HD Weapon Suggestions


December 22, 2004, 10:41 AM
Hope that gets lots of attention.

I have a situation, and am looking for guidance. A neighbor lady, very nice, great to the neighborhood children, had a bit of a scare the other night. Someone she didn't know came to her door, knocked, and then tried to open the door as she was looking through the peephole. He then walked towards her backyard, where he met her lovable but protective Husky, Rosie, and took off. She called the police, and there's going to be little they can do, as she gave only a general description, not having gotten a good look at the man.

Anyways, rying to shorten a long story, she lives alone, and is frightened of something similar occurring again. She has decided that she wants to purchase a gun for her home. She has some previous handgun experience, when she went shooting with her late husband, a military officer. (His guns went to her son, who lives in VA.) She said she always enjoyed shooting handguns, never liked shotguns or rifles.

Here's the rub. She's in her sixties, and has arthritis in her hands. It's generally not a problem, though it has diminished her hand strength a bit, and she indicates that she's concerned that recoil might cause her pain. So, she's asked me to help her choose a handgun. She wants a handgun because she can lock it in a small safe in her nightstand when her grandchildren stay with her, plus she just likes handguns (I can understand).

I plan on taking her to a range to try some on, if you will. I'll take my Glock 19, my Smith Model 19, and my Smith 649. My question is what other handguns do you all know of that are light kicking, but still at least marginally adequate for defensive purposes. The range rental counter is well stocked, and we should be able to try out most anything you can think of. Should we try some .380's?

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December 22, 2004, 10:49 AM
4 inch full / mid frame .357 magnum revolver loaded with .38 special. Say a 686 or K frame or GP100.

No worries about racking a slide, should be heavy enough to absorb recoil, allows her to practice with light loads and load up with say .38+P (she should shoot a few familiarizing rounds of the carry ammo though). Carrying a stout round should be of little consequence as far as pain in the hands go if she ever needs to use it to defend her life. I am not suggestion full bore .357 maggie now.

That is my 2 cents. So for say $400 ballpark you should be able to get a nice GP100 a couple boxes of defensive ammo and a couple of speed loaders.

.380s tend to be small and have snappy recoil.
.32 Magnum might be an option. Pretty potent and not too much kick from the all steel platforms.
No snubby revolvers.

If she is super recoil sensitive then a .22 magnum or 10 shot .22 revolver might fit the bill. Yes we are now talking about a very mild round but if she can put a round or two in the face my guess is our guys survival instict will be to get the hell out of dodge.

My two cents.

December 22, 2004, 10:51 AM
+1 on a revolver. You might also comsider a Taurus or Rossi. I had a great little model 85 that my wife enjoyed shooting.

December 22, 2004, 10:53 AM
4 inch full / mid frame .357 magnum revolver loaded with .38 special. Say a 686 or K frame or GP100.

I second the motion. Was what I was thinking when I saw the original post then their you were with the answer.

December 22, 2004, 11:02 AM
351 Scandium .22 Magnum S&W revolver or the 317 aluminum frame .22 lr S&W revolver may be the answer.
Low recoil, marginal blast and flash, no slide to manipulate, no safety to remember to disengage.
3" barrel maximum and the advantage is these are a lot harder to pull away from an old lady with arthritis.
Short guns force the the assailant to get closer to the gun than most want to be to attempt a disarming.
Point and shoot. enough cartridges in the cylinder to get the job done.
Make no dillusions about this either, a .22 Stinger or .22 Magnum hollowpoint will kill or disable an assailant more reliably than many have been lead to believe.

December 22, 2004, 11:03 AM
S&W has a couple of new revolvers in .22 Magnum and .32 Magnum. While not as potent as a .38Spl or larger they may be more to her size and physical problems. If she has a problem with the size guns you plan on bringing, you should consider these.

December 22, 2004, 11:25 AM
K frame S&W with a rubber grip that fits her hand. Load it with .38spl.

I'd stay away from autos.

A Haslem
December 22, 2004, 11:32 AM
I would agree the 38 spec. would be a good choice if she can manipulate the trigger with her arthritis.
If she needs a lighter trigger pull and low recoil, I would recommend a Browning HP in 9mm. It is reliable and easy to shoot once you are familiar with the single action operation. My wife shoots mine and likes it. I also equiped it with the Crimson Trace laser grips and she really likes this sight.

