Living in Florida means living with a lot of senior citizens, and these senior citizens, like pretty much everyone else these days, are concerned about their safety and are considering buying a gun for personal safety. On top of the obvious physical challenges of teaching someone with physical infirmities how to safely use a gun, there’s also an issue where many senior citizens have actually never fired a gun before. Now you’re faced with a situation where you’ve got people who have difficulty pulling a heavy trigger pull or dealing with the recoil of a centerfire cartridge.
I can overcome these issues to some extent by using a suppressed .22 pistol with a red dot sight for people who have never shot a gun before in their lives, or who might have recoil control issues. A 22 pistol with a red dot compresses all the discussion about stance, grip, sights and trigger down to “put the red dot on the target and bring the trigger back smoothly.”
No muss, no fuss, no bother. The gun has the recoil of a mouse fart and makes less noise than a pellet gun. The only issues I’ve ever had with it are helping people find the dot during the presentation of the gun to the target. If they’re really struggling, I slide my hand in front of the front element (but behind the muzzle) and let them see what the dot is supposed to look like, and away they go. I even had one student shoot a 4.3 second Bill Drill in class with that setup, even though she had never shot a gun before in her life.Not bad.
The biggest problem I find, though, is transitioning those students to something that is a little more capable. I’m not 100% averse to using 22 as a defensive caliber. After all, the medulla obligato doesn’t know if it was a 124 grain Gold Dot or a 40 grain MiniMag that tore it in half. However, that pistol setup is a bit hard to conceal, and I’d much prefer students to carry something with a little oomph than a 22, as long as they can shoot it well.
And that’s where things come grinding to a halt. I have the students who shot the suppressed 22 with a dot shoot my red-dot Glock 19 to see if they like it. However, I’d really like to have something with a dot that’s in between a super-soft 22LR pistol and a snappy 9mm compact. A Glock 17 *might* work, but ideally, I’d love to see Kel-Tec shrink down the PMR-30 by, say, half, and make it dot-compatible, or maybe a dot-compatible Shield 380EZ. A perfect solution might be something in 32 ACP that’ll give you more pop than 22LR, but still has sufficient penetration when using FMJ rounds and carries more rounds than an equivalent pistol in 380ACP.
Guns that are smaller get carried more often, guns that are easier to shoot get shot more often, and people who practice more often hit more often. Maybe one day we’ll hit the sweet spot of size, accuracy and firepower, and have a way for people who learn on 22s to ease into carry a larger gun. For now, we’ll just have to help them close that gap as best we can.