7 Best Handguns for Women [Hands-On Guide]

Guns are inanimate objects with no clue whether you’re male or female.

That said, not all guns are created equal.

The Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander in 9mm is a solid pistol that fits a variety of hand data-lazy-sizes.
Me with a Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander in 9mm

So what handguns are a good idea for female shooters?

We’ll give you a hint–they probably aren’t pink (though there’s always Cerakote painting, if that’s your jam…).

Bunch of Pink Guns
Bunch of Pink Guns

Now let’s go over some important things like size, caliber, and necessary skills.  Then of course…my favorite recommendations!

Table of Contents


Size Matters

If you’re thinking I’m referring to the size of the gun, I’m not.

Not yet, anyway.

This is about the physical size of the shooter

Although it is not true in my case, many women out there do have smaller hands. That does not mean they cannot shoot full-sized guns it simply means they will probably have a tougher time finding the right gun for them. 

If a gun does not fit your hands you aren’t going to run it as well. It’s a matter of basic mechanics.

World's Smallest Gun, Washington Times
World’s Smallest Gun, Washington Times

The good news is, fitting a handgun to your hands is a relatively easy task.

When you pick up a handgun your palm should have full contact with the backstrap. 

Glock 19 Grip (Compact)
Glock 19 Grip (Compact)

Perhaps more importantly, the bones of your wrist and arm should be in line with the gun’s frame, not canted off to one side or at an upward or downward angle. Keeping the bones of your hand and arm in line with the gun does wonders for mitigating recoil and improving overall control. 

Handgun Grip Set Wrist, Shannon Smith
Handgun Grip Set Wrist, Shannon Smith

When it comes to triggers and finger placement you’ll find there are two schools of thought, one that says the center of your finger should be in contact with the trigger and the other saying to use the first crease of your trigger finger. 

There are a ton of Glocks on the market, each offering different benefits. Try a variety before you choose just one.
The variety of Glocks out there means that they’re a great place to start looking for your CCW.

Personally, I believe you’re better off using the center of your fingerprint.

With that in mind, when you try a new gun make sure you can easily and naturally place the center of your trigger fingerprint on the face of the trigger. 

This helps you apply a direct, rearward trigger press (or pull, or squeeze, or whatever you want to call it). As long as that trigger moves smoothly straight back it’s all good. 

If your trigger finger has trouble reaching that sweet spot, your gun is probably too big (double-stacks are not for everyone). Conversely, if you’re awkwardly arching your finger back for a good trigger press, it’s too small.

How it looks: when fitting a gun there should be a visible space between the finger and the gun’s frame. The trigger finger should not be resting against the frame. 

The Glock 17 is the original double-stack 9mm from the Austrian manufacturer.
Proper trigger technique, as explained above.

Finally, you should be able to operate the gun’s controls without significantly adjusting your grip. A good fit means you can reach and run the safety, magazine release, and decocker–if it has one–without shifting your hands around. 

This goes double for a self-defense gun.

Shifting your grip to operate your gun is going to affect your speed, accuracy, and survival.

Skills Check

Yes, we need to talk about skill.

A shooter’s skill absolutely affects their gun choices. 

In fact, those good old boys saying women should shoot revolvers are making a blatantly fatal error in judgment. Revolvers are not easier to use than semi-autos. They’re also not foolproof. Revolvers do fail. 

As for the tiny pocket pistols and mouse guns, the recoil sharply and have far more significant muzzle rise than larger guns. Some guns are easier to shoot than others. You can easily learn to shoot any gun you want, but I’d be doing you a disservice if I did not mention the simplicity of guns like Glocks. 

Variety of Handguns

And if you automatically think double-stack when Glocks are mentioned, remember, they do have a number of single-stacks now.

Take your skill level into consideration when choosing a gun. It is accurate to say 9mm guns are softer-recoiling than bigger cartridges like 10mm or .45 ACP. 9mm is a good choice and a great starting point for newbies, too. 

Here is our Guide to Shooting More Accurately which has helped tons of guys and gals alike.

No, you don’t need a .380 ACP or a .22 LR, which brings us to our next point.


Let’s keep this brief. Although .22 LR has long been touted as A Good Thing for new shooters it is not necessary for most people. 

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers

It’s great for starting out kids and not a bad idea for a wife, girlfriend, or sister who is noticeably gun-shy. The time I’d pull out a .22 LR for a teenager or adult is when they’re visibly afraid.

.22LR (CCI vs Winchester vs Super Colibri)
.22LR (CCI vs Winchester vs Super Colibri)

If they’re reasonably gung-ho, just start bigger. Failing to shoot a .22 LR as your first gun does not doom you to firearms failure. 

Here’s our editor shooting a .22 LR:

Don’t limit yourself to the stereotypical tiny calibers frequently recommended for women.

Make 9mm your starting point, or hang out with 9mm for a good, long time. 

9mm (115gr vs 124gr vs 147 HP)
9mm (115gr vs 124gr vs 147 HP)

There is usually no reason whatsoever to start smaller especially if you have a good grip and stance.

Here he is with his Glock 19 in 9mm.  Don’t worry…video of me coming up next:

Best Handguns for Women

1. Glock 17 and Glock 19, Gen 5

We’ll throw the Glock 17 and 19 into one section since they are fairly interchangeable. The 17 is Glock’s full-size 9mm and the 19 is their compact model.

There are a ton of Glocks on the market, each offering different benefits. Try a variety before you choose just one.
There are a ton of Glocks on the market, each offering different benefits. Try a variety before you choose just one.

The Glock 17 is known as a wildly popular and oft-assigned duty gun for law enforcement while the Glock 19 is known for concealed carry use.

Here’s me with a G19:

They’re both double-stacks so if you have truly small hands they might not work for you. 

Newst Generation Glock
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Glocks are striker-fired guns with basic controls. There is no external safety–Glocks rely on the SAFE Action system, a trio of independently-operating mechanical safeties–which reduces the number of controls you need to operate. 

With a Glock, you just need to run the magazine release. There’s no grip safety, no decocker, just a straight-forward system. 

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Here’s the surprise: the majority of you can conceal the 17. You do not have to carry a compact or sub-compact pistol. It’s a matter of making the necessary concessions with your wardrobe and finding the right holster. That’s key. 

The Glock 17 is the original double-stack 9mm from the Austrian manufacturer.
The Glock 17 is the original double-stack 9mm from the Austrian manufacturer.

But if you would like a compact gun the polymer Glock 19 is a great choice. It has a 15-round capacity, weighs 21.16 ounces empty, and has an overall length of 7.36 inches. 

The Glock 19 is the compact version of the Glock 17. (Pictured: Custom Axelson Tactical Axe 19)
The Glock 19 is the compact version of the Glock 17. (Pictured: Custom Axelson Tactical Axe 19)

Glocks are reliable, accurate guns with a well-deserved solid reputation to back them. It might be a cliché but I absolutely recommend Glocks to women looking for a first handgun.

What’s your thoughts on the Glock 17/19?

Readers' Ratings

4.89/5 (1294)

Your Rating?

2. Ruger SR1911

Now we’re jumping right into 1911s.

It’s a fallacy that women cannot run 1911s or that new female shooters cannot run 1911s. They’re really not that complex. Do they require a bit more finesse and knowledge than striker-fired Glocks? Yes, but it isn’t that difficult.

The Ruger SR1911 is a great, classic 1911 that outperforms its price point. (Pictured: Ruger SR1911 in .45 ACP)
The Ruger SR1911 is a great, classic 1911 that outperforms its price point.

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in the classic .45 ACP chambering as well as 9mm and 10mm. I have all three but the Lightweight Commander in 9mm is the focus here. 

It’s also my teenage daughter’s gun. She is quite petite and her fingers are almost two inches shorter than mine. While she can run every gun I hand her–despite her small hands–the slim single-stack SR1911 in 9mm is the proper fit. For her, it was love at first shot.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

You do sacrifice capacity with single-stacks. The Ruger Lightweight Commander SR1911 holds 9 rounds–plus one if you keep one chambered–so you should learn to carry a spare magazine. Actually, you should carry a spare mag no matter what, but I digress. 

This 9mm SR1911 is 7.75 inches long, 5.45 inches tall, and 1.34 inches wide. It’s a Commander, meaning it has a 4.25-inch barrel, and it is fairly light at 29.3 ounces. Heavier than the Glock? At first blush, yes, but not when that Glock is loaded.

The Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander in 9mm is a solid pistol that fits a variety of hand data-lazy-sizes.
The Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander in 9mm is a solid pistol that fits a variety of hand sizes.

Because this is a 1911 it’s hammer-fired and does have both a grip safety and an external thumb safety. If you find the black, rubberized grip panels are too thick it’s easy to switch them out for slimmer panels. 

