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  1. #1
    Verk is offline Junior Member
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    Handgun for a One-Handed Shooter?

    Hello, all. I've had a bit of experience shooting revolvers in the past with my father, but I'm completely clueless when it come to semi-auto pistols. I had been planning to purchase my first pistol, but after an unfortunate injury I have found myself in a position where I have no choice but to amputate my left arm.

    Thankfully I'm right handed, but I have found myself struggling to adapt to the news, and I have a feeling that this is going to make my hopes of owning a semi-automatic pistol impossible. Granted, I have no grudge against revolvers, I've fired them quite a few times before and know them to be reliable firearms. they're also something I can reasonably manage with the use of a single hand, but for a number of reasons I can't seem to let the idea of a semi-auto pistol go.. For example I planned to use the pistol for self defense, and as such I imagine there may be situations where I need to use the gun in the dark. I've yet to find a revolver I can modify with a tactical flashlight, and being that I will soon only have one hand, that makes carrying a flashlight (and using it safely) impossible. I suppose I could carry it in my mouth or on a headband, but then I can't control it without putting down my weapon, nor can I speak, and I feel wearing a light on your head is more dangerous than trying to manage in the dark.

    For that and several other reasons such as ammo capacity I still find myself drawn toward purchasing a semi-automatic. Here, however, lies my question and problem.

    I'm sure by now you've already thought to yourself "but how do you rack the slide" or "how do you clear a jam", and to both of these, I have no clue. I came here to ask if there's anyone who thinks (or better yet, knows) that it *IS* possible/reasonable to manage a semi-automatic pistol with the use of a single hand, and if so is there anything to look for that could make a difference in ease of use?

    I've heard and seen that police and soldiers are taught one-handed drills in case they need to use their weapon when injured, however I understand these are SHTF tactics and I'm unsure as to if they're reliable or bad for your weapon (i.e. racking the slide with the rear sight)

    I recently visited a local gun shop to try and ask a few questions on the matter, as well as asked permission to handle a pistol just to see if I could handle the weight and try to gauge how much force it takes to chamber a round, but their reaction to my inquiries were, unexpected. Not only did the salesman laugh in my face in response to my asking if a one-armed shooter can reasonably manage a semi-auto pistol, but he completely denied my request to even see a pistol, and walked away without even offering to suggest a more manageable option like a revolver.

    For that reason I'm admittedly a bit reluctant to pursue the matter any further, and before visiting a different shop or asking any more questions in person I wanted to get some opinions online to see if his reaction was warranted.

    Though I was crushed when I was given the news by my doctor (My first thought was actually "Does that means I can't handle guns properly") I found a decent amount of somewhat inspiring information when I did more research. It really didn't seem entirely outlandish to me to think that, though undoubtedly less masterfully than a two-handed shooter, I should at least be able to get by operating one. However given the response my questions got I can't help but feel I'm greatly mistaken.

    Thanks in advance for whatever input you may be able to give, even if it's just to agree that a revolver is the clear choice. Furthermore, regardless of which type of weapon you think best, I hope someone may be able to give some suggestions as to specific guns they think might be the most appropriate choices for a beginner, as well as perhaps any modifications or features that may make the ability to shoot proficiently single-handed that much more within my reach. (Just as a point of reference for my single-hand limitations, I recently tried firing a Ruger SP101 with a 3" barrel and had no issues handling that level of weight (around 30 oz) nor caliber (It's .357, but I only loaded 38 specials at the time) though I don't think I could manage a higher caliber properly, and too much heavier would likely require me to do some exercises else I might fatigue too quickly and lose accuracy)

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  3. #2
    TedDeBearFrmHell's Avatar
    TedDeBearFrmHell is offline Senior Member
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    ok, looks like you need to make the best of the situation you have been dealt.... the rear sight CAN effectively be used to cycle the slide with no damage to sturdy sights.... if you want the semi auto, get one, learn to use it within your capabilities... remember, tho it will be more dangerous because of your handicap, but guns are dangerous anyway.... it can be done IF you have the desire to overcome the obstacle

