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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 snubnose 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 snubnose 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 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.
Sam Bocetta is a former cybersecurity analyst and current freelance journalist, focusing on current events, firearms, tech, cryptography, and cybercrime.