That’s the beauty of 1911s, actually: the ease with which you can swap out panels to reduce or add to grip thickness. This is a precise, reliable pistol. I’d recommend it to anyone (obviously, since my daughter has one).

3. SIG Sauer P226 Legion

Notice this is the Legion, not the original P226 Nitron.

There’s nothing wrong with the Nitron–I have one and it’s a good gun–but the Legion’s performance beats it handily. 

The SIG P226 Legion is a full-sized gun so although it is possible to conceal it – I’ve done it – it is a bit of a challenge. It’s offered in 9mm, .357 SIG, and .40 Smith & Wesson. Sure, 9mm rocks, but don’t discount the .40 Smith & Wesson. 

Playing card drill, anyone? The SIG P226 Legion produced this beautiful ten-round playing card drill the first magazine through the gun.
The SIG P226 Legion produced this beautiful ten-round playing card drill the first magazine through the gun.

Like to admit it or not the .40 does have a ballistic edge over the 9mm. Whether that edge is worth the increased recoil and expense is a matter of personal opinion.

The P226 Legion is an alloy-frame gun with a stainless steel slide. It has an overall length of 8.0 inches, an overall height of 5.5 inches, and a width of 1.5 inches. It weighs 34 ounces empty. 

Perhaps the best feature of the Legion model is its Grayguns-designed trigger which is truly a thing of beauty. I adore the trigger on my P226 Legion. It has a beautifully smooth pull and crisp break. Basically, it’s one of my favorite double-actions currently on the market.

If you’re looking for a hammer-fired pistol and/or a double-action/single-action, check out the SIG P226 Legion. It’s an awesomely precise gun.
If you’re looking for a hammer-fired pistol and/or a double-action/single-action, check out the SIG P226 Legion. It’s an awesomely precise gun.

This is a semi-automatic, double-action/single-action gun. That means you can fire it either single-action (SA) or double-action (DA) and you can choose to fire the first shot DA with follow-up shots SA. It also has a decocker. 

Aside from its kickass trigger, the Legion has a reduced, contoured beavertail, aggressive front strap checkering, and an X-Five undercut on the trigger guard. The decocker and slide catch lever–that’s what SIG calls it, so don’t complain here–are also low-profile to reduce snags. 

P226 Perfected
at Rainier Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Where the P226 Nitron is designed for reliable performance and accuracy the Legion is enhanced to deliver that same reliability with superior comfort and precision. And does it ever deliver.

If you want a gun with additional layers of external safety but you don’t want a 1911, check out the SIG P226 Legion. It’s my favorite SIG handgun for self-defense use.

If you want something a bit smaller in hammer-fired, DA-only, try the SIG P250; if you want something striker-fired try the P320.

4. Glock 48

Yes, there are two Glock listings in this article.

The aforementioned 17/19 double-stacks are great for shooters with the hand size and preference to run them but this one’s a single-stack. It’s also one of Glock’s latest pistols and it would be a shame to leave it out.

The Glock 48 comes in the original Silver Slide two-tone model and the classic Glock black-on-black. As it so happens I have both, because this model rocks. 

Normally I’m a double-stack fan all the way. I even own a number of double-stack 1911s. So when Glock launched this single-stack I was prepared to dislike it but ended up loving it. I even carried it while driving during my recent cross-country move.

The Glock 48 two-tone went along with me on a cross-country move this summer. I’m in love. (Side note: this picture was taken at a rest stop during the move. I was carrying in different CrossBreed holsters the entire trip.)
The Glock 48 two-tone went along with me on a cross-country move this summer. I’m in love.

This model is compact but not exactly tiny. It’s 7.28-inches long, 5.04-inches tall, and 1.10-inches wide. The G48 barrel is just under one inch longer than the G43X barrel; other than that they’re the same gun.

So if you’re here wondering about the 43X that’s the difference.

Barrel length. 

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The G48 is chambered in 9mm, has a 10-round capacity, and is crazy accurate. Despite my larger hands and longer fingers it fits me perfectly and became a preferred pistol of mine thanks to its consistently precise performance. Of course, it’s also reliable. It’s a Glock.

Yes, I can conceal the Glock 48 in skinny jeans and a tank top. I do it all the time. As you can see my gun belt is more obvious than the gun itself.
Yes, I can conceal the Glock 48 in skinny jeans and a tank top.

5. Walther PPQ

First impressions matter, even with guns, and my first impression of the Walther PPQ was along the lines of “wow is that ugly.” 

The PPQ isn’t just a blocky little pistol, it’s lumpy. Imagine my surprise when I picked it up and discovered it’s comfortable, a fantastic fit for my hands, and fun to run. Even better, it’s an accurate, reliable pistol. This is one of those guns people tend not to think of when shopping for guns but it is an excellent choice.

The Walther PPQ might not be pretty but it is an excellent carry gun. This group was nailed slow-fire at a distance of ten yards.
The Walther PPQ might not be pretty but it is an excellent carry gun. This group was nailed slow-fire at a distance of ten yards.

The Walther PPQ has a four-inch barrel, an overall length of 7.1-inches, and an overall height of 5.3-inches. It’s 1.3-inches wide, making it slimmer than some and slightly thicker than others, and weighs 21.5 ounces empty. Of course, it’s chambered in 9mm and has a 15-round capacity.

One thing that makes this a good choice is its ambidextrous slide stop and reversible magazine release. It isn’t the only gun out there with those options but it is one of the better 9mm carry guns that can be tailored to right or left-handed shooters. 

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

As it turns out the rather ugly, lumpy, textured grip feels good in my hands. And although I typically hate to say a gun is inherently accurate, this time it fits. Don’t forget Walther when you’re handgun shopping. They make some great guns.

Runners Up

A few quick shout-outs. If you want a revolver, try the Smith & Wesson Model 66 in .357 Magnum or the Ruger GP100 which is also offered in .357 Magnum and a greater 7-round capacity. 

Smith & Wesson Model 66
Smith & Wesson Model 66

And if you have your heart set on .380 ACP, the Ruger LCP II is a major improvement over the original LCP and a good option for a backup gun (BUG). 

Check out more in our Best Concealed Carry Revolvers if that’s your thing.

For arthritic hands, the Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ works nicely because the slide really does rack more easily and it’s an accurate pistol. I’m not a fan of the grip safety on that model but if it works for you, go for it.

Shield EZ 9mm Vs EZ380 on chains
Shield EZ 9mm vs. EZ 380

If 9mm is more your style, you can also step it up to the Shield EZ 9, and either model can be found with a thumb safety configuration.

Check out our full review of both Shield EZ models!

Parting Shots

Now you’re wondering a few things. Where’s the Smith & Wesson Shield? What about the Mossberg MC1SC or the SIG P365? If you’re in “but muh…” mode, knock it off. 

There’s limited space here and we’ve already extended it well beyond capacity. Go to the range. Try different handguns. Choose carefully–and choose your own gun. 

If you want a sub-compact Glock the pictured Glock 27 is always an option. Yes, it’s a .40 Smith & Wesson. Don’t knock it until you try it.
If you want a sub-compact Glock the pictured Glock 27 is always an option. Yes, it’s a .40 Smith & Wesson. Don’t knock it until you try it.

Your dad, boyfriend, husband, or brother might mean well but they cannot and should not choose your gun for you. Only you know what does and doesn’t fit your hand.

Only you know what gun you will actually train with and carry.

A gun living in the safe is no good at all.

(Editor: We do love the P365!  Check out the full review of that here).

Sig P365

Choose wisely. And if you already own a reliable, accurate carry gun, invest your money in a class instead of another gun. Training matters. Self-defense is a perishable skill. Don’t neglect it. Above all, shoot mindfully and often. 

What handguns do you like? Did you pick one of the guns on our list, or did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. Want more options? Check out the Best CCWs by Caliber. Also, see our list of the Best Female Friendly Firearms Brands. 

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95 Leave a Reply

  • Tommy

    I live in California and tried to have my daughter who is of average size, try my Gen 3 Glock 19. She could not get a proper fit on the gun. We went to a high end gun range and she was taught by a professional and tried many different firearms. She ended up liking the Beretta PX4. Interchangeable grips made it fit her hands comfortably and the rotation of the action reduced recoil. Rock solid company, adjustable grips for smaller hands, reduced recoil.

    1 week ago
  • Matthew Mcdurfee

    Objectivity vs personal bias is important for a writer. Never base judgement on what "You prefer" over a know winner for most woman. The S&W EZ is a 100 percent better choice than a full size 1911 in 45 ACP, or even most CZ's due to the very strong slide spring. Also a .38? Maybe with a longer barrel (not 2 inch). That double action squeeze on a revolver can cause serious accuracy issues for a new shooter.

