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Discussion Starter #1
Well, the wife wants to get a CCW. Took her to the range today. She has an arthritic thumb & not much strength in her right hand. She was able to control & hit all the targets. The gun is a 317 airlite I kno with her lack of strength an auto loader is out of the question-she could never pull the slide back.

Question, what can be done to a J frame S&W action to make it much easier for her to pull the trigger & keep the gun reliable. Or--is there another company whose actions are easier in a real light gun.

Phil Berkowitz
 

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Phil,
Beretta makes a semi-auto, the Tomcat, in 32 auto. It has a tip-up barrel which enables you to load the first shell without pulling the slide back. The first shot is either double action or single action. Every shot after the first one is single action - much easier to shoot.
 

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Get a recommendation on a gunsmith near you that does good action jobs on Smith & Wesson revolvers. If you have never worked on the action part of a handgun, take it to a recommended gunsmith. I am getting ready to take my wife's Model 15 to the gunsmith that does a lot of pistol/revolver work.

DoubleAuto
 

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dick,
Still a problem if she has a jam and needs to clear the gun.

I prefer semi's but in this case a "tuned" double action revolver is the answer.

Don Verna
 

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If she was able to control and hit with the 317 I would think she would do OK with a Smith J frame in 38 special or the Ruger LCR. Any good smith can lighten the pull on a S&W slightly without effecting the reliability. Get a standard weight frame. It will only add a couple of ounces but it will reduce the recoil that she feels (a benefit with arthritis). Just my opinion but a revolver is the only way to go for most folks. No thought process required to use no safety to release no jams to clear. Just point and pull. On the new Smiths and any other revolver that has a key type "storage" safety switch it to the off position and leave it that way. If you are worried about kids or others grabbing it in the house buy a small lock box for storage.

--- Chip King ---
 

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There are two springs in a S&W revolver that control the weight of pull. The rebound spring and the main spring. I suggest you find someone who knows how to make the proper adjustments. HMB
 

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Much of the "weight" applied to the trigger of the S&W design is the trigger return spring. You can generally get away with knocking off one coil on that spring and not create failures but not much more. The spring that most folks look to for lightening the trigger weight is the main spring in the grip area. Reducing that in any way is inviting a light blow on primers and that's unacceptable. Tuning the action mechanics in the S&W is not a good idea for the tyro and worth every dollar by a skilled smith. Generally, the Smith likes to get better and better with a lot of shooting while the Colt's of the 60s and up tended to be smoother right of the box.....breakemall.....Bob Dodd
 

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I have a J frame lying in 4 different places within the home. My wife could not pull the triggers effectivley so I did what vern states, I smoothed the actions and lightened the springs and it helped a lot. She has shot them all at the range and does it well.
 

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The wood grips on the J frame S&W are rather small. I would try a pair of the larger rubber grips and see if that makes a differance to your wife. They soak up the recoil much better, and allow you to get a better grip on the pistol. The J frame .38 special revolvers with the factory wood grips tend to "spin" in your hand when shooting, due to recoil. I put a pair of the rubber grips on my model 38 S&W and it made a big differance to me. Let me know if you need the name of the manufacturer, and I will look at the pistol and give you the info.

Rodbuster
 

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I would have a good pistol smith do the action and install whatever springs they would consider reliable. I have MANY centerfire S&Ws that have superb triggers. It cost a bit to get them done, but it was well worth it. I can't speak for the 317, but all of my "J" frames have come out well and have functioned better than I would expect. No misfires or hangups. You could also inquire about their "Performance Center" offerings. I remember seeing a custom "J" frame that looked real nice. Trigger was great for a factory premium gun. I would also look at something like the 351PD, which is a 7 round .22 Magnum revolver. I would have a little more confidence with the extra power. My preference would be for a substantial centerfire caliber and would suggest having her try a standard "J" frame in .357, where she could shoot .38 Special rounds. The recoil isn't all that bad and I would feel more confident with something a little more potent.
 

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My wife and I shoot Cowboy Action Shooting and the best and most reliable gunsmith I have found to slick-up revolvers is Jimmy Spur at http://www.cowboygunworks.com/
He will not be available until after Nov 9, 2010.
 

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Phil, if this is a protction piece, LEAVE IT STOCK! The law looks really unfavorably if you smoe a bad guy with a trigger/action modified handgun. The lawyers will make it seem like you were looking for a gunfight. I am sure that the adrenalin during a self protection situation will render enough strength to pull that trigger. Be sure to get her a good holster or a good purse made for carrying a gun. Wouldn't want yanking a set of keys out of a purse to discharge a round. Good Luck
 

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I've done a lot of J frame action jobs but the rimfire versions need original strength hammer springs for reliability. Where a centerfire will will go off even when dirty it doesn't take much for a 22 handgun to missfire. Also 22 rimfire ammo is not nearly as dependable as centerfire ammo even in the best circumstances. This is one of the main reasons 22 handguns are not usually recommended for self defense. A 22 rifle is completely different.

