Advice for my mother

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by bcj1755, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. bcj1755

    bcj1755 New Member

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    I"ve finally convinced my mother to buy a pistol for sefl-defense. We went to a couple local stores today looking. She's 5'0" and about 115 lbs and doesn't have the strength to rack the slide on an automatic (I know because I had her try to rack my P99 and she also tried some autos today) so that leaves a revolver. However, she also can't handle alot of recoil (which is another reason even a good 9mm is out). At first I was thinking of a .22lr revolver on the theory that she could handle the negligable recoil, it's cheap to feed, and 8 or 9 shots of .22, while nowhere near opitmal, is better than nothing. However, she also had a problem pulling the trigger in double action and also had trouble cocking the hammer on most of them, so that means a hammerless. She really seemed to like the S&W M442 in .38spl and could pull the trigger on that. One store had an M442 that had the trigger pull lightened on it by 30% and that worked great for her and seems to be the way to go. However, being such a lightweight, snubnosed pistol, I"m worried if she can handle the recoil with a .38. My grandmother (her mother) had an S&W J-frame snubnose in .38 and it kicked like a mule, even for me. I"d load it with the low recoil .38spl HydraShocks for her, but I"m still wondering if she could control it, especially just practicing at the range. Does anyone have any experience with the M442? I"ve read that they do have a substantial recoil due to lightweight. Any thoughts?
  2. ponycar17

    ponycar17 Active Member

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    My wife is in the same boat but with probably a few less years under her belt. My wife is 5'0", 89 lbs. (has a size 4 ring finger for some reference), and can handle the recoil of her S&W 642 but marginally. She can shoot the gun with practice loads and 110 gr. Hydrashoks but it does hurt the web of her hand as the rubber tends to pull at her skin. The aftermarket Pachmayer target grip with extended finger rest tended to hurt more according to her, as the more tactile rubber grabbed worse. Anyway, she CAN handle the gun but it is uncomfortable after several rounds. She shoots a full-size Bersa Thunder .380 like it's nothing though. The auto pistol, with increased size greatly helps with her recoil tolerance.

    My opinion... The 442 and 642 (as my wife owns) is too light of a pistol. They (females in general) like the light weight until they fire the gun. Get your mother a heavier Taurus, Ruger or S&W model .38 Spl. +P revolver and that will help mitigate some of the recoil concern. Really, I wish I had talked my wife into the heavier of her choices when we made the purchase...

    There are always lighter weight trigger and hammer springs available for most models. I'm not a gunsmith by any means but I installed a lightweight 642 hammer and trigger spring from http://www.wilsoncombat.com for the 642 in no time. I'm sure you can find similar springs for a heavier revolver.
  3. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    My first recommendation would be to try out the Taurus model 66. It's a 7-shot revolver chambered for .357 mag, so it'll be overbuilt for shooting .38 specials, but it's an extra shot and extra weight (38 ounces will absorb a lot of the recoil).

    A good gunsmith will be able to lighten the DA trigger down to the 5-6 pound range, which your mother should be able to handle.

    Good luck in your search!
  4. carver

    carver Moderator

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    Now I know that we shouldn't carry re-loads in our SD guns, but a woman at home, alone? I don't think any jury, if it ever came to trial, would think twice about the type of ammo in the gun, especially if it is loaded down. I'm suggesting that a reduced load might help in this case. Any comments welcome!
  5. bcj1755

    bcj1755 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys. It'll be a few weeks before I can spare the money to buy one for her (especially since the money is comming out of my severace package at work because the plant is closing, money that I was thinking of using to buy a new in box WASR in 7.62x39), but I'm thinking a slightly heavier pistol might be better. But then, my grandmother's J-frame .38 was fairly heavy and it still kicked hard. It's not like my mom will have to use any pistol for long distance shooting, and if she has to use it the adrinaline will help to mask any recoil from the weapon. It will most likely be at veey close range wher eit will almost be just point, shoot, hit the target. I got some time to keep looking. Any other advice would be greatly apreciated.
  6. bcj1755

    bcj1755 New Member

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    Ok, went to a local pawn shop that sells new guns at reasonable prices. Saw a new Charter Arms Pink Lady hammerless in .38spl. My mom liked it for the light weight and the easy trigger pull. Taking a few minutes to do some searching, I've found that most people have a pretty low opinion of Charter Arms revolvers in general. Anyone here have any thoughts on them? Or should I just get her a Taurus or S&W?
  7. ponycar17

    ponycar17 Active Member

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    Again... Light weight is BAD for perceived recoil (especially females) and is in no way a good start to an introduction to shooting. :eek:

