A Woman’s Perspective: How to Find the Perfect Gun

Assuming you’re choosing a gun for concealed carry, not home defense, your options are narrowed somewhat. However, if you’re like me there still seem to be an overwhelming number of guns to choose from.

How can you possibly make a decision?!

1. Choose Your Carry Method

Best Handgun for WomanWhile it may seem illogical to start by choosing how to carry your gun, this will directly influence the gun you’ll need. Personally, I’m not a fan of off-body carry methods such as purses, briefcases, folders, etc. My philosophy is it’s too easy for an assailant to disarm you. Then, not only are you defenseless, you’ve just armed your attacker. If you do choose to carry in a purse your options for a gun will be much wider as you can have a larger frame gun. Concealment will also be much easier.

On-body carry, which is the only way I carry, offers a variety of methods include inside the waistband(IWB) at the small of your back, bra holsters, thigh holsters, underarm holsters, bellybands, outside the waistband (OWB) hip holsters, pocket holsters and ankle holsters.

Personally, I think the best options are in the small of your back (the gun is tucked into the back of your pants), thigh holster or a bra holster. As a woman, tucking a gun in your clothes without it printing can be tricky. Your body  may determine your carry method. If you have back problems, don’t choose a small-of-the-back holster. If you have circulation issues in your legs, you don’t want a thigh holster.

2. What Caliber Gun is Best?

I can’t recommend carrying a .22 for self-defense, but I don’t suggest carrying a .45 ACP either as that’s not practical for me, as a woman. Personally, I carry a 9mm – it’s the perfect middle ground between a round with enough force to stop practically any threat and yet it allows me to carry a smaller frame gun. Thus, I have a very practical gun that I can easily conceal. .380′s are popular, especially among women, as they have decent stopping power, but are a smaller gun. Check out this handy guide for choosing the best caliber for self defense. Regardless of the caliber of gun you buy, remember that any gun is better than no gun.

Once you’ve decided your carry method, that helps narrow down your guns options further. If you choose to carry in the Flashbang Holster (bra holster), you’ll mostly be limited to a .22 or .380. The thigh holster (which is really only practical for concealing with skirts or baggy shorts), would allow you to carry with a small frame 9mm, .380 or a .22. The small-of-your-back carry option probably would allow you to carry with a slightly larger frame gun. However, remember that the larger the gun, the looser your shirts must fit.

3. What Makes a Gun “Good”?

The particular gun you choose needs to be one that:

  • Fits your hand – if you can’t properly hold the gun and pull the trigger, you won’t be able to control it. Also, shooting a gun that is too big for your hand can cause your trigger finger to hurt from being stretched too far or the thumb joint to ache, due to the recoil hitting your hand at the wrong spot.
  • You can control – if you can’t shoot the gun and have some level of control, don’t buy that gun. Keep looking. While recoil is normal and to be expected, especially among smaller frame guns, you need to be able to hit your target.
  • Must be reliable – research a gun online before buying it. Read reviews. Ask your local gun shop for advice.
  • Check the trigger pull – Each gun has a weight on the trigger, measured in pounds. In other words, pulling the trigger is like lifting that much weight. Most Glocks have about a 5 lb pull, while a Ruger LC9 is 7 lbs. The Ruger P90 (full size .45 ACP) is 11 lbs. Usually this info can be found on the manufacturer’s website on a specifications sheet. I would suggest a 5-7 lb pull, but try some guns out. See what is best for you.

4. Semi-Auto or a Revolver?

It’s a hot debate and everyone has their own opinion as to which is best. Those who love revolvers exclaim, “If you can’t solve the problem with six shots, you probably can’t solve the problem.” There is some merit to that, but I don’t like revolvers because they are wider than semi-autos, for the most part. Thus, they are harder for me to conceal. Revolvers are easier to clean, require less maintenance than semi-autos and almost never jam when firing.

Semi-auto lovers respond with, “No one who has ever been in a gunfight said they wished they had a smaller gun or fewer bullets.” More bullets certainly doesn’t hurt, but if you can’t hit your target it doesn’t really matter how much ammo you have. Being a good shot and carrying a gun you can handle is more important.

Semi-autos aren’t difficult to take apart and clean, especially if you watch a YouTube video that shows you step-by-step directions. Semi-autos can hold more rounds and because they are thinner than revolvers, they are often more concealable. While semi-autos can jam a bit more than revolvers, clearing a jam isn’t hard. (Note: I’ve only had a semi-auto jam a few times and that was the non-factory ammo’s fault, not the gun’s.) If you buy a good quality gun and use dependable ammo, I wouldn’t be concerned about your gun jamming.

Read more on the differences, pros and cons for semi-autos vs. revolvers here.

How I Do It

I carried a Glock 23 (.40) for over a year in Crossbreed’s SuperTuck Delux holster, which I carried in the small of my back. It’s possible, but difficult. The worst part is dressing even remotely stylishly when you’re packing a gun that big. Winter isn’t hard because you just add a jacket to your outfit, but summer concealment is overwhelmingly hard. I eventually switched to Crossbreed’s MiniTuck holster with a Ruger LC9 (the smallest single-stack 9mm on the market, I believe).

