Best .380 CCW for my mother


April 23, 2008, 11:04 PM
I was talking with my mother today about why I bought a gun, I was prepared for a fight to defend my purchase, instead I hear "I should probably carry a gun". She is a Realtor and often has to be out alone in the country at night. She is 60+ and not a very strong woman. I told her I would research pistols for her and give her a recommendation. I usually hang out at and right now all they can talk about in the semi-auto forum is the LCP so .380 immediately sprang to mind for my mom.

Here's the relevant info

She's an older lady, not very strong.

I don't think she's ever fired a gun in her life, but I could be wrong. She said she would get trained and use to a gun before she CC with it.

She dresses very feminine and very classy.

She deals with a large variety of people and it's important that it is concealed, because you never know who would decide to buy a house from someone else because she was carrying.

I'm thinking .380 would be the best for her. I don't want to get a lot of comments about how it's not the best for defense. Trust me when my wife and I get our CCW it will be .357's or 45ACP. I just don't think my mother could handle those. I just want to know what the best .380 out there is. Price isn't really a problem, she has the money. After a little research I was thinking a SIG P232? Any other ideas?

If you enjoyed reading about "Best .380 CCW for my mother" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
April 23, 2008, 11:09 PM
If shes not very strong, get something else. 380s tend to be very lite weight, and the recoil on my Sig 232 was VERY snappy. kicked as hard as my 9mm.

April 23, 2008, 11:17 PM
If she isn't strong, racking the slide on a blowback 380 can be a problem. I'd suggest a Colt Government 380, or a Beretta 86. The Colt is a locked breech recoil operated 380, and it is far easier to rack the slide than a blowback gun. t also has a smaller form factor and fits small hands.

The Beretta 86 has a tip up barrel, which also makes it easy to load for those without a lot of hand strength.

Of course both of these pistols are out of production, and the Colt is commanding premium prices.

The SiG 232 is very nice, but some women have trouble working the slide.

Have you considered a small 38 revolver like a S&W 36 or any of the hammerless J frames?

April 23, 2008, 11:17 PM
Get a High Standard Model G, they're classy.

Doc S
April 24, 2008, 12:09 AM
I'd probably get her a revolver rather than an Auto...
I know you're probably interested in getting her something small, but beware, the recoil can be pretty severe (especially in smaller ones like Kel-Tec and Ruger). Additionlly, she may have difficulty charging the slide. Revolvers tend to be much better for less experienced shooters and are very reliable...

I'd probably go with a .38 or the .32 magnum looks promissing.

Just my .02 worth.

God Bless,
Doc S

April 24, 2008, 01:11 AM
CZ 82 carried DA would be my RECOMENDATION but really SHE has to pick a gunthat fits her

April 24, 2008, 01:22 AM
Have you considered something in a .38 Special? Standard pressure .38 Special rounds will probably have no more recoil than a .380 Auto and possible less depending upon the gun.

If she isn't very strong you might want to suggest a revolver. A Ruger SP101, S&W M640 or M649 would be heavy enough to soak up most of the recoil from a .38 Special round while retaining the ability to conceal. Also, with a revolver your Mom won't have to worry about racking the slide or clearing a jam.

April 24, 2008, 01:26 AM
i back the 38spec argument
if shes a weak old woman shes very likely to limp wrist and effectively make the 380 a one shot gun

April 24, 2008, 01:32 AM
Ruger SP 101 in .38 Special. It's heavy enough that standard pressure .38 loads will be very manageable. Add a good concealed carry purse and she'll not know it's there.

I can see though that trying to advise a lady on what purse to carry could lead to getting hit by one. Look those up on the web and let her pick it.

Lots of other guns that would work, but the revolver vs. semi auto is good advice.

April 24, 2008, 01:43 AM
.380 Colt Mustangs are popular carry weapons; small and reliable.

You'll have to go the used market though (Colt stopped production years ago) and they aren't cheap, but ladies especially seem to be fond of them.

April 24, 2008, 02:13 AM
Let 'er try a few guns. I'd suggest the CZ 83 - a doublestack .380 (or Beretta's equivalent. Model 84 or 86, if memory serves). Think it can be carried cocked & locked.
Don't consider a revolver unless she can manipulate the (fairly heavy) DA trigger.

