Firearm Options For the Under-Sized

evought's picture

A blog post on the "Total Survivalist Blog" entitled "The Basic 4 For a Smallish Woman" talks about firearm options for smaller/lighter weight women, but much of what the author says applies equally to men like me who do not have big paws and gorilla arms. In many cases, it is not about recoil but fit and firearm design; it just takes different choices to do the job. I often find that a stock 12 gauge is not something I can shoot effectively because the trigger pull is too long and the stock does not let me tuck the weapon into my shoulder properly.

The author of that piece is not a revolver fan. If you do prefer revolvers, consider getting a good solid .357, the biggest you can comfortably carry and handle. You can load a .357 magnum revolver with anything from your full power .357 loads down to "cowboy action" 38 special. .410/.41 colt revolvers are similarly versatile. On the lighter end, the weight of the revolver will absorb all of the recoil so that your body does not have to. On the heavier end, you have the extra stopping power when you need it.

Pattern Loading

In both revolvers and shotguns, I am personally in favor of "pattern-loading": you do not need to load with all the same ammunition. Start with your low-recoil rounds that you can put on target early in the fight and follow up quickly with your higher power rounds to end it. In shotguns, many revolvers, and sometimes even with semi-autos, that means you can use shot shells and a game load as your first round. As I spend most of my time on the farm, the creature I am most likely to shoot at in the middle of the night is a possum, fox, or raccoon after my chickens. Given a stone barn, I don't want to shoot solid rounds inside and deal with the potential ricochet. Loading my first round with a game load solves the problem. If I face a more capable attacker, I'll shoot twice.

You want your default load to reflect what you are likely to need in what order. In my .45 auto, need my shotshell first and then go to polymer-tip defense loads. In my revolver, I start with a shotshell, go to .454 solid ball, and then end with .451 conicals. In my shotgun, I like to start with #4 game load, follow with 0000 buck, then alternate slugs. In your regular practice, conduct some basic drills around pattern-loading to load/reload/skip/top-off. Rotate your revolver chamber past your .38 special to your .357 load and take your first shot. Reload from your pocket or speed-loader with just one or the other. Can you reload your rifle or shotgun from the chamber, topping it off after each shoot with exactly what you want? Start out with long-flight slugs as you close to the door, loading as you go, switch to buck shot from the magazine as you fire down the hall. As you work through the magazine, you are switching to home-defense loads which work great in the small rooms off the hallway. Over time you should get to the point that you can choose exactly what round to use on what target at what range.Use colored rounds, nail-polish marks on the cylinders, whatever will make it easiest to tell where you are loading and what you will get next. If you are going to use an unusual weapon partly due to your size, pattern-loading well gives you something valuable to turn into a skill and bring to the team.


We have all kinds in the Sheriff's Auxiliary and it is worth taking the time and effort to get it right when your life or that of your team mates may depend on it. Bad form because of bad fit puts you off balance and causes poor performance. Proper weapon choice or a little gun smithing makes a big difference. I have heard some people say that you should stick to standard because you cannot control when you need to pick up a weapon you are not familiar with: hogwash. By all means borrow a 'standard' weapon every so often and be familiar with them, but the weapons you own, that you protect yourself and your family with, should fit your body.


Post Type: