What handgun do you suggest for a senior citizen lady?


December 14, 2012, 06:44 PM
My wife's friend (60+) owns a classic s&w chief special 38. Definitely know how to shoot and better than her sons but.... She is developing arthritis in her hands and having difficulity with the double action pull. She asked me of another handgun that has a lighter trigger pull. She has a CCW license and wants for that and home defense.

I can think of SAs like smaller 1911 type handguns but then too there is the possible problem of racking. Course I carry a Sig .380 often during summer time and when I have to dress up some. But I shoot often and am comfortable my shot placement suffices. I taught her to shoot tgt and in different scenarios but she doesn't practice. I think a 380 is wee bit small for her and am leaning towards a 9mm.

So, "yee of solid suggestions", please suggest away. Thanks and Merry Christmas.

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December 14, 2012, 07:02 PM
Yes...I do have a suggestion. If she "gets" the double action of a revolver..she will like,maybe love ( I do) the action on the Ruger LC9. I used the revolver on duty for a long time and after mastering the pull..we went to 92 F's. That was fine but only the first shot was double action. I have used my LC9 enough that it has become as sweet a I need for good combat accuracy. The safety is also a plus..in fact the whole package is great..grip feel and all. To top it off..you have your respectable power and manageable recoil.

December 14, 2012, 07:24 PM
If the hammer hasn't been bobbed see if using the gun single action is hard on her hands. If not then she could incorporate cocking the gun into her drawstroke and see how she does with that.

December 14, 2012, 08:48 PM
I am not a real big fan of semi-auto's for senior citizens.

Unless they have a lifetime history of dealing with the semi-auto manual of arms until a momentary lapse of muscle memory doesn't result in a series of unfortunate events.

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

No forgetting to rack the slide to load it, or forgetting to clear the chamber after the threat is gone.

Perhaps the Ruger LCR?
It supposedly has a lighter smoother DA trigger?

Perhaps a slicked up from use old S&W K-Frame, which is easier DA from the get-go then a J-Frame on a good day?

Perhaps even a Ruger Single-Six .22 Mag, which requires thumb cocking, but certainly has a light enough trigger for anyone once cocked.


December 14, 2012, 08:51 PM
I would start with a used, prelock model 10 w a 4" barrel.

Not too heavy...not too light.

38s are not bad on "seasoned" wrists.

lots of grip choices

December 14, 2012, 09:07 PM
I agree with Guillermo. .38 spl. full size old school Smith and Wesson. A Mod 15 would be even better. Safest, easiest to use, maximizing chances of shot on target of any handgun choice for the veteran adult. Recoil properties adjusted to user by ammo selection, effective enough in use.

Seems to be perfectly tailroed to application.

A caveat however, no matter what age, there is NO skipping the skillset/mindset phase of deciding to be armed. Repeat, at any age.

December 14, 2012, 09:11 PM
not sure a 15 would be better

The target sight is easily snagged.

The Model 10 is everything you need...nothing you don't

December 14, 2012, 09:12 PM
I was thinking slicker action.

P.S. A "senior" action job on a Mod 10?

December 14, 2012, 09:20 PM
yes...you are correct.

The Model 15 definitely received a lot more love and care than the Model 10.

They action was closer to the Model 14 than the 10.

I stand corrected.


Duane M
December 14, 2012, 09:21 PM
I would consider the Judge. I think a 410 pistol would be awesome.

Shadow 7D
December 14, 2012, 09:24 PM
What ever gun SHE likes...
look up the sticky in handgun general, your job is to hold the purse

December 14, 2012, 09:27 PM

You don't need correction. You are right, a 10 fitted to the user is better.

Sorry Duane, you may get a senior to using the Judge well enough but .410 is far too ineffective in this application to give me warm feelings. Sounds like leading down the wrong path that accuracy in unimportant and-... with MOST .410 loads the grand old dame might get beaten with her own gun. Or worse.

December 14, 2012, 09:31 PM
I cannot think of a worse gun than a judge.

