Carry gun ideas for my Wife, caliber decision

This is a discussion on Carry gun ideas for my Wife, caliber decision within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; So far, my Wife has only shot my G33, G22 and her P22. She likes her P22 but hates the kick and bang of my ...

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    Member Array Aaron1100us's Avatar
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    Carry gun ideas for my Wife, caliber decision

    So far, my Wife has only shot my G33, G22 and her P22. She likes her P22 but hates the kick and bang of my Glocks. Even though she has never shot a .380, she likes the size, feel and the similarity of the Bersa Thunder .380 operation compared to her P22. I don't know anyone who has a .380 or a 9mm to try. I've never shot a .380. There is no way I'd let her get anything less than a .380. Does it have less kick/bang than a 9mm? If it isn't much better, I might try to talk her into a 9mm. I just don't want her to dislike whatever caliber we end up with. Does the .380 sound lke the way to go?

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    Go to Beretta USA & have her take a look at the Beretta Cheetah (it's a compact and not a sub-compact) & if she thinks that she may like that firearm then it's off to the gun shop and have her handle one and check it out first hand.

    It's a very ergonomic handgun with an easy slide to operate and fairly mild felt recoil.

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    Senior Member Array wormy's Avatar
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    Youll get 30 different opinions here. The best thing to do would be to get on the phone and find the closest gun range that might have a .380 and 9mm to shoot. Thats the only way you will find exactly what your wife likes. Even if you have to travel a ways, make it a long weekend with Mom to get out of town. Might be good for your marriage also.
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    I promise I am not trying to sound disrespectful when I say... WELL DUH she liked the P22 over the G22 or G33! .40S&W and .357Sig are two of the snappiest calibers out there and that .357Sig in a subcompact?! Those calibers have exceptionally little popularity in female shooters.

    And if I may direct men to a little advice (not just you, OP)... If all you have is a .22 and high-energy caliber firearms (especially in light frames) like the guns mentioned and want to get your significant other interested in shooting, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, find someone with a larger-frame 9mm to try and ease her up. I can't tell you how many men I've seen men hand their girlfriends/wives/mothers/etc firearms chambered in these kinds of calibers (or worse.. .50AE, S&W500, 460) only to result in having the woman refuse to ever try to shoot anything ever again because of the negative experience.

    As an instructor, trying to get these women over their fears and over the bad habits they develop out of their fear takes some time, gentle guidance, lots of patience and reassurance. I don't mind doing it but I'd much rather have a student who wasn't scared out of her mind that all guns are "like my husbands."

    Sorry.. mini-rant off.

    On to the questions at hand.

    You need to remember that recoil is recoil. Every caliber (depending on weight and charge) is going to have the same recoil. What makes the difference is the package that that recoil is put into. What I mean by that is that a larger, heavier gun chambered in 9mm or .380 is going to be a lot more easy on recoil than a lighter, smaller framed .380 or 9mm. So, to say that a .380 has less or more recoil than the 9mm is kind of a tricky depending on what type of make and model of firearm you are talking about. Comparing something like a Beretta 92 to a KelTec P3AT is going to make the .380 feel like a MONSTER compared to the 9mm... get what I'm saying?

    That being said, there are some VERY comfortable shooting 9mm and .380 firearms out there that are compact enough in size to be easy to carry but big enough to be comfortable to shoot.

    In my experience both selling and teaching firearms to women I have found that MOST opt for a more comfortable shooting gun OVER the size of the gun. Meaning they would rather have something just a tiny bit bigger or heavier if it means it's going to be more comfortable and easier to handle on the range.

    MANY a woman has shown up at the range with tiny little pocket .380s or .32s and find them difficult and frustrating to shoot and when I let them try a G19 or equivalent sized 9mm or .380 we finally get to see that spark that, "HEY! Shooting is not only easier but FUN!" It makes it easier for them to go back to those little pocket guns too because they've gained confidence and skill.

    Bodyguard .380
    Glock 19 or 26
    Bersa Thunder .380
    Taurus PT111 or 24/7
    Springfield XD SubCompact in 9mm

    These are just a few off the top of my head that have HUGE popularity with women. I know I have more floating around in my little brain but I'll have to think of them later (though they will already be posted by the time I think of them.. the members of this forum are that good!)

    Good luck on your search!