  4. #3
    TedDeBearFrmHell's Avatar
    TedDeBearFrmHell is offline Senior Member
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    on a further note, i would be looking for a pistol with a magazine activated slide lock , easier to reload if the empty mag holds open the slide. i wouldnt worry much about reloading for self defense... my poll here on the subject showed that of the very very minute percent of people who fired a shot fired only one or two... so your reloading will be at the range... so get a 12 to 15 round mag in a wondernine and you are golden, its just technique

  5. #4
    PistolChick86's Avatar
    PistolChick86 is offline Junior Member
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    I would suggest starting with a .22 maybe in the Ruger Mark series or the Ruger SR22. Get used to that and then move up to a higher caliber when you are comfortable. Good luck and let us know how it goes and what you chose!

  6. #5
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PistolChick86 View Post
    I would suggest starting with a .22 maybe in the Ruger Mark series or the Ruger SR22...
    I apologize for being blunt, but this is very bad advice from someone who does not understand your problem.
    Every gun in the Ruger line of .22 rimfire, semi-auto pistols requires two hands for successful operation.
    A one-handed person cannot rack the bolt of a Ruger .22.

    You might want to start off with a .22 semi-auto, but it would have to be one with an exterior slide and a large, solid rear sight.

    My advice is that a semi-auto pistol with the correct characteristics would be a better choice for you than any revolver. At issue is the problem of reloading.
    The procedure for loading and preparing to fire with only one hand is simple, but fraught with danger. Using any gun will require many short spurts of dry-fire practice until you get all of the safety kinks worked out. But it can be done.
    Loading-up and reloads are accomplished by gripping the pistol between your knees, legs slightly flexed, with the gun's grip and magazine well uppermost. Getting the gun into and out of this position places your body parts in serious danger, which is why the procedure must be practiced over and over again, and the practice must be viewed and critiqued with a critical mind set on "full attention."

    The best semi-auto pistol for you is one with an exterior slide upon which is mounted a large, sturdy, strongly-attached rear sight. It would be best, were that pistol to have a side-of-grip-mounted magazine-release button. A further aid would be an easy-to-manipulate slide release, as Ted suggested, that falls naturally to your thumb.

    The procedure is to drop the empty magazine first, then to grip the pistol between your knees with the magazine well uppermost, and then to sharply and decisively thrust a loaded magazine into place, making sure that it locks into place. Finally, you grasp the pistol in a firing grip, and by hooking the rear sight on your belt, you rack the gun's slide to chamber a cartridge and cock the mechanism.
    Should you then fire the gun to slide-lock-empty, you drop the magazine and replace it, grip the pistol, and thumb the slide release.

    BTW: This is a maneuver that all of us two-handed people ought to practice, too. Think about it.

    The gun shop you told us about was staffed by idiots, and owned by a fool. Go somewhere else.
    I suggest that you phone ahead, explain your problem, further explain that you know what you need to do to overcome your handicap, and ask for help in choosing a pistol.
    If the response is positive, visit that store. If the clerk to whom you speak tries to tell you what you should buy, ask to speak to someone else.
    Persevere.

  7. #6
    PistolChick86's Avatar
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    I was suggesting it for the manageable recoil. It is going to be hard to rack any slide and should start with manageability and stabilization while shooting.

  8. #7
    TedDeBearFrmHell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PistolChick86 View Post
    .... It is going to be hard to rack any slide and should start with manageability and stabilization while shooting.
    its not hard at all, its a common technique, as the OP has stated, taught so that if injured in combat you are still able to be somewhat effective. a table, door jam, stair or even your holster may be used to catch the rear sight and rack the slide. AGAIN, COMBAT! .... this may also be used to clear a stovepipe or ftfeed...

    it is not the safest way, the muzzle will rarely be pointed down range but again, if you are aware and using proper technique, it doesnt matter

    as for the ruger mark series, i didnt think i could do so but i was able to use the door and the jam to cycle the bolt.... took a few tries and a couple of bloody knuckles, but i did do it, hardest part is releasing the magazine with the heal release. oh, tore the door up a lil too....

