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  1. #1
    Hollander is offline Junior Member
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    Question Need advice - weapon for wife

    My wife is recoil sensitive to some degree, however she has fired a .38 SW on previous occasions. She has small wrists and is 74 years old. I have been considering various models of .380 and trying to find a blend of gun weight and reliability. Some opinions state that felt recoil between .380 and 9mm is not significantly different. I already have a Sig Pro, an Xd tach, and a PM9, all in 9mm. My question is should I rule out 9mm and stick with the .380? Have considered the Taurus Mil Pro in .380 or possible the Walther PPK just because the gun weight is a little more to as to soften the recoil. Any advice would be appreciated. The wife just went for the CCW yesterday. Mostly it would be carried in the car and occasionally in her purse. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    dovehunter is offline Member
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    What ever you get, just make sure that she is able to rack the slide comfortably. I have held several models/brand names of .380's and a lot of them are hard/tough to rack the slide.

    I have always reminded people that in time of emergency, this is not the best time to get flustered, and if you are not comfortable with your weapon of any kind, you are liable to get hurt or worse.

    Just my 2cents and good luck on your search.

  3. #3
    falshman70's Avatar
    falshman70 is offline Member
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    Kahr has a new gun in .380 you might look at. Good luck getting .380 ammo, though. My wife has the Ruger LCP and we can't find ammo anywhere. Some polymer guns have about the same recoil as a heavier steel gun. So she'll just have to weigh the relative merits of weight vs felt recoil. H&K's P2000sk in 9mm is a possibility.

  4. #4
    Pistolero's Avatar
    Pistolero is offline Member
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    I agree that the Karr is an excellent weapon but, perhaps, a touch small for older hands if she has any trouble with dexterity. This is a rare case where I'd actually recommend a Walther PPK/S. The weight will tame the recoil and, if she carries it in a purse, has enough dimension to it so it can be easily grasped and manipulated. The Kel-Tecs are notoriously hard to rack. If she prefers a revolver, consider a heavier framed Ruger SP101 as they are a pleasure to shoot next to comparable Smith J-frames of lower weight. Whatever you choose, take her to the shop to try it out first (at least hand fit).

    I wish you luck!

  5. #5
    gnet158 is offline Member
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    Look at a 6 shooter like a .38 or similar. The last thing you want is for her to struggle with the slide on a semi auto.

    My .02

  6. #6
    Hollander is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the responses so far. I did have another idea and that was to get another PPS in 9mm. I have the one in .40. I am not too concerned about her racking the slide since it is my habit to carry a round chambered. The wife knows about that and understands all about safe handling etc. I had her handle my .38 spSW and she feeks it too heavy but can handle the PPS a little better. What ever we choose we thank all of you for your advice. We have not ruled out a revolver yet either but I am concerned that if we get one too light we still have the recoil problem. I shoot a lot of 9mm so a 9mm PPS does make some sense I guess. I will also use low recoil loads for her. Thnks to all.

  7. #7
    PhilR. is offline Member
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    It takes a certain amount of hand strength to handle the recoil of a handgun, so the first thing I think about when reading your posts is how can someone so weak that they feel that a .38 can be too heavy, yet still want to shoot a handgun that will inevitably recoil?

    Have you actually held a PPK/s? They are heavy handguns - easily the equal of a steel J-frame. My PPK/s weighs almost 24 ounces. Did you know that they are of a blowback design, so even though the caliber itself is fairly small in the realm of handgun calibers, it still has a pretty good kick? All of the smaller .380's have a pretty decent amount of recoil, and I would agree that there isn't much difference between a 9mm and blowback .380. If you want a .380, you would do better with one of the larger ones such as the Beretta that just happens to be as big (or bigger) as many 9mm's. Overall though, a .380 is a poor choice for a novice in her seventies.

    If your wife has the hand strength to handle the recoil of a handgun, then she can learn to handle recoil, at least the recoil of a 9mm or .38. I understand that she is "recoil-sensitive", but I have a feeling that it's a matter of not liking it, rather than not being able to physically handle it. You might consider finding something that has a grip size that is large enough for her to grasp firmly and well, and have her practice a lot. She needs to do this, if she is going to take on the responsibility of carrying a handgun.

