7 Best Handguns for Women [2019 Ultimate Guide]

You’re here either because you’re trying to figure out the best gun to buy for yourself…or the best gun to buy for your wife, girlfriend, sister, or mom.

If you’re shopping for yourself, read on!  I have lots of advice for you.

But if you’re looking to buy for someone else, go grab her first and read this together…because at the end of the day, the best handgun is the one picked by the shooter herself.

Bunch of Pink Guns
Bunch of Pink Guns

This won’t be some list of tiny pink guns either…I’ll walk you through unique considerations for female shooters and walk through my top 7 handguns for women.

And if you’re really new…or never received formal instruction…check out our video Beginner Handgun Course.  All of the most important information…with none of the condescending attitude.

Now let’s get started!

Table of Contents

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General Considerations

I’m a firm believer that one of the best long-term gun investments that a shooter can make is a full size centerfire handgun.

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers

Rimfire guns, in calibers like .22LR, are great beginner guns because of their low cost and low recoil, but centerfire is more versatile and with more oomph!

Rimfire vs Centerfire Primer Strike
Rimfire vs Centerfire Primer Strike

Want to know more?  Check out Rimfire vs Centerfire.

While .22LR pistols are fun, a full size centerfire handgun can fill a lot of roles as a plinker, a serious training tool, and a competition-appropriate firearm.  

Starting with a good one can make the rest of a person’s gun-owning life easier, both in learning how to shoot and run a gun well, and having a “little black dress” that fits most any occasion.

Here, I’ve picked out my seven favorite handguns as good all-around choices for women, both as newer shooters and more serious and experienced ones.

Variety of Handguns

Sharp-eyed readers will note that many of these are the same guns that are often recommended to men and there’s a reason for that…we’re all human beings!  Just that we women might as a general population be a little smaller, with less grip strength and less upper body mass.

That largely means very similar guns work as well for women as for men, but with a few allowances such as having more petite grips available.

However, that also means that tiny guns actually aren’t a great choice because they tend to be harder to manipulate efficiently (especially with those heavy, stiff recoil springs), and more felt recoil.  Easier to conceal on a small body perhaps, but not necessarily a good, shootable all-around gun like these are.

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

Note that most of the guns I’m recommending are 9mm.  

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

Why?  

As our bullet guide points out, it’s a great all-around caliber, reasonably priced and suitable for everything from shooting for fun to shooting for competition to shooting for self-defense while still being low recoil enough to learn to shoot well and even enjoyable.  

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers

And all of these guns are capable of handling all three, whether they are your needs today or become one tomorrow.

Not to mention, as one of the most common calibers in the world, 9mm is also relatively easy to find on the shelves even when ammunition is in generally short supply.

Now that we’ve walked through all that…let’s get into my list (in no particular order)!

Best Handguns for Women

1. Glock 19, Gen 4

Most Popular
539
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Glock 19 ($549) is a perennial recommendation on gun sites and forums, and for good reason.

The popularity of the gun is key when looking for help.  Between YouTube, forums like Glock Talk, and the dozens of Glock groups on Facebook, chances are pretty good that a girl can find whatever information she needs about her gun, in a way that she can understand and use it.

If a woman wants to ask for assistance, it’s out there, but if she wants to be independent and find her own way, that’s possible too.  I like the Gen 4 version for women for its modular backstraps for adjusting grip size.

Other reasons the Glock 19 is a great girl gun.

Like the other striker-fired guns on my list, the Glock 19 is simple to operate with few controls.  There is no hammer, just a, well, striker, and the trigger pull is consistent for each shot.

Anyone who’s managed to learn how to drive a car or operate a kitchen appliance can manage with minimal instruction and practice.

It also has a lot of great accessories available, like all manner of holsters to find the perfect fit whether a woman is an “apple”, a “pear”, or something in-between.

And while the grip is the same size around as other Glocks, the G19 has a slightly shorter grip than its nearest cousin, the popular full-size G17, and the finger grooves on the G19 are adjusted accordingly so they can be a bit more comfortable in small hands.  

All Glock 9mm Sizes
All Glock 9mm Sizes

The G19 isn’t so much smaller that it sacrifices the performance and ease of operation of a larger gun, but it’s still a potentially carryable size for many women.

Readers' Ratings

4.95/5 (423)

Your Rating?

2. Sig Sauer P320

579
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

A relatively new contender on the block, the P320 ($599) is Sig’s answer to Glock as another striker-fired, polymer pistol.  Plus, it was recently chosen as the handgun for the US Army.

The P320 has a number of additional features that can be appealing to women shooters though.  

One of the biggest is that instead of using interchangeable inserts and panels to change grip size, Sig offers completely separate grip modules in different sizes for different hands.  The small size is indeed small, with one of the shortest triggers reaches available in a full-size handgun.