  9. #8
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    PistolChick86;
    I apologize. I did not properly catch your reference to the Ruger SR22.
    It, alone of all of the Ruger .22 semi-auto pistols, has an exterior slide and can be racked using the rear sight (assuming that the sight is metal, sturdy, and strongly attached).
    The other, tubular-receiver, Ruger .22s with internal bolts are, as Ted discovered, unsuited to the one-handed shooter.

    I should've read more carefully, and written more slowly.

  10. #9
    hideit's Avatar
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    what is wrong with a large capacity 9mm (like glock 17) and having a friend load it?
    I doubt if most shootouts in HD situations require more than 15+ rounds.
    after the unfortunate event get a frient to reload it.

  11. #10
    TedDeBearFrmHell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hideit View Post
    what is wrong with a large capacity 9mm (like glock 17) and having a friend load it?....
    i think the object here for the OP is self reliance .... and i think it is entirely possible for him to be so. while it will not be easy, nothing will be that once was.... dressing, eating, driving.... but all can be mastered with ingenuity and perseverance.

    him shooting will just be technique... loading a magazine with the aid of a superthumb or the like will be possible, perhaps loading a round less than capacity will make it easier...

    i say go solo, and let us know how you do, you cant be the first and will not be the last time this has happened.

    and i would offer the following suggestion, that the OP change his nick to LEFTY.... and move on, doing the things that he wants to do!

  12. #11
    Packard is offline Senior Member
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    The Beretta Cheetah model 86 has a tip up barrel which can be chambered with one hand. It is a well-engineered and well-made product. It is reliable. It carries 13 or 14 rounds--I forget which--of .380 caliber ammo. While .380 caliber is not my first choice in a defensive handgun, it would be if I were one-handed as you describe. It is a medium to full size weapon with a light recoil that can easily be handled in one hand. I had the double stack with the conventional slide and it was an excellent weapon (but .380 was not as good in 1978 as it is nowadays). I had a tip up Beretta .25 and it was a perfectly reliable gun.

    I believe it is out of production now, but I see ads for it every once in a while. See: Beretta Web - model 86

    My error, it carries 8 in the magazine plus one in the chamber.

    For sale here for $450.00: http://www.gunsamerica.com/931494854..._short_380.htm

  13. #12
    Shipwreck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    PistolChick86;
    I apologize. I did not properly catch your reference to the Ruger SR22.
    It, alone of all of the Ruger .22 semi-auto pistols, has an exterior slide and can be racked using the rear sight (assuming that the sight is metal, sturdy, and strongly attached).
    The other, tubular-receiver, Ruger .22s with internal bolts are, as Ted discovered, unsuited to the one-handed shooter.

    I should've read more carefully, and written more slowly.
    Heck, I don't think you could take one of those Ruger Mark series 22s with just 1 hand.

    They can be a pain to disassemble

  14. #13
    Packard is offline Senior Member
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    With all respect to those who suggested it, racking the slide with the sights is an emergency protocol only. You should not consider it to be a standard operating practice.

  15. #14
    TedDeBearFrmHell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Packard View Post
    With all respect to those who suggested it, racking the slide with the sights is an emergency protocol only. You should not consider it to be a standard operating practice.
    if i only got one hand, its a fricken emergency and screw protocol ....

    there are MANY pistols out there that have rear sights DESIGNED to by used for this, the sight doesnt know if it is an emergency or not and will continue to operate as designed whether or not the above poster agrees or not.

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    TedDeBearFrmHell's Avatar
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  17. #16
    Packard is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by TedDeBearFrmHell View Post
    if i only got one hand, its a fricken emergency and screw protocol ....

    there are MANY pistols out there that have rear sights DESIGNED to by used for this, the sight doesnt know if it is an emergency or not and will continue to operate as designed whether or not the above poster agrees or not.
    If I suddenly find that I have one useable hand, yes that is an emergency. But if I know going in that I will have one useable hand that is not an emergency. That is something that should be planned for. As I see it, a flip up barreled auto or a revolver are the only two viable options.

