Hello from a Newbie with Questions


May 1, 2008, 10:27 AM
Hello from a Newbie. I've been lurking for a month or so and have been very impressed with the quality of the discussions here.

I'm yet another woman with small hands facing the problem of finding a carry gun that fits. My issue isn't so much the business of reaching the trigger and I'm strong enough to rack the slide on almost every gun I've ever tried. I've fired a friend's S&W M&P and, with the smallest grip insert, it was OK to fire but still too big around for comfort and confidence.

Rather, my problem is that I can't seem to reach the slide release and the magazine disconnect on what I've seen so far. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I ought to be able to do these things with one hand since, in an emergency, my left hand may well be occupied with one of my young kids.

I'm going to a gun show this week and am collecting a list of small, 9mm guns to seek out and handle. What sort of suggestions do you all have in the way of 9mm, semi-automatic, carry guns that don't have so much distance to reach the necessary buttons and levers?

Perhaps as important, do you have any warnings of things to beware of? Guns that are notoriously nasty in their recoil (my CC instructor last week described a miniature revolver as "painful")? Guns that aren't made well? ???

I'm not considering revolvers right now because I don't enjoy shooting them (the opposite of my DD who likes revolvers and dislikes semi-autos). And I'm not planning to actually buy at the show -- just collect information and take notes. :)

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May 1, 2008, 10:33 AM
Bersa Thunder 380. You won't be unhappy with it. This is my primary carry pistol during the warmer months. My wife has tiny hands and this pistol is a great fit for her. She won't even consider a revolver because they aren't cool.:barf: The Kahr is pretty small as well, but I had no luck with my one and only example and probably won't give one another chance. Kel-Tec, Beretta, Smith and Wesson, Glock, all have some form of uber compact pistols too.

Smokey Joe
May 1, 2008, 10:34 AM
3 Killer B's--Welcome to THR! Good to have you aboard! Sounds like you're Doing It Right in researching the handgun to buy before buying headlong. Good luck in finding "YOUR" firearm! (Of course, when you do, we'll need pix!)

May 1, 2008, 10:35 AM
Oh...and welcome!

May 1, 2008, 10:35 AM
Welcome aboard sister!

Rather, my problem is that I can't seem to reach the slide release and the magazine disconnect on what I've seen so far. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I ought to be able to do these things with one hand since, in an emergency, my left hand may well be occupied with one of my young kids.

I'm going to a gun show this week and am collecting a list of small, 9mm guns to seek out and handle. What sort of suggestions do you all have in the way of 9mm, semi-automatic, carry guns that don't have so much distance to reach the necessary buttons and levers?

Tactical training use of your weak hand will help you out. Find a local NRA handgun instructor to assist.

A second solution is to look into an appropriate 1911A1 model, you can modify the slide stop lever to reach your strong thumb.

May 1, 2008, 10:38 AM
Walther PPS (Police Pistol Slim)...

Also, you might want to stay away from polymers as a general rule, as they tend to be thicker in grip than steel. Also take a gander at the guns designed FOR ladies.

Vaya con Dios.

Grandpa Shooter
May 1, 2008, 10:39 AM
I am a man with small hands (ok, stubby fingers) and frequently can't reach the controls on semi's. I don't generally recommend Glocks to folks, but from your description, it sounds like a compact glock in 9mm or 40 S & W might be the cure.

There are no external safeties to worry about, and you can get a mag release extension, extended takedown piece, and extended slide release. There are likely others which have those options and someone will come along after me to offer their opinion.

Your idea of going to a gun show and handling a variety is a very good approach. Watch, listen and ask. If a dealer won't help, move on. The other option is to find a good ma and pa store where they will take the time to help.

May 1, 2008, 10:40 AM
Couple of disclaimers...I can read, and saw you wanted a 9mm, but looking at the recommendation I offer may give you some insight into features you want in other guns that are in 9mm.

I am not a rabid Kimber fan. I don't own one, but wouldn't reject one if someone gave it to me.

The Kimber SIS (http://www.kimberamerica.com/pistols/sis/) line of pistols were designed for, and partially by, the LAPD Special Investigation Section. Among the design criteria were one-hand operation. You will note the large block rear sight. This is to allow the slide to be actuated against any resistive surface....belt, steering wheel, edge of a car seat :-)

Point being: You may also want to consider investigating tactical solutions to one handed operation that don't require an unnecessary compromise in weapon size that will result in less manageable recoil, etc.

May 1, 2008, 10:40 AM
Check out this website: Cornered Cat (http://www.corneredcat.com/) Kathy Jackson is an expert as you will soon discover.

