Women at the range

The Right Gun for a Woman, According to Women

Five women test seven handguns to see which they like best. The results may surprise you.

By Kevin Creighton (RSS)
October 9, 2013

A few years ago, I was shooting at a local indoor range when a young lady nervously entered the firing area, flinching in shock with every shot. She said she was there to meet a friend of hers who had promised to help her learn to shoot, and that she’d never shot a gun in her life. The lady friend she was there to meet saw us and guided her friend to the stall next to me, where a scared, shaky young woman began her history with firearms by shooting a .38 Spl. snubnose revolver.

Flash forward to earlier this year, when another young lady found out my friends were “into guns” and wanted to learn to shoot her firearm better. We asked what kind of gun she owned, and she replied “It’s a short revolver…a .38, I think. A friend gave it to me and said it was a good gun for a woman.”


Well, is it? Is a .38 Spl. snubby a good “woman’s gun?” Manufacturers seem to think so, building all manner of short .38-caliber revolvers with pink grips and other features thought to appeal to female gun buyers. I decided it was time to run a test.

What do women really want in a defensive pistol? Is it pink grips, small size, stopping power, or something else? To find out, I asked six women gun owners to try out a wide range of pistols because I wanted to see which general category of handgun they preferred, and not bog things down with a Glock versus XD or Kimber versus Para USA kind of argument between two different brands of the same general type of pistol.

The ladies who shot this test were all proficient shooters, but not experts with firearms. They come from varied backgrounds, from a grandmother to a college student. Some grew up around guns but didn’t really shoot them, and some were only introduced to guns this year. The guns they tried out varied in size and caliber. They were:

A North American Arms .22 LR revolver

A Kel-Tec P-3AT in .380 ACP with laser sights

A striker-fired 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

A .22 Mag. Kel-Tec PMR-30

A double-action/single-action 9 mm CZ-USA P-07

A .357 Mag. Ruger SP101 with a 2-inch barrel firing .38 Spl. rounds

A Springfield Armory Mil-Spec 1911 in .45 ACP

I asked each woman to try out each gun by sending a dozen or so shots downrange at a D-1 target about 15 feet away, and then write down their thoughts about each pistol: which one they would be most likely carry with them, which was the most fun to shoot, which they’d use to defend their home and which one was the most accurate. Some had no comments on a particular firearm, but one answer was unanimous. Perhaps surprisingly—and perhaps not—none of the women who shot all of these guns chose the short little .38 Spl. revolver as a favorite.

Shooter 1 Shooter 2 Shooter 3 Shooter 4 Shooter 5
Most Accurate PMR-30 P-3AT P-07 P-07 P-3AT
Most Fun NAA Revolver NAA Revolver All of them 1911 PMR-30
Carry 1911 NAA Revolver NAA Revolver P-3AT P-3AT
Home 1911 NAA Revolver PMR-30 1911 1911
NAA .22 LR comments It was so tiny, I thought I was going to break it. It was really fun to shoot with one hand. Very easy to pull the trigger. Very small, so it was a little hard to hold. Small and easy to shoot. Use with caution. Not very comfortable, but shoots well. Liked it, but wouldn’t use it for anything but a novelty at the range.
PMR-30 Comments
Really liked the gun. It’s looks were deceiving—I thought would be heavier. I didn’t like that it misfired two out of five rounds. Got five out of five in the chest. Very light and easy to shoot. Easy to handle. Very smooth trigger. Very visible sights. Lightweight and easy to handle. Accurate. N/A
Ruger SP101 comments Really liked the double-action capability. Really easy to shoot. Easy to shoot. Trigger was hard to pull, but it was nice to shoot. Easy to shoot single action. Hard to pull the trigger in the double-action mode. Hard trigger. I wouldn’t buy one.
CZ-USA P-07 Comments Not too impressed. It was heavy and the grip was rough. Wouldn’t buy one. Heavier and the trigger required more effort. Loved it. Accurate, easy to shoot. First shot was hard to pull the trigger. Had the most kick, I thought.
Smith & Wesson Shield Comments I don’t like the action. I did like the sleek look. Light and easy to shoot. Great trigger. Fun to shoot. Accurate for its size. N/A
Springfield Armory 1911 Comments I love the power and the accuracy I was able to maintain with the gun. Really liked it! I was able to hit 4 out of 5 in the chest. Liked how it felt shooting, the weight was manageable. A bit too jumpy for me, but I liked the weight. LOVED IT! Great for home defense, not too much kick.
Kel-Tec P-3AT Comments Loved the laser. It pinches the trigger fingers after shooting. I like the size and the gun. Would be easy to carry. Felt small in my hands at first, but the laser made it shoot the most accurately. N/A Very accurate, loved the laser sights. Liked this one. Not too much kick. Would buy one.

It turns out women know what they want in a personal handgun, and are more than capable of telling other gun owners what they like. The .38 Spl. snubby is a great little gun, but it may be time to challenge the idea that it’s the best beginner’s gun for a woman who wants to defend herself.

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171 Responses to The Right Gun for a Woman, According to Women

  1. LouKadu says:

    My girl loves the S&W M&P 9. So, she has expensive taste in clothes, shoes AND guns!

    • Dadene Gonet says:

      The S&W 9 M&P compact was my Christmas present – love it! Find it a little big to carry though. Looking into the .380 for my carry gun

  2. nancy says:

    I agree, most people try to sell women on the 38. I bought one. I like it but I don’t love it. Hurts my hand. I LOVE my Glock 19, 9. It fits my hand and I feel very comfortable with it. Thanks for the article!

    • Chuck Hand says:

      Chuck Hand:

      I got my wife a baby S&W .38 revolver 45 yeare ago. We went to the range a few times, she had to listen to some of my firearms classes, etc. After a few months, she very pointedly asked me if she could have her 1911 back. I had given it to her 4 years before, not long after we got married —— SHE IS STILL CARRYING THAT SAME 1911 !! ——– AND can still qualify very highly on a PPC course of fire, with my own combat, gunfight, additions !!!! I have been instructing since 1962. Need I say more !!! ;-)

    • linda.roche@analog.com says:

      Great article…very helpful

    • Kaiper619 says:

      This is what I thought would be a good gun for a woman. G19′s are great.