    A .22 magnum revolver will offer the round count he is after with the light recoil that is frequently advisable when shooting with one hand. The Beretta 86 offers light recoil with a flip barrel that does not require racking the slide.

    Planning in advance avoids the emergency issues entirely.

  18. #17
    TedDeBearFrmHell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Packard View Post
    ... As I see it, a flip up barreled auto or a revolver are the only two viable options.....

  19. #18
    Verk is offline Junior Member
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    Definitely some good information so far, and thanks to everyone who has posted. I certainly understand that I'll have to put a good deal more effort into just being able to properly use a semi-auto than I would ever need to bother with a revolver, though given the opinions I've heard thus far I definitely think I'm capable of handling it with at least some degree of manageability. I am however thinking that in terms of a purely personal defense weapon, owning a revolver may be one of the better choices. It's reliable and takes little practice to be able to ready one in a high-stress situation (Though I imagine I wouldn't leave a defense gun unloaded knowing I'll have issues with it..). However I have not given in on my desire for a semi-auto. Even if it ends up being a weapon I shoot almost purely for the pleasure of doing so, I think I can definitely get good enough to at least shoot leisurely with one, even if it doesn't end up as my emergency-situation weapon of choice.

    I'll have to make sure I narrow my search a bit and try to find a few weapons with the specifications that were mentioned, and a special thanks to Ted and Steve for all the help, I can definitely see how small details can make a world of difference in ease of use.

  20. #19
    Oneguyandagun is offline Junior Member
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    I'm sorry for your misfortune, I saw this video last year, impressive effort.

    He loads mags with his toes!

    Michael shoots his .45 with his feet - YouTube

  21. #20
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    Apology accepted. I do understand what you are saying about the Mark Series and did catch myself realizing it after the fact but I feel that I am right about the SR22. I myself own both pistols and would not have suggested them without having handled both.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
    Heck, I don't think you could take one of those Ruger Mark series 22s with just 1 hand.

    They can be a pain to disassemble
    heck dont i know it
    just desassembled my new 22/45 for the first time last week -
    it took 500 rounds to get it dirty enough to FTF - tore it down and yea what a pain - now back to perfect

  23. #22
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    Verk, I'm sorry for the loss of your arm. I have my arm, however, after a severe injury, have lost almost all use. My hand works, sometimes. I still carry a semi-auto. My husband and I have tried, and gone over revolver vs semi, and the muzzle flip on say our .38's is bad for one hand shooting. After 3 years of fighting my arm, and searching for solutions, I've learned a little. I carry, usually, a Sig Mosquito. I know, it's a .22 LR, and some reviews suck, but, it's still better than nothing, the Mosquito has a few things that makes it easy for one handed shooters. I can load the magazine, chamber and release the slide, with one hand, and pushing against my jeans. The slide release, is large enough from the factory, that it will catch on the seam on your pocket. The little larger grips, fit well in one hand. (I have large hands for a girl. Men's medium in gloves). I cannot break it down one handed. I just have to have my husband do it. I can shoot our Taurus .40 though, it's a bitch to hold with one hand though. It's what I have been carrying lately. I have 3 loaded mags, and a Maxpedition Jumbo LEO Versipack, because I can prop my bad arm on top of the pack. Our Glock 23, is another I can shoot. It's not fun, it just hurts. I can suggest, practice a bunch, with a .22 LR semi auto. When you get to the point you can load, chamber, fire and reload, alone, move to a larger caliber. Use your knees to hold your mags, and you can hold the pistol between your knees to chamber. Just keep your feet setting out from your center. You will have to modify your entire stance, not having your arm throws your center off. I can a load a mag with my toes. It's a skill, and you can learn it. The biggest thing, is don't think, whatever you want to do, can't be done. It takes time to improvise, adapt and over come! I hope in the time that has passed since you posted your question, that you have found something that works for you!

