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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got to thinking about this the other day while having a conversation with a lady in her fifties who decided she should get a handgun for personal protection, but was concerned about the possibility of getting hurt from recoil. For the most part a .44 Magnum is the most powerful handgun I shoot, a 4" S&W 629-3, (I consider the super mags too big and heavy and would just as soon carry a rifle). Anyway, a .44 Magnum has never hurt me, the handguns that have hurt because of the grips, not the recoil. In the 80's I bought a S&W M-13-3, 3" barrel, round grip frame .357 magnum. The grips were cut deep and sharp and the first time I fired it the thing cut into my hand and caused bleeding! Those grips were promptly replaced with Pachmeyer neoprene grips! The second is grand-dad's Colt New Service, 7.7" barrel .45 Colt. Again, it's the grips. The bottom of the "COLT" logo on the grips settles right between the web of my index and middle fingers and after a few shots causes a slight ache there. 19o9's and 1917's don't cause that problem with their plain wood grips.

Any stories out there on handgun recoil causing pain?
 

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There is no need to start a lady out on a tough to handle gun.
Power is inconsequential.
Get her to where she is comfortable with a .38 special...maybe a 4", and then move on from there if she feels the need.
One (any) hit with a puny .25acp is worth any number of misses with a handcannon.
It ain't out of reason to get goin' with some medium velocity wadcutters, and then go find a defense round that handles the same.
I only hurt myself once with a large bore revolver, and it was because my grip was not firm, and the thing whacked my thumb.
It was a Dan Wesson .41 magnum.
I'm out of the hand held superguns now, and I don't really miss 'em.
The most consistently uncomfortable one was a S&W N frame .44 magnum. Yeow.
Funny, though; the same thing in a stoked .45 Colt was sweet as honey, and the N frame .41 magnum was easier on me than a .357. A Ruger RedHawk and a Dan Wesson .44 magnum were great fun to blast away with.
Go figure.

ps. A Ruger Blackhawk .44 magnum was the toughest of all of 'em; worse than the N frame.

I shot 'em anyway, because I could, but there were always more pleasant ways to achieve ballistic gratification.
 

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Not only does the S&W .44 Magnum recoil, it also twists from the torque of the bullet engaging the rifling. I shot a lot of full power loads, but not in the past 20 years. A good .44 special load is a joy to shoot in the S&W .44 Magnum.

Another handgun that is uncomfortable to shoot all out of proportion to it's cartridge size is the Walther PPK/S in .380. I believe it is the sharp edges of the receiver in the grip area, but not a fun gun to shoot a lot.

As mentioned by oberon, I had an early Ruger Blackhawk .44 Magnum with the factory stags, which were just too pretty to take off. The trigger guard would beat my middle finger until it was so touchy I could fire no more. Someone came out with a set of black rubber grips with the filler behind the trigger guard that most everyone went to. Were comfortable but ugly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No, I wasn't suggesting starting anyone on a powerhouse. I was thinking back on guns that hurt me when I shot em. She's already pretty much chosen a S&W Shield 9mm. I suggested a J frame S&W with wadcutters. That reminds me, I had an old FN P-35 that bit me if I didn't keep the web of my hand down on the grip.

I never had trouble with a S&W N frame no matter what the caliber or ammo used. I never did understand the reason Ruger would put a square back trigger guard on their Super Black Hawk.
 

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Any local place she can rent several guns ? Ranges that rent usually have a wide variety of popular models available .

Not to state the obvious but ammo choice will make a difference . If she's shooting a 38 spl the 148 gr WC loads are very pleasant .
 

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Then there is Bodacious (I named my 4 inch S&W 500) he was a really mean rodeo bull. Bodacious has a temper if you feed him 500 grain. I’ve got a 29 and a Toklat, he is meaner. New shooters should work with 38 med frame wheel then decide. Big iron is not where to start. Heck, find a 22 for her to try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No rent a gun ranges within thirty or so miles of here, we're kinda rural, I generally carry my 4" S&W 629-3 because of four legged critters rather than the two legged variety, (gotta protect my dogs). I would rather she got a J frame .38 revolver than a plastic wonder 9, but she's looking at cost. Aside from an old S&W M&P .38 all I got is .44's and .45's.
 

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If it's for home and target and not ccw , advise a medium sized pistol or revolver . I've seen many choose an aluminum J frame .38 or Ruger LCP .380 sized gun and then find out the recoil was more than they bargained for .

Make recommendations . Get her to try as many guns as possible . In the end , she should make the pick .
 

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You need mass in the gun to stop some of the recoil, and balance. That's why even though I have arthritic hands I can shoot my Python with no sweat.

On the other hand some some guy at my range offers me his wee Ruger in .357 to shoot "just one". I do and its like Mike Tyson on a bad day has an iron rod he swings at my palms with effect. I also find myself flying up to the ceiling holding desperately onto the gun. Mike could go out and see a film before the gun settles down to a firing position for a second shot. But one was enough for me. Then the guy says "I'd never fire it in .357 but only 38 +p". So what's he got me shooting in 357 for? Psychopath! He'll probably go home and torture cats.
 

