Best Guns for Women
I see searches related to “the best gun for women” almost daily on this site. In some ways, I find this troubling. It’s as if women need “special” guns, that they can’t handle a full sized, “man’s” gun, or that a woman’s needs for self defense are somehow different than a man’s. Ladies, I’m here to tell you that there are no “ladies’ guns”, there are just guns, and you can learn how to shoot all of them just as well as (if not better than) any man. All of those clerks at the gun counter, those fathers, brothers, boyfriends, and husbands, that try to direct you to a specific gun type because it is smaller, easier, or whatever, are really selling you short. They may have the best of intentions, but they are basically saying you can’t handle the real thing. Too often this means you get a gun that is ill suited for any beginner, such as a snub nosed revolver. Small guns are hard to shoot and are a poor choice for any beginner, man or woman, old or young.
Granted, women’s bodies are different than men’s, and thank God for that! On average, a woman’s hands are smaller and may have less grip strength. OK, I got it! So what? It doesn’t take that much strength to operate a slide — it’s a matter of angles and technique rather than brute strength — and, it doesn’t take an iron grip to control a 9 mm, .40, or .45 — I demonstrate bulls-eye shooting with just my trigger finger and thumb in every class. In my experience, the problem isn’t the gun or the woman, it is the teacher (or salesman).
A woman’s needs are exactly the same as a man’s. She needs a gun that fits well in her hand, that she can control while shooting, and that she can conceal effectively.
Fitting the gun is important and that doesn’t mean going small. Start with a good grip: hand high up on the backstrap; adjust the weapon so the front sight and rear sight are aligned with the forearm; and, trigger finger indexed along the frame. How does it feel? Can you compress the trigger and work the safety and slide release without changing your grip? If not, then ask to look at another pistol. Feel free to politely decline when the gun clerk suggests the pink Lady Smith. Glocks, Springfield XDs, and others have large, blocky grips that may be uncomfortable in small and medium sized hands. If this is the case, take a look at Smith & Wesson M&P, Sig Sauer, or other pistols known for their ergonomic fit. Many weapons also come with adjustable backstraps to better fit various hand sizes. Don’t worry about caliber at this point, just find a gun that you can operate without adjusting your grip and that is comfortable in your hands.
Controlling a pistol has very little to do with caliber and much to do with the weapon’s size and the shooter’s grip. Most shooters will find that bigger, heavier pistols are easier to control and shoot accurately than smaller guns in the same caliber. For many, small guns just plain hurt to shoot. Snub nose revolvers and pocket autos (such as the Ruger LCP), which everyone seems to think are perfect for women, are actually very difficult and “uncomfortable” to shoot. If it hurts to shoot, then it is the wrong gun for you! Shooting takes a lot of practice and you won’t practice if you don’t enjoy the experience. (Just for the record, women can learn to shoot snubbies and pocket autos, but I don’t recommend anyone buy one as their first gun.) My advice is to try before you buy and to buy the biggest gun that you can control and conceal.
Concealment is the one area where women should get special consideration. Women’s fashion is not exactly conducive to on-body concealment. A man can belt carry in anything from shorts and a t-shirt, to business casual, to full formal attire. A woman, not so much. On top of that, the shape of a woman’s hips can make it even harder to find a comfortable holster. I’m not a fan of off-body carry (in purses, day planners, etc), but many women find this to be the best alternative, which is certainly an argument in favor of smaller, lighter guns. I recommend you talk to other female shooters and spend some time on the web browsing woman-oriented shooting sites. A good place to start is The Cornered Cat.
Ladies, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to choosing a gun. Sex is not one of them! If we are going to steer you into certain types of “ladies” guns, then we might as well just say you shouldn’t carry a gun because the big, bad rapist will use it against you. Let’s forget that nonsense for once and for all! If a .45 caliber semi-automatic is good enough for the guys, then it’s good enough for the girls, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
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