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380 auto for my wife

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by elktrout, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. elktrout

    elktrout Well-Known Member

    My wife has small, weak hands. Most auto loaders have a recoil spring that is too stiff for her to pull the slide all the way to the rear. Also, she does not handle recoil well. My Model 15 revolver with 2 inch barrel is pretty heavy for a 38 snubbie, but she only took one shot with it (a target load at that) and put it down.

    My thoughts are to find her a nice .380 somewhere. Who makes a good one, and especially one that does not have an overly stiff recoil spring?
  2. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Well-Known Member

    Beretta 84/85 is about the only one I can think of. Blowback pistols generally have pretty stiff springs... And the lcp is not easy to rack either.
    .380s aren't known for soft recoil either... The get pretty snappy.
  3. Deer_Freak

    Deer_Freak Member.

    You are pushing your wife to hard. When males learn to shoot they start with a 22 rifle. Yet they expect their wives to start with a handgun. My wife shot 22 rifles and 20 ga pump for a couple years before she even considered shooting a handgun. Today she will shoot any handgun just as quick and well as most men. When she needs some stress relief she will pick up a box of 357 ammo and go blow up some water jugs. She might take the 20 ga to the local skeet range and shoot a couple rounds. But that didn't happen overnight. She didn't know anything about guns when I met her. She learned the same way as I did. I introduced her to guns just like I would a teenage boy.
  4. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Well-Known Member

    My wife also has small, weak hands. Give her this. It helped my wife a lot.


    In fact, just give her the whole web site and stay out of her way.

    Don't pull the slide at all. Read the article, and let her have at it.

    A pocket .380 is going to bite. Period. You want to control recoil then hand her a full size gun. Besides that, it will have more surface area to hold the slide. I bought her a Ruger LCP, which conceals well, but bites like a rabid dog. My wife tried, liked, and bought, a Beretta 92A1 for herself.

    I stayed out of it. She's satisfied. I'm satisfied.
  5. smalls

    smalls Well-Known Member

    Small, weak hands and recoil sensitive? Stay far away from any if the subcompact guns period, let alone .380.

    There are a few full size .380's available, but you might as well just move up to 9mm, the recoil isn't much more, and it's less expensive to shoot.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  6. Snowdog

    Snowdog Well-Known Member

    The answer to your question is almost an obvious one: the Sig Sauer P238.

    It's a locked breach that is very mild in recoil when compared to .380acp blowbacks or scanty weight pocket pistols. The slide is quite likely the easiest of all the .380acp pistols to retract (most folks can rack the slide with their pinky wrapped around the rear sight). I was wondering if the spring was tired on the rental I was using, but was told it was a common reaction and it was fine. The mild recoil reinforced that fact.

    I recently fired a P238 and now have a P238 HD on the way to my FFL, that's how impressed I was by the thing. The one I fired was incredible. The recoil was absolutely tame and nothing like the LCP I fired a few days before. From my understanding, the P238 is highly recommended by women for women for the reasons I listed.
    I also understand they are described as "+p rated" if you're so inclined to use the hotter stuff on the market.

    In addition, the quality of construction is second to none, the ergonomics are highly lauded by most who have fired one and they typically come standard with tritium sights that are actually usable.

    The downsides? Its single action only and many have an issue with cocked and locked carry. I plan on carrying mine in condition 2, so that means nothing to me. It's how I currently carry my P64 and am used to pulling the hammer on the draw.

    It's also expensive, but only you can decide if your wife is worth the investment. Personally, I plan on purchasing another for my wife when she obtains her ccw since she's also fallen in love with mild manners of the P238.

    Have her rent one if you can and see what happens.

    And as a side note, they're smart looking pistols if you ask me.

    Googled images for reference

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  7. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Well-Known Member

    Like others have stated, let her decide.

    A 22 is going to be easy to manipulate and have very low recoil. She can practice much longer without getting tired.
  8. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Well-Known Member

    Sounds to me like a Ruger SR22 is in order.

    My fiancé can't pull the slides back on many of my handguns, except that one.

    She shoots it great, can manipulate the slide, and truck-carries it with CCI Stingers.

    Get one in her hands and see what she thinks.
  9. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    Another vote for the Ruger SR22.
    I have two. One has a Crimson Trace laser on the rail that makes for a deadly fast accurate low light pistol. (I have a home range where I shoot low light/dark several times a week)

    Everyone, including several women that shoot the SR22 like it. I suspect your wife will like the gun and will be able to handle it well.

    Look at it this way. It's a lot better if your wife has a 22 that she likes and can handle well, than a .380 that she doesn't like and can't/won't practice enough to get good with.
    Ten 22LR COM hits beats the heck out of seven .380 near misses.:)
  10. returningfire

    returningfire Well-Known Member


    Get her a Beretta Tomcat or something similar in .32. She can load it without racking the slide they are heavy enough so as not to have sharp recoil especially in 32. A lot of you guys are gonna say a 32 is too small. Well some gun in her purse is better than no gun in her purse, and during some past wars .32 was a common handgun round for soldiers and could administer fatality quite readily when necessary .

