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Personal defence weapon for the non-shooter

FreezerFreezer Senior MemberPosts: 2,421 Senior Member
My niece, who lives in a city, had a prowler on her front porch. She called her dad who did just as I would have and installed more motion detector lights on the house. She has and uses an alarm system but was asking about a firearm. My first suggestion was a big sharp knife next to her bed where she could grab it if someone tried to climb in with her. I  gave her a sharp K Bar. My next suggestion was to go to a range, rent some hand guns, find something she likes, then take HD classes.

One person suggested an AR pistol in 9mm with a 30 round mag, he's not talking to me now because I disagreed. Another suggested a shotgun, I sort of like the idea and a 20 gauge Mossberg or Maverick would fit the bill, but I doubt she'd ever practice or shoot it. I asked her feeling about guns and she ok with them but admitted the AR and bull pups intimidate her. She has no place to use a shotgun.

I'm sure she won't like heavy recoil or pistols that bite. I can't see her wanting to spend more than $350 for a SD gun. That brought me to the thought of a 380 acp. The only affordable pistols are the Ruger LCP and Bersa Thunder. Taurus has a 38 revolver in her price range, but it's a Taurus!

I've shot the Bersa 380 and found it serviceable with low recoil, any opinions on it? What opinions do you have on the Taurus 586 in 38 spl?

For someone who's not a gun enthusiast, should she have a revolver, pistol or shotgun? I've heard tails of springs weakening in pistols. Is there any truth to the myth? 

  



I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
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Replies

  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 14,365 Senior Member
    youth model 20 ga. If she is petite, regular 20 ga. If she is not, otherwise off to a gun range with rentals to try 9mm’s
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,676 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #3
    Functionally, a revolver is easier to learn and operate than a pistol. But, not necessarily easier to shoot accurately. Longer and heavier trigger pulls can be a hinderance. 
    Some women have trouble loading magazines (long nails or weak fingers) but they make tools to help with that. Granted……something else to learn how to use. Again, some women have trouble manipulating a slide on a pistol. 
    The Smith & Wesson EZ Line is supposed to address that. But, I’ve no experience with them. 
    One can be taught to use most anything. But, the time needs to be put in to do so. You have to determine if she’s willing and able. 
    I’d recommend she go with you or another experienced individual to a well stocked LGS and let her handle as MANY different firearms as possible. Find the ones she likes and can manipulate and the process goes from there. 
    Shotguns can be a useful choice. Again, it comes down to size and experience. He willingness to practice and put up with recoil she may never have felt before. 

    There are a lot of good options out there. Her will to acquire skill necessary to make that option viable will be on her. 

    Classes or experienced friends can make it easier.  
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 12,258 Senior Member
    The Bersa Thunder bites.  We rented on when the wife was looking.  It went to the top of the NO list.
    Wifes carry gun is a SW 431 PD  32 H&R Mag.
    SCCY makes an easy to use 9mm.
    Ruger LC9 deserves a look.
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    Personally I would not get a LCP. I have one and it is NOT a fun gun to shoot. 

    If it’s strictly a night stand gun I would look at a Ruger SR9. 

    I’ve never shot one but it is a little larger than the LC 9 and Max 9.  Would think it would be a more comfortable pistol to shoot. 
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,676 Senior Member
    I would not recommend the big sharp knife next to the bed as a first option. 
    Preferably, we deal with the threat before it becomes hands on, up close and personal. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #7
    My daughter is an accomplished handgun shooter and she can safely handle everything we have in the safe, from a 1911 to the Ruger LCR...
    When she left home, she chose my old S&W 3" Model 66...after she got a deal on a nice older Model 19....(the 66 came home)

    Though capable with pretty much any handgun, she chose to stick with a revolver for a bedside gun...and I find no fault in her decision...

    The thought of a shotgun isn't a bad one either...however, she needs to be able to familiarize herself with it..(that goes for any firearm she chooses)..and not let some gun shop expert talk her into buying a shotgun with a pistol grip....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,465 Senior Member
    The thing with noobs is there's no one-size-fits-all answer.  There are physical issues and mental ones to wade through as you shop.

