Beretta Blog

What's The Best Handgun for Women to Carry?

Posted by Carrie Lightfoot

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on Oct 2, 2014 10:44:00 AM


Conversations about self-defense often end with heated debates about concealed carry. What type of gun? What caliber? How should it be carried? All of these are personal choices. Yet some opinionated experts are all too eager to share their expertise, especially on one specific and highly contentious issue: what is the best handgun for women to carry?

Also see: How to Find A Gun Expert for Real Handgun Training

There has to be an answer to the question, doesn’t there? It seems like such a simple thing to ask. A quick Internet search will yield articles that claim to identify the Holy Grail of handguns for women. Sorry to burst your bubble, ladies. There is no best gun for a woman just as there is no best gun for a man! Despite the fantasies some have about which guns are best for women, they don’t know which gun is right for you.

The best gun for you is out there. You just have to do some research and have confidence that you will be able to find it. But be wise. Inexperience doesn’t have to mean a novice is helpless, or must accept what someone else “thinks” is the right gun for you.

I realize as a woman first dipping her toes into the waters of the gun world, finding the right gun can be a bit overwhelming. All you want to know is which gun to buy. Instead of finding an answer, you get lost in a sea of options and opinions. It can dampen your enthusiasm and potentially stop you in your tracks.

Finding “your” gun really isn’t all that complicated. What makes it complicated is the combination of the new shooter’s lack of knowledge and her level of confidence mixed with the opinions and advice of others. Follow a few simple guidelines, though, and you will not only find the right gun for you, the individual woman that you are, but you will do it with confidence. Stop looking for one gun that is somehow supposed to be the best for a particular gender, based on stereotypes and consider your own strengths.

The process is really a lot like match making. Match what works for you with the model that has those qualities.

The right gun will “just feel right” in your hand. I realize this statement lacks scientific flair – but you know what I am talking about. Most women I connect with say this is exactly how they knew which gun was the right one.

Here is some guidance for you. First, do some basic research (see the links below) then answer the following five questions. You may find as I did that my first gun was perfect for me as my first gun. Yet as I grew as a shooter, I found the best gun for me changed as well.

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Here are some simple questions that will serve as a guide to help you find the right match:

1. Will you carry the gun on your body?

Answering this question will help determine the overall size of your gun. The most concealable handguns are smaller, compact and snub-nosed models. Learn about the basics of concealed carry here.

2. How will your body best carry a concealed gun?

This is a very important question to answer. Let’s be honest, a 32A bust size will not conceal a Glock in a bra holster very well! Body shape, size and how you dress are all important factors in selecting your gun. If you have your heart set on carrying a particular way, know in advance what guns those particular holsters will accommodate. Otherwise, you might be disappointed to discover the holster you were counting on carrying isn’t available for your gun. 

3. Do I want a revolver or semi-automatic pistol?

Things like hand strength, finger strength, ammunition capacity and mechanical complexity must all be considered in order to answer this question. Can you effectively pull the trigger of a Double Action Revolver or rack the slide of a semi-automatic pistol?

4. What caliber handgun should you get?

For self-defense, the best caliber is typically the largest caliber you can shoot and manage effectively. A hard hitting round may not be much use to you if you can’t handle the recoil comfortably. This is a simplistic view taken to assist the new shooter as there is much to learn about ammunition, caliber and the ballistics of different calibers and types of ammunition. Many people consider the .380 in a semi-automatic pistol, or .38 special in a revolver, to be the lightest calibers to consider, but any gun (of any caliber) may be better than none. If you just can’t manage these calibers yet, try a .22. Work on your fundamental skills and then try your hand at higher calibers.

5. How does it fit in your hand?

Your hand should comfortably wrap the entirety of the grip. You should be able to perform the mechanical operations of the gun confidently. The meat or pad of your finger should lie solidly and comfortably on the trigger. If you have to stretch, or change your grip on the handgun to accomplish this, then it’s not the right gun for you.

Most importantly – try it if you can!

Many ranges and gun shops have rentals or demo guns you can try. If possible, find one, even if it means driving a bit of a distance. If you have friends that own guns, perhaps they can take you shooting to try them. Getting a chance to shoot different types of guns of different calibers is the ideal final step in selecting the right gun for you. It gives you the chance to feel how the different gun types shoot. Like with any fine machine, each variety and make will have differences, and getting a chance to feel these first-hand makes for the most successful selections.

There you go, some basic guidelines to help you find the right gun for you. My hope is that you begin the task of finding your partner in self-protection with some confidence. You now have an idea of what you want, and how to identify the right gun for you. Yes, you very well will still need the assistance of others, but the key here is having their “assistance” – not having to rely completely on their opinions.

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Topics: Concealed Carry


Written by Carrie Lightfoot

As a firearm enthusiast, and NRA certified handgun instructor, Carrie has set her sights on opening and expanding the world of firearms to women, working to “demystify” the unnecessarily confusing and intimidating male-driven industry.

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