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Best SD gun for small, weak, arthritic hands?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Charlie Oldphart, Nov 18, 2005.

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  1. Charlie Oldphart

    Charlie Oldphart Member

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    My wife and I are in our late seventies live in Vermont---and that is good,

    We also live in Southern Vermont---and that is NOT good!

    The reason? We border New York and Massachusetts and are within a short distance from Connecticut and New Jersey. Need I say more? The criminal elements bring their damn drugs and immoral lifestyles across our borders and one is not safe in one's home anymore.

    An incident took place not long ago only a few miles from us. Two punks broke into an elderly couple's home. The husband was severely beaten and the wife was sexually assaulted. She was 79 years old! Can you imagine assaulting a 79 year old woman? Filthy b*stards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am a peaceful man and outside of the military, I have never shot at anyone or even threatened anyone. There was never any need to. Now, I've had enough! I am not paranoid, but I expect to live out my years in peace and if I have to protect myself and my wife by sending an assailant straight to hell, then I will do it.

    Now here's where I need help from you folks. I intend to buy a weapon for my wife, but I have not kept up to date with the latest types that would be suitable. Bearing in mind the following conditions, what would you suggest?

    1. My wife is 5 feet tall, 110 pounds and has small weak hands (arthritus)

    2. I'm thinking that she could not work the slide on an auto.

    3. I'm thinking she could handle nothing larger, caliber wise, than a .38 Spec.

    4. Which manufacturer makes a double action with the lightest trigger pull?

    5. Would it be practical for a gunsmith to lighten up the trigger pull and still
    be safe?
    6. The weapon should should be of the highest quality. Price is no obect.
    (At my age, I can't take it with me, can I ? )
    7. What about smaller calibers that would still be effective?

    Guys, thanks so much for your input. Women also, perhaps you can relate.
    All info is greatly appreciated and I know opinions will vary, I want to hear them all.

    God Bless You and Yours.

    Charlie
     
  2. 1911Ron

    1911Ron Member

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    First off Charlie Howdy and welcome to The High Road, if you can go to a range that will rent you a revolver that will fit her hands,try the trigger first if they will let you.
    Once you do that rent it and shoot it .38cal will work just fine with good shot placement. It would be a good idea also to get some basic pistol training for the both of you.
    Keep us updated on how it goes with what you choose.
     
  3. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

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    It is a semi-auto, but the Para Ordnance LDA series are double action and the trigger pull from the factory is about 4 to 4-1/2 pounds. I think they have at least one model in 9mm. You could load it and leave it ready to go when you're not at home. It's built on a 1911 pattern, so it does have a thumb safety and it also has a firing pin safety.

    Like all semi-autos, though, it should have a few hundred rounds put through it at a range to demonstrate reliabiluty before you trust it with your lives.

    A revolver is perhaps inherently more reliable, but there is the trigger pull issue ... and the need for reloading after fewer shots. The Para Ordnance Hi-Cap 9 holds 18 rounds in the magazine, plus one in the chamber. Stock number DX189S.
     
  4. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    Charlie, welcome to THR. May I make a suggestion? I suspect that a handgun will NOT be the optimum weapon for your wife. This is for two reasons:

    1. With her weak and painful hands, she won't be able to cope with the recoil of any meaningful self-defence cartridge, and extended practice (very much a necessity with a handgun) is out of the question;

    2. Without that practice, she may not be accurate enough to hit what she wants to.

    I'd suggest a light-recoiling carbine instead. The Kel-Tec SU16C is very light, easy to shoot, can handle a red-dot sight if you want one, has very little recoil, and (when loaded with soft- or hollow-point bullets) will hit far harder than any handgun round. I'd strongly recommend looking at one of these - they don't cost any more than a decent handgun. Alternatives are the Ruger Mini-14 (however, reliable high-capacity magazines are hard to find) or the AR-15 (much more expensive for a quality example). I don't recommend a shotgun, due to recoil management problems with her arthritis and light build.

    If you have a friend (or a local rental range) with one of these weapons, try her out with it. It's light and portable enough to be kept handy at home, and I assume you're not worrying about carrying a gun 24/7.

    Good luck!
     
  5. BryanP

    BryanP Member

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    Welcome to THR Charlie.