If you know what you're doing you can smooth out a 22 j frame action by polishing and fitting certain parts. You can't lower the trigger pull weight much without compromising reliability because most of the pull weight is in the hammer spring. A lighter rebound spring can be used but if you go too light you risk trigger reset problems.

A 38 special j frame would be better and an action job will make a noticeable difference, but it will torque your hand pretty good unless you shoot light loads. (I know it doesn't bother manly trapshooters but for smaller folks it does) Target 148 soft lead wadcutters don't have much recoil and will do the job if you hit the target. Many people say they wouldn't notice the recoil in a life and death situation which is true, but the recoil will still adversely affect your performance whether you notice it or not.

The best answer is a larger K frame snub nose like a model 10 or the aluminum version model 12, they are much easier to shoot and a very good but reliable trigger job can be done on those. Larger action equals more leverage and easier trigger action. The mother of a good friend of mine carries a 6 inch model 14 in her purse everyday. She carries a big purse of course but the reason she carries the big model 14 is because as she says " I can hit anything I want to with that gun". I've seen her shoot it and she can, pity the BG who tries to harm her.

Another choice in medium sized auto's is the Beretta 86 380 with the tilting barrel, you never need to rack the slide on it. The smaller 32 version has a heavy trigger pull and is hard to shoot if you have reduced hand strength.
 

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I have a K Frame M66 snubbie that is a pleasure to shoot. Also a K frame M19 4". The M66 has one of the best revolver triggers I have ever had. Smooth and reliable. The extra weight helps soak up a little recoil. The gun is not all that much larger than the "J" frames, but it's a more substantial piece. +P .38 loads are not bad on recoil. Full house .357 loads might be a little bit of a bear, but most .38 loads are a pleasure to shoot. You might look for one to try out before makijng any decisions. I've been know to fill up the trunk and introduce a new shooter to a variety of hardware and see if there is something they would like to use for a bit. A couple hours at the range can help someone determine what it is they DON'T like and what they feel comfortable with. A good set of sftermarket grips can also help quite a bit where fit is concerned. CCW1911 seems to have the details about the actions nailed down. I would take his advice on the rimfires and reliability for personal defence.
 

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If you can find an old Model 10 S&W 5 screw, you can build a very nice gun with a light double action weight of pull. This model speads the double action work load over a greater distance thus making it eaasier for a women to shot it. HMB
 

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Stock for stock, the Ruger LCR has a lighter trigger than the Smith. I no longer recommend lightening springs in defensive arms. The gun MUST go bang when the trigger is pulled. Reducing the rebound spring in the little Smith can cause more problems than it cures.

Not trying to hawk ammo, but I commercially load and have a winner for the small frame revolver. We call it Plinky. It uses a 95 gr bullet at about 850 fps. The higher speed makes the little gun shoot to point-of-aim. The light bullet reduces recoil to a very acceptable level. This is NOT defensive ammo, but is great for practice or for the Carry Course. We supply several ranges with this just for new and petite shooters with light weight arms.

Talk to Bill and he will take care of you.
 

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I definitely wouldn't touch the main spring. Smith and Wesson makes a lighter trigger rebound spring which has one less coil (find a S&W armorer to get one) - Wolff has something similar. As to smoothing out the action, I recommend not touching anything until someone's run about 500 to 1000 rounds through it. It's amazing how well Smith actions polish in just by shooting them. After that, see a gunsmith for some additional polishing if you think you still need it. That many rounds probably will smooth out any marksmanship issues too. If you do open it up, please get a qualified gunsmith or armorer to do the work...to add to what Vern said, not knowing what you're doing can cost you a lot of money (and on a defense handgun cost a lot more than that).

btw, I personally agree that a K frame in .38 is probably easier to shoot accurately than a J frame in 22. If you're shooting a 2" barrel, the advantages of shooting plus P .38 loads are greatly reduced and I would be looking more to a standard load with a jacketed hollowpoint bullet for someone with handstrength issues.


I'm curious, what rounds are you using for defense in the 317?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hunter 870, the ammo I use in the 317 Airlite is Aquilla Super -max rated @ 204 ft. lbs @ 1750 FPS, This is almost 10 more Ft. Lbs than CCI stinger & quickshock. 204 ft. lbs is a lot more energy than a bunch of .380 & 38 spl rds. another plus is there are 8 rds in the gun. Handy in a wheel gun.

Phil Berkowitz
 
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