By Dan S. Defense
When men buy guns for women, they typically buy a gun
they like, and then bring it home with a smile that soon
disappears. More often than not, the gun that men bring
home as the "perfect gift", is deemed unsuitable and
complete waste of money. What started with good
intentions turns into an unwinnable argument.
To avoid this lose-lose situation, folks need to
understand that women have different requirements for
handguns than men. This statement is based on
physiological differences as well as observation of
several female shooters over time. That and mistakes I
made over the years, and fortunately survived to learn
Women tend to prefer certain types handguns and seem to
prefer certain general characteristics, which we will
cover here. We'll also try to understand these needs as
we address them. After looking and explaining the
requirements, we'll proceed to a list of five specific
firearms, to create a list of the five "best handgun for
First, let's look at the requirements for "best handgun
for women". Women typically have smaller hands, so we
need a handgun that has a grip that works well for
smaller hands. Women typically dislike very noisy guns.
My wife dislikes my 45 ACP 1911, despite its proper
grip, because it makes too much noise. I have heard that
complaint repeatedly, and often with an additional
disclaimer which says that it's way too big. So too
noisy or too big are two more things that we need to
avoid, as we seek that perfect "best handgun for women".
Finally, there's the question of recoil or perceived
recoil, since my observations note that this is an area
of significant concern for women as well as new
shooters. Most women have smaller frames, and it is
therefore generally harder for them to deal with recoil,
unless they are well trained. A handgun that produces
significant recoil, due to its caliber, or very light
weight, needs to be excluded from our "best handgun for
women" list. Finally, not being too ugly helps too, but
I'll leave that one up to you to figure out.
Spelling Out the Requirements
We'll start by translating these verbal requirements,
into actionable data points. These will lead us to
specific choices for our "best handgun for women" list.
For semi-automatic handguns we'll prefer a single stack
magazine, but also consider handguns with a very slim
double stack magazine.
Revolver grips are mostly fine, as far as hand size is
concerned, as long as it is a full hand grip. Because we
need to avoid large handguns, such as my full size 1911
semi-automatic, or large "N frame" revolvers, we'll look
at compact or sub-compact semi-automatics and mid-sized
frame revolvers, such as the "K frame" or "L frame".
To avoid the problem of too much noise, we will avoid
large calibers such as my favorite 45 ACP as well as
calibers that typically come with high velocities, such
as the .357 Magnum in revolvers and the .40 S&W in
semi-automatics. This will also help with ammo generated
recoil, which is a good start, in addressing the
complaint of "this gun kicks too hard".
The second step in addressing recoil is ruling out
handguns that are too small or too light, which
eliminates some of the air-weight "J frame" revolvers
and ultra-small 380 ACP pocket guns such as the Ruger
LCP, which are small and light but kick too much. Now
that we know what we want and what we need to avoid,
let's proceed to the top 5 list, which ought to have
something for everyone.
I'll leave out several great guns, because I think that
they won't appeal to most folks, for example the
Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk, which is a great handgun but
also very expensive.
Any of the following can qualify as the "best handgun
for women". Please note that the list is not sorted by
SIG SAUER P239 9mm
The P239 is a solid and reliable self defense handgun.
It is chambered in 9mm which is a versatile caliber,
which gives the user great latitude in ammunition
selection. Despite using a double stack magazine the
P239 grip is sufficiently narrow for a typical female
hand, and the standard, "out of box" grip helps in
absorbing some recoil.
The P239 can be fitted with a laser (such as the Crimson
Trace Lasergrip) and has night sights for use in the
dark. This handgun is used by Homeland Security and
several other Federal agencies, which means it was
thoroughly vetted for reliability. The preferred model
is the P239 SAS, which is the model I got for my wife
for self defense and home defense.
If you want to learn more about the P239 SAS, you can
read this in-depth review and then decide if this is
your choice for "best handgun for women".
SIG SAUER P232 380 ACP
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© Rational Self Defense, 2010