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The Best Self Defense Gun For Women

Women At Shooting RangeWhile this article may be disputed, but in my humble opinion, guns are a much better gift for a woman than any piece of jewelry. A firearm in a woman’s hand is honestly probably the greatest step toward safety that there is. Firearms are a guarantee of rights for all people, guaranteeing equality when it comes to security.

Many evil men feel they can overpower a woman with ease; hopefully, they are only able to make this mistake once. The old saying that “God made all men, but Samuel Colt made them equal,” applies just as well to women as to men. For a long time guns have been seen as a man’s territory, but as you can see in shows like Top Shot, this will not be the norm for long.

Jessie Duff is lighting the fire for female shooters. She shoots professionally and is sponsored by Taurus. Watching her shoot in competition should change anyone’s mind when it comes to firearms being a “man” thing. With more and more females taking an interest in firearms and their own security, many women are choosing their first guns for self-defense.

This hasn’t been ignored by the gun industry, with ARs, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers now being produced with the fairer sex in mind. Most of these are cosmetic details, offering women lady-like firearms with colors like pink and purple being prominent. I’m not sure how all ladies feel about this, although my wife seems to like the Charter arms pink revolver. I could see some serious female firearms enthusiasts being a bit insulted by this, but anything that can attract new shooters has its place. If my daughter wants a pink 10/22, you can bet that’s what I’m buying.

So what is the perfect weapon for a woman looking to arm herself? For this article I want to focus on the self-defense aspect, which is a life-and-death decision. Your self-defense piece is the most important weapon you can ever buy.

Keep Your Handgun Locked and Loaded, Ready For Instant Use – Without Fear Of An Accident!

Before buying any weapon, it would be an asset to give the weapon a “test drive.” Many gun ranges offer their popular models for rent, which can be invaluable for a first-time shooter. If you’re a woman who has never fired before, I suggest taking a basic course in firearms, and again, the smarter gun ranges will offer women’s-only courses. Also, the smarter gun stores are beginning to hire female staff members to give their customers a more varied amount of experiences. Allow me to offer a small piece of advice from my years of gun store haunts: If the guy behind the counter won’t give you the time of day, don’t give him a single penny.

Concealed Carry Weapons

I personally advise most inexperienced shooters looking for a weapon for concealed carry to look into a small-frame revolver. For an inexperienced shooter, male or female, a revolver is a great weapon. Revolvers are very simple and easy to use. No safeties to get in the way or worrying about whether a round is in the chamber, and they are very simple to reload. Plus, they are absolutely dependable in a fight. I am an avid shooter with military experience, and I still prefer a revolver for self-defense.

Smith and Wesson produces a line of small-frame revolvers called the Lady Smith.  These weapons are not pink or purple, but are quite aesthetically pleasing with the great finish every Smith and Wesson has. Smith and Wesson really listened to their female customers when releasing these revolvers.  These revolvers come chambered in .22 LR, .22 Magnum, .38 special, and .357 Magnum. My preference is the .38 special. The .38 special is a great round that’s been around forever, and it’s an excellent balance between power and recoil.

When choosing a Lady Smith, the user has the option of an internal hammer, an exposed hammer, or a shrouded hammer, all of which are just a shooter’s preference. I prefer a shrouded hammer for easier draw, but my wife likes an exposed hammer for single-action shooting.

An excellent concealed carry weapon for a female wanting an automatic is the Ruger LC9. The Ruger LC9 is a 9mm handgun, built on a lightweight polymer frame, and offers a seven-plus-one capacity. That is three more rounds than the Lady Smith in a controllable yet powerful cartridge. This is an ultra-lightweight handgun that can fit anywhere.

An automatic is a weapon that will require a bit more practice to be fully proficient in. However, it can be worth it, especially with the lighter weight and higher capacity offered. A huge advantage between with weapons like the Ruger LC9 or the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard series is the option for a laser.

A laser is an excellent addition to any weapon. A laser is a self-contained force multiplier and a huge confidence booster. Their aid in a low light situation is invaluable. Man or woman, any defensive situation is going to jack your adrenaline through the roof, and this can make it difficult to aim traditionally. A laser offers a sure-fire solution for accurate shot placement.

These two weapons are a small sampling of concealed, discrete firepower. On average, the female frame is smaller than the males, so the concealed weapon may have to be smaller. When choosing a pistol for concealed carry, think practically. An uncomfortable gun will not be carried for very long. Small frame weapons like the Glock 19, the Sig 9 232, and the above-mentioned weapons are all excellent self-defense weapons in a small, comfortable size.

Home Defense

First of all, I want to start by saying if a woman feels most comfortable with her pistol or revolver inside the home, then more power to her. However, I prefer a long gun to a handgun anytime it’s available. In the Marines, we are taught a pistol is just a weapon to fight your way to a rifle, so here we are going to focus on your long gun options.


