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Old March 24, 2009, 02:37 AM   #1
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The smallest kick handgun.

I am a guy who has been severely handicapped most of his life, and I have grown up around guns (rifles and handguns), yet I have trouble shooting most handguns because I have severe arthritis in my hands.
I am looking for a gun that I can hold, but will not kick too much so that I cannot fire a second round.
A gun that fits comfortably in my hand is small .25 cal handgun. I have a friend who has one, but I haven't yet shot it.
I have heard that lightweight handguns can kick a bit, and I would like something with as limited kick as possible. I understand that some people believe that .22 rounds aren't deadly, and shouldn't be used for defense, but for me, any round is better than no round.

If anyone on this site has any recommendations, your help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time.
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Old March 24, 2009, 03:33 AM   #2
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The 32 round has been said to have a small kick in the right gun.

Even in the small kel tec semi auto.

It has been linked,like most other very small calibers,to many failures to stop an assailent when needed.

It you are almost unable to hold a handgun maybe your best bet is a can of pepper spray or foam with a trigger you can use.

As you are having arthritus problems that will weaken your grip on any handgun,I would recommend a small caliber hammerless revolver.

Revolvers do not require a good grip to cycle reliably and they only require you to pull the trigger to operate it.

It being hammerless means you can conceal carry it once you get the license too and all you need do to repeal a criminal is pull it out and either try to convince the guy to back off or shoot him if that is positively the only way you can survive the attack.

I would warn you though that being arthritic means that someone can easily disarm you if you let them get close to you.

Most 22 LR revolvers hold 9 to 10 rounds.

Unlike larger calibers,most 22 LR revolvers with short barrels are not so good on any distance shooting so if you need to use them ,the bad guy unfortuantely must be pretty close but that is the only reason you'd be using your gun anyway.

The bad guy was close and you were fighting to stop him from hurting you or possibly killing you.

But there are larger calibers availible that can help as well.
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Old March 24, 2009, 07:55 AM   #3
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The best way to find the lightest recoil is to address the things that cause recoil. The biggest factor in felt recoil is typically the weight of the gun from which you are sending the bullet. After that, it's things like bullet weight, bore axis and the pressure of the round.

The bigger and heavier you can go with the handgun, the less felt recoil you'll have. If it's at all possible, I would go with a medium frame, 4-inch barreled .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver, loaded with .38 Special ammo. I know that Federal makes a reduced recoil 110-grain .38 Special load that would probably be pretty manageable from a heavy revolver.

If you end up with a sub-caliber (.22, .25, .32), I would leave you with this: the .25 auto is a really, really poor choice, the worst of any, IMO. What you get with the .25 is performance that's very little or no better than .22, at an ammo cost that's so staggering, you literally will NOT believe the difference in price between the two. Furthermore, there are horribly small choices in .25 caliber guns, the options are extremely limited and all the guns are pretty much the same size as the .25 that your friend owns.

With a .22, sizes range from pocket gun sized to full-sized and too-large to carry. Get a medium sized .22 and you'll be holding 8 or perhaps 10 rounds of ammo.
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:00 AM   #4
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Do you have the hand strength to hold the weight of a gun or do you also need a light gun?

If you have the strength to hold the weight of a gun, get a smaller caliber gun in a larger and heavier frame. The frame will provide enough mass to reduce the perceived recoil. If you have no issues operating a slide on an auto-loader the slide and recoil spring will help to absorb recoil as well.

I know you said small gun, but my mother asked for advice in buying her first pistol. She ended up with an SP101 in .357 She loads .38 for practice and .38+p to carry and can handle it. It may not be what you personally end up with, but it's an example of how someone with a concern for hand strength and arthritis found success in the SP101.

Look for something with a low bore axis, maybe a ported barrel, and something with a bit of weight to it. With that in mind, visit a shop and see what fits in your hand and feels good.

Looks like Sevens posted as I did, but we seem to agree.
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:13 AM   #5
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Suggestion for a low recoil pistol?

