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6 Best Guns For Women With Arthritis

Shooting with arthritis is challenging. This article identifies the 6 best handguns for women with arthritis. If you’ve been living with arthritis, you understand better than most people how painful and difficult it can be to shoot and operate a firearm. This could put you at a significant disadvantage for using a gun for self-defense, fortunately, there are a number of defensive guns on the market from reputable gun manufacturers that are excellent choices for those of you struggling with arthritis.

There are several key criteria that handguns that must meet to be used by women with arthritis for self-defense. These criteria are:

  • They must be reliable
  • They must produce low recoil
  • The controls, such as the trigger, slide, and safety must require minimal force to operate

It is important to note that if you are going to use a .22 for self-defense, it’s very important that you be selective about the ammo that you choose.  It is wise to use high quality defensive hollow point ammunition with higher velocity. Some good brands are Hornady Critical Defense or the CCI Stinger rounds.

The UpLula (9mm – .45 ACP) and Baby Lula (.22 – .380) are great magazine loading assisters. Perfect for those with hand weakness.

6 Best Handguns For Women With Arthritis

Here are what I believe to be the 6 best defensive pistols for women with arthritis.  I selected these pistols because each of them come from a reliable manufacturer and are reliable. The below have controls that require minimal physical effort to operate in contrast to other guns on the market.

2 – Ruger SR22 .22 LR

The .22 LR may not be considered the best round for self-defense, but it can be used for that purpose if need be.  If you are a very recoil sensitive person especially, a .22 LR may be the best choice for a defensive firearm.

One example of a .22 LR pistol that would be a decent choice for defense is the Ruger SR22. This gun is heavily based off of the Walther P22 but is also known for being more reliable.  The SR22 has a 10+1 capacity, is small enough to conceal carry, and is large enough to fight with adequately.  

The slide is easy to rack to the rear and recoil is nearly non-existent thanks to the .22 LR chambering.

5 – Walther CCP M2 9mm

The Walther CCP is a blowback operated 9mm pistol with an 8+1 capacity that is well-known for having a slide that is very easy to rack back.  The pistol also has excellent ergonomics and a framed mounted thumb safety that is very easy to operate.

The CCP also utilizes what Walther calls ‘soft coil’ technology, which basically means that the pistol produces very minimal recoil when fired, at least when compared to competing firearms such has the Glock 43 or the Smith & Wesson Shield.

NOTE: buy the CCP M2 and not the M1, because the M2 has a much easier field stripping process.

6 – Walther PK380 .380 ACPWalther PK380

Another option from Walther, in a light caliber, is the Walther PK380 in .380 ACP.  This is a double action/single action hammer fired pistol. It is also very easy to rack back and was made so deliberately that way by Walther.

The capacity of the PK380 is 8+1. It comes with a paddle style magazine release allowing you to release the magazine with your thumb or your index finger.  It features a slide mounted safety lever as well.


4 – Smith & Wesson Shield EZ .380 ACP

The Smith & Wesson Shield EZ in .380 ACP was designed specifically for people with arthritis and those who have difficulty operating the controls on a semi-automatic defensive pistol.

The Shield EZ, being chambered for the .380 round, produces naturally less recoil than a comparable 9mm offering.  The slide is among the easiest to rack back on any semi-auto pistol on the market today. The 8 round stainless steel magazines feature tabs on both sides that make them significantly easier to load.


1 – Kel-Tec PMR-30 .22 Magnum

The Kel-Tec PMR-30 .22 Magnum is a very low recoil defensive pistol that also offers an astonishing 30 rounds of ammunition in the magazine, which is definitely more than enough for most if not all realistic defense situations.

This gun is a little large and may not be the best option for concealed carry. The trigger, however, is also very easy to pull and the slide is easy to rack back as well.  That’s not to mention that the .22 Magnum already produces a very low level of kick in comparison to other calibers.

All in all, the Kel-Tec PMR-30 is an excellent choice for those with arthritis looking for an easy-to-shoot and use defensive handgun.

3 – Smith & Wesson Model 351C .22 Magnum

It may be that you just don’t like the idea of using a semi-automatic pistol at all, and would prefer the simplicity and
inherent reliability of a revolver.  

If that’s case, your gaze will likely turn to snubnose revolvers such as the Smith & Wesson J-Frame, which is an excellent choice for concealed carry and self-defense. The only problem with most J-Frames for those with arthritis can be the recoil.  This can make the weapon unpleasant to shoot.


A good alternative would be to use a snubnosed revolver with a much lighter caliber that could still be used for self-defense, such as the .22 Magnum in the Smith & Wesson Model 351C.  This is one of the softest shooting snub nose revolvers on the market, and at an unloaded weight of just eleven ounces, the 351C can also be easily carried in a purse or a pocket without issue.

