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Luckyforward

A Handgun for My Wife

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Hi all - I need your collective wisdom.  My wife is a good shot with a handgun (good enough that I won't give her a reason to ever shoot at me :), but we have yet to find the perfect handgun for her for concealed carry.  The major issue is recoil.  She carried an SP-101 for a time, but it proved too heavy for her carry purse though recoil was a bit manageable.  The recoil of my S&W Model 38 is too much for her to be accurate.  She tried my Sig P365 but it is a light gun with heavy recoil that in a dangerous situation she (and I ) fear she would be unable to control.  On the other hand, I wonder about the .380; is it heavy enough to be a safe carry caliber?  I've read opinions all over the place about the .380 and have no opinion.  I would rather her carry a 9mm, but an uncontrollable 9 vs. something with lesser recoil could make all the difference in a challenging situation.

Any feedback out there about guns and calibers for safe carry for my wife that will enable her to be able to shoot with confidence would be greatly appreciated.

As always to my wonderful TGO friends, thank you in advance for the wisdom you always impart!

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 I carry a Sig P-230 in the summer with Hornady Critical Defense ammo. It's small, light and conceals easily even under a T-shirt. The ammo is designed for short barreled handguns.

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I often say, glock is as popular as it is for a reason. I carry a Glock 19 daily appendix. Glock is so easy to get used to the recoil that is there and are so many models of glock that you can get one that fits her well.

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1 hour ago, Luckyforward said:

The recoil of my S&W Model 38 is too much for her to be accurate.

Has she ever tried full wadcutters?

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My suggestion would be to find a range with a good rental case and put as many different guns in her hands as possible. 

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I believe the 380 is perfectly adequate for self defense. I carry one often. However, most 380s are a straight blowback design. This makes for some nasty recoil. All steel guns such as the Walther PPK are easier, however you get back to the weight issue. There are a few locked breach designs in which the recoil is much lighter, such as the Colt Mustang and Sig P238. However, they're basically miniature 1911s and should be carried cocked and locked. Would she be good with that? 

You might try some different grips on your S&W 38. Grips can make a huge difference in felt recoil.  There are also some light recoil .38 loads available. I believe Federal makes a 110 gr low recoil load. And as Hughd suggested, target wadcutters can also work. 

Another consideration might be a revolver in .32 caliber. Either .32 S&W Long, .32 Magnum or 327 Federal. While marginal, they can work. My wife had arthritis in her hands and her choice was a S&W Model 30 in .32 Long. She shot it very well and the recoil didn't bother her at all. As a bonus, guns in .32 Mag or 327 Fed will also take the shorter .32 long rounds if they prove to be too much. 

I personally believe the .32 acp is a highly under rated round. Again, its marginal, but it'll get the job done if you do your part. There are many good .32 acps available. Recently several distributors have been running specials on Police turn in Berettas at very good prices. 

If all else fails, there's always a .22. Ain't much, but its better than nothing. 

As also suggested, try as many different guns as possible. But above all, let her make the choice. ;)

  

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The last sentence in Grayfox's post above.

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10 hours ago, Chucktshoes said:

My suggestion would be to find a range with a good rental case and put as many different guns in her hands as possible. 

This. 

I have no issue with 380's, but I also understand it's limitations. It'll blow holes in 2x4 at close range and that's good enough for me. It's a "get off me" gun. While I have hit those spinning gopher targets at 25yds with my P3AT, I don't think of it being useful at more than 10 yds. 

The subcompact 380s really aren't much fun to shoot, so I wouldn't even go there with someone who's recoil sensitive. The bigger ones are far better in that regard. 

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Posted (edited)

There are millions of threads on here about the caliber wars. You just have to apply some physics coupled with common sense.

I was trained, and I train the goal is not whether or not you can kill, the goal is to make the bad guy unwilling or unable to fire his weapon. A .22 can kill, but if it’s a body shot in a deadly armed encounter; it won’t do much for the goal.

Before the “shot placement” guys start in….. that’s a given. Most any round can stop the threat if properly placed. Can someone that has probably never experienced that level of adrenalin rush in their life do that? You won’t know until it happens. You probably want a round that can expel a lot of energy in the body. Surface area and mass is the key to that. Only enough Velocity to do the job is required. So much velocity that the round passes through the body is not required.

So, it sounds like, from what you are saying the choices are a .380, a heavy 9MM or a .38.

