The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: General Handgun Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 11, 2001, 01:25 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: July 2, 1999
Posts: 838
What gun for wife who can't pull back slide?

I took my wife, who has no real interest in shooting, to the range today. The latest "mass murder of the week" here in Northern California got me thinking that she really needs to learn to use one of our handguns. She's shot handguns periodically, but always with me there to help load, etc. Today, I wanted her to pick one and really start to get comfortable loading, handling, and using it. At home, she'd handled several of them and decided she liked the feel of my CZ75 PCR (compact alloy frame 9mm). When we got to the range, it turned out that she couldn't pull back the slide to load it. I thought something was wrong, but it came right back for me. She couldn't budge it. We decided to try a Makarov instead. Same thing. She couldn't budge the slide. I was really surprised - it just hadn't occured to me that it was that difficult (or she was that weak).

Anyway, now I'm wondering what might be an appropriate self-defense handgun for her. A revolver is the obvious choice (and maybe the right one), but I know she won't want to keep a loaded gun around, and I hate to think of her fumbling with loose cartridges or a speed loader in an emergency. Also, I'm concerned about her ability to shoot double-action.

She can't/won't deal with much recoil. About the only guns she shoots confidently are .22s, and she even complains a little about their recoil (though she does fine with them). I'm wondering if I should just get her a Buckmark or Ruger .22. Not much power, but she could probably get comfortable with it. Are there any centerfire pistols that have easy-to-pull slides? Any other suggestions? This kind of caught me off guard and I haven't really given it much thought. Always fun to have an excuse to buy another gun though.

DougB is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 01:58 AM   #2
Chris Pinkleton
Senior Member
Join Date: May 3, 2001
Location: Durham, NC
Posts: 123
Even my girlfriend's daughter (slight of build, and 14 yrs. old at the time) had no problem racking the slide on a full-size 1911 on her first time out. I've seen a much larger and stronger adult woman wrestiling with several autos (in my CCW class) to no avail. It seems to be a matter of body mechanics -- I've always thought it was easier to hold the slide stationary, while pushing down with my whole upper body(not just using arm muscles, but also pecs, etc.) on the butt of the pistol.

Older and wiser heads here probably have better ideas.

Also of importance: can she manipulate slide stop, mag release easily?

If she really just has slide problems, why not try the Berettas with the tip-up barrels? I think they still make a .380 in this configuration, and this sort of problem is why they did it to begin with. She'd never have to rack the slide, and it's very easy to see if there's a round chambered, probably a plus with a beginner.

Chris P.
--A.E. van Vogt, "The Weapons Shop," 1942.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Ben Franklin

Last edited by Chris Pinkleton; September 13, 2001 at 01:01 AM.
Chris Pinkleton is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 02:04 AM   #3
ammo dave
Join Date: September 9, 2001
Location: Niceville, Fl
Posts: 53
Since you don't want a revolver, I would look at the Beretta .380 with a tip-up barrel (model 86?). It does not require that you rack the slide in order to load it. It is also big for a .380 so recoil should not be an issue.
ammo dave is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 02:04 AM   #4
Posts: n/a
Why confine her to an automatic? a 38spl should do her just fine. If she trains on how to load and unload it, it will be just as simple as an automatic.
Old September 11, 2001, 04:48 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: January 30, 2001
Location: Jackson Michigan
Posts: 790
Have her try cocking the hammer before racking the slide.

That makes it much easier to rack.

A S&W 686 with a 4" barrel firing .38 has almost .22 recoil.

God Luck
Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners
notbubba is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 05:55 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: February 12, 1999
Location: Ohio, USA
Posts: 467
I believe the Springfield 1911-A1 in 9mm has about a 12# recoil spring and is fairly easy to operate.
Neil Casper
"I AM my brothers keeper."
Cat is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 06:22 AM   #7
Jody Hudson
Senior Member
Join Date: February 16, 2000
Location: Near Rehoboth Beach Delaware
Posts: 1,140
Have you considered a pump shotgun for her in Mossberg .412 or 20 gauge for instance. One of the youth models with 18 1/2" barrel, short stock and lighter may be just the ticket for her. Or, perhaps one of the cowboy action double barrel shotguns in 12 or 20 gauge and loaded with the reduced recoil rounds.

Also, it has been my experience that technique could be the difficulty on slide racking. If she is right handed have her grasp the slide between left thumb and folded index finger in the sideways gang bang or Israeli style then push forward with the right hand holding the grip tightly until the right hand pushes the pistol out of her left hand.

Still the idea of a Beretta .380 tip up barrel is the idea that sounds most logical for her. Get one of the older double stack, hi-cap models that hold more rounds, load the magazine with Quik-Shock and you've got a formidable combination that is easy to load, whether or not she can use the rest of the controls.

Meanwhile, perhaps you could find an old tennis ball or something for her to squeeze a lot. and help her get a better grip.
We help people relocate to Rehoboth Beach Delaware.
Our Site:
Jody Hudson is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 09:03 AM   #8
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Posts: 53
I bought my Wife an SP-101 in .357 with 2 1/8" barrel.