Also you might check the CZ RAMI cz-usa.com

May 1, 2008, 11:00 AM
I think you should check out the Kahr 9mm line. I have a CW9, the "lower end" of their line, but it's a great gun, shoots well, carries very easily 'cuz it's small and thin, and has been totally reliable.

I think you get all of these attributes with the PM9, MK9, etc but they're more nicely made and thus cost roughly $100-$200 more. Nice CCW guns all.

May 1, 2008, 11:06 AM
I don't have much to add to the good advice you've received so far, except to strongly suggest that you try to shoot any of the pistols that have been suggested before you buy one. For example, you might find that recoil in the Kahr CW-9 or PM-9 might be uncomfortable for you or, on the other hand, you might find it quite tolerable; but you don't want to spend money on a gun just to find out after you buy it that you don't really like it.

More importantly, welcome to THR!

May 1, 2008, 11:23 AM
Yup, cornercat.com has the best fitting guidance around (and is often quoted/excerpted here). You could search the site just using the website as a term and you'll find other good advice related.

The first issue is to find what family of guns point naturally for you. A "family" of guns would be like all the variants of 1911s. Whether .45, 10mm, 9mm or .40 you can find 1911s made to shoot them. Poly, widebody Al, steel single stack too are available. The thing they all have in common is similar controls layout and ergonomics. 1911s also have a specific grip angle that may naturally point for you. If a 1911 points for you then you can try on all the different members of the 1911 family and be assured that they'll all point for you regardless of whether you're handling a compact carry 9mm or a full size combat. Same for the guns in the CZ family or for the Sigg family.

Now we have the additional advantage/confusion of companies offering handguns that can change the grip angle so that you can make an M&P or Walther or Ruger point like a CZ or 1911 just by changing out a part of the grip. Wow! Now you can get a gun that you can make fit you instead of you having to fit it and without having to have a gunsmith tailor it to you.

If you like Glocks, but point 1911s, there are customizers that can melt and shave a Glock to point like a 1911 (or whatever). A young gunsmith locally has a set of police trade in G17s that point like a CZ or a 1911 (or even a Glock) that he's shaved and shaped. So if you want a Glock 19 and want it to point like something else there are smiths out there doing that as well.

In the defensive handgun classes we've taken we've seen a lot of good guns not stand up to the pounding of firing 1,000 rounds in 2 days. I've seen 2 Bersas break under that level of stress. I saw one sail through without a hiccup. I also saw two very expensive HK P7s fail during the same course. I've also seen inexpensive Witnesses (CZ clones) perform flawlessly.

My wife points CZs. She has CZ types in .45, 9mm and 40cal. Her Rami in .40 rides is her carry gun. I have 1911s from different makers. We both have smallish hands.

May 1, 2008, 11:32 AM
a lot of people recommend bersa and walther. I dont. They are not comfortable to shoot and the round is generally pretty small. If you have small hands and your set on 9mm i would suggest a Kahr. My other recommendation is the springfield xd(My girlfriend and i both have small hands and prefer the xd 45acp to all).

dont worry about recoil or caliber. get a gun that fits your hand with features you like. price of ammo is a consideration.

May 1, 2008, 11:49 AM
I can't reach the slide release or magazine release on any gun I shoot with just one hand without changing my grip. I just don't have long enough thumbs. I'm not sure many people do. That may be a constraint that you just don't need to be worried about. Truth be told, most defensive uses of handguns are over in less rounds than are in the magazine, so changing is probably not going to be the highest priorty. I'd place more emphasis on a gun you can shoot well, carry well, and are comfortable with, rather than with one that allows you to reach all the controls one handed.

May 1, 2008, 12:00 PM
Thank you all.

My Basic Pistol instructor pointed me to the Cornered Cat site and I've been studying it top to bottom. I even used it to create a gun safety mini-unit study for my homeschooled teens. :D

If it helps in making recommendations:

I chose to buy a Mark III Hunter (with the longer barrel because they're so beautifully balanced in my hand that I couldn't feel the difference in weight with one in each hand), rather than a .22/45 because it felt better in my hand and because I could reach all the stuff more readily.

I've fired a S&W M&P with the smallest grips on and while I can shoot it the gun just doesn't seem to sit right in my hand.

I held a Kimber Aegis and everything about it was impossible (a great disappointment because I've heard Kimbers so highly recommended).

I picked up a Taurus PT 92 because I thought it was beautiful. I just wanted to touch it but expected to find it impossible to reach anything on such a massive, monster of a gun. However, I found that, though I would have had to use my left hand for the slide and the magazine, it fit into my hand in a way that made me reluctant to put it down.

I don't know if any of that means anything. I'm too new to handguns to have the vocabulary to explain what I mean about the Kimber being impossible or that Taurus belonging in my hand.