April 24, 2008, 02:37 AM
If the gun isn't very small and very light, she is not likely to develop the habit of always carrying it.

Small revolvers are simple, but they are expert's guns. They are difficult to learn to shoot well and even with standard .38 ammo, I think they recoil more than any .380. Plus, they really aren't all that small.

I see three possibilities. A Beretta Tom Cat in .32acp. She would appreciate the tip up barrel. Even the little Bob Cat in ,22LR is worth considering. Mine has 1000's of rounds through it and is very reliable.

The new Ruger LCP .380 is worth considering.

Larger but still light is the Kahr CW9. Even though it is a 9mm, the felt recoil is negligible, less than a light J frame.

Whatever the choice the gun needs to be a DA with no safety to worry about. Just point and pull.

Baba Louie
April 24, 2008, 07:54 AM
I don't think she's ever fired a gun in her life, but I could be wrong. She said she would get trained and use to a gun before she CC with it.
A wise women it appears. Take her to the range. Start her with a .22, instructions on the basics, rules of safe handling (yada yada). Allow her to ease into the pool slowly increasing her exposure as she gains some experience. Make her shooting experience fun and enjoyable.

Skills of arms are one thing (and a good thing one could argue). The development of her defensive mindset that should go hand in hand, worth its weight in gold.

April 24, 2008, 09:17 AM
If she is intent on a .380, I'd suggest the COLT MUSTANG but using hollow-point self-defense loads. The Mustang is small, easily concealed, and with the proper self-defense load will have a 'bite' to it that's effective.

April 24, 2008, 09:41 AM
Gotta take her out and buy her whatever she picks out ...

April 24, 2008, 09:43 AM
Keltec P32 with a +1 extension for 9rds and better grip.
recoil is light,slide is easy and will still meet or exceed the FBI 12" pen requirement with standard FMJ ball ammo.
..can also be beefed up a bit with hotter loads like Corbon,fiocchi,S&B etc..

April 24, 2008, 09:44 AM
A revolver would be a good choice, especially it she has a hard time racking the slide of a semi-auto.

April 24, 2008, 09:50 AM
Have her go take her CCW class first. A class that offers several different types of firearms in different calibers. Then based on that: LET HER PICK OUT HER OWN GUN!!!!! Choosing a self defense tool is a very personal thing, just like picking out shoes. I wouldn't want someone else buying me shoes, and I sure as heck wouldn't want someone else picking out my firearms. Please, do not underestimate women and the semi automatic. Makes me crazy when guys think that ladies should only carry revolvers.:banghead:

I am a Realtor as well. I am also a concealed carry instructor. I absolutely love having fellow Realtors in my classes.

April 24, 2008, 10:05 AM
I got my mother-in-law a 38 spl. She could not rack the slide and had a hard time loading the mag on an automatic. But the revolver worked great for her. She could load it, cock the hammer and blast away.

BUT, my dear sweet heart carries a 380 auto and a 9mm, because that's is what she wants. She is a better shot than me too.

April 24, 2008, 10:32 AM
The two .380s I'd normally recommend, the Beretta 85 and Sig P232, both have heavy springs and I believe would prove hard to operate by a weaker elder. You will need to find a pistol your Mom can easily operate.

The Beretta 86 is ideal but is out of production I think. A used Beretta 86may be the way to go. No slide to rack, move a lever, raise the barrel, and load. It has a more full grip for easing recoil too. The only problem may be in finding one.
info link

April 24, 2008, 10:36 AM
I'd vote for the Beretta 80 series. They are fairly small but have pretty light recoil, very accurate, hold up 13+1, and you can get a model with a tip-up barrel so you don't have to slingshot it. The only downside is that they are probably the most expensive .380 you can buy, but you said price is not an issue. I saw one new recently for $650.

April 24, 2008, 10:54 AM
A .38 Spl. revolver.

If shes not a "gun person", which she apparently isn't, a revolver is far safer, & totally foolproof. A .380 auto isn't.

A revolver is either loaded, or it isn't.