    Her best bet would be a steel-framed .38 or .357 revolver. You can put many different sizes of grips on them, which will allow her a better grip and therefore a better chance of handling recoil well. You can start her off with light wadcutter loads and then gradually move up to regular .38's and then +p loads over time, and at her pace. Revo's rarely jam, and she will not have to learn how to clear a jammed round, or even mess with jacking a slide in the first place. I know you think right now that she does not need to be able to rack a slide, but if she is going to carry a semi-auto, she will need to be able to rack the slide so that she can clear the jam that will inevitably happen.

  8. #8
    Hollander is offline Junior Member
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    PhilR - I appreciate your excellent food for thought. It is not as if she is completely weak but so as you describe. I fully intend to work her up to whatever we choose. I am simply trying to find the right balance between felt recoil and gun weight. My .38 is an old serice revol from a Michigan police department. I have not yet had the opportunity to handle any of the newer and somewhat lighter models to compare. I will be visiting my dealer soon. I also intend to have her handle and fire my Sig Pro 2022 9mm which is really fun to shoot. It may be she will be able to overcome her recoil feelings by doing that as well. Thanks for the advice.

  9. #9
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    If the Mrs. is recoil sensitive, keep in mind that 38 Specials come in a wide variety of load levels. She can start with the very light loads for practice untill she becomes more experienced, and then move up to the next levels as she gains confidence.
    Also, her technique might need some tweeking. Maybe take her to a professional shooting instructor and have him (or her) evaluate and modify her grip and stance, etc.
    If she is a new shooter, she might like to check out the following web site which is written by a woman, and offers a womans point of view. www.corneredcat.com
    If she really wants a .380, look around and see if you can find a Beretta model 86. It has a tip-up barrel for loading / unloading. This will eliminate the need to rack the slide. It is a discontinued model and may be difficult to find.

  10. #10
    Hollander is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks again for all the opinions. We both have read and discussed all the responses. She feels most comfortable with a revolver since that is what she shot before. I think we will be going with either a Taurus 85 or a Taurus 85 ultra lite. She seems very content with that and you can be assured I will be working with her on the fundamentals of grip, stance, site, etc. BEFORE go to the range. I have some .38 wadcutters to start her with. Then some range ammo, and then so Federal low recoil hollowpoints. I am confident that she will be fine once she goes through the process. She has been an athlete most of her adult life with tennis and golf. She has great vision I think it just will be a matter of adjustment. I am sure she will not be a range rat but will spend enough time to stay on top of her skills once we get them where they should be. Thanks again to all for your responses.

  11. #11
    jc27310's Avatar
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    this is nearly exactly what my wife said!

    Phil, you got it...

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR. View Post
    It takes a certain amount of hand strength to handle the recoil of a handgun, so the first thing I think about when reading your posts is how can someone so weak that they feel that a .38 can be too heavy, yet still want to shoot a handgun that will inevitably recoil?

    Have you actually held a PPK/s? They are heavy handguns - easily the equal of a steel J-frame. My PPK/s weighs almost 24 ounces. Did you know that they are of a blowback design, so even though the caliber itself is fairly small in the realm of handgun calibers, it still has a pretty good kick? All of the smaller .380's have a pretty decent amount of recoil, and I would agree that there isn't much difference between a 9mm and blowback .380. If you want a .380, you would do better with one of the larger ones such as the Beretta that just happens to be as big (or bigger) as many 9mm's. Overall though, a .380 is a poor choice for a novice in her seventies.

    If your wife has the hand strength to handle the recoil of a handgun, then she can learn to handle recoil, at least the recoil of a 9mm or .38. I understand that she is "recoil-sensitive", but I have a feeling that it's a matter of not liking it, rather than not being able to physically handle it. You might consider finding something that has a grip size that is large enough for her to grasp firmly and well, and have her practice a lot. She needs to do this, if she is going to take on the responsibility of carrying a handgun.

