Autoloader for a disabled person


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Fonzie2k
April 26, 2012, 03:49 PM
My mother recently took a concealed carry course (and did quite well at the range).

She is currently shopping for an autoloader and I'm trying to help her find something that fits her very specific needs. She has a number of health problems and has limited dexterity and strength in her hands. She is unable to rack the slide on my Glock but she does quite well with a Ruger P95 because the slide is wide and has notches to grip, the problem with the ruger is the terrible trigger pull, weight, and difficulty to conceal. She can hold the Ruger to shoot but I don't know if she would be able to hold it on target for a very long time.

After working with her I believe that her difficulties with racking a slide are a combination of grip and the actual resistence, if one of these problems were to vanish she'd be in good shape. I was thinking about a bersa or walther since she wouldn't be working against a locking mechanism just the spring, and the spring on a .380 wouldn't be to tough.

I've considered revolvers too but it would need to be something with a very light and smooth trigger. I would appreciate any recommendations.

Also, before anyone flames and says she shouldn't have a firearm... we're down to one cop on the road at night in my entire COUNTY and she is home alone fairly often. And a shotgun or pistol carbine is out of the question.

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Jim Watson
April 26, 2012, 04:01 PM
I will tell you what I tell the rest of the Momgun shoppers.
She does not have to rack the slide on a Glock.
YOU rack the slide on the Glock for her and leave it loaded for her.
If 17 rounds is not enough, then hastily reloading the pistol is probably not going to help.

If she can't rack the slide once per magazine full with both hands, how is she to haul through a double action revolver trigger with one finger for every shot? Or even the first shot in a TDA like the Ruger.

ApacheCoTodd
April 26, 2012, 04:04 PM
Maybe you might start (like your mentioned .380) by looking at firearms with fixed barrels to not have a set of mechanics involved in the unlocking and shifting of a moving barrel.

An exposed hammer that she can draw prior to pulling the slide might help as well.

skt239
April 26, 2012, 04:44 PM
Jim makes some good points. I however would feel more comfortable with a gun she could fully operate. Sure 17 rounds is a butt load of ammo but who's to say she won't have to rack the slide to clear a jam? Also, even a full sized .9mm Glock can be too much recoil for a person with disabilities.

I think like others said, the tip up barrel is the way to go. As Jim said, the DA pull on a revolver can be as hard or harder to get through then racking a slide for some people. I would determine what she can handle recoil wise and start looking for something in a tip up barrel.

David E
April 26, 2012, 04:47 PM
If she can fire a Glock without inducing malfunctions, then start there.

I suspect her inability to rack the slide is more about technique than strength, since she can rack the P-95.

She can:

1) Learn the proper slide racking technique

2) rely on others to rack it for her

3) improve the P-95 trigger (not difficult)


I wouldn't go down in power of cartridge or quality of gun, since she's already proven she can handle these.

coalman
April 26, 2012, 08:12 PM
IMO .38spl wheelgun. If she has issues racking the slide she may have issues with "limpwrising". I suggest a Ruger SP101 w/ hammer and Hogue grip; big, heavy "snubby" to soak up that recoil.

Blue68f100
April 26, 2012, 08:37 PM
Dave-E nailed it. It's all about technique. Have the gun close to her chest to get more strength, then push with both hands. You can actually rack the slide on any gun with 1 hand and a edge of a table, boot or any object to put the front sight against. I shoot 5k rounds 1 summer with my left and wrist in a cast. The mags were a big pain to load but racking the slide was the easy part.

What ever you do, let her shoot what she is thinking about getting. The Walter PPK's 380acp have the strongest/hardest slide I have ever operated. My Sig 229 is way easier that that gun.

allaroundhunter
April 26, 2012, 09:06 PM
If part of her disability includes being in a wheelchair, then there are plenty of things that she can catch the rear sight on in order to help her rack the slide. But I am in agreement with David E. in the thought that it is not her strength that is the limiting factor, but her technique.

You can actually rack the slide on any gun with 1 hand and a edge of a table, boot or any object to put the rear sight against

Fixed that for ya ;)

Kernel
April 26, 2012, 10:03 PM
^^^Many of the small autoloaders have no rear sight, as such, other than a channel or little groove. Or much of a front sight. The whole slide is "melted" and smoth, hardly anything to get a grip on. The Ruger LCP is a good example.