    If it's uncomfortable, they won't practice and therefore will not be proficient with their weapon. Stay away from lightweight guns! :eek:
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  8. bcj1755

    bcj1755 New Member

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    Yeah, I know the lightweight will increase the recoil, but I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place on this because if the recoil is too strong, she'll be too scared to practice with it or shoot it if it's needed, and if the gun is too heavy, she won't shoot it to practice with it. She doesn't have a lot of strength in her hands and wrists anymore, so she has problems holding a gun that's too heavy. In fact, my P99 is too heavy for her when it's EMPTY. All of the heavier .38spls she looked at had triggers pulls that were too strong. If she could work the slide on an automatic, I'd just get her a Walther PPK/S in .380 and be done with it. Guess I'll keep looking for something a bit heavier, but it'll have to be lighter than my grandmother's old J-frame. We took a look at a really nice ARMSCOR .38, but it was pretty heavy towards the barrel and seemed a bit unbalanced to me; i.e., too heavy towards the front. I'd hate to have to give up on it, just for the fact that there is a glut of scumbags and crackheads around here and eventually she'll probably need something to use in a self defense situation.

    BTW ponycar, you didn't need to edit for "too much info". Too much info is never a bad thing ;)
  9. pinecone70

    pinecone70 New Member

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    Oh my gosh, the PPK/S .380 has the most difficult slide I've ever encountered. There must be semi-autos out there that are a lot easier than that. I can handle all kinds of rifles and shotguns and that little PPK/S has me on my knees. Maybe find something used (broken in), and she might build up strength if she practices.
  10. One possibility, bcj, might be to load the 442 with lead wad cutters, the type that are commonly used for target shooting. These are normally loaded to lesser pressures and the recoil is relatively mild. They're obviously not as effective as full power +P loads like the Speer Gold Dot, but considerably better than a .22. Any .38 snubbie is going to recoil more than an average .38. It's the nature of the beast. ;) Have you considered a model that comes with a 3" barrel instead of a 2" in all steel, assuming she can manage the trigger? One possibility might be the Model 36, the old Chief's Special. Just a thought . . .

    http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/...ted=tech&isFirearm=Y&parent_category_rn=15704
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2009
  11. bcj1755

    bcj1755 New Member

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    Really, I've looked at a couple PPK/Ss and found the slide to be fairly easy to work. I'm not too fond of the lack of a slide release. I looked at a couple well-used Norinco Tokarev clones chambered for 9x19 and found them to be rather difficult to cycle the slide. A couple of the newer S&W autos are pretty easy to cycle, but still way too hard for her. She can't really work the slide on anything.:(


    Even that is a bit too big for her. There's no way she can use a +P in a pistol, but I'm hoping the low-recoil HydraShoks will work for her. I hadn't thought about using lead wadcutters. I might look into that, thanks.

    She'll take a pistol if I buy one for her, but I don't think she'd mind if I didn't get one for her. she's never really liked guns, but she does realize that the scumbags are running wild now.
  12. ponycar17

    ponycar17 Active Member

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    No, from a technogeek enginerd, too much info can be a bad thing... Trust me. ;)
  13. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

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    Simple, reliable and easy recoiling always brings to mind a S&W model 10. You didn't mention if it was for CC so I'm guessing it's home protection and I think the Model 10 fits the bill and you can probably still find decent used ones around.
  14. user

    user New Member

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    S&W models 10-5, 10-6, 64-2 or 64-3, 67's from no-dash through -4. 4" barrel six shots, .38 special.
  15. bcj1755

    bcj1755 New Member

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    Well, I talked to my mother about it again, and she decided that she doesn't want a pistol now. Well, I tried. But anyhow, thanks for all the help and good ideas guys.
  16. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

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    My mother was grew up on a farm and has always been around firearms and knows how to use them. After my dad passed away she gave me his guns but stipulated that she need one for herself. She had a model 10 in the nightstand and I let he use my charter undercover 38. She took a real liking to that and told me to take the model 10 as the undercover was all she needed. She lives alone at 86 and I don't worry about her safety from BG's.
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