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Lessons Learned From the Wrong Gun: Part 1

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A fellow instructor who teaches our U. S. Concealed Carry Association women’s curriculum likes to make a confession in her training classes. It’s a statement that rings very true for me — and likely for a lot of other gun owners — and it’s summed up as such: “I confess … I am the proud owner of a gun I don’t like.” Anyone else feel a pang of truth when reading that statement?

Some of us have firearms that were passed down or purchased for us. Others simply picked something up that they later discovered wasn’t the best fit for them. Many gun owners have one or more firearms that they really don’t like all that much. But while it may be money lost, it can also be lessons gained. And here are just a few important things folks have learned from having the “wrong” gun.

Small Hands, Short Fingers

Michelle H. shared that when she was ready to purchase a gun for personal protection (to replace a Smith & Wesson Model 642 LS Ladysmith Revolver that was a gift from her father when she was 21), she chose a Ruger LC9s. “I did some ‘research’ — I looked online and read articles — but I really chose [the Ruger] because it was small, and I thought that because I have small hands it would fit. Boy was I wrong,” she stated. “Turns out that in addition to my small hands, I have really short fingers. What that meant for my grip was that I have a lot of trouble with trigger coverage (only the very tip of my finger covers the trigger).”

Michelle put in time and effort to learn to train effectively with her EDC choice, but she also learned an important lesson. “I will NEVER buy another gun without shooting it and handling it multiple times first,” she declared. “Now when looking at other guns, I pay attention to how well my finger covers the trigger while gripping with two hands … and with one hand. I also try not to let brands and other people’s opinions influence me, other than to offer more options to try!”

Large Hands, Long Fingers

On almost the opposite end of the spectrum, another friend and fellow instructor, Mickie H., mentioned that her first gun was a Bersa Thunder .380. “Cute little thing that [my husband] John helped me pick out because I’d never had [a gun] before,” she stated. “And I had no clue — no clue that my larger hands and long fingers needed more to grip than that little thing … no clue that a bad grip leads to jams, and jams lead to frustration.”

Mickie worked through the frustrations to become proficient with her pistol. But she came to an important conclusion. “Now I talk to women (and gun counter guys about selling to women) about selecting the ‘right’ gun for them,” she declared. “[I tell them] how buying a gun is like buying a pair of shoes; it’s a very personal choice.”

Hand Size, Hand Strength

Clearly, hands and trigger fingers play a pretty big role in finding the “right” gun. It’s much more than just finding a gun that “fits” or “feels good.” Frances M. agrees. “When my husband took me shopping for my first semi-automatic pistol a few years ago, I was most interested in how the pistol felt in my hand,” she stated. “I settled on a .22 from a well-known company, but it turned out to have a terrible problem with jamming and misfires. It became so frustrating that I stopped trying to use it and purchased another very different pistol.”

Because of her experiences with the “wrong” gun, Frances advises that interested gun buyers “read reviews, watch reviews and rent several guns” before investing in a pistol. And she reiterated that “the size of your hands and your hand strength are important factors to keep in mind.”

Check in next Tuesday for more lessons learned from the wrong gun!


About Beth Alcazar

Author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals and associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, Beth Alcazar has enjoyed nearly two decades of teaching and working in the firearms industry. She holds degrees in language arts, education and communication management and uses her experience and enthusiasm to share safe and responsible firearms ownership and usage with others. Beth is certified through the NRA as a Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for multiple disciplines. She is also a Certified Instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.

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