    I think one of the worst mistakes the new/intimidated shooter can make is to go with the small, pocket caliber autos.  They're also inaccurate in untrained hands, and in the blowback mechanisms, pretty snappy.  The rounds are effective IF delivered accurately (see previous sentence).  The choice for one is usually made because they're small and non-intimidating. 

    That intimidation comes from ignorance.  Purging that with some familiarization is the first hurdle.

    (BTW, if she's intimidated by the look of certain guns, she'll likely need A LOT of mental re-wiring before your Ka-Bar concept would become even remotely helpful.  That stuff takes training and WILL)

    A 4" revolver loaded with .38's is a simple-to-operate choice, but you'll need some good coaching on running a DA trigger to be effective with one.

    An autoloader is a recoil-driven machine that needs to be held properly to run reliably, and it needs to be somewhat understood to be operated safely.

    ANY handgun is hard to shoot accurately if you don't put in the work.  Even if you do, a handgun is a weapon of convenience for distances you'd be smart to stay beyond, and only the foolish would fight with one where a long gun is an available choice.

    A pump shotgun stored with the chamber empty, trigger pulled, and safety off is about as simple and safe, AND effective a combo as the little-trained can hope for.  Easy to sight for the distances expected, and since it's a manual action, you're unlikely to catastrophically screw up more than once.  That said, once you get to the point of needing to load, unload, or reload, a lot of people seem to be mystified by them.

    A 9mm carbine with a long-battery life red-dot (Ruger and a solar-backup Holosun come to mind) is potentially VERY effective, easy and gentle to shoot, and potentially interchangeable with Glock mags (the Glock in itself being a pretty easy auto to run with minimal things to remember).  Like the shotgun, if stored empty chamber and safety off, one needs to only remember the charging handle.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 605 Senior Member
    If she is not a gun enthusiast, and you don't think she'll practice, she might be better off with a dog.  The women I have taught to shoot all found an M&P in 9mm to be more pleasant than an LCP in .380 and they all preferred a .410 to a 20 ga. 

    Truth is that having a firearm that you don't like to shoot and don't want to practice with does not provide much in the way of real security and might make a bad situation worse. 

     A Chihuahua would be better in that scenario. 

    If one does not put in the time and effort to train to use a tool to stop a threat in its tracks, it might be better to focus on early warning and a secure barricade or escape plan.
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • rberglofrberglof Senior Member Posts: 2,941 Senior Member
    My younger sister was going to get rid of her 9mm because she couldn't rack the slide back with out much difficulty. I showed her that instead of holding the gun and pulling back on the slide hold the slide and push forward on the gun it was much easier. She decided to keep her 9.
  • FreezerFreezer Senior Member Posts: 2,421 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #11
    OK, you guys are right about the size. A larger pistol makes sense because of lower recoil and better ergonomics. If she wants a CCW after she has experience that bridge can be crossed. 

    What are your opinions on the Taurus revolvers? 

    I'm still open to talking to her about a pump shotgun. The finial decision is hers.

    She has an English bulldog and a security system, the K Bar is peace of mind and IMHO easy to deploy if your already face to face.


    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 14,365 Senior Member
    I have had no problems with our Taurus model 85 Ultralight, it has 3-4 boxes of a mix of factory and hanloads through it.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,122 Senior Member
    I would rather have the K-Bar than a Taurus revolver. WAY too many bad experiences. 

    I think a 9mm carbine would be a great choice. Put a “braced pistol” in that category as well. 

    If surplus 30 Carbines were still around, that would be a good choice as well. I used to leave the 30 Carbine for the wife when I was on the road

    Shotgun- yeah… I guess. Low capacity, high recoil, easy to short stroke and cause a very tough stoppage. 

    I’d rather go with a pistol caliber carbine with a 30 round mag. Keep shooting till the bad guy changes shape or catches fire. 
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • FreezerFreezer Senior Member Posts: 2,421 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #14
    I've been pondering this all day. 