Of course that Taurus wouldn't conceal under anything short of a parka and a hoopskirt. LOL

I'm writing down all the suggested guns, but I want to get a 9mm if at all possible because DH and I have, after doing our research and getting opinions from more knowledgeable friends, determined that's the best compromise for power, cost, and availability. We can't get the same gun so as to standardize holsters, magazines, etc. but we can at least hope to standardize our ammo. :)

Thanks again for all the advice.

May 1, 2008, 12:08 PM
Please do check out the Kahr line of compact 9mm pistols., especially the P9 and CW9. The CW9 is more affordable but only because it isn't prettied up with fancy machining. I think you will like them.

BTW, I have large hands and I still sometimes find it necessary to adjust my grip to reach and firmly press the mag release. It can be done one handed and with practice you can realign a proper shooting grip in a split second.

May 1, 2008, 12:17 PM
3KillerBs, sounds like you are coming along. 9mm is a great choice, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. With todays ammo, it's not a compromise.

I carry a Springfield Armory EMP because I love the 1911 platform, and just love this little gun. My full size 1911s are great, and .45 caliber is a fun round to shoot, but I carry a nice, light, slim 9mm. I used to carry a Springfield XD9 subcompact, but this EMP is just a little slimmer. The XDs are great, and they fit my hand wonderfully. I didn't like the M&P either, didn't fit my stubby fingers.

You may also want to look at revolvers. They fit a small hand great, and don't have as many controls to worry about.

May 1, 2008, 12:19 PM
Sig 239, Walther PPS, and the Kahr guns are probably good smaller 9mm guns to check out. Good luck, trying them all out is the hardest part!

May 1, 2008, 12:25 PM
Remember that a double stack handgun is not a necessity (and I carry a P12:rolleyes:).

If the gun points for you (you point the gun at a target and then look to see if the sights are lined up naturally) then the rest is making sure it goes bang every time. You're not going to be using the slide release (it isn't a "release", but a slide "stop" instead) with your fingers anyway so it's not that important.

May 1, 2008, 12:27 PM
Welcome aboard, 3KillerBs.

I would like to first point out that nearly all of us have to break our grip to manipulate the mag release and/or slide release one-handed. I have quite large hands with long fingers, but there are still only a select few firearms that I can drop mag/slide without turing the gun in my hand. On that note, if you have to reload in a defensive firefight, there are many variables that are going to cost you more time than repositioning of the gun-such as locating your spare magazine.

That said, there are a number of single-column 9mm pistols that work well for people with smallish hands. In the CCW department, the Kahr K9 definitely comes to mind. There is also the PM9 and CW9 (both just under 16 ounces) but, as with other lightweight CCW guns (Kel-Tec PF-9, 12 ounces), recoil becomes rather punishing as the weight drops below 1 pound.

Other compact pistols that seem to fit small hands well but offer increased capacity over the Kahr are the Baby Eagle compact and S&W M&P compact. Both offer 12+1 capacity in 9mm. At 26 ounces, the Baby Eagle is slightly heavier than the K9 (23 ounces) or M&P (22 ounces), but this does make it a pleasant gun on the range.

So there's a couple more idea's. Happy shopping!

May 1, 2008, 12:27 PM
My wife has small hands and enjoys her Springfield XD Subcompact 9mm.

Maybe a local range would have one you could rent for the day. One of the ranges in my area will rent you a gun for $15 and then you can try anything else they have in the rental case of the same caliber for no extra charge.

Good luck.

May 1, 2008, 12:31 PM
I've got child sized hands myself so I know what you mean.

It might be worth taking a look at ambi-dexterous pistols too. You can then use your strong hand's index finger to hit the slide release and your strong hand's middle finger (or index) to actuate the magazine release.

Walther has a rather nifty magazine release too on their P22, P99 and I think the PPS that's great for small hands, IMHO. The trigger guard pulls down a bit, and you can do that quite naturally with your strong hand's middle finger. Heck, I bet an Oompah Loompah could make that reach!

May 1, 2008, 12:33 PM
I understand you problem. For a guy I also have small hands with fat fingers as my wife often reminds me, LOL. I used to carry a Kel-Tek P3AT in my pocket, but didn't like the 380 for SD and being so light it was a handfull to shoot. I recently sold the KT and picked up a Kahr MK9 in 9mm, although it cost close to 3 times the KT it just fits right. It's a little heavier gun so it absorbs the recoil better. Hopefully I can get my wife and daughter to the range to let them become familiar with it as well. Hope you find what your looking for and I know what you mean about the Taurus P92. My first gun was a P99 which has adjustable sights and I'm sorry I sold it. Seen lots of 92's but no 99's.