    Her best bet would be a steel-framed .38 or .357 revolver. You can put many different sizes of grips on them, which will allow her a better grip and therefore a better chance of handling recoil well. You can start her off with light wadcutter loads and then gradually move up to regular .38's and then +p loads over time, and at her pace. Revo's rarely jam, and she will not have to learn how to clear a jammed round, or even mess with jacking a slide in the first place. I know you think right now that she does not need to be able to rack a slide, but if she is going to carry a semi-auto, she will need to be able to rack the slide so that she can clear the jam that will inevitably happen.
    Hollander- my 40(ish) wife was saying nearly the same thing... also, reconsider carrying in the purse. We both (wife and I) know of purses stolen right off a shoulder!

    My wife says (yes, I asked her), "Shoot a few revolvers, start with a 22, and move up to whatever you're comfortable. A .38 is a good gun, Comfort is a big factor, it does no good to have a tool you are not comfortable with..."

    cheers.
    -John

  12. #12
    ECHOONE is offline Junior Member
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    Let her decide only she will now what fits her grip best and what she can shoot comfortably,believe me I learned!

  13. #13
    DevilsJohnson is offline Senior Member
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    If she fired a 38 and was OK with it I'd stay around there. Maybe a 9mm. and if I was to get an auto I'm make sure to get a steel frame to help with the recoil. 380 pistols are a little rough with the recoil and a little hard on the hands being that are usually really small weapons. The 9mm is usually got a little more weight and wont beat her up so bad. A Sig Sauer P229 in 9mm would be a good weapon recoil wise but being you said you wife is a smaller woman the slide might be an issue. That's why I said first that if she shot a 38 revolver OK that would be the best way to go in my opinion.

  14. #14
    BigdogBro1's Avatar
    BigdogBro1 is offline Junior Member
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    You might want to look into the Beretta PX4 Storm (not the sub-compact) in a 9mm. This gun has a rotary barrel system that is said to help reduce recoil. It is a polymer frame double stack mag with a decocker like Sig. It may be too large for you wife's hands with the double stack mag grip. Seems to get great reviews as well. You may want to reconsider purse carry.

    I would think a revolver would be a better choice over a pistol for her due to strength needed to rack the slide.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by drummin man 627 View Post
    If she really wants a .380, look around and see if you can find a Beretta model 86. It has a tip-up barrel for loading / unloading. This will eliminate the need to rack the slide. It is a discontinued model and may be difficult to find.
    how is this model loaded? i see it has 8 rounds capacity. does it it have a mag that is loaded into the gun, and then an additional round loaded into the chamber?

  16. #16
    PhilR. is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by rccola712 View Post
    how is this model loaded? i see it has 8 rounds capacity. does it it have a mag that is loaded into the gun, and then an additional round loaded into the chamber?
    Yes, which is pretty much how all semi-auto's are loaded. The difference is the procedure to put a round in the chamber. Instead of racking the slide, you just flip a lever and the back of the barrel pops up. Drop a cartridge in the chamber, and push the back end of the barrel back down into the locked (firing) position. No need to rack a slide - not even to unload...

  17. #17
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    tekhead1219 is offline Senior Member
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    Read the information in the following link...written by a woman for a woman. Helps with handgun selection and lots of other stuff.

    http://www.corneredcat.com/TOC.aspx

  18. #18
    Bisley's Avatar
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    I'm inclined to think that you are on the right track with the .38 special. In fact, I would choose one of the heavier ones, like the Ruger SP-101, to lessen the recoil. She can easily overcome a few extra ounces if she is carrying in her purse, and less recoil means she might be more willing to practice. Also, I would recommend CT laser grips, and a lot of dry-fire practice with them, and a lot of live-fire practice without them.

  19. #19
    clanger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnet158 View Post
    Look at a 6 shooter like a .38 or similar. The last thing you want is for her to struggle with the slide on a semi auto.

    My .02
    Bingo.

    Getta +21oz. 5 shot 'roller' in .38 spl., load it with buck-n-ball home defense loads.
    Point and pull, no manipulation, wheel goes 'round, gun goes bang.
    No recoil, lotta sting.

    Shine the micro-compact slider. Those things are really, really snappy.
    Getta roller.

  20. #20
    nailer is offline Member
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    I agree with most replies. A small revolver eliminates the rack which is a problem with most women. My p3at is harder to rack than my 9mm. S&W have many to choose from in 38s. I also agree with the purse thing. Snatching purses has become a big concern in my area. There are even ladies' models around.

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