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    Quote Originally Posted by limatunes View Post
    I promise I am not trying to sound disrespectful when I say... WELL DUH she liked the P22 over the G22 or G33! .40S&W and .357Sig are two of the snappiest calibers out there and that .357Sig in a subcompact?! Those calibers have exceptionally little popularity in female shooters.

    And if I may direct men to a little advice (not just you, OP)... If all you have is a .22 and high-energy caliber firearms (especially in light frames) like the guns mentioned and want to get your significant other interested in shooting, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, find someone with a larger-frame 9mm to try and ease her up. I can't tell you how many men I've seen men hand their girlfriends/wives/mothers/etc firearms chambered in these kinds of calibers (or worse.. .50AE, S&W500, 460) only to result in having the woman refuse to ever try to shoot anything ever again because of the negative experience.

    As an instructor, trying to get these women over their fears and over the bad habits they develop out of their fear takes some time, gentle guidance, lots of patience and reassurance. I don't mind doing it but I'd much rather have a student who wasn't scared out of her mind that all guns are "like my husbands."

    Sorry.. mini-rant off.

    On to the questions at hand.

    You need to remember that recoil is recoil. Every caliber (depending on weight and charge) is going to have the same recoil. What makes the difference is the package that that recoil is put into. What I mean by that is that a larger, heavier gun chambered in 9mm or .380 is going to be a lot more easy on recoil than a lighter, smaller framed .380 or 9mm. So, to say that a .380 has less or more recoil than the 9mm is kind of a tricky depending on what type of make and model of firearm you are talking about. Comparing something like a Beretta 92 to a KelTec P3AT is going to make the .380 feel like a MONSTER compared to the 9mm... get what I'm saying?

    That being said, there are some VERY comfortable shooting 9mm and .380 firearms out there that are compact enough in size to be easy to carry but big enough to be comfortable to shoot.

    In my experience both selling and teaching firearms to women I have found that MOST opt for a more comfortable shooting gun OVER the size of the gun. Meaning they would rather have something just a tiny bit bigger or heavier if it means it's going to be more comfortable and easier to handle on the range.

    MANY a woman has shown up at the range with tiny little pocket .380s or .32s and find them difficult and frustrating to shoot and when I let them try a G19 or equivalent sized 9mm or .380 we finally get to see that spark that, "HEY! Shooting is not only easier but FUN!" It makes it easier for them to go back to those little pocket guns too because they've gained confidence and skill.

    Bodyguard .380
    Glock 19 or 26
    Bersa Thunder .380
    Taurus PT111 or 24/7
    Springfield XD SubCompact in 9mm

    These are just a few off the top of my head that have HUGE popularity with women. I know I have more floating around in my little brain but I'll have to think of them later (though they will already be posted by the time I think of them.. the members of this forum are that good!)

    Good luck on your search!

    +1 on what Lima said.
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    Distinguished Member Array Fitch's Avatar
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    First, suggest listening to Lima, she knows what she's talking about.

    If your wife is right handed, and can learn to deal with a safety, I'd highly recommend a serious look at a SIG P238. The gun is a genuine pleasure to shoot - my wife's reaction to her first shot out of one was "That's sooooooooooo sweeeeeeeeeeet!" She drags me out to shoot it. It has what might be the easiest slide to rack of any semi-auto on the planet, a very nice crisp single action trigger, but with 8lbs of pull and a firing pin block so it won't go off by accident. It has very nice big sights that are also night sights.

    And, very important, the P238 can be loaded, unloaded, and cleared with the safety on. It is available with flush or extended (pinkie grip) magazines. My wife has one of each. The extended magazine gives both of us a full 3 finger grip on the handle.







    And it is small enough to be concealed easily. Fits in my wife's pocket in a DeSantis holster, or under a sweatshirt OWB in the SIG holster that came with it, no problem.

    My wife bought hers last Monday. The only time I can play with it is after she takes it off to go to bed. The rest of the time she's packing it. This has never happened before with any other carry gun she's had (SP101, LCR). The P238 converted her from carrying now and then to packing full time. If she ever decides she wants a bigger gun, which is unlikely, I'll get her a 9mm 1911 (Springfield EMP) with the same safety as the P238.

    The SIG P232 is another .380 that is a powderpuff to shoot. She liked that one a lot, one of her friends has one, but it's too big for her to carry easily.

    You really have to shoot the P238 to understand just how soft shooting it is.