Horrible kick
No knock down power
questionable build quality

I would rather her have a starter pistol.
It would be no less effective against the bad guy and not hurt her.

Duane M
December 14, 2012, 09:35 PM
You are probably right about that rswartsell I'm sure not expert. But I thought they made some special loads that were suppose to be very effective. The revolver is designed for close range defense. I wish I could get one for myself.

December 14, 2012, 09:37 PM
Horrible kick
No knock down power
questionable build qualityI would not agree at all with that.

A .45 Colt is a .45 Colt, regardless of what it says on the barrel it comes out of.
It won't kick much out of a 30 oz revolver with 2 1/2 .410 shells.

I would agree on .410 birdshot knock-down power, and the Tarui quality thing though.


Duane M
December 14, 2012, 09:39 PM
Guillermo I guess you can't believe what you read in the books. The review I read bragged it up pretty good. Glad I put that out, I just learned something.

December 14, 2012, 09:46 PM
The small J frames are difficult for most elderly women . A pre-model 10 like the one I just bought recently with long action is smooth and easier. My 70 year old wife has no trouble with it. But she is a big lady and it fits well in her hand too. Another option my be the Ruger LCR. If not, then the Walther PK380, not PPK, But PK. It is the easiest small gun that can be racked and fired by most people with her problem. My thoughts Snoop.

December 14, 2012, 09:48 PM

The judge is a horrible 45… And worst shotgun

Even if that were not the case, the elderly woman does not need to be shooting a 45

December 14, 2012, 09:51 PM
Another option would be a small single action revolver. Cimmeron has them in 38 special , called the lightning, with birds head grip and weighing about 26-28 oz.

December 14, 2012, 09:53 PM
Agreed. (with Guillermo).

Snooperman, I don't at the moment understand what advantage a single action has at the stage of decision making that allows for selection from all available. What is the point?

Duane M
December 14, 2012, 09:56 PM
Guillermo have you shot the judge. Do you know this for a fact. Three pellets from the 410 at close range should be plenty for self defense at close range. Were not talking about going pheasant hunting. The chamber can have a mixed bag of ammo. Slugs, buck shot or bird shot. Who would keep coming at someone with this weapon in their hand. Superman?

Shadow 7D
December 14, 2012, 10:06 PM
look up what rifling does to shot
better a gun you can use, are willing to use and can hit with...
um a judge, there are much better guns out there, people who plink and get one but don't shoot it much think it's nifty
as for getting shot at, no, I'd rather not be shot at, it's NOT fun, BTDT, but that's regardless if it's a pellet gun or a MG.

December 14, 2012, 10:09 PM
Duane, the Judge has horrible penetration, it's been discussed to death and for most of us, it's a gimmick gun. Not without use, but there are usually better choices.

Here's the "Box 'o truth" for you regarding the Judge. not good. http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot41.htm

"Lessons learned:
1. Jack bought this pistol for snakes and it looks like a fine tool for that job.

2. Birdshot, in any gauge, is for little birds.

3. Buckshot out of a .410 does not penetrate enough to be an effective personal defense load.

4. The rifled slug was also a disappointment and did not have enough weight or power or penetration to be effective as a defense load.

5. The .45 Long Colt loads had plenty of penetration and would be the preferred defense load for this pistol.

6. It's fun to bust clays with this pistol.

And, as usual, it's always fun to shoot stuff. "

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot53.htm Here's the second attempt, not much better. the wide spread is bad... M'kay?

Personally, I like the Model 10, or other decently framed .38 for just about anyone... but the tiniest, Crankiest little old lady I ever knew kept a TEN gauge double-barreled shotgun and a bucket full of shells next to her bed... and she was not the sort to be trifled with.

