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Best 380 for women?


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#1 assistantchief

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 03:07 PM

Looking for a good, reasonably priced ($500.00 or so) .380 for my wife. Needs to have relatively light recoil spring so she can easily rack the slide. I know she should get a revolver but having problems talking her into it. (Doesn't like the way revolvers look.) I'd also like to be able to find aftermarket grips for the same. Or, if there are smaller, easy to operate 9mm out there with large slide release buttons, that could work too. I have a S&W MP 9MM Compact that is too hard for her to operate. (Recoil spring and slide release too hard) Appreciate your help.
"Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"- Patrick Henry

#2 RobR369

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 03:29 PM

Im personally a big fan of the Ruger LCP

#3 Thiokol

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 03:42 PM

If she's not averse to recoil, then an LCP or a Kahr P380 would be the way to go. Stay away from the Walthers as they are hard to rack the slide and have pretty snappy recoil.. The softest shooting .380 that would be ideal for a female, especially if she has smaller hands, would be a Beretta Model 85. That's the single stack version of the Model 84 and it's fairly easy to rack the slide.
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#4 assistantchief

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 04:00 PM

Im personally a big fan of the Ruger LCP


Thanks, we've looked at the LCP but I am worried about the recoil. I guess I'll have to find one to try out.
"Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"- Patrick Henry

#5 assistantchief

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 04:04 PM

If she's not averse to recoil, then an LCP or a Kahr P380 would be the way to go. Stay away from the Walthers as they are hard to rack the slide and have pretty snappy recoil.. The softest shooting .380 that would be ideal for a female, especially if she has smaller hands, would be a Beretta Model 85. That's the single stack version of the Model 84 and it's fairly easy to rack the slide.


Appreciate the input. We've looked at the LCP but as small as it is; I'm worried about the recoil. I'll start looking at the Beretta's.
"Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"- Patrick Henry

#6 ryr8828

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 05:34 PM

If she can't rack the slide and handle the recoil on a p3at then you need to start looking at .22's.

Easy and mild.

Stalling until the deadline and just making the statutory deadline, is just stalling.

This disappoints me. So much for my good thoughts of the isp and their process.

I've got my license in hand, but my wife applied on 1/5 with no prints and no criminal record. She also retired from the Dept. of Corrections, so her info isn't hard to investigate. It's obvious to me now that after a big bluster at the start, the isp is now dragging their feet, and it pisses me off.

There is no reason for it. Our rights have been denied for decades.


#7 PPK

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 05:46 PM

If you can find one I'd recomend the S&W 3913 or 3913LS (Lady Smith). More power from 9mm but less recoil with the larger frame. The slide mounted safety/decock lever gives a good grip for racking the slide. The single stack mag makes for a slim profile for easier concealment. You'd have to buy it used and I'm not sure they'd be in the $500 range. If you find one in a gun shop, I'd definitely let her handle it and see what she thinks.

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#8 assistantchief

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 05:54 PM

If she can't rack the slide and handle the recoil on a p3at then you need to start looking at .22's.

Easy and mild.


She's shot the .22 and can handle it fine. I'm looking more for something she can carry for self-defense. .380 is as small as I'm willing to look at.
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#9 assistantchief

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 05:55 PM

If you can find one I'd recomend the S&W 3913 or 3913LS (Lady Smith). More power from 9mm but less recoil with the larger frame. The slide mounted safety/decock lever gives a good grip for racking the slide. The single stack mag makes for a slim profile for easier concealment. You'd have to buy it used and I'm not sure they'd be in the $500 range. If you find one in a gun shop, I'd definitely let her handle it and see what she thinks.


Good idea. I've read a lot about them during my research. Very hard to find.
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#10 Thiokol

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 06:21 PM

The budget version of the 3913 is the 908 and 908S, blued & stainless respectively. I had a 908 and I'm sorry that I traded it away.
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#11 Don Gwinn

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 09:30 PM

I'm honestly not being a smart-aleck, here, but there is no best .380 for women. Women are all different.