If it is loaded it will go bang when you pull the trigger.
If it isn't loaded, it won't.

No manual of arms to learn & remember.
No safety or slide lock to worry about.
No possible chance of removing the magazine and shooting the round in the chamber by accident.

In short, load it and it's always ready to go.
Unload it and it's not.


Doc S
April 24, 2008, 11:07 AM

It's not that we are looking on women as weaker and in the opinion that all women need only a revolver. He mentioned that she's not very strong. I'm imagining her having difficulty racking the slide. If someone told me they had a father or grand father that was weak, I would suggest the same thing.

As was previously mentioned, with a semi-auto, the chances of her limp wristing one that's light with a fair amount of recoil is pretty good. I've seen young stocky men have problems with a Kel-Tec P3AT (.380).

My mom's not frail and isn't "weak", but she can't shoot my P3AT very effectively. She limp wrists it and causes it to not go into battery. I wouldn't feel comfortable with her carrying that for protection. She shot my .38 snubbie pretty well, so I gave it to her...

I don't think anyone here meant to be offensive or sexist. I know I didn't.

Warmest regard and God Bless,
Doc S

April 24, 2008, 11:09 AM
first off she the one that gets to choose.
I have 2 women in my life and neither would go near a .380.
Have her look up the website
Mt daughter carries a 1911 and my wfe a J frame.
A Lady Smith is classy as hell.


April 24, 2008, 11:29 AM
Again I have to recommend the Bersa .380. I've been doing that alot lately.

Out of all the .380s on the market it was the only one my wife could manipulate the slide on. She also has a tendency to limp wrist a little and so far it hasn't effected the reliability of the little Bersa.

Have her give that one a shot and see what she thinks.

April 24, 2008, 11:44 AM
Both my girlfriend and her mother carry S&W Hammerless Lady Smith revolvers in .38 Special. They are very small, light, easy to use, and you don't have to worry about a slide.

They both have incredibly weak grips and have trouble cycling most semi's, so the double-action trigger (9-10 lbs) was initially a little stiff and hard to keep on target. We added a new trigger spring to lower the trigger pull (now about 5-6 lbs), tossed on a Hogue grip to help with the recoil, and now everything is great.

They both give the LS a thumbs up.

Texas Tass
April 24, 2008, 05:53 PM
I started with a Charter Arms .38 special (it was free...) I even qualified for my CHL with it (re-qualified later with a semi).

I now also have a Kel Tec .380 and a Glock 26. I enjoy shooting the 9mm, the .380 is my least favorite, but it is more concealable (5' tall, small frame)on me than the .38. The recoil on all 3 hasn't been an issue for me-that I worked through. My problem, which was evident in a tactical pistol class with the 9mm-2 days and 1000 rounds, is arthritis and some nerve damage making it difficult to rack the slide and load magazines when my hands were tired.

I was told I wouldn't be able to shoot the .38 accurately as a beginner, that theory was dispelled quickly. I still love my revolver.

Let her try several and see what her preference is.

Cypress, TX

April 24, 2008, 06:01 PM
Doc S, I took NO offense to any of this. Gosh, I've got a stronger spine than that. :p I've got to with ALL these men in my life!!!;)

Racking the slide is generally the hardest thing for the ladies to learn to do. It was for me too. But with practice, it can usually be overcome if the person has the desire to do so. Often times, ladies will think they will hurt the gun if they're rough with them. Explain that they will not. Now granted, if someone is elderly or has arthritic hands, that causes a new problem indeed. Although, there are some firearms out there that have an easier slide on them.

I have to look at it as a safety aspect since I am a CCW instructor. God forbid the 5-7 rounds that a revolver holds are all shoot out, you now have a sitting duck for a victim. Some statistics that I have seen show that under stress, only 20% of your shoots hit the mark. That means 1 shoot from that revolver will hit the criminal. Under stress, one is not going to be able to reload that revolver, even with a speedloader. That becomes a fine motor skill. It is much easier to hit a magazine release button and shove another mag in, and be back into the action within a matter of a couple seconds. That's why I'm not a big fan of revolvers for concealed carry, especially for someone who is not going to practice speed reloads under stress.