May 1, 2008, 12:34 PM
Welcome! My wife loves her Sig P239 as it's a single stack and she can reach everything easily. It also points well for her (and pretty much everyone else that has shot it). Make sure you get something that points (lines up with your natural aim) well as others have mentioned, and the rest is easy.

Also, if you and your husband want to consolidate on holsters, the P239 and P229 will usually fit in the same holster as the slides are very close to the same size. The P239 has a bit of a narrower grip due to being a single stack.

Most importantly: have fun!

May 1, 2008, 12:39 PM
Thanks again.

Its a long drive to the nearest range that rents guns so our plan is to get a short list of possibilities that I've at least handled and liked the feel of before either asking around the shooting club to see if anyone has one I could try or call ahead to the distant range to see if they have one for rent.

Other than the time factor, between gas, range fees, and inflated, must-buy-it-at-the-range ammo costs its almost break even to first buy it then try it then pay the restocking fee if it doesn't work out. :)

May 1, 2008, 12:49 PM
when you hold a potential gun do the following:

1) take a fighting stance
2) line the pistol straight in line with your forearm and keep it like that.
3) close your eyes and point the gun at something safe(without thinking about aim or form. Just point it at something without looking)
4) open your eyes and look down the sights. is it more or less aimed at what your pointed at? if so then it may be a good fit for you.

Something not many people mentioned is a j-frame revolver. Though its not my favorite gun, I use my j-frame more than any other firearm. just the right size, power, and weight. It will also cure your inability/discomfort reaching controls.

Keep in mind that you may have to buy a few different guns before you find what works for you. choosing a gun is a very personal decision and us internet people cant give you a better answer than your own opinion.

May 1, 2008, 12:51 PM

...on tha storm.

Fan of the Wu-Tang Clan? :D


May 1, 2008, 01:06 PM
Welcome to The High Road! It's good to see another woman on the board.

Kathy's site is a good one and I'm thrilled to hear that you're using it in your homeschooling curriculum. That is just awesome.

I too was thinking of a j-frame for you. Snubbies can be hard to master, and can be pretty lively in the hand, especially airweight or titanium-frame snubs. But a Ruger SP101 might work (though you may want to have the trigger worked on; I understand they're a bit on the tough side). I have a S&W m37. I have fairly large hands for a woman, and I realized yesterday that it really is a little too small for me. I can use it ok, and I shoot it pretty well, but it's really too small. But for small hands it would be perfect. I have rubber grips, not wooden, which help with recoil.

Otherwise, a Bersa .380, a Kel-Tec P3AT (cute, huh?), or a Kel-Tec in a 9, might work. You'll have to handle one and see if this is good for your hands.

Good luck in your shopping! And again, welcome!


May 1, 2008, 01:28 PM

I'll consider a revolver if I can't find a semi-auto that suits me. But I don't like shooting revolvers and I'd have to have a lot of discipline to shoot it enough to reach my standards of sufficient proficiency. :)


No, my name is a reference to my favorite Nascar drivers -- Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, and Kurt Busch. I find it best to use the same name on all the boards I visit.

May 1, 2008, 01:37 PM

I've never been the sort to be uncomfortable being the only woman in a group of guys, but it is nice to see more and more women taking up shooting.

When I took my CC class last week it was 4 women and 3 men. And a couple months ago my Basic Pistol course was all women.

A lot of them had guns bought for them by their husbands/fathers/boyfriends which didn't fit them at all. :(

May 1, 2008, 02:02 PM
I am a guy with short stubby hands and I found the controls on HK pistols to be placed such that I can easily reach them one handed. I currently have a USP but I'm seriously considering a P30 after handling on for a while.

May 1, 2008, 02:10 PM
I'm glad to hear from some of the small-handed guys because my hands aren't tiny, dainty, fine-boned, and delicate like many ladies' hands. Instead they are square-palmed and short fingered -- like a man's hand in miniature.

May 1, 2008, 02:13 PM
i agree with Soybomb. sigs sound like they would be a good fit you. their slide release is much farther back than most other designs and its hard to beat sig quality and reliability. the 228/229 or 239 sound like they would fit the bill.

oh and welcome aboard :)


May 1, 2008, 02:16 PM
Kahr arms makes a nice compact 9mm.

Look at the PM series!!

May 1, 2008, 02:38 PM
3killerbees, I have great difficulty using the mag release on almost any gun I have tried. (my thumb is not 100%) I use a ruger P95. it has a wing type lever on both sides of the grip for mag release. I use my finger to drop the mag. It is also DA/SA, no safety to worry about. These pistols are not popular, they tend to be a bit large and clunky/ugly. But they are inexpensive and reliable. I hope this is helpful.

