Defense Choices

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Bisley posted this 11 February 2016

I inherited a 2-inch Smith and Wesson 5-round J-frame in .38 special. It feels too small for my hand but my wife loves it. When it warms up we're going to take range safety classes and get some firing time. Thankfully, this is not an area where you have to carry a gun, although I respect those members of my church who do and I understand their concern.

I stand 6'2” at 185-195 pounds depending on the season. I need something practical.

I see where Ruger has introduced a Lightweight Commander Model, 28 ounces, and I am told it will fit, feed, fire and function with any ammunition you give it including handloads. They are at the top of my price range (800.00 by the time fees and taxes are paid). Remington's Commander model is even pricier and heavier (Closer to four figures). I am not finding many used models of these guns at Bud's Gun Shop, or Gunbroker. What I am finding are Para-ordnance commander-size midels -- church members who have experience told me they jammed with even Winchester White Box .45s. I also see Rangemaster Champion (4” barrel) by The Springfield Armory.

I find used Springfields and Paras listed quite a bit. I would be willing to get a used gun, and have a gunsmith tune it to make it reliable. Do any other members and fellow casters have experience with these guns and what can you guys tell me?

Is the grip size on a J-frame Smith an issue (This is the least expensive option)? Does the Ruger 1911 Lightweight commander really eat everything? What about the Remingtons? They seem heavy, and are the most expensive. Springfield Rangemaster champion and Para-ordnance -- can they take gunsmith tuning to make them reliable and what are the most common problems?

I know that's a lot, but I have time to choose.

Bisley

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M3 Mitch posted this 11 February 2016

I don't have first hand experience with any of the gats you are looking at, but, I think if the Ruger meets your needs as it is, right out of the box, for a carry gun, maybe this is not the best place to try to save a buck by buying a used gun (assuming it's on the market because it has issues) and “fix” it after the fact. Ruger stands behind their products well, beyond that they generally work well right out of the box.

That said, there are plenty of smiths out there that know how to make a 1911 do what you want it to do. That and it's an inherently good design IMHO, not hard to get one to “run” well.

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R. Dupraz posted this 11 February 2016

Bisley:          Some questions to consider first.             The first question that needs to be answered is, am I willing and prepared to take a life if I have to? Have I made that decision? A sobering thought to be sure.              What is the intended purpose of this gun? Home defense, kept in a vehicle or concealed  daily carry? What is practical can vary with each of the above. And also can vary with the seasons because summer clothing can make concealability a problem. And what can happen then is the gun is not carried which of course defeats the purpose. If for home or the vehicle, the choices of type of HG pretty much are whatever you feel comfortable with. A personal defense firearm, particularly a carry gun is a compromise between effectiveness and concealability.             I have no experience with the pistols that you mentioned except that I  used a S&W j frame 3'' 38 special and a Colt 19ll combat commander as a second car guns at different times years back. But did carry the S&W while off duty. The Colt ended up staying in my car because of it's size and weight.           And yes, those small guns are a lot harder to control and shoot accurately but are easier to conceal. They demand continual practice as it should with any handgun.   Only hits on the target count no matter what gun you use. Whatever gun you chose, learn to shoot it well.            My universal all time choice would be the Colt 1911 45 ACP without a doubt. But not always practical.                  

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358156hp posted this 11 February 2016

Personally, I would never accept a claim that any gun will feed anything.The stakes are potentially too high with a self-defense gun. Paras reputation was spotty at best. Some guns worked well, some should have never been released from the factory.

It looks like you have already decided on the 1911 platform, have you had much experience shooting them? The way your OP is written makes me think that you are just getting started with shooting, and because of its potential complexities, I'd suggest you start out with something different from a 1911, they often make a challenging choice for shooters just starting out. One famous writer refers to them as the King of the Feedway Stoppages. I've been running them for decades now, and feel that can be a pretty accurate description, if you end up with a 1911 that's not 100% in all areas. As much as I respect Ruger, there are other viable options as well.

There are a staggering number of different grip designs for your J-Frame as well. If you're looking at making a change there, consider going shopping at local gun stores, and handle similar guns with different grips to get a feel for some of the options (no pun intended).

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OU812 posted this 11 February 2016

A Lightweight Commander chambered in 9mm would be nice, but I like revolvers even more. Revolvers do not jam and leave spent cases lying around.

GP100 maybe?

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Westhoff posted this 11 February 2016

I spent years shooting Bullseye Pistol competition. I shot my Colt 1911 in both .45 and CF classes. I earned my Distinguished Expert .45 medal in 1982. My choice for a carry gun was a Model 1911 Lightweight Officer's model.