    • KevinC says:

      Your experience is EXACTLY why I wrote this article. Nothing against .38 snubbies, I think they’re great guns, I just don’t think they should be the default gun that women shoot, anymore than a 1911 or G19 should be the default gun for men.

      If people want a quick takeaway from the article, there really is no such thing as a “women’s gun”, there are guns, and there are women, and there is not just one solitary way to connect the two.

  3. Terri says:

    I really love my Glock 22 versus my bodyguard and lc9.

  4. Sandy Mabry says:

    Interesting information. My first gun was the Ruger 357 Mag. It took a little getting use too. I also have the S&W 9C 9mm, S&W 22, and S&W 380., I have the 357 on the bedstand next to me at night. I do use it as a carry. I’m still breaking in my 380 The trigger pull is tough. I’m going to have that adjusted. The 380 is a very good size for a carry and packs a punch. I love all my guns and go to the range a lot. I did the NRA Pistol Qualification and one rocker left, Distinguished Expert. What ever gun a person chooses is personal choice and should feel comfortable with what they have. The 357 was suggested to me, but partially because I wanted a revolver. I was concerned with jamming. Now that I have done a lot more shooting with a variety of guns, that is no longer a concern.

  5. Jim says:

    1911 response not a surprise to me now. I started both my daughters out with revolvers and semi autos, working up through .22, .32, .38, 9mm, .40 then .45 in that order. Neither of them flinch with any caliber I think since they worked up in power. (As opposed to knot heads that think it’s funny to hand a powerful gun to a female the first time they shoot.) I did not try to influence them, letting them decide for themselves. Both daughters finally chose the 1911 as their favorite pistols, although they had others they also liked in different ways. I’ll admit that it did surprise me at the time.

  6. Jennie says:

    I have a Sig. P938 Nightmare. Love it. Easy to shoot and I love carrying it.

  7. ladykroft says:

    I own cozeeholsters.com and would appreciate it if you would just take a look at it. We custom make the bra holster for concealed carry for women. Please visit our site. Thank you.

  8. Amanda N says:

    I have an American Tactical 1911 .45 acp
    I absolutely love it. I would recommend the 1911 to anyone male or female.

    • Maria says:

      I am interested in buying a gun for self defense I already have my permit looking into getting a concealed licence I saw your article and like to know why you would recommend this particular gun do you have a picture of the gun so I can see what it looks like I would be grateful to you if you could get back to me

  9. Mickey Morris says:

    My wife loves the Ruger LC-380. I carry an LC-9, and think it is the perfect carry. However, my wife, who just recently started shooting, could not handle the recoil of the LC-9. The LC-380 is the exact same pistol, just chambered in .380, with less than half the recoil. She loves shooting it! And, I guarantee you if any woman doesn’t like shooting her carry weapon, or it has too much recoil for her, you do NOT want her to carry it, and she will not train enough to be proficient. So let’s use a little common sense out there guys!! Checkout the recoil factor of any self-defense carry weapon BEFORE you have your loved one shoot it.

  10. Natskidive says:

    My concealed carry is the Ruger LCP .380. My home defense is the Ruger SP-101 .357 Revolver. I love it for home defense. I also have a Glock 26 which I considered for concealed carry but I consistently go for the LCP.

  11. Chelsea says:

    My first handgun I won at a NRA banquet and was a Ruger 380 LCP. Perfect conceal carry gun, but I hate how small it is. So for my 21st I bought a Springfield Xdm 40. I personally love the bigger guns…. Haha

  12. M. Church says:

    I am a certified pistol instructor and I agree that there are better choices for novice shooters than a 38 Spl. The problem with the majority of students is range time [(]practice[)]. Most people will tell you they don’t use their semi-auto pistol enough to be competent with it [(]ie clearing malfunctions, loading mags[)] and this is why I suggest the double action revolvers. Simplicity in operation and easy to shoot.

  13. Lisa says:

    My CCW instructor had a S&W m&p 9c that I feel in love with! Very comfortable in my hands, felt very steady & great accuracy. Went out and bought one of my own for Christmas last year. Hubby liked mine so much he bought himself the full size 9 !

  14. tarkheena says:

    I really like the XD9 subcompact. Use it for carry and home defense.

  15. Larry says:

    While on the range for my ccl a woman had a 38 snub and I traded her my 357 4″ using 38+ and she prefered mine 100%. Less kick due to the extra weight, both were Rossi.

  16. Peg says:

    I have the S&W 9mm M&P Shield and the Ruger SP101 and love both of them. I also have a Springfield XDM 9mm and Taurus M85 .38 Special, both of which love to shoot. I prefer the Taurus .38 for CCW and the Springfield for Home Defense. My best advice is get what is comfortable for you, not what someone tells you is a ‘woman’s gun’! There is no such thing!!

  17. Kimmar10 says:

    Glock G-36 slimline is the way to go! Packs a punch, accurate, easy to shoot, reliable and not too heavy to carry. Love my G36!

  18. Jeffrey says:

    Where is the sixth lady?

  19. ada postlethwait says:

    I had a Colt 45, commando 70 series for years but as I got older had more trouble using it. I recently purchased a Taurus s 38, 2″ revolver and use this for my carry gun. As you get older, it is harder to use a semi-auto, at least for me. I learned on my fathers .357 service revolver and have always liked them the best.

  20. Christina C. says:

    Great article! I would love to read more of women’s opinions on this. My favorite is my glock 19/ 9. Just like another women posted here. It feels great in my hands, gives me plenty of comfort and control. The pink hype is b.s. and insulting on many levels. Do we really need to draw attention to our hand gun in a life saving event? Or should the stealth female carry approach be taken? I prefer the stealth.

  21. Francis says:

    My girlfriend loves shooting my ruger super redhawk alaskan .454 casull with the weaker .45 colt.

  22. Tracy says:

    22 is to small for defense, I have had a 380 for years and love it. I have a military background, so I’ve been around guns. Think the right gun is a .380 with hollow points is the best in self defense for women.

  23. JodiC says:

    Disappointed the SigSaur P238 wasn’t included in the mix. I also started with a .38 snubby (S&W 637) but the P238 is my carry gun of choice, and I find it really fun to shoot. My new P938 is also a fun gun, but I’m still getting used to it and despite the fact it’s only slightly bigger than the 238, it doesn’t sit as well on my hip.