    3 weeks ago
  • Heather Evans-Dorn

    I have a large male population that knows their “guns.” My ex husband’s father was a marine and firefighter. He ”tried” and IMO flailed to teach his son (my ex) about everything you just wrote about. He has a .357 and they bam let me shoot it without any better judgement or a crash course training. They didn’t even give me ear plugs that I didn’t know they had in. I shot it at a “beer can” from about a half acre distance and I actually hit it...but couldn’t hear for 10 minutes and was PISSED. Ever since then I’ve hated the .357 and learned the hard way that it was (trigger happy) and very easy to accidentally shoot it trying to put the safety on, as it was off (and husband was out of town for three months) and we have two young daughters. I almost short myself in the head. The bullet went through our front wooden door and I never found the shell bc for some reason it stays in the chamber. Is that even legal??

    Anyway I threw a fit and made his dad come from out of state to loan me his .22LR smith and Wesson SA. I LOVED IT. During an open house I came home to find 2 ppl stealing from us as the realtor left doors unlocked. I was able to sneak by and grab the .22, “cock” it and aim with without any hesitation...and wasn’t backing down as my girls were in the car still. Unfortunately for me, I let them leave and was not even able to get a vehicle tag number or anything. I feared badly they would come back for revenge until we moved.

    Then I started going to REAL gun ranges and learning how to look at, learn about, chose, handle, and fire at the range. The staff there were all ex police and military. They had super confidence in me (also was watched by video) the first time he taught me what to do, I did it and never looked back. He only had the target half way down the shooting alley- and it was WAY too easy. He pushed the target all the way back it could go. The range was crowed at the time. I had the very first lane closer to the staff and by the concrete wall.

    It was still too easy. I was so darn accurate with the .22 that I fell in love with it. And kept buying more ammo and more targets bc mine was “murdered.” He asked me if I was fibbing that I didn’t have any training before. It was proven when I accidentally pointed the gun (not down) and at my head while loaded. He was convinced after that!

    But everyone was starring at me after a while. As I was shooting non stop so accurately that one staff member said that “I seriously lost my calling as a sharp shooter or sniper.” He said the only criticism he could give was that i didn’t know about a breathing technique where I guess you hold your breath while shooting for better accuracy?

    I only want to protect myself. And my girls as well are alone a lot. The best way to keep my family safe is through education with my 9 and 12 year old daughters and I refuse to keep my gun in a safe at night time while sleeping. I fear someone getting to me or getting the gun before I do! I used to have nightmares about it.

    I don’t care about personal things. Take all you want. I won’t even shoot. But come at MY DAUGHTERS or ME and I know I won’t stop shooting until I’m out of bullets. I fear being targeted and need to find a range again and practice since moving again.

    Anyway- I worry about magazines jamming and having no time to (idk what you call it) when you pull the .22LR SA shaft to shoot?

    I want a firearm that I can grab the fastest and actually shoot the fastest. Of course with accuracy and not a lot of kickback. And enough bullets to shoot to kill if need be in an emergency situation, God forbid. I wish there was a revolver that you didn’t have to pull the hammer back every time to fire- is their one? I think, again that would led to technical difficulties with the firearm itself malfunctioning if its not manual. But the time it would take to pull the hammer really fast is not good. But those magazines if not loaded just right can malfunction.

    Any suggestions?


    2 months ago
    • Konstantinos Frangoudakis

      Ma’am , if what you have is a Smith&Wesson revolver then, it should actually be a DA( Double action revolver ) which means you should be able to just pull the trigger and it cock the hammer and fire the gun , the trigger pull will be heavier and longer but it should still fire . Make sure to unload the fire- arm and Practice dry firing it. Also if you are currently looking for a stronger round and an easier gun shoot you could look into either the Smith and Wesson .380EZ or the 9mm Ez semi automatic pistol they are meant to be lighter recoiling and easier to manipulate for people . I actually bought one for my fiancé so that she could run a gun that she could cock and load her self easier . While still having decent energy .

      2 weeks ago
  • Hope Williams

    I wish you would do the best ccw holsters for women! Please.

    2 months ago
  • Jon

    How about some good CCW’s for women? My wife would prefer not to go around with a cannon dangling from her hip. Also, what are some of the more easy-to-rack ccw’s?

    2 months ago
  • Jacek

    I want to buy a gun for my wife but she wants it to be pink, does anyone know where it can be bought or does it have to be customized? Also, if anyone can recommend me, where can I do it? I would appreciate it.

    4 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      I believe some models from SCCY come in pink from the factory, however, I haven't heard much positive feedback about their quality. I would strongly recommend that she picks a gun based on what works and feels best to her and then send it for Cerakoting in whatever color she desires. Cerakote is reasonably priced, a great finish, and starting with a gun she actually enjoys shooting will improve the experience significantly.

      4 months ago
  • Robert Fitzhugh

    Amazed that the H&K Vp9 wasn't included. It is striker fired with 20+ different grip combinations, great sights and trigger with H&K reliability. Glocks have nothing over the Vp9.

    5 months ago
    • Matthew Mcdurfee

      No glock does not, but need to focus away from what you like and what is appropriate for a beginner or woman. So, the S&W EZ is the best beginner womans semi. Easy rack, reduced recoil, easy to load magazine. Simple. Too many guys jump straight to full size guns and scare woman off from shooting, thinking it is funny to watch them jump.

      3 weeks ago
  • JJ

    Uhhh... the PPQ is ugly, but Glocks all over the place? The PPQ is the best gun on this list, looks and all!

    5 months ago
  • Rachel

    Hi! Any recommendations for a lefty gal?

    6 months ago
  • Frank

    I don’t agree with all the guns you picked for women. These guns require hand strength to rack the pistol. Most older women do not have the strength in their hands to pull the slide back. So now what , I guess the only gun left is the good old wheel pistol.

    Do you agree or have any other suggestions?

    6 months ago
    • Don

      I agree. Took my wife to a gun show only to find out she could not rack any maker's slide. Caliber didn't matter. I was disappointed as was she. Ended up buying an inexpensive Rock Island .38spl snubby.

      All those tv shows showing all them buttered up slides just makes me laugh.

      6 months ago
    • Kathryn

      I tried the Shield EZ and it was indeed easier to rack than all of the similar pistols on the list.

      5 months ago
    • Samuel

      One technique I have heard about was to "push forward" with the trigger hand holding the grip of the firearm instead of trying to pull back the slide. This still requires a good grip on the slide, but it does not require strong biceps in tandem.
      Not mentioned in this article, but in my experience:
      The Walther PPS M1 in 9MM and KelTec P3AT in .380ACP may be easier to rack this way. The Kahr PM9 has quite a stiff slide spring with either technique.

      5 months ago
  • Penny Mitchell

    Thank you
    Great info for women new to gun ownership

    7 months ago
  • Doug Hoyle

    I just purchased a handgun for my wife, or I should say that I assisted her in the purchace. I was fairly set on a revolver, but after discussing things my wife, who is generally averse to learning mechanical things, decide she would like to learn on a semi. I was hesitant to go as small as a 380, so we just sort of settled on 9mm. The top of my list was the G43, and somewhere near the top was the Sig 365. If I am completely honest, I wanted the little Sig for myself.

    When push came to shove, there was very little available on the shelves. One that I had seen on a number of visits was a little Kimber EVO SP. Apparently the price was scaring people away because it was left on the shelf while everything else was flying off as quick as it hit the door. I started reading and watching reviews, and I never found a bad review on the little pistol. People who were clearly averse to Kimber were still saying great things about the gun, and nobody had anything negative to say that went beyond cosmetics and aesthetics.

    I went ahead and took a chance, and the next day we took it to the range. It ran flawlessly, and everyone who shot it came away impressed with both how compact it was, and how good the trigger was compared to other striker fired pistols. It comes with three sets of grip panels and a larger backstrap so I fit it to my wifes hand. She ran the first magazine thru it, and I asked her if she would like to try a different thickness grip on it, but she was happy with it with the thinnest panels. I have to say, that I prefer the thickest, as I feel like I never quite have a good hold on it, but it never really gets away from me either. it just doesn't fall readily into a steady grip.

    All in all, I am happy with the purchase. I would like to have spent less, but then I look at the total package, including Tru-glo sights, extra grips etc, and it doesn't seem quite as expensive. It is exquisitely shaped and melted, and disappears in a trouser or jacket pocket, much the way an old Walther 380 would.

    If there is anything I don't like, or at least anything worth mentioning, I haven't found it yet.

