Tuesday, February 09, 2016


I've been seeing a lot of older people suddenly deciding it was time to buy a gun to start carrying. The stereotype of the demographic is "In their sixties or older, 5'4"-5'8", a hunnert 'n' somethin' pounds, two thirds of them women."

And the new crop of small single-stack nines is the Cabbage Patch Kid of guns for this demographic. Glock 43s, Smith & Wesson Shields, Sig Sauer 938s...they're selling like hotcakes.

Thing is, these guns of necessity all have fairly stiff recoil springs. Further, they have small slides that are hard-to-impossible to get a whole-hand over-the-top grasp on, meaning that getting these new shooters up to speed on the manual of arms is frustrating for them and for their teachers.

Then there's the elephant in the room...

I was shooting on the range after work the other day and a gentleman was on the lane to my right, shooting the Glock 43 he'd recently purchased. He called me over three times "Miss, my gun has jammed." And I'd clear the stovepipe or double feed and explain that he really needed to get a death grip on the gun. He was about 5'5", in his late seventies, and obviously playing through some pain in his hands.

I explained recoil operation, and how the gun needed a stable platform to work against, but really, the mild-shooting Federal RTP or CCI Blazer Brass 115gr FMJ ammo is running right at the ragged edge of having enough ass to cycle that gun. It's running a light bullet at probably 1,050fps out of that stubby barrel and is probably barely at the limit for reliable functioning.

Thing is, how many of the people buying these guns are then being turned loose with Hornady Critical Defense Lite or Federal Personal Defense Low-Recoil personal protection loads that have barely enough steam to run the gun if it's held in an ideal two-handed grip?

("Just get 'em a revolver!" says the person in the back, who apparently thinks arthritic fingers work better with a 12-lb double-action trigger than they do with a heavy recoil spring. If there's a bigger disaster than an untrained shooter with elderly eyes and hands being handed a lightweight revolver with a heavy trigger and vestigial sights, I've never seen it.)