Disabled shooter asks me for a recommendation


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DeadMoneyDrew
April 12, 2013, 12:23 AM
Hey all,

Today at my local range I met a guy who was a new shooter. I've seen him there before; he has been renting different pistols to check them out. He asked me about my Beretta M9 and what I think of it versus other handguns. I'm still a relatively new handgun owner so I told him that I can't offer a lot of perspective.

He has Parkinson's Disease. Hearing him talk about the different guns that he has rented got me to thinking a bit, since there is a history of Parkinson's in my family. This gentleman appears to be in the middle stages of Parkinson's and has a moderately noticeable hand shake. He was renting a Smith & Wesson Shield and was doing a pretty good job of hitting center of mass in spite of his shake.

I've never shot the Shield, so I gave it a quick feel before I left the range. It is awfully light. I was thinking that this gentleman might want to try a heavier gun like my M9 since he might find it easier to hold it steady. But he would almost certainly have trouble working the slide when his Parkinson's is acting up, since Parkinson's patients often have trouble closing their fingers around an object.

What other guns might he try? I'm bound to see him there again since he is at the range pretty often.

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Fremmer
April 12, 2013, 01:18 AM
A revolver, .38 special

MrCleanOK
April 12, 2013, 03:58 AM
Don't let this gentleman's Parkinsons scare you away from recommending an auto. As long as the rear sight has a shoulder on the front (like your M9), he can rack the slide against his belt, pants pocket, the edge of a table or desk, or many other things. A lot of people do it to train for one-handed weapon manipulations.

You might also ask what purpose he wants the gun to serve. If he is looking for a gun just for home defense, you might recommend a carbine of some sort. A long gun is going to be much more accurate and controllable than a pistol for someone with shaky hands.

Jackal1
April 12, 2013, 05:52 AM
My grandfather has a similar issue with his parkinsons. I'm not so sure that a heavy pistol weight has much to do with how well he could control a pistol, because his hand shakes bad no matter what, and forcefully, without him even knowing it. The only way he gets his hand to stop shaking is by sitting on it.

I would suggest a pistol with a full-size grip, 9mm or 380 ACP so slide racking against the recoil spring is easier (compared to a 45ACP), and probably DA or heavy SA so as to limit inadvertently pressing the trigger with a twitch. Like mentioned above, a rear sight with a relatively flat forward face to allow him to rack the slide on his belt is a great idea.

For home use I would 100% suggest a longarm like a shotgun or an AR-15. Though the AR bolt handle, mag catch, & mag release require precise finger control - at least its a nimble weapon with little recoil & with a 30rd mag hopefully the threat is taken care of and reloading is no concern. The shotgun can give quite a kick unless he goes with a gas operated semi-auto 12ga or a pump 20ga. He can get oversized safety &bolt release buttons for the shotgun (and probly the AR as well). Basically I would suggest a longarm so he can steady his aim against his shoulder & get a weapon with big buttons such that fine motor skills are not required.

In my personal case, its sad to see my grandpa (who for most of my life was a real-life rugged John Wayne) get old, feeble, shaky, and pretty much defenseless. Be nice & courteous to your elders, folks. And be nice to your own children & grandchildren because one day we'll need their help!

Best of luck

ku4hx
April 12, 2013, 08:52 AM
Generally, as the condition progresses, fine motor control progressively diminishes. Weight may be an ongoing, and possibly increasing, concern. That being the case, a "long" gun that affords the use of whole-hand operations will be best. To me that says pump shotgun with 20"-24" barrel.

If he wants a handgun, a quality revolver with a smooth double action trigger and at least a 6" barrel might work. But the thing is, his condition is likely degenerative and that means what works now may not work in a relatively short time.

Coop45
April 12, 2013, 12:34 PM
If someone has trouble gripping, a revolver might be right because stripping and reassembling a semi auto could be a problem.

svtruth
April 12, 2013, 01:20 PM
search of a couple of PD association web sites revealed no information on patients with PD participating in shooting sports. However, a study in Oregon showed that the smooth, controlled movements of tai chi did show improvement compared to resistance exercise and (I think) no exercise. Smooth, controlled movements sound like aiming to me. Good luck.
Years ago when I was on the Board of the Huntington's Disease Society of America, there was a young man, active in the area who had HD and was on his high school rifle team.
I am guessing that health care professionals are going to be very concerned about a risk of suicide.
Good luck

DeadMoneyDrew
April 12, 2013, 09:33 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I'll definitely share it with this guy the next time I see him.

I'm not sure what he is looking for in a gun - defense, fun, or what. He sure seems to enjoy himself at the range.

DeadMoneyDrew
April 12, 2013, 09:34 PM
Don't let this gentleman's Parkinsons scare you away from recommending an auto. As long as the rear sight has a shoulder on the front (like your M9), he can rack the slide against his belt, pants pocket, the edge of a table or desk, or many other things. A lot of people do it to train for one-handed weapon manipulations.