The 6 Best Handguns For Women With Arthritis Conclusion

The best handguns for women with arthritis will be a gun that is easy to shoot, produces low recoil, and that has controls that are not difficult to operate. Any one of the above six handguns meets that criteria effortlessly.

This article provided by EIC of Gun News Daily, Chris Browning

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57 thoughts on “6 Best Guns For Women With Arthritis

  1. Angela says:

    It sounds counter-intuitive, but as my hands/wrists have gotten worse I’ve gradually switched over to increasingly heavy, all-steel framed guns. I currently pretty much only shoot CZ’s – the bigger and heavier the better to absorb the shock. Typically put 400 rounds through each weekend with no ill-effects. With lighter guns I’m lucky if I can get through a magazine without being in pain.

  2. Probably the best is a Ruger LCR in .327 magnum. While the .327 puts out some recoil it also shoots the .32 H&R magnum and the .32 S&W Long.. Lots of choices. I love mine…..

  3. Joe Vest says:

    I am a 70 year old male who is used to carrying a 1911 and love that gun. However, I am now confined to a wheelchair and my muscle strength has become damaged to the point I cannot rack the slide on the semi autos I loved so much. I found the Smith and Wesson 9mm EZ just at Christmas. The slide and all other operations are amazingly easy to use. It’s the only 9 mm I could rack. It has easy loading magazines and the trigger is heavier than I was used to in my Kimber 1911, but it certainly is no problem. The load assist on the magazines are very nice as well. I never thought that would be an issue. Now one of my hobbies have been restored to me and I am blessed and happy to find a pistol that works for me.

    1. Michelle says:

      Thanks so much for sharing!!! I carry an EA. 38 revolver because I cannot rack a slide or load a magazine, but my. 38 is kinda heavy..

    2. Mario says:

      Joe – thanks for sharing! I’m 35 and suffer from a muscle disability, I’m excited to test out the S&W 9MM EZ as well! Glad to hear this firearm is easy to use. I carry a 1911 as well, but would like to move away from having to carry a cocked-and-locked firearm.

    3. Thu says:

      Hi Joe,
      S&W MP 9EZ pistols are sold out. They recommended me to have Colt mustang 380 auto. What do you think? Thank you.

    4. Denise McMillan says:

      Thank you for your posting! I’m 64, my daughter and I need a handgun. Is the brand you purchased comfortable for ladies? God bless!

  4. Shari Nelson says:

    I’m 58 and have an autoimmune disease that affects tendons in my wrists. Also my hands are stiff sometimes from rheumatoid arthritis. Any suggestions on which gun would be best for me? I’m home alone at night as my husband works 3rd shift. He leaves me his Ruger 9mm but it has a hard recoil that hurts my wrist. I pray if I ever need to use it for personal protection the adrenaline will help me ignore the recoil and shoot until they stop moving

    1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

      Hi Shari, I would take this list of guns and head over to a range or local gun shop to see if you are able to try any of these options (all great for hand weakness). I have personally shot the S&W M&P .380 Shield EZ and can say that it is one of the easiest guns to shoot and handle! Even with hand weakness, this gun had an easy trigger pull, the slide racked with little effort, and the recoil was low. It is definitely a gun that would be a good option to try out!

    2. Jeff says:

      One thing to keep in mind is shot placement. The gun needs to not hurt you otherwise you won’t hit where you want. For home defense/ personal protection while your husband is at work, maybe try a .410 shotgun. As far as hand guns if you’re ever going to concealed carry I would recommend a revolver they never jam or miss feed. This is especially important if you’re going to purse carry. My wife is looking to carry and I’m leaning towards the S&W 351C. I already own a couple S&W and they are a good product. The best gun for defense is the one that doesn’t hurt you to shoot and you’re accurate with. Good luck.

  5. Tom says:

    The Walthers and the S&W Shield EZ sound good to me. Another possibility might be the Beretta model 86 .380. It had a tip-up barrel, so there would be no problem racking a slide. It is no longer in production, but some online sites have advertised used ones at reasonable prices.

    A DA Ruger or Smith and Wesson revolver in .22, but on a medium frame (Ruger GP-100, S&W 648) should have manageable recoil, and if you can’t handle the DA trigger, you could manually cock the hammer.

    .22 and .380 lack the stopping power of a .40 or a .45, but they are better than nothing, especially for a person who can’t handle the big calibers.

    1. Zach Ginter says:

      With the advances in self defense ammo .380 9mm 40 and 45 all will perform roughly the same. The bullets are designed to pentrate 14-18 inches and dump their energy into the target. I would agree however that 22 lr and 22 magnum are noy goid defensive rounds. Yes they can kill but they lack the trauma producing capability to quickly stop an attacker. There have been many cases of people shot with a 22 that expired hours later after continuing to do bad things. The smallest calibers I reccomend are 380 or 38 special out of a 2 inch barrel. The edge going to the 380 due to the difficulty in shooting a small snub nose revolver. The Smith and Wesson 380 EZ would be an optimum pistol based on these criteria. I carried one for a year after I shattered my wrist. I have been teaching people to shoot for 20 plus years and the 380 EZ seems to be one of the better desugbd of the last 20 years.

