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A little about me—skip this paragraph if you want to jump right to my wife’s needs. I have had a carry permit continuously in whatever state I have resided (FL, SC, KY, PA) since 2000. Like many of us, I first carried a small .38 Special revolver (Taurus M85 Titanium). Then I changed to higher capacity pistols (1911, XD, Glock 26, Hellcat). Despite the facts which my head knows, my heart was never comfortable carrying a cocked and locked 1911, which I did for a little less than a year, before I discovered the Springfield XD. The XD and its 1911-like grip safety was crucial in my becoming comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber. I’ve been confidently a small semi-auto (mostly Glock 26 or Hellcat) daily for over a decade. I still carry a super light LCR .38 around the house frequently.

My wife was raised around firearms. Her somewhat nasty and abusive uncles had her shooting 12-gauge shotguns and 45 Colt revolvers when she was too young and too small to handle them. They enjoyed it. She didn’t. Thirty-one years ago, she married a gun guy who wanted to enjoy shooting with her, rather than intentionally having her shoot things for which she was not ready. She learned to really enjoy shooting the now ancient S&W 469 (9mm) that I bought on my 21st birthday. In fact, she has claimed it, and it lives in her nightstand.

For the past 10 years or so, she has suffered from arthritis in her hands—probably from years of working as a cake decorator. While we used to shoot together a few times a year, she has not fired a gun in several years. She WAS proficient with the 469 and reasonably so with a J-frame before she stopped shooting due to the pain it causes her.

Today—after years of my subtle nudging—she agreed to get a Carry Permit. We live in a SHALL ISSUE state that requires no training and no shooting proficiency requirement. (I have mixed feelings about not having requirements.)

My question for the forum community is this: Given what I said about her above, especially her arthritis, which might make it difficult to rack a slide, what do you suggest she carry?

By the way, she keeps her bedside 9mm pistol without a round in the chamber. There is no way she is ready to carry a pistol with a chambered round.

I am thinking a Ruger LCR in. 38 Special. The out of the box trigger is better than any other small revolver I have used. The LCRx has single action capability—a potential plus in certain situations—but she would not be comfortable slowly releasing the hammer, if she cocked it and decided not to shoot.

We all know that it takes practice to shoot a .38 well. I do practice with snubbies and shoot them plenty well enough, but she will not practice. However, she has the experience to hit center mass from a few feet away—which is the only time she would use it. (Hopefully she never will.)

What do you all suggest for her?

Thank you ahead of time for your thoughtful replies and shared wisdom.

Since we all like pictures, here is one of mine. My wife does not need to be able to do this. This is not a GREAT target but for rapid fire from 21 feet with a snubbie, it's good enough for me.

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There are several semi-autos that are designed to be easier to rack for those with grip issues.
The S&W Shield EZ .380 has a very easy to manipulate slide and with today's ammo choices can be a very effective defensive arm.

My wife has claimed my S&W 642 .38 J frame and I load it with non +P defensive rounds as she did not like the snapiness of the recoil with +P.

I had to buy a 442 to replace it in my rotation.

I've been trying to get her to look at the Shield EZ or even my recent LCP acquisition, but she's hesitant with semi-auto pistols (my G17 delivered a freshly spent shell right down the front of her shirt).

She does well enough with the 642, so I'm OK with her choice, but still hoping she'll warm to something with a little more capacity.
 

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A snub nose might be rough, now that I'm looking at the LCR and seeing 7-8 lb pull it might not be that bad.

At a range visit a month or two ago a guy handed me a Wilson Combat 1911 platform in .38 Super. I don't think it had a full length barrel. It wasn't tiny but wasn't full sized. After shooting my G19 and P365 that day, .38 super out of mid-sized metal gun felt pretty tame. Not as flat as I can run a TX22 but, pretty gentle on my wrists.

I'm not saying to stick with .38 Super or a 1911 platform, but, if she can figure out how to conceal it, something with a longer barrel and more weight might be worth checking out.