Duane M
December 14, 2012, 10:10 PM
Thanks Shadow. I'll look into that. However living in Canada I would have a lot of trouble trying to buy one anyway. We are not allowed to purchase a fire arm that is designed for home protection. We can buy guns for hunting or target practice. If they asked the reason for the purchase and the answer was home protection the permit would be denied. The judge is for personal protection so I'm guessing I wouldn't be able to get one anyway. You guys are probably right. I don't know much about hand guns.

December 14, 2012, 10:11 PM

We don't need to turn this into a judge thread...

So out of respect to the OP I will leave it at this

No, the judge, even with buckshot, is amazingly ineffective out of a rifled, short barrel

December 14, 2012, 10:12 PM
The judge is a horrible 45… And worst shotgunI misunderstood.

I thought the OP was talking about bad breath range SD.

Like I said, a .45 Colt is a .45 Colt at SD distance, regardless of what brand it says on the barrel.

I was not recommending a Judge to the OP.
I recommended either a Ruger LCR, well used and slick K-Frame S&W, or a Ruger Single-Six.

I was just saying that the Judge is not an anemic handgun that wouldn't fluff up the feathers on a hoddie down jacket clad BG.

Thats all I said.


Duane M
December 14, 2012, 10:13 PM
Dnaltrop, thanks. Good reply.

Duane M
December 14, 2012, 10:17 PM
OK guys thanks for the info. All good stuff. I have to go but thanks. And I believe you. I was not talking from experience. Just from what I read. Good night all.

40 rod
December 14, 2012, 10:19 PM
I read something by Massad Ayoob about guns for elderly ,arthitic, and weak wristed folks. He recomended the tip up beretta auto. They still make the .32 Tomcat.

December 14, 2012, 10:23 PM

U r a very smart guy and always fun to chat with.

I knew we were mis-communicating

Shadow 7D
December 14, 2012, 10:28 PM
I disagree with Mas on this
the tip up is nice an all, BUT unless you are getting into the 84 series (86 something I think)
a small blowback gun is not easy to hold, better a large 9 than a SMALL SNAPPY mousegun

Consider a Beretta/Stoeger Cougar 8000 (9mm) or 45, large, good trigger, easy to hold/shoot, and pretty lightly sprung.

December 14, 2012, 11:09 PM
In the end, I see NOTHING to indicate that the best possible choice for a senior woman wanting to be armed would NOT be a Smith Mod 10. There are WAY too many downsides for anything else mentioned for a senior lady.

Last call.... what have you got?

December 14, 2012, 11:20 PM
I Do, but you have made up your mind and that is your problem . You can not see that there are really many options to be considered that would "FIT" her properly.I know several elderly women and some shoot here at my farm range with all kinds of problems. No one shoe fits all. My 2 cents. Snoop

December 14, 2012, 11:30 PM
A K frame has so many grip choices it is unlikely not to be a perfect fit for anyone

40 rod
December 14, 2012, 11:42 PM
Why will a S&W 10 be any better than a chief special ? I thought the issue is athritis .

If the 32 is to SNAPPY their is also a 25. At least the beretta tip ups do not requiere any grip strength to rack the slide.

December 14, 2012, 11:43 PM
There is an elderly woman who shoots at my range that has the same problem. Trying a semi didn't help as it took as much or more effort to rack the slide as it did to pull the trigger on her model 60. She took her revolver to an excellent gunsmith who smoothed and lightened the trigger pull without sacraficing reliability. She no longer has any problems and shoots very well at 15 feet.

December 14, 2012, 11:45 PM
The J Frame has several disadvantages

Grip size, trigger action, weight

Snubnose revolver's are among the most difficult to shoot well

40 rod
December 14, 2012, 11:50 PM
Why will a S&W 10 be any better than a chief special ? I thought the issue is athritis .

If the 32 is to SNAPPY their is also a 25. At least the beretta tip ups do not requiere any grip strengt to rack the slide.

December 14, 2012, 11:54 PM
Because a K-Frame Model 10 has a lief spring action, with more and better leverage in the trigger linkage.
And it can be tuned to even lighter trigger pull then is possible with a J-Frame.