I’ve been the responding Officer on a lot of shootings. Only one that I remember with a .380. The victim got shot in the gut. It was winter and he had heavy clothes on. He didn’t think he was hit and went after the shooter, who ran off. He was sitting on the curb when I got there and stood up and talked to me. As the put him on a gurney and loaded him into the ambulance, I told the EMT’s to tell the ER staff and I would be in to get that bullet. He said “You want this bullet?” And before they could stop him he picked it out of his gut and handed it to me. That coupled with my experience with seeing what .380’s will do, and the problems of being able to reliably operate an action, have formed my opinion. But that’s just one persons opinion.

On the other hand, .22’s and 380’s have killed a lot of people.

A J-Frame S&W or a Shield are popular small carry guns. I’d recommend she try a Shield with a Federal 9MM 147 Grain HST. Or J-frame Model 60 with a 130 grain JHP. A say a Model 60 because it is all stainless and the heaviest of the J-frames. The heavier the gun, the less felt recoil. The lightweight J-frames will be terrible.

The Shield EZ is another option, but do your research. The .380EZ is plagued by feeding problems. I assumed it was because the .380 isn’t really a good round for operating a gun that big, but the 9mm recently came out and it appears to have the same problems.

If she wants a house gun, that’s not a carry gun, have her shoot a S&W K or L frame with .38’s. They are cream puffs.

You asked for “any feedback” this is simply mine, and many will disagree; but that okay. You and your wife are the only ones that will have to reap the results of your choice. As other said; let her try them and decide. Good luck with your search.

Edited by DaveTN
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If I'm off base here, someone correct me, but something that seems to be overlooked in the caliber discussion is how quickly you can hit the target more than once. Two 380 holes a few inches apart would seem to have a great chance of stopping a target than one 9mm hole. If someone cannot control recoil well enough to place an instant 2nd shot somewhere on target, then they either need to work on recoil control or they need a gun with less recoil. 

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1 hour ago, jgradyc said:

If I'm off base here, someone correct me, but something that seems to be overlooked in the caliber discussion is how quickly you can hit the target more than once. Two 380 holes a few inches apart would seem to have a great chance of stopping a target than one 9mm hole. If someone cannot control recoil well enough to place an instant 2nd shot somewhere on target, then they either need to work on recoil control or they need a gun with less recoil. 

You aren’t wrong; everything matters. That’s why everyone is saying she needs to try them all.

Will 2 380’s do what one 9 will do? Not if they are slowed by heavy clothing and have very little penetration. But should someone use a 9 if they can’t do a follow up shot? No.

Small lightweight guns are not fun guns to take to the range and shoot 200 rounds. Does that make them bad self defense guns? Only if you can’t hit someone at close range. He said she was a good shot with an SP101 and the recoil was manageable. It was just too heavy for her purse. My point being…she doesn’t have to like it for an SD gun; just be able to use it. She probably won’t notice the recoil if she has to use it.

With the shootings I have seen or been involved in the investigation, when a person is shot they usually either give up or run. However not too long ago someone posted a story where a cop shot a perp multiple times with a .45ACP and he was still standing and returning fire for a long time.

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You don't pick and try on  your wife's shoes.  Same for her gun.  It's personal.  As others have said, the more she can try the better.  Don't worry about caliber.  It is purely on her comfort level.  I have had some pick a .22.  Later as they become more proficient and comfortable they may want another gun...we can all agree nothing wrong with that.  Greg Elifritz, a nationally known trainer, personally feeds his snub-nose revolvers with 147gr. wadcutters.  So let her make the choice.  Personal preference and having a firearm are the two most important factors at this point.

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2 minutes ago, chances R said:

You don't pick and try on  your wife's shoes.  Same for her gun.  It's personal.  As others have said, the more she can try the better.  Don't worry about caliber.  It is purely on her comfort level.  I have had some pick a .22.  Later as they become more proficient and comfortable they may want another gun...we can all agree nothing wrong with that.  Greg Elifritz, a nationally known trainer, personally feeds his snub-nose revolvers with 147gr. wadcutters.  So let her make the choice.  Personal preference and having a firearm are the two most important factors at this point.

This is, always has been, and always will be the one correct response to the question of “what should my woman carry”.

I would even go so far as to suggest something in the .32 department.  Lots of old S&W J-frames out there in .32 long...Models 30 and 31.  They are dandy little revolvers.

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My wife carries a .32 Tomcat.

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37 minutes ago, chances R said:

You don't pick and try on  your wife's shoes.  Same for her gun.  It's personal.  As others have said, the more she can try the better.  Don't worry about caliber.  It is purely on her comfort level. 