    A single projectile fired at an intruder at close range by a person who doesn't practice much and has little training.... the AR pistol may have an advantage over a pistol or revolver. With two hands and a shoulder (brace) you have more control and very light recoil. They are easy to charge. I just don't like the idea of sending a pistol round down range in a city dwelling. Too great a chance for collateral damage when she misses.

     A 410 pump with 000 buck makes more sense.

    I don't think they make what I'd suggest. Mossberg 510 Bantam with an 18.5 in 410 barrel and ATI tactical adjustable stock. Fixed full choke should be fine, but Accu-choke would permit patterning. The Bantam's forend is set up for a shorter grip. A grip strap would make it perfect.

    I don't care for flashlights and laser pointers as it only announces you're there.


    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    Something to keep in mind...at the ranges one encounters in an apartment...choke doesn't really figure into the equation....the "pattern" such as it is, even with an open choke...will still be akin to shooting a slug and still has to be aimed....From personal experience, I have seen a number of close range shotgun wounds and even loaded with bird shot they are....well...a mess

    I would also advise avoiding a .410....a 20 gauge will be a better choice and much more economical to practice with....


    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • FreezerFreezer Senior Member Posts: 2,421 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #16
    Zee said:
    I would not recommend the big sharp knife next to the bed as a first option. 
    Preferably, we deal with the threat before it becomes hands on, up close and personal.
    I agree! The K Bar is peace of mind and a last ditch weapon. Where I hunted in Northern California, we had a lot of cougar. Beside my rifle I carried a side arm, a 44 S&W Mountain Gun, but had my fixed blade knife taped to my pack's shoulder strap, just in case. 
    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 14,365 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #18
    DeanC bought one of these, takes Glock mags, no problems so far, fair price at $449
    https://www.extarusa.com/shop/pistols/ep9

    i put this Foxtrot Mike upper and palmetto lower together for about $575

    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,676 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #19
    I kinda like the Ruger PC Carbine or PC Charger Pistol. 

    Both more than the OP price range, though. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,676 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #20
    Freezer said:
    Zee said:
    I would not recommend the big sharp knife next to the bed as a first option. 
    Preferably, we deal with the threat before it becomes hands on, up close and personal.
    I agree! The K Bar is peace of mind and a last ditch weapon. Where I hunted in Northern California, we had a lot of cougar. Beside my rifle I carried a side arm, a 44 S&W Mountain Gun, but had my fixed blade knife taped to my pack's shoulder strap, just in case. 
    I’m not doubting the effectiveness of the tool, but the will and understanding to use it in reference to the young lady. 
    It’s basically stabbing/hacking/cutting someone to death with a sharp/pointy thing. 

    Not your typical mentality. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,676 Senior Member
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,465 Senior Member
    What we ended up getting my Grandmother when she started becoming frail was a Ruger MKI .22.

    The new MKIV is about a perfect place to start for a new shooter, and there are the "Tactical" versions that could take a red dot and a light if so desired.

    Is it what WE would choose for ourselves?  Nope.  But it is the best way to develop skills somewhat cheaply and without all the noise and recoil that turn many noobs off.

    Personally, I'd find a volleyball-sized cluster of Mini Mags in my chest fairly discouraging.

    I think that would qualify as "training wheels" that would serve the need.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 605 Senior Member
    edited December 2021 #23
    My wife is the type of person who likes things (mechanical) kept simple,  She can shoot a pistol or revolver and hit a 6" gong at 21 feet fairly reliably, but she doesn't like recoil or having to thumb-cock a single action.  She enjoys shooting a Mk 3, and handles that pretty well.

    That said, for her home defense weapon I bought her a Mossberg 500 in .410 that can accept 3" shells.  The stock barrel length was 24" and was a full choke.  As another mentioned earlier, a shotgun will not have much spread at a typical inside the home distance at which an intruder might need to be engaged.