I have a friend with an auto immune disease that causes him severe hand disabilities (muscle weakness, lack of dexterity, range of motion issues). His wife has to open his twist-off pop bottles. He checked out all the small .380s on the market: Ruger, S&W, Keltec, Kahr, etc. Over a two year period we probably looked at 15+ little autoloaders. The only one he could rack the slide on was the SIG P238. Nothin‘ else was close.

He could pull the trigger on all of them. That wasn’t the issue. Rackin’ the slide was the problem; that was impossible on all of them except the P238.

Kiln
April 26, 2012, 10:46 PM
The Bersa would more than likely be fine if she is not recoil sensitive. If she is you might try a milsurp .32acp pistol like the FEG PA63 (.32acp variant) or the CZ70. The slides are easy to manipulate and they are reliable with low recoil.

Byrd666
April 26, 2012, 11:37 PM
Since I am also helping an elderly lady also find a pistol for home defense/carry and being a "handicapped" individual, my left side is paralyzed, I'm hoping I can pass on what we've come up with for her and what I do to compensate for my problems.

So far she has found the feel of the Kel-Tec P3AT, the S&W Bodyguard .380, the Kahr CW9 and P380, the Ruger LCP and LC9, the Bersa Thunder .380 CC and my EMP .40 very comfortable. Except for the weight on the EMP, of course. I'm trying to nudge her towards Ruger SR9c for better ballistics and higher round count and "double duty" magazines. We just haven't found one yet for her to see and feel and hopefully shoot.

She found racking the slide on my Bersa Thunder 9 UC Pro to be fairly easy. The thickness was the biggest drawback for her on that. Otherwise this would be a done deal for me. As for what I do to rack the slide, which she might be able to do, is to use a table/counter edge, or any other fixed edge as a "holder", or for lack of a better description, a fulcrum point, to hold the rear sight as she pushes the frame forward chambering a round. As long as the rear sights sights are not the ramped type, it works well for me. I even use this method on my custom holsters with reinforced mouths.

If she has Arthritic hands, or is otherwise incapacitated in that area, I would also recommend a UPLULA speed loader. I use one of these on a very regular basis and most definitely think it's about the greatest thing since sliced bread. And it works on all my mags. Single stack or double, from .380 to .40

Let me/us know what you come up with. I might need the help next.

allaroundhunter
April 26, 2012, 11:44 PM
Many of the small autoloaders have no rear sight, as such, other than a channel or little groove.

Subcompact Glocks have a quality rear sight, the M&P 'c' series does as well. The subcompact XD series and the 3.8" XDm also has a rear sight that is suitable for one-handed manipulation.

bbuddtec
April 27, 2012, 12:20 AM
I'd stick with a gun w/aftermarket parts-a-plenty, like w/glock that rack-bar rear sight whatchamacallit seems like it would be good, and a reminder that the push-thru method is apparently more do-able for less capable hands.

as well as the glock and ruger having plenty trigger ops, etc.

just my small view

FIVETWOSEVEN
April 27, 2012, 01:45 AM
The Walther PK380 has a surprisingly light recoil spring, I would take a look at that.

allaroundhunter
April 27, 2012, 01:51 AM
The Walther PK380 has a surprisingly light recoil spring, I would take a look at that.

A lighter recoil spring lends itself to snappier/harsher recoil, but I have never shot a PK380 so I'm not sure how it compares in that aspect.

Fonzie2k
April 27, 2012, 03:26 AM
Kernal, My mom is also working with an auto immune disease, as I do more research it seems like a lot of people have the same problem.

Thanks everyone for your different opinions! We found a LGS about an hour away that has its own indoor range for her to try everything out so it looks like we'll be headed that direction pretty soon.

It's good to have more ideas to try than my own personal opinions and recommendations. I'll be sure to update this a few weeks from now with whatever solution we come up with, it seems like this is a more common question then I thought.

Thanks again!

19-3Ben
April 27, 2012, 09:04 AM
Maybe you might start (like your mentioned .380) by looking at firearms with fixed barrels to not have a set of mechanics involved in the unlocking and shifting of a moving barrel.