George S.
December 22, 2004, 12:11 PM
.38 would be my initial suggestion, but she should definitely go to a shop and try a number of different sized revolvers to insure it will fit her hand. Having arthritis can make it very difficult for a person to easily grip a revolver, no matter what the frame size is. Also a heavier weight revolver may be a problem. One of the titanium revolvers might be the best solution for weight.

Also with arthritis, she may have problems with immediately picking up a revolver and firmly gripping it. I recall times when my mom couldn't pick up a coffee cup for 10 minutes until she got enough strength in her hand and got some flexibility.

She should shoot a number of revolvers to see what works and feels best and then shoot a variety of loads to see what effect recoil will have on her. There would be no point in recommending a +P load if she has problems with wadcutters.

Brett Bellmore
December 22, 2004, 12:20 PM
Calico 9mm pistol; Negligable recoil, and after the first 20 or thirty slugs, the bad guy won't care that 9mm is whimpy. :evil:

December 22, 2004, 12:22 PM
A 22 Magnum Revolver is an option. Prob. with a 3 inch tube. Night sites will be beneficial too. Crimson Trace grips are even better.
An other option is, IMO, a Bersa .22. Since the lady enjoy shooying, she can be trained to point the gun and shoot the hole clip into the agressor's face in 2-3 seconds at room distance. I do not know if there are Crinson Trace grips for the Bersa, but with a good flash light and training, she can do it. Attention should be paid when choosing the 22 ammo, however.
Hope she will never have to use whatever gun she may choose.

December 22, 2004, 12:28 PM
I would suggest a 38 wheel gun, with reservation...AND an airhorn, or any other way of making ALLOT of noise.... if your next door, it would be a good signal..of danger. personally I feel un comfortable, with someone, in fear,being armed for the first time, or second time or third time, who is not and has not been armed continually in the past....... the last thing you want, or she would want, is to shoot, the paperboy, or someone not ment for the bullet, in general people "feel " protected when getting a gun, and the other points, like know how to use it, or when, is not addressed. Arc-Lite

December 22, 2004, 12:36 PM
the last thing you want, or she would want, is to shoot, the paperboy

I dunno, depends on the paperboy doesn't it? :evil:

Just kidding. Arc makes great points. Having a gun is next to useless and downright dangerous unless she is going to take the time to practice regularly and understand the laws involved.

December 22, 2004, 12:38 PM
I go with the goof proof .38 myself. I shoot a lot but I don't want to think about too much at "O dark hunnert" when I NEED it. Another benefit is you can still get GREAT deals on used .38s from Security Guard agencies or Police Department turn ins or wherever they came from. Mine show much holster wear but is still in great shape besides the bluing and one grip being worn. Plus, someone else went through the process of smoothing the trigger through use or dry fire.

December 22, 2004, 12:47 PM
A revovler is a good idea.

A Bersa .380 might also work, the recoil is actually much less than you would think for a blowback.

I know she is thinking pistol, but considering the issue with arthritis, I would think that a small pistol caliber carbine would be best choice.

Something like the beretta storm would work very well.


Browns Fan
December 22, 2004, 12:48 PM
By far, the best recoil-dampening technology is Taurus' ribbed rubber grips for their revos. I have a Titanium Tracker .357. I can shoot any load I want without pain... and I'm pretty recoil sensitive.

December 22, 2004, 01:04 PM
As others have stated, the .38 is a great round. I would also recommend that she take a look at the 3" Ruger GP100. My reasoning is that due to the somewhat smaller grip size she may find this more to her liking. Another point in its favor are that many people find the 3" variant to be extremely well balanced and a natural point and shoot gun. The 4" 686 and GP100 can seem a little bit too large for some folks. I also am a very firm believer in putting in some range time if you are going to have a gun for defensive purposes and thoroughly understanding the laws regarding the use of deadly force.

