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I'm female, and new to guns. I asked several dealers a good first carry gun and most said the 642.

I bought one and it felt so nice, lightweight. I was thrilled, then I went to the range. Don't laugh, but it busted a nail off first shot. It hurt like hell, and nothing made it comfy to shoot.

I have a Colt Detective special that was my dad's, but I hate putting any more wear on it. Any suggestions?
 

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RENT as many as you can in 380 and 9mm - find one that fits your hand and you find comfortable to shoot.
 

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I wish everyone who recomended an ultra light weight gun for women would develop explosive diarrhea. No one who is a real shooter and has some experience would recommend one for a new shooter. A light weight gun is easy to carry which makes it attractive but it can be harder to shoot.

What would you like your gun to do. Will it be primarily a home nightstand gun, concealed carry or range toy. Does it need to be revolver or can it be semi auto?
 

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Try a S&W 9mm Shield (single stack semi-auto) for concealed carry. it's a compact pistol that is lightweight and that shoots with less felt recoil than your alloy frame revolver.

Consider taking a basic pistol class from an instructor that makes a number of different revolvers and pistols available for you to try out. This is how we teach our classes at the club I teach with. It allows you to actually try shooting a number of different handguns.

I think that some salespeople stereotype their customers, handing certain profiles of people certain readily available models. It's often not the right one for the individual.
 

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Try a S&W 9mm Shield (single stack semi-auto) for concealed carry. it's a compact pistol that is lightweight and that shoots with less felt recoil than your alloy frame revolver.

Consider taking a basic pistol class from an FEMALE instructor that makes a number of different revolvers and pistols available for you to try out. This is how we teach our classes at the club I teach with. It allows you to actually try shooting a number of different handguns.

I think that some salespeople stereotype their customers, handing certain profiles of people certain readily available models. It's often not the right one for the individual.

Fixed that for ya ;)
 

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If you have very little experience, take a beginners class. You may not know yet if you want a revolver or a semi-auto. Some will fit your hand better than others. A qualified instructor can watch and evaluate what might work better for you. A dealer across the counter who doesn't know you from Adam is going to generalize and sell you what he thinks "the little lady needs."

My sister-in-law asked me my opinion about 3 years ago after she took bad advice from the usual suspects. I set her up to have some time with a woman who runs my local gun store. She took her to the range and tried out a few to see what worked for her. She still carries that gun she picked out daily. Don't waste your time and money.
 

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I said I wouldn’t throw gas on this fire but I guess I will. I NEVER suggest an auto for a female. In fact, I know lots of men that have no business carrying one. In a stressful situation the mind is going in many different directions. The ease of operation is paramount to a successful event. Any deviation from just drawing a gun and pulling the trigger is just asking for disaster. Some carrying autos don’t like to keep one in the chamber. Another disaster waiting to happen. My suggestion is to try the 642 with some lower power loads. I bought my wife one and she loves it. She doesn’t shoot full power ammo but regular hollow points will do a lot of damage. If the OP needs something with less recoil I suggest a heavier revolver like a 2 inch 10 or older 60.
 

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642's are recommended because they're dependable & simple to operate. I wish the dealers would also recommend mild ammo to go w/ them @ least until the new shooter gets some experience.
 

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I put my auto's away and started carrying a 642-1 a couple years ago in my front pocket.

I'd try some different grips, and make sure you're holding it correctly. Were you shooting +P's thru it?
 

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If your 642 would have saved you from harm or saved your life then the broken nail would be a very minor price to pay. Carry guns are just that, carry guns. They are not the gun you use to become proficient at shooting. A carry gun should never be the first gun you buy. A full sized revolver or semi auto that is easy on the shooter makes it easy and painless to practice often and develop the skills needed to be able to protect yourself if the need arises. A range gun also gives you a chance to get used to the operation and recoil. There is not one gun that will do it all. I would bet that you don't have just one coat or just one pair of shoes. Don't sell your 642. Spend some time at the range developing your shooting skills and I think you will find that your 642 will be an excellent carry gun as it was designed to be.
 

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DAO revolvers are easy to shoot, but they’re extremely difficult to shoot well. I don’t recommend a revolver to new shooters for that reason. Not even the huge knuckle dragging men. I’ve been training with revolvers, and until I’m able to shoot it as well as an auto, I will not carry it. I had a 442 that I wanted to like, but I absolutely hated shooting. I changed the grips on several times including the much recommended Hogue (sp?) rubber grips. It was one of two guns that I ever sold. And for those that say women have problems with autos,...I say you gentlemen have low opinions of women. Just stop it.
 

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A 19 or a 66 (2.5") would be something for you to consider. K&L frame revolvers handle the recoil better than the J frames. My usual EDC is my 66-2 and I love it..it works for me. As the others have stated you want to get a firearm that you will feel comfortable with. Good luck with your decision and keep us up to date on which firearm you choose to get. Oh...and welcome to the forum!
 
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If you are planning to carry 19 it will be too heavy. I would go to LGS and find some low power ammo and try your gun again. You just might be surprised. I worked for LGS for several years and that's how we used to do it. Just remember simple rule the heavier the gun the less recoil but the heavier the gun the more uncomfortable it is to carry.
 