    • Evelyn Rogers says:

      Started with a gun my son had purchased for his wife Ruger LCR then went Sig P238 and I love my Sig for a carry gun.

  24. oldbill says:

    My second wife had never fired a gun. Hated them. I bought her a new Model 29 Classic, 44 Magnum, S & W. I loaded 44 Mags to 44 Special specs. She loved the gun and was very accurate with it. Silver dollar size groups, offhand, double action only at seven yards. She probably shot fifteen thousand rounds at the range.

    • Dino says:

      I call BS on this. Even at the lowest ammo .44 price at Lucky Gunner, 15,000 rounds is $15,000.

      • Harry says:

        He said he ‘loaded them down’ which means he’s a handloader, like me. I can load a box of revolver ammo for about $5 bucks.

      • coachroy says:

        No offense Dino but first he said “he” loaded 44 mags @ 44 spl specs. So he is a hand loader. depending on what was used he could be loading for .08-.10 a round. my 45s cost me like 15 bucks a hundred to load. Personally if she loves shooting a 44 mag she is my kinda woman :)

  25. OldOne says:

    SP-101 does not a 38spec make! Terrible factory trigger. Have had 7, had trigger job done on all… then and only then is it my lady’s gun of choice. Being a 38spec or not has nothing to do with it. Good idea for an article… terrible follow through!

  26. Bobcatdan says:

    My wife’s first gun was a BERSA 380. Not always dependable. She tried a friends Glock 17 and was sold and we bought her one. She says she would rather shoot our Mini 14 but I told her the neighbors may not like stray rounds thru their walls.

    • Dylan R says:

      Actually .223 rounds are more likely to go through walls less. They tend to fragment when they come into contact with walls. Handgun rounds are more likely to go through walls.

  27. Marianne says:

    GLOCK 9mm, both 26 and 19. Cant beat it! Love the fact that the only ‘safety’ is on the trigger. One in my car, one in my bag. For concealed carry the Ruger 380. Fits in my jeans pocket. Never scared to go by myself most anywhere.

  28. kenya says:

    I have a 38 special, keltec 380. But my favorite ia my taurus judge shoots 45 & 410 shells. Perfect home defense..

  29. Dan willeford says:

    Most women are directed to the snub nose pistolsnbecause the take little to no trai ing and are small enough for carrying in purses… My wife and mom both have a S&W .38 airweight… But they both also have a 1911 and my wife also has a Nano… They prefer to shoot those pistols along with many others I have but still often carry the snub nose guns for size and that comfort of not having to mess with safeties etc if something goes down…

  30. Laurie says:

    I have a nice Daewoo, it fits my hand well and is extremely accurate.

  31. Kfrueh says:

    My wife has and loves her M&P 9 and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I personally wouldn’t trade my Soringfield XD-M 40

  32. Max says:

    Hooah for the ladies who like the 1911!

  33. Michelle says:

    I currently carry Both S&W M&P 9mm Shield and Ruger LCP 380 with custom pink body. Previously carried Glock 26. Trigger on the M&P takes some getting used to, but definitely a much better fit for a smaller hand.

    • muffin man says:

      My old lady absolutely loves the shield 9. When looking for a gun she said nothing pink or that says lady she wanted to mean business. She’s looking into a full size 40 now

  34. Ariel says:

    And the most popular 9mm around, the Glock 19. . . NOT tested. No S&W M&P. No XD. Crappy selection of test guns IMHO.

  35. Lisa says:

    I have an HK 9mm compact and love it! I also have ‘appropriated’ my husbands Kimber 45 and Para 40. The larger frame guns feel more comfortable and the larger caliber guns are much more accurate.

  36. Nathan says:

    LGS talked my sister into a .38. She flinches bad with it due to[(]in my opinion[)] the long heavy DA trigger. Put my Desert Eagle in her hands[(]and that of other women i have let shoot it[)] and she does fine. Imo if a women can rack the slide on a SA auto it is a way better choice for them. No long takeup, just waiting for the gun to go bang.

  37. Jim Morrisy says:

    My 30 year old daughter preferred my S&W 357 with 4′ barrel over my Colt 38 Detective Special snub [(]both shooting 38s[)]. She liked the balance & control of the larger gun and was unfazed by the additional weight. Next time she’s going to try my 40 cal SIG. Good fun!

  38. drew says:

    My thirteen year old daughter loves shooting my para 45 and a Browning buckmark. Bottom line is women enjoy shooting as Nicholas we do

  39. Jared says:

    I took my wife to the range and let her try any and every gun she wanted to try. She decided after about 500 varied guns and calibres that a ruger lc9 was the one for her. stop trying to force a particular gun on someone. let them pick they’re own!

  40. Mike V. says:

    In reading the comments by the shooters, I would not conclude they chose the .38 as their favorite since 4 of the 5 commented on how hard the double action trigger.

  41. Bob says:

    The women I trained this year liked the Sig P238, Gkock 19, Springfield XD9, and the FNH-9. None liked a revolver.

  42. Matt says:

    Nice article, but I think a poor selection of guns. I have a airlite 38 and would not suggest it to any new gun owner. Too snappy and inaccurate without a Lot of practice. If I were outfitting my wife or daughter I would have them try a Kimber Solo, M&P Shield, Nano, or the Sig 380. Yes they are the upper end of price but woman participate quality and generally don’t mind paying more for it. Jimmy chop shoes prove that.

  43. Tracy says:

    I have shot many different types and caliber of guns over the years. I loved the .38 special my dad had however out if all the guns I have shot or had my h&k 9mm and sig .45acp are by far my favorite of all. I also have my beretta .25 which was the very first gun I owned. It was a Christmas present the year I turned 18

  44. Marty says:

    My ex got the Ruger LCR .38 and likes it for the easy trigger pull. Then she discovered my 9mm Ruger that was full frame. She fell in love with it which shocked me being a full frame. Liked it so much I let her have it.

  45. robin kelley says:

    They should have tried the sig sauer sp2022 beautiful gun , shoots like a dream solid is all I can say

    • jennifer s says:

      I love my sig sauer sp2022 except mine hasn’t been fully broken in and it has a failure to eject if you don’t keep your wrist perfectly straight. I honestly prefer my husbands ruger 9mm…its old and has been passed around but it is super accurate and has almost no recoil. I hear the sp2022 is usually great from the factory but mine has issues. Still love it though.