Thanks. Now I have another shooting drill to add to my practice routine. :)

DeadMoneyDrew
April 12, 2013, 09:40 PM
My grandfather has a similar issue with his parkinsons. I'm not so sure that a heavy pistol weight has much to do with how well he could control a pistol, because his hand shakes bad no matter what, and forcefully, without him even knowing it. The only way he gets his hand to stop shaking is by sitting on it

....

In my personal case, its sad to see my grandpa (who for most of my life was a real-life rugged John Wayne) get old, feeble, shaky, and pretty much defenseless. Be nice & courteous to your elders, folks. And be nice to your own children & grandchildren because one day we'll need their help!

Best of luck

It's unfortunate but that is the nature of the disease. My own father has PD, and it's sad to watch him gradually lose motor skills. There are hints that PD is hereditary so that may well be my future too.

My dad could probably still work a long gun, though - interesting thought.

Inebriated
April 13, 2013, 12:20 AM
First thing to come to mind is the SIG P250. Full grip, long but light and smooth DAO trigger, heavy for a polymer wondergun, variety of cartridges, affordable, MUCH easier for him to reload than a wheelgun, relatively HUGE slide stop, and factory sights that allow racking against objects like a counter top.

If concern about "twitching" into the trigger are present, then the long DAO will be a great option. If twitching isn't a concern, then a Glock would be great because he could throw on an extended mag release, extended slide stop, 10-8 sights for racking off surfaces, and a cocking handle. Yes, a cocking handle. It would allow him to just use his palm and push/pull, rather than have to actually grip the slide. Also, if he shoots the way I'm thinking (pull trigger once sights are aligned and on target), a shorter pull would allow him to possibly be more precise with his shot placement, vs. the longer pull of the P250.

Either way, the handgun can be stored ready-to-go, or can be store slide back, mag in, so all he has to do when he needs it is press the slide stop, or use a counter to rack it.

Fremmer
April 13, 2013, 03:50 PM
If that semi jams and he can't clear it by grasping the slide, it'll be a problem.

The revolver will take longer for him to load, but he'll get a sure 6 out of it.

Inebriated
April 13, 2013, 05:14 PM
If that semi jams and he can't clear it by grasping the slide, it'll be a problem.

That is why both of my recommendations include sights that allow you to rack off your belt, pants, pocket, a counter, etc, and the Glock includes the cocking handle. Perfect? No. Doable? Yes!

Plus, I'd take my chances knowing that having to reload a revolver is much more likely to happen than having to clear a malfunction in an auto.

Backpacker33
April 13, 2013, 05:59 PM
K-frame S&W. Such as:
66, 67, Combat Masterpiece. The smaller handle would likely be easier for him to grasp and hold. I have large hands, but like the 66 a lot.
There is plenty of standard .38 Special and .357 Magnum ammo that will serve him well.
Small 9mm autos can kick pretty hard and I would be concerned that he might have difficulty hanging on to one. That said, semi-autos such as the Sig 225/P6 (if you can find it) might also be easy for him to grasp and hold.

Fremmer
April 13, 2013, 08:37 PM
Clearing a bad jam with a belt buckle (or a counter or something else) under stress sounds pretty difficult. And dangerous.

I guess you could clamp on a charging handle, which would be interesting

Inebriated
April 13, 2013, 08:59 PM
Clearing a bad jam with a belt buckle (or a counter or something else) under stress sounds pretty difficult. And dangerous. '

It's not and it isn't.

Do some training.

Fremmer
April 13, 2013, 10:58 PM
We're not talking about me.
We're talking about a gentleman who suffers from Parkinson's.

But another way to look at it would be to have him get the shield. After all, the op says he shot it well enough. So let him go with what he shoots well.

Inebriated
April 14, 2013, 12:13 AM
I wasn't telling you to do training, I was speaking generally.

Didn't mean for it to come across that way.

Fremmer
April 14, 2013, 12:59 AM
Oh, no worries, I'm just speaking generally anyway, too.

One thing I'm sure of is that he should have the freedom to choose whatever gun he wants.

hentown
April 14, 2013, 09:27 AM
I'd suggest that he try a G19, with a lighter-than-factory recoil spring. Additionally, he can get a slide-racker that's ambidextrous and that replaces the slide cover plate, making slide-racking easier.

DeadMoneyDrew
April 14, 2013, 02:19 PM
Cool, lots of good feedback in this thread. Next time I see the guy I'll ask him for a few more details about what he is looking for and what purpose his future-purchased-gun will serve, and I'll offer to let him try my M9 for a couple of mags. I'm kicking myself for not having thought to offer to let him give it a try.

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