May 1, 2008, 02:59 PM
I'm sitting here reading these posts and wondering if I don't have rather short thumbs - I know I have small hands. I have never been able to reach the magazine release on any semi I've ever held. One thing you might consider is seeing if a potential buy has a reversible magazine release. I had a Taurus PT92 where the mag release had been switched to the right side - I released it with my middle finger, and I loved it. Still do - I'm going to get someone to do it to my SIG.

As for the slide stop - while I can reach it on most, I don't use it. I read several places that recommend gripping the slide and racking it in order to release the slide, just as you would to chamber a round or clear a failure. I train this way, and the reasoning is sound: if you're in a fight fine motor skills tend to degenerate, giving you a much worse chance of being able to hit the slide release. On the other hand, if you train to grab the slide every time, that's what you'll do in a fight and you won't have to worry about finding that dinky little lever.

Those are just my two-cents. I wouldn't worry so much about the controls, as hso said just find a style that points for you.

May 1, 2008, 07:55 PM
Welcome to THR 3KillerBs!

I would recommend a standard 1911 in .45 ACP. It is a universal gun, as I should say, it works well with with everybody, from someone with small hands and small frame to a massive, linebacker-type athlete. No wonder it has lasted for so long, hasn't it? In a few years, we would be celebrating it's centennial birthday:D

The best 1911 pistol, in my opinion, is the Parkerized 1911A1 made by Auto Ordnance. Budget priced, and is a looker as well as a perfectly good shooter.

May 1, 2008, 08:22 PM
While you certainly could do it with a smaller gun, I am willing to bet that even with a pistol that seems too large, you can operate both the magazine release and the slide release with only your shooting hand. There is an old technique that many people who shoot fail to learn or teach. It is called the rule of 45, and no it has nothing to do with 45 caliber.

If you have to operate the mag release one handed, or have to operate the slide relase one handed, and have small hands (or even big ones because this makes it easier to do and surer it will get done) all you need to do is to cant the pistol in your grip to a 45 degree angle (or close to it, a 20 degree angle wouuld probably work) back toward your wrist from the normal shooting position. This makes it much easier for your thumb to reach the magazine release or slide release. You cant the weapon by using your three last finger on your shooting hand to do so while the pistol remains firmly in the crotch between thumb and forefinger, and still under contriol of those three other fingers. Operate the mechanism you need to operate, and cant the weapon back to its normal shooting grip. Try this numerous times with an unloaded weapon and empty mags (or use mags holding dunmmy rounds) before trying it live. better yet, ask a firearms instructor if he or she can show you how it is done. They may not know the name, but many will know the technique.

If I have a chance, I'll do a video and post it on my blog tomorrow night.

All the best,
Glenn B

May 2, 2008, 12:10 AM
I used to have a Kel-Tec P11 (9mm), but traded it for a Kahr P9 Covert (also 9mm). Love the Kahr! the Kel-Tec was fine, but it seemed to have a huge kick to it. The Kahr is much thinner and very easy to hold and conceal. Maybe it's just the ergonomics of the shape, but the recoil seems way less then the Kel-Tec. I'd second all the posts about looking at the various Kahr models. Great company, reliable gun. In my opinion, worth the extra money. Good luck with whatever you choose.

May 2, 2008, 12:48 AM
Guys, the main thing here is ergonomics.

Does it -fit- her? Can she reach the controls she needs to reach?

I've got fairly smallish hands compared to some folks - I have yet to figure out how to do a fast magazine change with a 1911 except for through the trigger guard...

That said, a 1911 "fits" me. When I point it, it's like an extention of my primary boogerflicker.

Can't say the same of the J-frame Smith - maybe with different grips, but that thing groups about 3' low at 7 yards in point and yank method.

Make sure whatever you get points naturally for you. That means comfort. And everything else falls into place after that.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 2, 2008, 12:51 AM
1. Mag release on Kahrs doesn't stick out very far with much of a "ledge", so if the fingers are barely reaching, that's not good. So wouldn't recommend Kahr if your goal is to operate the slide release with one hand. I love Kahrs, and think the grip would fit you wonderfully, but there's this slide release issue.

2. Someone said Glock - that's the worst possible choice - I can barely operate the slide release with both thumbs pressing down. Sure you can slingshot it, but you can slingshot ANY gun, and that involves the left hand. The OP want to release the slide WITHOUT use of the left hand.

3. The slide release is easy to disengage on my CZs, and the grip is ergo for small hands. BUT - but, the trigger is waaaay out there on CZs - probably wouldn't work for you.

4. I'll reiterate the advice above, that in general, steel and aluminum framed guns will have thinner grips, and therefore more ergo for you, than plastic guns.

5. Bersa - no, those are pretty fatty-fat-fat grips.

6. Best thing I can think of is a 1911 pistol. Ergo grip, easy trigger, and easy to reach slide release. Plz tell us why, exactly, that you didn't like the Kimber Aegis?