If you can find one to handle or rent to see if she can handle racking the slide a P365-380 might be a decent option. A manual safety can be added. I would be very surprised to ever find it in a condition I didn't leave it in and my holsters leave the safeties exposed. That's how I personally got confident carrying the 9mm version. These days I flip the safety off once it's in the kydex and on my belt. It goes back on if the holster comes off the belt or I need to handle the gun for any reason other than to shoot. I leave it on when it's in my pocket holster, even though it's the only thing in the pocket. I do all that while still practicing trigger, muzzle, and holster discipline. I don't mind the layer of redundancy.


Otherwise perhaps a DA/SA revolver with a longer barrel is something to look at as well as suggestions from others. Shield EZ might be worth looking into.

Best bet is probably to seek somewhere with some options to rent. Pain is no fun.
 

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Rev, I read your entire post. I had an immediate thought in mind before I started the post and still have it now. S&W has made a gun that I think she is going to like. It is similar to the 469 (I also had one way back when), it has a hammer, it's a 9mm, a decent trigger, a palm safety, and a thumb safety (although optional), it also has an easy load magazine and most importantly it is known for its ez rack slide. S&W Shield EZ in 9mm.

Here's one for $429 with a thumb safety:


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I have degenerative arthritis in both hands and wrists which makes it difficult to work the slides on some pistols. Because of this and just because I've always liked shooting revolvers anyway I usually carry a S&W model 10 in 38spl.
But if she prefers an auto loader pistol the slide on the Beretta PX4 Storm series of pistols are easy to rack and they're relatively soft shooters due to their partially rotating barrel design.
They also have de-cocker safeties so that she could chamber a round then de-cock the hammer. Then all she would need to do to fire the pistol is flip the de-cock lever up and pull the trigger.
Beretta makes three sizes of the Storm; Full (which isn't really that large) Compact, and Sub Compact.
Other options for an easy shooting handguns are 22lr revolvers like the Ruger LCR, Taurus 942, and S&W 43C, all of which have 8 shot capacities, and 22lr pistols like the S&W M&P22, SIG P322, and Keltec P17.
Though the final decision on what is easy to carry and comfortable to shoot is hers.
Ride Safe. Dr.Tramp..............
 

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My suggestion. Take her to your LGS and let her choose. Have her handle ever possible option and if possible shoot them. My wife's first carry was going to be a G43. She used a G34 in competition and was very comfortable with the Glock platform. We both thought the G43 was a no brainer. After a trip to the LGS she came home with a S&W Shield. It fit her hands the best and felt the best. Fast forward a few years and she now carries a Sig P320 RXP XCompact.
 

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My ex-wife is a former LEO and trained with a S&W 38 Special 40 years ago and was #2 High Shooter in her Police Academy Class. (her dad was a WWII US Army Small Arms Instructor but he was a revolver guy, no 1911 for him)

But as a senior citizen today she carries a Beretta 25 ACP with the tip up barrel so she does not need to rack the slide.

 

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Go to a couple LGS have her try several for grip feel and racking. Narrow down to a few she likes then go somewhere were you can rent them and test the firing and see what she thinks about the recoil. If trying one with a manual thumb safety have her switch it on and off for each shot. If it has a grip safety like the Sheild EZ mentioned test it well. My wife hated the grip safety on the Sheild EZ even though easy to rack.

Remember if she hates what you and her chose she won't practice with it or carry it.
 

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My ex-wife is a former LEO and trained with a S&W 38 Special 40 years ago and was #2 High Shooter in her Police Academy Class. (her dad was a WWII US Army Small Arms Instructor but he was a revolver guy, no 1911 for him)

But as a senior citizen today she carries a Beretta 25 ACP with the tip up barrel so she does not need to rack the slide.

I have the same pistol but in 22lr. Nice little Mouse Guns. :)
Ride Safe. Dr.Tramp..............
 

