Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guns and Women

It seems that some people are finding my blog by searching for terms along the lines of, “What are good self defense guns for women?” I’m going to focus on handguns, for the most part, because we tend to carry this type of firearm for self-defense purposes. However, please keep in mind that we can defend ourselves with shotguns and rifles as well, though they aren’t typically what I choose when I’m looking for a concealed-carry firearm (for obvious reasons).

The, “What guns are best?” question doesn’t work very well because women come in many varieties, with all sorts of strengths and weaknesses. Asking what guns are best for women is much like asking what shoes are best for us, or what brand of jeans fits us best. There is no one correct answer, and it is inevitable that any one item (gun, clothing, whatever) you deem “good for women” will suck out loud for a certain percentage of us.

There is not even a correct RANGE of answers, to be utterly honest with you all, because so many women prove to be most comfortable outside the “accepted” variety of guns that are “good for women.” You cannot say that a five-inch 1911 is “too much gun” for women, because I happen to shoot a variety of these 1911s on a regular basis without any complications or problems. Not all of us are doomed to have a weak grip on that particular model and, as a result, shoot worse than Stevie Wonder.

You also cannot say that a Lady Smith revolver is “good for women,” because some of us have one problem or another with that firearm. Not all of us like its size, for example, or its recoil. Not all of us are fans of revolvers in general, either.

You will, of course, find women for whom the 1911 is a pain in the wrists, and for whom the Lady Smith is a perfect handgun. However, this does not mean that we’re all going to have the same results – and we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking about women, and “girls’ guns,” just because I happen to know some women who are quite comfortable within the range that I just mentioned.

Another problem is that it’s very difficult to buy a gun that’s just right for someone else. If you’re a guy, and you’re looking to buy your gal a firearm, it’s best to let her do most of the shopping. If you interfere too much, then she’s probably not going to get what SHE wants and needs. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help her out – I think that’s a very-cool gesture, in fact – but you can’t shop for her gun any better than she can shop for yours. Let her do the research, and let her try out various guns and ammo, to find out what works best for her.

So, then, we women should be asking the questions about the guns that we might like to acquire. Therefore, we would be doing well to ask, “Which handguns would be good for me in particular?” The very-best way to answer this question is to go try the ones that you think you might like. Go to a shooting range that rents handguns, or borrow various models from your family and friends. Send a good amount of lead downrange with each firearm, then evaluate.

Are you comfortable? Can you properly grip, carry, and operate that particular model? Can you easily use the sights on that gun? Would you enjoy shooting that firearm again? Those are just a few of the questions I ask myself while, and after, I shoot a new-to-me firearm. So far, I’ve mostly enjoyed all the guns I ended up “adopting” after my test runs, so my method can’t be too shoddy, right?

You might really like two or three handguns after a day at the range. That’s fine – you can narrow down your selections with some research and thinking. Your budget might eliminate one or two choices for you anyway. And, hey, this is America: you can buy more than one gun, you know. (Well, most of us can, anyway.) Plenty of individuals have at least two carry guns, which they rotate depending on their needs and moods.

All of the above advice applies to other firearms, too, even though I made a point of focusing on handguns. Your husband or father might be madly in love with his AR-15, but this doesn’t mean that it should necessarily be your favorite rifle, too. Shop around, try out some different things, and make your own decision. You’re the one who will have to maintain, shoot, and possibly even carry the firearm, so make sure that you’re getting what you need and want.


  1. Excellent article! As a firearm instructor, this is right on track with what I recommend women to do as well. Absolutely, rent, borrow, test drive and evaluate. To me, buying a gun is like buying a purse. Someone else can't do it for me, because it's a total personal preference.


“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm