If you are 24-years old, you can skip reading this, because you can easily handle a 9mm, .45 ACP, or even a 10mm semi-auto, and also teach John Wick not to waste ammo.  But keep reading if you have grandparents who worked their fingers to the bone raising your father and your three wild uncles.  Because now, pawpaw’s fingers are wracked with arthritis and neuropathy and he truly cannot smoothly “rack” a semi-auto pistol (pull the slide back and then let it go forward chambering a round.)

Maybe memaw tried a Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ – “EZ” standing for easier to rack.  But she just couldn’t do it unless she held the pistol in her left hand and racked it with her dominant right hand and then switched the weapon from left to right hand to fire it.  And at the range, neither one could do that every time, without dropping it.  Then maybe they tried a revolver, but it kicked so much that it wasn’t accurate, and with just six rounds, that wouldn’t cut it.  This is not going to end well during a home invasion or being accosted walking their beloved Shih Tzu, Sparky, who hasn’t bitten anyone since Uncle Ted threw that firecracker in his general vicinity that one Fourth of July.

We reviewed several pistols concerning this topic and I promised I would get a Girsan MC 14T.  .380 Auto and see what’s up.  The answer is; the barrel.  Semi-auto; double action or single action; measured double action trigger pull north of 8.5-lb (it is smooth and feels like less); and single action at 4.5-lb.  Mag holds 13 rounds, but it’s easier to insert the magazine with 12 rounds in it.  4.5 inch barrel.  28.48 ounces loaded (including fourteen 95-grain Fiocchi rounds).  Turkish engineers probably used Italian Beretta Model 86 Cheetah as a template.

So what makes it unique?  And like pawpaw, I have arthritis and neuropathy in both hands.  To load, insert the magazine in magazine well.  Place right index fingertip on a lever just above the trigger on the right side and push lever downward.  I could do this with just my right hand; it did not require steadying with my left.  Rear of the barrel will pop up about half an inch.  Load one round in, reach over with your left hand and use your left thumb to push the barrel back down, producing an audible click.  Whenever you want to see if the pistol is loaded, just tip up the barrel and look, no racking required.  In fact, because of its design, I could not rack it unless I first cocked the hammer back.

I could get a good hold with all four fingers (my handspan is 8.5″); grips have ridges but are not sharp.  Beavertail keeps my thumb web low, so no slide “bite”.  Five inches tall, and 7.5 inches long, pistol fits in a purse,  if a lot of other stuff comes out.  Too bulky for pants pocket unless cargo size; some jacket pockets OK; great for a fanny-pack pulled around the front, or for a nightstand or a vehicle.  Accessory rail front underside of frame, but attaching anything might make it too bulky, plus it’s just another operating task to memorize.  Instead of the rail, should have come with more than one magazine; you’ll have to order more, because just one mag on the range is a pain in the rear.

Nice white dot sights, but in my opinion, this is a 21-30 foot range self-defense/home defense weapon.  Train to point, shoot, hit and repeat, and not waste time on long-range accuracy.  Initially firing 170 FMJ rounds at 21-30 feet, had one failure to feed and one failure to fire.  Opened tip-up barrel and found that round had distinct indent, so this was likely a bad primer.  Other 168 FMJ rounds, fired standing unsupported, struck center chest of the half-size silhouette.  Then fired seven rounds of each type of following self-defense ammo (84 rounds total) from sandbag support at 21 feet for basic group size.

Speer Gold Dot (90 grain) 1.125″ high; 1.125″ wide

Browning X-Point Defense (95 grain) 1.5″ high; 1.062″ wide

Remington HTP High Terminal Performance (88 grain) 2.125″ high; 0.875″ wide

Hornady American Gunner XTP (90 grain) 1.875″ high; 1.25″ wide

Winchester Silvertip (85 grain) 2.5″ high; 0.75″ wide

Winchester PDX 1 Defender (95 grain) 2.125″ high; 1.25″ wide

Underwood Maximum Expansion (68 grain) 2.125″ high; 1.25″ wide

Federal Punch Personal Defense (85 grain; 1000 fps) 2.25″ high; 1.875″ wide

Sig Sauer Elite Defense/Elite Performance (90 grain) 2.875″ high; 1.5″ wide

Norma MHP Home Defense (85 grain) 2.625″ high; 2.5″ wide; one failure to feed

Hornady Critical Defense (90 grain) 3.75″ high; 1.75″ wide

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics (90 grain) 5.25″ high; 2.25″ wide; one failure to fire

Nowhere on weapon or in owner’s manual is +P ammunition mentioned, so I don’t plan on firing any.  It is a blowback operating system, generally chambered for small-caliber, low pressure cartridges, that obtains energy from the motion of the cartridge case as it is pushed to the rear by expanding gas created by the ignition of the propellant charge.  No extractor; to unload a round in the chamber, tip up the barrel and pull it out, which probably eliminates putting on a red dot.

This is not an argument that .380 is a better defensive round than something larger: I assume you would need 2-3 good hits in a fight; you can train to that.  If your dexterity and strength do not allow you to fire more powerful rounds, your option may be this caliber, and maybe this weapon.