April 24, 2008, 06:33 PM
I carry a Bersa T380 everyday, and love it. it's accurate, relatively low recoil, slim, very easy to conceal, and above all, reliable. i've had several smaller women shoot it with no problems, even though i noticed just from the way the gun recoiled that they were limp wristing. It still functioned w/o a single problem.
just my .02

April 24, 2008, 08:03 PM
Ya know...I really like my Beretta .25 auto. It has the tip up barrel. It can be fired SA or DA. It is good for those of us with small hands. I have small hands for a man.

You can buy those expensive fancy rounds for .25's, too. And is is good for deep concealment. Just a thought. :)

April 24, 2008, 08:15 PM
Ruger LCP

April 24, 2008, 08:23 PM
Most folks say a revolver is the easiest for a non-shooter to get used to shooting and less possible malfunctions. If you decide to go the revolver route alot of really good things are being said about the new 327 magnum--six shoots instead of five and better power factor than a 380.

Good Luck

April 24, 2008, 08:31 PM
If it's her money, I would wait a few months and talk her into getting a Kahr .380. That way she can buy it, and you can shoot it and see if you like it before you shell out the $600 bucks for your own.

Otherwise, I would have to agree with the Bersa .380. I have the CC version and it is a real sweet shooter, and is more reliable than a Kel Tec out of the box. Can't speak for the LCP as I don't have one.

April 24, 2008, 08:44 PM
Just make sure that it fits her hand. :)

April 24, 2008, 09:08 PM
I was reading and say some stuff about how the .380 tends to kick quite a bit since the arms that are made for them are so light. I've never fired a .380, so I wouldn't know. Is this true, does a 9mm or .38 in a heaver frame gun kick less? This is important, I want to make sure to give my mother the best advice. Just wish I had all the guns I eventually want to own so I could let her test them all out. Sadly for now it's my Mark III 22/45. Nothing against it, just want many, many more.

The Lone Haranguer
April 24, 2008, 10:39 PM
It would be a mistake to assume a .380 has less recoil just because of the less powerful cartridge. The small size and light weight of many of them actually increases the recoil sensation. One exception is the Beretta "Cheetah" series (Models 84, 85 and 86). But now you have a .380 the size of many compact 9mms but firing a less powerful cartridge.

I would seriously look at a Kahr K9. They fit smaller hands well, the trigger pull is light (albeit long) and have some weight - as well as a nicely shaped grip - to tame the 9mm recoil. The slide racking can be gotten around with proper technique.

April 25, 2008, 12:29 AM
I was reading and say some stuff about how the .380 tends to kick quite a bit since the arms that are made for them are so light. I've never fired a .380, so I wouldn't know. Is this true, does a 9mm or .38 in a heaver frame gun kick less? This is important, I want to make sure to give my mother the best advice. Just wish I had all the guns I eventually want to own so I could let her test them all out. Sadly for now it's my Mark III 22/45. Nothing against it, just want many, many more.
Yes, a .38 Special will kick less than a light .380 Auto especially if you use a standard pressure .38 Special round and a heavier revolver like the Ruger SP101, S&W M640 or M649 like I suggested in my first post. A 24/25oz revolver firing a .38 Special is very easy to handle and doesn't have that sharp snap you get with a .380 Auto. A 9mm has a similar snap as the .380 Auto and might not be right for your Mom. Like the others have suggested, have your Mom shoot a few different handguns so she can get a feel for what she might like.

Remember, I'm suggesting a 24oz J frame, not a 12oz Airlite or 15oz Airweight J frame. The recoil on those will be uncomfortable for an older person who doesn't have a lot of hand strength.

I have a M640 which is a 24oz .357 Magnum and it's comfortable to shoot Magnum rounds and extremely comfortable to shoot .38 Special rounds.

Also, you said price isn't a issue so any revolver you get can be sent to a good custom shop for a trigger and action job and what ever else is needed to make the revolver shoot easily.

str8t shootr
April 25, 2008, 12:59 AM
I sell a lot of guns and I would recommend a 38 special, hammerless if you can get one. Most women who are unfamiliar with guns won't know what to do with an auto, or won't be able to rack the slide. The bersa .380 isn't bad but it is still an auto with a lot of things that can go wrong.

