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Well it finally happened. The backdrop of this story is that we're dealing with the sudden unexpected loss of my father last November just a couple days after Thanksgiving, but that's not what this is about. This is about the inevitable admission last week.

"I need a gun.", my mother said.

The situation indeed calls for one. A 48 year old widow who lives with her 20 year old daughter is a prime target for potential goblins.

Her experience is not what I'd like it to be but for her intended purpose I hope it will suffice. Her father was quite a marksman in his own right and made sure all of his children knew firearm fundamentals, and I can't think of an aunt or uncle of mine that doesn't have at least one gun to call their own.

She and dad used to shoot fairly often all those years ago, before us rotten pesky kids came along...

But anyway her shooting career, such as it was, has been abbreviated by a fairly serious case of arthritis. She lacks strength in her hands now. You can forget asking her to open the ketchup.

Naturally her interest waned. This is understandable, because I think if it physically hurt me to pull a trigger, I'd move on too or else just become a collector only.

She can and will still fire a gun, but only 5-10 rounds at a time, and she is genuinely recoil sensitive. If she fires a hot enough .357 Magnum, she will drop it no questions asked and it's not because of a flinch reaction either. She is not a flincher, she has a genuine physical problem handling significant recoil. The gun has to be very light, because holding onto it for any amount of time is a taxing effort and the lighter, the better.

That said, she's actually pretty good, and used to be better.

We have installed good windows and doors, locks, alarms, external lights, hedges around the windows, she has pepper spray, flashlights, cell phone, backup cell phone etc. A home invasion escape and evasion plan is in place. My father saw to all this while he was still with us, as he was often gone and knew that Mom is at a pretty significant physical disadvantage.

The gun is the last ditch holdout, if all of that fails.

Now personally I am not crazy about this situation, but Dad's gone, and I'd just better get used to the idea that Mom's alone a lot now and has physical handicaps to consider.

Rest assured she has no interest in CCW at all, because she'd never pass the test. She'd never be able to fire 50 rounds in a row like that, especially not in 2 to 5 shot strings. And she's said herself she wouldn't feel right doing it, and as much as I worry about her, I have to accept her physical health problems just as she does.

So basically what we have here is someone with a thought out plan that considers her unique needs, but also a desire to have some last ditch emergency plan in case the locks are broken and the 911 operator is a recording telling her that all lines are busy.

As I said, I'm not happy about this situation, but I agree with her that she needs some means of personal protection in case all the contigency plans fail, and a firearm is the only viable means here. You can forget about her doing kung fu; broke her tail bone some time ago so that's a problem too.

Previously, she has had a gun that was designated as "hers". However, her needs have changed since then so out with old, in with the new.

A bit of experimenting has led us to the determination that rapid fire is not possible in any event due to a lack of finger dexterity. She can fire repeatedly, but not rapidly, if you can understand the difference well enough from this lousy explanation.

.38 Special is manageable, and 9x19 wasn't too bad but the .38 Special was better. She will never take a shot further than from her bathtub to her bedroom door, so 5 yards maximum is the longest possible distance she needs to worry about.

I brought her pretty much all of my handguns, throwing out the .22 and the .44 Magnum, and let her play with them. She cannot rack a slide or work semiautomatic controls. I could load one for her and leave it chambered and ready to fire, but neither of us like that idea. She wants to be able to load and unload it by herself, as well as work all controls.

Trigger pull is important. She can handle a good trigger just fine but a stiff one is out of the question.

The weight of the gun is a tricky issue. Lighter gun means more felt recoil, but we can't make it very heavy or she can't hold it in her hand for too long. Weight is the reason her old gun was retired. The idea was for the heaviest one she could hold indefinitely.

She just does not wish to pursue a long gun. She has fired pistols, a 20 gauge, and a rimfire rifle and that's enough for her. Oddly enough she got along fine with most pistols, but centerfire rifles were just too loud and heavy, and she never cared too much about shotguns.