    Just make sure she watches out for slide bite.
  11. kBob

    kBob Well-Known Member

    A friend that is a lady grew up in a home where making "gun fingers" and going "bang" at another person was reason for punishment. She was also both recoil shy and weak when she grew up and moved out of her folks house and sort of wanted a gun. She did not want a long gun. She thought a .380 M1934 Beretta was to hard to jack back and kicked too much. She ended up shooting an old Colt .32 revolver with .32 S&W Long. It had a small grip, no slide to jack back, and little recoil.

    She shot several boxes of ammo over six months or so before she decided maybe something bigger would be better for home defense. She then went to a Model 28 Highway patrolman that she used .38 special in for a few months then tried .357 magnum and moved to that.

    She never did get to likeing semi autos except a Whitney Wolverine which she thought just cool as all get out and very Buck Rodgers-ish fun. SHe did eventually get a CWL and carried a Taurus 85 which she shot a bit every quarter or so. Her home defense gun is toay a .44 Special S&W revolver and she broke down and got a long gun as well, a GI M1 Carbine she occassionally shoots.

    I think that if we had insisted she go semi auto to begin with or "a better caliber" she would still be not interested in gun rights.......she became the presdident of an NRA affiliate that while she was president won three national NRA Awards and was the SAF Gun rights champion of one month in the early '90's.

    Nothing wrong with starting small or "old fashioned"........

  12. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

    A fix for the "can't pull the slide back" is to have her use both hands. Usually those with weaker arms who can't pull the slide back are only pulling with one hand, while the strong hand remains stationary on the firearm. If they push out with that strong hand, while pulling back with a good grip on the off hand, they can "slingshot" that slide back and chamber a round.

    My 12 year old daughter can chamber any of my handguns, even those with stiff recoil springs. And she's on the dainty side.
  13. Milkbus

    Milkbus Member

    Take a look at the Bersa Thunder 380. Enough weight to be mild on the recoil. Racking the slide may be a tough, but proper technique could help get it done. http://www.bersa.com/bersa-firearms/thunder-series.html

    My wife went ot the LGS by herself and came back with this. It is a nice gun.
  14. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Well-Known Member

    She grip pushes...and still sucks at it. She's not comfortable with practicing, nor is she dainty.

    Maybe lazy is a better description. But, I'd rather her have something she can use comfortably, that she also shoots well. Example: she shoots my G32 even better than the SR22, but can't rack the slide. Two different ends of a spectrum. Go figure.

    She picked up my SR22, and lets suffice it to say it isn't mine any longer.
  15. herkyguy

    herkyguy Well-Known Member

    .22 LCR or any semi-auto. Let that simmer for a while then move on to a Sig P238. It's a pleasure to shoot. but start with .22.
  16. GLI45

    GLI45 Well-Known Member

    Same with my wife. Snowdog's earlier post is right on the money. The Sig P238 is an outstanding small pistol. I bought a Nitron version for my wife and she loves it. Very comfortable to shoot with low felt recoil, easy to rack, has great sights, and is amazingly accurate for such a small pistol. Now she wants the titanium rainbow version which is okay by me because I'll keep the Nitron for myself.
  17. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

    Could be. But it's not impossible. I taught my 75 year old grandmother to rack the slide of a Springfield XD reliably, those are about as stiff as it gets. My 80 year old grandfather can do it too, he keeps it for self defense.

    It's all in the technique. :)
  18. rodinal220

    rodinal220 Well-Known Member

  19. jrdolall

    jrdolall Well-Known Member

    I got my wife and kids started shooting a Buckmark. Cheap ammo(used to be cheap), no recoil to speak of and easy to racck. Like all gun nuts they progressed at their own pace and soon wanted to shot something "meaner". I carry a ocket 380 and the slide is still difficult for her to maneuver but she can handle the recoil okay. I don't even like to fire 25 rounds from the pocket 380 or pocket 9mm pistols I own. She actually eventually settled on a S&W 642 with laser grips for her purse.
  20. Jaymo

    Jaymo Well-Known Member


    Get her some of these. They come in light, medium, heavy, and extra heavy.
    start her out with light, then medium. Almost anyone can strengthen their hands/forearms.
    I taught my wife to use the overhand grip on the slide, and to push the gun forward with her shooting hand/pull the slide back with her weak hand.
    Using both hands to work the slide means that each hand is doing only half the work.
    It made it a lot easier for her to work the slide on my SR9.

    In fact, every shooter should buy some of those grip strengtheners and use them regularly.

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