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Old July 29, 2007, 07:03 PM   #1
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Female - Pistol or Revolver??

I need your opinions. I have a 54 year old female who wants to buy a handgun for personal defense and CCW in the future. She grew up in the country around guns and has done a lot of shooting.

Problem is she has arthritis in both hands. I suggested she try my Glock 19, pretty goof proof. Fit her hand nicely however she couldn't pull the receiver back. I demonstrated the Push / Pull method both in front and across the chest to pull the receiver back. She got it done but barely. It also caused her a great deal of pain.

So I took her to the local gun store where we tried out various pistols to see what was easiest to chamber. Tarsus Milennium 9mm seemed the easiest but not easy enough for her. She did it but complained about the pain. Also under stress and with the arthritis progressing she is afraid she won't be able to do it.

So the question, is she solution a revolver. The Smith small frame fits her nicely. I just hate to saddle her with just 5 or 6 shots. Or is there another solution? I'm open to ideas? Thanks, Paul
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Old July 29, 2007, 07:57 PM   #2
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Various questions come to mind. Why does she need to cycle the slide on the Glock? Is she going to take upon herself the responsibility of periodic cleaning? Is she going to put in range time? Or is the pistol just going to sit in a drawer or holster until she needs it (if ever)? If this is the case, then it most likely wouldn't matter if she could cycle the slide. If one magazine won't do it, there's always the New York reload.

Will her arthritis allow her to cycle a double-action revolver? Can she grasp it with enough strength to fire more than one shot? What caliber is she thinking of getting?

What are her opinions on the matter? Does she have likes and dislikes? After all, she's the one that's going to have to live with her choice.

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Old July 29, 2007, 08:13 PM   #3
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The Ruger P95 has a slide that's very easy to cycle. The recoil is also very light.

If you can find one (they've been discontinued), the Beretta 86 has a tip-up barrel that eliminates the need to rack the slide. It's also a fairly light recoil gun owing to its relatively large size for a .380 ACP.

Recoil in the smaller revolvers can be punishing. I consider myself pretty recoil proof--I've shot 200 rounds of full power .44Mag in a single session. Other than it tearing the skin a little between my thumb and forefinger it wasn't a bad experience. On the other hand, I shot my sister's .38SP snubby once and found it decidedly unpleasant. If you go that route, perhaps a .32H&R mag is a good solution. You may have to have the trigger worked over. These days the double-action triggers are quite stiff and may present a problem for people with hand strength issues.

Don't rule out .22LR pistols & revolvers. They tend to be fairly easy to operate and, while they may not be ideal for self-defense, they are considerably better than nothing.

Another option is a light carbine. They are usually easier to shoot well than a pistol and don't usually require the hand strength to operate that a pistol does.
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Old July 29, 2007, 08:31 PM   #4
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Agree with Don 'n John.

If she can't rack an auto slide against a 15 lb recoil spring with both hands, once per dozen or more shots, can she pull a 12-14 lb DA revolver trigger with one finger*, every time? I don't know, but she should before she buys. If she can shoot a DA revolver easier than she can load an auto, they are not so expensive she couldn't have two.

*I have seen two women resort to hauling through a DA trigger with both forefingers. Not good technique, but if that is what it takes to make the shot...
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Old July 30, 2007, 02:06 AM   #5
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It is easier to rack an auto slide if the hammer is cocked first and then the slide.
I just like the idea of a revolver if someone is not going to really devote a lot of time to knowing/using their firearm.
I lost a dear friend who did not remember to check the chamber after the mag was out and the following day he had the accident.
Also, revolvers are so less likely to jam especially if a quick shot is needed and a firm grip is not taken (limp wristing will cause a jam in an auto only).
I saw a bank video where a police officer had to fire from on the floor with one hand at a robber with his Walter PPK-his first shot hit the robber but then his gun jammed as he used only a one hand hold and did not have time to get a firm grip in very short time. The robber then shot him several times. .380 autos also are a bad idea in my view and I am sure in the officer's view NOW.
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Old July 30, 2007, 04:02 AM   #6
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+1 on the revolver, ideally with a little trigger work to smooth out and lighten the trigger pull for her. Have that done professionally and then test fire the gun for at least 100 rounds to ensure the reliability of the gun.

The tip-up barreled Beretta .380's are a good choice, if you can find one. A friend had one that ran well and was decently accurate.

A .32 H&R Magnum might be a good choice as it's plenty potent with six shots in a J-Frame S&W. Ammo is somewhat pricey, but you can substitute .32 S&W Long cartridges as long as you clean the leading out of the chambers every 18-24 shots.

There's nothing wrong with a .22 Auto pistol. The slides on these are usually much easier to operate. A used S&W 422, a Browning Buckmark or similar pistol will fit the bill here.