We would recommend going with the full size (4.7 in) if you do not plan on carrying it.  Otherwise, go with the compact 3.9 in model.

The grip modules are reasonably priced and can be ordered over the Internet because the serialized part sits inside them…plus grip modules can be personalized without relatively little risk because damaging one doesn’t mean buying a whole new gun.

Sig P320 Fire Control Unit
Sig P320 Fire Control Unit

Caliber X-Change kits are available without buying an entirely new gun, letting a woman invest less but still have a gun in whatever caliber she wants, and in a variety of slide and grip lengths depending on how she’s using the gun that day.

Seems like a gimmick, until you realize that the modularity means you can have the same trigger in your carry gun and your range training gun.  A great choice for both the budget-minded and the indecisive, not to mention the woman who wants as much as she can in one gun.

Check out our full review here.

3. Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm M2.o

Runner-Up (Beginners, Home Defense)
499
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Another striker-fired polymer gun, the Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 ($499) rounds out my initial trio of easy-to-shoot do-all “plastic fantastic” guns.

While many lists recommending guns to women will include the tiny M&P Shield, the standard M&P is a bit more forgiving for long shooting sessions and has a larger capacity.  

Shield vs Full Size 9mm, XD Talk
Shield vs Full-Size 9mm, XD Talk

I like the full size, 9mm version, in its simplest form without a manual thumb safety so that all that has to be learned and mastered are trigger, sights, slide, and magazine release.

The grip size on the standard M&P is adjustable with a series of backstraps that ship with the firearm, can be replaced without tools, and personalized without the possibility of damage to the gun.

The “small” backstrap is quite slim and works with small hands well, but if it’s not small enough, the gun will run without any backstrap at all too, making it one of the smallest mass-market double-stack guns out there.

The new M2.0 is now available with a more textured grip and better trigger than the original.

With an aftermarket that rivals that of the Glock 19, the M&P is another great choice for women.

4. Smith & Wesson Model 66

Best Revolver for Smaller Hands
769
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

A Smith & Wesson choice that’s under-appreciated for women is the .38 Special Model 66 K-frame revolver ($769).

I’m not a believer that girls should shoot revolvers (aka wheelguns) because they’re less complicated, but if the beauty of a classic revolver is what a woman wants, then the M66 is a perfect fit.

It’s not the ever-popular Airweight J-Frame ($429), and that’s a good thing.  The Model 66 is bigger and heavier, but not a beast…it’s easier to hold and shoot, and it kicks a whole lot less while not being unwieldy.  

Smith and Wesson 642 (6)
The Smith and Wesson Model 642 Airweight is a five-round revolver. Read the complete review!

That means learning how to run a revolver and practicing with it doesn’t have to be limited to short sessions followed by nursing bruised hands.

5. Sig Sauer P250

Best Double-Action Only
429
at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If the attraction to a revolver is that double action trigger pull, a Sig Sauer P250 ($429) could be a good alternate choice for a similar trigger but the capacity of a semi-auto.

It’s the hammer-fired, double-action-only older sibling of the P320 mentioned above, with many of the same advantages of grip size, accessory availability, and modularity.  

In fact, the magazines, grip modules, and many holsters are completely interchangeable with the P320, expanding the available selection of accessories and creating an upgrade path to the P320 later on.  

The double-action-only part of the P250 is a lot like shooting the Model 66 we just covered, which makes it a little harder to shoot than a striker gun, but some shooters might prefer that longer, heavier trigger to provide extra comfort from a safety perspective.

Another plus side of the P250 for women shooters who struggle with hand strength and upper body strength to rack a slide or control recoil is the .380 ACP version of the gun.

The ammunition will be a little more expensive and may be harder to find, but it’s still passable for self-defense with newer ammunition technology developments.  

Tamara Keel, long-time gun writer and current Handgun Editor for Shooting Illustrated, calls it a “grandma gun,” and with the utmost respect for my grandmother, I agree – an easy-to-run slide in a package that doesn’t have a lot of recoil and runs reliably has a lot of characteristics that people claim are great for girl guns without many of the common negatives.

And as grandma decides shooting is the best new retirement hobby ever, she can move to a more powerful caliber if she likes.

6. Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 9mm

779
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The 1911 isn’t a beginner gun in spite of its light trigger.  You have the extra manipulation step of dealing with the manual thumb safety, the necessity of properly engaging the grip safety, and the complexity of tear-down and reassembly for cleaning.

But 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).

It comes with many of the common 1911 upgrades in place out of the box and in Gun Nuts Media’s year of 1911s, has been one of the most reliable options tested.