    I had a gunsmith shorten the barrel to 18.5" - it is now effectively a cylinder choke but not an illegal length shotgun.  #4 buckshot has nine pellets in a 3" shell, and at 15 feet my wife can blow a 1 gallon jug to hell and back consistently.  I have her practice swinging the gun up and onto a target with her laying on a cot while she starts off covered with a blanket and the gun propped next to the cot (it comes in pretty handy having a backyard range).  A shotgun with a pistol grip or box magazine risks hanging up on clothing or bedcovers.  They look cool as hell, but were not designed to be used under the conditions in which a surprised response to a home invasion is most probable.  An autoloader pistol risks hanging up the slide if it encounters bedding or clothing during use, and a pistol being employed from a prone position where the target is likely to be more toward the foot of the bed risks muzzling and potentially shooting your own lower extremities. 

    The pump shotgun is about as simple as it gets to run, and in .410 even if you don't get the butt into your shoulder the recoil is manageable - she can still work the gun and get a follow up shot.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record (or the south end of a north-bound mule) any firearm will not be a protective panacea for someone who is uncomfortable handling them and unwilling to train - really train - with one.  Whenever I am asked about which gun or caliber is best to use for self defense, my answer is the one you are willing to train with, diligently, and not something that you only take to the range once or twice on a nice sunny day and shoot paper targets from a single, fixed position.


    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • JaphyJaphy Posts: 316 Member

    I would suggest a short barrel 12ga semi auto.  The difference in recoil vs 20ga is not much and there is at least 1/8 oz more pellets.  There will also be less recoil with the auto and no chance of a short stroke when things are dicey.  The second item would be a light with a momentary switch positioned at the grip or on the fore stock so no futzing is needed and pellets hit where the light shines.  N0 4 buck might be the ideal load and not over penetrate.  Finally it doesn’t get more intimidating than viewing a shotgun barrel on at eye level.





  • rberglofrberglof Senior Member Posts: 2,941 Senior Member
    Don't ever think a 22 won't get your attention, New a guy that pissed off his neighbor and was shot three times in the torso with a 22. He was lucky to survive, had three nasty scares when all was said and done. Took him many weeks to recover.
  • FreezerFreezer Senior Member Posts: 2,421 Senior Member
    To tell the truth, I've been concerned with what will she shoot? 12 gauge is out of the question. I trained my boys with a 20 gauge, they're no fun in a light platform. Light weight 38 revolvers and CCW 9mm pistols bite bad. I was looking at the Mossberg "Muddy Girl" but with a 2+1 mag ..... A Ruger MK I or II might be the best bet. That platform would be fun and cheap to shoot, and she wouldn't mind bringing it out with her friends at the range or in a field.
    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 25,090 Senior Member
    Obviously, somebody needs to take the gal to a nearby range and have her try all types. My wife prefers revolvers and shotguns. I prefer autos and shotguns. Wife doesn't like flying brass from an auto - she just can't get past it. She shoots left handed so the brass flies across her field of view. So I had her try my P.38 - which ejects LEFT - but she still didn't like the flying brass although she admitted it was "better" that way. Woman is strange, what can I say?

    Nails never stopped me from loading a mag though.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • SpkSpk Senior Member Posts: 4,746 Senior Member
    My choice would be a War Sentry.
    Only real problem,...
    they don't exist.

    Let's see, she has a security system. Motion detector lights on the way, dog. Good so far, how about some security cameras? Know what your up against before you have to face it.
    She's not a gun enthusiast but might like the MkII, that's good. Likely to incur missed shots in an urban/city environment, not good.
    Has a Ka-Bar but I think a machete would give her more reach/distance and could be easier to learn (maybe Bearspray?). I was partially sprayed with Bearspray once and it was discouraging/humbling, it really was, and I only got a small dose. Reminded me of the gas chamber in boot camp, not fun at all, safer for urban use.
    If she's not willing to train or at least practice then the MkII might be the best bet.