7. Almost hate to say it, but Taurus auto pistols tend to have ergo controls and grip sizes.

A Nascar fan, in N.C.??? Say it isn't so! :)

Grandpa Shooter
May 2, 2008, 12:52 AM
Just an added thought. I went out shooting with my Lady last Saturday. She has her own pistol which she enjoys. I asked her to try my KelTec P11 with range loads. She handed it back after 5 shots and said, "No thanks, that hurts!" Her hands are the same size as mine and as strong, but since I have periperal neurophathy, I don't feel it the same way she does.

The smaller polymer guns may be uncomfortable to shoot for someone with normal feeling in their hands.

May 2, 2008, 12:59 AM
IMO, you might try a walther p99 or other models out for size. The slide release is further back than any other autoloader ive tried and the mag release is on the botton of the trigger guard so you can easily reach it. My only beef with walthers is that the disassembly is not as easy as a service pistol design. BUT, i think they woud be a good choice for what your lookin for. plus its what James bond used in Casino royal(according to mythbusters).
P.S. Welcome to THR!

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 2, 2008, 01:03 AM
Yes, I'd agree to give the Walther a try - it's very ergo and sound like it may fit the bill, as hobgob says.

May 2, 2008, 01:42 AM
. Sure you can slingshot it, but you can slingshot ANY gun, and that involves the left hand. The OP want to release the slide WITHOUT use of the left hand.

I wanted to bring this up earlier. I was hoping somebody else would, because I didn't want to sound crass, but here goes:

We all want to be able to work our guns with one hand, if need be, but that's not how most of us work our pistols. The OP is concerned with 1 hand operation not because the other would be disabled in the fight, as we usually are, but because she might be holding onto a child.

I'm not so sure the best place to keep the child is on your torso during a gun fight. Everybody trains to shoot COM, and that's right where the child will be if you keep it in your arms.

If the child isn't off your body by the time you empty the first magazine you've got bigger problems than not being able to reach a slide release. How are you going to get the 2nd magazine in with one hand? Why continue to hold onto them and put them in the line of fire? Getting the child off you would seem every bit as important to me as the draw itself.

Tim L
May 2, 2008, 09:01 AM
Check the HK USP series. The mag release is a lever under the trigger guard at the frame.


May 2, 2008, 09:10 AM
I'm not so sure the best place to keep the child is on your torso during a gun fight. Everybody trains to shoot COM, and that's right where the child will be if you keep it in your arms. Regardless of whether or not a child is involved, you (anyone) should be able to operate their handgun with one hand to fire it, reload it, and to clear jams. As for the child factor, I can understand her point and yours, but the truth be told if someone ever got in a firefight with child by their side you can bet many folks would be holding or pushing the child at least until steered toward safety or behind cover. That might take a few seconds, and I am sure most of us can unload a full magazine in less time than a few seconds, or have the gun jam in less time. Of course then it might be wise to let go of the child and operate the weapon with both hands, but I still can understand wanting to be able to do it with one. It is vitally important to be able to operate a handgun with one hand if you want to be the winner in the gunfight where your other hand is for some reason out of the fight.

All the best,
Glenn B

May 2, 2008, 09:28 AM
Check out the H&K P2000SK and the Walther P99c. You activate the mag release with your trigger finger, no need to readjust your grip to use your thumbs. This is the fasted style mag release available in my opinion. The slide release on the Walther is a little further back toward your thumb and easier to reach, but the slide release on the H&K is ambidexterous so you could use with either hand. From experience, the H&K recoils a lot less than the walther, but both are the same weight/size.

May 2, 2008, 10:25 AM
I'm may not have the correct vocabulary to explain what was wrong with the Kimber Aegis I held. It sat badly in my hand, it looked thin but felt thick (the exact opposite of the Taurus PT 92 that looked like a beached whale but felt as if it were half the size it actually was), and nothing was located in a place I could reach it except for the trigger.

As for Nascar, would you believe I fell for the sport when I was living Taxachusetts? :lol:

May 2, 2008, 10:30 AM

I'm not talking about holding the child on my body, though if I had an infant there wouldn't be an option beyond attempting to hold him behind my hip.

I'm talking about managing a frightened, even panicking toddler/preschooler who might run into greater danger either into the line of fire in "How dare you hurt my Mommy" mode or away into traffic or into the hands of other bad guys. :)

May 2, 2008, 10:41 AM
Welcome 3KillerB's

Have you considered a Smith & Wesson "LadySmith" 5 shot revolver?:)

That is the gun my wife chose. She spoke to all the sales people and tried every kind of handgun.

