I Don’t Like Guns

But… Cindy Says She Could If She Got The Right Help

By Cindy Hagel

A line of water balloons after experiencing a round of Honey Badger.

I’d venture to guess many of you have some special person in your life who you wish would really like guns — but you haven’t succeeded in persuading. I’m that person. Or I might better say, I can take them or leave them.

Mostly leave them.

Rather than getting frustrated by people like me, rather than beating your head against the sharp edge of your reloading bench — try taking a few moments to look at it from their point of view. You might have a better chance at getting them to like guns, once you see their side of things. Or, at the very least, you’ll gain a better understanding of where they’re at.

Despite living with Ray — a certifiable gun-nut — for most of my life, I really don’t like guns. I do understand their utility, and have learned the basics of operating them. I just feel the same way about guns as I do about the lawn mower or the vacuum cleaner. They’re just a tool to get a possibly unpleasant job done. But why don’t I like them?

I hate the noise. Gunfire to me comes in the same category as screaming babies, yapping dogs, the neighbor’s noisy car and the telephone ringing constantly — just plain annoying. I might actually like guns if they were quiet. Can I have a silencer please? Ray, are you listening?

Also, because I want to preserve my already-damaged hearing, shooting requires wearing earmuffs, which I also hate. Inevitably, the pressure on my head gives me a headache; they mess up the alignment of my multifocal glasses, and I have fine, thin hair insisting on getting caught in them. I have suggested shaving my head but my spouse objects to that plan for some reason. He’s an engineer and always “practical” but seems to go un-practical in that regard! I also love to be outside and listen to the sounds of nature, or talk to Ray, which is difficult to do with muffs on. We’re looking into the electronic muffs, which may help some there.

You can see the size difference between Ray and Cindy’s hands. That little bit
translates into a huge difference in grips.

Even Painful

I don’t enjoy pain. I’ve spent many years of my life being tortured by physical therapists attempting to fix broken body parts, as well as enduring the usual assortment of female miseries. I really don’t need or want any more pain, thank you. I also work two jobs requiring I spend eight to 10 hours per day on either a computer keyboard or a music keyboard. My hands are my bread and butter. I can’t afford flare ups of tendonitis or carpal tunnel. When my wrists start to scream, I’m done shooting — period. I want a gun that doesn’t pound the crap out of me — and one fitting my hands. Which leads me to my next point.

Guns almost never “fit” me. I don’t consider myself to be especially petite (I’m 5’8″) but my hands are much smaller than Ray’s. Recently, when he was getting ready to leave town and taking our normal bedside handgun with him, he rummaged through his collection of handguns and we tried at least six before we found one I felt comfortable with.

You know those fancy grips with the finger grooves? I despise them. My fingers inevitably land on top of the ridges and then have to do a painful stretch to get where they’re “supposed” to be. I can’t get my hand around a lot of grips, or it’s extremely awkward to cock the gun or reach the trigger. If the ergonomics of the gun aren’t right, there will be pain, muscle fatigue and possibly a crabby-shooter. And remember guys, if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

My favorite grip is the one on our Taurus Tracker. It’s nice and squishy and conforms to my hand. It’s also small enough I can get a decent grip on it. Overall, I really like that gun. It fits, it’s easy for me to shoot accurately and it’s simple to use. I also really liked the Smith & Wesson 686 with a 6″ barrel we once had. “Someone” sold that without my permission. Funny thing is the guy bought it for his wife. It’s what I get for suggesting we had too many guns in the house.

The Tracker with the right grip allows Cindy to reach the trigger and hammer. Cindy likes color and Ray
wants her to enjoy shooting. Hence … the painted gun for Cindy!

The 629 Classic is a poor fit on the grip and a no go on the hammer without gymnastics. Cindy can DA the
Tracker just fine, unlike the 629 since she can just get the tip of her finger on the trigger.


Make it a revolver — please? I realize there are many reasons for shooting autos (capacity, speed, etc.) but I really prefer revolvers. I confess I’m a bit machine-challenged, and autos can intimidate me. Autos are all slightly different and they’re more complicated. I wouldn’t want my life to depend on one in an emergency. Revolvers are simple and make sense to me even if I have been away from them for a long time.

