6 Best Guns For Women With Arthritis

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.

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

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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

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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 ACP

Walther PK380
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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

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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 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 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.

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

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21 responses to “6 Best Guns For Women With Arthritis”

  1. 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!!!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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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