Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The trouble with hands...

By Carrie Lightfoot - Guest Contributor

Each of our hands consists of 27 bones, 29 major joints, 34 muscles, 123 ligaments, 30 arteries, and the zillions of nerve and blood vessel branches.  These all work together in such amazing ways, you have to marvel at how they all collaborate to do the most intricate of tasks.

Our ability to handle and shoot our firearms is dependent on all of these parts working together perfectly. How well we can manipulate the controls of the firearm and handle the recoil depends entirely on the strength and coordination of our hands.

Beretta Mod. 3032 Tomcat
I think we take our hands for granted.  They are just there and they do what we tell them to do - effortlessly. But many shooters, whether due to aging, disease or injury, struggle with hands that are not functioning properly, leaving them in pain, frustrated and in some cases, unable to operate their firearms.  On The Well Armed Woman Facebook page, this issue comes up repeatedly. Women struggling with arthritis, carpal tunnel and others, share their frustration with the inability and the discomfort of working the action of their firearm.  Lauri shares “carpal tunnel has taken a lot of strength out of my hands.” Tena writes “when I went to rack the slide... I couldn't do it! I have arthritis in my hands and I just could not muster the force to slide it.”  Jay says “I have had to back down the caliber because my hands just couldn’t take the beating of my .40 and .45 anymore.”

There is no doubt that some adjustments need to be made when dealing with these types of  issues, so shooters can continue to shoot effectively, protect themselves and safely continue to fully enjoy shooting.

Beretta Bobcat
Along with medical attention, there are some things that can perhaps minimize some of these difficulties, including: gel shooting gloves, wrist braces, and the changing of caliber. One of the solutions that have proven quite successful for these ladies is a semi-automatic with a tilt-up barrel.  Both the Beretta Bobcat (.25 auto, .22 LR) and the Beretta Tomcat (.32 ACP) have this Tip-up barrel feature which thankfully allows rounds to be loaded directly into the chamber without slide retraction. (Racking).  The .32 Tomcat, when using 60-grain .32 ACP (7.65 mm) hollow-point ammunition, provides firepower equaling the punch of a .380 (9mm Short). Other great benefits are that it also assists in the safe clearing of the pistol, by allowing a live round to be easily removed from the chamber and the bore quickly checked. Jamming and stove-piping problems are virtually eliminated as well, by the open slide design. Nice benefits in addition to being well priced.

Perhaps you have some experience with this issue and have found ways to alleviate some of the difficulties. Please comment and share what has been helpful to you or your thoughts, as this is an issue with many shooters, both male and female of all ages.

Carrie Lightfoot is owner of The Well Armed Woman and guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. Join the dynamic group of women shooters on Facebook or Twitter and visit

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  1. Great article Carrie. I have arthritis and I think the thing that helped me was finding a weapon with the right grip. If the grip is too small for your hand then you tend to hold tighter which, in turn, makes your hand hurt. I love my P229 (sorry Beretta).

    1. Great point Gma, grip would play a key role in comfort and would effect how it handles recoil. I think you would naturally think that squeezing the grip tighter would be better, but sounds like it only make things more uncomfortable. Very interesting, thanks for sharing! Have you ever tried the gel gloves or shooting gloves?

  2. I had very little strength in my right hand, along with arthritis and carpal tunnel. I started using a spring loaded hand /finger exerciser.. and it has helped any of my shooting sports.Though I do not have a Beretta (love all your firearms, btw) I have noticed a big difference in being able to retract the slide on any semi auto.

    1. You bring up a major strategy in dealing with hand issues Angie. Exercise would be a key to managing the discomfort and increasing hand strength. Dealing with both Arthritis and Carpal Tunnel must be a challenge, but your commitment to exercising your hand has really paid off for you. Great advice for everyone.