UNTIL.... I tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder. I'm right handed, so it shouldn't make any difference.

Except, suppose I had a round that failed to fire, or jammed, or any of the goofy things that (probably wouldn't) but just might happen that required two hands to clear, and one of my arms was out of commission for some reason?

I started carrying a 2 inch barrel S&W concealed hammer .38 revolver. Never a failure to feed because they're already chambered, and if I got a failure to fire, pulling the trigger again fires the next round. I don't need two hands with this one.

I now vote for a revolver for a carry gun.

Wes

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 11 February 2016

babble follows :: i bot my wife a sw ladysmith 25 years ago . rubberized grips .. it has never jammed, and she can rack it faultlessly ( g ) .

when my friends buy a new gun we have a neighborhood shootout ... ruger 1911 ..makarov .. beretta 92... ladysmith 38 ... ruger 22 auto ... dan wesson 22 revolver .. sw 357 6xx ;; ... etc. plus whatever they buy new . when the gals try everything they go back to the sw j frame .

the ladies cant rack a glock, 1911, beretta, makarov , or springfield dsm ....

the rugers 1911 have never jammed on factory ammo but will on handloads that look just like factory ... so i think they are marginal .... of coarse that first one might be enough ...

i love my beretta 92 ... never jammed in 30 years now ... but dang it is big . as are the 1911 s .

my new choice now for an auto would be the springfield dsm ...with the new bullets ( gold dots etc. ) any caliber . the 9 would be nice if your wife had to grab it sometime .

i think the biggest mistake buyers make is coming home with something they can't or won't carry every day and everywhere . you wouldn't go too wrong having 2 of those j frames in the family !!

oh, i discovered a system that lets me carry a 92, 1911, security six completely comfortably ... i forget i have one stuck on me .. pm me if, not an advert ... heh ...

ken

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RicinYakima posted this 11 February 2016

Carrying a 1911 requires a holster: inside the belt (all new pants) or outside (no more tucked in shirts). How often are you going to need it? I am no longer “on the job". So, S&W J frame, in the strong side pants pocket. Look for old Herrett's “Gunfighter” or “Detective” grips. Do you really need at gun, or “gaming it"? Unless you are willing to go armed every day and every where, just put a rifle in your truck. FWIW, Ric

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Scearcy posted this 11 February 2016

I own two colt 1911s and I like them. I use them only with factory ammo for SD purposes.  They are not suitable for the female members of my family.  Maybe yours is different.  I have a Springfield XD45 that will feed anything but I can't find a decent holster for it.  Its still a little much for my daughters.  My next in line is a CZ 85.  It also feeds anything but is a large pistol.  The girls like to shoot this one. Which do I use?  I carry a GP100 in the field.  A wolf killed a dog in broad daylight within the city limits of Duluth yesterday.  I had more bears than bucks on my trail cams last year.  If I carry a gun for 2 legged predators, which is fairly rare, it is a SW J frame or a Sig 380.

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tturner53 posted this 11 February 2016

I would bet that most women could comfortably rack the slide on a full size gun with heavy spring IF they were schooled in the right technique. The 'slingshot' hold won't cut it for people with less strength. Anyway, take a look at Rock Island's new baby 1911 .380. Might be just the ticket.

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Brodie posted this 11 February 2016

Bisley,  I'll add my 2 cents in, although my advice is worth what you are paying for it.  I own two 1911 type 45's a Colt Commander an original Colt 1911 with target sights and grips.  I have and do carry both at times.  What I normally carry is a High Standard double action 22WMR Derringer.  Of the three pistols the derringer is the most difficult to shoot accurately  and the easiest to carry.  By the way I don't worry about the High Standards effectiveness on attackers; it is devastating. 

RicinYacima has a good point:  “Concealed carry of a large hand gun will require adjustment of your wardrobe."  If you are going to use a weapon to protect your home get a used working 12ga. shot gun preferably a pump.  First off it is more accurate in low light conditions and using small shot, ie. #6 or #7.5 , it will be very effective at home ranges and not shoot through walls very well.  Some of my handgun loads could conceivably shoot through my home long ways and kill my neighbor next door.  Something else to think about.

The first handgun my wife ever shot was that Commander with GI hard ball in it.  Janet hit a soda can repeatedly at 25 yds from the first shot.  Teach your wife to rack the slide by : 1. Holding the pistol close to her body .  2. Pull back with the hand on the slide while simultaneously pushing the pistol forward with the hand on the grip.  That method works the best of any I have ever tried.

When we walk in the Natl Forest (only 200 yds from my door) I carry the commander with solid bullets in it or a 41 mag , or 45Colt single action.  It town I generally carry my 22 mag.  All that said I am now looking for a lighter more easily concealed more powerful weapon that will be comfortable in my big hands. 