    As a youngish (37) man with arthritis in his hands I can sympathize; even if my build is a tad more ... substantial than your wife's. ;)

    Preacherman gave you some excellent suggestions. If you're sold on a pistol I would get her a large heavy steel revolver and load it with .38 special. Something like a Ruger GP100 will soak up the recoil.

    [​IMG]

    You might also consider a pistol caliber carbine, which can be a bit smaller than the Mini-14 or SU-16. Being a long gun it will soak up much of the recoil of a pistol cartridge. Since you say money isn't an issue you might look into something like a Beretta Storm which is available in 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP.

    [​IMG]

    If she can't operate the slide on even something like a Storm then perhaps a lever-action carbine chambered in .357/.38spl such as the Marlin 1894C would work better. It's relatively heavy and as a result firing .38's from it is almost like firing a .22. The recoil is practically non-existant.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. HankB

    HankB Member

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    For a person with small, weak, arthritic hands, a semi-auto is probably not a good choice. Many must be gripped firmly to properly function, otherwise you may get what's sometimes termed a "limp wrist" malfunction. This can be alleviated to a large extent by the use of more powerful ammunition (either "+P" or "+P+") Recoil of this ammo in, say, a Glock 26 is quite mild, and I've been unable to induce a limp wrist jam in that pistol, but only you and your wife can determine if a pistol like that is a viable option.

    A revolver is always fine - in fact, my "always loaded house guns" are ALL revolvers. I would recommend an S&W "K" or "L" frame revolver with a round butt in .357 Magnum. The .357 has a healthy recoil, but ordinary .38 Special ammunition (with much less recoil) may be used in any .357 Magnum revolver. Plus, most steel framed full size S&W .357s are just a tad heavier than their .38 Special counterparts, which further reduces the recoil.

    I'd look for a pre-lock, pre-MIM used revolver with the firing pin still on the hammer, and then either have a good gunsmith work it over, or get the "Trigger Job" DVD by Jerry Miculek (highley recommended!) and do it myself.

    Adding long arms to the equation, Preacherman has some good suggestions. I'd also add an "AK" pattern rifle into the mix - they're compact, they shoot a good, mild-recoiling round with good stopping power (especially if softpoints are used), the manual of arms is easy, and they're reliable with quality 30 round detachable magazines readily available.
     
  7. Echo Tango

    Echo Tango Member

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    I get the feeling theres gonna be a riot.
    lets go one further

    I kind of agree with Preacher's point of view, but I have a few questions. I am naturally assuming this is going to be a "In-house" gun i.e. Home Defense weapon. If that assumption is correct, there is no rule that says that weapon has to be a pistol. A youth model shotgun should be light enough and easy enough to handle, and given the extra mass of the weapon would allow for a heavier round/shot with less recoil felt( there are some really good low recil tactical buck shot rounds on the market today) this equals more stopping power for her as opposed to a small caliber pistol that would be required/limited because of her hand strength/arthritis issues.

    Another plus....much like the crossbow/long bow delimma of the middle ages: Many a Barons and Dukes (not to mention long bowman) saw the invention of the crossbow as a great threat because if reduced the level of skill needed for the average joe to be dangerous at a distance. The long bow, much like a pistol required training and practise to be proficent where as any knuckle head could pick up a cross bow aim it and generally hit what they were aiming at...much like a shot gun.

    Now in a high stress situation,simple is better. Yes you can miss with a shot gun, but its a heck of alot easier to miss with a pistol or even a rifle and if your dont have the time to take your Wife to the range to practice with said pistol thats just asking for holes in the walls and ceiling. A shot gun is definately the way to go.

    Just something to consider.
     
  8. bad LT

    bad LT Member

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    A longgun is simply a better weapon than a handgun. The above are all good sugestions. Another alternative is an M-1 carbine loaded with quality hollowpoints. Very effective and user-friendly.
     