  24. #23
    valent is offline Junior Member
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    Verk, you lucky guy, you lost only one arm....... and left at that. I don't have a right one. You have advantage with that respect, because controls on many pistols are built for right arm only. I can dispell your doubts and insecurities, because I own and use semiauto pistol very successfuly.

    I have taken some 6 months of intensive research into what model of weapon to choose, with respect to caliber, magazine capacity, ease of one hand use, phylosophy of use, you name it. I have allready owned 5 shot .38 snub revolver for many years, but then all these masive shootings and attempt of brakein into my house made decide to go after higher bullet capacity, in my case 13+1, which I find sufficient for home defense, as well as CC. I asume, you will be CC.

    I fill magazines sitting, between my knees. After last shot slide stays open, magazine is ejected as pistol goes between knees, then mag gets pulled from wherever, gets inserted into mag well some 75-80%, pistol goes toward above the knee and mag gets pushed into the gun, as gun goes into firing position slide is released and BANG. On some weapons can be relesed by slamming magazine into the well bit harder. With enough practice, all that can be achieved consistently within 5 seconds.

    There is a few things to consider with respect to choice of semi.
    One is slide resistance, some are easier to rack than the others. I have found Ruger P95 very easy, but did not purchase it on account of controls and size...........too big to carry. Once in a store, I observed the lady trying to rack so many guns, small and medium; only to find out that she could rack beretta 92 (big gun) slide with ease.
    I would recommend that you try guns in big corporate stores if you can. Sales personel is not sensitive to gun handeling as small store owners are.

    Second is controls, mag release, slide release and safety/decoker. Only you, based on size of your hand and fingers can chose properly. DA/SA triggering option would be my recommendation. Safe DA provides safe carying chambered weapon at all times, as well as second strike capacity. In case of two handed shooter it may not be so important, but it's a personal choice for anybody anyway.

    Third. Choice of weapon with higher percentage of reliability, which may or may not translate into higher priced weapon. In my case it was a $400 gun. Initially, I was aiming at 9m XDM 3.8, but gave up because of slide resistance and slide release lever position.

    You have a hand strong enough and should have no problem with 9mm platform, that shuould enable you to go with midsize platform, 13-15 bullets, home defense-carry combination. I would suggest you look into Bersa UC 9mm model. It is not as well known as many bigger household names and models and will not get recommended by many sales clerks. It is ambidextrious, affordable, acurate and soft shooter, and higly realiable as well. You can see it on Bersa
    Do not get discouraged in any way. If you come close to a model, see if you can "testdrive" it at some range. If they don't want to rent. Buy a weapon and go to range. Once you manipute and use any semi, you will be much closer to the semi that fits your bill. You can allways sell, trade.

    Any other questions; fill free to go into any detail.

  25. #24
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    Just a thought, on a top squared style slide. I would think to add a welded piece of stock material somewhere about halfway for racking purposes. Using a rear sight is much harder because of its rear position , no leverage.
    I would obviously keep it at the same level as the front and rear sights. Or a little higher and vee it out , not to obstruct the line of sights
    Possibly the gun smith doing the work could work it as a third sight. My placement of the new piece would probably be between the front sight and ejection port

  26. #25
    valent is offline Junior Member
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    I was considering gritty tape as an aditional source of friction, but gave up after some practice without it. First, with starting capacity of 13-15 rounds, loaded at home, it is higly unlikely reloading would be needed. If it is, slide should stay open, so next step will be loading of the second mag and releasing of the slide. Once second mag is emptied, someone must be dead, or running. For that reason, choice of reliable weapon and adequate ammo is important.
    The most difficult situation to overcome with one hand only is FTE or FTF. When trying to eject the round by racking the slide in between my knees, the round often has no space to "jump" out. Round can be easily loaded that way but not ejected. For that problem I do not see any quick and easy options except a back up gun. It's time to draw snuby. There is so many ways one can "skin that cat".

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