When it comes to guns for older shooters, there are many misconceptions. All are not disabled, but getting old isn’t for the faint of heart.
All of us have been diminished in ability in some ways, whether it be less visual acuity, a loss of muscle mass, or some other part of the inevitable decline. Shooters who have handled firearms their entire life have an easier track than others.
They may simply move from a .45 to a 9mm automatic and save wear and tear on the wrist. They may add a red dot sight or some other high visibility type sight to help their accuracy.
Seniors who have not handled firearms but suddenly realize that just maybe this gun thing is a good idea have a more difficult time learning handguns and shotguns and choosing a firearm with a good fit. But there are good choices.
I was tasked to find 10 good firearms for older shooters. It wasn’t that difficult and I am certain there are other types that would serve as well. Personal defense is the primary consideration, but long guns are also sporting types.
I think the recommendations are valid and the choices will prove profitable for older shooters.
1. Ruger Standard Model .22
The Ruger Standard Model .22 is a classic firearm today, but was very much an upstart from an unknown maker more than 70 years ago when first introduced. The Ruger is among the most reliable, accurate and well-handling handguns of the previous century.
Whether for training, small-game hunting, or even personal defense, the Ruger has filled every role a handgun may fill. The first handgun should be a .22 (and perhaps the last as well).
2. Heritage Rough Rider .22 Revolver
The Rough Rider .22 is something of a marvel. It is very inexpensive. But it isn’t cheaply made. The .22 doesn’t have much pressure and the metal doesn’t have to take much of a beating. The Heritage doesn’t have any bling, but it always works well.
The revolver is accurate enough and economical to purchase and fire. With the .22 Magnum cylinder in place, the Heritage is a good choice for small game and may serve for personal defense.
3. Smith & Wesson Shield .380 EZ
Some older folks, and others with limited hand strength, have a difficult time racking a slide. The Shield EZ is designed for easy racking and shooting. The Shield is offered with a manual safety or without, but all variants feature a grip safety.
I knew a woman about my age that had suffered a serious injury in a fall. She had courage and worked herself back into shape by lifting weights and constant action. However, she never regained full hand strength and could no longer handle her .38 revolvers.
While the .380 ACP isn’t an ideal cartridge for personal defense, this handgun is a reasonable choice for many people. Semi-automatic pistols transfer part of the recoil into energy to work the slide—the recoil spring absorbs some recoil.
A self-loader doesn’t have a stiff trigger action—if the pistol is properly designed. Another impediment, however, is that the slide may be difficult to rack. The recoil spring must be compressed as the pistol is loaded by racking the slide.
The slide features well-designed cocking serrations that make for easy racking. The front of the slide is scalloped to allow for easy manipulation. The frame features the new 18-degree grip angle that makes the 2.0 pistols set so well in the hand.
You have a good feeling of control with this handgun. Going to this size pistol results in a handgun that is easy to handle, comfortable to fire and with excellent accuracy in offhand fire.
Not only is the pistol easy to rack, but the magazines are also designed to be easy to load.
4. Taurus TH9 9mm
The Taurus has two things going for it:
- It is affordable.
- It is reliable.
The pistol appeals to older shooters in that it offers a double-action first shot and a manual safety with decocker. While the modern striker-fired handgun is popular, there are many shooters that find the DA first shot more to their liking.
The pistol offers excellent accuracy with the single-action firing mode. The 9mm is a credible defensive choice, but without the recoil of larger calibers. The TH9 is an overlooked gem.
5. Remington 870 Pump-Action Shotgun (20-Gauge)
The Remington 870 shotgun is the classic pump-action shotgun. While there are comparable shotguns, the Remington just seems the right fit for many of us. The 12-gauge shotgun is a bit much for many older shooters.
The 20-gauge shotgun is a favorite of savvy shooters. The 20 offers plenty of power for small game. With buckshot loads, the 20-gauge is a formidable home defender. Whether you find the 12-gauge just too much or need a lighter kicker, the 20 is a first-class option.
6. Beretta 1201 Automatic Shotgun (12-Gauge)
While the 12-gauge a bit much for some shooters, the pump-action shotgun may also be a bit difficult to handle. For those clinging to the 12, but wanting something a bit easier to manipulate, the Beretta 1201 is a first-class option.
Let’s face it: few of us are able to afford a Benelli Super 90. The Beretta 1201 is similar-to-the-same under the skin. The action is smooth, the shotgun is very reliable, and you may not miss your pump-action shotgun.
Load it with reduced recoil buckshot—check for function—and you are well-armed.
7. Any .410 Shotgun
Be it a Remington 870 or a single shot, the inoffensive .410 is a favorite game-getter for small game. The .410 is among the most underrated of firearms. It is a long gun that is easier to use than, well, any handgun.
The .410 offers a reasonable choice for home defense loaded with buckshot. Think about it: a high capacity 9mm or a .410 with buckshot in the hands of an occasional shooter. Which is the more formidable?
8. Ruger 10/22 Rifle
Just as the handgunner needs a good .22 as his or her foundation, a rifle shooter needs a good .22 rifle. The .22 self-loader is the most versatile choice. The Ruger 10/22 is reliable, upgradable, accurate and a host of accessories are readily available.
I have seen quite a few .22s put meat on the table during my lifetime. The .22 rifle is also a baseline for personal defense in rural areas. It is a good choice for the everyday shooter that needs something for recreation, personal defense and to keep critters off the ranch.
If you have been a varmint shooter and your arthritis is messing with bolt manipulation, the AR gives up little if anything in accuracy to bolt guns.
If you have been hunting deer with the .308, then the .223 will make the grade with a properly bonded core bullet, such as the Federal 62 grain. And you just may find a friendly, accurate light kicking rifle you enjoy firing very much.
10. 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle
If you are looking for a versatile all-around game, getting the 6.5 Creedmoor is easy on the budget and the shoulder as well. It is an ideal cartridge for older shooters.
As we age, the mental elements are affected, and our mental operations suffer as a result. Just the same—if you are a bit off from your very best, you may remain very good at what you are doing.
What firearms would you recommend for older shooters? Let us know in the comments below!