When you’re carrying in the small of your back, the hardest problem is not the length of the gun, but rather the width. A Gock 23 is 1.18 inches wide, while the Ruger LC9 is 0.75. That’s a night and day difference – I can wear pretty much any non-spandex t-shirt with my Ruger and it just disappears. Not so with my Glock – I have to wear baggy, non-clingy shirts. So keep the width and overall length of your gun in mind when shopping – it makes a bigger difference than you might think!

As you consider your options remember that whatever gun you buy, you must be happy with it. If you don’t like your gun or carry method, you’re unlikely to actually carry the gun on a daily basis. What is the point of having the ideal gun, if it’s not practical for you to carry?

Carrie Thompson is an avid 2nd amendment supporter who believes everyone should protect themselves, women included. Carrie is a regular contributor to AJGraves.com, an alternative news source for Libertarians, Tea Party Activists, Ron Paul supporters and freedom lovers. Follow Carrie on Google+.

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Comments

  1. Well said. This is a topic that Washington should read. We need to educate, educate, educate about guns and the significance of them.I am a prove owner of several handguns as well as shotguns. I did get educated and practice using them regularly.

  2. Good for you, Bridgett! Yes, Washington has a long way to come before they start interrupting reality correctly! Or maybe they just need new glasses… ;)

  3. Librachild says:

    Thank you Carrie! Your knowledge gave me additional insight on choosing my gun.

  4. Glad to be of help, Librachild! :)

  5. redneck girl says:

    Carrie,
    You have helped me alot! I am in the process of choosing my gun and how to conceal, I am thinking about going with the holder that goes onto your bra, under the arm. Thank you very much for your help! I LOVE reading your website and information, it really helped! Thanks again

  6. Im wanting to buy my wife a handgun for protection. She has never been around guns, & never has shot a handgun, so she is really nervous. She stays by herself while I work off shore in the oilfield. Im wanting to buy her a pistol, but not sure what kind to buy. I want something that will stop a intruder, something that is easy for her to handle, & not be afraid of it, & something that doesnt kick like a mule, cause shes wanting something but she is afraid of the recoil. Can someone please help!!!! Thanks

  7. Jeremy, I am a 53 yr old woman who has never been around or fired a gun. In the past few weeks I have found a great gun range with some very skilled female instructors. I’d like to offer my opinion by saying to take your wife for a few lessons so she’s not afraid anymore then let her try out a few guns to see what she comfortable with. That’s where I am at now and I feel so much better!
    I have the confidence I needed and am taking self defense class next. By next year I hope to have my CHL.

  8. I’m so glad my article helped you, redneck girl! :)

  9. Jeremy, if it’s for home defense, I’d buy her a Glock 26 or 19 (both 9mm) – they’re VERY easy to operate & clean, yet they aren’t too big for most women’s hands. If she needs a gun for carrying, I’d have to know her carry method to narrow down a gun. Also, how big are her hands and is a strong recoil an issue? I’d probably suggest you get your wife a .380 for carrying such as a Sig Sauer P238, BUT check the trigger pull – some of them have 11lb trigger pulls & that’s WAY too much for a woman. She’d never get the trigger pulled before the assailant got the better of the situation, likely. Here’s some help in regard to choosing a gun: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-top-5-concealed-carry-pistols-for-women

    Whatever you do, your wife MUST choose the gun with you. She needs to be comfortable with it, it fits her hand, she can shoot it, etc. or it won’t work & will be a useless and expensive purchase. Just remember to include her in your search/shopping. Narrowing down options before you head out on a shopping trip and getting some advice from a local gun shop can help make her choice easier, but let it be HER choice.

  10. Excellent article! I am currently in the process of finding the right gun to use for concealed carry. I have extremely small hands, and they aren’t very strong, either. I have trouble racking any handgun (tried a few small Taurus’ and also a Bersa). I also have a small frame, so I’m looking into the Ruger LC9 that you suggested. Where is the best place to conceal the gun? I have never fired a gun, and have an irrational fear of them – any suggestions on how to get over the fear? I see the necessity and will definitely be getting one, as I would rather be protected than lose my life or be harmed due to lack of defense. Any advice is appreciated!

    Thank you.

  11. lilbear68 says:

    as a man there are a few factors to enter in here. I personally use the bulldog pouch, it appears to be a phone/ipad or some kind of carrier, easy to draw and very quiet. IWB is not for me as I cant afford to buy all new pants. I don’t wear coats or sweaters or jackets until it gets really cols so a shoulder rig for most of the year doesn’t work. siz of the gun is certainly a factor. the bulldog is good enough for the .380 size mine is the ruger LCP its not real powerfull but I feel the selection of ammunition is a critical choice if your going to carry a lower power piece. my preferred self defense round is the Glaser Safety slug. at .380 they are guarrenteed takedown at center mass and will not exit so there is no collateral damage. hollow points can work but can cause feed problems and when its cold the bad guy is wearing layers of clothes the cavity can pack tightly and then the round can act as ball ammo and pass thru rather than expand. remember carry is essential but ammunition selection is critical

  12. Shelly Martin says:

    I carry a Taurus PT745 single stack. I don’t have very large hands and not a lot of hand strength. I loved this gun because it was lightweight, fit my hand very well and the recoil or lift was negligible. Bonus, it fits perfect in the holster I have for the small of my back, and a 45 cal will stop ANYTHING I am going to aim at!!!

