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3 Things Women Should Avoid When Shopping For A Gun

women which guns to buyThere comes a time in every woman’s life when she is confronted with the prospect of purchasing a firearm for self defense. Inevitably, she is steered to an array of so-called “lady guns” – reduced size, small caliber handguns often finished in bright and cheery colors, as if a pink gun represents the ultimate fashion accessory.

There’s a lot to be desired, however, in most handguns marketed towards women. While any gun is better than being unarmed, we still feel that most dedicated lady guns are still a bad choice for most female shooters. Here’s why:

Wimpy Calibers: .25 ACP and .32 ACP are calibers that were originally intended for “pocket pistols” and have been around for decades. They are the original caliber for both pocket guns – and purse guns. While there are still an innumerable amount of these little pistols out there, most small gun manufacturers have mostly switched to .380 for things like backup guns – as well as lady guns. Therefore, most women, when presented with a range of firearms chamberings, will usually be starting their selection process with a selection that is entirely composed of underpowered cartridges.

The reason often cited for these calibers is that heavy recoil will often dissuade female shooters, induce flinching, and generally cause them to not want to shoot the gun. There’s lots of validity to this – but what happens in a self-defense scenario? If confronted by a vicious attacker, do you want the first shot to be a meager .32 ACP bullet, or a .357 Magnum?

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Sure, recoil is a consideration, but there is no recoil until after you pull the trigger. After, that is, the round you just discharged is safely in the center mass of the attacker. What you want in a “lady gun” is a caliber that is strong enough to protect that lady from further attack, and this means, at a minimum, a 9mm or greater.

Ultra Short Barrels: Short barrels are nothing new; they have been around since the firearm was invented. Short barrels coupled with wimpy calibers as stated above, however, result in a handgun that not only lacks a punch, but can’t reach out and touch someone. Again, why impose this handicap on those that need protection the most? We understand that the female hand needs a smaller and more compact form factor to safely and effectively grip the weapon, but this does not necessarily mean that the pistol needs to sport a 2” barrel. A 3” barrel is still very concealable and will result in a greater sight radius, more velocity, and essentially more accuracy.

Whimsical Paint Schemes: Many a lady gun has been painted (often by the manufacturer) with whimsical colors and motifs that are intended to appeal to the female sense of fashion and design, as if a defensive handgun is merely a fashion accessory. There is a danger in this, however. Consider that presenting a pink handled gun with a Hello Kitty motif basically tells the world that you are less than serious about self-defense. Your defensive handgun needs to tell the world that you mean business, and are deadly serious about protecting yourself. A woman has many opportunities to express her fashion sense with clothes, shoes and purses. Keep the handgun serious!

Remember, a handgun is a defensive tool that you’ll be trusting your life to. Get the one that fits your hand, yet delivers a punch an attacker will never forget!

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  1. Good article. I have been thinking about purchasing a pistol for my wife, and I hadn`t thought about the negatives of a shorter barrel. Thanks for the info.

    • Todd, don’t purchase a pistol for your wife. It’s the number one worst mistake men make when trying to do “the right thing” for the women in their lives. Take her to the range, get someone else who really knows what they’re doing to teach her to shoot first, THEN it’s time to buy her a gun. But don’t buy it for her – let her pick it out, and you just pay for it. Make sure she’s shot it, knows it works for her, and that she will practice with it enough for it to be a natural extension of her arm and hands.

      And before anyone believes the crap about “stopping power” and “wimpy calibers,” read this article:
      Short version is that any caliber will do what it needs to against a human threat IF you practice enough to shoot accurately and don’t buy into any of the Hollywood crap about “shoot to wound” – shoot for the center of mass and keep shooting until the threat is neutralized.