  46. Chuck says:

    Took a you lady (25) to the range as she wanted to learn to shoot. have a Sig Saur Mosquito .22LR. Springfield XD .40 Tactical and a Taurus 608 .357 revolver. Sig kept jamming (can’t find any CCI or Blazer) shot about 200 rounds through the .40 and about 150 through the .357. she loved the .40 and thought the .357 was “fun”. point is women understand stopping power and know what they want once a variety of weapons have been tried.

  47. Scott says:

    Wife carries a Sig Sauer 380 and loves shooting it. Great accuracy!

  48. Connie says:

    I like my ruger 45 single, double w/DC. AT 20FT 7 in the chest

  49. Tom Curler says:

    My wife was ok with the first gun I gave her, a 380 auto. Then she like the 9mm auto better. She was relative accurate with both and felt fairly comfortable with defensive ability. Then I gave her a S & W Governor. The revolver holds 6 rounds of 410 ball ammo. Very smooth trigger pull well balaned as are most revolvers, mild but firm kick, and the 4 32 cal balls spread to a 6′ spread at about 15-20 feet. She can pull off 6 rounds at the same speed as an auto,the pistol is heavy and balanced enough to not rise much, and in a matter of two seconds has landed 24, 32 cal rounds in a one foot circle. Talk about a defensive handgun for the ladies, this is the one.

  50. Lynn Brewington says:

    I love my River 380 LOC it is small easy to conceal. I have a laser on it but it is more on with iron sights. Trigger is rough so it pulls to the right a little but for a gun I can carry in my pocket I love the safety of that as well.

  51. Lisa says:

    I have the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 mil shield and love it! It’s my favorite of the guns that I own. Would definitely recommend it for conceal carry and target shooting.

  52. Michelle says:

    They tried to sell me a .38 snubnose for my first gun at a gun show. HATE that gun. I find more accuracy with a heavier gun. Ended up buying a S&W M&P 9mm and love it. So glad I didn’t waste my money. Have a CZ too, but find it hard to rack. Dad says it gets easier as you use it.

  53. petie3 says:

    Some like Fords, some like Coors. Most of these companies make all of these types.

  54. Nancy H says:

    I’m older, and used a few in my day but I just got the gun of all guns for me! The S&W Govenor! What a statement! You can have the rest

  55. Denise says:

    I personally love my Kimber 1911 Pro Tactical II more than any others I’ve owned. Nice article!

  56. David says:

    When we started looking for my wife’s carry gun we started by looking at the compact and subcompact Glocks. The sales Lady spoke to me about my wife’s gun (as though she wasn’t standing there) and was surprised when I told her we wanted to see a 30. “Are you sure she wants a .45?”. At that point my wife couldn’t stand it any longer and explained that she was a proficient shooter, enjoyed shooting our Glock 21 and our Ruger Vaquero .44SPL. We ended up purchasing a 30 from a store where the salesmen all thought she made a great choice. Her 30 is her favorite gun.

  57. Kris says:

    I was given many different handguns to try…when I picked up the XD9mm…it was a perfect match. Love shooting it. It’s my open carry, nightstand and plinking weapon. Advice..don’t buy a gun because it ‘looks cute’…save that for the purse to carry it in.

  58. Ashram says:

    I don’t understand why people would assume that a snubnose would be the gun of choice for women.

    The reality of this pistol is that it takes an experienced shooter to pull accurate shots with it beyond close quarters.

    It’s harder to aim due to the shorter sight radius. The shorter barrel also reduces the effective range.

    But, those two disadvantages may be moot for a pistol designed to be use in close quarters.

    Also, the lighter weight of the pistol results in an increase in perceived recoil, which means followup shots can be harder to manage quickly. And, the smaller grip size makes handling it a bit more of a challenge, especially for larger hands.

    The recoil and grip can be an issue, even in close quarters.

    It’s advantages are that it’s simple, dependable, and a relatively easy piece to conceal. But the small size and lightweight yields particular disadvantages.

    If can be a good carry gun if you can deal with it. It can also be a good backup gun in case you can’t use your primary piece for whatever reason.

  59. LG says:

    I’m a woman, and I love my Gen 4 Glock 19.

  60. Judge Jimbo Stephens says:

    Regrettably, my sister had a semi as opposed to a revolver when her ex attacked her. It stove piped and she was killed. Unless you shoo regularly, you should stick with a wheel gun. Period

  61. Mary says:

    A small woman, I enjoy my glock 19….easy-to-use, on target and no worrisome issues.

  62. Scott says:

    Great article. It drives me nuts as a firearms instructor when I hear some one suggest a 38 snub or 380 for a lady because she is a lady . Especially at a gun store.

  63. P says:

    I love my Springfield XDM 3.8

  64. Barbara says:

    My first gun was a .38 revolver. I hated it. Closed my eyes when I pulled the trigger. My favorite is a Sig Saur P228, 9 mm Fun to shoot and accurate but too heavy to carry concealed. I now carry a Kel-Tec .32. Small, light and accurate. Extended mag. makes it easier to handle.

  65. Ken says:

    My wife loves her S&W 38 and wants nothing to do with semi-autos. My youngest daughter loves all guns. The Para 45 is her favorite. Can’t wait for the range guys.

  66. Howard Melching says:

    The ladies who shot this test were “proficient” shooters. As such, they were probably familiar with the operation of semiauto pistols as well as revolvers. The market is different for NOVICE shooters and those who want a handgun, but don’t intend (nor desire) to shoot it much. For these shooters, a revolver is the preferred handgun because of its simplicity and reliability. No mag releases, safeties, racking the slide, etc. Just pull the trigger and it goes “bang” every time. When the adrenalin is pumping and you get a case of “the stupids” keep it simple. BTW, a double-action only revolver is the preferred action. Cocking a revolver gives it a hair trigger which is a formula for disaster in a tense situation.

    • Kirk says:

      Exactly! And if one is not going to shoot the gun with any frequency, then the heavier trigger pull doesn’t matter, even if one doesn’t care for it. Simplicity of use and reliability are the top concerns.