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I wish everyone who recomended an ultra light weight gun for women would develop explosive diarrhea. No one who is a real shooter and has some experience would recommend one for a new shooter. A light weight gun is easy to carry which makes it attractive but it can be harder to shoot.

What would you like your gun to do. Will it be primarily a home nightstand gun, concealed carry or range toy. Does it need to be revolver or can it be semi auto?
Or have a dangling appendage stepped on with golf shoes.
 

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Look at the 640. All steel, same size as the 642 but much much easier on the hands in recoil. Anything larger will be left at home because it's too big or heavy.

I would never buy an alloy-framed revolver because the ones I rented were so unpleasant to shoot that I'd never practice with it.
 

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You now know why so many people choose to carry a semi-auto pistol in place of the tried and true revolver. Recoil is generally not pleasant, and some times brutal. I have a S&W model 340 in 357 Magnum. It's an Ultra-lite revolver that I really don't like shooting because of the recoil. I've gone to a lighter cartridge load in 38 Special which is quite a bit softer and easier to shoot than the revolver was really designed for.

The simple reason so many shops recommend a revolver like the 642 is because loading them is so simple, and once loaded they're ready to go.
Revolvers are ready to shoot as soon as the loaded cylinder is closed. Semi-auto pistols require that a cartridge is loaded into the pistol chamber and possibly unlock a safety before they can shoot.
Many shooters, both men and women do not feel comfortable carrying a pistol loaded with a round in the chamber so they leave it empty, and assume that they'll have the frame of mind in an emergency that they will remember to rack the slide and load the chamber when the pistol is so badly needed. Generally that has been proven time and time again not to work. Some feel that the sound of racking the slide will be enough deterrent that the bad guy will stop the attack (much like the bad guys expected response from hearing a shotgun shell being loaded into the gun.) and either give up, or retreat. This is also proven to be a fallacy.
Their is also an assumption that a woman doesn't have the hand strength to pull back a pistol slide especially under stress. There are many excellent semi-auto pistols that have been designed specifically to have light slide pull springs so that anybody can comfortably load and shoot them.

Mentioned earlier was the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield pistol in either .380 ACP or 9mm. these are easy and quick to load and rack the slide. The Glock model 42 is another, and there is a new Ruger pistol. I think it's the Security 9. There are a few others, but too many to specifically mention.
It's your option to either keep or sell the 642, but for me I'd keep it, practice when you can with it and keep it closely at night for those things that go bump in the night.

Regards,
Gregory
 

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My 63 yr old 125 lb wife loves and shots well the 3"gp100 it would be a bear to carry. For in home use its about perfect for her. She often has trouble with the mechanics of racking a slide and I may as well have thrown in latin if a gun has a decocker so revo for her. Load and forget and no mags to deal with.

Were we in the same local I would ask you to practice with that to get handling and trigger stroke.

For carry ... try renting a ruger sp101. They come in various bbl lengths and the grip is completely encased in rubber as there is no grip frame. It really does isolate recoil. The gun is steel and has a bit more heft than the 642 and is far more forgiving. Its a 5 shot so it feels small but not dainty.Now keep in mind .. rental guns usually dont see a drop of cleaner for 1000's of rounds so it might feel a bit gritty but they can be silky smooth.

The trigger is a bit heavy but spring changes are very easy. A gentleman started a thread only days ago looking for softer shooting 38 ammo and there were a couple of pages of suggestions.

https://www.smithandwessonforums.co...st-time-out-our-chief-airweight-2in-ouch.html

If a sales person doesnt want to spend 10 minutes evaluating your needs and giving you pro's and cons on an expensive purchase find another sales person ... or ... find boards like this one where you will get usually unbiased suggestions.
 

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First time handgun users should stay away from semi autos. Too many potential ways one can fail at the wrong time.

It sounds like your dad used that Detective Special to protect his loved ones. It has since, for whatever reason, been passed on to you. I think he would be happy if It endured a little bit more wear still protecting his loved ones. I know it would tickle me...
 

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Specialcheif,

First, welcome to the S&W Forums.

Unfortunately, some boorish jerks either don't know, or think of what they are doing, and just parrot out what they hear from everybody else.
Anybody who has actually SHOT an Airweight might be a little less likely to recommend one to ANY inexperienced shooter.

There are a few inexpensive alternatives. If you think a larger grip would help, with the pistol you have, there are many available through Hogue, Altamont, and others.

Try before you buy. An auto-loader would absorb a lot of the recoil in the shooting process, and they generally shoot smaller ammunition. Talk to some shooters in your area, see if they can let you try some of their lighter pistols. Or try to rent some pistols at a shooting range. Look for .380 caliber, Kahr makes some fine pistols.
Also 32 caliber is very capable, and see if you can find a Polish Radom 64, in 9mm Makarov.

There's a lot of 32ACP pistols, I have a CZ-70. There's a little weight, but it's a 32, and as it shoots, it absorbs a lot of recoil.

Be sure to try before you buy, and I'm sure any of us would be willing to answer a PM, if you need any further advice.
 
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