  9. trueblue1776

    trueblue1776 Member

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    sir, have you considered perhaps an irritant like pepper spray? For about $25 you can get 6 oz can that can supposedly stop a grizzly in its tracks. This may be a wise alternative for someone who is not accustomed to firearms, and I can personally say (I was a non beliver once) that this product will stop a grown man, myself for instance 6'5" 230lb, it hurt so bad I could not think. Military or police grade spray is preferrable due to concentration and ergonomics of the can, look for 10% concentration or better. Plus on a big can you have about 50 shots without reloading. Please consider this if safety is your concern, I hope this helps, good luck
     
  10. middy

    middy Member

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    Personally, I think a large framed .357 revolver is going to be too heavy for her weak, arthritic hands.

    May I suggest a Smith & Wesson 431PD in .32 H&R Magnum?

    As far as long guns, I like the suggestions of the Keltec SU16 and the Beretta Storm.
     
  11. Rupestris

    Rupestris Member

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    I'd start with a dog. Something that at least looks threatening. Rottweiler, German Shepard, Doberman, etc.
    Yes, they can be distracted with a $.99 package of lunch meat, but it may deter the criminals looking for as easy target.
    I had a Rottweiler when I lived in a crap neighborhood. She had one confirmed encounter with a bad-guy trying to get in. I wasn't home but it was obvious the clown trying to get in the window got the scare of his life, probably wet himself, and took off quick.
    Even a small dog will let you know if strangers are around. Kinda like an early warning system that only costs a few dollars a month.

    As for a firearm, I agree with a heavier, .38/.357 revolver.
     
  12. spook

    spook Member

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    Under similar circumstances I chose a youth model .410 slide action shotgun as a home defense gun for my wife and she is very comfortable with it
     
  13. pharmer

    pharmer Member

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    I vote for a 20 ga. coach gun. Easy to learn and load, short, maneuverable, light kick with light loads. Arthritis shouldn't be too much of a problem. Drop one with first barrel and the rest can decide who gets to catch the second. Joe
     
  14. fjolnirsson

    fjolnirsson Member

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    I'd start with a dog. Not for stopping the threat, but as an early warning system. Either the revolver or carbine/levergun sound like fine options. Pepper spray? I'd hate to bet my life on a can of seasoning. It's a nice intermediate option for some people, but it doesn't always work. I got soaked with it in the academy, and it didn't do squat. After a soaking with spray, I got hit with foam, which did start working, after about 30 seconds. Total time until I was incapacitated? 5+ minutes. At the time, I was around 280 lbs, and in good shape. I can do a lot of damage in 5 minutes, or even 30 seconds. Pepper spray can also cause problems for people with respiratory problems.
     
  15. jsalcedo

    jsalcedo Member

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    Winchester 94 .410 loaded with slugs.

    Low weight, Low recoil, Easy to use, nice trigger

    The only consideration would be where to put it.


    Pepper spray indoors is a big no no I experimented with it in my youth :barf:

    A Taurus or smith and wesson .38 with a 4 inch barrel is easy on the hands
    especially if you get the recoil absorbing grips.

    Best of luck to you and your wife and I hope you never encounter any of these cretins.
     
  16. Hook686

    Hook686 Member

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    I would think it really depends upon just how "arthritic" her hands are. If she can grip a small handgun, I'd try maybe a walther PPK/S (a .380 automatic ... note: a double action automatic ... very light recoil sold by S&W now), or even a S&W 3913 Lady Smith (a light 9mm, with a little more recoil, but not much more).

    Good Luck, I hope you find something that eases both your fears.

    Hook686
     
  17. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to THR.

    Charlie, a dog and a shotgun will get you a lot more for your buck than a high dollar pistol. Remington's "Spartan" line (made in Russia) has a good quality double barrel shotgun for under $400... ask your local gunshop to show you a 'coach gun' (as in stage coach gun). A double is very easy to load and use.

    For under $300 (and often times closer to $200) you can buy a Remington pump shotgun, get a short barrel (18-20 inches) you aren't buying it for duck hunting. It's a little more complex, but holds 3 more shells.


    If you really want a handgun, I'd find a local 'smith to build you up a .38 cal SW model 10 with a light trigger pull.

    Whichever you choose, practice with it, and still get the dog.
     
  18. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    For all those recommending shotguns: folks, please remember the arthritic hands situation. Any weapon requires practice to master it, and a shotgun's recoil, even in minor gauges, is a bit too much for arthritic hands. I'd still recommend a carbine in a lighter caliber (the suggestion of a Beretta Storm in a pistol caliber, probably 9mm., is also a good one), as the minimal recoil of such a weapon is likely to be conducive to practice with, and therefore mastery of, the weapon.
     
