As we age, our love of firearms doesn’t degrade, but our ability to manage recoil and weight may. Hand strength may deteriorate and so may eyesight, making shooting our favorite firearms less enjoyable. However, these choices in firearms will keep you shooting for years to come. Whether you’re looking for a handgun, rifle or shotgun, there is a gun on this list for you.
Some of the best handguns for older shooters are going to be heavy, all-steel guns. 1911 pistols chambered in 9mm Luger are great options. Many shooters are familiar with the operation of a 1911 handgun but may find the .45 ACP to be too much as age increases. A 9mm 1911 provides you with the same function in a more tame package. They are easy to shoot, accurate and hold more ammunition than their .45 ACP counterparts. Additionally, this could be supplemented with other all-steel 9mm handguns like the CZ 75 and some SIG Sauer pistols.
Similarly, if you are a revolver shooter, a heavy-framed .38 Special is a good choice. These are easy to shoot and many shooters are familiar with the simple operation of a wheel gun. Purchasing a heavy .357 Magnum revolver like a Smith & Wesson L-Frame and downloading to .38 Special ammunition provides a lot of fun at the range and sufficient power for self-defense. If the heavy double-action trigger pull is too much, you can always fire in single-action mode for a light and crisp trigger pull.
Shooters who may lack the strength to hold up a heavy steel-framed pistol for long periods would benefit from trying the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield .380 EZ. This polymer-framed pistol is lightweight and easy to shoot. It was designed from the ground up for those who have trouble using traditional semi-automatic pistols. The slide is easier to rack and there are a number of safeties on the firearm to prevent accidental discharge. The .380 ACP version of this pistol provides modest recoil, but the 9mm Luger version is only slightly harder to shoot.
If a .22 pistol is more your speed, the Smith and Wesson M&P22 is plenty accurate and reliable. Additionally, it provides you with a semi-automatic platform to practice malfunction clearance and magazine changes.
When looking at rifles for older shooters, opting for the same model firearm that is already owned, just in a caliber with lighter recoil is a good option. A Remington 700 bolt-action rifle is a classic for good reason, and when chambered in .223 Remington, recoil is modest. This is a simple firearm to operate, cycling manually via the bolt action.
For defensive use, an AR-15 chambered in .223 is a great choice. The Springfield SAINT is a popular model, but there are tons of different manufacturers and models that would work. The AR-15 is easy to shoot and is fairly lightweight for a semi-automatic rifle. It offers a lot of customizability and parts replacement is a breeze.
For something a little more old school, a lever-action rifle like the Winchester 1894 chambered in .30-30 Winchester is not hard on the shoulder. The tubular magazine is easy to load and mastering the lever action can be done with a little practice.
If you’re looking for a .22 LR rifle, the Ruger 10/22 is hard to beat. The 10/22 is easily the most popular .22 LR rifle and provides a great platform for upgrades and customization. It can be found at an affordable price and is incredibly accurate and easy to shoot.
For older shooters who already have a 12-gauge shotgun, finding the same model in 20-gauge will provide a relief from some of that recoil. 20-gauge pump-action shotguns are great for both hunting and defensive use. They have enough power to get the job done without an overt amount of recoil. They are also a little smaller than 12-gauge shotguns, so they are lighter weight and easier to maneuver.
Semi-auto shotguns in both 12 and 20-gauge are incredibly easy to shoot, especially if you select one with an inertia-driven system like the Benelli Super Black Eagle or Remington VersaMax. The semi-automatic action helps absorb recoil, and newer semi-auto shotguns are becoming lighter and lighter. This makes them great platforms that are lightweight and well balanced.
If a 20-gauge shotgun is still too powerful, going down further to a .410 Bore is a viable option. They produce very little recoil and with proper loads, they can still be used to hunt a variety of game. .410 Bore shotguns are also fairly affordable, especially if you opt for a single-shot firearm.
Finally, double-barrel shotguns, or other break-open shotguns, are something to consider. They are easy to operate, simply slide the lever to open the action, load your ammunition and close. There is no need to work a pump-action or to be able to clear a jam in a semi-auto.
Another unique recommendation is the Chiappa Double Badger. This break-open firearm provides you with a .22 LR barrel and a .410 Bore shotgun barrel all in one package.
These can be fitted to most pistols and rifles, and even some shotguns. You could also look into having a red-dot optic mounted. This takes some time to get used to, but once you do, it makes target acquisition much easier and faster.
When considering firearms for older shooters, it may also be useful to take a look at some holsters that are good for older shooters. A holster should be comfortable, secure and accessible.
Holster choice is largely dependent on personal preference, but in general, a molded leather holster tends to be the most comfortable.
Leather outside-the-waistband holsters from 1791 Gunleather are very comfortable, but will require a covering garment for concealment. Leather inside-the-waistband holsters from BLACKHAWK! are more concealable, but sacrifice some comfort on the waistline. If carrying a gun on the hip isn’t a viable option, a shoulder holster from Galco may provide good service.
Finally, if recoil is a huge issue, switching to a crossbow for hunting season may be the smart move. Firing and aiming is similar to a firearm, and recoil is nonexistent.
You can hunt much of the same game as you normally would, just make sure you know your local laws. When selecting a crossbow, it is important to find one with a drawstring you are able to pull back for reloading. There are hand-crank loaders available that make this process much easier for those with limited strength. The bow will do you no good if you are not able to load it.
Aging doesn’t mean we have to give up our favorite hobby or be ill-equipped for self-defense. Making some adjustments to firearm selection can keep you shooting as long as you desire. There are great handguns, rifles and shotguns for older shooters that will keep shooting enjoyable.