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My grandma has expressed interest in owning a firearm to keep in her nightstand . I was thinking along the line of a semi-auto .380. She is a very capable woman and has shot firearms in the past. I think a dual action revolver is just too cumbersome. She is about 5ft tall and 100lbs. Any other opinions out there.
 

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The issue with "what gun for my wife/mom/grandma..." is Glock guys are gonna say get a Glock, 1911 fans will tell you there is nothing better than John Moses Browning's finest creation and there's always the old guy in the back yapping away about "wheelguns".

It dosen't really matter what you, I or anyone else thinks she would/could shoot best.
What matters most is the handgun she shoots best.

If you have a public range in your area where you can rent several handguns for her to try, take here there and have her shoot several then get her the one she finds easiest to shoot.

As for the double action revolver, she should at least try one. Its "point and click" like most striker fired automatic pistols, with a set of Crimson trace grips she'd be all set.

Not to start a caliber war but a .38 would be much better.
 

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To expand a bit on what Twigg said:

She absolutely must pick out her own gun. We can suggest options you might not have thought about, but ultimately it's her gun.

Size is a real big issue for a concealed-carry gun, but not so much for a nightstand gun. Comfort and controllability become far more important. Part of controllability is the ability to operate the gun easily, not just control its recoil.

And on that subject, there are a few reasons to not get a .380; power is one, but relative recoil also counts. It seems counter-intuitive, but the .380 pistols frequently have recoil that is sharper than 9x19 (9mm Luger) pistols, even though they are significantly less powerful. The locked breech design of the 9x19s helps damp the recoil.

Although I'm a dyed-in-the-wool 1911 fan, I do not recommend them to most people. I'll just sit next to Twigg in the back of the room and join him yapping about wheelguns: a double-action revolver is one of the most simple, useful tools ever invented by mankind. Small-framed women of my acquaintance have universally fallen in love with a 3 inch barrelled J-frame sized .38 Special.
 

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There are several new .380 Semi autos on the market that are also locked breach design including the Ruger LCP and the Smith &Wesson Bodyguard both of which have a quite bearable trigger pull of about 5-6lbs. Both are fairly easy for a female to rack the slide on and both are also available with and optional built in laser. Trust me, the recoil on a .38 snub nose revolver is much more severe than a Ruger LCP.380. As for the .380 being underpowered, I guess no one told that to the Nazi Gestapo and SS officers who carried the Walther PPK.
 

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Ahh, quite true, but the reason they are locked breech is that they are tiny and light. The designers went to locked breech specifically so that the guns could be made smaller and lighter. Small and light makes for increased recoil, regardless of the locking system.
A straight blowback Bersa .380 has far less felt recoil than a Ruger LCP locked breech .380, because the LCP is tiny and weighs almost nothing.

And we'll just have to disagree on the recoil issue of a snub .38 v. an LCP. Sure, you can make a snub recoil a lot more, but not until you make the ammo more powerful than a .380 ACP. At similar ballistics, the revolver's felt recoil is the same or less.
However, I know you'll agree with me that the revolver has the distinct advantage of being able to reliably shoot everything from light wadcutter training loads to full-house defensive ammo, whereas an auto has a much more limited range of useable ammo.

Eurocops in the '30s and '40s carried .380, so that makes it a good choice today? C'mon woodstock, that's a specious argument and you know it. Shall I counter with the NKVD's use of the Nagant revolver in 7.62x38R? Eurocops carried .32 ACP at least as often as .380 ACP, and U.S. police of that era frequently carried various .32 revolvers, but you aren't suggesting .32 ACP or .32 S&W (or 7.62 Nagant) are good choices for a bedside gun, are you?

Don't get me wrong, I own an LCP and a P3AT and a Smith 640 Airweight, and pocket carry all of them (interchangeably, not all at once :D). But none of them are bedside guns, and that's the topic here.
 

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It's funny that you bring up the Bersa. My neighbor has a Bersa .380 and it absolutely hurts my hand to shoot it. The LCP is quite mild in comparison to me. As for making the .38 ammo more powerful than a .380....? Is there any .38 ammo that is less powerful than a .380? Not to my knowledge. I am talking about comparing something like Hornady Critical Defense loads in .38 with the same factory offering in .380. The reference to the "Eurocops in the '30s and '40's" was just an example to those who always claim a .380 isn't powerful enough to do the job. The round is plenty capable as long as you are capable of using it properly. I also have a NAA .22 WMR that I carry quite often and have every confidence in it's ability to do the job. I will agree that tiny and light are not necessary or perhaps even wanted in a bedside gun. That is where my Kahr P40 spends most of it's time.
 
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If you think she would be happy with an auto, take a look at the Sig 380's. Full metal frame on some so a little tamer recoil. You/She might even want to consider a 9mm from the same Sig line. Plenty of mild rounds and the ammo is cheaper so you can get here to shoot it and be comfortable with it.

All in All though a .38 wheelgun that fits her well is worth a look.
 

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If you want a 380 - go with a CZ 83
It should fit her well.

Best thing is to have her hold different guns in her hand, better if she can test fire several!
That way she gets what fits her and she knows she can control it.

I have 2 "nightstand guns" for myself - a springfield 1911 in 9mm (ultra compact) and a Springfield govt. 1911 45acp. I do own 2 CZ-75b's great gun but for some reason I like them in the case not in a drawer.
 

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An 80 year old female friend asked me for help choosing a home defense pistol a few years ago. We went to a local gun store and with my help SHE decided on a Berretta tomcat (I think that was the model) in .380. She did not have the strength to pull back the slide on most semi-autos so she liked the fact that a loaded mag could be kept in the gun with the empty barrel tipped up. She could manually load a single round in the barrel and snap it into battery, getting the pistol ready in about 5 seconds. I don't own one of these pistols but she really liked it and it was one of VERY few semi-autos she could handle. And to throw my hat in PigBat's ring, She MUST absolutely pick out her own gun. So take her to the store and let her handle several. Better yet find a place that will let you shoot a representative example and have her SHOOT IT!
 
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