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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a friend who recently lost her husband, is concerned about her safety and is interested in a handgun. She is competent and I have no concerns about her sincerity or capability. I will be training her in the use and care of the weapon.

I talked to a local gun shop and they showed me a S&W model 642, which fires the .38 special:
Model 642 | Smith & Wesson

Based on my discussions with my friend the S&W seems like a pretty good choice. Her concern is home defense, and occasionally a purse carry. She wants something small, light and easy to use.

I figured I should do some more research and when doing web searches everyone seems to prefer the various semi-auto 9mm or .380 weapons.

I have no problem with the semi-autos and they are my choice for protection. I also believe that the idea of a revolver being more reliable is not as true as it used to be with today's modern weapons, so I'm not hung up on that.

Years ago I got my wife a Colt Detective Special II and she couldn't hardly pull the trigger, so that was a poor choice on my part. I have never handled the S&W 642 so have no idea what trigger pull is like on it. You can get it with a pink grip so I'm assuming that Women is their target market.

I'm curious what other have figured out about this, any reason why popular belief seems to favor semi-autos? Any reason why this S&W 642 wouldn't be a reasonable choice? Any comments in general?
 

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Howdy and welcome to the forum. How did she come to pick the 642? What guns to you have?

You should start her on safe gun handling and safety procedures. The best thing for her would be to get familiarization with a gun at the local range with a trusted friend. Any volunteers, I see your hand up.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Howdy and welcome to the forum. How did she come to pick the 642? What guns to you have?

You should start her on safe gun handling and safety procedures. The best thing for her would be to get familiarization with a gun at the local range with a trusted friend. Any volunteers, I see your hand up.
Right, I'm with you on training and safety, not a problem there. I have a bunch of semi-autos so "try before you buy" is one sided with me. The revolvers I own are the DS II and a 44 Mag, not good training weapons for a small hand. The local ranges around here don't rent weapons and all my pals shoot things that aren't suitable for my friend. I don't have much in the way of try it first options.

I'm really more interested in feedback about the S&W, or why online articles seem to favor the semi-autos.

I got the idea of the S&W from a guy in a gun shop, they had all kinds of weapons but claimed this one is nice for my needs. It is a really nice looking piece, hammerless, smooth, etc.
 

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Hello
General opinion around this forum.
Take her to some firearm dealers to see what they have and that work for her.
Take her to a range that rents firearms. Some dealers have a range, They sell and rent.
It is going to be up to her what works and pleases her.
 

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A few years ago, my wife purchased a S&W Airweight 642 and after taking it to the range a couple of times, she realized she hated the gun. The recoil was nasty and hurt her wrist when she shot it. She traded it for one of my pistols (I didn't have much say in the trade.) I sold the 642 shortly after that.

I suggest a Bersa Thunder 380 instead. The recoil isn't bad and it can be carried without much effort.
 

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a pocket sized 9mm (or 380 if she has troubles racking a 9mm pistol) should also fit the bill. A revolver is wider then a pistol for taking up space in a purse or concealment if carrying. Have her try holding some at the lgs then renting some at the local range. nothing like a custom fit!
 

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Live Free
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Since it sounds like there is no place to rent and try firearms in your vicinity, I would suggest letting her handle some firearms at a gun shop to get a feel for what she might be comfortable with. I would avoid picking a gun for her, that often does not work well in the end. If there is anyway to let her get a feel of a few guns at the range, maybe with trusted friends, I would suggest that so she can sample a variety. That will help her make her own decision.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the opinions, having her try things out at the shop seems like the right thing to do. I guess with a semi-auto it will come down to her ability to operate the slide. I had her try my Beretta 9mm and she had trouble operating it, small hands and minor arthritis made it difficult for her. That's what got me thinking about the revolver, I had forgotten I had her try that before posting originally. I think I will follow up as suggested and just handle several different weapons at the shop. That will probably narrow down the scope of the problem significantly.

Thanks for the posts.
 

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Picking a gun for another person is not usually a good idea. Some things to note:

Since you can't have her test fire any revolvers, etc., at least take her to a gun shop and have her dry fire a few. That will at least give her the feel of the trigger and how hard it is to pull it back.

By the same token, have her rack the slides on a couple of autos and see how that goes. Note that the way a woman racks the slide is better if she does it slightly different than how a man typically does it. That could make or break the deal.

