I’ve had a couple of recent reader requests for advice to arthritic shooters. Since I “are one,” I can speak with some authority, but not all-encompassing authority by any means. To start with, here are a couple of links: http://stoppingpower.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=28951 , and https://pistol-forum.com/showthread.php?31107-Handling-Arthritis.
Personally, I find myself shooting less powerful guns a lot more. 20 gauge more than 12 gauge shotguns. .223 predominates for me now in rifles, when it used to be .308. If running a pump gun is getting harder on arthritic wrists and elbows, and lever actions are getting tough on arthritic fingers, consider a switch to semiautomatic rifles and shotguns. Though I’m running .45 pistols this quarter (because reasons) I find myself shooting a helluva lot more 9mm than anything else, when back in the day, I shot more .45 ACP than anything else. I don’t shoot Magnum ammo as much as I used to.
Difficulty in racking the slide of a semiautomatic pistol is one of the first manifestations of arthritis that make you realize the condition is getting worse. Consider the 1911 style pistol, in caliber 9mm Luger. The recoil is mild, and that light recoil force allows a very light recoil spring, making slide racking much easier. When you rack the slide of a hammer-fired pistol like the 1911, you’re working against two forces: the recoil spring, and also the powerful mainspring that is holding the hammer down against the slide. By using the heel of your free hand to cock the hammer, the mainspring pressure is completely alleviated. For those whose arthritis is acute, there is the miniature Browning brand 1911 in caliber .380: easy slide, and even softer recoil. My friend and colleague Tamara Keel discovered that the SIG P250 had an extremely easy slide, and from the Ruger LC380 to the new Smith & Wesson EZ model .380, we have a new generation of .380 pistols in compact 9mm size formats which are expressly designed for easy slide manipulation and soft recoil.
How ‘bout y’all? There has to be a lot of experience out there to share on this topic.