A J-Frame Chiefs special has a coil mainspring that stacks, and less leverage to pull through it.
And there isn't too much you can do about it.

The larger heavier K-frame gun will also recoil less sharply, and be far easier on old sore hands, no matter how you stack it.


40 rod
December 15, 2012, 12:00 AM
I see said the blind man as he picked up the hammer and saw.

December 15, 2012, 12:20 AM
Said the man with no cogent response or personal experience of his own.

Shadow 7D
December 15, 2012, 03:57 AM
Consider alternative methods of cocking a semi, such as 'pushing through' where the slide is either caught on the side of table/counter, or held in a hand resting/braced on a solid object. Then using MAJOR arm muscles/shoulder and whole body rotation, the gun is pushed down and through, racking the slide....

Cornered Cat has good tips on her site.
What a heavier .357 (L frame??) shooting powder puff .38's or something like a smith 1917 in .45 APC???

December 15, 2012, 07:42 AM
I have found that there is no one perfect handgun for a lady. Especially one we have never met. Women , when given a choice can make there on decisions quite well without the dictates of men. To assume otherwise is to be foolish. The model 10 is not the perfect model gun for everyone and to think so is pure poppycock at best. There are many guns that this lady could choose from that would serve her well, and yes some calibers and semi autos too that a man would not consider. Come on guys, get "REAL", you are better then this. LOL... Snoop

December 15, 2012, 07:53 AM
According to Gila Hayes, a woman gun shop owner and range master at her range for women, there are 2 guns that women pick over a revolver that does not fit. They are the SIG P238, and the Walther PK380.. both autos in 380 and the slides are the easiest to rack with little effort. Are they best for all women... Not at all, but are choices that can be considered.

royal barnes
December 15, 2012, 11:55 AM
It is true that the Beretta tip up .22, .25 and .32 do not require slide racking but the triggers on those little mouse guns are horrible. Some slicking is possible but still tough.

Sig P238 might be a good choice. The slide is easy to rack and the recoil is not extreme.

I would still vote for the Smith Model 10 or even a Model 12. Smooth action that can be made even smoother. Decent ballistics. Low recoil. What's not to like.:)

December 15, 2012, 02:51 PM
Not a senior, but a 36 year old woman checking in.

I'm a revolver person and thought I would really like the Beretta tip-up barrel. The gun (I had the .22 Bobcat) seemed to jam quite a but, but even if it hadn't it was really hard to shoot accurately. I traded it promptly.

I have two .38 Colt Cobras, both with 2'' barrels, a .22 Colt Cobra with a 3'' barrel, and a .22 LCR . By a factor of at least 10, the .22 Colt Cobra is my favorite to shoot. The LCR is okay, but the trigger pull is comparatively not very nice. My accuracy with the .38 is good, but I just don't enjoy shooting it much. I need something I enjoy so I'll practice.

Not sure if this gal likes animals, but I decided for home protection what I really need is a bigger dog instead of a bigger gun.

December 15, 2012, 03:09 PM
She should go to a store that rents guns and try several different models. She'll find one she likes. She may have difficulty with 38 Special or 9x19mm, so it's important to do some shooting.

December 15, 2012, 04:32 PM
SIG 250, compact or sub-compact, 9mm: great DAO trigger, easy to rack slide, very accurate and good sights. Pretty light on recoil in the 9mm. Also, pretty attractive prices.

December 15, 2012, 07:05 PM
If arthritis is her main worry, how about a handgun with a tiltup barrel such as the Beretta Tomcat in .32? It has the benefits of a semi-auto (higher capacity, faster reloads than revolver), low recoil compared to a .38, and no slide to worry about. Plus she will like the DA/SA trigger and get accustomed to it faster than switching to a SA.

December 16, 2012, 12:21 PM
snooperman, according to the OP's request we should suggest away. We have made our suggestions, you have made yours. The whole idea of causing affront to the fairer sex by assuming they cannot choose for themselves seems to be a product of your perception. Perhaps because of an adversarial bias?