  67. Bobbie Jo says:

    I have a Sig P238 in rainbow finish. This is the gun I carry most. My favorite high capacity gun is my CZ 83. I have carried both. Blowback is minimal on both. The Sig sucks it up like No ones business!

  68. walt629 says:

    Not sure I agree with Kevin’s assessment of which was preferred. If I read the comments alone, all of the testers didn’t like the DA trigger pull on the SP101.

    From their comments alone I’d have to say they liked the 1911 more than the revolver.

  69. Joel says:

    My girl had never shot before we met. She enjoyed my CZ-75, but there is a lot to remember when operating an auto, especially with a malfunction. I ended up getting her a 3″ 357/38 because it’s easy to remember to aim and pull a trigger, and clearing it requires, say it with me now, pulling the trigger again. After some time and some training she now carries a Kahr K9. It’s almost as simple as the wheel gun, with no safeties or anything else to deal with. It’s a matter of training, not a matter of comfort. I would have made the same recommendation to a guy under the same circumstances.

  70. Weldon says:

    My 5’2″ wife likes the Colt 1911 .45 ACP Gold Cup. She has been shooting it as her first pistol for 30+ years.

  71. Craig Russell says:

    I would buy a S&W MP in 9mm anyway for a woman looking for a carry weapon that was easy to shoot, accurate, easy to carry concealed. Above average stopping power with good JHP ammo.

  72. Tina says:

    I am enjoying my Springfield xdm I like the rounded handle it fits good in my hand. It has good balance and very little kick.

  73. Kerry Weiss says:

    I love my Glock 19 9mm and my Kimber Ultra CDP II (45ACP version). Have tried others, but these two fit the best in my hand and are easy to carry.

  74. cmac says:

    A .38 snub is a great beginner’s carry weapon because operating semiautomatic pistols require more extensive practice to clear and shoot again if you have a failure to fire. Misfires in a revolver are easy to recover from. That being said, I prefer semis for carrying myself because they are second nature now, though at one time they weren’t.

  75. bbies says:

    To me, it isn’t just for women. Everyone should start on a revolver.
    Shooter 1′s comment on the Kel-Tec is the most typical reason for the .38spl recommendation. Revolvers are mechanically simpler to operate. Sure they take longer to reload, but are less susceptible to operator errors than an auto. No worry about limp wristing, dragging thumbs against the slide, getting bitten by the slide because they wrap their support thumb over the shooting hand wrist…..I could go on and on.

  76. Donna says:

    I’m fairly new owner and the first handgun I purchased was a S&W SD9 and I really like it, but to heavy / large to conceal carry. So when looking for a CCW I went to our indoor range on ladies night and tried several and ended up really liking the S&W 380 Bodyguard. the only thing I’m not a fan of is that I was accustomed to having 16+1 with my 9m now this only has 6 :-( well that just means I need a couple of magazines loaded ahead of time. Thanks for this article

  77. edodaniel says:

    I’ll agree with the author that just like men women have different likes and dislikes.

    I also notice that the KelTek P-3AT was equipped with a laser sight and was selected by two as most accurate and also was selected by two as a carry pistol. Had the venerable .38/.357 revolver been equipped with laser sights (such as Crimson Trace) I believe that it may have shown up as a top choice as well.

    I usually start teaching all new shooters with a selection of firearms and since I put the Crimson Trace grips on the old Taurus 85 it is ALWAYS one of the top three handguns for accuracy and fun and weight and its accuracy with or without the laser is generally commented on.

    Take that laser off the KelTek P-3AT and let them use the rudimentary iron sights it is equipped with and I doubt any of the five will comment on its accuracy. Laser batteries die and that little auto becomes a belly gun.

  78. Goats'n'Guns says:

    I happy to see so many positive comments about the Kel-Tec P-3AT, which is my carry-all-the-time gun. I’ve had so many men tell me that I need a “real” gun to protect myself, until they see me shoot with it…

  79. Katie says:

    Really informative! I hate how mean think a girl/women should have a certain gun or what not. Had that happen to me at a Harley shop. I love my fathers old Colt .22 Revolver which I am proudly inheriting. And this past year had to defend my own home from an intruder using my Glock 19. (Did not shoot him, he went to jail.) But oh so glad I had my gun by me. ^^ And my favorite gun to shoot at the rage is the M1 Grand. It makes me happy seeing more and more women at the range. <3

  80. Arthur says:

    This just shows that how well the firearm is more important than the caliber.

  81. Gary Smith says:

    I was surprised. I thought the .38 would take it hands down, but it lost out to the .45. I’ve worked with women who could shoot wonders with a .45, but most women carried .38s. I think now that it was more because the department limited most to either a .38 or .357 revolver and the .357 was too much even for most men. Good article.

  82. Mitch says:

    My wife has a S & W J frame with Crimson Trace and my cousin a first time gun owner got the Ruger LCP with Crimson Trace also. Both guns were for self protection and carry. My wife has a love/hate relation with her S & W not fun to shoot, kicks but when SHTF works, stupid proof, and accurate. It is easy to carry and don’t have to learn tap & rack and no safeties to disengage. It goes bang every time.

    As for my cousin she never shot a gun before first time shooting she put 5 round center mass. The 38 spl revolver has enough power to stop the treat and real easy to use. For fun shooting get a Browning Buckmark or Ruger Mark II in 22lr. For personal protection 38 Spl should be high on your list.

  83. Rob says:

    To each their own, my wife carry a J frame 357 mag, and can probably out shoot most guys. And yes she shoots full magnum rounds out of it.

  84. Stephanie says:

    I’m not too surprised. My 1911 is my absolute favorite gun to shoot! I don’t understand why women are discouraged from shooting one.

  85. andy says:

    when my girlfriend went gun shopping,the first thing a dealer tried to do was sell her a 5 shot 38 snubnose-she went to a another range that rented a variety of firearms,and she eventually chose the Kimber 45 ultra pro carry out of the ones she fired-she took her CCW permit class with the Kimber and passed with flying colors,including the 21 foot double tap

  86. Ken says:

    When my wife, an inexperienced shooter, was in the market for her carry gun, her first concern was hand fit. She handled several and found the shield 9 felt the best. Price was no object [(]can you really put a price on peace of mind?[)]. If the gun doesn’t fit the hand first then nothing else will feel right. She has become quite proficient in handling, drawing, and accurately firing. I feel my girls are safe when with mom. Peace of mind!