Because you have severe arthritis, this could present a problem with going with automatic pistols. It might be hard to pull back the slide to load and cock the weapon? If recoil presents a problem for you, then you might want to consider a .22 magnum revolver (use 40 grain bullets). You will get better perfomance than from just a standard .22lr and it still doesn't have the kick.
note: If you find a good quality .22 mag pistol, you can even have a gunsmith "lighten up" the trigger for you if need be, (which will make it easier to pull and give you better accuracy). Good luck
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:15 AM   #6
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If there's a range in your area that will allow you to rent handguns, it would probably be beneficial to go and try some out. As the above poster said, if you have the hand strength to hold a heavier gun, that will help tremendously with felt recoil. Moving up to a caliber like a .32, .380 or even .38 will give a large increase in energy on the business end of your handgun over the smaller calibers.

I have heard (DISCLAIMER: Never tested myself), that if one is using a .22 for defense that it is best to use FMJ ammo as hollow points don't have the energy to penetrate enough to hit anything important before expanding. I'm not sure if this also applies to .22 Magnum (which is also an option if you're constrained to the smaller calibers). I have no personal experience with the felt recoil of the .22 Magnum vs .22 LR, however.

The main factor in selecting a firearm (for anyone) in my opinion is to get something that you'll feel comfortable practicing with. When it comes to stopping a threat, the size of the bullet always comes second to shot placement. The best way to know if you're comfortable with it is to shoot before you buy.
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:32 AM   #7
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+1 on the revolver

I reckon you should go to a gun show or shop (or rental range/shop) and look around at 38 revolvers (hammerless good idea) find the one that fits your hand the best (if your shooting hand is deformed as arthritis does sometimes do) you might find a particular model that fits you perfectly, grips can be altered/built up/cut down to suit your hand, but you wont know til you try. Yes, as said earlier, then you can get the trigger slicked to again suit your hand/strength. A disabled guy I saw on once fox had hand issues from thalydamide, I believe, and he had a brace attached to the pistol that came back over his wrist, and velcro strapped around his forearm because he could either grip it firmly, or operate the trigger, not both at once. This brace allowed him to hold it as tight as he could and pull the trigger without losing control of the gun.

Where there is a will, there is a way

Then, you can get someone who reloads ammo, to make you some lite load ammo, not too weak, not too hot.... exactly what you can handle. That way, a bigger, but not too heavy gun, with custom lite(ish) loads will have much less felt recoil

Dont think .22 wont stop BG, the smaller the caliber, the more important shot placement is, thats all. Like someones tag is (I cant remember whose, sorry) A well placed shot (or 2) with a .22 is better than a miss with a 50 cal (or something along those lines)

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Last edited by Dingoboyx; March 24, 2009 at 08:36 AM. Reason: adding bit on .22
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:56 AM   #8
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First thing to come to mind, given the stated severe limitations, is the .22magnum.

Not too often I recommend a Taurus, but here's an idea. The 941UL weighs just over 1lb and offers 8-shots. (You can likely find a better price than the one listed here, but I just wanted to show you what it looked like.)
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Old March 24, 2009, 09:25 AM   #9
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We've faced similar issues regarding finding a suitable SD handgun for SWMBO, who has RA. She just wasn't able to handle any sort of autoloader other than a full size .22 (which we have), and even then she can't load the magazines by herself. So, from our experience autoloaders just weren't suitable.

What we found that did work was a 4" barrel S&W K frame in .38 Spl. Specifically, it is a model 15-2. The nice thing about it is that you can load it down with very light wadcutters, and when you do that the recoil is about the same a shooting a full size .22. Then you can load it with warmer ammo as you can work your way up to it. Or, if you just can't handle anything warmer you can always keep the wadcutters, they are still punching a .357 hole in the target. Better than a .22, in other words. In her case, we've found that she is able to practice with the wadcutters (which I handload for her) and is able to handle a cylinder of +Ps for familiarization every time out to the range, and she keeps +Ps in it at the bedside. I can live with that.

