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The Woman and the Handgun

Looking to the animal world, it is very obvious that the female of the species is almost always the protector of the children—her instinct kicks in and look out! The lioness and the mother bear are perfect examples. So why would we not think the same of the human race? Yes you say, a father is protective of his daughter, but a mother is protective of all her children and family.

In the animal world, the female is born with the equipment to defend—fangs, claws, and the attitude that says, “You’ve made a big mistake now!” Regretfully, in our world, a woman put in the same position is more often than not facing someone who outweighs her, outguns her, and has more upper body strength. In order to defend herself and her family, she needs to have an equalizer.

We have all seen the western movies with a pioneer mother defending her children from the Indians. The Wild West gave us the Annie Oakley’s who proved that yes, a woman could shoot as well as if not better than a man.

Things have not changed much over the years, but thankfully the defensive weapons have. What is available to women for a defensive handgun has advanced to where there are specific “lady handguns” models, like the Lavender Lady .38 Special or the Lady Smith .38 Special—even in different colors. (Although I personally feel that a weapon should not be made into a fashion statement nor made attractive to young kids. It needs to look like what it is—mean, dangerous, and with the ability to hurt you severely.) Everyone who shoots a handgun regularly understands fit and function go together, and changing to a different grip can drastically improve accuracy.

The caliber of choice for a woman is dependent on how much stopping power she wants, what kind of accuracy she can achieve, and how well she can handle the handgun in a stressful situation. It used to be a standard thing for a man to buy a .38 Special for his wife to keep around the house in case the need arose. Now, the .38 is still a good defensive weapon, especial when loaded with the +P rounds, but it may not be what she needs or wants.

I remember when I first introduce my wife to handguns, and the first one she fired was my Colt 1991A1 45 Caliber Semi-Auto. She loved it! I had also bought her a .38 to keep by the bedside for emergencies. She was able to shoot a variety of handguns at the local Rod & Gun Club, from .380 to 44 Magnum in revolvers and semi-auto’s, but in the end, she choose and purchased a Kimber Compact 45 Caliber for herself. She proceeded to become proficient in the defensive pistol competitions.

The bottom line is, if a woman makes the choice of purchasing a handgun for personal defense of herself and family, it needs to be her decision on what she can safely and accurately handle. It needs to be one that she can easily put in her hands and have in a fire-ready condition, smoothly, without having to think about getting it to that condition or looking for a safety release. It should just happen. That can only be accomplished by practice.  The worst scenario is waking in the night to the sound of an armed intruder in her home, grabbing a handgun from the nightstand, and trying to remember where the safety was that you showed her. The result can and will be fatal.

If you live in a state where you can obtain a concealed carry permit or a “shall issue” state and decide to carry your firearm, your choices become more involved on concealment as well as function and stopping power. Most “experts” would agree that the revolver is chosen more often because of its simplicity.  As far as function, there is no safety to worry or think about, and they even come in “hammerless” models that won’t catch on clothing or items in a purse. .38 Specials with +P rounds and .357 Magnums that can be loaded with the .38 Special rounds are two of the choices. There are titanium alloy revolvers that weigh only ounces when loaded and won’t feel like a brick in your purse or holster.

The “downside” of the revolver is capacity (usually only five or six rounds) and accuracy.  The accuracy of a revolver with a two-inch barrel is only a matter of feet, so stopping power is essential. Attempting to stop a 250-pound or more attacker with a .32 caliber or lower will probably just make him mad! A center mass hit from larger caliber .38 +P or .357 Magnum will stop most assailants.

For the woman that is willing to spend the time practicing and becoming confident and accurate with a larger caliber, like the .45 Caliber semi-automatic or even the 9 mm semi-automatic, you have the advantage of not only more stopping power but also capacity. The 9 mm gives you a larger capacity along with manageable kick to it, thus better accuracy. It is the choice of weapon for many law enforcement divisions as well as some branches of the military, where yes, women carry and use them too. The .45 caliber semi-auto also has the stopping power as well as added capacity in most models to remove the threat quickly and with certainty in well-trained hands.

The bottom line is that for personal self-defense, your choice of handgun should be at minimum a .38 or .357 Caliber. Either of these, as well as the 9 mm or .45 caliber, are manageable calibers for most women if they are fitted with proper grip, professional instruction, and lots of good practice. I say “good practice” because there is a big difference between just shooting at a target in the woods and shooting with a firearm instructor at a range. Learning proper grip, stance and breath control, and mental attitude are just some of the ingredients to good shot placement.

My advice is this—get good advice from a professional (lessons if possible) and try to fire as many different handguns as you can until you make your own decision on what you want between you and any possible attacker. Remember, an attacker looking down the barrel of a .22 derringer or a .357 magnum will usually be thinking two completely different thoughts. Keep in mind that the responsibility to have and potentially use a firearm in your defense rests completely on you.