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The subject of recoil is always a concern. Some can take the recoil of the .44 magnum with no problem. The next person that is about the same size, weight, etc just can't shoot the .44 magnum. Most of this is training and there are some possible physical problems that won't allow a person to shoot a full size handgun.

I started my little girl at 13 on a S&W .357 Magnum revolver. She fired a few rounds and said it is OK to shoot. Then I switched to an H&K 9mm pistol. This one she liked and shot well with it. After several training sessions, I had her fire a .45 acp Colt and again she did well but did not like the "feel" of the pistol. She now shoots the 9mm most of the time. I don't want her at this time to be forced to shoot something she does not feel comfortable with. I would never at this time ask her to shoot a .44 magnum revolver; she is just not ready for that round......yet! Eventually, when she feels ready, she may want to try it out and that will be her choice.

Starting out someone that is either young or older, let them watch you shoot it first and let them decide what to shoot first. Many start out new shooters with a .22 lr handgun and that is fine. A .22 LR lets them get the hold, stance, aiming, etc correct before shooting the larger calibers. To me, that would be a 9mm pistol since the recoil is not bad to everyone. Then work them up to whatever they want to shoot. By doing this, they will feel very comfortable with their firearm and they will learn to shoot it well. You guide them and let them decide the best firearm thay want.

I have never been recoil sensetive with any handgun, but I don't like to punish myself with one of the big .500 magnum revolvers and I put "bullet placement" the prime thing with anything from a .22LR to a .44 magnum. My personal rounds that I like to shoot are .45 Colt, .45 acp and the 9mm.
 

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I have only fired 180 grain loads out of this single-shot .444 Marlin 'handgun', but it would not be long before pain set in. And that is with the muzzle brake. To think that you can handload 400 gr. bullets is almost surreal. Recoil and torque are both major factors.

For defensive purposes, as to starting someone out who may be recoil sensitive, I would recommend a.38 Spl or perhaps .357 using .38 Spl loads. Then, familiarization and practice. If used in the gravest extreme, recoil and muzzle blast do not register nearly as much as at the range.
 

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The design of the gun also has a factor in felt recoil as mentioned with the PPK/S. The way the grip is made on the S&W .44 Magnum doesn't let it roll in your hand like the Ruger Blackhawks in .44 Magnum. The Ruger torques during firing, but also rolls back in your hand, somewhat lessening the felt recoil.

The .444 shown above by PO18 would deliver every bit of the recoil to your hand.
 

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A .22 is good for you. :D And great for beginners.

Recoil depends a lot of the shooter. With three orthopedic surgeries on my right elbow and shoulder, I just don't shoot .44 magnums anymore. On a good day I can handle a .45 auto for a few rounds.
 

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I suggest she try a S&W model 60 lady smith. I saw one in the shop the other day and it's a sweet little gun. The best about it is that it's in 357 and you can shoot 38 out of it. I suggest she start with the 38 then go up to the 357 if she is comfortable shooting it after getting used to the 38's. I like the look and feel of the gun. If that is not good for her have her try a Ruger SP101 with a 2.5" or 3" barrel. I had one wish I never sold it. My son loved shooting it but he liked my Diamondback since it was a baby Python so he swayed towards shooting that. Oh well good luck in what you decide to help her out with. As for guns that hurt? I had a Walther PPK that used to cut the top of my hand when I used to shoot it since I have meaty hands. I also had a Browning Hi-Power with a round hammer that used to bite me as well. I have a 44 mag 3" Model 29 that is a Lew Horton special that kicks like a T-Rex with wood grips which I changed to rubber to help with the punishment.
 

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I have yet to shoot a gun that recoils like a Freedom Arms 454 Casull with factory loads which they don't make anymore. The ammo you buy from other mfg.'s don't have the same turbo boost. I shot a factory load with 300 grains and man does it kick but it was fun. I enjoy the recoil arthritis or not. I have my good days and that's when I'll take the punishment. I wish Freedom Arms still made their brand of ammo.
 

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Concur w/KMKCOLT re: Walther PPK. Had a Interarms and a NRA raffle gun and, after repeatedly cutting me in the thumb web, I sold one and gave the NRA to one of my sons.
 

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As a very part time, but trained, handgun instructor who teaches women ( they learn fast and don’t have preconceived notions) i like to start them handling guns for a while away from the range.At the range I start with a good .22 SW 6” barrel ( from the 50s) and they shoot from 5-7 yds. They shoot single action to get comfortable with the idea they are holding and shooting a gun, learn sights, breathing, and trigger. Then, a heavy 9mm semi like a sig 226. Shoot single action, to get comfortable. Would prefer a good single stack, but only have compact single stack 9s. By then they are usually covering a palm size area with their rds. If i think they can shoot a .45 without damaging what they have accomplished, picking up a flinch, a sig 220. The goal is that they enjoy themselves, get comfortable with a gun and move up to a serious caliber. Sticking the wrong gun in anyone’s hands can ruin them for a long time. Especially a new shooter. Not just the recoil, but the muzzle blast. My $.02.
 
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