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This morning, I had the honor and pleasure of shooting with a 75-year-old army vet. A couple of years ago, Mr. Madden’s back went out on him, but good. As you can see from this video, his shooting—a former source of pride via a large collection of .45s—has gone South. Move the Divine Mr. M back a few feet, and he can’t hit the paper. He was shooting my Springfield XD-M 3.8 9mm. Recoil’s an issue but not the issue. Weight more. But a lighter gun wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the barrel wobble problem. So . . . what? What gun should he carry for self-defense—if any. What gun should he use for home defense?

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  1. I would suggest a carbine of some sort.
    Really, a shoulder stocked handgun would be ideal, but that is an sbr.

    Solutions for elderly shooters are as personal as the problems
    they face.

    My own 70ish year old mother faced a similar problem:
    Her neiborhood went south, lots of thugs in the area.
    She refused to move, but was worried that she could no longer
    operate her .38special, due to advanced osteoporosis, leading to
    brittle bones.

    I thought that one of the small beretta autos, in .22 might be a solution,
    abet an imperfect one. She has problems using the slide on convenial
    autos, and the low recoil of the .22 would not break any bones.

    She preferred a walther p22, a much better weapon, but no tip up barrel.
    So she leaves it chambered all the time. A very imperfect solution,
    but it works for her.

  2. A light carbine, like the 4 pound Kel-Tec Sub-2000 or the more extravagant 5 3/4 pound Beretta CX4 Storm, might be easy for him to aim. Shooting 9mm, recoil should not be an issue. He needs to experiment to see what works for him.

  3. As for me thank the old vet for for his service ( a vet) bad back and all. A .22 should do nicely at close range with a laser. One shot stops may not happen, but, nobody wants to be shot with a .22 anywhere.

  4. BTW as so many of us “boomer” generation continues to age, there are going to (hopefully) be LOTS of us – let’s work on a solution.

  5. The sig mosquito 22 is very light with almost no recoil. It’s also easy to shoot with great accuracy, and with a ten round magazine you can really unload on the badguy.

  6. taurus judge on aluminum frame revolver. with win pdx-1 ammo. easy and simple to load, a little bit of spread on the discs and shot , and can be used single action for a lite trigger pull. do not discount the 410, I have killed big deer with it. ther judge carbine offers the same advantages

  7. A 9mm carbine would be my choice. I think any handgun is going to offer the disadvantages that are pronounced with a person’s aging.

    Something akin to the Beretta Storm carbine or Kel-tec carbine is with 30 rd M9 or Glock mags is going to be the best possible solution. The stock and the heavier weight is going to limit the amount of “wobble”. Add a light and a red dot and you’re set.

    As for a carry gun, I can’t be as sure. If a subcompact 9mm isn’t right due to weight, and to a lesser extent, recoil, there’s outside the .22 available. Have him try the FN SeveN or a Kel-tec PMR.

    Are there any budgetary issues?

  8. For home, a Sub-2000. Recoil is very minimal and my guess is that using two hands and bracing it against his shoulder, the shooter in the video would be able to handle it easily.

    For carry, it looks like no 9mm is going to be an optionm with problems with either weight or recoil. The P-22 would be an excellent compromise. Very light. Very little recoil. Small and concealable. A PPK or Bersa to get up to .380 would be a good option, too, but recoil may be a problem depending on the shooter.

    Yes, .22 isn’t ideal, but ideal isn’t an option given the limitations for this shooter cohort. The gun you have and can use effectively is better than the one you leave at home because it’s too heavy or hurts to shoot.

  9. I think miforest is on the right track, taurus Judge for carry, and a short 12 gauge for home defense. No disrespect to Mr M. but that type of shake isn’t likely to get better with age. I think Buckshot would be the best option for him in a defense situation, provided that he can handle the recoil.

  10. So last weekend I was at the range with my buddy Ben Shotzberger. We were headed to the range and were passed on the way in by an older woman, she had to be at least 80. We got set up on the rifle range to sight in his new AR when we heard “cannon” fire coming from the pistol range, accompanied by laughing. We stopped what we were doing and looked over to the pistol range. Imagine our shock when we saw the only person on the range was the 80 year old woman shooting a S&W 629 in .44 magnum and hitting center of mass every shot. The laughter was coming from the younger guys standing in awe and remarking that they “would never try to break into her house”. she was a seriously bad ass “granny”.

    • I guess my point would be that he needs to try out a bunch of options and go with whatever is comfortable with him. What works for granny might not work for him and vice versa.

  11. You know, it looked to me like he may not hit a 10 ring consistently, but I still don’t want the dude shooting at me. He’s doing pretty well all things considered. That said, for carry, maybe a revolver in .22 magnum. No slides to rack, and a hotter load than .22 LR. Taurus makes a sweet one, but he would want to have the DA trigger weight lowered by a good gunsmith. For home defense, maybe a Saiga .410 semi auto, or if 7 pounds and a little kick is an issue, a 10/22 with light weight synthetic stock and an after market higher cap mag.. Any reliable gun is better than dialing 911 and waiting…

  12. FN FiveseveN, “kicks like a slightly peeved Gerbil” and he would have twenty rounds. The slide is very smooth as well. Pair it with FN’s PS90 carbine for home (30 or 50 round mags) and he will have the same ammo in both.
    If price is an issue (The FiveseveN costs more than the PS90 some places!, and the ammo is about $.40 a round) I would recommend a (This really hurts me to say) 4-5 inch revolver in .38, if you can find one with a trigger pull soft enough for him.

  13. There are lots of correct answers; here is my 79 year old mother’s situation, and her solutions.
    She has a maimed left hand, and arthritis, so racking a slide on most pistols is impossible for her. She still wanted something larger than a .22, but learned to shoot with a Walther p-22 and a Ruger Single Six.
    Her house gun is a Ruger Blackhawk .45 convertible, which is easy to operate, and the recoil is no problem for her. She ran 100 rounds through it during her concealed carry class.

    Her carry gun for times she wants to be armed away from home, or around the house, is a Walther PK380. It is one of the easiest semi-autos to rack, and has digested hundreds of rounds with no malfunctions of any kind. Her holster is a Crossbreed. These two work for her, and she still shoots .22s to get in lots of trigger time. She also has a Crosman pellet pistol for indoor shooting during the winter.

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