I loaded it up with +P 38's so it would be controllable for her. Then I can also load it with .357's for me if need be.

Also, not alot of controls & levers for her to fool with being as she's an inexperienced shooter.

Just point & shoot, and it takes a deliberate trigger pull to torch one off.

We keep ours in a Cannon hand safe with the pushbutton combination lock for emergencies.
It sits next to my Glock 19 loaded with Gold Dot +P's.

Mine and Hers.
Clemmo is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 11:24 AM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: June 3, 2001
Location: Northern Virginia, USA
Posts: 298
some tips

I just went through NRA certification; took my wife out, and she still had difficulty. I talked to a couple of woman instructors and got some more tips.

Brace strong elbow, against strong side hip & pull back with opposite hand, pointing downrange, but toward the ground.

possibly pull hammer back prior to racking.

Possibly load with a known empty mag.

ensure use of a '2 handed motion' - push away with strong hand, (thumbing up for righties, indexing up for lefties) on the slide release lever, while 'twisting' the shoulders & body...

She's probably going to have to shift her strong hand a little to manipulate the slide lever.

Smurfslayer is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 11:53 AM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: July 7, 1999
Posts: 964
I just went through that. I got her the tip up barrel beretta 86. Her problem wasn't recoil, just weight. When we got down to the 85 though, the 380's become blow back, and the slide is even harder to rack than my full size. So someone was kind enough on this board to point out they made a tip up version(86). It is a single stack 8 in the mag, 1 in the chamber. I have never seen a double stack tip up. Doesn't mean they aren't out there, just haven't seen it. It was about 500 out the door.
Andrewh is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 12:49 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: March 19, 2000
Posts: 2,904
Taurus makes a .22LR and .25 cal tip up barrels small frame guns for personal / female carry. PT 11 I think. $180 fully dressed. My wife and I have shot the snot out of hers. A few teething problems but works fine with high velocity copper jacket ammo.
"Given a choice between good intentions and human nature, I'll go with human nature every time."--Me, 2002.
Waitone is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 02:16 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: March 21, 2000
Posts: 1,396
Have her push with her right hand on the grip and pull with her left hand on the slide. That way she uses the strengh of both arms instead of one.

Have her try different grips on the slide (two-finger pinch, back handed, etc) in case the problem is gripping the slide securely.

Beretta has three models with tip-up loading.

12-16 pounds requires a lot of upper body strength for woman. This is a difference between us and them that many of us forget.
There are two types of men: those with guns, and those at their mercy.
Mikul is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 02:48 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: February 14, 2001
Posts: 1,771
My wife has small hands, so she can't grasp my pistol well enough to rack the slide. One thing I have heard is that kahr offers a lighter spring (I think this was covered on the 'lady kahr' thread) to make it easier to rack the slide.

I think I'll end up getting her a taurus 617 revolver (7 shot .357) instead - no need to worry about slides. Plus she likes the SS look of the gun - makes it an easier sell.
bastiat is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 04:17 PM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: December 19, 1999
Location: SoCal
Posts: 348
I got the same problem with my wife so we ended up with a revo. Now she wants a pistol but haven't decided which one.

vega is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 05:21 PM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: March 13, 2001
Location: NW Florida
Posts: 2,307
I vote for the shotgun. It is an extremely effective weapon and very easy to use. Recoil is light (with selected loads) and just the sound of a slide racking is a deterrant to anyone. I don't think there is a BG in the world that doesn't know the sound of a pump gun chambering the round, and if they don't ...they will find out really quick! Even a light recoiling load of #8 birdshot can be devestating at close ranges.

If she complains about the recoil in .22's, she definitely won't be comfortable with a blowback .380. Shot placement is critical and the possibility of needing a follow up shot with any of the smaller calibers is greater. This will only add to whatever psychological distress she may be suffering at that time, especially if she isn't exactly enamoured with the idea of using a firearm to defend herself. With the shotgun you raise the odds a bit in your favor of a "one shot stop".

I went through the same problem with my wife when trying to select her a weapon. She was never happy with any choices that " I" made until she finally got serious about defense. When she realized that the police can't do a thing to help you until they get there..which may be a LONG time, and that our kids as well as she could be seriously injured, she got serious about it. She went from not comfortable with .22's even to shooting a Hi Power and preferring that weapon. She can now pick up any of my weapons and effectively use them.

Funny how psychological mindset can change things.

Good Shooting
Redlg155 is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 07:27 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: April 9, 2001
Posts: 410
my wife had the sameish problem...her hands were small enough that she had problems working the "controls" of my p-99. we went to a range that rented firearms and tried a bunch of them and she walked away wanting a sig p-232. it's a .380 semi-auto. good luck helping her find the firearm she is most comfortable with.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty
is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
- Benjamin Franklin, 1759
adept is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 07:52 PM   #17
Senior Member
Join Date: April 22, 1999
Location: Chandler, Arizona, USA
Posts: 6,014
The first thing that should happen is getting your wife into a gym with a personal trainer for some strength training. Then she should give it another try.