Also, have her talk to her doctor about specific supplements to reduce the pain of arthritis and help with her joints. He may also recommend some hand exercises to keep her dexterity longer too.
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Old July 30, 2007, 08:10 PM   #7
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The tip-up barreled Beretta .380's are a good choice, if you can find one. A friend had one that ran well and was decently accurate.
+1 to that. But she still has to load the magazines, unless someone does it for her.
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Old July 30, 2007, 08:18 PM   #8
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I would seriously recommend a Ruger 22 auto. Easy to cycle, reliable, and accurate. Sure, it's not a 45, but 2 or 3 shots from a 22 will work better than none from a 45.
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Old July 30, 2007, 08:27 PM   #9
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I would go with a .38 revolver. easy to take of and always ready
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Old July 31, 2007, 09:46 PM   #10
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Scorch, that is not a bad idea, esp. since the magazine has that knob to pull the spring to facilitate loading for her.
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Old August 1, 2007, 02:27 AM   #11
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It sounds to me that this is going to be a gun that is destined to sit in a drawer for a long time and maybe never shot.

If that is the case I strongly recommend a Revolver. Why not take a look at a K or L Frame Revolver with a 4" Barrel? Revolvers can sit in a drawer for sixty years and then be picked up and fired. You can ask me how I know that, it's in relation to my Model 1917. It was recently loaded in the 1950's and I fired it this past weekend with no problems.

You may want to look at having an "Action Job" done on what ever revolver she selects. I would caution you to stay away from a "snubnose" Revolver, they are truely an "expert's gun". I would also encourage you/her to purchase a Smith & Wesson, over other brands, due to the warranty service. If you opt for an "Action Job" and have a S&W Revolver you can send it back to S&W and they will do the work for a "nominal" fee. I personally think S&W does great work.

I don't have any connection to S&W except for shooting their guns and according to my wife, "owning too many of them bloody things." Anyway, that's my $0.02 on the matter.

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Old August 1, 2007, 06:14 AM   #12
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I would seriously recommend a Ruger 22 auto. Easy to cycle, reliable, and accurate. Sure, it's not a 45, but 2 or 3 shots from a 22 will work better than none from a 45.
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Old August 1, 2007, 07:55 AM   #13
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I'd recommend a revolver. She's more likely to practice with something that doesn't cause her pain every time she uses it. If it's just for home defense would a shotgun suit her needs? Perhaps a 20g with low recoil? More than likely it would have less stress on her wrists than any handgun.

Just my 2.

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Old August 1, 2007, 09:25 AM   #14
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Ignore the myth of the J frame revolver - that it's a novice or lady's gun. J double action triggers are harder to use than a K frame's, the hammers are smaller and more difficult to manipulate, and the recoil unpleasant for new users. Since she's highly unlikely to carry, have her try out a 4" K .38.

J frames are for fools or dedicated shooters.
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Old August 1, 2007, 11:44 AM   #15
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First -- I think there are more than 1 solution to the problem. The tip-up barrel designs are not a bad thing for those with arthritic hands, but unfortunately those aren't all that common anymore. Yes, there are alternate methods of racking slides, but even then some with arthritis are not really able to do it well, or comfortably. And then there's still the issue of loading magazines.

I know this firsthand, from going through the very same drill with SWMBO, who has Rheumatoid Arthritis, which of course affects both of her hands as well as much of the rest of her body.

Eventually, after trying out several different autoloader designs, she just said "NO!" to autoloaders. Period. She was able to handle my S&W 686 relatively well, with the exception that it was too big and too heavy for her. And snubbies were too small, too light and had too much recoil.

Ah - Ha! I knew just what she was going to like, as we were bracketing in on what the "correct" solution was for her. Wheelgun, not too big and not too little. And one day, in the used gun counter at the local shop/range, I saw it. An older 4" S&W Model 15, the kind with the thinner "pencil" barrel. I checked it out and it was sound. Not wanting to buy it for her without her trying it out first, I went and got her. She tried it out and sure enough, that was the one.

Now, it may turn out that the person in question just may find a suitable autoloader. But, don't count on it. And don't count out a K Frame revolver like what SWMBO ended up getting. Ok, so it only has 6 shots -- so what? 6 rounds of .38 Spl are plenty enough for "typical" civilian defense. Especially if said civilian will actually practice with it. A revolver that actually fits and is comfortable to operate and shoot is much more conducive to practice than an autoloader that isn't.

A point was made about "current" double action triggers being stiff, and as such less appropriate for use by the arthritic. Good Point. Your options are to either go with a single action (which she doesn't trust), get a double action and have a trigger job done (she's a tightwad and doesn't want to spend the money if she doesn't have to), or get an older gun that is already broken in and doesn't have the issue to start with. As you might guess, we ended doing the latter. The DA trigger on that 15-2 is just delightful, and the SA trigger is as well.