    The solution to the firearms problem is gonna come down to breaking down any mental barriers she might have about firearms. Some folks can be stubborn, you have to be more stubborn (persistent) but not by ramming your opinion down her throat but by helping her see the wisdom in your position (i.e. you learn to drive a car before you go out and buy a car). You have to put up with gas fumes at the pump or hot seats in the summer but you get used to it because having the car is more important than being without. Likewise, in time, she'll get used to the recoil, become adept at working the slide or operating the cylinder (revolver). Folks often want what's good for them, but they want it to be easy also. You'll have to find a way to make it as easy as possible. Knowledge is often the remedy to apprehension.
    In the meantime, door wedges, security cameras, machetes, Bearspray, 911 on speed dial and whatever else can stand-in while you work on converting her into someone that can better appreciate firearms. She'll come around, as long as you're not overbearing about it. When she finally comes around, then we can talk about the best gun 🤣

    Good luck.
    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience -- Mark Twain
    How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again! -- Mark Twain

  • FreezerFreezer Senior Member Posts: 2,421 Senior Member
    Spk said:
    My choice would be a War Sentry.
    Only real problem,...
    they don't exist.

    Let's see, she has a security system. Motion detector lights on the way, dog. Good so far, how about some security cameras? Know what your up against before you have to face it.
    She's not a gun enthusiast but might like the MkII, that's good. Likely to incur missed shots in an urban/city environment, not good.
    Has a Ka-Bar but I think a machete would give her more reach/distance and could be easier to learn (maybe Bearspray?). I was partially sprayed with Bearspray once and it was discouraging/humbling, it really was, and I only got a small dose. Reminded me of the gas chamber in boot camp, not fun at all, safer for urban use.
    If she's not willing to train or at least practice then the MkII might be the best bet.

    The solution to the firearms problem is gonna come down to breaking down any mental barriers she might have about firearms. Some folks can be stubborn, you have to be more stubborn (persistent) but not by ramming your opinion down her throat but by helping her see the wisdom in your position (i.e. you learn to drive a car before you go out and buy a car). You have to put up with gas fumes at the pump or hot seats in the summer but you get used to it because having the car is more important than being without. Likewise, in time, she'll get used to the recoil, become adept at working the slide or operating the cylinder (revolver). Folks often want what's good for them, but they want it to be easy also. You'll have to find a way to make it as easy as possible. Knowledge is often the remedy to apprehension.
    In the meantime, door wedges, security cameras, machetes, Bearspray, 911 on speed dial and whatever else can stand-in while you work on converting her into someone that can better appreciate firearms. She'll come around, as long as you're not overbearing about it. When she finally comes around, then we can talk about the best gun 🤣

    Good luck.


    SPK, I like what you saying and agree anagressive approach is never a good idea. Her cousin was agressive about an AR pistol and she was at best aprehensive. Her other cousin had the shotgun idea then suggested she talk to me. I don't know her well and as we never and still don't live close to each other so I won't be able to teach her. I do think she will go to a range and get some training and my question was where does she start. Every person I taught to shoot was with a .22, I'm imbarased I even thought differently this time. The facts, it easy to operate, fun and cheap to shoot will instill confidence and with training she'll move on to bigger and better wepons. Though not a great SD caliber she will shoot it and be comfortable with it.

    She had a security camera system and aded more motion sencor lights. The K Bar, was my deciesed friend's and will be tucked onto side of her nightstand nicely. It's more a confidence tool but, when she told me where it was going to be and how she'd use it, I was confident in her abilities. I had never thought of bear spray and think it's a fantastic idea. I will pass that on, the fact that bear spray can reach 30 feet makes it a perfect deterant.

    I didn't like the gas chamber either.
    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,676 Senior Member
    Keep in mind, if she sprays bear spray in her room……..it’s likely going to become a “gas chamber” itself. The whole room. 😳
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    Zee said:
    Keep in mind, if she sprays bear spray in her room……..it’s likely going to become a “gas chamber” itself. The whole room. 😳
    Yep.....this....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
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