Information for female shooters has come a long, long way over the past decade or so.
These days, it’s easy to find lists of recommended guns for women, and lots of those lists are even actually written by women! But most of those lists are exclusively made up of handguns or only include a rifle or two.
This is great for women interested in pistols and revolvers, but it almost completely ignores the fact that many women want long guns for a variety of reasons, like hunting, home defense, competition, and just shooting for fun.
Resources like The Well Armed Woman and Shoot Like a Girl have made it easy for women shooters to learn from other women shooters, and even many non-gender specific firearms resources have stopped assuming that firearm enthusiast = male.
Today I’m going to help rectify the lack of recommendations by giving you a few recommendations for long guns that are great for women.
This list is mostly rifles since that’s where most of my long gun experience lies, but I have included one shotgun. If you know of another that you think merits a place on this list, let me know in the comments at the end of this post!
But before we move on to my recommendations, let’s start by talking about what women should look for in a long gun.
What to Look For
As a general rule, most women benefit from long guns with a few features:
- Short length of pull (LOP)
- Moderate to low recoil
- Lightweight construction
This is based on the fact that women, on average, have smaller builds and lower upper body strength. The above features make it easier to handle, aim, and carry the gun, especially over longer periods, like while hunting.
Now, none of this is to say that all women should only use guns with these features and that no men benefit from these types of long guns.
Stronger or broader women may find that they prefer larger, heavier guns than the ones I’ve listed here, while narrower, less bulky men may find these recommendations very helpful.
Ultimately, choosing the best firearm is a personal decision, one you should base on what’s most comfortable and effective for you, not on what other people think you should choose because of your gender.
Best Rifles & Shotguns for Women
The AR-15 is my personal choice for home defense, but if you don’t want multiple long guns at the moment, it’s also a great all-around option.
As a platform, the AR-15 is fantastic, and you can’t go wrong with any of them, but with so many versions and upgrades available, not all AR-15s will serve you equally.
For one, pretty much any AR-15 is going to be relatively small and lightweight, but this one is especially so (in fact, “lightweight” is what the “LW” stands for), weighing in at just 6.05 pounds.
It has an eight position adjustable stock that allows the length of pull to be adjusted between 10.5” and 13.25” and the overall length of the rifle to go from 32.25” to 35.875”, allowing you to customize the length to your build and comfort.
Soft touch over-molding on the stock and pistol grip makes the rifle even more comfortable hold and helps mitigate recoil.
The rifle’s barrel is 16”, the shortest you can get without the rifle being classified as a short barrel rifle and causing you to have to go through the special regulations for short barreled rifles under the National Firearms Act (NFA).
That shorter barrel makes the rifle easier to balance, and gives you an advantage in terms of maneuverability in a home defense situation.
If you want a rifle with an even shorter barrel and are willing to go through the NFA bureaucracy, Daniel Defense also has rifles on the DDM4 platform with 10.3”, 11.5”, and 14.5” barrels.
The DDM4 V7 LW comes without sights, but you can attach your preferred ones to the uninterrupted Picatinny rail that runs the length of the top of the rifle. You can attach your other favorite accessories to the 15” free floating M-LOK handguard.
Our list of the Best AR-15 Scopes & Optics will come in handy when you’re looking to set your rifle up!
When it comes to shooting at the range, needs are too varied to recommend just one rifle, so I’m offering up two suggestions to meet a couple of different sets of needs (and it was hard enough narrowing it down to just these two).
The first rifle is a great choice for most competitions as well as more serious recreational shooting, while the second is perfect for rimfire competition and plinking. Get one or the other depending on your needs, or get both to completely cover your range time bases.
One of the most popular and best-reviewed rifles, especially at its price point, since it was first released a few years back and it’s an excellent choice for competition shooters.
It’s bigger than the Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 LW, but like the V7 LW, the Ruger Precision Rifle features an adjustable buttstock, though the Precision Rifle’s stock is also folding and allows you to adjust the comb height.
The dimensions vary slightly from caliber to caliber, but in .308 Win, the smallest configuration available, the rifle’s length of pull can be adjusted between 12” and 15.5” and the overall length varies from 39.25 to 42.75. The barrel is 20”.
The rifle weighs 9.8 lbs, so if you’re lacking in upper body strength, you might want to look into a bipod to help you manage the weight (of course we have an article on bipods to help you pick one!), especially if you choose one of the larger caliber configurations, which are even heavier.
Regardless of the caliber you opt for, the rifle has an in-line recoil path from the receiver to the buttstock, reducing felt recoil.
