Hand Strength Issues? We Got The Guns For You

As a dude with arthritis in his shoulders, I can relate to those with arthritis in their hands. Arthritis isn’t the only culprit, though. There are plenty of other issues that can reduce hand strength and make shooting firearms difficult. Handguns, in particular, tend to be tougher to use with weakened hands.

Handguns are difficult for those with weakened hands for a number of reasons. First, controlling recoil can be difficult and even painful. Handguns are only braced by the hands, so the hands eat the majority of the recoil. The next issue is manipulating the gun. People with weak hands may have issues racking the slide and loading the weapon. If a shooter can’t index the weapon, how exactly are they planning to use it?

To be effective and safe, a shooter with weak hands has to be quite picky in firearm selection. With that in mind, we gathered five of the best options out there for those with weaker-than-average hands.

Ruger LCP 2 — .22LR Lite Rack

One of the lightest, easiest shooting pocket pistols is the absurdly small and simple Ruger LCR 2 Lite Rack in .22LR. Carrying a .22LR can be problematic, but if you have severely weak hands, this might be the best option available to you. It’s certainly better than the harsh recoiling .380 ACP version of the LCP 2. Heck, I even carry one of these little guns when I go for a run.

Ruger's LCP II in .22LR
Ruger’s LCP II in .22LR is a tiny, light pistol with an easy-to-rack slide. It holds 10+1 rounds, giving the little pistol serious capacity for its size! Photo: Ruger.

The Ruger LCP 2 Lite Rack design holds ten rounds of .22LR, and admittedly you need to be picky about ammo when you use a .22LR. I use the Federal Punch load and find it to be perfect for self-defense. The Lite Rack name isn’t a joke. Anyone can manipulate the slide and send it in action. You can pocket carry the LCP 2 Lite Rack with ease, and heck, Ruger even includes a pocket carry holster with the gun.

At the range, recoil is a joke. It’s a little poof between shots, and that’s it. It’s adorable and genuinely fun to shoot. You can easily drop several rounds accurately into a target and do so quickly. In the reliability department, it scores high. It does prefer the hotter loads, like Federal Automatic and CCI. The Automatch stuff is fairly cheap and works as practice ammo. The sights aren’t great, but they are usable. This is a great deep concealment option.

Beretta 3032 or 21A

The Beretta 3032 and 21A are basically the same guns. They differ in caliber and have some slight size differences. The 21A Bobcat is a smaller gun that’s slightly slimmer and lighter, but it chambers the .22LR. The Beretta 3032 Tomcat is a little wider and a little heavier, but it chambers the more capable and reliable .32 ACP. The reason these guns work for those with low hand strength is simple. They have tip-up barrels.

INOX frame Beretta .32 Tomcat
The new Tomcats are only available with the slightly thicker and more durable INOX frame.

A tip-up barrel means the barrels hinge upward at the breech. With the Beretta pistols, you hit a lever, and the barrel springs upward. This allows you to load the chamber directly and avoid racking the slide. These pistols are easy to load and clear. These are pocket-sized guns that are easy to conceal.

They are all metal with wide grips and both of them are comfy to shoot. The 21A Bocat offers less recoil, but the Tomcat isn’t exactly a snappy gun either. Both are easy to shoot, and the main problem is their pitiful sights.

Ruger Security-380

The Ruger Security-380 isn’t your typical .380 ACP. It’s a near Glock 19-sized pistol chambering the little .380 ACP round. Big guns handle recoil easier than little guns. The .380 ACP is quite pleasant in guns this size. The Ruger Security-380 provides a larger, low recoil pistol in a round that does work well for self-defense. Even JHPs penetrate and expand well from the 3.42-inch barrel.

ruger security 380
An accessory rail ahead of the trigger guard makes it easy to add aftermarket lights and lasers. (Photo credit: Ruger)

Shooters get 15 rounds of .380 ACP as well. That makes this gun fairly capable and easy to handle. The recoil is quite low, and the slide features the same Literack design that makes the LCP 2 easy to handle. The slide is larger and easy to grip and doesn’t offer much resistance.

The larger size may turn some off. It’s no pocket pistol, but with a good holster, it will be plenty easy to conceal. The gun offers high visibility sights, a Picatinny rail, and a manual safety. I just wish they had made it red-dot capable.

S&W Equalizer

The S&W EZ series was fairly revolutionary. They were built from the ground up for those with weak hands. They offered reduced recoil and easy racking design, and came in both .380 ACP and 9mm. The S&W Equalizer is an evolution of the EZ. It offers the same reduced recoil and easy-racking design, but they ditched the single-stack magazine design.

the equalizer handgun
The pistol also features a new grip texture and pattern designed to give you more control when firing and more comfort when carrying. (Photo credit: Smith and Wesson)

The Equalizer grants you a micro-compact design. Similar to the P365, the flush-fitting magazine holds ten rounds, and the extended magazine holds 15 rounds. The Equalizer keeps the grip safety of the EZ series, but there is no manual safety. While the gun appears to be a striker-fired option, it’s actually a single-action internal hammer.

Best of all, the Equalizer is a very modern pistol. The gun features a Picatinny rail, as well as an optics cut. It’s probably the most modern pistol for those with reduced hand strength. The gun is plenty compact and even fairly affordable. If you want a light and optic-equipped gun, this is the one to choose.

Walther CCP M2

The Walther CCP 2 is an evolution of the original CCP. Either gun works well for shooters with reduced hand strength, but the M2 model is much easier to field strip and clean. The M2 variant also comes in both 9mm and .380 ACP. The .380 ACP delivers a fair bit less recoil, but the 9mm tends to be cheaper and more capable as a defensive cartridge.

walther ccp m2
The Walther CCP M2+ is an ergonomically-designed, user-friendly 9mm pistol. (Photo credit: Walther)

The CCP M2 offers less recoil and a very easy-to-rack slide. The key to this gun’s success is the unusual operating system. Most guns used a short recoil operation or a direct blowback. The CCP M2 uses a gas-delayed blowback system that uses a piston. This does wonders to reduce recoil and makes the weapon very easy to manipulate.

The CCP M2 might feel a little outdated with its single-stack magazine and lack of optics compatibility. However, it’s a fairly affordable pistol and provides a concealable, easy-to-use design. While odd, it is quite effective.

The 2nd Amendment is for Everyone

You shouldn’t be limited in your ability to defend yourself due to weak hands. Luckily, the gun industry agrees, and they have been producing a steady flow of compact, easy-to-operate handguns. Hopefully, we’ve helped you locate an option for your needs. If you have some suggestions, please share them below!

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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