    7 months ago
  • Kritter

    I was reading an article on best carry pistols which led me to this well written article. I grew up shooting with my father plus spent twenty years in the U.S. Coast Guard with several years doing law enforcement so I was comfortable many different kinds of pistols. When my husband and I got into shooting again, I gravitated towards 1911 styles guns while my husband loves Glock. I can shoot the Glock well, but don’t like the rake angle of the Glock - when I bring the gun up, the Glock angle/sight picture isn’t natural for me.
    My hands are very small, so when I looked for a carry gun, I was tending towards the P238/Colt/Kimber micro since they are mini-1911 style guns and I can reach the slide release with my thumb (my hand has to rotate to reach it with larger guns). I settled on the Kimber micro 380. It just fit me best.
    I really like many of the comments below - especially about how you need to shoot and test different guns to see what feels right. My husband and I have seen repeatedly where the husband/significant other picks the gun and it doesn’t work for the woman. With the recent uptick in crimes, many women are looking for something to defend themselves with. Like mentioned below in several comments, we have found starting new shooters off with a .22 works well and work them up to higher calibers but also anyone who carries a gun must have the correct mindset to be able to shoot it if needed. If were a beginner, the kick of the small barreled gun like the Kimber micro 380 would probably be difficult to get used to. Finally, practicing often is extremely important. Dry firing can only get you so far in terms of skill.

    8 months ago
    • Teresa Simmons

      Appreciate all you have done for our Country!! Thank you! And thanks for your review - I’m just getting started but committed to becoming my own “badass”!

      7 months ago
  • mm

    A little Glock biased.

    8 months ago
  • ron riley

    I'm a former NRA Instructor of 25 years: Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun, Personal Protection, & Home firearms Responsibility. Also Shot small bore (22LR) Rifle competition up to and including NRA National matches for 7 years. BOTH my son & daughter shot small bore rifle competition for 6 years at our gun club & Through College. On A partial & Full 4 year college scholarship. Women & young girls are THE BEST Top Level shooters in the world. Note: The FIRST GOLD MEDAL WON BY THE USA at the 1996 Olympics was by a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL, shooting Shotgun. 1. Learn to shoot a .22LR RIFLE FIRST. Less scary, Less Recoil, More Accurate then a pistol. Easier to control, & be more accurate (hence, More Fun) If you can, shoot indoors where you don't need to deal with bright sun, wind, rain, snow, Heat or Cold. Unless someone giving advice at a range, can shoot Very well, take their advice with a grain of salt (UNLESS IT'S ABOUT RANGE OR GUN SAFETY--Then PAY ATTENTION. If possible have someone that already knows how to shoot come to the range with you, to watch & correct anything you might do wrong, and Answer any questions you might have, When you don't understand ANYTHING, ASK, the ONLY STUPID QUESTION IS ONE NOT ASKED. No One is Born Knowing. Once your really comfortable, try a .22LR caliber Pistol With a LONG barrel. Typically, the longer the barrel, the more accurate the gun, AND Less recoil. I have a Browning Buckmark Hunter pistol with a 7-1/4 inch barrel. My wife who goes to the range & shoots every time, I do. Liked my pistol so much, I had to get her the exact same thing. When you've had all the fun you want at this point, Look into the Smith & Wesson EZ model pistol in either 380 auto (the smaller less recoil version) or 9mm version. The EZ S&W has a REALLY EASY to Work Slide (needed to do, that to load), a decent trigger pull. Easy to Load magazines, and fairly accurate. Sells for List $400, I've seen it for sale on the internet for about $300. ANYONE that was weak hands, wrists, fingers, etc due to RA or age or disease, accident, etc. REALLY NEEDS to check out the S&W EZ 380 auto. If they need or want a gun for protection. You can get fairly cheap Ear muffs (protection) at Harbor Freight. Also you'll want to wear Safety glasses, to protect your eyes, especially when just learning. Tractor Supply has the cheapest gun safes. Greta Quality, just a better price then gun shops. Hint Buy a Larger safe (more guns capability) then your think you will ever need. (like a garage, they have a tendency to fill up fast. Jewelry, paperwork, ammo, guns, etc.) Side issue the gun club my kids shot at, had a JR. Olympic Rifle Team, that was always one of the best (within top 4) in the state of PA. Depending on the kids level of responsibility, we had kids Start to shoot, at 10 years old, Typical, most kids started at 12 or 13 years old. BEFORE THE KIDS COULD JOIN THE TEAM, "Come to practice", they HAD TO COMPLETE AN NRA RIFLE TRAINING COURSE. which was held at the club a couple of times a year. NRA gun courses are 80 percent GUN SAFETY. There are Different safety rules for Gun Handling, Home Storage, Range Rules, and Hunting Rules. Depending what your needs are, you need to find a NRA safety course. Most gun clubs has listings of clubs in each state where you there are courses available.

    9 months ago
  • Laura Sandoval

    I am completely terrified of guns. I’ve had my FOID for almost 2 years, I’ve only been to the range once & that was for a first timers class. I paid $100 for my sister, my 21 yo daughter & I to attend, and sadly neither me nor my sister were able to complete the session. Now my daughter on the other hand, she shot them guns as if she were a pro! I had to walk out because I was so uncomfortable! However, I need to get over this fear.
    I know in your article you stated if there is obviously a tremendous amount of fear, start small. I’m sure I already know the answer, but is this what you would recommend for me?
    I also have 2 other daughters, a bit younger- ages 17 & 14 that I will eventually want to have in the range, if they are comfortable of course. If & when that happens, should they start small as well, or should I just allow them to decide what they’re comfortable with?
    Also! Could you possibly recommend any gun safe or cabinet?
    Thank you so much!

    9 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      Hello! I would highly recommend starting small and having fun. Getting a cheap .22 LR Plinker like a Ruger Wrangler is a great way of getting started for adults and kids. Plus, it's single-action so it's very safe to use and take your time with.

      9 months ago
  • Robert Thomas

    How do you mean go to the range? They don’t let you shoot new guns.

    11 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      Lots of ranges have guns for rent!

      11 months ago
    • Connie

      Many ranges have guns available to rent and try.

      9 months ago
  • Mike H

    What do you mean the PPQ is ugly? Aesthetically it’s miles ahead of any Glock.

    11 months ago
  • Sig_Sour_P229

    My sister likes the 1911 platform. She has a Kimber.

    11 months ago
  • momma wolf

    love how this was written. this was very helpful, and I'm glad they weren't all pink. ;)

    1 year ago
  • GJ

    I have a question, my son thinks I should have a revolver instead of a glock that I favored as my first time owner of a gun. He says the glock springs, etc for loading clips is complicated and you need strong hands to load them. What do you say to a first time woman buyer and my hands are not small...but it is true I don’t have as much strength as I did when younger?

    1 year ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      Hello! The complexity won't be an issue, once you get used to it there isn't much to it. But it does take some hand strength. If you're not sure if you can do it, I would highly recommend heading to a gun range that rents Glocks and testing it out first hand.

      Revolvers aren't bad, but there is a number of advantages that a semi auto has that make them, in our opinion, the best option if you can use them.

      1 year ago
    • Mr. D

      My first gun was a Ruger GP100 stainless steel with a 4 inch barrel. I loaded it with plus p 38 special, 110gr 357 mag, and 125 357 mag ammo and all I can say is I pity the fool standing in my sights.

      1 year ago
  • K Holland

    My wife purchased the Springfield Hellcat and having multiple FTF with hollow point ammo. Springfield Service is terrible so far. Anyone else having this issue?

    1 year ago
  • Sim

    Glock 17 and 226 is a man gun

    1 year ago
    • Francis

      ? 2 of my daughters love my sig p226 legion

      8 months ago
      • francis

        I have 3 daughters the middle daughter has never been to the range with me. my oldest has gone 3 times and my youngest goes with me often. my youngest has a S+W MP 9 compact, and is currently looking to buy a 226 legion, they are hard to find right now. my oldest just got her CHL and hasnt picked a EDC yet

        6 months ago
  • Eddie. C

    Purchased my wife the S&W .380 EZ Performance Center in all black. She absolutely loves the gun, shoots it very well and as a new shooter I see her confidence grow every time we go to the range. Smith & Wesson hit a Home-run with this one and now the 9mm version and has gained a fan from my wife.

    1 year ago
  • Dave

    Can anyone tell me what holster is used in the photo with the Ruger 1911?

    1 year ago
  • Bart Simson

    Lots of opinions...suspiciously influenced by what the bandwagon people tout.
    For example, dealers seem to recommend what they get the highest margin on.... and then when the ads from mfrs sell a bunch Of weapons to a single buyer... police for instance.... they recommend their duty pistol and dealers report the model as most asked for.... hence the best.
    It’s like tell a story often enough..., story is repeated.... and then it’s true.
    Application is often very different for each person. Then there is the wannabes who want to appear technicool... black, painted finishes, “ PLASTIC“ finishes.
    Conveniently it all fits in with what is best for mfrs and dealers.... hmmmm smell a rat?
    So what’s popular with the majority.... reviewed by bloggers who have their own peculiar tastes..... determine what’s best. Whaattt???

    I have my own tastes ... surprise!!! I admit mine is the taste of a 65 yr old. Am I an old fogey or.... do I have an opinion of importance.... because I’ve seen the tricks pulled over a lifetime. I see... the “ Emperors New Clothes” Story over and over again.

    My leanings personally are towards the finest materials, fit and finish, with the safest features and beauty. I’ve owned dozens of firearms from several niches.... that I’ve wanted for years.... before buying. I prefer to try things out.... things that appeal to my tastes.
    I keep what I buy generally.
    My prizes look as new as the days purchased and barrels are not shot out.
    These guns will hopefully last generations.
    I notice that most people who have something neg to say.... certainly write their negative reviews. Negatives.... “often”, not always... point to what they think a weapon should have, or a personal disaster.
    I don’t trust any of these personal reviews.
    Vids by guys in Cammo, from mfrs, dealers.... or heavily pushing opinions that may just be to brag or justify what was really a mistake.... are avoided.
    If you want to know about reliability.... ask a gun repairman... who gets no gain from promotion or sales.
    In life... professionally, I used this technique on equipment purchase committees.... to represent the technical concerns of very expensive computer driven equipment that my employees were going to have to service. We seldom were able to out weigh the weight of uninformed Physicians..... totally emotional preferences....
    They...., sat on the bandwagon..... with the salesmen....

    I don’t talk about my guns. I don’t show my guns. I don’t keep them loaded. I could well stock a band of insurgents but let me tell you, if I don’t feel safe..., if I HAVE to carry, I’ll MOVE first.

    I think.... to promote gun sales.... ammo ought to be dirt cheap. Like $1 a box of 50 .22’s
    To keep in the spirit of the 2nd amendment... we should have access to the same weapons the military has.... within reason. I’m not a nut.
    See with satellites, fleer, night vision..... we can’t upset ANYBODY oppressing us.

    The first step to make Is to change the FIRST amendment and get all these rabble rousing reviews and vids glorifying guns and amping up wannabes.
    It’s an epidemic. Your giving the Liberals the ammunition they want.... and the gun mfrs and dealers reap profits.
    There is a lot of work to be done. Get educated people!
    And don’t believe 95 percent of what you hear and read... anywhere. There is always a bit of truth and a package of lies to suck you in and Politically vote.... for the wrong person.
    I did. I apologize America.

    Trump and every politician that accepts money from special interests should spend a stint in Cuba and water boarded.
    And I’m a Republican.

    1 year ago
    • kypcoko

      Thank you , thank you and thank you.

      1 year ago
    • Nat

      Hi Bart, thanks for your thoughts. Despite being many years younger I agree with much of your attitude regarding personal gun ownership and the direction of marketing today. But these are just the preferences of one blogger. The old ways still hold true and are not diminished by this article.

      10 months ago
  • Torey sovie

    I am a beginner and never have had anything to do with guns but I want to learn my husband and would like to do something together he hunts know a lot about guns I just want one that easy to handle for a women

    1 year ago
    • Andrew


      1 year ago
  • al

    I taught my GF to handle my , Ruger black hawk convertible with an overall length of 13.12 inches, and she loved it. She didn't think it was too big or powerful.

    1 year ago
  • Silk

    Poor Guy has 3 Daughters. U tell your Girls to put a 629 .45 snub nose in their waist if they want protection. Won’t even have to pull it out.

    1 year ago
  • James

    I got my fiancee over her fear of guns by having her handle my xd .40 service model and carry it around the house empty. I locked the ammo in the safe. Once she was confident with tearing it down and handling it. We went shopping. She settled on the M&P 380EZ. Its what fit her comfortably. She has become pretty proficient and extremely confident with her 380. Would prefer her carry a bigger round but in a home defense situation, it works. Giving time to reach the rifle

    1 year ago
  • Sua Sponte

    My wife opted for the S&W EZ380 when it came out. I had read a few articles on it and suggested we go rent one at a local indoor range. She had been carrying a Sig Mosquito as she is very recoil sensitive, even after many hours on a range with 9mm. After one magazine she turned to me and said, I guess I know what I'm getting for my birthday. She absolutely loves it and has become very proficient with it. She had tried many other 9mm's but has hand and wrist issues and the EZ380 was a God-send for her. I'm more confident now with her EDC, especially since the previous was 22LR.

    1 year ago
  • BiggyD

    I purchased a SA XD 9mm a while back and when I brought it home I discovered that my wife simply couldn't rack it even after watching a number of videos that shows women easily racking various hand guns using well known standard techniques. I measured the pull weight and found it to be about 18lbs and I could easily rack it myself yet my wife has great difficulty doing so. OK, so you might say that she's abnormally weak-armed, but this problem is not rare and it should be addressed here.

    1 year ago
    • LittleE

      If this technique has not been already tried, my suggestion is: hold the slide with one hand, push the frame forward with the other hand holding the grips. In other words, don't try to pull on the slide, push the handle instead.

      1 year ago
      • miyuki boone

        Yes! That’s how I rack. So easy with my nimble fingers using SA XDM9 and S&W M&P Shield 9.

        1 year ago
  • Francis

    Im a father of 3 daughters, 2 of them shoot with me, Ive had a range membership for 2 years now, so thru friendships made and rentals they have tried, I own 3 sigs sp 2022 9mm, p226 9mm legion, p365, and I have a ruger lcp2 .380. they have tried glocks 17 and 19 s+w full size 9 mm. my legion is always everyones fav. Good article everyone should hold, dry fire a few diff guns and brands then rent one, before you buy, it its not a good fit you never will shoot well.

    1 year ago
  • Yosemite

    FIRST AND FOREMOST If it does not fit your hand and is or uncomfortable and or TOO small for your hand such as an old cheap Jennings .22LR or other make or Raven .25 ACP cheap "PRETTY" chrome plated semi auto . LEAVE THOSE "EL CHEAPOS" ALONE!
    If new to the shooting World go to as many gun shops or dealers as you can and handle as many as you can BEFORE you make a decision....Make sure you know or have an idea of what you expect and want the weapon to do and how you will carry it or do you want to keep it at home? OR a weapon that is good for both. Only you can make those decisions. DO NOT let someone else decide for you!
    Whatever our decision may be, BE SURE to shoot and practice every chance you get. Get or make some snap caps to practice dry firing. Also Practice and Practice and Practice and then Practice some more.
    Years ago when I got my first NEW 1911 I was advised to put 500-1K rounds of hardball through it then try other types of ammo. I did so and eats everything and has never needed an work,

    Some firearms one can get larger or smaller grips.There are many different grip options out there. So if you do find a handgun you like but does not fit your hand or feels uncomfortable you MIGHT can find after market grips. There are some grips that might help the weapon be more concealable......

    I am former military security and I have taught many people to shoot that have never had any dealings with any firearms......either rifles or handguns. Most of them were females and people of slight stature. I started them off with a .22 LR revolver and gradually advanced them up in calibers and semi-autos when I and they felt they were ready to move up. More than one eventually could out shoot me with my own weapons and had no issues shooting large magnums with full power loads.

    As for carrying a handgun both Ruger and Smith and Weapon make revolvers with no external hammer. These weapons have the capability of firing through a purse or jacket pocket and make multiple shots without jamming or being snagged. The .357 Magnum offers a choice of offering the option of shooting a second caliber the .38 Special and the +P or +P+ defense or other rounds. So effectively Two different calibers in one gun. Meaning one can do more practice with the firearm with less expensive ammo
    Something to be considered that was not or I did not see mentioned.

    Besides fitting one's hand properly one must have an idea of what they want or expect REALISTICALLY and Legitimately the firearm to do.
    All Firearms are tools. While some tools can do more than job, many tools, like firearms,, some are better for a specific job than others. Especially when loaded with the proper ammo, can perform or do the job adequately.

