What guns for my mother….

This weekend I spent some time shopping for handguns with my mother.  We went to a newly built Cabela’s about an hour away.  Figuring they’d have one of the better selections in the area.

My mother has some firearms experience. Our family owned a Ruger .357, and she always loved shooting it. A few months ago Freedom Armory had a S&W demonstration, my mother was down visiting that weekend so we went to the demonstration. My mom tried out a number of firearms including an M&P in 9mm, & 45, a 1911 and a few revolvers including some airweights and a .44 Magnum.  I used the demonstration to show her how the difference in weight affected the perceived recoil. That the .45 in 1911 had less perceived recoil than the 9mm in polymer. My mother really liked the 1911, describing it as being akin to a smooth whiskey.  While she did notice the kick and feel of the various revolvers, she did well with them all.

So what were the requirements that we were looking for?

First and foremost my mom wanted a .22LR, as she has access to a small cultural club that has a 22 caliber rifle range in the basement.  And I believe that a .22 is a good choice. Ammo, while not abundant these days, is still affordable.  Allowing for a great amount of practice.  My mom is also fond of revolvers.  So she was leaning toward getting a revolver chambered in .22LR.  And maybe getting a second firearm down the road.

So we had a couple of options for a .22: a) revolver, b) dedicated semi-auto, c) a conversion kit for a semi-auto such as a Glock or 1911.

We looked at a number of the .22 LR revolvers. Discussing single-action versus double-action, with the latter being my mother’s preference. (She suffers from trigger finger and carpal tunnel. So the idea of having to cock the hammer for each firing did not appeal to her.)  She was also leaning strongly toward revolvers, as that is what she has past experience with. Semi-autos are an unfamiliar territory.

They had three models to choose from. A Taurus in a smaller to mid-size frame. A full size S&W, and a third Taurus that was a small compact in the J-frame style.  The S&W was priced higher than we were wanting to pay.  The mid-size Taurus was $379.  I did not like the trigger on the Taurus. The S&W was significantly better. The J-frame Taurus was a little better than the first Taurus but still no where near as nice as the Smith.   Furthermore, my mom really did not want a snubbie .22LR.

I really wasn’t quite satisfied with the Taurus. I didn’t like how it felt and the trigger was atrocious.   While I am not opposed to using a .22 for self-defense, I did not feel confident about relying upon that particular Taurus.  The Smith & Wesson, while having a nicer trigger was a little too big for my mother. Even I had to extend a bit to reach the trigger.  Furthermore it was nearly $800.

While there I also had my mother handle a couple of Rugers. Namely a 3″ SP101 chambered in .357, and the Ruger LCR chambered in .38 Special.  My mom was familiar with the concept of how the weight of the gun affects the perceived recoil.  But I re-explained to her that the 3″ SP101 would be a much easier firearm to shoot than the LCR, however, it was significantly heavier. The triggers on both the SP101 and LCR were much easier to operate than on Taurus, and while I might start a flame war. We even preferred the trigger pulls of the Ruger over the .22 S&W.

So we weighed the benefits and disadvantages of each:

3″ SP101
+ Reduced Recoil
+ Old Proven Design
+ Can shoot either .357 or .38 Special

LCR
+ Lightweight
+/- more recoil due to it’s weight, but a design that softens it a bit
– .38 Special only
– new radical design, not as proven
+ if she didn’t like it, she could sell it (namely to me)

She liked both firearms. But we went back to the fact that my mom needed a 22 caliber pistol. So we discussed this fact. As I really wasn’t too keen on the Taurus they had. And it was the only double-action, non-snubbie that was in our price range.

I suspected that my mom’s desire for a .22 revolver stemmed from her unfamiliarity with semi-autos. Why? Because I went through this same situation in my mind when I became a gun owner.  I made a suggestion.  For $40 less than the Taurus we could get a Browning Buckmark.  It’s a .22 but a semi-auto. I said to my mom “If the only reason you’re hesitant to do so, is because you have no familiarity with semi-autos. Than wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to get familiar with semi-autos via a .22?”

My reasoning made sense; perhaps  because it was the same reasoning I used on myself when I bought my Ruger MKIII. And I could have suggested the MKIII but being aware of the difficulty in disassembly I thought that could be a roadblock for my mother. I had heard a lot of people recommend the Buckmarks as well. In fact, usually I hear people say get either a Ruger MK or Browning Buckmark avoid the Walthers, Mosquitos, and others.

So I suggested that we consider getting the Browning Buckmark instead of the .22 revolver.   Then purchase a second firearm for personal defense. Namely, either the Ruger SP101 or LCR.  This idea seemed to jibe well with my mother. Especially when she realized that her only reason not to was a lack of familiarity. And that she did want to eventually understand how to utilize a semi-automatic pistol. (I also think she became much more keen on the idea when she held the Browning Buckmark in her hand. She was amazed how comfortable it was with the soft molded rubber grip.)

So we returned to the other table to evaluate the two Rugers.   The salesman spent a fair amount of time with us, even though there had been a line behind us and he was the only one at the counter. I wager the fact that we were discussing the possibility of buying two firearms made us a worthwhile customer. If they’re considering two, they probably at least buy one! Thankfully, by this a second employee arrived to help the other customers.

It was a tough decision to make. Both the SP101 and LCR were very nice revolvers. While my mom was a bit disappointed in the fact that the LCR did not chamber .357 Magnums. (She loves the kick of a gun.)  I ensured her that in such a light gun the .38 Specials will be quite akin to .357 Magnums, and not to worry.  She did like the feel of the SP101. Felt it had a nice weight. But when I asked her would she be comfortable carrying that on her person, say in her fanny pack all day. She she shook her head and said “No…”

We finally decided upon the Ruger LCR.  The deciding factors were that she’d be more likely to carry it.  And it had the easiest trigger of any of the revolvers we had tried that day.  This is important because of the nerve damage she has suffered. It was also the deciding factor for me in encouraging her to go with the LCR. I know my mom is not defrayed by the kick of a gun as many are, in fact quite enjoying it.  But she would be deferred by the hard mechanics of a trigger pull. Had she bought the Taurus we first looked at, I’d be concerned about her being able to pull the trigger in another 5-10 yrs.  Where as I felt confident that she would be able to successfully, and repeatedly pull the trigger on the LCR.  A final caveat, the fact that I would like to get an LCR, I gave my mom the following offer – if you get the LCR and decide you want something different, I’ll buy it off of you. (While I really liked the 3″ SP101, it really would be more akin to a slightly smaller version of my GP100. I could not justify buying it at price. Where as the LCR would fill a niche in my collection, is on my list to buy, and therefore would not have difficulty buying it off of my mom if the need arose (although I doubt such need will arise).

So enters into the statistics another 50+ yr old woman joining the ranks of new gun owners!

– N.U.G.U.N.

PS – Yes, I’ll give everyone a range report on the LCR in the next week or two. I am very curious to know how it feels as well.

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Published in: on July 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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