    Fitch
    Last edited by Fitch; October 28th, 2011 at 12:26 PM.
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    Distinguished Member Array MinistrMalic's Avatar
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    Lima knows what she is talking about. My wife (petite gal) has a Bersa Thunder in .380 and shoots it VERY well. She also tolerates my XD9sc, though she likes the Bersa better because her hands are smaller. That said, by progressing from smaller to larger, this past Friday she put some rounds through my new .44 mag and enjoyed it tremendously!

    So...Bersa or XD9 (or similar) are probably the best idea.
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    Senior Member Array adric22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron1100us View Post
    So far, my Wife has only shot my G33, G22 and her P22. She likes her P22 but hates the kick and bang of my Glocks. Even though she has never shot a .380, she likes the size, feel and the similarity of the Bersa Thunder .380 operation compared to her P22. I don't know anyone who has a .380 or a 9mm to try. I've never shot a .380. There is no way I'd let her get anything less than a .380. Does it have less kick/bang than a 9mm? If it isn't much better, I might try to talk her into a 9mm. I just don't want her to dislike whatever caliber we end up with. Does the .380 sound lke the way to go?
    OK.. Here's my rant.

    First of all, as Lima and a few others have said, the smaller .380 guns will have MORE recoil than a G22 or G33, despite having less power.

    The real problem I have from your statement is "There is no way I'd let her get anything less than a .380"

    I think this type of attitude as been addressed on this forum many times and I think most people will support me when I say that you should not try to be in charge of what your wife wants to own/shoot. It is her choice. If she wants to shoot and even carry a P22 for self defense, then let her. Yes, you may encourage her to try some .380s and 9mm and explain to her the advantages, etc. But I'd hate to see a situation where she COULD be carrying a .22 caliber but ends up carrying NOTHING at all because of an argument like this.

    Last food for thought. If your wife is very sensitive to recoil, try finding a .32 caliber. They are only slightly less powerful than a .380 and some of the larger guns can still be found chambered for .32, for example I think the Bersa and the Walther PPK are available in .32. I'm not sure what the requirements are in Iowa, but in Texas you can actually qualify for a CHL using a .32 caliber.

    Oh.. and one more thing. Fitch suggested the SIG P238. Most women do like small guns, and my wife tried every gun in the gun shop and decided she liked the P238 the best. I was very irritated because it was the MOST EXPENSIVE gun of that size in the place, by a factor of 2. But never the less, I bought it for her because that is what she wanted. I have fired the gun myself and it has surprisingly less recoil than some of the other .380 pistols but it is slightly larger and fatter than some of the competitors such as the Ruger LCP and Taurus TCP. But it still conceals well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adric22 View Post

    First of all, as Lima and a few others have said, the smaller .380 guns will have MORE recoil than a G22 or G33, despite having less power.
    WHOA THERE... Don't go putting words in my mouth..lol.

    I didn't say a small .380 would have more recoil than a G33 (THAT would be feat!) just more felt recoil than a larger-frame 9mm. A G33 has a heck-a-lot of felt recoil.

    What I said (and meant) was that recoil for a specific caliber/cartridge is recoil.. period. It doesn't change. A 147 gr 9mm bullet is going to have the same power as any other 147 gr 9mm bullet of the same load. A .45 is going to be a .45. A .357 is going to be a .357. The only thing that will change the actual RECOIL of the cartridge is changing the cartridge.

    What people experience when they pull the trigger of a firearm is called "Felt Recoil" or how they perceive/feel the recoil of that cartridge in that particular make/model of gun.

    Yes, you can change the felt recoil by changing the cartridge (like putting .38s in a .357, or lightly loaded ammo, etc) but not all firearms allow for those kinds of changes or won't work properly when you do attempt them.

    Of course the smaller and lighter the firearm the more recoil the shooter is going to feel. When companies put high-energy rounds like a .357 Sig into a subcompact frame like the G33 most people report feeling it in a negative sense.. i.e... it hurts. Like the .357 Mag inside of a scandium-framed j-frame like the 360pd. Doesn't mean EVERYONE does but the majority rules and I have yet to find a single person who did not report some level of pain or discomfort after shooting a few magazines through a G33 or a few cylinders through the S&W 360pd or similar firearms.

    It does, however, ultimately comes down to personal perception because it is FELT recoil.

    You put thee people in a line and have the shoot the same gun with the same ammo and you very well might get three different reports as to how the recoil felt.

