The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported in September of 2013 that the fastest-growing demographic among new shooters is young, urban women. This is really no surprise, given recent statistics for violent crime among some of the nation’s troubled cities like Chicago and Detroit. But does a woman really need a gun to ensure her personal security? What about less-lethal options like whistles, sprays, brass knuckles and knives? While extremely loud noise makers and pepper sprays can be effective in the right situation, most often these are things that can be rendered useless by a determined or crazed attacker.
All he has to do is endure the pain long enough to grab an arm or knock the device away, and now a woman is facing someone who is likely bigger, stronger and faster than she is, and at that point he is also likely to be angry on top of it. A knife or a club-like weapon may score some injury on the attacker, but it can be difficult to get into action, especially if the attacker closes quickly and a struggle ensues. A handgun represents overwhelming force to an attacker. The simple sight of a gun pointed his direction is quite likely to make the most aggressive attacker think twice. If the woman actually pulls the trigger, she may not even need to hit her assailant to drive him away. And if she does hit him, the odds of her survival go up dramatically.
With a small, concealed handgun at her disposal, a woman only needs to keep her head and take the opportunity to draw and point. This can often be done even while struggling on the ground while dealing with an attacker’s weight on top of her. So, which gun is most suitable for a woman in need of self-defense? Let’s examine some basic principles, then move on from there to a few recommendations on the best handguns for women.
Features and Preferences
Pink Handgun Grip
Women are generally smaller than men, and most have smaller hands. The grip may need to be a smaller size to fit a woman’s smaller hand. And if she wants to carry the gun concealed, it will need to be small enough to comfortably hide it on her person. In short, a woman has exactly the same requirements as a man for her weapon. It needs to be powerful enough to kill or knock down an assailant. For personal carry, this means a minimum of 9mm, .40 S & W or .38 Special. The ammunition needs to be affordable, which allows frequent practice to build proficiency and good habits. It needs to be comfortable to hold and use. If carried concealed, it needs to be compact enough to hide in clothing or in a purse, kept always at the ready.
Smith and Wesson’s “J” series
Best Handgun For Women – Revolvers
One of the most commonly-heard pieces of advice you will encounter when shopping for a woman’s gun is that a revolver is just the ticket, because they have fewer moving parts and a higher tolerance for adverse conditions and dirt, so it will need less cleaning. This advice assumes that the “little lady” is averse to learning the complexities of a semi-automatic gun. When you consider all the female mechanics, technicians, truck drivers, medical personnel and scientists in the world, this seems rather laughable to any rational person. Revolvers are, in fact, mechanically simpler than semi-automatic pistols. Revolvers are therefore more reliable. And they do require a less perfect state of cleanliness than a semi-automatic pistol to function properly. However, because they tend to be wider and heavier than semi-automatic pistols of the same caliber, they are not as easily concealed as a semi-automatic gun would be. There is a further disadvantage in the total firepower available, since they generally are limited to six rounds. Safe carry practices dictate that the cylinder be left on an empty chamber in case the weapon is dropped or bumped, to avoid accidental discharge. This leaves only five rounds to work with.
Ruger SP 101
Some “experts” love to point out that revolvers have a heavier trigger pull than do semi-automatics. This is not necessarily true, as most include adjustments to lighten the trigger pull, and any gunsmith can perform work for a reasonable fee to provide as light a trigger pull as desired, even the proverbial “hair trigger” if that’s what you want. When it comes to a revolver, the same basic rules apply as with a semi-automatic handgun. You have to hold it and shoot it to see whether you like how it feels and whether it fits your shooting style. A revolver is going to require more practice than a semi-automatic gun, because felt recoil is higher for a given caliber, and pulling the trigger has more of a tendency to pull it off target. Some quality revolvers to consider include Smith and Wesson’s “J” series and the Ruger SP 101, both available in several calibers.
Best Handgun For Women – Semi-automatic Pistols
There are a number of aspects to semi-automatic pistols that make them attractive for concealed carry and personal defense. These aspects hold the same advantages for women as they do for men. They are generally slimmer than revolvers. They tend to be lighter weight for a gun of a given caliber. They offer double and triple the amount of ammunition. They can be fired rapidly. The action absorbs some of the recoil for its operation, and with a polymer-framed gun, even more vibration and felt recoil is absorbed, because of the properties of the synthetic material.
Springfield XD .40
For some reason, there is a lot of advice from so-called experts everywhere claiming that semi-automatic handguns require more training to operate proficiently than revolvers do. Nothing could be further from the truth. The semi-automatic will require more attention to cleaning, but all guns should be kept as spotlessly clean as possible, so this is a non-factor in our book. The complexity is also a non-issue, in our opinion, because this is potentially a matter of life and death, and the effort taken to learn the action, stripping and reassembly is effort well-spent. This leaves the matter of learning to shoot the gun. A semi-automatic gun is far easier to learn to shoot straight with, because of the factors mentioned already concerning weight, slimness and felt recoil.
Even with everything said above in defense of the revolver as a choice for concealed carry and personal defense, our recommendation for women is to carry a semi-automatic, because they tend to be lighter, easier to conceal and offer massive firepower in comparison to a revolver. Some good semi-automatic guns to consider as the best handguns for women are the best-selling Springfield XD Service .40, which is actually the favorite choice of women shooters in the country, the Beretta PX4 Storm Compact because of its full-sized grip, and the Smith & Wesson M & P Shield, which is available in both .40 S & W and 9mm.
The best handgun for a woman is one that has the right size grips, whether it is factory or aftermarket. The woman needs to be sure that the gun will fit perfectly in her hand regardless of the size. Find a handgun that you are comfortable with. Like I said, not all handguns are created equally and thus should be part of your research. As some friends to try out theres at the range or better yet, find a gun range that will have a good choice of rentals for you to get your hands on.