  19. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Preacher, on that note I'd suggest an M-1 Carbine... it's light, little recoil, more punch that a .357, short pull to cock it for the first shot, light as a .22.

    I would NOT suggest a Marlin (that damn safety will get someone killed) lever gun or Winchester '92 (You have to squeeze the lever to make it work) to a person unfamiliar with firearms, much less one with arthritis.

    The point of a break action double, is that it's so simple you can do it one handed... and in a smaller ga. like a .20, it's pretty managable. And, to be truthful it can be left loaded with the safety on. You just have to remember that it's loaded, and treat it accordingly.
     
  20. Jim PHL

    Jim PHL Member

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    In general, I agree that a rifle, carbine or shotty is more easily handled as far as taming recoil, has better (read: easier) accuracy, better ballistics and may intimidate an intruder. But let's not forget the intimidation factor to the USER. Those of us that know better, probably including Charlie since he mentioned a military background, know that they are not necessarily harder to operate than a handgun, but just the fact that it is a bigger, heavier, two-handed weapon may make it more intimidating to his wife. If she is, as I assume from his post, "a woman of a certain maturity", she isn't likely to want to take up shooting as a new hobby. I'd have to agree with many here that a K-or L-frame S+W, Ruger GP, or similar-framed Taurus .38 really fits the bill. Even if she has never fired a gun, there is a universal familiarity, even a comfort level with a revolver. When he mentioned buying a gun to her it was probably the first picture in her mind. The trigger can be worked on to be very friendly towards her arthritic hands. Mild, target-loaded .38's are downright fun to practice with from a steel-framed revo and standard pressure hollow-points are fine for "across the room" defense. Speaking of across the room distance, adequate accuracy is not out of reach of a "rookie" with a handgun. Again, she will most likely not be a recreational shooter, trying to erase the spades from a playing card at 25 yards. If, God forbid, she needs to use it, she'll need to hit a torso 10 feet away or closer. Charlie, if you are primarily interested in a new gun, I would suggest you take a hard look at a Smith + Wesson Model 10 or 64. The 64 can be had with a 3-inch barrel. Either can be had with a 4" barrel. If you don't mind used, there are great deals to be had out there. Good luck. Whatever you decide to buy, I hope you enjoy learning to shoot it together and never have to use it for anything but fun.
     
  21. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Used Marlin Camp Carbines in 9mm aren't too expensive and will soak up all the recoil from the 9mm.

    Does anyone make a .410 or 20 guage gas operated shotgun that might be gentle enough for her to use?

    A dog and alarm system is an excellent idea. The certainty of a monitored alarm limits the amount of time criminals are willing to spend in the house.

    Forget pepper spray. If you can't be assured of having the police show up then you can be assured a sprayed criminal will take out their resentment on you.
     
  22. Omni04

    Omni04 Member

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    Since this is for home defense, would you mind telling us a little how your house is constructed? If you have a choke point such as a stairway, a rifle seems like it would be ideal (any maybe a shotgun as well, for you not your wife). If you live in a trailer or a small apartment a rifle might be a little harder to utilize.

    Somebody mentioned before that their kids are upstairs, and that if his home was being broken into that he would just sit on top of the stairs and aim his shotgun down. Hes thoughts were let them have whatever they want, as long as he protects his family.

    Have you considered having separate weapons for yourself and your wife?
     
  23. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Anyone who thinks a granny with a shotgun isn't scary needs their head examined.

    Then again, granny liked her Colt Single Action as well...

    (All meant in good fun...)
     

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  24. f4t9r

    f4t9r Member

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    I would agree with the 410 as a good choice
    or a light revolver you could check out at the range or gun shop
     
  25. dfaugh

    dfaugh Member

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    Wanna bet on that? You can come in my house and see if you can distract ANY of my 5 German Shepherds, wit a nice steak (and I'll pay for it!)...Job 1 is to protect their "pack" (family) and territory..

    So I think you should consider a dog as well.

    I also agree with some others that a nice 9mm carbine (loaded with some +P+ hollowpoints) would be good, although a shotgun is better, if not quite as manageble.
     
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