    A big, strong man shooting a 3" 1911 in .45 might say, "Man, that feels really nice. Hardly any recoil." A small female shooting the same firearm might say, "That hurts." A child shooting the same gun might not even be able to hold on to it and start crying.

    And there will always be some hee-man who says, "I don't see what the big deal it. It's nothing," and three weeks later they are in a splint because of a pulled tendon or something that they will blame on anything but the gun because they won't admit that the human body was not designed to have high-energy explosions going off in its palm on a regular basis.

    The fact of the matter is, women do not have the upper body strength that men do. They have smaller, weaker hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders, everything. A man can hang onto a gun and fire it and not see what the big deal is. A woman can perceive that the firearm is attempting to sever her hand at the wrist.

    If she wants a larger caliber there's nothing saying she can't achieve great control with it but it's going to be a commitment on her part.

    HOWEVER, that does not necessarily mean that a smaller caliber gun is the ticket either. A lot of men know that women aren't as strong as they are so they proceed under the assumption of, "Sweety, don't even bother with that gun, you won't be strong enough to shoot it and you won't like it." That's equally as wrong.

    I agree that you shouldn't put a caliber restriction on your wife but I also think that you should be honest with her in regards to performance and expectation.

    If this is going to be a defensive carry gun she should know that a .380 IS going to be better for her to carry than a .22... yeah, lots and lots of people have died from being shot with a .22 but you get a better chance of a faster stop with a larger caliber. Not to mention that the failure rate of the .22 cartridge is very high.

    I have had a number of gals come to me and say, "I REALLY LOVE shooting my husbands .22 can't I get one of those?" and if it's just going to be a target gun I say, "Sure!" BUT if I find out the firearm is intended for self defense I try to talk them out of it. Yeah, ultimately it's their decision but they should know that if they are going up against someone who is trying to kill, rape, kidnap or otherwise do them great bodily harm they should commit to something that's going to have a little more to it. Once they get even mediocre training in the proper use of that firearm there is no reason why they won't be able to shoot it just as effectively as they shoot a .22.

  11. #10
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    If she likes and is familiar with the Walther P22, check out the PK380. Yes it will have a little less felt recoil than some others, even in the same .380 class. The Bersas/PPKS are fixed barreled guns and tend to have a little more felt recoil IMHO.

    The other half is arguing well on the other points, I'm off to lunch.

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    Senior Member Array adric22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by limatunes View Post
    WHOA THERE... Don't go putting words in my mouth..lol.

    I didn't say a small .380 would have more recoil than a G33 (THAT would be feat!) just more felt recoil than a larger-frame 9mm, etc.
    Yes, you are certainly correct. I was talking about perceived recoil. I very rarely see or hear anyone referring to a gun's recoil as anything but what the person feels. Sort of like when we say a meal has 500 calories, what we really mean is kilo-calories but nobody ever even says that.. Or when somebody says they want a kleenex or a coke, they really want a tissue or a Soda.

    I like to use my two primary guns as perfect example. I have a tiny .380 and a large 9mm. The tiny .380 hurts my hand and I won't shoot more than about 20 rounds out of it when I go to the range. My wife won't shoot it at all after the first time. The 9mm has far less recoil than the .380 despite having a more powerful round.
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    My Glock-26 (9mm) shoots immeasurably easier than my P3AT(.380) The big difference is which one is easier to conceal. Many ladies have trouble racking the slide on automatics. My daughter preferred a Lady Smith over every SA she test fired. IMHOP buy the largest caliber she can comfortably shoot in the largest gun she can comfortably handle with the least safety devices she has to manage.

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    I suggest your wife check out a Kahr P9/CW9. It's actually smaller (fractionally) than the PK380 and about the same weight, but it's 9mm and not a .380. With a polymer frame, standard-pressure ammo is pretty easily managed, and definitely easier to handle than standard-pressure .38 Specials in a 16 oz J frame. 7+1 capacity is down a round from the PK380, but up 1 from a Sig 238. Give it a look.
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    The Sig P239, HK P2000SK and Glock G26 are all good choices to look at in 9mm for both carry-ability as well as comfortable to shoot.

    YMMV.

    I'd find a range that has lots of good rental options and try 'em out.

    -john

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    Started my daughter on SW Mustang .380. She never wanted to shoot the bigger guns. But she loved the .380. Then oneday she asked to shoot my G27. She could do it but didn't like it. She went out and bought a G26 a few year later for her carry.

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