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Forget what you want. Forget little bitty pocket guns.
The M&P noted above is a good choice. A G43 might be good. Taurus G3c is a fine offering and LostWIfe likes hers. All 9mm, all plenty for SD and not too rowdy. I love my Ruger Scurity9.
In the end, rent, borrow, or beg a few options and let her decide. It is her gun and that is the end of that.
 

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The guns I sold the most to people with strength issues were;
S&W 380EZ
Sig 238
Walther CCP

all are good. The 238 is a miniature 1911, so she’d have to be comfortable with cocked and locked. The 238 slide can be manipulated with the thumb safety on or off.
380EZ would be my recommendation. The 9mmEZ is significantly harder to rack than the 380EZ.
The EZ models can be had with or without a manual thumb safety.
 

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My ex-wife is a former LEO and trained with a S&W 38 Special 40 years ago and was #2 High Shooter in her Police Academy Class. (her dad was a WWII US Army Small Arms Instructor but he was a revolver guy, no 1911 for him)

But as a senior citizen today she carries a Beretta 25 ACP with the tip up barrel so she does not need to rack the slide.

Is she prepared to shoot them in the face? If she is, then she should keep that one handy. But shooting a .25 ACP into the body would be iffy.

A .25 ACP in the face or neck will really do some damage. But she should go out and window shop at some gun stores. She will like it I think, just to see everything that’s available.

She could do a comparison of that one and a .380 ACP. You are boxing yourself in here, and you will frustrate yourself and her. Go out there and try some of the new pistols, to see how they feel.😎

I have handled some of the micro pistols in .380 and 9mm, and to me they have have upped the game in self-defense.
 

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"her dad was a WWII US Army Small Arms Instructor but he was a revolver guy, no 1911 for him"
I wonder if he carried one of these? This is my 45acp 1917 Colt service revolver, Thumper. This particular revolver was actually made in early 1917 and was part of a shipment of pistols sent to an Army supply depot in late 1917.
The original barrel was replaced at some point with a New Service barrel but I have a correct era barrel with good rifling for it. The grip adapter is from BK. Gives me a much better grip and more control when shooting.
The K-Bar is a WWII era model that I found. The leather discs in the grip were in bad shape but fortunately K-Bar still makes replacement parts so I had a local knife-smith install and shape a new grip for it but with the original hardware and patina. It really holds an edge.
Imagine the stories they could tell. :)
Ride Safe. Dr.Tramp.............
PS: As I pointed out to my daughter, in their day the Colt, K-Bar, and my 1943 Remington 1903A3 30-06 caliber rifle were all military issue "combat assault" weapons. :ROFLMAO:
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My ex-wife is a former LEO ...

But as a senior citizen today she carries a Beretta 25 ACP with the tip up barrel so she does not need to rack the slide.
Is she prepared to shoot them in the face? If she is, then she should keep that one handy. But shooting a .25 ACP into the body would be iffy.

A .25 ACP in the face or neck will really do some damage. But she should go out and window shop at some gun stores. She will like it I think, just to see everything that’s available.

She could do a comparison of that one and a .380 ACP. You are boxing yourself in here, and you will frustrate yourself and her.
I think you miss the point, ex-wife. She got that on her own after we divorced.

I am retired LEO and my last Murder Case was a bad guy putting down two of his alleged rivals with a Raven 25 ACP. FMJ to center mass was an instant kill as it tore threw Victim #1's heart. Victim #2 FMJ to center mass nicked heart but severed his spinal cord and he dropped where he was hit. He survived and is paralyze from the waist down.
 

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"her dad was a WWII US Army Small Arms Instructor but he was a revolver guy, no 1911 for him"
I wonder if he carried one of these? This is my 45acp 1917 Colt service revolver, Thumper. This particular revolver was actually made in early 1917 and was part of a shipment of pistols sent to an Army supply depot in late 1917.
I am sure he was familiar with the 1917. His prized handgun was a Colt SAA 7 1/2" in of course 45 Colt. He had a Victory Model in 38 Special and a Ruger Single-Six (22LR). Of course he thought that 1911 would put your eye out.
 
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