The shotgun has been the go-to home-defense weapon for as long as I can remember. Designed for close quarters and short ranges, the shotgun is a great home-defense tool. My Remington 870 twelve-gauge with an 18.5-inch barrel is what I use when things go bump in the night.

How to hide your guns, and other off grid caches…

Shotguns work by fire a shot of multiple balls, giving you devastating effects on an attacker. Movies tend to over exaggerate the shotgun’s firepower, with it firing a pattern of shot several feet wide and throwing bad guys into the air. This is simply a media myth; however, a standard load of 00 buckshot is more than enough to deal with a two-legged attacker.

Shotguns also have a low penetration compared to a rifle. This reduces the risk of the rounds piercing a wall and hitting an innocent person. I said reduces the risk because it can still happen—buckshot can still penetrate walls at short ranges. The best way to prevent this is by using law enforcement low-recoil rounds or even just a larger birdshot. I would never use anything smaller than a number-four load; at the ranges inside a home, it is still quite lethal, but it lacks the penetration of buckshot.

The law enforcement low-recoil rounds have less power behind them, and this effectively cuts down recoil, penetration, and range. While normally this wouldn’t be desirable, in this case, it makes these an excellent home-defense round, giving you the best of both worlds.

When it comes to choosing a gauge, it’s all going to be about comfort. My wife is not a fan of my twelve-gauge at all; the recoil is just too much for her. She does love her Mossberg 500 youth model twenty-gauge though. The twenty-gauge is substantially less powerful, and the youth model is smaller and easier for her to manipulate. Twenty-guage is a great round for home defense though, as it still packs enough power without the shoulder-bruising recoil. Reduced recoil rounds will not be necessary for a twenty-gauge.


A pistol-caliber carbine may be the perfect weapon for a woman in the home. It combines the low recoil and low penetration of a handgun round with the stability and accuracy of a rifle. For many years, I owned a Kel Tec Sub-2000 rifle chambered in 9mm that accepted Glock mags. This lightweight rifle was very easy to shoot, with the recoil being similar to a .22.

There is the option for an AR-15 configuration chambered in 9mm as well. These guns have become very popular and are made by a variety of companies. The ARs and the Kel Tec both accept thirty-round magazines. Thirty rounds is a lot of firepower, and the ability to quickly reload a fresh thirty rounds should not be understated.

Utilizing 147-grain jacketed hollow points inside the home is perfect to avoid over penetration and still provide a hard-hitting round. A standard 9mm leaving a sixteen-inch barrel contains the same power as a .357 magnum, a well-known man stopper. All that power with minimal recoil makes a very desirable home-defense weapon.

The majority of ARs will already be equipped with a rail system, allowing you to add lights and lasers. A weapon-mounted flashlight/laser is very handy in the home, leaving both your hands available to manipulate the weapon.

Parting Words

I say the same thing to women and men when it comes to purchasing a self-defense weapon: Arm yourself with as much gun as you’re comfortable with. If you’re intimidated by your weapon, then it’s either too much for you or you have not trained enough with it. In addition, bigger is not always better. I would never take a .44 Magnum to gunfight if I had the option for a 9mm Sig.

Ask questions, gather research, and try the weapon out. Seek out appropriate training, and familiarize yourself with your weapon. When you purchase a weapon, never assume you won’t have to use it. If you’re thinking this way, then what’s the point of buying a weapon in the first place?

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  1. Good article Travis,
    I would only add “confidence”…..when you draw a weapon, you have flipped tha switch, gone from being oppressed to being a Titan, you just drew a line in the sand, any weapon in the hands of a woman is a deterrent, but if the bad guy smells fear, or sees doubt or hesitation, he may still advance…..but if he recognizes a “pit bull” pointing a gun at him, he should be smart and run…….and to me, that is a WIN, everybody goes home happy, remember, this is a “Defensive Weapon”…..also a good 2 or 3 day class on “Handgun self defense” will help recognize a bad situation in advance……safe shootin’

  2. My suggestion,,,, a Browning Hi Power in 9m. Great double stack mag, 13 rds, easy for small hands to control. They are found now in many manufactures,,,, India, Argentina, Columbia, nd KBL as well as plain old Browning, lots made in Beligium,,, by Fabrique Nationale.. All very good weapons for women sized hands (which mine are!!) Try one if you can find it, guarantee you will like it! Bought all th women in my life one for christmas,,,and they are getting very good with them. Only bad thing is they dont make a Blockhawk drop leg holster for them,,,
    The Col

    • This is a great suggestion. Actually the Hi Power is one of my favorite weapons. I’m a steel frame kinda guy.