Part of the rationale for that is that if you really do need it for SD, you'll be so scared for your life, and so pumped with adrenaline, that the extra recoil of the +Ps will be hardly noticed -- until after it is all over when it won't matter. Your hands will hurt but you'll be alive, and that's what's important.
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Old March 24, 2009, 09:26 AM   #10
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+1 Tj

I wouldnt like one of those suckers pointed at me, thats for sure Looks very suitable and not too much recoil? Have you fired one? +1 big rubber grips. Just what the doctor ordered, I reckon

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Old March 24, 2009, 09:35 AM   #11
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A J-frame-sized snubbie with eight rounds of 22Magnum is worth considering IF you can work the trigger pull. It tends to be a bit stiff. If that's not a problem then yeah, this makes sense...load it with CCI MaxiMag +V rounds.

Another possibility: a 38Spl loaded with 148gr "target wadcutter" rounds. These are about the lowest-powered factory rounds available, not really meant for defense BUT the big flat nose tends to make a respectable mess. These have a long reputation as a mild-kick defense round for people in your situation.

The other option is to go with a full-sized .22LR auto that has a mild slide spring. The Rugers are right out on that latter point (very stiff slide) but the Browning Buckmark in aluminum is worth looking at. This would be more difficult to conceal, you'd need a fanny pack probably, but with very hot .22LR like the CCI Stingers they'll deliver a fair amount of hurt and you'll have at least 10 on tap. You might even consider a 6" barrel variant to heat up the ammo even more (longer tube equals faster bullet). Recoil will be extremely mild even with an aluminum frame model, and accuracy will be very high.
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Old March 24, 2009, 06:53 PM   #12
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I agree with GuyMontag, an SP101 loaded with a quality .38 load would give you the best combination of stopping power and mild recoil.
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Old March 24, 2009, 07:13 PM   #13
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I want to thank everyone for your comments and suggestions. I am looking into most of the guns that all of you have mentioned.
I am actually going to Vegas this weekend, to visit my uncle, who is in a number of gun clubs as well as being trained by the military in handgun (as well as all other guns) usage.
Hopefully while I'm there, we can try out different handguns and see if we can't find something that I can operate.
Thanks again for your suggestions, and if you think of anything else, please let me know.
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Old March 24, 2009, 07:40 PM   #14
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I have arthritis in my hands. I can't take much recoil.

I've heard that the .25 you mentioned has a wicked kick. I haven't experienced it myself yet, but if that's true then not only would you have an expensive, subpar caliber, you'd have exactly the recoil issue you are trying to avoid. [If anyone has actual experience with the PSA, please correct me if I'm wrong.] I heard about the kick issue from an experienced gun friend. I just inherited a Baby Browning - basically the same thing - and he warned me that shooting it might be a bit of an issue for me. [I do plan to try it anyway - but first it needs a trip to the gunsmith for some work.]

I tried an S&W 642 (lightweight J-frame snubby) - the recoil was way too much for me. A Model 10 snubby (K-frame, 2" barrel) was significantly better. But a Model 19 (K-frame, 4" barrel) with .38 special standard load was best of all. The recoil isn't bad at all. It's heavier, obviously, but that's why there's less recoil.

Best thing to do is rent rent rent (or borrow borrow borrow if you're lucky enough to have a friend with a large collection) before you buy.
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Old March 24, 2009, 07:51 PM   #15
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+1 KarenTOC

