Guns for disabled shooters

EDITED TO ADD:  Due to a lot of interest in this post and links to it from other bloggers, I’ve added a suggestion at the end.

I’m almost at my wit’s end trying to locate several firearms for disabled shooters who live in areas where they feel threatened by dangers such as home invasion, etc.  Some feel at risk when going down the street in wheelchairs, on crutches, or using another mobility aid, because gang-bangers regard them as feeble – easy prey.  Trouble is, on disability income (often no more than a few hundred dollars per month) they can’t afford to buy new or high-quality firearms for self-defense.

Time was I could find old revolvers (decent ones such as Smith & Wesson police department trade-in Model 10‘s and more modern versions such as the Model 15, Model 64, etc.) for $150-$200.  Not any more.  The diminishing supply of police trade-in revolvers, and increasing demand for low-cost home defense weapons, has meant that finding such deals is now a matter of luck alone.  The last couple of handguns I was able to find for disabled shooters were older-model Ruger P-series pistols.  The earliest production runs of P85 9mm. handguns (shown below) are sometimes available in the $200-$250 range, and I buy them when I can find them.

They’re big and bulky, which is a problem for those with small hands, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Also, time was I could get halfway decent pump-action shotguns (used Remington 870‘s or Mossberg 500‘s) for $150-$200.  No longer.  I’m probably going to have to look more closely at Chinese copies of US designs.  A Chinese clone of the Remington 870 is widely available for about $200, and a locally-assembled version sells for a similar price.  They’re rougher and less well put together than the original, but if one can’t afford a Remington . . .  (Rifles are pretty much out of the question, as a worthwhile one will usually be a lot more expensive than a ‘beater’ shotgun.  Besides, for home defense most rifles have the disadvantages of being too powerful and over-penetrative.)

(I’ve had some success swapping ammo for suitable firearms.  For example, I’ve got a reasonably good stash of .22LR ammo, which is as scarce as hens’ teeth in the shops right now.  I recently obtained a Ruger P85 for $50 plus four bricks of Winchester 333, and the seller was very glad to get it!  Another seller parted with a shotgun in exchange for a selection of .45 ACP ball and 12ga. buckshot.)

I have three or four disabled shooters who I can only describe as seriously impoverished.  They can’t find work to supplement their meager allowances, and therefore can’t spare more than a few dollars for their protection.  For their use, I’m looking at estate sales and elsewhere to see whether I can find a few of the old single-shot H&R or NEF shotguns.  These sometimes used to sell at auction for as little as $20 – in poor cosmetic condition, to be sure, but still shootable.  A single-shot shotgun is better than nothing for home defense, and if that’s all these people can afford, it’ll have to do.  (I’ll donate sufficient ammo to train them to a proficient level.)

I’d be grateful if those of my readers who care about such things would please keep their eyes peeled for older, usable-condition pistols, revolvers and shotguns at low prices.  I know everyone wants them, but if you spot something like an old single-shot shotgun, or old Ruger P-series pistol, or an equivalent weapon at a price along the lines discussed above, PLEASE e-mail me!  (My address is in my blog profile.)  I may ask whether you’ll be willing to buy it (on receipt of funds, of course) and ship it to a local FFL for legal transfer to a disabled shooter.  However, that’ll add shipping and FFL fees to the cost, which may make it unaffordable (unless you’re in Tennessee, in which case a face-to-face transfer will be legal and free of charge).

If any of you have an old firearm like that doing nothing but take up space in your gun safe, and you feel like donating it, or selling it at a good price, to a good cause, please e-mail me . . .


EDITED TO ADD:  I’ve had many readers arrive at this post from other blogs – far more than I expected.  I’m very grateful for your interest, and for several offers of suitable firearms:  but there may be a better way for you to help.

I’m just one man, in one city, trying to help one group of disabled people.  There are vastly more of them spread across this country, in every town and city, in every county and state.  Instead of sending guns or money to me, why not approach a local shooting range to discuss the possibility of setting up training classes for disabled shooters in your area?  You (and your range) could approach local groups of disabled people (there are bound to be links to such groups in your telephone directory), offering training for those interested in it.  If enough of us do this, it would be of great help to far more people than I can reach.

Thanks for your interest!


  1. I don't know if they hold "police buy-backs" in your area or not, but around here (within 100 miles) they happen every year or two. Every time they set one up, I see guys walking the line offering two or three times the "buy-back" price in cash for peoples' old guns. If the line is long and the supply of gift cards is small, you might be able to find a few that way.

  2. Another possibility might be to look at surplus Warsaw pact pistols, for those whose disability doesn't preclude handling recoil. J&G sales, for instance, currently has TTC semi-automatic pistols in 7.62x25mm for under $200. The Yugoslavian version (M57) is about $180. This is on the expensive side for some, but within the $200-250 range you indicated. Ammo for these may be a problem, though – I don't see any offered on several websites that are usually reliable providers.

  3. May I suggest a couple of .22 alternatives, considering the criteria of low price, low recoil and limited strength for manipulation:
    Taurus PT-22
    Heritage Rough Rider .22LR/.22 Mag combo

    Neither would be first choices for self-defense, but would be acceptable under the circumstances stated. In .22's out of pistols for self defense, I'd suggest standard lead round nose, since the low velocities make hollow points unlikely to expand.

