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“I’d like to ask a serious question without getting all you macho boys and girl upset at me,” gun control advocate and blogger mikeb302000 asks in a comment underneath the post Sam vs. Joe Matafome’s Smith & Wesson Bone Collector. “Wasn’t that dangerous and stupid? Didn’t she almost lose control of the gun? It almost looked like those Youtube videos where the girl gets hit in the face from the recoil and all the boys are laughing and giggling. I know it wasn’t that, but almost . . .

“As willing and fearless as she is, isn’t there a point at which you say no, that particular gun with that particular round is too heavy for you? This would apply to younger shooters too, I would think, or even men who aren’t very strong.”

To help TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia help mikeb203000 understand the relative and interacting importance of gun size, gun weight/material, caliber, grain count and shooting technique, I’ve uploaded three videos: Sam dry firing the Bone Collector [top of the post], shooting the same S&W500 with a a 300-grain bullet [above], and a clip (not magazine) of Sam shooting Joe’s Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum [below] with .44 Specials. Note: Sam fired a 700-grain bullet in the previous Bone Collector post.

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  1. Personally, I have no problem with folks trying out any known safe weapon/load in an obviously well-controlled setting like this one. I doubt if the lady would choose any of these combinations for her personal firearm — and how do you know what you want if you don’t try it? This was a stunt, sort of, but I don’t see any harm in it. I presume she wanted to know how these weapons fire, and now she does.

    Women are usually sensible enough not to select more firearm than is optimum for their purposes. Men, not so much. Isn’t it funny how at the range, the smallest guys often have the largest handguns? Fortunately, I’m 6’3″ and 220 lbs, so I can bring a Ruger Mk II and have a good time.

  2. To clarify Sam’s motives . . .

    She’s an excellent markswoman and likes to shoot, period. She’ll try any gun. She also likes recoil—as you can see. Sam’s handy and not at all intimidated by our Benelli M2 with Double Ought buckshot.

    She was interested in the snub-nosed 500 as a carry gun. No kidding. Obviously, that’s a try before you buy idea. After Joe’s generous show and tell and shoot, Sam’s returned to her pre-lock Smith & Wesson 686. And loves it even more.

    She’s considering a 500 as a practice gun/range toy. While I await my lever action 500 rifle.

    • Realistically, the 686 is pretty much all the handgun any civilian, man or woman, actually requires, even for defense (which is not even a factor for me). Bad people don’t get any deader beyond .357 mag, and you have the economy of .38 Special for shooting rounds. Excellent choice.

      I understand the appeal of large caliber handguns, but that’s more about fun, not accuracy or practicality. Ka-boom. I wonder how many buyers factor in the cost of the ammo required to become proficient with these hand-cannons when they dive in at point of purchase. It’s expensive. Maybe that’s why so many seem to sit around gathering dust. That’s fine if you enjoy owning guns more than shooting them.

      • These large caliber handguns are for hunting and are extremely accurate. They really are a lot of fun to shoot, and I shoot all 3 every week. These babies don’t have time to collect dust and if you can’t afford to buy the ammo then you bought the wrong gun. It’s like someone buying a fancy sports car and then they can’t pay for the insurance or maintain it. These guns are only for EXPERIENCED SHOOTERS, this is not a toy and it can hurt you if not handled properly. I like big heavy guns, and I’m smaller than the average sized man. The 300 to 500 grains bullets are really easy to shoot because this gun weighs 82 oz empty, so the recoil is minimal. The 600 and 700 grains are make to kill bears, elephants, buffalo or as advertised ANY WALKING MAMMAL The recoil is still better than the airweight guns that hurt your hand more.

  3. I think it’s definitely important for people to try weapons that may be considered “overpowered” for them, in a safe environment of course. You have to learn and understand what your own personal limitations are. It’s all part of the education aspect of firearms.

  4. Beat me to it, RW. If Sam wants to shoot the big guns, she should try, if only to make her appreciate the controllability of smaller, standard calibers. My sister shoots a Bersa .380 which is too much gun for her since she admitted she’s afraid of it. She doesn’t carry it, if you’re wondering. I role her

  5. I told her she needs some time on my Single Six to learn basic shooting skills before shooting a light-weight gun.

  6. Can someone please address the main question: of control vs. gun size vs. weight vs. caliber vs. grains?

    • The grip fitting is important. I am very glad to see manufacturers finally bringing some adjustability. It used to be that if you were a small woman you were stuck with a .32 or 380 because nothing else fit. My wife will shoot anything you hand her, but controlled, accurate follow-ups are another story. We are looking at picking up a single stack 9 like the Kahr at some point, suggestions welcome.

      As well as handguns not fitting her hand well, long guns tend to be too front heavy when fired from a standing position. When shooting 00 buck out of an 870 her left arm gets tired from holding the fore end up before her right shoulder gets tired of the recoil.

  7. Part of the equation is mental; confidence in one’s skills. Part is physical; how large you are and what physical condition you are in. Part is training/experience.

    And much of it is the gun itself.

    There is no solid formula for who can handle how much gun. The shooter either masters the gun, or fails to do so. You can, however, identify likely trends and make a good guess about the outcome of a gun/shooter combination. Most people can handle a .22 handgun without any problems. A full-size steel .38 is easy to master if you have enough strength to hold it steady. But some guns sound better on paper than they perform in real life. Scandium/titanium snubnose .357 magnums, for example. I don’t know anyone who enjoys shooting them.

  8. Hey RF, who made the .500 lever gun you’re getting?

    I’ve been hoping somebody like Marlin or Taurus or Rossi or somebody would make an affordable .500 lever gun for several years now.

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