This is what I did.

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Posted (edited)

First, let me thank you for all your feedback.  A LOT for my wife and I to digest.  To clarify: I am NOT trying to choose a gun for my wife.  The purpose of my question was to gather ideas for her.  No, I would never try to choose a gun for her - or anyone!

As for the comments about .38 wadcutters, pardon my ignorance but is there a good .38 wadcutter round for self-defense?  I've shot them for years as a practice round but never for carry.

I appreciate you all very much!

Edited by Luckyforward

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Precision Delta has a good quality 147 gr. wad cutter at reasonable prices.  They are remans but a good company.

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It's all been pretty well covered, and I'm glad to hear you're gathering info and not making decisions. As others have said, she's really should try a low recoil self defense loads in your .38 if she's a revolver fan (Hornady and Federal both make them). Also try a Glock 42. It'll be a bit lighter than an SP101, bit also a bit bigger than most .380s designed for self defense (which I think tend towards unpleasantly snappy) and is a very enjoyable gun to shoot.

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I took my wife to a good family owned gun shop in Dickson that I visit regular they know me by name. The owner is a retired police officer ( his daughter in’s it mostly now) she is also very knowledgeable. Told him she wanted something to carry. They got several out of the case and laid them out for her to handle. She pick a Glock 43X. I told them what I had and that she really didn’t care for any of them so we had that part narrowed down.

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Thank you all for the excellent feedback;  Talked with my wife; she used to carry an SP 101 w/.38 +P but hated recoil.  Have ordered Remington 148 g wadcutters for her to try.  She likes the 101; wadcutters may be the answer.  Will let you know after she shoots!

Thanks to all!

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Posted (edited)

Something else I frequently recommend: Bring a note pad and pen with you when you go shoot, take notes, bring them with you shopping. Worry a bit less about shooting tight groups and more about the actual experience shooting that model and load. With practice, one can attain proficiency with a pretty broad range of firearms. But being willing to practice (because it's not unpleasant) is key to that.

Edited by TomInMN
Typos all over the dang place.

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23 hours ago, Luckyforward said:

Thank you all for the excellent feedback;  Talked with my wife; she used to carry an SP 101 w/.38 +P but hated recoil.  Have ordered Remington 148 g wadcutters for her to try.  She likes the 101; wadcutters may be the answer.  Will let you know after she shoots!

Thanks to all!

Maybe just dropping back from +P would be enough to reduce the recoil to a tolerable level.

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With snubby revolvers, sometimes the muzzle/cylinder blast is as or more objectionable than the recoil. The first thing we rented when shopping for my wife was a. 38 snubby. She hated it, and so did I. Not horrible outdoors, but it was terrible at an indoor range. I found the 4" .357 nicer to shoot than the .38 snubby. 

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I’m going to through the Ruger LC9S in 9mm. I have the Pro model and I love. So does my wife. They aren’t made anymore, but you still see them used. Ruger does still Make a version called the EC9S. The sights are cast as a part of the slide and finish is a matte type. They usually run around $250 or so. https://www.budsgunshop.com/mobile/product/52078/ruger+ec9s+9mm+312+black+7%2b1

If 9mm .38 pr .380 is just too much for her, check out .32ACP.  There are several pistols available out there in this nice little round. Starting with a Keltec P-32. I had one of these I pocket carried all the time. When my oldest got her HCP, but didn’t have a pistol to carry, I gave it to her and bought a Ruger LCP. I actually miss that P-32. It s a great little pistol. I have a friend that swears by a Beretta Tomcat .32. Nice looking pistol and well built. Usually runs around $450. Lastly, as mentioned before, there are a bunch of Beretta Police Trade-Ins that have brought into the Country lately. They are Model 81s and come with 1 12 round mag, but they have spare mags available for a nominal price. I’ve been wanting one of these for myself, to be honest.

When I had that little Keltec, I sorta fell in love with the .32 ACP round. I found it to be accurate and follow up shots were quick and easy. And at 9.6 oz that little Keltec was the perfect pocket carry. Just a tad lighter than the LCP, but with a lot less kick for such a small gun.
 

https://www.budsgunshop.com/mobile/product/15204/kel-tec+cnc+p-32+p-32+7%2b1+32+acp++27"

https://www.budsgunshop.com/mobile/product/25071/beretta+3032+tomcat+32+acp+inox+stainless

https://www.classicfirearms.com/beretta-mod-81-pistol-surplus-used-good-very-good/

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