My girlfriend had a similar problem, but I taught her to rack the slide using both hands in opposition. I started her off with this technique with a G19 and moved her on to a P226. She no longer has a problem with most semi-automatics.
Guns cause crime like spoons cause Rosie O'Donnell to be fat!

I hunt, therefore I am.
blades67 is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 09:50 PM   #18
S&W 24
Senior Member
Join Date: April 10, 2001
Location: MPLS MN
Posts: 162
I would strongly recommend a SIG 230 in 32acp. The slide is fairly
easy to operate and the recoil is very soft making it eaxy for most anyone to manage. Also there is no safety to forget to take off if you use condition 3.
If it ain't loaded it's just a rock
in your pocket.
S&W 24 is offline  
Old September 11, 2001, 09:51 PM   #19
S&W 24
Senior Member
Join Date: April 10, 2001
Location: MPLS MN
Posts: 162
I would strongly recommend a SIG 230 in 32acp. The slide is fairly
easy to operate and the recoil is very soft making it eaxy for most anyone to manage. Also there is no safety to forget to take off if you use condition 3.
If it ain't loaded it's just a rock
in your pocket.
S&W 24 is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 12:32 AM   #20
Senior Member
Join Date: October 10, 2000
Location: NJ
Posts: 152
My wife had the same problem with my CZ. It turns out that after a few minutes of practice we figured out what the problems were. First the CZ's are tight and the slide inside the frame makes it critical that you pull the slide at the correct angle or you are fighting the metal. Second reason is that my wife tried to "pull" not "jerk" the slide which made it harder. When she tried to move it faster ("jerk") it got easier. And finaly the CZ has a strong main spring and it helps if she cocks the hammer first. In fact my CZ is now my bedside gun stored chamber empty but cocked for quick and easy loading.

best of luck

lochaber is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 06:40 AM   #21
Walt Sherrill
Senior Member
Join Date: February 15, 1999
Location: Winston-Salem, NC USA
Posts: 6,027
Maybe your concerns (manageable recoil, slide-racking) ought to point you in a different direction...

Just get her a good, used S&W Revolver in .38 or .357 (using +P .38 special rounds in the .357, instead of .357.) Then, racking the slide is not an issue, and the gun is better than any .380 or .32, and recoil is also not particularly harsh.

If she's ever going to carry it in a handbag, get one with a 3" barrel...
Walt Sherrill is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 12:08 PM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: July 2, 1999
Posts: 838
Thanks for all the excellent suggestions. One of the simplest ones may resolve the problem for us. I hadn't thought to manually cock the gun first. I did this with an old S&W 9mm I have and she was then able to rack the slide. But I think we'll still explore some of the other suggestions as well - I want her to feel comfortable loading and shooting "her" gun and I'm afraid that the 9mm may be too much gun for her (even cocked, she had to struggle to rack the slide, and I'm not sure how she will handle the recoil). Anyway, we really appreciate all the suggestions and will probably try most of them (probably not the gym/personal traininer idea, however-she's not quite THAT motivated).

DougB is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 05:08 PM   #23
Senior Member
Join Date: April 24, 2000
Location: Northern Indiana
Posts: 519
My wife is very small and has problems with her hands. We got a Kel-Tec p-32 and leave one in the pipe. It has a very long trigger pull and I feel the chances of catching the trigger are non-existant.

The thing that I think may be overlooked is that most pistols may be great but they're so heavy that they'll end up staying home in the drawer. You can put the Kel-Tec in your pocket and forget about it (7 ounces). Load the Kel-Tec with Cor-Bons or Glasers and you're good-to-go.

Oh, about accuracy....she can hit a coffee can probably 9 of 10 at 10 feet. Now I understand that won't win the Gold Medal, but I'd hate to have her shooting at me. If you take your time, the pull is long but very smooth and for a little gun can be extremely accurate. Nicest thing??? pull..bang...pull..bang, etc.
Redneck2 is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 09:07 PM   #24
Senior Member
Join Date: December 9, 2000
Posts: 453
My wife prefers her M&P .38, but she can rack the slide on my colt Gov't Model .380. And since it is a locked breech weapon, recoil is minimal. Lots less perceived recoil than most the blowback .380's.
Bob C. NRA Patron USN (Ret)
sw627pc is offline  
Old September 12, 2001, 09:14 PM   #25
Senior Member
Join Date: September 10, 1999
Location: Rockland, NY
Posts: 1,485
I believe the Beretta with the tip up in .32 would be just the thing.
For sure it is an evil spite, and breaking to the heart,
For Irishmen to watch a fight and not be taking part. -Robert Service

'How MacPherson Held The Floor'
PATH is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:51 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10732 seconds with 7 queries