The all-steel 1911 in 9mm also has very manageable recoil and in the original Government size, is much easier to learn how to grip, manipulate, and shoot than the micro 1911s that are popular for carry.

With lots of options for grip panels, including slim versions and ones with cut-outs so that small hands can have less trouble reaching the magazine release, as well as grips in different colors, materials, and textures, they’re easily customizable for both beauty and function too.

If a girl wants an even more special gun, the sky’s the limit for a 1911 built by a custom gunsmith after she’s learned what she likes with an off-the-shelf gun like the RIA Ultra FS.

7. CZ 75B or 75BD

549
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Double Action / Single Action (DA/SA) guns that have a long, heavy first trigger pull followed by short and light trigger pulls also aren’t beginner guns, but there are great self-defense, duty, and competition reasons to shoot them.

And a woman shooter isn’t a perpetual beginner, so when she’s ready to expand her horizons, DA/SA can be a fun direction.

There are a lot of high-quality options, but I’m recommending the CZ 75 B ($599) and BD for their small grips and big aftermarket support in both upgrades and accessories.  While some DA/SA guns suffer from too long of a reach from grip to trigger when in double action, but that’s not generally the case with the CZ 75.

A word of technical warning: the classic “B” model can only be decocked (that is, returned to double action mode) manually by pulling the trigger while slowly lowering the hammer down, a tricky process even for experienced shooters.

However, the CZ 75 B has a manual safety so that it can be shot in single action only mode instead if a woman decides DA/SA wasn’t for her after all, or until she’s had a chance to practice manual decocking.

Or she might like the CZ 75 BD instead as it includes a decocking lever, a feature found in only a handful of DA/SA guns.  Manipulating the lever is more straightforward and requires less dexterity.

Conclusion

With all of these excellent choices, how is a girl supposed to pick?  There are many factors, but the first thing you should do is try to shoot all of your top choices, or at least handle them in a gun store.  Need some Gun Store Etiquette?

Gun ranges that have rental counters, friends with big collections, or even a friendly acquaintance who shoots are all ways you can try out a gun before buying.  Prepare for Your First Trip to the Range.

Angeles Shooting Range Stations
Outdoor Shooting Range Stations

You should also think about your budget, what you’d like to do with your gun, and what kind of accessories you think you might need and whether they exist for your top choices.

For instance, consider if you’ll need a holster for a class or to get started in competition. Most of these guns are a little big for most women to hide on-body (we’ll cover some better choices soon), but you might want to try anyway or to be able to practice your concealed carry skills with a bigger gun.

For every gun on this list, you’ll be able to get the most common types of holsters, but some of the specialty carry methods may be more limited.

Regardless of which one you like best, the guns on this list are all ones that a woman will take out of the safe again and again whether she needs a home-defense firearm, a competition match gun, something to take to a class, or perhaps even for carry.

Which particular one is best for a particular woman will depend on where she’s at in her shooting life, but any of them would be a solid choice for a happy shooter working on learning and mastering her handgun skills.

However, if you haven’t gotten much beyond “I want to buy my first handgun and I want it to be a good choice for me as a woman”, I’d recommend sticking with one of the first five on the list.

They’ll get you started so that you can figure out what you want in your next gun….because just like shoes and purses, just one probably won’t be enough.

Let me know which one you eventually choose in the comments!  And remember if you want to become familiar with handguns at home…check out our Beginner Handgun Course.

35 Leave a Reply

  • John Mosby

    This article and website are a joke.. I’m an above average size male shopping for a handgun for my mother and this is very misleading . Are you being sponsored by chance or what ? I carry a Glock 19 gen 4 and would NEVER recommend it for a female to try and conceal , its damn near impossible in the summer for me ! Unless it’s a fat bottom girl there ain’t no way !!

    1 second 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.

    3 months 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.

    7 months 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.

    7 months 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.

    8 months 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.

      2 weeks 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,

      3 months 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.

    9 months 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.

      5 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

    10 months 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.

      5 months 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. .

    1 year 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.

      5 months 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.

    1 year 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.

    1 year 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.

    1 year 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.

      1 year 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.

    1 year 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.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks for the rec, Chris!

      1 year ago
  • Brandee M.

    Do you have an opinion regarding the Walther CCP?

    1 year 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.

    1 year 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.

      1 year 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..

    1 year ago
    • Peter P.

      TYPO ALERT: I meant to type Walther PK380 (not PK280)

      1 year 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 .....

    2 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.

      1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      You might take a look at revolvers!

      2 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.

    2 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.

      1 year 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)

        1 year ago
    • ehung

      Hi Mal, thanks for the tip and suggestion!

      2 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.

    2 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.

      2 years ago
    • ehung

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

      2 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.

    2 years ago
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