  87. Lauren Marie says:

    Anything Springfield Armory is going to be a wonderful piece to add to your collection. I use my sub compact 9mm as home defense and to carry concealed. Everyone female or male would enjoy the sites and accuracy of this weapon. I would love to try the 1911!!!

  88. Frank says:

    We have several handguns and my wife likes most of them. We recently got her a SIG 937. Initially it had failure to eject problems, but we sent it back to the manufacturer and changed ammo. Hogue grips make it a very comfortable gun to shoot.

  89. Tommy says:

    I showed my lady the FN Five Seven, and she loved it. Just depends on personal taste. She carries a .38 but can’t shoot more than a few rounds before her wrist starts hurting. She likes the near zero recoil of the Five Seven and wishes there was a compact model available!

  90. Terry says:

    I started out with a snub-nose .38 for CCW. But after it hurting my wrist a couple of times, and I got scred to pull the trigger, I changed to an older Iver Johnson .22 with hollow points. It’s fun to shoot, easy to conceal and carry. I may try something else down the line, but this one is for me now.

  91. Ken Barnes says:

    My 24 year old daughter loves her 4 inch .357 and my girlfriend who is new to shooting is trying to decide between taking my Walther PK 380 or Glock 26. Different strokes for different folks. Let them try out different guns and calibers until one stands out to them.

  92. Malachi Delacot says:

    My fiancé tried my S&W 5906 but found it too big and heavy. She wanted to look at a S&W 380, but said it was too small. She liked the way the Ruger LC9 fit her hand. It looked so good, we left with two of them. Much easier for concealed carry than my 5906. . At the range, after her first few shots with the LC9, she happily exclaimed, “He may be small, but he makes big boy noises!”

  93. Juquita Self says:

    I have two. A Walter PPK/S 380 and a Beretta 84 88 also a 380. Like the Beretta best. It’s balance in my hand is awesome and it’s accuracy is great.

  94. Dave says:

    Great article. I took 3 women out to the range a little while ago and let them fire a variety of pistols I had brought. I had 2 .22 a Beretta and Browning Buck Mark. , a KelTec .32, a Kahar and Glock 19 9mms, a KelTec 40 s&w, A Taurus .357 Mag and a AMT “Skipper” 1911 model .45 ACP. So the article results did not surprise me. They all liked the .45 and hit very well with it. Of course the single action was a big hit at accuracy . They thought the .357 with .38 ammo was nice as well. All liked the Browning .22 as well. I still recommended the .357 with .38 spc rounds for their home defense. The reason being safety as well as accuracy. The revolver’s chance of jamming is almost nonexistent in a clean weapon. The double action only makes it safer for novice shooters. A jammed weapon in an extreme stress situation becomes a rock to throw. I believe a heavy frame short barrel revolver with a combat grip , 5 or 6 round , is the best all around home defense for someone who does not practice shooting in a stress situation. In home defense shooting is usually within 12 feet. You don’t need a weapon that holds 15 rounds. When you look at videos where a robber / robbers are met with firepower, you don’t see them setting up to do a house assault. You see them hauling ass out anyway they can. Also if anyone has ever seen the flash that comes out of a short barrel .38 or .357 in the dark or low light you would run too. I keep my .45 under the matress so I can get to it when I roll out of bed. My .40 sw and .32 are my CCW. What do I think is the best weapon for home intruder. A 12 guage coach gun double barrel with double hammers and .#4 Buckshot. Just sayin.

  95. Nicki says:

    My first was also a 38. And like Nancy, I like it but don’t love it. My current favorite is my Sig Saur P238. I had been eyeing the SA 1911 for a while and may give it another look the next time I’m looking to buy. :)

  96. Melanie says:

    Hey, don’t knock the .38 revolver! When I first got my CCW it took a few months to choose a good carry weapon that did not feel too big, like a .45 or 9 mm, or too small, like a .22 or .380, or too complicated. Sometimes simple can be better. I bought a Ruger LCR .38 special and still carry to this day as a great everyday concealable option. Now, a couple of years later with more experience, knowledge and confidence I am looking to add a Sig Sauer sp2022 9mm to my growing collection. Give us girls some credit for choosing our own weapons in our own timing.

  97. Jim S says:

    My wife love my Glock 19 (now her Glock 19). She also loves shooting a .45, in the 1911 variety.

  98. Lynneth says:

    The Sig p220 is for me as far as handguns are concerned. Otherwise I’ll take a rifle.

  99. Charly says:

    Not a fan of the .357 myself – kicks too much. I like a gun with a little more heft. I have a Ruger SR9c, and I like it a lot. Works great for concealed. I also like my hub’s 1911.

    As for the pink guns, you can keep them. When I go to pull my gun out of my purse, I want to be taken serious. It may appeal to some women, but I want my guns to be bad-a$$ and I want my attaker to say “whoops.”

  100. Cherie says:

    I have arthritis in my shoulders so the .45 is a bit too much. I LOVE my Taurus 1911 38 Super. The power I want without the kick to my shoulder.

  101. William Lupton says:

    To test how well a semi auto will work out put a snap cap or two into the magazine. Explain and demo how to clear a misfire. Then let your female companion to shoot the magazine and clear any malfunctions that occur. At that point many will decide on a revolver.

  102. Pam says:

    Guns? No thanks… The TAZER is my choice.

  103. roger nuss says:

    Are we talking ccw or housegun? Kind of odd, the only choice you get in a 38 is a 1 1/2′ – 2′ snubbie? I’ve been around guns for forty years, and my housegun is a four inch 586 Smith. No bells & whistles when you need it….can lay there loaded for years, oick it up and it will go bang.

  104. Ian Macoy says:

    My wife, who is not a big woman, nonetheless likes em big. Her go to is a Beretta 92FS and she likes my HK USP45. While I am, she is not a fan of Glocks.

  105. nita says:

    I have a Glock 22 .40 cal and a Ruger SP101 .357 and wouldn’t trade either of them. Both are comfortable and very accurate in either hand.