One of the problems is that a straight blowback design is going to have a stronger spring because that, and the weight of the slide are the only thing keeping the action from opening up too soon. I know my wife, who is perfectly healthy, has a MUCH easier time racking the slide on my M&P9, than on my Sig P232.

rosewood151
April 27, 2012, 09:22 AM
What about a race gun charging handle ? As used in competition shooting where the optic mount makes slide manipulation difficult?

contender
April 27, 2012, 09:30 AM
beretta bobcat in .22 or .25
beretta tomcat in 32

the tip-up barrel feature will help.

340PD
April 27, 2012, 09:37 AM
revolver

Kiln
April 27, 2012, 09:46 AM
revolver
For the reasons stated in the first post a revolver is unlikely to be suitable. If she has trouble with the trigger on a Ruger then she will definately have trouble with the majority of double action revolvers.

Kernel
April 27, 2012, 12:01 PM
Fonzie, keep in mind that auto immune diseases almost never get better, they get worse with time. Sadly, for most of these diseases, not only are there no cures, there's not even any effective treatments. Going forward, keep that in mind.

What's hard for her now will likely be impossible in a few years. That’s why it’s important to get her an auto now that she can rack with ease. WITH EASE. If there's any difficulty at all, ANY DIFFICULTY, it is likely to be undoable for her down the road.

coalman
April 27, 2012, 01:02 PM
For the reasons stated in the first post a revolver is unlikely to be suitable. If she has trouble with the trigger on a Ruger then she will definately have trouble with the majority of double action revolvers.

I disagree a semi-auto is the right choice. The condition is likely degenerative. Limpwristing failures with a semi-auto will be probable I suspect, not to mention issues charging it. I suggested a heavy (to soak up recoil) spur hammer revolver like the Ruger SP101 (using .38spl loads) with Hogue grip (better grip and to soak up recoil).

However, if it must be a semi-auto the easiest ones to charge will be USGI 1911-pattern guns. This design, absent a full length guide rod, can be charged win one hand by placing the muzzle section below the barrel on a 90 degree edge and pushing. Then, it's single action for a light trigger pull, assuming the thumb safety can be manipulated. But, .45acp (recoil) will not be the ideal choice so maybe a 9mm CZ75b (IF the slide moves back far enough before touching the dust cover - sold mine so can't test), or even a 9mm 1911 (assuming you get one that runs 100% with the mags you have). You can do the same thing with other guns, but will need to use either corner of the slide above the barrel and it's MUCH harder to coordinate. Plus, you'll need a mag loader of some sort to assist in loading mags. IMO, lots of hassle when a revolver will work.

p.s. Good suggestion also about a tip up barrel semi-auto. I did not even think of that.

Ex-MA Hole
April 27, 2012, 04:17 PM
I like post #19...

gym
April 27, 2012, 06:17 PM
Jim has it right. My friend also can't rack his "45 smith". I explained to him that he had no reason to. If it was loaded and ready to go he has 8 rounds need a spare mag, if he can count to 7 he will never have to rack the slide. With a couple of spare mags you are good to go, By then the issue will be settled one way or the other. He was going to trade it for a 38, 5 shot revolver. I quicklly put a stop to that, If anyone is getting that gun it would be me, but it's not in his best interest to sell a 45 for a snubby 38. He would not get a longer barrel or a 357, he has a thing for snubbys.But now being disabled I had to sit him down and explain that the 45 will still be a much better gun for HD. If he can hold onto a snub, he can hold on to a 45, just can't rack it.
No need to step down in power, as most of us know, when you shrink the gun, it usually recoils more, also the weight. So a fulsize glock in 9mm, may be just what she needs. It's not going to snap her wrist like a 380 in a walther, I just shot one this week and carried one for 20 years. It is a concealment gun, "or was" untill these newer smaller power calibers came out.I would bet she would do fine with a glock 17 or 19.

smalls
April 27, 2012, 06:54 PM
Has she checked out the LCR? It's got an amazing trigger for a DOA revolver.

Fonzie2k
April 30, 2012, 02:45 AM
I'm definitely going to have her try a few different revolvers. For some reason I didn't think to have her try my Rock Island officer size 1911. The recoil on it is pretty tame (I'm used to lightweight guns)

A buddy of mine came out of the woodwork with an old P85 MkII that he's welling to sell us for $250. I think Mom and I are going out to the range with it pretty soon to see how she deals with it... She seems to have a mental barrier about keeping a round in the chamber, she's new to guns and I can't seem to convince her that it's safe.

