Help For Hurting Hands

Tips & Tricks To Ease The Pain

If you haven’t looked at air guns lately, you may be surprised at how realistic many of them are,
especially ones branded by a major handgun manufacturer.

Sooner or later age catches up with all of us. For some of us, ailments such as arthritis, bursitis or neuropathy affect our ability to shoot any kind of decent practice or training session without feeling the consequences later. I’m one who suffers from all the ailments mentioned, and I’ve been on a search to find methods and tools to keep me in the game.

Let’s talk first about something that has nothing to do with hardware or methods — commitment. For almost 10 years now, I’ve carried — on my person every day — what most people would call a “big” gun. I don’t leave home, even for a quick trip to a drive-thru, without arming myself with a decent carry handgun and spare ammunition. If I’m ever in a position where it’s necessary, I intend to protect myself and my family. I’ll have a gun that will be up to the task. My gun is usually a 1911 Commander in .45 ACP or a double stack .40, occasionally a 9mm. Regardless of the gun, I’ll have two extra magazines.

These Hogue rubber grips on David’s .45 LW Colt Commander do a good job of mitigating recoil.

These shooting gloves by GripSwell use a proprietary memory foam to provide relief during shooting.

What It Takes

Since my commitment doesn’t include going to wimpy calibers, there are things I’m doing to keep shooting what I carry. I’ve made some changes in ammo. Historically, good defensive ammo in calibers professionals agree are solid choices for defense have packed a pretty good punch when it comes to recoil. However, new lightweight, high-speed ammo from Inceptor, NovX, Liberty Civil Defense and G2 Research are alternatives with much less recoil, but still inflict severe damage. Each of these brands has newly designed bullets using technology other than expansion to create impressive wound channels. Interceptor also offers lightweight practice rounds. The lighter recoil and more affordable cost make my range sessions much more productive and enjoyable.

For most of my shooting life, if I bought a gun with a set of rubber grips I’d replace them. I’m basically a wood and steel guy. I like guns that not only work well but are pretty. Rubber grips are boring. But guess what I’m shooting now? My son handed me a set of Hogue rubber grips for a 1911, asking if there was anything I’d like to put them on. My Colt Lightweight Commander was on the bench for a grip change at the time, so just for grins I put the Hogue grips on. On my next trip to the range I noticed a significant difference in how my hands felt after an extended shooting session. This won me over and the grips are still on the Colt. I’ve also put rubber grips back on a revolver from which I had previously removed them.

Rubber grips are one option helping to absorb recoil, but I’ve also traded out aggressive wood or G10 grips for something less aggressive on several of my guns, reducing the abrasiveness. Each little change along those lines has enabled me to shoot longer sessions without suffering for it later.

Also, I’m more careful about which guns I shoot during an extended range session. Instead of a .45, for example, I’ll choose the Ruger 9mm Lightweight Commander for an extended workout. It feels the same in my hands, handles the same as my .45 Commanders, but the recoil is much less, especially with Polycase RNP practice rounds.

Often a small grip change can make a difference. More aggressive grips on the left can be
replaced by less aggressive grips such as the ones shown on the right.

Bigger Guns

My choice of double-stacks, regardless of caliber, is often a full-size S&W M&P. Because of its grip angle and the texture on the grip area, I’ve always found the M&P to be a very forgiving platform as far as recoil goes. I even enjoy shooting some of my .40-cal. handguns if I use the ARX or Liberty ammo. In fact, I no longer shoot or carry the .40’s with anything but those two.

There are many choices for shooting gloves, but most are designed for a better grip than for recoil mitigation. One exception is the GripSwell GS-33 Dual Palm Swell glove. This company has made Shotgun Palm Swell gloves for years and decided the same technology would benefit handgun shooters equally well.

It just so happens the day my Palm Swell gloves arrived I was headed to the range for an extended shooting session. I shot several different models of 9mm autos plus some .45 caliber cowboy sixguns. After an afternoon of shooting I could tell a big difference in how these shooting gloves helped my hands. Their secret is a proprietary Memory Foam blend absorbing much of the recoil while keeping your hand firmly on the grip. Oh, and be sure to order a size larger than you think you need. Our hands tend to swell during the day, right?

Loading magazines is a killer for arthritic hands. I know there are a variety of mag loader choices, but the one helping me the most also happens to be a universal one-size-fits-all among .380, 9mm, .40 and .45 calibers called the Maglula UpLULA. I’ve used a variety of magazine loaders over the years, but this one is by far the easiest. Operating it doesn’t hurt my hands or cause them to cramp. I like to load up as many magazines as I can before a range session so I can make the best use of my time there, and the UpLULA makes it easy.

Inceptor ammo gives you the option of a hard-hitting defensive load with a lightweight bullet and high velocity, for low recoil.

The G2 Research R.I.P. is designed to combine devastating on-target performance with light recoil.

A Lighter Touch

Since shooting a lot of rounds takes its toll on my hands and shoulders, even with the lighter weight ammo, I want to make the best possible use of my range time. Unless I’m doing accuracy testing for a particular gun, ammo or combination, I rarely shoot at stationary paper targets any more. Instead, my trips to the range consist of tactical drills designed to keep me as sharp and focused as possible. I shoot against the clock. I shoot in contests against other shooters. I shoot moving targets. I shoot in shoot/no shoot scenarios. In other words, I do my best to stay on top of my game from a defensive shooting perspective, not just target shooting. I want to keep my thinking skills sharp along with my shooting skills.

But, there’s still some satisfaction in being able to shoot small groups in stationary targets because it challenges you to keep the basic skills of grip, aiming, breathing, trigger control and follow-through sharp. Since I don’t want to spend time at the range working on these skills, I sit on the back porch and shoot pellet guns and BB guns. Not only is it fun and useful for me, it’s a great way to have fun with the grandkids when they come to visit.

The kids and I like to use Birchwood-Casey Shoot-N-C targets, either stuck onto our Big Green Target block or hanging in front of a Do-All .22 Bullet Trap. Either of these will work indoors in case the weather or mosquitos chase us into my home office. Outdoors can bring back the nostalgia of plinking by shooting at aluminum cans and resetting air gun targets.

Make a commitment to yourself to stay sharp with your defensive firearm until your relatives tell you it’s time to put your gun down and let them take up the mantle. Try some of the lighter shooting, but effective ammo. Changing out grips for more comfort is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. Gloves can help. Maximize your range time with drills and exercises that will keep your mind, reflexes and shooting skills sharp. Air guns are fun! Try one, or several! So there you go, some simple and achievable ways to take the sting out of shooting!

For more info:

Birchwood Casey
Ph: (800) 746-6862

G2 Research

GripSwell Gloves
Ph: (714) 379-9413

Ph: (800) 438-4747

Inceptor Ammunition
Ph: (912) 335-5101

Liberty Civil Defense
Ph: (941) 567-6178



Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner July/August 2019 Issue Now!