    If one has a .380 they can shoot accurately and consistently with proper Defensive ammo. Should they trade it in for a compact 9mm or larger caliber that might be the same size or smaller that also has more recoil?
    All these new and improved smaller size Lighter and some have a higher capacity magazines. The lighter the firearm expect more recoil.....You don't get something for nothing. There are always trade offs.
    There is no mention of the .32 ACP.....not many handguns are made in such caliber in this day and age. It was a popular caliber throughout Europe and in Germany during WWII.
    The Walther PPK and the PPKS in .32 ACP or.380 ACP are "small" and the and PPK could easily be concealed by most people.
    I do not see any mention of them in this modern day market. They may be old, BUT that does not mean they don't work. The 1911 is over ONE HUNDRED years old and still going strong.
    I would also mention the Browning 9mm Hi-Power is a weapon that is also dated but none the less effective. After all no matter what you are carrying or using......Hitting your target and bullet placement is what counts and matters......no matter the caliber.
    Personally I believe in carrying the largest caliber (within reason) that you can handle and consistently and accurately shoot. I live in a rural area and normally carry .22 LR mainly for venomous snakes that are close to my house. I never want to have to use any weapon against anyone.....but if I or anyone ever has to do so....you will have to use what you have on hand, I have no trouble depending on that .22 LR if I am forced into such situation all though I would rather have something larger.

    IN GENERAL as long as one can place every round fired into a 12 inch or smaller pie plate center mass the should be good to go unless the recipient is wearing Body Armor.
    Pie plates or foil or old CDs such as the FREE ones that use to be out there such as the ones from AOL or other companies. At 3-7 yards or maybe even 10 yards one should easily be able to maintain such adequate groups and hopefully a lot smaller. With practice and knowing the weapon......no matter the weapon practice cannot be stressed enough.
    No matter how or where you decide to wear a holster or decide to carry a firearm on your person...... be sure to practice drawing the weapon over and over and over until it is second nature or breathing......one quick fluid motion......when/IF the time comes you need to draw and or use the weapon, you are going to need it then and NOW and no time to spare for your advantage......other than what you can make.
    IF you decide or have decided to accept to carry or get a firearm for self defense..BE SURE to familiarize and get to know the USE of DEADLY/LETHAL FORCE Policy in YOUR Community/City/State and follow them. Knowing them and following/obeying them can keep you from going to prison!
    IF I am going to be out and about elsewhere and depending on where I am going I have other larger calibers and appropriate bullet type and extra magazines or speed loaders as appropriate to choose from.

    1 year ago
    • bill moloney

      Jeez start your own gun magazine

      1 year ago
      • Scott

        I thought my wife was long winded!

        1 year ago
    • Serpentina

      Thank you for your very detailed information and suggestions. Your knowledge is greatly appreciated!
      Also, thank you for your service!

      1 year ago
  • Craig

    Good article. I own about 25 pistols (wheel guns and automatics) and live out in the country so I have my own range, so naturally I shoot alot and have taught my daughters to shoot. I bought a S&W M&P 380 EZ to try because of my arthritic hands- and my daughters love it! I have always been a 1911 guy (carried one for 25 yrs on duty) but I must admit, I really like this gun too. I know it is 'only a 380' but there are a lot of good 380 defensive rounds out there. Now my daughters each have their own EZ for self defense.

    1 year ago
    • Soonerbassn

      We found that the Walther pk380 was a great fit for my wife. It is also a very easy gun for her to operate the slide. Great trigger and ergonomics. But the best is always the one she will carry.

      1 year ago
  • Lou Feringinot

    You forgot the Canik TP9sfx. Vastly superior to any 1911 for women. All that really matters is- does it fit her hand comfortably, and is it reliable!

    1 year ago
  • Chris

    If this helps anyone. I put my 25 yr old daughter through a concealed carry class, then brought her to the range to shoot something she was comfortable with. We tried all kinds of guns and calibers. She has shot my guns over the years, mine not hers. My daughter is 5' 4" and about 125 lbs. But, She has decent sized hands. To my surprise, the gun she loved, for grip, size, and most importantly, dead on accuracy was the Taurus PT 92AF. Moral here, take your loved one to the range and let them choose. Note, she will carry her weapon in her car, not on her. Her decision again.

    1 year ago
  • GEorge J

    I laughed at the beginning . You said that .22 caliber guns are less expensive. Although it mayis tru fro a revolver. I do not know about a semi automatic. I have actually been looking for one and have found them quite expensive considering. What I have seen cost $450 to $750 and more. But I can get a s&w 9mm for $250 a s&w 40 for $300 and any of the guns you listed for $500 or less.
    The rest of the article made sense for a new shooter. I enjoy the articles and find them enlight ingand helpful. I als like to read comments. A lot of self proclaimed experts.

    2 years ago
  • Frank Blazosky

    Major flaw here....At least at my house, the decision for my woman is what is easiest to rack? My wife chose the Sig p238 because it is easiest to grad hold of and easiest to rack, though she was also looking at the SW380EZ. Still I think it comes does to how easy is it for the woman to use.

    2 years ago
  • Brandy Humphrey

    This is just about the most insulting article to women I’ve seen in a while. Just wow! In a way a girl can understand, if you can operate a kitchen appliance... I assure you women can understand just as much as men, and as for operating a kitchen appliance, you might want to pull your head out of 1950.

    2 years ago
    • Brad

      Did you notice this article was written by a woman? She is an instructor and she competes professionally with pistols. I’m sure she meant no offense,

      1 year ago
    • Jen D

      It’s intended for someone looking for their first gun. I know nothing and would like something easy to operate. I took zero offense. I have an MD, but I don’t want to have to use it to be able to defend myself.

      1 year ago
  • Michelle

    I'm a female who's just starting to explore the world of handguns. I think most women tend to gravitate to the smaller, compact guns. What a beginner doesn't understand is that the smaller guns have a bigger recoil. I still have many guns to try but I'd like to recommend the Glock 42 for beginner, female shooters. I have very small hands and the Glock 42 was a very comfortable fit. The gun has a nice weight and very little kickback. My accuracy was much better than the smaller, compact pistols I shot. Now it's rounds are not 9mm, they're.380, but maybe a smaller round is better for a beginner.

    2 years ago
    • Dee Dee

      Thank you for this comment, Michelle. I only entered the handgun world a few years ago. I have a particular preference for revolvers, but I finally got a .380 a couple of months ago. I actually sold my first lightweight revolver because it did not fit my hand well and with a 3" barrel, it was not the most concealable. What I have learned thus far is: 1) maybe go with quality but lower cost firearms for your first. My first handgun was in the $500 range. It was very accurate, but again, the grip was too large.
      But I love my little .380 because it is very easy to conceal -- ergo, the only time I do not have it on me is when I know I am going someplace which is "gun free". (I tend to stay away from those.)
      Bottom line, the best handgun for a woman is one that a) she is happy with and will practice with (a lot); b) she will actually be inclined to have on her. My .357 stainless steel snub-nose revolver is my absolute favorite handgun. But when I cannot reasonably carry it concealed, I am very pleased with my .380 super-slim pistol and if I think I may need more, I tuck a .45/.410 derringer-style pistol as an additional option. I carry belly band or just below my knee in an ankle holster.

      1 year ago
    • Curtis

      Hi Michelle, well stated. Between the heavy full-sized steel P226 and alloy-framed CZ 75 PCR Compact, every new female shooter that has tried my handguns has preferred the softer recoil of the P226 and shot better with it. I tend to agree even though the CZ's ergonomics feel better in my hands.

      10 months ago
  • John K

    Not a fan of any of these weapons for a woman. I have a daughter with a CCW and my girlfriend who is a very tiny 4’11 with small hands. My GF carried an air weight 38 forever but the first time her and I went to the range she couldn’t hit bupkis at 5 yards, hell it was even hard for me to shoot it with the factory grips. We got her new grips and she did better but she really did not like how snappy it was with her small hands. We rented and fired a lot of different guns to try and find one she liked. Both her and my daughter settled on a sig P238. The weapon carries plenty of ammo to shoot someone and break contact, has fantastic sights out of the box and they both carry everywhere they can since it is small framed yet still heavy enough with it’s all metal frame to help with the recoil. I made them practice and train for a long time after we purchased the pistols. I had them drawing from concealment, taking the safety off, acquiring a target and shooting, re engaging the safety and re holstering. We did this dry fire as well as live with at least 500 rounds each before I blessed them. They are both confident in their ability and the ability of the weapon so I know it’s not going to get left home and I know they can put rounds on tgt to at least 10 yards out effectively. At least once a month if not more I drag each to the range to practice these skills. I think a woman doesn’t want to rethink their wardrobe as hard as a man would to carry. They want to put a light weight pistol in their purse and go about their business. For this I find the P238 optimal

    2 years ago
    • Dee Dee

      I agree with your comment up until the next-to-last sentence. Sorry but I think off-body carry is seriously not good.
      I recommend a good belly band style holster or if under a long skirt, an ankle holster just below the knee is supreme. just my opinion, of course.

      1 year ago
  • Gungirl

    OK as a female that carries all the time I range from a .380 to a 9mm for "lighter clothes months" to a .45 or 357 in winter (live in MI it gets cold and people layer up thus the higher calibers). I range from commander size down a Mustang or similar size.. I have become the go to at our local gun shop for the owner when he has a woman that isn't sure about what they want.