  3. mountainmantrav

    I am a professional handgun instructor. I see this mistake made again and again. Please don’t arm your lady with a firearm you wouldn’t carry yourself. A small lightweight handgun is half a gun. They are hard to shoot straight and don’t have enough rounds in them. They very often have an inferior caliber. They are designed for pros who must carry deep cover. They were not meant for casual shooters. For self defense situations you need to be able to place your shots accurately with a handgun. Small, lightweight pistols and revolvers have far more recoil than a full sized or medium frame pistol of similar caliber. This will be uncomfortable, even painful to many women, causing flinching or even refusal to practice with the gun. Further, the small framed pistols have a very short sight radius which greatly decreases your ability to aim accurately and have an inferior magazine capacity. Your objective in a fight is to stop your opponent. That is rarely achieved with one or two hits on a dedicated attacker. My wife is has 2 preferred carry guns. Depending on circumstances, she sometimes chooses a midsize Glock in .40 caliber and at other times a CZ in 9mm. Both have ammo capacities of 12 or more shots. They have the firepower and accuracy to save her life and are quite concealable. It’s much easier to learn to conceal a larger gun that’s easy and fun to shoot than to learn to shoot straight and quickly reload under fire with a sub-compact. Pointing in their general direction, closing your eyes and jerking the trigger only works in movies. Get the lady a real gun and then do both of you a favor by joining her in a good Defensive Handgun Training class.

    • Maybe my wife is special, but she’s a dead eye within 10 yards, and can hit the upper torso of a target within 25 yards with ease with her 2 inch DA only revolver. She’s a very petite woman so carrying anything outside the compact realm is very difficult for her. She has also received training though, which I suggest in the beginning of the article.

      • mountainmantrav

        My wife doesn’t have large hands, nor do I for that matter. Check out the Packing Pretty website for ways to conceal for ladies. Your wife sounds like a better than average shot. But, when she shoots like that, is it in bad light? is she scared to death? can she do it in under 2 seconds? is the target moving? can she consistently put 5 shot groups within a hand span space at 25 yards? can she deliver 12 accurate shots in 5 seconds? Can she reload under pressure in 5 seconds or less? ( I train people to do it in 2 seconds or less) Attackers seldom come alone. The five or six shots available to her in her revolver plus the slow reloading aspect of her revolver put her in a compromised position. In all likelihood, her revolver doesn’t have the stopping power needed for one shot stops so she will need to make at least 3 hits center mass on each attacker to save herself. That doesn’t allow for misses and few people can connect with every shot in a gunfight. A .38 special fired from a snub nose revolver doesn’t develop much energy. It may well not penetrate heavy clothing and breastbone or the scull of the attacker. The results are about the same with a .380 auto. Below that it just gets worse. You need at least a 9mm to be effective. You need at least 10 rounds in your pistol. Ask yourself why the FBI doesn’t carry 2 inch revolvers anymore.

        • I understand what you are saying, I am an Afghan combat vet. I understand fear, and adrenaline, the their effects. I bought her a 12 shot 9mm with a 3 inch barrel but for her it was too heavy, and too hard to hide, she carried it for a week lol. She also wanted something she could use with one hand easily since she travels with my son. I understand what you are saying fully, but the .38 she carries is better than the 9 mil she leaves on the counter.
          Her reloading skills need some work, as does her tendency to carry the tuff strips in terrible places. She also hated reloading magazines and carrying extras on her. She didn’t like the safeties either. I am just more comfortable with her carrying something she likes than something I force on her.

          • mountainmantrav

            Well put. The best gun for her in a fight is always the one in her hand. I’ll get off my soap box.


          • I thought this article was about ” the best self defense gun for a woman”?….Most newbies of the female species are not Rambos… an altercation, it will be up close and personal….she will most likely be “point shooting” at a very close range, arms length out to 21 feet…..anything past that will get her charged with murder, under most circumstances because an Immediate threat didn’t exist……clothing has as much to do with what gun and caliber (seasonal wear), beginners? Air-lite S&W .38 +P…..and only a fool would discount a .22 cal 9 shot revolver…..remember, this is a DEFFENCIVE weapon…….an instructor should recognize this fact, In Virginia you may use “Lethal force” to stop an attack ….as mentioned before, there is a thin line, cross it and you become the bad guy…let Her build confidence…then take the next step…..I have 45 years of gun and people knowledge…….