I would suggest a steel frame snubbie with standard.38 special loads, and a rubber grip However, a steel frame auto would have the weight and suck up some recoil, possibly a .380 in a steel frame, with an added hogue wraparound rubber grip.
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:05 PM   #16
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I agree on the K frame S&W using light reloads. A model 10 S&W or the 15 are great guns with most having excellent triggers and a set of Hogue rubber grips. Using Hollow base wadcutters and 3.2g of W231 or Titegroup powder would give a nice light load with very lite recoil
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:20 PM   #17
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The best gunman I've ever met is an 80+yr old, open range rancher in the Superstition Mountains. He's got RA so bad, he needs help with most anything, but refuses it. He doesn't bother with handguns much. Keeps rifles for lions and coyotes and shotgun for home defense. That fits his pain and motor skills.
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Old March 24, 2009, 09:34 PM   #18
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there is a browning bda in 380 that is larger, but not too heavy. I would think the recoil would be small, but someone else may have experience with the bda. Taurus makes a Mill Pro in 380. I have the exact gun in 45acp, which shoots soft. I would not recommend a 22 cal. Also, for home defense, a pistol grip 410 has zero recoil, or at least the mossberg 500 (.410) doesnt. I bought one for my wife because she didnt take too kindly to the 12 gage.
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Old March 24, 2009, 10:08 PM   #19
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If you go with a .22lr you might try a Beretta 21a Bobcat. It has a tip up barrel which you can load after putting the magazine in, so you don't have to rack the slide to chamber a round.

If you'd rather have a .32 it's available as well in the Tomcat.

I own the 21a and it's served me well. I bought it around 1990 and I've never had it fail to fire for me. Others have complained it's picky with ammo, I guess I was just lucky.
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Old March 24, 2009, 10:13 PM   #20
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The Beretta .22 would be a good choice. For another, you might try to find a Walther PPK/S in .22LR.
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Old March 24, 2009, 10:18 PM   #21
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My favorite mousegun is the discontinued Beretta 950. Lightweight, 8 shot, tip up bbl, mild recoil. Not a very effective round but you have 8 of em.
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Old March 24, 2009, 11:40 PM   #22
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If you have the hand strength to operate the slide and hold the gun, a steel frame 9mm is a very easy shooting pistol.

My wife has low hand strength and low recoil tolerance due to a medical condition. I've looked around and had her handle & shoot a wide variety of firearms.

Revolvers in typical defensive calibers simply don't work for her. Either the recoil is too much for her or the trigger pull is too difficult. She's done pretty well with full-sized 9mm pistols although she has difficulty operating the slide in some cases. The Ruger P95 is one that she can work easily and that doesn't recoil too much for her.

She also has a Beretta model 86 in .380. It's a relatively large .380 which helps with the recoil, but the nicest feature is the tip-up barrel which means you never have to operate the slide.
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Old March 25, 2009, 09:48 AM   #23
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Let's see, small hands and arthritis...

I have a Beretta Tomcat in .32acp that shoots very softly (kind of a heavy gun for the caliber, but that just means it eats up the recoil), and with the tip-up barrel, you don't have to worry about hand strength to rack the slide. The same should go for the similar Beretta .22LR designs (just make sure you use quality .22LR ammo, the cheap stuff may not be primed properly- in a revolver you just pull the trigger again, but in a semiauto it's more of a problem).
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Old March 25, 2009, 09:57 AM   #24
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If you are looking for something just for self defense you might look into one of the guns in the little article.
I don't know about the recoil, and it might even be a hoax but it is something to consider.,2933,461928,00.html
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Old March 25, 2009, 11:47 AM   #25
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Are you in a chair or ambulatory? That makes a slight difference in what you can/could carry (assuming a license here). The .32 Beretta Tomcat is your best bet if you want a semiauto - tilt up barrel, single or double action trigger, heavy enough to reduce felt recoil - and, you can get some very good defensive .32 ammunition. A revolver is also an excellent choice if you can pull the trigger (trigger pull on some revolvers (esp the airlites) is rather heavy) - maybe one of the older .32 H&R chambered revolvers or the newer .327 Federal round wheel guns if you are concerned with recoil. My progressive arthritis has forced a change from my semiautos back to a revolver. Sure, a .357 round out of an titanium/scandium airlite will hurt; one - you don't use it for range time (that is what cheaper .38s are made for; and two - if SHTF you won't have time to think about whether or not the second round is going to sting or not. Good luck!
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