Hopefully the P85 works out, the controls are very easy to use on it, and it's incredibly soft shooting.

TigerBight
April 30, 2012, 03:56 AM
My Walthers pk 380 has a very light rack as stated earlyer. My daughter and mother enjoy shooting it mom is 68 not much of a grip as well. Recoil is very light a fun shooting pistol I enjoy myself.

Husker_Fan
April 30, 2012, 06:33 PM
A Hi-Power can be racked one handed by placing the front of the dust cover, below the barrel, against a stable surface and pushing forward. The edge of a desk works well.

Shipwreck
April 30, 2012, 06:39 PM
I took my 70 year old (at the time) mother out shooting... We tried several guns. The HK USPcompact in 9mm was VERY easy for her to work the slide. The grip is not as big as the fullsize USP either.

Also, the Bersa 380 semi auto was also one she could work. Of course, HKs aren't cheap. But the USP/USPc slides are very light - and it doesn't take much effort to work the spring

smalls
April 30, 2012, 07:30 PM
If you're mom's got bad hands, enough to where she has a hard time racking a slide, she really doesn't have much of a choice but carrying one in the chamber, and had better get over it if she wants to carry. She's not going to like having to rack the slide if she has to use it.

Shadow 7D
April 30, 2012, 10:28 PM
Try the Beretta/Stoeger Cougar (8000) or a Px4
they tend to be soft recoiling guns and that hard to rack, that said
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dubya450
May 1, 2012, 02:22 AM
Like Jim Watson said it could be as simple as you loading up and racking the slide on whichever pistol you/she chooses. If thats the route you go I'd suggest getting something with a easy to manipulate manual safety. But my choice would be to get one of the S&W airweight 38's. Since you said something about not wanting the long heavy DA trigger I'd assume you could bring it to a smith and have a trigger job done. Polish the parts and lighten up the pull maybe? I'm not sure what the gunsmith would cost but I've seen brand new airweights for as cheap as $320.

labhound
May 1, 2012, 02:36 AM
I'd also recommend the Beretta/Stoeger Cougar 8000F 9mm. Slide is very easy to rack, very soft shooting, reliable, accurate, has a slide mounted safety/decocker, and costs approx $420. Best buy on the market today IMHO. If you want to spend about $520 try the Beretta PX4. It's basically an updated polymer version of the Cougar. Both are excellent guns.

GLOOB
May 1, 2012, 03:59 PM
I'd be wary of polymer pistols. They may be more prone to limpwristing. The only polymer gun I haven't been able to limpwrist is my G21. All my other Glocks and my FNX have succumbed to the occasional limpwrist when shooting 1 handed.

OTOH, a steel auto or a full size revolver can be rather heavy to wield.

rajb123
May 1, 2012, 04:25 PM
get her a smallish wheel gun....

allaroundhunter
May 1, 2012, 04:31 PM
get her a smallish wheel gun....

So, a gun that will have a stout recoil on her already weak hands and a heavy trigger pull to boot?....

The Lone Haranguer
May 1, 2012, 08:32 PM
How about a Beretta 86? It has a tipup barrel, no need to rack the slide at all. If she has difficulty with pulling its DA trigger (although it is relatively smooth and light), its safety setup also allows "cocked and locked" carry.

epijunkie67
May 1, 2012, 09:47 PM
Let me just throw this out there. If the gun doesn't have to be very compact have you considered an FN57?

I own one, although my wife has claimed it for herself. She uses it as her bedside gun because it had .22LR level recoil and is very easy to shoot.

She tried a huge selection of pistols including revolvers but the FN was so easy to cycle, operate, shoot, and handle she won't consider using anything else. It holds 20 rounds and they make an aftermarket 30 round magazine for it.

So this may or may not be the gun for her. But please at least consider it as an option.

Shipwreck
May 1, 2012, 10:15 PM
How about a Beretta 86? It has a tipup barrel, no need to rack the slide at all. If she has difficulty with pulling its DA trigger (although it is relatively smooth and light), its safety setup also allows "cocked and locked" carry.

Have to be a used one - they were discontinued several years ago

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