      • Agreed. Let her pick out the pistol when she’s ready. Let her try out the feel of a number of pistols before she settles on one. It is hard for a man to know what a woman is looking for and what feels best in her hands. I wanted something that fit my hands, as larger pistols really hurt recoil wise for me. It discouraged me from practicing, affected my accuracy, and I didn’t feel confident. When we went shopping, I settled on a Walther PPK. It was comfortably sized for my hands and I loved the feel and balance. Even though the recoil was still there, though less than for a larger caliber, because the pistol fit my hands well the recoil didn’t bother me. Perhaps not the strongest caliber, but for me, the ability to practice and maintain accuracy far outweighed any other downsides. If in a situation, I want the pistol to be an extension of myself, and I was able to achieve that with the PPK. Support her when she picks one out. Give her a chance to try out several different pistols and choose what she likes best (and yes, that will most likely include what pistol she thinks looks nice and that’s okay), and her chances of becoming comfortable with it are higher. Best of luck!

  2. A lot of good points to follow. My preference is a Beretta 92FS. Yes, it is a full size semi-auto. The Military still marks as their number one sidearm; I couldn’t agree more. For CC. I prefer the Cobra Big Bore 38 special., because I am accurate to 65 yards with a 2.75″ barrel. I train often to perfect a 15-yard tear-duct shot….knowing that my second shot may not be required; accurate they are!

  3. Just one thought for the men out there. I have a pink handled gun. It is NOT a fashion statement!!
    The reason for this is manufacturers of purses nearly always line the purse in very dark/black colors. It is difficult to open a purse and see what is in the dark. My pink handle stands out clearly and I am able to grasp it quickly. Seconds are shaved off in an emergency situation by not having to search blindly for what is difficult to see. I buy only purses that have one seperate area —only my gun goes into that section. But it does move around somewhat in there. I don’t want to have to use more than a glance to see where my weapon is, and the pink handle does that for me. There is no fashion statement involved here, it is a matter of protection, and being able to quickly extract my gun. I would like to have a larger caliber to carry, but we are at the mercy of those who make the guns, and are, at this point, stuck with what they offer.

    • Melody, Be sure to use a pocket holster or other method to cover the trigger even though you keep the firearm in a separate compartment in your purse. Negligent discharges can occur if the trigger is not protected until the firearm is in hand.

  4. Yes.. and no.
    I work in retail sales of firearms. I find women don’t like guns that are too small in the grip and I find women normally would not purchase the bright ‘colors’ for themselves. Many husbands/boy friends do make those selections. And I agree, the male should not make the purchase without the input of the one who will be carrying this firearm.

    I do feel that the woman needs to make her own selection. If the pistol fits her grip and she is able to operate it ( operate meaning cycle the slide and smoothly cycle the trigger ) she will shoot it far better.

    After years of having law officers as friends and customers, I will tell you that with the new drugs on the street, caliber means less than bullet placement. The central nervous system, rather like the electrical system in an automobile needs to be taken out to disable.
    Following that line of thought, common sense will tell you that a precise hit with a smaller caliber is far better than a miss with a large caliber. For example if I shoot a 22 caliber pistol well, I can place my shots as well as recover quickly from any recoil for additional rounds if needed. I would not, however, carry a 22 long rifle without a high or hyper velocity jacketed hollow point round. Another perk on rimfire is under normal times, availability and cost would allow more practice time on the range.
    Over the years, I have seen the box stores sell the female shooters pistols that are totally unsuited to them. When they can’t use it or can’t handle the recoil, they have no confidence in it and will not have it with them when needed.
    There is far more to gun sales, than simply doing the paperwork. I would advise men or women to look at many gun shop inventories, shoot an assortment of handguns should the opportunity arise and think carefully about how they intend to use this gun. Will it lay on the nightstand, in your vehicle or fit in a pocket or purse. Then take the responsibility seriously and learn to master the handgun of your choice.