          • mountainmantrav

            Wild Bill,
            No one discounts the ability of a .22 to kill nor a pointed stick for that matter. That doesn’t make me want to carry a pointed stick as a first choice for defense. The objective of a DEFENSIVE FIREARM is to instantly STOP the attack. The .22 caliber 9 shot pistol doesn’t have the ability to stop someone in their tracks unless they place their shots in the ocular cranial cavity and they manage to penetrate the skull. The close quarters armed attacker shot with 9 shots from a .22 LR would probably die later but he also probably would take you with him. You seem to be saying that we should arm our newbie women shooters with inferior weapons and let the survivors work their way up to the good stuff. I said you should arm your lady with something you would prefer to defend yourself with. Start them out right. Your fantasy that your girl, or yourself for that matter will do well point shooting a small caliber weapon at close quarters is not sound and it will probably not save them. If that were true police and FBI agents would train that way and use those weapons. In my opinion, lying to women or men about being safe with half a gun is not much better than telling them to get a whistle. If they are going to carry the subcompact small caliber they must train very hard to be very fast and far more accurate so they can draw and consistently place those little bullets in the small areas that would immobilize their attacker. By the way if a man is shooting at me from 75 feet, I’m not going to wait until he closes to 21 feet to fire back.

          • Please do not put words in my mouth nor shift the focus, ….seems some of us skipped K-12 and went right into college…if you put the” wrong” weapon in a beginners hand, they will never develop confidence or proficiency, properly…….my sons mother fired my Commander, once, ,,after a few choice words, she went back to the 9-shot, now carries an SP 101……..and quit putting yourself in womens shoes, not very manly….let the woman decide what is best….because when the time comes , “and I hope never” you will not be there to cheer her on, but hopefully her knowledge will…… and half a dozen holes from any gun is half a dozen places for blood to leave the body….your paper targets are not shooting back………and further more, if the woman choses to “go big” then good for her, that is a decision only she can make…….How many of us start our children out with .22 rifles? How many of ya’ll handed a 5 year old an Ar 10, as their first weapon?…..22’s bolt guns have been training the worlds military for a very long time….Mausers, Carcanos, and Stevens….through WWII,.must be something to it……..

        • ALL wives are “special” some can even shoot,,, very well!!
          The Col

      • Only bad thing about wives shooting,,, is,,, they get good fast,,,,, and begin to critique the master….
        The Col

    • Thankyou for helping me wade through the lady guns, and replace my stolen gun properly. You should have a website, and possibly either be a trainer, have a store, or teach basics online. That previous article, while well intended, was actually fluff. And writer was correct about insulting. It doesn’t have to do with just color. I don’t want a fashion accesory, I would like a laser, and a drop leg holster. How long is a carry license, and a concral carry license? Do home weapons need to be licensed, or just registered? In case you have to go outside?

    • Thankyou Mountainmamtrav, for helping me wade through the lady guns, and replace my stolen gun properly. You should have a website, and possibly either be a trainer, have a store, or teach basics online. That previous article, while well intended, was actually fluff. And writer was correct about insulting. It doesn’t have to do with just color. I don’t want a fashion accesory, I would like a laser, and a drop leg holster. How long is a carry license, and a concral carry license? Do home weapons need to be licensed, or just registered? In case you have to go outside?

  4. The first gun that I bought my wife was a Walther PK-380. Great handling weapon, but not real easy for her to conceal. The second firearm she got was a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard in 380, the third a Sig Sauer P238. She likes them so much, she gave them affectionate names.

  5. Practice,,, practice,,,, practice….. that is what is MOST important!!!
    The Col

  6. Fine subject for debate and the opinions here all carry value for me. Given the choice, my ‘carry’ weapon would likely be Ma Duece mounted in the bed of my pickup. Times being what they are though, discretion is advisable. My ‘lil bride has her choice of several handguns for CC and I’ve made sure she is very capable with all of them, .22 pocket pistol to .45 1911, just depending on what she’s doing at the time. Living in the boonies, we can practice when we want. That cannot be stressed enough.

  7. Betcha ‘ol Ma would be good with the pressure washer and some WD40. Tough guns. And wish I had one……….

  8. folks, I make a livin killin folk in self defense. beeny flip, coyote snare, .600 nitro express, I done used em all stuck a stuck a tow missile down m’ drawers an kilt off an ol boy wut winked at m wife. just another case of self defense.i am a pro at killin. ask me all yer questions I make a livin at killin peepl in self defense

  9. In many discussions of the merits of an automatic or a revolver, no mention is made of what to do in case of a misfire. For an automatic, you have to reach up with the other hand, yank the slide back to eject the bad bullet and feed in the next one.
    If you get a misfire with a revolver, all you have to do is pull the trigger again.
    And don’t discredit the 9-shot .22 revolver. For self defense, choose a high-power .22 hollow-point bullet. It makes a small hole going in, but a big hole going out the other side, taking a wad of meat with it. For practice on a gun range, choose a cheap .22 short bullet.
    Same thing for a .38 revolver. Choose a cheap target load for practice, but a high-powered hollow-nose bullet for self defense.

  10. My wife and I have been on a bit of a self defense kick as of late, and I think a good thing to get her for her birthday would be some shooting accessories for women. I really like how you talked about a few good concealed carry guns for women, and how a laser is a great addition. I think that getting her some shooting accessories like a laser would be really helpful! Thanks for the suggestion!

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