I believe that's for the best anyway, the handgun is about the only thing she'll still make some sort of effort (limited though it may be) to keep up with.

So it was decided that a revolver (her last designated gun was a revolver too) was the only option. I laid out every specimen I had, but first managed to cajole her to go to the local merchant of death and handle two specimens I don't own.

The tests were numerous: the primary one was to simply pick the gun up and hold it for a while, carry it around, see how it felt in hand. Then we tested the triggers and cylinder release, etc.

Oddly enough, it was discovered that the cylinder release and extractor were not a problem to operate on any of the guns. That was some good news.

The bad news is a lot of them were just too heavy.

The final result was Mom took my Colt Agent. This Agent's got a weird history anyway, as we think it may have been a gun my uncle pilfered from my grandfather and sold for a quick buck many moons ago. I found it in a pawn shop and bought it. I've never been able to confirm it was his or not.

I think it's the best of a bad situation. The Agent has the best sight picture of any snubnose, she can handle the recoil okay it seems, and ergonomically it's the best she's ever had. I also know it is a solid gun since it was mine. The Colt style cylinder release is easy for her to manipulate for some reason, which blows my mind. It is also a light alloy framed gun that she can carry around the house no problem, she knows the manual of arms already, etc.

I got her a quick access microvault some time ago and gave her some more accessories. The conventional style speedloaders were awkward, but she is able to make use of the Speed Strips. Reloading is not going to be quick at all, but she can't even stuff a cartridge into a magazine so dropping it in a cylinder is a wondrous alternative.

She's just not up to trying it out yet, so for now it sits and waits. Hopefully it'll never ever be needed.

I think we've done about all we can do without living in constant fear.
 

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a colt agent is excellent- reliable and powerful enough.
you know, i suspect she would be tough as nails if it came down to it. women are, particularly women who have seen some hardship.
you did well.
rb
 

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I got her a quick access microvault some time ago and gave her some more accessories. The conventional style speedloaders were awkward, but she is able to make use of the Speed Strips. Reloading is not going to be quick at all, but she can't even stuff a cartridge into a magazine so dropping it in a cylinder is a wondrous alternative.
Euc, why don't you get her another Colt Agent or similar? That way she wouldn't have to reload but just reach for the other loaded gun.
 

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Lot's of problems to overcome but as long as she has ''something'' that she can handle, then even if shooting for her is far from pleasant, she would in an emergency manage quite adequately.

Good that she has you to advise and assist - heaven knows how she would fair if only having inferior advice from elsewhere.
 

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I am turely sorry to hear about your father. My dad Died December 16th 2005 and his death was sudden and unexpected as well. His death hit the family HARD. My mom is doing better but she now lives in a large home all by herself. My fathers gun collection is going to dispersed between his living children that want one. But the gun he got specificly for my mom was a colt .380 My mom now wants to learn to load it, shoot it and most of all know how to defend herself. So when the weather gets nicer here Im going to be shooting alot with my wife and mother teaching them what I know about gun safety and shooting tactics. Your doing the right thing! stay strong for your family and teach them that "the Family that shoots together, Survives together".
 

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Nothing wrong with a .38spl, it's what a number of us here carry on a daily basis. Remember what we all say (including you) ... shoot the biggest caliber you can shoot effectively. Heck, if .380 or even .22Mag is her limit - it still beats throwing rocks.

On the subject of speedloaders, I'm assuming you and she tried the HK "twist" release style but what about the push button type? Can't think of the brand name at the moment ... DeSantis maybe? Chris "P95" has referred to using them in past posts. Might be easier for her to manipulate than the HK OR the speedstrips. They seem to be harder (impossible) to find locally but I'm sure you could do an internet purchase.
Jack
 

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Jack - Safariland speedloaders. IMO 100% better than HKS. No twist just smack'em against cylinder.

Comp 1 is smallest, I like Comp II as a good compromize. Comp III is the one with a big spring - big for carry but ''shoots'' the suckers in - the best of all probably.
 