  5. J, thanks for the reminder to all of us. Appreciate it! I will say that when you go to buy a holster take the gun with you. Make sure it fits. Many packages say will fit x and x guns. Have a professional person help you. Make them take it out of the package and try it. Many of them are just loose enough that the gun will not stay in place while in the purse. The holster would work great on your hip, but a purse is a different thing. You have to make sure it fits well.
    You also could buy a conceal purse, but the cost is big. Not all of us have that type of money to use for a purse. I also change purses with the seasons. I cannot justify the cost for myself.
    I view this small caliber as a last ditch protection, I know that not all women feel that comfortable with the larger calibers. I have also spoke to a lot of women who later on did wish they had bought the “colored” guns for the reason of ease of seeing them quickly. It was not something they had even considered when they purchased their gun. Again you have to know where you will be keeping your gun and be responsible with its use. Krisit makes many vallid points.

  6. Well, I think ANY gun is better than none. If the woman is trained in using it, she could empty the clip on a guy in a few seconds. That should more than make up for “the first hit”. Better to be fast at pulling it out and firing and being accurate than to try and pull out a long barrel which is hard to hide in a purse and not getting the shot off at all. Just saying it ain’t all black and white as this article paints it.

  7. Not trying to be a troll by any means but I’d like to put my two cents in. 1 there is A LOT of dead people as a result of small caliber gun shot wounds, I.e. .22lr. 2, most self defense engages happen within 7 yards. A 2 inch barrel is sufficient for this range and a bit farther. At the end of the day, the gun you are comfortable and proficient with is the one you should carry…even if it is pink.

  8. Whats funny is these articles that say start looking at 9mm or larger and talk of .380 as a small caliber. .380 ACP is also known as 9mm Browning as its the same size(with a bit less powder and lighter actual bullet in the cartridge). Inside 25 yards where your typical person gets assaulted from the .380 will do quite a bit of damage with much of the modern self defense ammo on the market. Keep the 9mm and above for the bedside but when you want to conceal the firearm, keep it light enough you’ll want to carry it(which is the most important thing as a heavy gun that’s not fun to shoot at the range due to recoil isn’t going get carried) and don’t knock the .380 just yet. I’d never call my PK380 a “lady gun”.

  9. My bride works on the theory that you can’t rape a .38. I carry a .22 pocket pistol, with 8 shots. Show me the person who wants to eat a .22 and I’ll show them something…….

  10. Ask her how she will use and store the gun — a pistol of any kind might be unnecessary if she isn’t going to carry it. I have a female friend who gets out the AR15 when she expects trouble – more shots, more power, more accurate, more intimidating, and doesn’t kick enough to bother a 100-pound, physically-impaired woman.
    The hypothetical woman also needs to learn important “not-dying-skills” like moving out of the line of attack and firing while moving. People who stand still get shot or knocked over, especially when they’re smaller, weaker, or less aggressive. Practicing “not-getting-shot” is MORE important than learning to shoot a tight group, although few realize this until they get shot for the first time.

  11. My husband is a “big bore” believer and told me he believed a woman was capable of handling as large a caliber weapons as any man…when taught properly. That Small calibers can get you killed since the “bad guys” are less intimidated (his opinion) This was over 40 years ago, when I married him. I started out with shooting his Webley 455 and all of his black powder guns (Civil War reenactor). In turn, I taught other women friends how to shoot using larger caliber revolvers/semi autos using his methods. They soon loved knowing they Could do this….despite any popular “Notions” to the contrary.

  12. Dear Admin!

    Thanks for the article. I don’t have ideas about guns. But I am very much interested to learn a gun operating. Could you tell me how an I learn gun operating.

  13. I like your point to avoid wimpy calibers. My girlfriend wants a small pistol to fit in her purse. It’s for self-defense, so I’ll make sure to get her one that would actually be useful.

  14. My wife is looking at getting a gun for self protection. Neither of us know a ton about guns, so I’m glad I found this. I’ll be sure to tell her that getting one of those tiny guns with non-existent barrels isn’t the best choice.

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