I switched from a Semi-Auto to a revolver myself. I love'em.:)

May 2, 2008, 10:41 AM
Can I ask how often a civilian has to reload under fire or with one hand in a self defense situation?

Seems to me this shouldn't be a major concern, and certainly wouldn't even come close to stopping me from carrying my Kahr. If for some reason you found yourself needing to reload one handed I would hope you have taken cover and could use a curb or hard object to rack the slide if you couldn't get the release to let go.

I would say to make sure you get a gun that you can shoot comfortably and accurately, each and every time without hesitation and not to worry so much about one handed operation.

May 2, 2008, 10:45 AM
I'll consider a revolver if I can't find a suitable semi-auto but I really do not enjoy shooting revolvers so it would be an uphill grind to practice often enough with it to meet my standards of appropriate proficiency.

May 2, 2008, 11:57 AM
Great to see another mom on this board!

A lot of enthusiasm here for the 9mm Kahr -- my two cents is to "try before you buy" this one. My better half carries one, but to me, shooting it is like a firecracker going off in my hand. Not comfortable at all.

Try a Glock 19 or 26. I love my G19. While it is a double stack, you can get an extended slide and mag release installed to ease one-handed operation.

I know you said you're not as proficient with a revolver. If this is because you've only shot snubbies, then maybe try something with a 3 or 4" barrel instead? I'm certain you would see an improvement. (This size may be impractical for carry, but maybe perfect for you for home defense. Good moms may need to have two weapons to keep their family safe :D)

1200 meters
May 2, 2008, 01:45 PM
The Walther P99 also has changeable back straps as well as the Smith & Wesson P99 (same gun). I only mention these because I took my old Boss out to shoot and of all the pistols she shoot that day she loved the grip and feel of the P99. She has very small hands. The P99's Magazine release is located along side of the trigger guard. Really easy to reach. Good luck with what ever you do ,..Blitz

May 2, 2008, 02:45 PM

No, my thing with revolvers is that I just don't enjoy shooting them. I know its a matter of taste sort of thing.

My DD, who is 14 and whose hands are about the same size as mine right now, absolutely fell in love with a little, S&W .22 revolver that isn't made any more and she doesn't like firing the semi-autos. So we're looking for a used .22 revolver for her to shoot.

May 2, 2008, 10:04 PM
Welcome to THR!

Your story (and location...we're near Lillington) sound very familiar. I couldn't help but be reminded of a lot of what my Wife has gone through to find her perfect pistols also. She eventually settled on a Kel-Tec P3AT for CCW, but is most comfortable with a .45 ACP Springfield 1911a1. Mom, on the other hand, enjoys a S&W 317 or Ruger Bearcat .22 revolver much more. Both said that anything in 9mm or .40 S&W was too "snappy" and wouldn't feel comfortable with their ability to hit anything, so I stayed well out of the way.

Please do read all of the good advice here, but then go and try for yourself before you buy, regardless of the configuration and caliber, because we can only share our experiences and expectations. If I may suggest, though, you might want to check out Eds Guns for a good mix of price, service, and availablity if you're in the area. http://edsgunshop.com/

Take care

May 3, 2008, 12:27 AM
Welcome aboard, new members are always welcome.

I have somewhat small hands for a guy, how I play the guitar is beyond me, but I digress. I've read a number of responses suggesting the kahr 9mm. I had the chance to shoot a subcompact model a few weekends ago and it made my hand go numb. I own a springfield 1911 full sized lightweight .45 and a S&W 500 (doesn't get much bigger than that) and i find both to be comfortable to shoot, but that little kahr was downright sadistic.

Keep in mind though that that is just my own person experience, and yours will likely vary, try to find some friends or coworkers or friends of friends that own pistols and see if you can try them out. When it all boils down, it doesn't matter if its an inexpensive little bersa or a top of the line multithousand dollar kimber, if it works for you thats all that matter. brand name, price, all that is insignificant in the long run.

May 3, 2008, 01:31 AM
I am 4' 11'' and have very small hands. I found that the Khars are women friendly. They are also good for carry because they are very slim. I am not really a fan of them other than those facts though.

A .380 might work... I'm not sure which models, as I don't keep up with them.

I shoot a 1911 .45 single stack. I have the very same problem when shooting it, but I have learned to tork my hand enough to get to the slide stop/mag release. I kind of had to adapt to it.

When I was looking a little while back for a 9mm, I was more concerned on how the gun FELT in my hand and not so much being able to get to slide stop, etc. because you'll want to shoot it for fun to get more familiar with it and get "closer" to it! and there is nothing more annoying and more discouraging than shooting a gun that doesn't fit your hand.

When I started shooting some competition matches, I started noticing that it WOULD be helpful to be able to get to the slide release with one hand.

