I'd highly recommend showing Erika's progress; she literally started as a novice then in less than a year she's teaching classes to others. You can see her improve in 'realtime' here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq6pQOwiHAc
That, should rid any doubt in anyone who don't think they can learn to use a firearm for self-defensive purposes.
S&W Presser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1pu0CCkvak
S&W AD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IfQbB8JWck
James Yeager's take on the S&W M&P Shield; he ran 7000rd+ through it without any issues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVDBDDKPtIo
Dis/ReAssembly, cleaning, etc: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnsh6RH4Rwk
vs. Glock 26: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym9Ft2ciYxc
Though, to be frank, any woman who can apply enough force and dexterity to use a fruit knife, can pull a slide, on ANY semi-auto; I'd posit, it's mainly an issue of technique. I've seen a 87lbs-ish 4'9" woman expertly handle an Officer-sized 1911 running +P JHP loads.
Please consider using the 'flapper' grip, not fingers on the rear cocking serration alone; grab the entire slide with a full grip.
So here's one example: The 'opposing sling-shot' method
Your primary grip hand pushes/'punches' forward, while your secondary hand to pulls the slide, SIMULTANEOUSLY. This lady explains it really well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q8ZRlkdWVc
Lima's take: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbayNc6D9HY
1. I'd highly recommend that she racks it forceful enough to end up 'hitting her chest' with her left racking hand (if she's a rightie).
2. I'd heed extra advice as KeepingThePiece suggested: position the hand clear of the ejection port.
While rare, when you're clearing a double-feed, or failure to extract, you can end up with a fallen-out primer from a cartridge and have it lodge back into the breech in your racking motion if you cup the ejection port as you attempt to clear the chamber.
Dropping firing pin/striker on a stuck primer in double-feed have been known to cause a few Kabooms. It's one of those tactical school urban legends; I've only read about it several times, but have heard a few instructors that I respect testify to seeing it. So it's a good habit to get into racking the slide in the same manner as one would in a malfunction clearance drill.
Also, I would NOT recommend switching out recoil springs with less compression/lighter weight, etc. if she's gonna be carrying or use it to depend her life on it.
It will mess up slide recoil speed and geometry; obviously it's science, but figuring out proper trigger pull weight, recoil spring, chamber pressure drop, slide-lock is a delicately timed art. Manufacturers spend 100's of thousand dollars and man hrs figuring it all out. Last thing you'd want is your custom recoil spring failing your slide to return to battery, when you need your gun to go bang.
Other than switching out stock sights with something like XS Big Dots or other Tritium or Fiber Optics, and adding perhaps a crimson trace grip laser, or an add-on light (if your CCW pistol has a rail), I would NEVER mess around with internals (lighter trigger, change extractors, strikers, plungers, tungsten guiderods, etc) for my defensive carry gun, unless you're 100% familiar with all its internals, where and when parts wear out, how to spot when parts begin to wear down.
Personally, costs of carry ammo aside, I would never carry any gun that either I personally have not cleared a min. of 500rds w/out any malfunction (FTE, FTF, etc) or have been proven by others I trust or respect, to be reliable. Even then, I'd feed the defensive ammo I'm gonna be carrying just to make sure my gun 'eats' those cartridges without any issues.
Also, most people think revolvers 'cannot' jam, but if you actually open it up, it's like a Swiss watch inside. Modern semi-auto's are combat proven and reliable. plus, all mechanical items fail. I'd personally would rather carry minimum of two guns that share the same magazine, ie. Glock 17/19/26. The larger mags all fit in the 26.
And then, perhaps a revolver as a tertiary.
Good luck in finding her the right one!
Depending on budget, from $250~700, if yours and her main considerations are for CCW, I'd recommend 9mm (no one ever complained about having more BB's; plus w/modern ammo, caliber wars are negligible) in Glock19 or 26, S&W M&P Shield, Kahr CW/P/PM9, Beretta Nano, Ruger LC9, KelTec PF9.
And...believe it or not, one of the most reliable, most affordable American made guns with a transferable life-time warranty? SCCY, pronounced like "Sky," at $250-ish street price, often less!
Why not Sig? For carry? For me: Too bulky, overpriced, and personally prefer low height over bore.
HK? They hate non-govt customers, overpriced, same height over bore preference issue.
1911? Weight and Bulk also play a factor here, even though, personally I LOVE 1911's, but for carry, I prefer Glocks.
Though, of course, all depends on what you and she prefers.
Hope this helps. Hope y'all find what you're looking for!
Predictions in due Time...
"Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it's realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy." - Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul
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