It doesn't sound like she's averse to shooting and trying things out, so you might as well just keep showing her different things until she settles on the one she likes. If racking a slide is a problem, I wouldn't be surprised that smaller slides are more difficult. Gripping a slide is different from gripping the grip--it uses pinch grip as opposed to crush grip. Almost no one has as much strength pinching as they do crushing, and very small objects only get harder to grip.

I don't know whether she's shot them or not, but I wouldn't be shocked if she found some 9mm/40/.357/.45 models easier to use than a smaller .380. Might be worth it to try some models with large slides, like Glock or Springfield XDs. Those might be bigger than she wants to carry, but you never know.

I wouldn't necessarily say she needs a revolver, either. It would eliminate the problem of the slide, but if she doesn't want it, she doesn't want it.


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#12 assistantchief

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 10:15 PM

I'm honestly not being a smart-aleck, here, but there is no best .380 for women. Women are all different.

It doesn't sound like she's averse to shooting and trying things out, so you might as well just keep showing her different things until she settles on the one she likes. If racking a slide is a problem, I wouldn't be surprised that smaller slides are more difficult. Gripping a slide is different from gripping the grip--it uses pinch grip as opposed to crush grip. Almost no one has as much strength pinching as they do crushing, and very small objects only get harder to grip.

I don't know whether she's shot them or not, but I wouldn't be shocked if she found some 9mm/40/.357/.45 models easier to use than a smaller .380. Might be worth it to try some models with large slides, like Glock or Springfield XDs. Those might be bigger than she wants to carry, but you never know.

I wouldn't necessarily say she needs a revolver, either. It would eliminate the problem of the slide, but if she doesn't want it, she doesn't want it.


Great information! I didn't think to try a larger pistol. After her difficulty with mine; I assumed I'd have to drop down a caliber to find a softer recoil spring but it will have to be something she wants to carry. I've found that the main problem with her difficulty in racking slides is the different recoil spring tension that we find in different weapons. Even among .380's; we've found some she can rack more easily than others and I can't find all the different models to rent for her to shoot. I'll try her out on a 9mm (maybe we can share ammo!) tomorrow to see how it goes. Thanks again.
"Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"- Patrick Henry

#13 moparcardave

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 05:16 AM

Whats best for women? Have you ever felt a womans purse? Full sized 45 would fit right be light compared to the whats in there. Ok, Ok I am kidding but my wife feels more comfortable with her 9mm XD sub compact. I really doubt she is going to need more shots then the mag holds, so the first racking of the slide is at home. She is pretty tiny but likes shooting that and to her it feels best in her hand. 380's are great too if you enjoy them go for it, however 9's are a bit less expensive to practice with and there is no hopeing you will see som ammo in at your favorite store.
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#14 mikew

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 11:19 AM

Besides the effort to rack the slide, there is the perceived recoil.

In semi-auto .380s, there are two basic operating mechanisms of the self-loading action:
Recoil operated and straight blowback. Recoil operated is also called "locked breech".

Blowback is more common in .380 and under. The barrel is fixed to the frame,
and the slide moves back immediately and the brass is pushed out by combustion pressure.

Locked breech is most common in 9mm and up.
The slide and the barrel are locked together during the initial rearward movement
of the slide, (about 1/4"), then separate and the slide extracts the spent brass.
The sloped angle of the barrel [in most models] assists in loading the next round.

.380's are available in both flavors, but the blowback models used to
be the predominant offering. Recoil operated models have lighter springs for the slide,
and less perceived recoil.

The Ruger LCP, Keltec P3AT and Sig P238 are current offerings that are recoil operated.
The Colt Mustang and Star S are two models that are out of production, but found for sale.
The Ruger and Keltec are much lighter than the other models and would have more perceived recoil,
but are DAO and very concealable.

the Walther PPK, Makarov 380, and Berreta 85, CZ 83, Magnum Research, NAA Guardian are blowback operated.