  106. debbie says:

    I been shooting long guns for a while, transitioned to handguns a few years back and have enjoyed my KImber then a friend introduced me to the S&W M&P 9, which is a whole lot easier to clean and is a lot less grief.

  107. Dawne says:

    I’d rather give up shooting than hand over my CZ SP-01….

  108. W.H.Wilson says:

    I own several .45′s,1911′s and double action semi auto and revolvers.It did not surprise me that women like the 1911.The 1911 is easy to handle and easy to shoot.Great article.

  109. Carrie says:

    awww dissapointed at the selection of guns.. the S&W M& P should have made the list. The CZ is very nice to shoot, Wouldn’t have picked a Cal Tec though. Glock 19 would have been on my list and an commander midsize or compact 1911 would have made my list. I have tried all of these guns but still would rather have a luger or P 38 for accuracy for my personally. The 1911 is my favorite carry gun though harder to conceal but so what. M&P is good for a purse gun or conceal carry.

  110. Tim Hodur says:

    Obviously the right gun for the right person is their personal choice, that’s why there’s a thousand comments on this article. When it comes down to having one for personal defense though, revolvers don’t jam. Even a glock will jam [(]although very rarely[)] and when milliseconds count most experienced shooters won’t have the sense to drop the mag, clear the jam, put the mag back in and rack another one in the chamber and then pull the trigger. Double action revolver is the best home defense gun… Period. And who the hell carries a 22 LR or 22 mag for personal defense? Come on! Those guns shouldn’t even be part of this study.

  111. Alison says:

    I had bought the Ruger LC9 about a year ago and I really liked all the safety features. I couldn’t shoot the damn thing. And what’s the point in carrying a gun you can’t shoot??My husband got me a firearms range course for our anniversary and the instructor had a shield he let me shoot, so I sold the LCP and bought an M & P Shield 40 cal and absolutely love it! I carry it everywhere!! :) I also have a Ruger LCP .38 that I keep in the house as I do love that little revolver.

  112. Jim says:

    My wife loves her 44mag backpacker

  113. maria says:

    I carry an m&p 9mm shield. I love it. It’s easy to conceal and shoots good. My sister carries a 380. She says my 9mm is too snappy.

  114. Elder says:

    I agree with Carrie, they should have made a Commander length .45 available, as in a LW model or maybe the Kimber with the bobbed grip frame. Having said that, my Wife likes her 4″ S&W 15-2 LE trade-in. But then she is also very capable with my Beretta 1938 Commercial in .380, and did shoot in a mixed doubles .22 League a while back.

  115. Debbie says:

    The Sti Elektra will blow them all away. And, it’s beautiful comes in .9mm or .45acp

  116. Maurice says:

    I have a Stoeger 20 ga double defender under the bed. My arms and hands are partially paralyzed and I can no longer handle pistols. I can handle revolvers but feel more confident with the shotgun. My message, use whatever works for you.

  117. sharon says:

    Sig Sauer P938

  118. Steve says:

    My wife carries either a .38 Spl or her Colt Defender .45. She much prefers the .45 despite it’s size.

  119. barbg says:

    I have a keltec p11 9mm and love it for both shooting, and as a carry option. Small grip, light weight, accuarate ….

  120. Chuck Millstein says:

    Used to run ranges for brand new Army nurses- very few who could not eventually become proficient with 1911′s. Wife loves Glock 19, hates Ruger LCP.380. To each his (her) own- take them to a range where there are a bunch of different guns available and let them decide.

  121. tim says:

    my wife just bought herself a ruger Blackhawk lipsey special in .45 colt. she LOVES it

  122. Tom says:

    We find the same results. In my classes and our club annual ladies event, time and time again the 1911 is the hands down favorite pistol they shoot. This includes semi-autos of all types and revolvers of any size. Trigger and sights seem to be key factors. Their main comment is ‘this is the easiest gun they shot all day and the most accurate group they shot all day’. And it’s with that big ‘old bad 45 ACP. Imagine that.

  123. The Wolfhound says:

    Why, the .38Spl snubbie IS the perfect choice for the ladies who are NOT going to train and shoot with it. It is the original “point and click interface”. Fortunately these are not the women I see in my classes.

  124. Kathleen Cooke says:

    I have Ruger sp101 32 and love it. very balanced an accurate.

  125. Bam says:

    My tiny wife hated her .38 snub Chief Special. Tough getting her to put in range time. Got her a Rhino .357 thinking 38s in a heavier gun would help. She loved it and went up to +p’s. Slipped some 357′s in and she was still fine. When she found out how much more knock down the 357 has, she just loves it. Unfortunately i have started liking it too.

  126. Sean H. says:

    I started my older daughter shooting a couple of years ago when she was 13. Previous experience had only been soft air for basic techniques and range safety training. The first gun she shot was my xd .40 4′ service. She had no issue with that. With proper grip technique she was able to control it. However the second gun she shot was my wife’s Taurus 9mm PT908. She feel in love with that one. The difference to her was grip size. She really prefers the single stack. I think all shooters should select a decent self defence caliber, but finding a gun that fits their hands and is comfortable to shoot is key, especially for women.

  127. LarryD says:

    Had to buy a S&W M&P 22 for my wife – she couldn’t pull the slide on anything larger – at least anything in the gun shop. It’s a nice practice weapon but wouldn’t want to depend on it for home defence (I also believe in a shotgun…). Anyone have a suggestion for something larger that she might be able to use (other than a revolver)?

  128. Synova says:

    I realize this is old but it just got linked to my G+.

    I really love my Walther PPQ 9mm. When I took the intro to handguns course, though, a lot of the women there had revolvers because they couldn’t work the slide on an semi-auto. They really couldn’t do it.

    I had trouble, too, and was shown how more than once and frankly… there’s a lot of piss poor instruction and understanding of how to do it and most of the advice I got involved being told not to be timid and give it a firm yank. And since I’m short most of my attempts were done holding the gun awkwardly above a counter top. Doesn’t work… can’t get leverage that way.

    So here’s the deal, okay? Hold the pistol at your waist where it’s comfortable, grip the slide firmly with your off hand, do *not* yank… pulling toward yourself is the weakest motion you could possibly do and no matter how confidently you yank on the slide it’s going to be a bugger… *push*. Hold the slide firmly with your off hand and *push* the body of the gun forward with your primary hand.