A Picatinny rail and 15” free-floating M-LOK handguard allow you to use your preferred accessories, and the Ruger Marksman Adjustable™ trigger allows you to adjust the trigger weight between 2.25 and 5 lbs.
What’s your take on the Ruger Precision?
Now if you’re a rimfire competitor or just want a rifle to use for plinking, then the Precision Rifle isn’t what you need, but Ruger still has you covered with the Ruger Precision Rifle’s kid brother, the Ruger Precision Rimfire, released at the beginning of 2018.
The Precision Rimfire is essentially a scaled-down version of the Precision Rifle, for use with rimfire rounds.
It has the same Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger and an adjustable (but not folding) stock. The length of pull can be adjusted between 12” and 15.5” and the overall length adjusts accordingly between 35″ and 38.5″ with a 20” barrel.
The Precision rimfire also features a Picatinny rail and 15” free-floating M-LOK handguard and while the Precision Rimfire doesn’t have the same in-line recoil path as the Precision Rifle, but this is no problem since recoil from rimfire cartridges is already minimal.
is another rifle with an adjustable stock, though not as adjustable as any of the rifles we’ve already discussed.
The length of pull can be adjusted between 12.75″ and 13.75″, with a total length ranging between 39.25” and 40.25”. The stock also features interchangeable comb height spacers as opposed to a comb with adjustable height. The spacers aren’t as quick as are more typical height adjuster, but since you’ll be using this rifle for hunting, that’s not an issue.
With a relatively short barrel (20”) and overall length and a weight of just 5.65 lbs., the rifle is still small enough to be manageable, whether you’re traipsing through the woods or are parked in a treestand or blind.
The rifle has a user-adjustable AccuTrigger, which helps minimize the chances of accidental discharge should the rifle get dropped or jostled.
Checker textured panels on the wrist of the rifle help even diminutive shooters keep a firm grip.
It has no sights so you can attach your preferred optic without interference.
With models chambered for .270 Win, .223 Rem, .308 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .243 Win, you have options for a wide variety of game.
We learn something new every day!
There’s a specific AR-15 from LWRC designed in conjunction with The Well Armed Woman. Some of the differences include:
- Slimmer/Lighter Rail
- Fully ambidextrous lower
- Sleek Ergo grip
Anyone have experience with this one? Let us know!
Designed for women shooters based on Franchi’s existing Affinity line of semiautomatic shotguns, and I don’t mean that it’s just a pink, short-stocked version of the parent gun like most firearms that are said to be designed for women.
For one, Franchi overhauled the design of the Affinity’s stock. The shape fits better in women’s hands. The comb is higher to give a better cheek weld with women’s higher cheekbones. The stock is shorter to reduce the length of pull to just 13.875”.
Like the original Affinity, the Affinity Catalyst is inertia driven, which reduces felt recoil and means it has fewer moving parts than similarly sized gas guns and is therefore lighter.
The Affinity Catalyst is available in both 12 gauge and 20 gauge, but the 20g version seems to be a bit hard to find in stores so don’t be surprised if you have to order it in.
In my experience, it’s best to go with the 20 gauge because it has 40 to 50% less recoil than 12 gauge, the most popular shotgun gauge, but still with 70% of the amount projectiles by mass. The 20 gauge is also a little bit smaller.
You’ll want to choose the right ammo though in either case.
It has a 26” barrel and an overall length of 46”. It weighs just 5.7 lbs.
For both options, though, Franchi has outfitted the shotgun with a recoil pad to help mitigate felt recoil. All this together means that the Affinity Catalyst gives you a natural feeling that’s virtually unparalleled for women shooters.
The gun’s design also isn’t overtly and obnoxiously “girly,” with a simple Grade A Walnut stock with a satin finish. It has a red fiber optic front bead and comes standard with three chokes (IC, M, and F).
The Franchi Affinity Catalyst is especially well-suited for clay shooting and fowl hunting, but it can also be used for home defense if necessary – but it should be noted that with a 26″ barrel, maneuvering indoors will be problematic. While it can work in home defense, it is by far not the best option on this list.
Whether most of the gun industry has realized it or not, you and I both know that plenty of women want or need long guns for a variety of different reasons, some I’m doing my part to help make finding a suitable long gun easier.
All of the guns I’ve listed here are excellent choices, but you don’t need to limit yourself to them. Choosing a gun is personal, and you should try out many different options to find the one that you like best.
These guns are a great place to start though.
Do you have experience with one or more of the long guns on this list? Are there other women-focused articles you’d love to see here at Pew Pew Tactical? Have you taken a look at the 7 Best Handguns for Women?