Also, I have a horrible time working the slides on semi-autos. Ray’s 10mm is impossible for me to work, regardless of how I try. I don’t know if I’m a wimp or just uncoordinated, but I really struggle with the slides on most of them. I know some of these things can be overcome with training. But how many of us will really take the time to train as much as people say we should? Let’s be honest here.

And — make it fun. I can only stand shooting at the same target for so long. Give me something fun to shoot at which has some instant gratification, like water balloons, steel targets or rotten produce. Make it fun and keep it short, while you’re at it. I prefer short sessions over long ones to reduce the boredom factor and minimize discomfort. I’ve found the same strategy to be productive for my music work and I suspect it works for guns also.

Consider something custom. Grit your teeth and spend some dough and/or effort on something fitting their needs and he/she might actually like the gun, if not love it. Currently, my sweetheart is making a custom and very unique handgun I hope to use for hunting next fall. I’m actually fairly excited about this gun, especially since I’m getting to help design and decorate it. Yes, I know you’re shuddering at that word, but think about this: Ray has induced me to get involved and I’m having fun doing it. With a gun, no less.

This is what happens when Ray takes it on himself to find Cindy a gun fitting her small hand. Ray had the
Springfields sent as loaners for a test. He was right again — and Cindy was happy. Ray had to write a check.
Dodger seems to approve.

Handguns Are Easier

I don’t see the need to haul around a heavy rifle all day long in order to kill a tough old trophy deer. I can shoot something young and good to eat right in my yard, first thing in the morning. Then, I can spend the rest of the day doing things I love like hiking, photography and enjoying nature.
The only time in my life I have hauled around a rifle is when my elderly father-in-law could no longer carry his rifle because of arthritis in his arm. He had a WWII injury (shot) that continued to haunt him. I was his gun bearer and followed him up and down buttes in a foot of snow tracking a mule deer buck all day. My body was screaming but I did it out of love. I would never do it for fun. It’s much easier to tote around a handgun. His Editorship has been encouraging during this build process and you’ll see the results in Handgunner’s pages later.

Finally, don’t be afraid to have some fun with color. I’m not sure why, but my bright blue Ford Tremor just wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if it was beige. The same thing applies to guns. And, please don’t assume just because your special “someone” is female, she wants a pink gun. I personally really dislike pink. Color is powerful. Use it to your advantage and you just might create a gun lover.

Ray’s Take On Things

My grumbling aside, Ray’s choice of the Springfield XD(M) (5.25) and XD-E were spot-on as ways to tempt Cindy into liking an auto. It’s very aggravating for Ray to be right — again.

The XD(M) resulted in a comment from Cindy, “Slide wracking force is easy, no damn buttons or levers to mess with either!” She can shoot the thing very well (kicked my back side) and it’s light for its size. The adjustable grips made fitting it to her simple.

Regarding the Taurus M66 6″ .38/357, Cindy said, “It’s a Taurus, it shoots like I expect. It works.” She really liked the fiber optic sights on the Springfields so I will have to fire up the mill and modify the front sight on the M66 and fit a fiber optic sight to it. The Grip on the Taurus is not perfect for Cindy but works, which means fixing them to something better is low on the honey-do list.

The XD-E was also good, but she did not like the de-cocker. Cindy did note Springfield has made good on reducing the slide wracking force. She shot the XD-E well, as did I. For anyone looking for a good CCW gun, the XD-E is worth well considering. But for Cindy, the bigger but still light 5.25 was the star.

On the topic of making the shooting experience enjoyable, pick the right ammo. The SIG 124-gr. load in the XD series guns proved accurate but the XD(M) is light, so it was a bit flippy. Cindy put up with it, and shot it well, but I could tell it was annoying her. The 115-gr. loads and the Black Hills Honey Badger (not sure why given the heavier bullet) were both fine.

The SIG .38 Special and the Honey Badger .38 Special make a good combo as both shoot to the same place in the M66. One for serious work, the other for trigger time. I know this is like beating a dead horse, but you need to practice with the ammo you plan to carry and in Cindy’s case, this works fine.

The 19-round magazines do need a magazine loader if you want your shooter to stay at it and not complain of sore digits. The mag loader is required for either of us to get a full number of rounds in the magazine. Using tools — like a magazine loader — finding friendly ammo, sights which work, and making sure the gun fits goes a huge distance toward making your new shooter a new friend too, someone who enjoys the experience rather than someone who tolerates things — to be nice.

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