My wife has been around guns her whole life and she shoots a lot of autos with me. Even so she still never got comfortable with a carry gun of her own until she got her 38 special (hammerless).

Keep it simple is best.

April 25, 2008, 01:22 AM
I see a smallish, frail lady with an eight inch 44 magnum on a garder holster... or...make some educated reccomendations, take her to the range,rent a few and let her decide for herself. try both revolver and semiauto, then sign her into a class to learn how to use it effectively.
just my $0.02

April 25, 2008, 11:52 AM
I have often heard that the .380 tends to kick, but I have never experienced that myself. Out of my Cheetah, and my Bersa, both .380s have always felt very mild to me. My fiance also has no problem with either one.

Rex B
April 25, 2008, 02:27 PM
You can't generalize on recoil.
I have 6 .380s, 4 9mm, and a .38 spl
Of the .380s:
The blowback-operated Escort has the worst recoil
The Locked-breech Keltec has the next worst, due to weight and size.
The all-steel, locked-breech Llama is the best, about like a .22 magnum
Of the .38 Spl revolvers
My wifes Agent is J-frame size, all steel, hurts me to shoot, doesn't bother her
My M10 K-frame is no problem at all, for either of us.
9mm - mine vary by weight, all are locked-breech, so the only difference is the weight - more is better for recoil. Less is better for carry.

So with my experience, and not having shot one, I'd say the Bersa would be the one to try first IF it's locked breach. Anyone know off-hand?

The pinkie lip on the Keltec mag is a big deal. By allowing more control with less grip pressure, you are better able to handle the recoil. I won't hardly shoot mine without one.

Having said all that, be sure a Keltec P32 is on your list to try. I handful of Silvertips in the breadbasket is is a pretty good deal breaker for a BG.

April 25, 2008, 03:07 PM
I would take a look at the Ruger SP101 and possibly look at the 3inch barrel chambered in .327 Fed Magnum.

Recoil with the 85gr bullet should be minimized because of the longer barrel and smaller bullet, but it's actually more powerful than the .38 sp at any load, and comparable to the .357 magum in it's larger loads.

The downside would be ammo cost, but if it's only a CCW piece to be used for self defense you don't really need all that much ammo. You can also shoot .32
H&R magnum bullets out of it as well as .32 S &W long and short, which may be good options for practice. You also gain an extra round (6) instead of (5) with .357's or .38sp's of the same size frame.

3rd Generation American
April 25, 2008, 04:48 PM
show this to her and see if she likes it.

6 shots good for CCW and packs stoping power with out the kick to the shooter. and you can use lots of different ammo in it.

April 25, 2008, 05:49 PM
I'd probably recommend a Kahr K9 or P9. Even the polymer models have basically no recoil to speak of. Personally, I find that compact .380s have even more uncomfortable recoil than my MK40.

April 25, 2008, 10:37 PM
So with my experience, and not having shot one, I'd say the Bersa would be the one to try first IF it's locked breach. Anyone know off-hand?
The Bersa is a blowback, not locked.

April 25, 2008, 11:06 PM
I would recommend the Ruger SP101 in either .357 or .327. with 3 inch barrell.

Personally, I'd recommend to my Mother to go with the .357. It's versatile and she can shoot either .38 or .357. It's a tank and will help reduce felt recoil. She' going to need alot of practice and .38 ammo is way cheaper. I don't think she would like to practice with the .380. I hear tough, strong, young guys complain about the slap of the .380.

I bet she'd be more accurate with the SP101 than any of those .380's.

No slides to contend with. She may not be able to clear a jam in the heat of the moment. If she pulls the trigger and nothing happens just pull it again.

Easier to clean a revolver. She must learn to maintain the gun.

April 25, 2008, 11:15 PM
Bersa Thunder 380:

Accurate, controllable, easily rackable, and about as small as you're gonna' get for a reliable/respectable auto - around $200 out the door...

If you enjoyed reading about "Best .380 CCW for my mother" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!