    2. Bob says:

      I am 73 years young and what kind of gun should I get…22 or 25. Ore 9 mm….can anybody help me…

      1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

        Hi Bob,
        Have you tried our Gun Finder? It is a quiz that asks about your abilities and gives you a list of suggested guns to try! Here is the link The Well Armed Woman Gun Finder

      2. Bill says:

        Go to a range that rents guns, they will help you and you will be able to try a lot of different styles and calibers.

  6. Robin Wright says:

    I absolutely love the Ruger GP100. It’s a big gun., but the balance is incredible.

  7. Samantha says:

    IMO.. I think the Bond Arms BullPup 9 needs on this list. It’s by far the easiest of my pistols to operate. My 90 yo grandmother can slide it and pull the trigger with no complaints.

  8. Judi Land says:

    I’m looking for a handgun smaller than my Glock 19 that I can use for concealed carry. I’ve had hand surgery and I am able to use my Glock because of hand strengthening exercises but racking the slide is difficult in the cold.
    I appreciate your list. I was looking at the shield and that’s a possibility but I need to go try some of these different ones.

    1. Eva says:

      I have the Smith & Wesson 380 ez and I love it! I have arthritis and carpal tunnel and it is so easy to rack. My next purchase will be the Walther CCP M2 9mm because it’s just like my ez

  9. Carolyn Scott says:

    I have arthritis in my hands. I love my Ruger LCP 380.

  10. Nanna says:

    Yes I don’t think arthritis is for women only so maybe a title without gender is more what this needs. I can’t pull back any of my guns anymore so need revolver I’m 68 and my hands are painful but I want to defend myself with something smaller than the canon I have lol. Thanks for info.

    1. Loretta says:

      Since this is a well armed woman’s site I think that referring to arthritis in woman is apropos.
      I want to know about arthritis and guns as it relates to my weaker arthritic hand.

      1. Loretta says:

        I compete in 22 slowfire unassisted
        I use a 22 beretta
        I carry a 22 magnum interarms tiny revolver that fits in my bra in a small cellphone holder . As a backup I carry a 38revolver S&W airweight and hollow points. Laser point and most importantly pink grips. Love my weapon! GO PINK OR GO HOME

  11. Tiny says:

    Wow! Stephanie Chesney. Are you angry? I am a 50 year old man that happened to find this page as I am researching for a pistol for my wife. I do apologize for intruding into a no men allowed website. Lighten up lady.

    1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

      The Well Armed Woman was created to cater to women’s needs but men are welcome! I hope you find some valuable information for your wife.

    2. Liz says:

      Tiny, I think Stephanie was responding to the men complaint about the title of the article. She was just pointing out the site is directed at woman and therefore the title appropriate. Lol.,

    3. Dee Dee says:

      Sites like Well Armed Woman is a perfect place to look for suggestions for a handgun for your wife or daughter! You are most welcome here.
      I am small framed, 62 y.o. with arthritis in my hands and wrists and I am left-handed. I love my Ruger SP101 .357magnum external hammer most. It fits my hand well and the recoil is manageable with .38 special rounds. I also like my Beretta Pico .380. It is smoother than the Ruger LCP .380 and very concealable. When my hands & wrists are weak I use an aid to rack the slide.

      I would like to try the Bond Arms Bull Pup! But I prefer revolvers because they are just easier.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with the revolver. I find that a lot of ladies with arthritic hands have a hard time pulling the heavier triggers of some revolvers, and what I’m finding on that trigger is worse than usual. American Rifleman’s review lists it as 15 lbs. That’s outrageous compared to what I already find difficult for ladies in the 12lb S&W airweight models, and 60% greater than the 9lb trigger of the Ruger LCR.

    1. Rebecca says:

      I had my triggers worked on so thw lightest pull is all you need. coming from the manufacturer, yeah, they are stiff. get someone to work on it and problem solved.

    2. Dee Dee says:

      That is why I like external hammers on my revolvers. If I manually pull the hammer, the trigger is next-to-nothing.

      1. Patty says:

        True, but the recoil on my .38 Chief’s Special was too much for my arthritic hand. I’m going with the EZ.

  13. Tracey says:

    That’s the one out of all of them that I’ve seen that has the easiest pull back and release. Love this model.