    I was a little surprised that there was pretty much "Tupperware" on the list. Not particularly fond of them. I tend to like revolvers but not nearly as much as my 1911 style. The rule around our house is if it can go in my dishwasher to be cleaned it doesn't come home....just my own bias (I readily admit it....I don't like composites - it a mental thing with me but I also find them uncomfortable to shoot). I carry Colt, Kimber, Sig, Ruger (revolver), S&W (revolver), Rock Island, Coonan (357 compact) and have been known to carry a full size 1911 (Colt Govt.)

    I carry multiple ways depending on the situation, how I am dressed, etc. I have a concealed carry briefcase, my purses (I have both specifically designed purses for concealed carry or have retrofitted my favorite, existing purses to take a holster, belly band (I love my belly band.) or shoulder holster..

    Ladies - a couple of notes -
    1. If you are left handed (I am) you have to watch concealed carry purses - not all are set up for left handed girls. You can flip the purse to where it is one, but then any embellishment on the purse is not visible (sorry guys it is girl thing - you pay a bunch of money for a good looking purse and then have to turn the "pretty" toward you - defeats part of the purpose)
    2. A pretty gun isn't always the best choice. I have a Kimber Micro 9 Saffire and you cannot rack it easily, it is to slick and given the size there is just not a good way to grip it. I bought it not with the intention to carry (although I thought I might) but to go with the other Saffires I have in my collection.
    3. Don't let your husband, boyfriend, friend, brother, father, etc. talk you into something you are not comfortable with. If it doesn't fit your hand, you aren't comfortable with it, find it to complex, etc. stand your ground and say no. I have had my husband in the past tell me that "oh this gun gets great reviews and is supposed to be one of the best....yet I held it and hated it. It didn't fit me.
    4. On a lighter note - once you start to carry be prepared to buy purses....lots and lots of purses. It is like an addiction. A word of caution - not all purses can take the fire arm you choose to carry. So make sure the purse will fit the gun you carry. If you buy one that you don't like for some reason you can always sell them on eBay easily if the price is reasonable. .

    2 years ago
    • Dee Dee

      Purse or off-body carry should seriously be the last and final option, imo. I am small-framed, >60 with arthritis and a southpaw. I carry in an excellent belly band, just below my knee in an ankle rig, or not-at-all. If the firearm is not on my person, I do not have control of it. If it is on my person, if I should ever need it, it is right there. Just my opinion.
      I favor my Ruger SP-101 snub nose .357 revolver, but usually have my .380 Beretta Pico in a belly band occasionally with a Bond Arms .45/.410 for accompiament. I cannot fire the Bond Arms with my left hand. So it is easy to have a left & a right on me!

      I rate off-body or purse carry below pocket carry or any other style that requires displacing the firearm in the ladies room.

      1 year ago
  • Goodguys

    The last comment by 'Elize' basically says it all. Full-size semis (even when they are advertised and recommended as 'compact') are, in Elize's own words, "tricky to conceal." This is a code phrase for "I will conceal and carry this for a week or so before deciding that it is uncomfortable or not practical, and then I will leave the gun either at home or in my car." "Tricks" are for circus performers and magicians. Don't be one.

    That's the TRUTH, and is also exactly what happens to most folks when the read some bogus advise advocating for them (Man or Woman) to attempt to carry concealed a FULL-size (six inch of total length or greater), double-stack magazine (aka THICK), semi auto pistol. Do some people carry brick semis religiously? Sure. Do MOST folks KEEP carrying them OVER time, and carry them most EVERYWHERE they legally can? No. Sorry, they don't. They are encouraged to buy a full-size semi that is touted as 'compact' by the manufacturer. After they realize what a PITA it is to conceal and carry it, they leave it at home, or try to fit it in a purse or briefcase, or backpack, or they stow it in the car. (Your car/truck is NOT a holster!).

    My favorite is the IQ-test-waiting-to-happen folks who can't wait to carry a striker-fired pistol 'appendix' style. These folks do this usually (but not always) after realizing what a PITA it is to carry that same brick semi strong side (or ANY side). Then they practice trying to draw and re-holster near their navel while not actuating the custom, hair trigger they have 'modified' on their brick semi (BS) auto pistol. This is probably 90% of the folks reading this article today. But hey, stupid is as stupid does.

    So Lady's (AND GENTLEMEN) listen up. You want to carry a semi-auto pistol comfortably, everyday and almost everywhere you go (legally of course)? You only have two choices (if allowed by law in your jurisdiction). You can OPEN carry, which IMO is usually (but not always) nuts, OR you can opt for a single-stack, 9mm semi auto that is SMALL enough to carry and conceal comfortably, and without PRINTING at all. Weapons are meant to be felt and NOT seen, so you really need to understand that philosophy before carrying any weapon you plan to use for your offensive/tactical reaction to an offensive SBI (severe bodily injury) or ID (imminent death) action being either taken or about to be taken against you or your loved ones.

    Sure single stacks have less carrying capacity. That's why you need to practice engaging simulated threats with that SAME small framed, single-stack, 'effortlessly come-out-of-nowhere' semi auto pistol until you can drill moving, frisbee-sized objects while you also 'may be' moving. If you shoot the bad guy in the chest and the head right out of the gate, his pals WILL either leave or hesitate, and THINK about leaving really hard, giving you a chance to LEAVE (or do whatever you need to do while they are reacting to your having dropped their pal). You don't need to plan on having 15+ rounds and four more 'mags' of ammo on your 'rig' BS. You need to plan to be the first out of the gate, get your solid hit in FIRST, and get your follow ups (if/usually necessary) to put them down FASTER than they can place terminal hits on you. That's the TRUTH of a gun fight, any gun fight. And that's only if you can't LEAVE the area first, and get away (unseen/unnoticed is the goal) without having to display and/or fire ANY rounds. None of this is impossible or impractical if you pick the RIGHT gear and the RIGHT kind of practice. None of it.

    You need a hand gun which has a smooth and predictable DA first pull, and crisp quick reset SA follow ups with NO external safety, and no rough corners or tall 'night' sights or combat lights BS that will snag on anything when your game-changing equalizer briefly comes out of hiding. That's what you need. They exist. Those who are dedicated to the art either already know of such pistols (and carry/prefer them) or should easily be able to locate one.

    I am sick to death of reading articles written by folks that have not only drunk but have BOUGHT the Cool Aide farm, or they rep for Cool Aide. They shoot 'competitively' ("Shooter nod when ready," BEEP, pew pew pew) but have NO IDEA what a real gun fight involves. Otherwise they would not train like they are a part of a circus act. Human beings are the most dangerous animal on the planet because they can both THINK and can be (and often are in life or death situations) UNPREDICTABLE. Training with predicability is training to fail, big time. And purchasing a brick semi that you plan on carrying CONCEALED is training to fail, because when you need it you most likely won't have it IMMEDIATELY accessible. And if you do carry it concealed, the real, serious, professional bad guys, the ONE you need to be ready for, will KNOW you have a firearm on your person and factor that into whatever they decide to do next. Count on it. "Printing" is NOT a force multiplier or deterrent.

    And folks, ambush apex predators do NOT typically WAIT (although they may if it gives them an edge), they are fully capable of both creating and seizing opportunities, And they do NOT play by ANY rules.

    Learn from them, because they are not impossible to put down if you can THINK, and are NOT predictable.

    2 years ago
  • Elize

    I bought a CZ75B a couple of months ago and train regularly with it. It is tricky to conceal, especially as I prefer to use a belly band and appendix carry, but not impossible. Before I got my f.a., I practiced with my husband's Grandpower K100, which is also a very nice gun. My biggest frustration however is finding concealment holsters as in belly bands that are big/broad enough to carry the weight of a full size fire arm, and not let it tip forward. I live in South Africa, by the way.

    2 years ago
  • DL T

    Can't trust the recommendations.as it seems like this blog listed sponsors as recs and not based on performance solely. I'm..surprised to see so many semi-automatic gun recs vs CC capable revolvers. such as the Charter Arms versions. These guns listed are also very expensive.

    2 years ago
    • Matthew Collins

      We actually don't have sponsors, and we only recommend guns we've used or tested either personally, or as a group, but thanks for keeping us honest! In general, a lot of our collective bias towards semi-autos is going to be based on concealability, and reloading under pressure. Swapping a mag in a semi-auto doesn't require the same fine-motor skills as reloading a revolver, even with a speed loader. The concealability concern with a revolver is you have a very think cylinder which is going to print more than a slim semi-auto, especially when worn under fitted clothes, which is more of an issue for women (most of the time). As far as price...you get what you pay for, I guess.