December 22, 2004, 01:06 PM
I know you said handgun, but i'd still recommend a shotgun... Mossberg and Winchester both offer .410 cal, and 20 Ga. versions of HD shotguns, with/without lights, lasers, extended tubes and SAFETY LOCK RACKS that bolt to a closet wall, and allow the action to be "blocked" and the gun locked in place...

even with my experience with firearms and ability to shoot a pistol, when it comes to a weird sound in my house at night, the handgun goes in the waistband/pocket and i grab the Remington Marine Mag, with it's extended mag, open bore, and short overall length...

and she has far less experience, and is already fighting the "itis" brothers (arthur and burs) and a pump shotty is a darned formidable weapon...

December 22, 2004, 01:21 PM
I've trained a number of folks with serious arthritis problems, and have learned a few things the hard way. FWIW, here they are:

1. A long, relatively heavy trigger pull is NOT the way to go for severe arthritis. This tends to rule out a revolver, unless the DA trigger is truly excellent. A trigger job by someone really good can help.

2. Recoil, also, is a Bad Thing for arthritis pain. This means that a powerful round is out of the question.

3. The weight of the gun is also a factor. I've seen some folks who like the trigger pull, and can handle the mild recoil, but who can't hold the gun steady because its weight is too much for their weakened hands and wrists to handle. Even a K-frame S&W can be too much.

4. Accuracy can be a problem if there is severe shaking of the hands. This is often not evident until the person is actually shooting, so that the combination of recoil, long trigger pull, and gun weight can work their effect.

What I've gone with in most cases of severe arthritis is a decent .22 auto such as a Browning Buckmark or a Ruger Mk. II. Their triggers are usually relatively light; the trigger pull is relatively short; and even though they only hold 10 rounds of .22, that's a heck of a lot better than nothing, particularly if you use rounds like the CCI Velocitor, which I consider the best SD round available in that caliber at the moment.

If they can handle slightly greater recoil/weight/trigger pull, I agree that the Bersa Thunder in .380 is a reasonably effective choice. Not all of them can handle it, though: it's still quite a sharp kick for a novice gunhandler.

Hope this helps.

December 22, 2004, 01:56 PM
Guys, I have a Smith Model 19 with a 2.5" barrel, and I find that recoil is minimal with standar pressure .38's. I plan to let her try that, and see how it goes. I have several grips (Hogue, Pachmayr, Uncle Mike's) so we can try different shapes and sizes.

I also have a Smith 422, so I'll let her get a few rounds of .22 under her belt as well. Her hands don't visibly shake, so I'm not too worried about that. And, she does a lot of gardening, and is tough with a shovel, so I think she can probably do alright with the weight of a handgun, provided it's not a 6" N-fram with full lug barrel.

I like the idea of a revolver for simplicity sake, in terms of manual of arms, etc. My concern is the trigger ulll. That we'll just have to try to see. I had a thought about trying to find one of the Beretta .380's with the tip-up barrel, so she wouldn't have to cycle the slide to load and unload the gun. And, I can help her load mags if needed.

One more question along the way. Assuming for the moment we can get a .38 to suit her, what ammo should we go with. I'd sacrifice a box of my standard pressure Nyclads for her, which I think are the best choice. If .22 turns out to be the better option, I'll need some help.

AS to training, I'm not worried about that. She's signed up for a basic course at a local range, where everything is provided, and plans to follow up with additional training. She's asked for my help because (1) she thinks the staff at the range will push her towards a more expensive choice just because of the profit and (2) for some reason, despite the fact that I'm a lawyer, she trusts me. :)

As to the carbine/shotgun options, I'll talk with her about that, but she specifically said "handgun" to me, which is why I've put my thoughts in that direction. I'd rather help her with what she wants than see her go to a gunshop and walk out with a $1,000 pistol she can't use.

As for noise getting attention from the neighbors, her alarm has external speakers. If the BG is lucky, I'll get there before my other neighbors, the 280 lb steelworker with the blackbelts in several different martial arts, or the retired train engineer with the shotgun collection. :D

December 22, 2004, 02:45 PM
I agree with a revolver. I've seen a GP100 as a suggestion here but I think it may be a bit TOO heavy. Airweights and most snubbys TOO light.

I'd pick a Ruger SP101 in .38spl

JMO :)

December 22, 2004, 03:23 PM
Definitely the revolver. A Colt MKIII Trooper?