  14. Pamela says:

    I am 62. Arthritis in hands. Love my Beretta Bobcat!!! Bought it as a backup to my Sig P320. Concealability?! Fantastic! Lightweight? Super! Easy to shoot? Absolutely! Tend to carry it more often than my Sig 9mm and Ruger 9mm. Love the little bugger!!! Highly recommend!!!!

  15. Carrie Lightfoot says:

    The CCP M2 is a great gun Janet. The magazine release is ambidextrous 🙂 Here is a review: https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2018/08/sponsored-content/feast-your-eyes-on-the-new-walther-ccp-m2/

  16. Granny says:

    Good question. Lefty here. Following answer.

  17. Wayne says:

    62 year old man, but regularly exercise and stay in fairly good shape. Important subject to bring up. Would like to see more like this for those of us who have arthritis or other physical disabilities. I am not quite that bad yet, but arthritis in my hands are starting to give me limitations, some days are worst than others . I do recommend hand gripper/tension exercise . They do get your hands stronger and help keep them flexible for a better grip, despite the pain.

  18. I’ll second the Glock 42 for low recoil. I love to let my students shoot the LCP, S & W Bodyguard .380 and the Glock 42. The difference is evident! Definitely one to add to the list!

  19. Vicky says:

    I’m 74 n I have a Sig Sauer P238 .380 w a pearl handle. . Smoothest gun for me n great for a concealed carry weapon.

    1. Mirella says:

      But is it good for women with autoimmune diseases or arthritis?

  20. Sally Gump says:

    I also love my Sig. It’s great when you have small hands.

  21. Jonnie Mason says:

    I carry the S&W EZ 380. Can rack the slide with 2 fingers. Would be worth your time to check it out. Did carry the Body guard but there is a ton of difference

    1. Amanda says:

      What are your thoughts on this gun for kick back and losing fodder an 82 year old with arthritis please

    2. Jan Larsen says:

      I have one too, absolutely love it..easy to rack, light..dependable.. I wish they’d make it in .9mm.

  22. Janet Keefe says:

    Thank you! I have a Glock 19 and a 43. But I am going to check out the Walthet CCP M2. My only concern is, I shoot left handed and wonder if it is ambidextrious.

  23. Brynda S Ray says:

    Thank you for including a revolver, I much prefer them to the semi automatics! Looks like I will have to go check it out!

  24. Candy says:

    I own the Ruger SR22 .22 LR. Love it. Easy to fire, low recoil, lightweight, sure fire every time, and fits my smaller hand. I can easily take it apart and clean. I conceal carry with it as well. I handled and test fired many different pistols before choosing the Ruger SR22 .22 LR. It’s my first and my forever!

  25. MICHAEL GUNTER says:

    I have a Ruger SR22 and the Walther CCP 9MM. My wife loves the SR22 because it is very easy for her to operate. The CCP is easy for her to shoot but she has trouble sliding and loading. Both are great sidearms but the SR 22 is much easier to operate.

  26. Herbert Alvin Kinsey says:

    I also am male, 78 years old with carpel tunnel problems in both hands, at present I carry a 380 auto Llama, but the slide is hard to grip and rack for me, but the grip is a very good fit with my small hands. I carry 24/7 everywhere.

    1. Ann says:

      Get you a Smith and wesson 380 shield ez very easy to rack. I have rheumatoid arthritis and it’s easy to rack this gun and the bag are thumb loaded with a pull down loader in the mag mine has the green laser. My sister has one with no laser

  27. Sharon davis says:

    I have smith Wesson ez. Absolutely love it. Very easy to rack to get ready to shoot

  28. Stephanie Chesney says:

    This web page is called The Well Armed WOMAN. It may apply to all, but they publish content aimed at women.

  29. Michelle Garry says:

    I am a dog groomer, age 66, my hands are terrible. I can’t even open jars anymore. However, I LOVE my Sig Sauer P238! Very easy to pull the slide.

  30. Becky says:

    Both of my wrists are fused, and I completely agree with the Ruger SR22 mention. I love mine. Super low recoil. I’ll definitely be looking into the others. Thank you!

  31. E. says:

    Ruger LC is also very smooth to rack & shoot

  32. SL says:

    Seems like the Beretta 3032 Tomcat might be a good fit for this list.

  33. Diane McDermott says:

    Great information! I have arthritis and fibromyalgia so less strain on my joints the better! I currently shoot a Glock 42 and a Ruger. I’ve been thinking of getting the E Z just haven’t had time to get to the range and try it out. My husband really thinks I should get a revolver so I’m going to give them both a try and see what’s the best. Thanks for all the great and informative articles!

  34. Bart Douglas says:

    OK. I am a full grown man, but…..senior enough, arthritis enough, neurological problems affecting my hand enough, that I took notice enough of the article, “6 best guns for women with arthritis”. This selection of guns mentioned is good for all of us that have arthritis or other conditions, or those that just prefer low recoil.

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