Practice Practice Practice.  Only bullets that hit their target in a vital spot count.  Fast, loud or spectacular NOISES are just that.  They don't count.  Accuracy does.  If you have to use it , and don't draw it unless you HAVE TO USE IT, be deliberate don't fool around just put the bullet where it will be the most effective. Brodie

B.E.Brickey

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delmarskid1 posted this 12 February 2016

I have a Charter Bulldog .44 special. With healthy 200 grain loads it is shootable but not fun. I hope I never have to use it but it will work. It's almost as large as a k-frame Smith and Wesson but has a 2 1/2” barrel. With the small wood grips it is easy to put in a coat pocket or in the waist of my jeans (for a while at least). It holds 5 rounds and speed loaders are available. I also have a Browning 1910 in .32 acp. It will fit anywhere. I keep it in an old flip phone holster on a belt clip. It's a lot lacking in power they say but who really wants to get shot with anything?

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Ed Harris posted this 12 February 2016

The factory grips on the J-frame S&W leave alot to be desired. At minimum I would install a Tyler T-grip. Have your wife learn to shoot the gun using wadcutters for both practice and carry. If her hand hurts and the recoil is still objectionable look for a set of Uncle Mike's Boot grips or Eagle Secret Service grips.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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358156hp posted this 13 February 2016

To expand on Eds post a bit, S&W used Uncle Mikes grips on a number of production guns. They were rubber copies of the Spegel made wood grips, and were available in two different styles. The 38 Spl J frames got grips with two finger grooves, and the 357 mag guns got grips that were a bit longer, and had three finger grooves. While bulkier because of the extra length, the 3 finger groove 357 mag grips always seemed a bit more comfortable to me, and to others. If a shorter grip is desired, you could always use the 2 groove 38 Spl grips, or my favorite compact grip is Pachmayers “Compac Professional” grip, but my hands are likely much larger than your wifes hands are.

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TRKakaCatWhisperer posted this 13 February 2016

FWIW I have the model 36 chiefs special 5 shot 38spcl. My wife borrowed it often enough I bought her one. Both of us have the grip inserts. Two different types - they fit each of our grips - she's 5-0 and I'm 6-4.

Try several.

When I want something bigger, it's a 5 shot 44 spcl by Taurus. Had the S&W in 44 but the Taurus is MUCH smoother.

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Pigslayer posted this 14 February 2016

I have a Taurus snubby six shot, .38 Special revolver that I just love. I have big hands but the grips lay in the palm of my hand really nice. It's very comfortable to shoot and likes wadcutters really well.

If someone else had of done to me what I did to myself . . . I'd have killed him. Humility is an asset. Heh - heh.

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Brodie posted this 14 February 2016

I bought a LCR in 38 special about a year after they came out.  My wife likes it but complains about the recoil even with light loads.  So when we practice she does most of it with a 2inch Smith Kit gun in 22 rf.  It has worked pretty well, but I have a little trouble getting her to shoot as often as I would like or to shoot life like targets. Brodie

B.E.Brickey

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R. Dupraz posted this 14 February 2016

S&W 2” air weight hammerless 38 Special rated for +P

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Eutectic posted this 31 August 2016

If you are fixed on a medium or full size auto, get one used by a police department and use the ammunition they use. Let them do the reliability testing, they will do a better job! I have carried autos and will not carry one until it has fired 200 rounds of the carry ammo without a failure. I do not care if the model has gone 100% for a dozen people, yours may be different. I have carried 22's, 32's and 380s. Currently pocket size 380's are available, so if you want a small auto they are caliber of choice. Personally I like revolvers, and my wife does too. Smith J frames are our choice, they need an aftermarket grip, we use Pachmeyers. If you pocket carry, get a pocket holster. It will keep the gun cleaner and will present it in the pocket so you can draw it easily.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 31 August 2016

on the light side ...we watch * ncis new orleans * ...and go berserk when agent mcgiver has to go get his heat out of a file cabinet when he leaves to get the bad guys ...

we laugh so hard we forget to take the rest of the episode seriously .

what these new psychological cop shows need is * special agent Dirty Harry * ... wears his dang gun even in the shower ... ha ...

ken

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markshere2 posted this 08 December 2019

Necrothreading.....

Full size rugers from the P series are rugged and reliable and affordable used.

I have several .45s in different models for my use.  Bought a couple 9mm models for daughters to use.

All function flawlessly with my cast loads.

They are my bedside guns.

 

My carry gun is a taurus 357 snubby, unless i have to go to an uban area. Then its a glock .40. 

 

  

 

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