December 22, 2004, 03:32 PM
I'm going to make a suggestion ... and I know some of you are going to think I'm just funnin' with you but I'm serious.

AR-15 pistol w/30 round mag (like an Olympic Arms OA-93).

Light recoil
can be shot two handed
effective cartridge (with little overpenetration problem ... Massad Ayoob recommends a .223 over a 12ga for this reason)
easily loaded/charged
small enough to fit in a bedside safe.
scary as hell to look at
easy to mount optics on if needed (although for an HD gun for an elderly lady, a laser would be perfect)
No need to reload (if she needs more then 30 rds of .223 then there's no handgun that would have saved her either)


Only downside is price.

December 22, 2004, 04:10 PM
I say revolver. Perhaps a couple of other good choices are Ruger Speed Six and Security Six. Mid-size revolvers that weigh in at about 30 onces. Double action. .357 magnum or lesser rounds.

One other thing I would watch out for semi-autos is that some require quite a bit of hand and finger strength to rack the slide as well as load the magazine.

December 22, 2004, 04:24 PM
1. A long, relatively heavy trigger pull is NOT the way to go for severe arthritis. This tends to rule out a revolver, unless the DA trigger is truly excellent. A trigger job by someone really good can help.

2. Recoil, also, is a Bad Thing for arthritis pain. This means that a powerful round is out of the question.

3. The weight of the gun is also a factor. I've seen some folks who like the trigger pull, and can handle the mild recoil, but who can't hold the gun steady because its weight is too much for their weakened hands and wrists to handle. Even a K-frame S&W can be too much.

I think a Beretta Tomcat might be the best choice. This is a reletively small gun that should be easy to handle. It is .32 caliber so recoil shouldn't be a problem. The first round can be loaded by tipping the barrel so racking the slide won't be a problem.

December 22, 2004, 05:32 PM
I traded off a .22 Mag Taurus because I couldn't stand the flash & blast of shooting it- and I like to shoot .357! Not a good idea as an HD weapon IMHO.

December 23, 2004, 02:04 AM
I tend to agree with Jacketch on this one when it comes to a choice of an automatic. The tomcat would be a good choice.

I worked with my 80 year old aunt to find a handgun that she both liked and could manage. Almost all auto's gave her trouble with pulling the slide back.

She didn't like the feel of the Tomcat and prefered a revolver. In this case, she picked up a Taurua 941 revolver in .22 mag (4 inch barrel) and wouldn't put it down. She loves it. She does single action shooting with it and can manage pulling back the hammer ( a little bit of a struggle for her though). She passed her shooting test during CCW training and now has a CCW permit.

I personaly think she might have also liked , and could handle the small frame revolvers in calibers up to .38 spl. , although I'm thinking the .32 H&R mag would have been an excellant choice. (allowing for practice with .32 short or .32 long ammo)

December 23, 2004, 09:54 AM
One of my first guns was a 3" ported Taurus 85. It currently is "on loan" to my mother. With Glaser safety slugs and the porting, it is a pussycat on recoil. I had a local shop work the trigger over a little. While not as good as a decent S&W, it is easy enough for my mother to pull.

December 23, 2004, 10:06 AM
I think this is going to take some research at the range.

Most of the suggestions have been good but it's an empirical question.

I see several threads:

1. The heavier 38SPL/357 with lighter loads
2. A 22 revolver
3. A 380, depending on it's recoil.

Trigger pull is a problem. The SW 22 revolvers have a heavy DA pull.

I'll through in another one. I read about folks with weak hands being able to manipulate a SA revolver and liking it's light trigger pull. One can get them easily in 22, 22 Mag, 32, 38/357. Yes, you have a slower rate of fire without practice. It's a suggestion. I have a Ruger SS Bearcat that is real easy to shoot and cock.

I think the person in question just as to try before buy.

December 23, 2004, 11:56 AM
how bout a 410 shotgun?remember that "snake charmer" model?

its a break action and yes a single shot but a single shot in 410 at close range should be enough at close range to do the trick.she can have a smith modify the release lever to be larger.

another option would be a revolver chambered in 9mm.hammerless.

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