I would seriously recommend a Ruger 22 auto. Easy to cycle, reliable, and accurate. Sure, it's not a 45, but 2 or 3 shots from a 22 will work better than none from a 45.
IMHO, a .22 is better than nothing, but not much. Before the K Frame made its way to her bedside, her bedside gun was our S&W 422, which she really likes -- other than loading magazines, that is. I get to do magazine loading duties. The slide is so easy to operate that even she has no problem with it. BTW -- we had already tried the Ruger .22 autoloaders before buying the 422, she wasn't able to operate the slide. Anyway, if it was up to her, she'd still be relying on that .22. I was the one who objected, and after I pointed out why (a .22 will kill alright, but it isn't very good at stopping attackers, who may be mortally wounded but still able to continue an assault), she grudgingly agreed. In the interim, I told her to just treat the .22 as 1 round from a shotgun with buckshot, firing 1 pellet at a time -- if it was needed for SD, she was to just rip off the whole magazine at the BG's COM as fast as she could and hope that something vital was hit.
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Old August 1, 2007, 12:17 PM   #16
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Sounds silly but....

In this case I might recommend the Walther P-22. It's so easy to pull the slide on this thing that I do it with one hand just for the fun of it ( of course I wouldn't recommend the one handed technique to someone using it for defense ). With quality ammo such as CCI Stingers, it is very reliable and if she doesn't like the mag disconnect safety, it's really a cinch to take out.
P.S. I feel all weird inside after recommending a .22 for SD but it looks "tactical" which may help to scare off attackers and it shoots bullets which, no matter what the size, are powerful enough to get the job done.
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Old August 1, 2007, 12:29 PM   #17
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Ruger Mark II or III =ideal lady gun

Old Sneaky here: I'm also developing arthritis in my shooting hand/thumb and everything everyone else said about the Rugers above is right on the money. Easy to cock, nice pointing grip, practically NO recoil, 10 shots or if your real lucky and can find a Ram-Line 12 shot magazine. and a very low noise factor. Using Stingers or better yet Aguilla 22 Super Maximum/HPs, if you couldn't empty the magazine in under 3 seconds into a 6 inch circle( read face/head) at self-defense distance (5-7 yards) you need to practice a lot more, and I guarranty that you would seriously spoil an "Evil-doer's" day. Also , if I remember correctly , I seem to have seen a Ruger Mark with a "Short" barrel perhaps 2-1/2, 3, inch which would facilitate concealability. I feel that it would be a mistake to under estimate the lethality of the 22LR high speed hollow-points. I've talked to ER room nurses that have seen the results of .22LR/HP "Head-shots" and they mentioned the extent of the damage and it wasn't pretty. They said that the bullets kin of bounce around inside of the skull--tearing up a lot of brains. Now everyone knows that the impact of bullets will NOT knock someone off there feet like Hollywood regularly shows, what do you think would happen if your brain was suddenly turned into scrambled eggs--GRAVITY RULES. THANX--SNEAKY

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Old August 1, 2007, 12:45 PM   #18
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My wife has a similar problem and cnnot pull back the slide. Our solution was was the tilt barrel Beretta in .32 auto. She is happy and hits what she aims at.
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Old August 1, 2007, 06:33 PM   #19
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I have arthritis in my hands and someone that don't have it can't decide. I suggest that she go where she can try every gun, both Autos and Revolvers and let her decide which one she likes best.
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Old August 1, 2007, 06:42 PM   #20
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My wife shot a Dan Wesson .357 (using 38 specials) until I got her a XD 9mm 3". Very little recoil for a small pistol and she loves it.

She is 50.

Go with what she likes shooting and what she shoots the best.
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Old August 1, 2007, 06:48 PM   #21
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Solution is a trigger job on whatever she gets.
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Old August 1, 2007, 06:53 PM   #22
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I've had a Trigger job on the one that I use, and you're right, it helps.
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Old August 1, 2007, 08:25 PM   #23
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SP01 with 38s. The gun is substantial enough to keep recoil at a minimum. Her ability to pull the trigger is untested, so she should probably go to a range and shoot a few revolvers.
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Old August 1, 2007, 08:26 PM   #24
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If she is comfortable with a revolver, then you have the answer. 5 shots verse 10 shots? Sure, 10 is better, but if she won't carry 10 and doesn't feel comforatable shooting it, 5 is a hell of a lot better than nothing.
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Old August 2, 2007, 11:16 AM   #25
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A "k" frame (or similar size) revolver is the solution. They are simple, virtually maintenance free and easy to use. The trigger pull will be a non-issue for most and if she has a problem with it, pm me and I can show you a couple of techniques she can use. Recommending a .22 as a personal defense gun is pure folly. Recommending an auto to an unskilled shooter is also not wise. It sounds like she needs a gun that she can keep handy for protection but may rarely if ever shoot recreationally. The S&W Mod. 13 in 3" is a good choice, though any "K" frame in 3" or 4" will suffice. If and when she practices, she can shoot .38spl but load either .38spl +p, or .357mag for defense. You are talking about a decision that could potentially effect someone's life. Try to put your bias aside and approach the problem logically and objectively.
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