©2012 Off the Grid News

© Copyright Off The Grid News


  1. I go to a range that some folks think was dangerous. I met young kids who look kind of gangish. They held their guns upside down and looked foolish. However, they took instruction and were very interested in the big rifles we were shooting. It was at dusk and the boss on a 338 shoots a 2 ft round star of fire followed by a 6 foot sheet of flame. They talked to most of us sitting there, took instruction well, and even the girls, fired my rifles and were impressed. Bottom line is talk to other shooters, tell them what your thinking. Most are willing to go out of there way to assist you and let you shoot their weapons. I always do. Shooters if people ask, help them! If you dont really like each other who are you gonna have as friends? Every convert I make is another happy and safe gun owner. We need everyone armed to the teeth and able. When the chips go down I want an ARMY of friends on my side who know what to do.
    The Col

    • I am a white conservative looking female. Like the Col. I have found responding kindly to “different” looking young people to be very positve experience. We shape the next generation one encounter at a time. A smile or comment can make another person respond well to you.

  2. My experience was a bit different. I was alone in my home just before noon on a summer day in 2005. I was 66 and I resemble Granny Clampett. The young man who ran in my back door was around 200 lbs. and resembled Mike Tyson. He ran downstairs to my basement. I thought my husband had forgotten his tool box AGAIN, so kept loading the dishwasher. My yellow Lab barked and barked and I ignored her. Finally, I realized she had barked too long. I got my little .38 special that I keep loaded with .357 ammo. As he started up the stairs, I got a bead on the place he would appear. As he neared the top step, my dog realized she could not move him, so she moved me. Knocked me back against the washer and spoiled my aim. He ran in my garage while I called 911. Police were already in the area chasing him but had lost him. They were two blocks north, running farther away. It was actually my dog who saved my life that day, but having the pistol sure did make me feel better! He was a dangerous gang member and was high on methamphetamine. It took 3 big police officers 15 minutes to subdue him in my garage. But, HE left in the ambulance and I DID NOT! All is well that ends well! And it is certainly true that when seconds count, police are only minutes away! A few days later, over at the courthouse, my intruder’s own father told me that if I had not been armed, his son would surely have killed me! That night at dinner, my dog got my entire steak!

  3. Well…..I’m a middle aged women…48 small and not very scary looking. I believe it is best to be quite about your skill’s and abilities. Family member’s and close friends of course know how you really are but others need not to know. I feel the same way about being prepared (stocking up,my farm etc…) I grow up with 5 brother’s and 4 sister’s all of which can shoot a gun extremely well,hunt,fish,fight and all have outdoor skills. The funny thing is if we didn’t tell you, you would never know. My father was a fisherman and logger and my mother worked in a saw mill so needless to say we wern’t spoiled and knew what it was to work very hard !
    I always laugh when people go on and on about their abilities (boosting) in the back of my mind I always think they sound like fools….None normally have ever hunted,fished,built a fire,raised farm animals for food,grew a garden etc…Not to mention self defense. All the skill’s I mention are lost to most families,sadly. If anyone has the chance to learn the basic’s of life surving skill’s they should just in case….but be quite …the shock factor is the best.

    • My daughter is a darling bouncy, vivacious little cheerleader. She is a deadly shot, with her pistol and her browning A-bolt .270. Mess around there and it will be the last place you ever do that. Even her brother gets upset when she outshoots him. I just laugh, just hope she doesnt inherit my temper. So far so good…….
      I know what you mean by shock factor and I agree.

      I am in afghanistan now, and I had to go to a escape and capture class where we practice what to do when captured. The instructors are special ops, and they cannot hit us, but they do slam you around by the collar and into walls etc, to provide realism. In addition to being the highest ranking I was also the oldest, and got roughed up quite a bit, cause they know I cant complain. One guard, particularly rough, was throwing me around, and you do want to flop around for them so they think they have you. But my temper finally got the best of me, and when he threw me to the ground at his feet, I grabbed his belt and he slung me around, and launched me with a kick/shove with his leg above knee. I grabbed his leg, because what he didnt notice was that his own pistol was unhooked. When he grabbed me by the collar and yanked me up face to face with him, I had his gun…..right under his chin. The look on his face was priceless! And my smirk was about as wry and snotty as I can make it. I said..”Bang” and then grabbed him for a sheild, and aimed at the other kid at the door. These instructors are Spec Ops, and the look on that kids face was “Holy sh–, that old man moved fast, and I am dead!!” Loved it, but I got recycled for not playing fair…… must not of been too bad cause they still sent me to Afghanistan……

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