I think you should find one that fits your HAND, and then work on adapting.

Hopefully, if you ever do have to use it, you won't need to get to slide stop!!!!!

Good luck and let me know if you come across the right thing!


May 3, 2008, 03:09 AM
May we always be worthy of your company. I have not seen the Makarov pistols mentioned nor the Czech model 83 but if you are going to a gun show to handle a few different guns they might be worth a look. Small grips and compact ergonomics are the high points - used military surplus with no manufacturers warranty and a slightly underpowered cartridge are the low points. They are relatively inexpensive to acquire and shoot and the ones I have seen and handled have proven quite reliable so far. Good luck - let us know how you fare.

John Ross
May 3, 2008, 10:34 AM
"Regardless of whether or not a child is involved, you (anyone) should be able to operate their handgun with one hand to fire it, reload it, and to clear jams."

I'd really like to see someone reload an autoloader and clear a jam one-handed...


May 3, 2008, 12:06 PM

Ed's shop is where we've been going and he's been giving us the true, red carpet treatment even though we're newbies on a budget. :)

The Lone Haranguer
May 3, 2008, 01:26 PM
Rather, my problem is that I can't seem to reach the slide release and the magazine disconnect on what I've seen so far. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I ought to be able to do these things with one hand...
There is room to play with this a bit. Think about this: If these controls are easy to reach when your hand is in a normal shooting grip, you may find yourself locking back your slide or releasing a magazine when you need to be shooting. It doesn't hurt to shift your grip a little.

1911 guy
May 3, 2008, 01:27 PM
First and foremost, choose one that feels good in your hand and points well. Operation can be considered secondarily, as you will easily find a method that works for you, provided the handgun feels good in your hands. Several other posters have brought up good and valid points. Glen Bartley mentioned turning the pistol in your hand to hit the slide stop and mag release. This is the method I use and it works well because the gun droops back into position without thought because the gun fits me. TX1911fan mentioned that going with a 9mm and modern designed HP ammo is not a compromise. I agree completely. I'll also second the notion that you'll likely find steel or aluminum frame guns to be easier to manage that thicker polymer guns. External controls are usually more ergonomic on metal frame guns, too. I've often referred to controls on XDs, Glocks, etc. as "vestigial". They're barely there and hard to manipulate.

In short, I'd concentrate on finding an autoloader (since that's what you're most comfortable with) that fits your hands well and you shoot well. Step two would be adapting your technique to operate in the manner you feel necessary. Step three would be deciding what wardrobe changes you need to make to conceal it with a good holster and gunbelt.

May 3, 2008, 01:47 PM
Sent a message, but have you tried a Stoeger Cougar? SImilar hand fit to the TAurus 92 you like so well, but with a better grip, shorter barrel, and all around better concealed carry dimensions. Cheap, too! (RElative term in the gun world unfortunately)

May 3, 2008, 04:24 PM
Thank you all again for the advice. You've given me many things to think about.

@1911 guy,
Part of what I'm going to have to deal with is that my build doesn't permit me to wear belts comfortably, especially wide, sturdy belts.

Granted the situation would be better if I could lose some weight, but even when I was in college and had a size 8 waist I had size 12 hips and found belts almost painfully uncomfortable.

While there is no knowing until I've tried, from the recommendations I've gotten a shoulder holster or belly band sound like the likeliest options.

There seems to be very little info readily available about concealing a handgun for a pear-shaped, middle-aged woman. :lol:

May 4, 2008, 01:12 AM
try the ruger p 22 or a glock sub compact 40 or 9 mm

May 4, 2008, 10:48 AM
quote: Ed's shop is where we've been going and he's been giving us the true, red carpet treatment even though we're newbies on a budget. :end quote

glad to hear it! there's lots of good people there (and here) who are happy to help. take care

May 4, 2008, 05:39 PM
I got to handle almost every gun that was suggested today. I posted my short list to a new thread.

The advice about "families" of guns was spot on. I discovered that almost all Tauruses and a good half the Berettas fit regardless of frame size. But not one 1911, not even the Taurus 1911s, fit.

Thanks again!

May 4, 2008, 07:57 PM
I finally gout around to posting the video of the Rule of 45 that shows how someone with smaller hands can easily operate the mag release and slide release with one hand. See it here:


Sorry it took so long, hope it is helpful. Make sure to read the blog, don't just watch the video.

All the best,
Glenn B

May 4, 2008, 08:06 PM
Thank you.

The video made that very clear. I can easily see the position shift and how much more power the thumb has in that position.

The sides of my thumb are sort from ineffectively attempting to operate guns at the gun show today and I can see that a couple I might have rejected could be reconsidered if I master that technique.

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