easy on my its become my primary range gun.

I wouldn't want to own a small scandium frame revolver in .357 mag....vs the older steel guns ( like the model 19's or 27's that I have - K and N frames)....the big N frames ( S&W ) are easy on my hands...K frames can batter my knuckles a little ...( so I put on a pair of light golf rain gloves - helps a little ).

Last edited by BigJimP; October 31, 2013 at 04:16 PM.
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Old October 31, 2013, 04:13 PM   #10
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First of all, I suffer from osteo-arthritis which is not the bone twisting rhumatoid arthritis. It is often uncomfortable, but not a killer like RA.

My favorite pistol is an STI Trojan in 9mm. I shoot a 125 cast bullet over 4.0 grs 231 with a 9 pound spring. It is mild and allows range sessions of over a hundred rounds before I am reminded to quit.

Using a heavy handgun with light recoil allows me to continue shooting handguns.

A .22 rf in a Ruger 22/45 is great but I can't afford rim fire ammo comparted to casting and reloading 9mm.
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Old October 31, 2013, 04:30 PM   #11
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I don't shoot my big bore magnums in full mag loads anymore.
My hands are not what they use to be and yes Aurthur sure shows his ugly head when it is cold and damp out side.
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Old October 31, 2013, 04:52 PM   #12
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find an older Beretta cheetah. .380acp isn't going too far down the food chain, tip up barrel means no racking of the slide, descent sized gun without being too heavy or too light.
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Old October 31, 2013, 05:49 PM   #13
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I have osteoarthritis. I've had carpal tunnel release surgery on both hands and thumb joint reconstruction on both hands. Both surgeries were done at the same time on one hand. Months later they were both done on the other hand. The first couple of days after the surgeries were extremely painful. Prior to the surgeries I had very little grip and was dropping things frequently. I was worried that I would not be able to install and climb tree steps to hunt deer from tree stands. The surgery was not a cure for osteoarthritis but it provided a lot of relief. I continue to hunt deer from tree stands with a bow and firearms. My strength of my grip is not as good as it was before the onset of the arthritis, but I can still shoot handguns. A very good "fit" is very important for me with handgun grips. "Ugly" Hogue rubber grips are very helpful. I still shoot handguns ranging from a Ruger LCP .380 to a S&W 629 .44 Mag with an 8 3/8" barrel. My favorite is my Ruger Mk II stainless bull barrel .22.
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Old November 1, 2013, 03:31 AM   #14
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I have pretty messed up hands, too many years of working on cars, fighting with drunks when I was a bouncer, and getting my hands chilled from holding a cold handrail to the point I could barely move them afterwards have caused a lot of wear and tear. That handrail deal was about 32 years ago, and my hands were never the same since that night at Irwindale Raceway. Both my thumbs have "trigger finger", and pop loudly sometimes. It's a rare day my hands don't hurt anymore. I did a minor job unpacking some radio antennas a few hours ago, and they are throbbing pretty badly while I'm typing this. Between my neck, back, knees, shoulders, and hands, I'm a mess. It's not a big deal when I shoot, unless it's a gun with a lot of recoil. A few shots, and I hurt for days. Since all these problems run in my family, I always expected to get them.
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Old November 1, 2013, 07:08 AM   #15
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Several of my fingers are twisted 90*. Makes typing a beech among other things. I've had carpal surgery on both hands and severe problems with both shoulders.
I don't shoot 44 mags nearly as much as I used to for sure. My suggestion is to keep looking for grips that are comfortable as whatever happens with the hands progresses. I just added some "traction tape" to my carry pistol grip to aid in a positive grip. Most of my revolvers have some type of softish rubber grips with Hogue being preferred.
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Old November 1, 2013, 10:51 AM   #16
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I spent almost all of my 20's turning Pony pipe clamps for a living.

Then there were a few fights back in the day. Plenty of swollen fingers. And a car wreck where my noggin caused severe nerve damage to the back of my right hand. It still hurts to squeeze with that hand 25 years later.

I won't even get into it about my right knee......

I'm 49 now.