Try to rent several before making a decision...

#15 pyre400

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 08:25 PM

Have her try out an LCR next time she's at the range - no slide to rack, if you get one in .357 you have the option of .38's and .357.

http://www.ruger.com.../index.html?r=y

You could start out with .38 loads and graduate her to .357 as she gets more comfortable. If the grip is not to her liking, try out a ruger sp101, and, again, start out with .38 and graduate to .357.

Good luck with whatever you choose

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#16 RandyP

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 09:19 AM

Rather than make guesses based on little beyond a hunch, if it's worth $100 or so to you, go out for a range date with your lady (I like the selection and range at MegaSports in Plainfield myself) and rent 3-4 different models and calibers with a box of ammo for each and let her decide what fits her hand the best and with which she is the most accurate. Calibers are meaningless in SD anyway unless the BG is hit consistently.

I had the chance this past Easter to bring some of my handguns out to my brother's place in Indiana for a backyard (10 acres) family fun shoot. All ages and sizes of men and ladies in the group of ten participated. My Bersa Thunder .380 was very popular as was the CZ 75 SP-01 (least felt recoil). But no one really had a "problem" with an old P-38, CZ52 or my Springer GI .45.

Some of the pistols fit different folks better than others, some naturally point better than others, and that is my selection criteria for a handgun, fit and natural sight picture.

As an example, I absolutely hated the LCR in .38. Nastiest trigger finger biting beast I've ever shot in 40 years of shooting. I wouldn't take one for free and could not bring myself to practice with one enough to become proficient. That is because that is how the LCR fit and performed in MY hand, not anyone else's mitts.

The very best handgun for anyone to have for SD use is the one the can be most consistently accurate firing in a size package they can accommodate.

IMHO

#17 assistantchief

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 04:54 PM

Thanks to all for your valuable input. Took my wife to the Belleville Indoor Range and they had a matched P22 and PK 380 set so I rented her a PK 380 to try. Worked perfectly...easy slide, pretty accurate and the recoil didn't bother her at all. Plus side to the set; the P22 works very much like the PK 380 so she'll be able to practice much more cheaply with the P22 then an occasional box of .380 should keep her up to date for SD. Primary concealed (except here but hopeful soon) will be in a CC purse/fanny pack so the larger size (compared to the LCP, Kel-tec, etc.) doesn't matter. She's shot a .38, 9mm, and now the .380 and this is the only one she was smiling about when done. Likes the weight, light recoil, easy slide racking, and the looks. So...there it is. Thanks again.
"Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"- Patrick Henry

#18 pyre400

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 08:06 PM

Thanks to all for your valuable input. Took my wife to the Belleville Indoor Range and they had a matched P22 and PK 380 set so I rented her a PK 380 to try. Worked perfectly...easy slide, pretty accurate and the recoil didn't bother her at all. Plus side to the set; the P22 works very much like the PK 380 so she'll be able to practice much more cheaply with the P22 then an occasional box of .380 should keep her up to date for SD. Primary concealed (except here but hopeful soon) will be in a CC purse/fanny pack so the larger size (compared to the LCP, Kel-tec, etc.) doesn't matter. She's shot a .38, 9mm, and now the .380 and this is the only one she was smiling about when done. Likes the weight, light recoil, easy slide racking, and the looks. So...there it is. Thanks again.


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#19 Glock21

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 10:51 AM

If she can't rack the slide and handle the recoil on a p3at then you need to start looking at .22's.

Easy and mild.


I couldn't disagree more.

The smaller you make a gun, the heavier you have to make the springs, and the more felt recoil there is.

I really, really dislike shooting my P3AT. I can barely hang on to it, especially when firing proper defensive ammunition. I can only get a finger and a half around the grip, and it's a serious chore to control and keep from short cycling.







I'm very reluctant to recommend it to anyone, let alone smaller statured females.

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