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Posted: 1/9/2013 7:39:42 AM EDT
She needs something light with comfortable ergonomics. I'm thinking a mid-caliber hammerless model with a fairly light trigger pull. This would not be for CC. She's looking for a simple and reliable bedside weapon for home defense.  

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Link Posted: 1/9/2013 8:48:05 AM EDT
A reliable revolver may have too heavy of a trigger pull, plus recoil with effective defensive rounds will be stiff. Look at the Beretta 86 instead. It's a larger-sized .380 semi-auto so not too harsh to shoot, and the tip-up barrel makes it easy to load without having to cycle the slide.
Link Posted: 1/9/2013 8:49:02 AM EDT
Really depends on how bad her arthitis is and her ability/willingness to practice.   "Fairly light trigger" is usually an oxymoron in revolvers, at least with double action.  Anythng light in wieght is going to have recoil issues, you can't violate the laws of physics.  

This issue comes up a lot and there really isn't a good answer to it.  Almost anything you look at is going to have drawbacks of one kind or another.
Link Posted: 1/9/2013 7:19:24 PM EDT
s&w 317 in .22LR.  CCI HP mini-mags and she's good to go.  

.22s kill a lotsa guys every day.  if she's arthritic and not able to handle recoil, why not?  why fight that battle?  

a bad guy is gonna start beating feet when the shooting starts anyhow.  

Link Posted: 1/13/2013 12:05:09 PM EDT
22s are a roll of the dice. I iinvestigated one homocide...single abdominal hit that just bounced all around inside the guy and he bleed to death.

I went to an emergency room one night  and the guy had nine 22cal. wounds...neck, arms, abdominal. He refused treatment. He was a suspect in a mutual gang shooting and he was arrestable, but the jail would not book an injured prisoner. He walked out of the emergency room, and was arrested at a later date.

22 is a killer, but it is not a man-stopper.
Link Posted: 1/17/2013 6:02:01 PM EDT
My mother has arthritis also and I've looked for years for a Beretta 86 for her.  Never found one but got her a Smith Model 60 2" SB, she can cock the hammer if needed and keep lower pressure .38 SPLs in it.  Get a set of grips that fit her and would suggest a set of CTC laser grips.  Would't suggest a hammerless model, they may only have the strength to fire Single Action.  (Bodyguard 638 if wanting to keep hammerless profile  and SA option)  A more readility available tip up auto would be the Beretta 3032 Tomcat in .32 ACP.  For a revolver I would recommend either a .38 with wadcutters or same gun in .32 H&R/.327 Federal.  You could use those higher pressure rounds or lower .32 S&W Long/.32 S&W/.32 ACP depending on available of ammo or tolerance.

Link Posted: 1/18/2013 3:56:35 PM EDT
I just went through this issue with my mother last year. She's 66 and decided last year that she wanted to get her CCW. She has moderate to severe arthritis in both hands.

Initially, I tried to get her into something like a S&W Shield. Not too small, but small enough for her to comfortably carry and 9mm for lower recoil and striker fired for lighter, constant trigger pulls. I tossed out the idea of a revolver because of the heavy DA trigger, small butt, short barrel, small sights, etc. I even thought about a Beretta 85 (I think, the mid-sized .380 with the tip up barrel) but none of the stores had one when we went to look. The issue was that she couldn't retract the slides on anything she tried, except for a Ruger LCP. She bought it and 2 spare mags. I tried talking her out of it, but she woldn't hear it.

When she got home, she was practicing manipulating the slide and mags and found out that she really couldn't manipulate the slide on the LCP, either, not reliably. I took over my S&W M649 snubbie and my SP101 for her to try. The S&W had been "massaged" and smoothed and I put a slightly weaker main spring in it which lowered the trigger pull some but was still strong enough to reliably pop the hard Winchester Magnum primers. I smoothed up the action on the SP but left the stock springs in it. Lastly, I put the factory Uncle Mike's rubber "combat grips" back on the S&W. The S&W was an early .357 model but before the locks. The factory grips allowed a full 3 finger grip but were a little big. I had replaced them with Uncle Mike's boot grips for maximum concealability, but I felt they were too small for her, with the arthritis.

Surprisingly, she chose the S&W. With the worked action, she could reliably pull the trigger (actually squeeze it, not jerk it) 20 times or so before she got too tired for proper trigger discipline and started jerking it. When loaded with standard pressure .38 ammo, she really likes shooting it- not too much recoil and, as long as she takes the time to properly line up the sights, she shoots it well. She really doesn't have too much trouble with +P ammo, but doesn't enjoy it as much. Reloads take much longer than they should, but she is 66 with arthritis in both hands. Realistically, if she can't handle it with 5 shots, it's all over anyway because she'll never get it reloaded in anything like a reasonable amount of time. I try to work with her with snap caps, but she really doesn't see the need, so she doesn't practice like she should.

Basically, take her to the gun store and let her decide what SHE wants. Try to go to a store that will let her look at, handle and dry fire various makes and models, both revolvers and semi autos. If she is anything like any of the women I know, she will find one that she likes and that should work well for her. Try to steer her away from small, baby guns, but if she has her mind set, you'll do more harm than good by arguing with her about it. When she goes to the range, try to steer her into shooting the right way, but don't be pushy. Let her try it her way, then try pointing out what she is doing wrong and try to correct it. Do what you can, don't get mad or pissed and do your best to not do anything that will turn her off. Good luck, you'll probably need it!

Link Posted: 1/18/2013 4:06:23 PM EDT
My mom has arthritis in both hands and had a hard time racking the slide on any autos.  We got her a Ruger SP101.  The double action trigger isn't too hard for her to pull, and it has a big enough grip that the recoil is manageable.  She only shoots .38 Special in it, FWIW.
Link Posted: 1/18/2013 4:44:21 PM EDT
Take her to an indoor range where she can handle lots of different guns, and try shooting the ones she likes.

Be sure to check out the Ruger LCR.
Link Posted: 1/21/2013 9:56:28 PM EDT
I will concur on the berettas with the tip up barrels, great option for people with weak hands, was the whole reason behind the design from what I remember. as far as hand strength racking the slides, I've had even younger women have a hard time with some handguns. my grandfather had issues with his hands, he'd had surgery on his right/dominant hand, but he was able to handle a Taurus 85, the snub nose 38, without any trouble. Not sure if their triggers can be massaged like the smith's can but shouldn't be hard to find out.

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