      2 years ago
  • Travis Adcock

    I was somewhat surprised not to see one either an xds or an xdm on this list. Knowing a lot of women carry firearms in their purse it seems like a good weapon for them because of the grip safety.

    3 years ago
  • Chris P.

    I’d also like to recommend an affordable option in 9MM, the EAA Witness. Essentially it’s an Italian made CZ-75 but at a ridiculously good price. Might give it a look.

    3 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks for the rec, Chris!

      3 years ago
  • Brandee M.

    Do you have an opinion regarding the Walther CCP?

    3 years ago
  • Lance A.

    I don't agree with the recommendations on this article. Whoever wrote this only considered recoil -- they didn't give regard to size and ease of concealment for carrying. The 9mm already has a soft recoil so the platform from which it is shot doesn't have to be bulky and heavy.

    And an all-steel revolver? Really? Women won't carry those, let alone men.

    The only time any lady would buy into any of the guns on this list is if they're really big or if they don't intend to carry concealed.

    3 years ago
    • Elize

      I carry a CZ75B, specifically for self defense, at home and in town. Concealing is tricky, but not impossible, and I don't mean a handbag as concealment. The f.a. has to fit the person - I'm tall and have large-ish hands with long fingers, but I'm not big. In the end a women, or any person, will carry what they feel comfortable with, and even a smaller, lighter f.a. like one of the Glocks, won't mean anything if said person doesn't train with it.

      2 years ago
  • Peter P.

    It's a good article but I have to differ with you on your choice of firearms starting with the Sig P250. It that one of the worst trigger actions of any semi-automatic made today and which makes your choice of it troubling seeing as how you also picked its worthy successor, the Sig P320..

    Why on earth did you decide to place two basically similar guns from .the same manufacturer on a Top-Seven list when there are at least seven other semi-autos not from Sig Sauer that are superior and either in the same price range or lower.. For example, the Taurus 809 and PT92, Walther PPQ, Creed and PPS, Springfield XD-9 Mod 2 Service Model, and Beretta APX.

    Some of the guns you selected are difficult for men to operate let alone meant for women to use. For example, while the CZ is a fantastic gun, its thin slide is one of hardest to rack and, on that basis alone, should not have been picked for this list.

    Conversely, the H%K VP9 on your list is one of the easiest slides to rack (with the Walther PK280 being the leader of the pack).

    Your remark that "if a girlfriend of mine really wanted a classic gun with historic appeal, like the Model 66 revolver above, then I’d point her to a full-size 9mm variation like the Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 9mm ($779)."

    Seriously? I thought this article was about women having guns for self-defense and not as collector's items. Plus, $779 is a lot to spend for a 9 mm with limited capacity that's not much higher that what a revolver has..

    Speaking of revolvers, a Ruger LCR (or LCRx would have been a better choice for women due to its wondefully smooth trigger and diversity of calibers available: everything from .22 Magnum to .38 Special to. .327 Magnum and .357 Magnum (which also accepts .38 Special).. Other good choices would have been the Taurus Ultra-Lite 85 that fires .38 Special +P and the Judge/Public Defender that accepts both .45 Long Colt and .410 shotgun shells containing either bird shot, buck shot or slugs.

    I wonder if anyone conducted a survey of women gun owners to see what choices they made, both as their first firearm and their current one..

    3 years ago
    • Peter P.


      I meant to type Walther PK380 (not PK280)

      3 years ago
  • Lu Barnes

    My Mother is 78 years old and she has several guns and does have a conceal carry license she is a small lady and finds that guns that you have to cock by pulling back she isn't strong enough to do that so I am looking for a small gun that works for her .....

    3 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      You might take a look at revolvers!

      3 years ago
    • Jlowe\'s Guns

      Look into the p238. I am a dealer and the smaller ladies love these guns. Small caliber and very easy to pull the slide back.

      3 years ago
  • Mal Reynolds

    To dry fire a pistol making sure the clip is empty is not enough. Always pull the slide back and make sure the barrel is empty also.

    The SCCY CP-2 is another small pistol with a DAO trigger like the P250. It is built in Florida and costs only around $250. It has gotten good reviews.

    4 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi Mal, thanks for the tip and suggestion!

      4 years ago
    • R Yingst

      A salesman sold my 57 year old daughter a SCCY CP-2 without checking her capabilities to work it. She is small and has MS. Found out she can not load the magazine or pull the slide back. The slide was tough for me to operate.
      She has no problem with my Baby Browning 25Cal. We are going to be looking for a 38 or 38 Special revolver. She will not be carrying and it will be for home defense.

      3 years ago
      • Bobo

        If she has no intention of carrying it, and is set on a handgun and not a shotgun, get something with at least a 3" barrel (if not 4") as the little snubbies everyone loves to recommend for women are harder to be accurate with due to shorter sight radius (especially for someone who doesn't shoot a lot)

        3 years ago
  • rickyjames

    I'm Grandpa, not Grandma, but thought I would cross-post my comments from Ms. Keel's excellent article about the P250 that you mention. Perhaps some of your female readers would find this interesting or useful.

    I grew up in the rural South, no stranger to guns and have fired plenty decades ago belonging to my relatives. Moved on to become an urban electrical engineer and left gun culture behind, altho maintaining nothing but respect for those who kept it as part of their everyday life.

    With all the craziness trending in the Obama years, I decided to get a pistol of my own four years ago. I justified it to my quite liberal wife by telling her when the day came that we needed a gun, we wouldn't be able to go and buy a gun. I made a few trips to the local gun range to try out their rental pistols and pretty quickly decided that I was more interested in a hammer fired than a striker fired gun. For a while I was seriously considering getting a CZ-75, which I still think is a great gun. However, the safety and decocker added unwanted complexity, and I was a little unsure about breakdown and maintenance.

    Then I took a NRA basic pistol class from a local instructor because I knew the 10-20% of new stuff I would learn would be worth it - and it was. He had an extensive collection of pistols and let me try them all out. One was a P250. After one clip I knew that was the gun for me. Simple to learn, easy to shoot, easy to strip, easy to reassemble, and once you learn that trigger, dead bang accurate. I can put holes inside the 6 ring all day long from 7 yards with a P250 in either 9mm or 0.40 with no routine practice, and that's good enough for me.

    Not only is the P250 simple with no safety or decocker to worry about, but its modularity is a real plus. The P250 is not just a gun but a system of interchangeable parts that can give you the size, grip and caliber just right for you. I have settled on a subcompact using the compact clip to give me the smallest possible size with a little extra grip length to give my pinky finger a place to be. This is not the sexiest or most rapid-fire gun like a Glock but it is the right gun for me.

    Two other considerations are worth mentioning. A P250 can be easily configured for left-handed shooting (an important consideration for use by my wife) and this is a pretty uncommon feature.

    Secondly, everybody talks about the disadvantages of the P250 DAO (Double Action Only) trigger but never mention its greatest strength - dry firing with an UNLOADED pistol and trigger practice at home.

    Firing a DA/SA (initial Double Action / subsequent Single Action) striker pistol while unloaded only allows one practice trigger pull before having to rack the slide to re-cock the striker before the next trigger pull. That's no way to practice dry fire, and an impossible way to practice for someone who lacks strength to rack the slide easily in the first place. And that trigger pull experienced by dry firing a striker pistol is only the "hard, long, initial" DA pull and never the "softer, shorter, faster" SA pulls after an initial shot that can only be experienced at a professional range while sending lead into the back wall.

    Every single time you ever pull the DAO trigger on a P250, the trigger action will feel exactly the same. Firing it in your own home repeatedly WHILE UNLOADED is a great learning and training experience. With the P250 DAO trigger, it's like a toy cap pistol. Pull the trigger as many times as you want with no slide racking required, and every trigger pull is creating an accurate muscle memory of what to expect in live fire. Put in a battery-powered laser cartridge and you can even "target practice" at home with a P250.

    Now I understand that dry firing at home requires being ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you have an unloaded pistol, and is no substitute for range practice with live ammunition. But for somebody who is fanatical about safety, dry firing can be valid familiarization training - particularly for someone who is not a regular visitor at the professional firing range.. Dry fire training / practice is easy on the P250, and virtually impossible on other striker fired pistols.

    4 years ago
    • ehung

      Wow, thanks so much for this personal experience. I'm sure it will help out a lot of readers.

      4 years ago
    • Karen

      Thank you for such insight, I'm impressed. In regards to your "quite liberal wife" I am as well. However moving from NY to TX has brought a whole new respect for handguns and their trained owners.

      4 years ago
  • Jeff

    Don't forget the S&W 3913 Ladysmith 9mm. It is not made any longer but can be found on the used market.

    4 years ago
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