  4. I have a 19" inch 12 ga single shot Brasilian made shotgun with sling swivales. It is not recoil friendly but is very handy and if I had but one well pointed shot…

  5. You might consider looking for used bolt-action shotguns. Mossberg, Marlin, and maybe other manufactures made them. I think I've seen some on Net sites for around $100. Twelves, 16s, 20s
    and .410s were all made. My late
    brother in law hunted with a .410 for a while when he was younger.

    It should be fairly simple to cut the barrels down to 20 inches for
    home defense.

    They are not as quick or easy to use as a pump but do provide
    at least a couple of follow up shots.

  6. I can find 20ga Mossies or their "store" gun equivalants for $180-$200 around here. I usually buy them and chop them to 18" for friends. If you want I'll keep an eye out for you and let you know what I find.

  7. Don't overlook the Charter revolvers. I encountered one new one by Charco (I think) that had bad timing, but the factory fixed it under warranty. I think they may have a lifetime warranty, now. Every other one I have examined has had very tight timing.

    I've only ever seen the .38's and .44's, with 2" and 2.5" barrels. There are other calibers and lengths out there somewhere! The .38's usually fit in J-frame holsters. If you work at it, you can even get the .44's to fit in some of them, although the 1/2" longer barrel is a problem in closed bottom ones.

    My 20+yr old Charter .38 is just as accurate, and reliable, as my 442-0 S&W at 40 yards.

    You might consider eliminating the single action capability, as they tend to have an unusually light trigger when cocked. I shoot mine DAO.

  8. The Ruger P-95 9mm is a good, cheap choice. Not quite as heavy as the 85, fairly reliable, easy recoiling, and one should be able to snag one for around $320 new.

    There's a lot of old tube fed .22lr semi-auto rifles floating around the gunshops for somewhere around $100 or less.

    And, for the knowledgeable gun shopper, with a bit of searching, many gunshops have a few rusty old top break S&W's, H&R .32s, and other older guns available for under $200. However, one should have a bit of knowledge before buying.

  9. What about Makarov-style pistols from Russian milsurp? Those can very often be found in the sub-$250 range. They're also fairly compact and the most common caliber is one that is slightly smaller than a 9mm parabellum, so recoil shouldn't be a problem, either.

  10. The WWII surplus Russian 1895 Nagant revolver has been pretty commonly available at gun shows in your price range. I have one and like it. 'Correct' ammo has been scarce and pricey, but is now available and no worse than equivalent pistol ammo, and it will shoot .32 ACP (some say you need a conversion cylinder to do so, but I have shot it with no problem.) It's a bit of a pain to reload, but mine is accurate and has been reliable. The grip is good for all but very large hands.

  11. My local LE dealer has police trade-in model 10s in their current flyer for $250. Doesn't say how many.

  12. Surplus Israeli or FEG Hi-Powers are usually < $300. After a new set of springs I haven't seen one (of four) that aren't reliable.

    I don't think any full sized pistol has better ergonomics (others may disagree).

  13. I will definitely be keeping my eyes open.

    Thank you for doing this and setting an example of what we should all be doing.

    Scott in TN

  14. "I may ask whether you'll be willing to buy it (on receipt of funds, of course) and ship it to a local FFL for legal transfer to a disabled shooter."

    This is the classic strawman purchase. Spend some time on the ATF website to decide for yourself.

  15. ISTR that there are still sub-$200 revolvers available through one of the VERY prominent advertisers in Shotgun News. . . (J&G Sales?) Sure, they’re Rossis or Armscor or the like, but still — reliable, medium frame, 6 shot .38 Spls are not hard to make, and AFAIK these guns are fine. Never win a Bianchi Cup, but fine for the intended purpose of self defense.

    As for it being a "strawman purchase" — nope. No more so than a gun club buying a rifle, then raffling it off. There's ways to do it perfectly legally, but involvement of FFLs at both ends are a must.

  16. @Anonymous at 3.38 PM: No, this is not a "straw purchase" – as I explicitly said, this means that the new owner undergoes a background check at licensed premises and obtains the gun legally. In precisely the same way, if the gun is transferred face-to-face between two residents of the same state, no Federal law is broken – private transfers are legal in that situation.

    I'm not such a fool as to add a jail sentence to the problems disabled shooters are already facing!

  17. No, the Bruce Adamski case is completely different. Adamski lied on his Form 4473 – a federal offense. He bought the firearm saying it was for himself, then immediately sold it to another person.

    Since no lies would be involved here, and the gun(s) would not be resold, the Adamski case isn't relevant.

  18. It's not a used gun, and may be out of some of your student's price range, but the new Remington 51 is supposed to have a slide that is very easy to rack and low recoil.

    Street price is rumored to be about $350.

    Just something to keep in mind when they do come out.


  19. If the other early run P-85's are like mine the 13+# trigger with a yard of pull could be an issue.
    I have been noticing several ATI branded pump 12 gauges (mossy 500 clones)going for around $220 in my area of AZ.
    Marine brushed nickle coat, butter smooth action with the 2 extra shell holder stocks.

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