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Thanks Chris! I knew there was an "S" in the name but couldn't recall the rest - might just pick up a few of those myself at some point.
Jack
 

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Have you considered the little Berrettas. I loved mine. Easy to load and chamber with the tip-up barrel (never have to rack the slide), several acceptable calibers, and it's DA/SA so only the first pull will be tough.

Sounds like a gun that she could shoot and shoot often enough to be good with it. I used to be able to rapid-fire 10 rounds into the center of a target faster than you can blink.
 

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perhaps a carbine in .22 mag or sucjh and a good supported postion might be a good bedroom defensive gun too. I know 10/22 mags can be had in hi cap. not sure about mag though. A rapid fire .22 should be fairly effective. yuo could even modify it with a external trigger assist and oversized bolt handle,as long as it was left w/ an empty chamber.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I will keep an eye out for another one of those Colts, and if I ever see one I'll scoop it up.

I didn't have a Safari speedloader on hand for her to try, I'll order one sometime. The Colt Agent and K frame Smiths use the same loaders, luckily enough.

To be honest though guys, after the first two or three shots, her fingers lock up and burn. Shooting repeatedly at any sort of speed just plain hurts. I think the six rounds in the cylinder have got to be enough, there's just no other choice for her. I figure she could squeeze off three or four shots before her fingers seized up on her.

It's the motion of squeezing the trigger that's the problem; her fingers don't like to curl up like that.

I'm really pretty sure that the idea of a backup or a reload is wasted on her just because of this.

She's probably naturally more talented than I am, but I enjoy shooting and guns and whatnot and her interest in it was mild to begin with.
 

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Euc you could nab a Agent Dick Spiecal Cobra Airman all are the same size so she could have 2 guns no reload even just picking up a 38 smith would be faster as a reload for her swap guns
 

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You may want to consider something like an S&W 640. It's still a J frame but a bit heavier. With some Hogues and the extra weight, the felt recoil should be less. A trigger job will also help smooth things.
Mrs. Airedale carries a 649 loaded with wadcutters. She doesn't like the recoil of a J frame and the target wadcutters help. Her speedloader is filled with RN bullets.
Dave
 

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Still think a Berretta Tomcat or Bobcat would be ideal for her. Tip-up barrel is load friendly, single action after the first shot should allow her to fire more before she tires, and the low recoil of the .22/.25/.32 won't hurt either.

Think I saw somewhere that these were the gun of choice for the physically handicapped.
 

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She's further ahead than 99% of the population. Good work.
 

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Glad to hear your mom "woke up"
I know that since I was 9 my mother started collecting guns and going to shoots.

What makes me angry is when she goes to gun shows to buy a new AR or really nice big bore auto handgun all the macho men come out of the woodwork telling her she only needs a "S&W Lady Revolver".
 

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Euc, I think ya done good. Have you considered maybe a pump shottie? The noise of the racking pump might be enough! At the very least one good shot with an I/C choke inside and it might be over anyway. Use bird shot. Heck maybe even a 410. How about one of those 410 "SnakeCharmer" single shots? That way she could distribute the recoil just a bit more.
 

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Rocky was kinda on the track I was thinking of........the main home defense gun I have the wife get out of the safe when I am gone over night is one of the M-1 carbines. Remember the military adopted it as a step up from a handgun, but not a full battle rifle, for non front line troops; short, light, easy handling, greater inherent accuracy than a handgun, more powerful, at least 15 rounds without reloading, easy trigger pull, not much felt recoil. I keep mine with 30 round mags loaded with hollow points
 

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If her fingers won't tolerate the DA trigger, you could instruct her to thumb the hammer back (does the Colt you are referring to have an exposed hammer? I'm not familiar with that model) with her other hand, giving her index finger less work to do. A good set of grips can also make a world of difference in both recoil and control. Last and I'm sure you know this, figure out the most effective load she can stand to shoot a full cylinder.

She did make a good choice. The guy who won last week in our pinshooting league did it with a .38 Special revolver shooting target loads.
 
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