Remember, a light weight gun is going to recoil harder than a heavier frame gun. Smaller does not equal better or easier to use. The problem comes with practicing. If she hates the gun, she won't practice with it. That translates to, she won't carry it, either.

Some modern .380 ammo is plenty good for self defense. Might be worth trying a couple of them, too. Personally, I think 9mm is the smallest you should go.

If she is only occasionally going to carry out of the house, is it necessary to go to a small gun anyway? Get a bigger gun that she can physically handle and if she can manipulate it and shoot it at the range, she'll be fine with not having to conceal it.

--Wag--
 

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I always have questions. I get accused of being nosey or just want to annoy people with questions. I am actually interested in the information contained in the reply to my questions. That discussion got rekindled talking to an ex NY'er before lunch. Somehow I asked him how he got to small town WV before he resettled to the ATL area. When we were talking about big business' in the middle of nowhere. He mentioned WV being different and that's why I was asking going from Brooklyn to small town WV is more than culture shock. I jokingly asked if his dad was in he witness protection program and he never answered so I said okay he is in the witness protection program. Anyway, I get sidetracked easy. All that to set up my real question.

Where are you at?

I live in the big city so every range I go to has some type of gun rental. I also had a conversation with another co-worker this morning who I talked to about taking to the range and he said he was saving up for a shotgun, handgun and semi-auto rifle. He brought it up as he was leaving and I reminded him I have those guns and the open invitation is he buys the ammo and pays his own range fees and he can try all the guns he wants. I told him we'll talk later.
 

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I guess with a semi-auto it will come down to her ability to operate the slide.
I had her try my Beretta 9mm and she had trouble operating it, small hands and minor arthritis made it difficult for her.
Thanks for the posts.
Find a Beretta 3032 Tomcat to try out.
 
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(y)
I could argue with you about the reliability of revolvers over semi, but I won't. The big advantage of revolver are ease of use and near instinctive or at least easy to understand and operate. However, the 642, 442, C.A. Undercover lite, etc. isn't it. Light weight, minimal sights, snub nose revolvers are an expert/advanced shooters weapon. An all steel 3inch revolver (2.75 M66 or SP101) loaded with .38 is a much better choice. JMHO better still is quit mucking about with handguns for HOME defense and get her (her choice) a shotgun or pistol caliber carbine and a handgun for ccw. Handguns are for when you can't carry a long gun. I know I am about to start a war of words.... don't discount the .22lr. The job of Joe/Jane public is to stop the bad guy for doing what they are doing. NOT to DRT, anchor, or place into custody or anything else. Ya I know when we are attacked by a gang of 300lbs methhead bikers, zombies, and a cell of terrorists then one needs, (insert your favorite fantasy handgun here) in order to not only survive but save the world as we know it.:)
BIG (y) for helping out. But in the end remember it is her choice.
 

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As for small revolvers, an air weight is a good way to turn off a new shooter to guns. They are snappy. I like that little 3” Taurus Stainless Defender 856 I have. 6 shots, 38 +P capable, compact. It’s got a stainless frame so it’s weight makes it a lot more comfortable to shoot than any air weight.

Air gun Trigger Machine gun Gun barrel Revolver
 

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As for small revolvers, an air weight is a good way to turn off a new shooter to guns. They are snappy. I like that little 3” Taurus Stainless Defender 856 I have. 6 shots, 38 +P capable, compact. It’s got a stainless frame so it’s weight makes it a lot more comfortable to shoot than any air weight.

View attachment 140849
I like your pick!
 

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Thanks for the opinions, having her try things out at the shop seems like the right thing to do.
Thanks for the posts.
I just will add my two cents.
Go with her to look at guns and insist that she shoots it before she buys.
There are a few salesmen who will sell her something she may not like.
This is not something to be rushed into, especially something that she wants and would rely on for self-defense.

Handling a gun in a store is one thing, but firing a gun without flinching is another.
The S&W 642 is a great gun.....but it will be painful to shoot making it unlikely that she would practice with.
The EZ series from S & W offers both a .380 and 9mm......easy to rack and balanced well enough to shoot comfortably.
A Bersa Thunder in .380 would also be less of a challenge to shoot.
But in my experience there are a lot of well sized 9mm that are comfortable to carry and shoot.
The M&P series, the Taurus G series, The Sig's.....all fit well into carry situation and are not hard to shoot or carry.
You're a good friend to help her with this.
 
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