In most respects, choosing handguns for women involves the same process as choosing handguns for men.
The primary consideration should be why you are buying the gun. Some people buy handguns as a collectible, or just as an investment, on the assumption that the value will only go up. In this instance, whether the purchaser is a man or woman will be of no importance. Research into the historical trends of each specific make or model is the only way to ensure a proper choice. Because handguns are seldom the weapon of choice when selecting a firearm for hunting, those parameters are not discussed here.
According to a recent Gallup poll, in the period from 2009 to 2011, gun ownership by women increased roughly by 10%. Now over 40% of all women are gun owners. As this number increases, more women are expected to be buying guns. Before a woman purchases any firearm for the first time, she should take a firearms training course to familiarize her with the handling and safe operation of a firearm. Many of the firearm ranges, which provide safety courses, also rent guns. Before buying a gun, it is extremely important to have a general idea what it feels like to fire a similar gun of the same caliber. Some people prefer revolvers, other people prefer automatics, and some preferences are difficult to quantify. Recoil, loading, simplicity of operation, and other factors may make one gun preferable over another. Once a woman is trained and has a basic familiarization with firearms, she is better prepared to make an informed decision on which handgun is right for her.
One very important factor in choosing handguns for women is in selecting one which fits comfortably into her hand. A gun that is either too large or too small will be harder to handle. Before deciding against any gun based on the feel, consider the option of custom grips and a gun holster designed for women
If the primary purpose of purchasing a pistol is for target shooting, then a .22 caliber gun is the best choice because the ammunition is cheaper and will save a considerable amount of money over time. Generally speaking, pistols with a 6 inch barrel provide sufficient accuracy for most shooters.
The most common reason women buy handguns is for self defense. If the gun is going to be for personal protection in public, compact size is a primary consideration. An equally important consideration is the caliber of the gun. Small caliber guns are unsuitable for self defense because they may only wound, and not stop an attacker. Large caliber weapons have too much recoil for small framed guns. The optimal choice is a compromise–something like a .38 caliber or 9 mm pistol. Guns with a 2 inch barrel are preferred because at close quarters, there is nothing for the attacker to grab. In an attack in close quarters, the old police adage of “point and shoot” is all the aiming that is required.