What do you do when your arms are too short to handle a gun properly? This question has been on my mind since the episode of Top Shot when Athena Lee had difficulty with the Tommy gun. It wasn’t the weight of the gun but the length of the gun that made it difficult for Athena to compete against Jamie. I’m not talking about man versus woman (that’s a whole other conversation) but the difference in body frames gave the taller competitor with longer arms an advantage. Athena as a “little Asian girl who can kick butt” was at a disadvantage when the Thompson sub-machine gun was brought out for the challenge.
The stock of the gun was too long for her arms. She had to improvise and had a challenging time controlling the recoil. Lacking the proper clearance she had to grip the gun the best she could and try to shoulder it. Jamie, however, is much taller than Athena and did not have the same issues when gripping the gun or handling the recoil.
It’s not the weight of the gun that is the issue in most cases. Girls can handle big guns. If you can’t properly grip the gun it is going to be difficult to handle the recoil. So let’s get it right - Women are not afraid of recoil – bring on the high caliber firearms! And, please don’t show us the pink youth model just because we are petite.
I am slightly taller than the average 5’4 woman in America so most long guns fit me fine. I know I am lucky but what option does my 5’2 sister-in-law have at the local gun store? Ok, a youth model gun would work. It is true that youth models automatically come with a shorter length of pull and lighter weight but that is not the only recommendation. Find the rifle of your choice and then find a local gunsmith to cut the stock to fit and re-fit with a recoil pad. There are big pluses with a custom fitted stock that is comfortable to shoot.
If a custom stock isn’t an option look for a firearm with a short length of pull. The Ruger M77 Hawkeye Compact has a 12.50” length of pull and is sold in various calibers from .223 rem., .243 win and .308 win among others. It’s a reliable bolt-action rifle with slim ergonomics for smaller frames. Not a fan of Ruger? Try one of the Mossberg 100 ATR Bolt Action Rifles. These short-action firearms have a length of pull as short as 12 inches in 7mm-08 rem., .243 win and .308 win calibers.
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye Compact
But what if weight IS the problem? Try a gun with a synthetic stock that will be lighter than real wood. The tradeoff is that you can’t modify the stock to fit your arms. The Savage Arms 220 Youth has a synthetic stock with a soft recoil pad and carbon steel barrel and comes in at 7.5 lbs.
The Savage Arms 220 Youth
The best recommendation would be an aftermarket stock for your shotgun or rifle. It may be more expensive but it may be the best fit. The Knoxx SpecOps Stock by BlackHawk has been around for a while and combines a four-point adjustable stock and pistol grip with the Knoxx recoil dampening system. This adjustable stock not only makes the gun shorter but more comfortable as well. In addition, there is some recoil dampening and greater controllability of the pistol grip. Not looking for an adjustable stock with a pistol grip? Another great option would be to replace the stock with a composite fiber model that is custom fit or adjustable. Manners Composite Stocks makes a great one that rocks many colors and color combinations. You can even design your own camouflage pattern to totally customize your firearm.
The Knoxx SpecOps Stock with a Four Point Adjustable Stock
A Manners Composite Stock in a Custom Design Finish
For safety and enjoyment take a gun to the range that fits. It seems more and more women are hunting, competing and enjoying long guns. Whether you choose a youth model, a customized stock or even an aftermarket option, ladies grab your gun and head out. Remember Athena Lee didn’t give up and adjusted to the situation showing no fear even when tasked to firing the infamous Tommy gun. The future of shooting includes more and more women each year and I look for the manufacturers to adjust to all types of body frames and heights in the coming years. The best advice? Find a gun that fits and have fun! It will be a more enjoyable and rewarding experience.