December 16, 2012, 02:30 PM
+1 on the model 10. A older one a lot of the times already has a great double action trigger.
I don't feel a single action handgun is the best for home defense unless she is very experienced.

December 16, 2012, 04:07 PM
rswartsell, it is your perception that is the problem and it smells like the stuff that comes out of the back end of my mule. Snoop

December 16, 2012, 04:14 PM
JMHO, but I think she already has the perfect gun for her. It just needs to be worked over by a smith to lighten up the pull for her and smooth up the action. Hard to beat a Colt or S&W .38 snubbie for simple and effective S/D.

And there's nothing that says she HAS to use hot .38 loads, I'm sure a BG will enjoy a light target load with a 158 gr. LRN or LSWC bullet just as much as a +P load with a nasty hollowpoint. Much easier to shoot, and they'll still stop a man.

December 16, 2012, 04:57 PM

Thanks for the input. You must feel very fortunate to have such an unusual animal. Do you sell the perfume?

December 16, 2012, 08:15 PM
I didn't know such a question would draw such good suggestions. I like all comments and find a lot of material to discuss with her. I do have a p238 and my first Ccw of a Taurus PT709. Which I will let her try. I know a mean who carried the LCR9 so will ask for a loan. I especially like the idea of going to a gunsmith about lightening the trigger for her. I also will check out the s&w models 10&15.

I taught her on light tgt loads and on her commercial Critical Defense ammo in 38 Special as her 38 is too old for +P. She had ZERO problems with recoil or trigger pull at that time with 38s, 9s, (Ruger SR9) and even 45s from a Glock 30. Didn't like the Glock nor my 2 45s either.

More research from your valued comments. Thanks again

fbks ak
December 16, 2012, 10:58 PM
I agree RCModel I am 79 and forget things
sometimes and can't rack a slide anymore
Revolvers are for me noe and I love them
especially my Rugers. Tom

December 17, 2012, 12:27 AM
An auto requires a lot of practice dealing with the types of stoppages that are possible. Another issue is "limp wristing".

If she is willing to put the practice in, an auto can be a good choice.

If not, a revolver has many advantages which include, but are not limited to, barrel is attached to the sights
a dud is handled with the pull of a trigger
no active safeties
the push one button renders the weapon safe

December 17, 2012, 01:28 PM
My mom is also in her 60's and has arthritis-type symptoms. She wanted a nightstand revolver. I was planning to let her use my 4" model 10, but she surprised me and much preferred the model 58 41 magnum. I've loaded up a bunch of light target loads with LSWC bullets for her. She really likes the trigger of that N frame, and she can handle the recoil and shoot it accurately.

December 17, 2012, 01:45 PM
you momma is somthing else!!!

I am impressed!!!

December 18, 2012, 12:24 AM
Thanks, it was her Dad's, my Grandpa's 41. He carried it on his hip while hunting in Alaska. It didn't see much use then, but it will now! My mom is pretty great.

December 18, 2012, 01:17 PM
As I'm getting up there in years, I understand the "rack the slide" concerns, but my go to weapon has become the Walther P99 that hangs on the wall with one in the tube. It has a very easy halfway slide to cock the hammer, and feather light trigger after cocked.

It can be had in 9mm or other calibers, mine is in .40 but the feeling in my hand is like an old glove. It points well and has a red dot laser for my ailing eyesight.

Given to any old age pensioner, they would find it extremely easy to use.

Just another thought.


December 19, 2012, 03:00 AM
Teach her to shoot 2-handed. Then it's a simple matter to shoot single-action by cocking the hammer w/ the support hand while the gun hand only has to deal w/ aiming & squeezing off the rounds.

Using this technique you can rival the shot times of a double-action revolver with an old C&B, with superior accuracy. [Reloading, of course, is a different story!]

December 19, 2012, 11:05 AM
Honestly, I think a autoloader like Glock might be a really good option. I would look at one and rent one.

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