    You’ll only need to pull toward yourself hard enough to hold the gun firm and most of the work will be done with the stronger forward motion of your primary (and stronger) hand.


  129. Doc Dan (Life Member) says:

    My wife is very petite (think 4’11″. After trying dozens of handguns she ended up picking the S&W Lady Smith 9mm and the S&W Bodyguard 38.

  130. Princess says:

    I love my full size 40 Smith and Wesson M + P

  131. Paula says:

    I have a .38 just not a sub nose but, it’s darn close. I also have a long .38 revolver. I choose to go to range with my 9MM’s. No such thing as one firearm that fits a woman because theirs no such thing as a woman’s fireman. All firearms are made for different folks to choose what fits their hands, what they can handle and practicing how they shoot.

    To me a .22 or .32 when things really count will just tick off a assaulter unless you fire just right and hit lethally the first shot depending upon situation and what the assaulter might or might not be on or have. Their firearm verses yours and skills., Let alone if they are on high powered drugs or not and the situation your put in at the time.

    If you can get to your firearm faster then they can get you. It’s the he/she whom hits first factor. Not just the firearm.

  132. Krystal says:

    My husband has a Ruger .45 and I shot it for the first time it was amazing. It is the sr45 it is his conceal i have a Ruger sr40 and there is little to no recoil at all and it perfectly fits in my hand and I’m only 5’1 both guns are amazing

  133. SG says:

    Great article! Recently completed a training class for women where we got to try out all different kinds of guns. We were started on .22s, but I felt like I was shooting a BB gun! Thanks for the comparisons here, with feedback. I can’t wait to go back to the range and try some of these out!

  134. Jessie says:

    My favorite gun is my Beretta Px4 Storm 9mm subcompact. It’s smooth, not too much recoil and accurate. I used to have a Ruger LCP 380 and I did horrible at the range with that gun for some reason. I traded the LCP in for a SCCY CPX1 9mm. But my Beretta is number 1.

  135. Jim Cotter says:

    I want one that will hit 5 out of six. Target-between the leg area. Being polite. But you get the drift. I couldn’t resist. Good site. Very helpful. Thanks

  136. Saylor says:

    There is a lot to be said about how a weapon fits in your Hand. My Wife started out with the Tarsus 9MM but ended up a S&W 380 Body Guard. Now She likes the Sig Sauer 380 which she really enjoys a lot. I carry either the S&W 380 Body Guard or the S&W 38+P Revolver. Past 15 feet with these small weapons they are not very accurate. The 1911 is a nice Weapon but as far as Accuracy goes it’s also limited? My Personal favorite is my FN-5.7X28 MM Semi Automatic. Shoots Flat, and Fast. Have gone Thru several Thousand Rounds with no Jamming.

  137. clay blasdel says:

    The Keltec 380 is a great little gun for all the right reasons but it DOES pinch the trigger finger

  138. De says:

    If we’re talking revolvers, the Chiappa Rhino 2′ comes in a .40, .357 Mag, and 9 mm. Lightweight [(]aluminum frame[)], amazingly low perceived recoil, and surprisingly low barrel flip. I think it is well worth a look for a defensive/carry weapon.

  139. Michael Huffman says:

    My wife really likes her Glock 26 9mm and her favorite indoor range gun is Beretta Neos 22

  140. Sue says:

    I love the CZ PO7, I also love my G17,

  141. larue says:

    I tried several different guns and continue to try different guns but from the moment I first shot it I fell in love with the fns 40. The fns 5.7 is pretty awesome also but the 40 is my number one favorite

  142. casey says:

    I’m looking into purchasing a gun for home and self defense. I found this article interesting but wanted additional information in regards to having small hands affects which ones to consider. thanks so much!

  143. Capt Jack says:

    I let my wife shot my S&W Chief. After that ball of fire rolled out of the end of the barrel, she wouldn’t pull a trigger with her eyes open. I had to start her all over again with a CO2 pellet pistol. Now, she shoots her KelTec 9mm with a .22 adapter and says it’s just like shooting the pellet Gun. After a few more sessions I’ll try putting the 9mm barrel back on.

  144. Melissa says:

    Just started shooting a .38. Would like to try a 9mm. Any thoughts?

  145. Elizabeth Mcpherson says:

    I am 73yrs. old and 5′ft. tall. Just bought my first gun after trying many…my favorite turned out to be Waltherpk380. I love going to the range w/my son [he's a Glock guy] Home protection is Remington shotgun.

  146. Larry says:

    I own a S&W model 442. Without that stupid lock. It is an Airweight J-Frame revolver chambered in .38 +P. the only thing that it does best is its ease of carry. I find that I really need to focus to shoot it well. I love my Glocks, but the smaller revolver is much easier to carry concealed. It is a trade off.

  147. Robert M says:

    Definitely some great tips. I agree that women have different needs than men when it comes to most of the things in life and that includes guns. We actually wrote something similar that can be found here: http://nationalcarryacademy.com/woman-issues/ Maybe someone find it interesting. I would love some feedback from people. Either way, I am looking forward to more of your content as it provides great insights.
    - Robert M

  148. Deano says:

    I was interested in an automatic versus a revolver for a lady, do smaller women have trouble with an automatic as for as loading the chamber the first time

  149. Kristi Shook says:

    Comments…I have two different Berretta’s both 40 cal I model px4 and other is the 96. Love them both so much. The weight and grips are perfect

  150. Shayne says:

    Good read, but the .38 revolver (S&W) is what my wife prefers. She hates the idea of ejecting brass, at least for now. Hers will be a model 642 with lasergrip… No amount of talk will sway her on this issue. And pink? Absolutely not!

  151. Austin says:

    I worked as a SWAT operator for over 10 years and always carried an HK USP45 until I retired 2 years ago. I love that gun, but it’s tired out. My wife can’t stand shooting handguns. Her carpel tunnel syndrome precludes that. I now have her keep an 870 with 00 buck within reach in the bedroom. I keep a Glock 21 with a flashlight attached to my side of the bed. 99.9[%] of the time I’m CCW, unless I’m at the gym. I just gotta figure out how to conceal it and stop it from rusting while sweating.

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