I'm right handed so as it turns out in the last year I've been diagnosed with severe cartilage degradation and arthritis in my right thumb where it joins the hand. Feels like a severely jammed finger much of the time and sometimes it swells up pretty good.

Lately I'm starting to get similar pain in the same joint on the left hand.

I have come to the conclusion that pain will likely be a problem with hand guns and any rifle that kicks hard.

I do keep a hand exerciser at work on my desk and one at home next to my recliner. They see frequent use.

In the end I've just decided that I'm not giving up things I enjoy. It'll just have to hurt.

I think about my grandfather. He was a carpenter most of his life. Had to be hurting a lot. Never heard him complain.
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Old November 2, 2013, 02:09 AM   #17
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My wife can shoot about anything, but she can't rack most semi-autos with her pre-arthritic hands. She purchased a Sig P-238. It has, in my eyes, enough stopping power for her, as a Realtor, and is amazingly easy for her to rack the first time and every time. The 5.5 pound trigger pull helps a lot too,

I hand load really soft loads for her to practice with, easy on her hands, but she regularly shoots her SD +P Ammo too. I've loaded a few rounds that won't fully cycle the gun, so she will get a stovepipe once in a while. She can immediately clear the stoppage and continue shooting with no struggle and 100% consistency. (Reloaders: these light rounds are not light enough to produce a squib)

Check out the P238. Its not inexpensive, but it's a sweet little weapon.

Last edited by jib; November 2, 2013 at 04:39 AM.
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Old November 2, 2013, 03:35 AM   #18
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couldbe, the single action revolver would probably work for you as you mentioned. One of mine is a stainless Ruger Blackhawk .357/9MM convertible. Easy to manipulate and very soft to shoot with .38 Spcl. ammo. It is heavy though. Some DA revolvers can be tuned for a very light DA pull, and of course have the SA option. In autos, I found the pre B CZ '75s to have very light recoil springs,and the slides were very easy to cycle. I don't know about current production CZs. Also, some 9MM 1911s come with 10# recoil springs and, like the CZs, have slides that are very easy to cycle. I have 1911s in chambered in 9MM, and in my old age, shoot them more than anything else I own. Many other excellent guns that would probably fit the bill will be mentioned, but these are a few that I have personal experience with..ymmv
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Old November 3, 2013, 10:41 PM   #19
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slide racker...

I lost the use of my left hand in a motorcycle crash so I have used revolvers exclusively. Racking a slide can be done one handed but, since I only target shoot, I didn't want to fool with it.

I did get an urge once to look into buying a pistol and found this neat little item that may be of use to someone. A little bar that attaches to the rear of a Glock slide that can aid in one-handed slide racking. It doesn't look like something you would want to carry concealed but could help in other situations. I didn't buy an auto and didn't buy/try the device but thought I'd post it FWIW.
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Old November 4, 2013, 12:48 AM   #20
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My sister has arthritis and has done relatively well with a S&W 642. She does ok with the double action trigger however has trouble working the slide on most semi autos; the only exception has been the Walther PK380, she's had an easy time working the slide on that (and single action trigger).
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Old November 4, 2013, 07:25 PM   #21
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I have a friend who is about 80 or 81 - we were shooting the tother day and he recently bought a S & W .380 Bodyguard. He has problems with his hands as well and I couldn't believe how much trouble he was having with pulling the slide back, etc. It was almost to the point that I would consider it a safety hazard. I'm taking my Ruger LCR over hopefully this week so he can try it - I just have a feeling a revolver will be easier for him to handle, load, etc. The only thing I'm worried about is the harder trigger pull so we'll just have to see how it goes. Before you buy - see if you can find a range whee you can rent some different semis and revolvers and which will be the easiest for you to load and fire. Good luck to you - you'll find something that works out for you.
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Old November 12, 2013, 07:48 PM   #22
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I have RA and yes a revolver shot single action works best for me. I have polished the inside of trigger guards on polymer pistols to avoid blisters on my twisted index fingers. I also had to trade off my S&W Governor due to severe wrist pain from the heavy recoil. I'm still good with .45acp autos but even better off with 9mms and .38 Spl. revolvers with light loads. I'm sure that will change with time. Good luck on your search. tom.
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