  13. That is an excellent choice, Shelly. Finding the right combination of defensive stopping power and suitability for concealment is tough. This fits the bill for a lot of people. Have you put many rounds through it? Has its performance changed over time?

  14. Hi,
    My husband bought me semi-compact 19Gen4 for my birthday. I am in army and have tried few other pistols also but I love this one as it provides me a strong grip, also fits really well in my small hands that provides me complete control over it. I love how smooth it shoots and doesn’t have as strong kick as caliber .40. I am also impressed with it’s automatic safety system and light weight. Last but not least, it is really easy to maintain and clean. Love this little Glock so far!!

  15. Carry methods change, though. Anyone that carries regularly likely has a bin full of old holsters.

  16. An average size male, I generally carry a mid size auto. I looked for and enjoyed your article because my daughter recently asked me to help her get her carry permit and select a weapon.
    Good article, good points by the readers. Thanks

  17. EO, Good questions. You might try looking at Sig Sauer’s P238 – it’s REALLY easy to rack the slide and the trigger is awesomely smooth. I don’t think you’d like the Ruger LC9 – because it’s 9mm, but very small, the slide is difficult to rack. Also, the recoil is pretty good. I have shot 700-800 rounds in a standard 9mm (Glock 19) in one day and it didn’t phase me; I rarely shoot more than 100 in my LC9 before I’m done.
    As for getting over the fear of guns, I’d suggest you go to the range (outdoor is always more fun :) ) and just have fun shooting a .22 rifle and/or pistol. Even a pellet gun would be fine. Lower caliber guns are less frightful because they don’t make so much noise. Also, .22 rifles don’t have any recoil. Just try to relax and have fun. Before you know it, you’ll enjoy it!

  18. lilbear68, you bring up some good points. The bulldog pouch you mention is a great option for guys, but conceal carry is so much different for women. We could never pull that off without looking odd – ladies don’t put their phones on their waistbands – they go in our back pockets or purses. That’s a prime example of the differences. :)

    And yes, I agree 100% about ammo choices being especially critical for lower caliber guns!

  19. Christine Lee says:

    Thanks for the insight, Carrie. I just now started my Concealed Carry Weapon application and am taking the time to research the type of gun to purchase. I prefer a semi-automatic and was thinking of a .22 calibur; however, a 9 mm never entered my mind. I think I will begin checking it out. My daughters and I took the CCW class together and all are now armed. Very important for women in this day and time to be able to protect ourselves!

  20. Christine, Glad my article was helpful! :) You might also check out some .380′s such as Sig Sauer’s P238, if you find 9mm have too much recoil for you. Whatever gun you buy, I’d suggest shooting it first, even if you have to rent one from a gun range.

  21. I know this article is a little old and people may not being seeing it much but My wife is relatively new to shooting handguns (has shot rifles and shotguns mostly). I recently bough a Sig Sauer SP2022 in .40 s&w for my personal use and she decided that she wanted to get a pistol as well after she shot mine. She loves my sig but it is quite large for a female to conceal carry. we went shopping and she tried a couple of different pistols and landed on wanting either a Bersa Thunder .380 or an S&W M&P Shield .40 s&w. Both of these pistols are basically the same size. the Shield has thinner grips by a touch. I ended up buying both so that I could use the one that she decided not to carry (just because I could :)) She has settled on the Bersa Thunder as she thought it was a lot more fun to shoot and was more accurate with it. Both of these pistols I believe would be pretty decent for any woman who is wanting to get a pistol for cc and has little experience. The Bersa is DA/SA which my wife liked because the follow up shots were easier than the Shield which is a striker fired pistol with about a 6.5 lb. trigger pull every time. I have helped several women decide on a pistol to cc including my mother and both sister’s (none of which had any experience with handguns) All of the women in my family now own a version of the Bersa Thunder and all love the heck out of it. It really comes down to, as stated in this article, having her shoot a few different types of pistols and choosing the one she likes best and is most accurate with. Hope this helps anyone out there reading this.

  22. Outstanding, David! Question for you… How is she carrying? My wife’s big challenge is not so much which firearm to carry, but how to carry it. She does and off-body carry mostly – better than nothing. But I always like to hear what works for others and give it a try….

  23. Wow, good for you, David! That’s the kind of help that women need. And yes, my article still does get read a fair bit, so your informative comment is very helpful. Thanks again!

  24. My wife carries different ways. I guess it depends on mood and what she is wearing at the time. We live in Washington state which is an open carry state. When she is not wearing a baggier shirt or loose enough pants she open carries with a holster that we got from white elephant. very occasionally she uses a purse but most of the time she appendix carries with an IWB holster that we got from a dealer that was at our local gun show a bit ago. (cant for the life of me remember the name of the company but I have the card at home) My mother carries IWB in the small of her back and my younger sister purse carries. (I do not like the idea of my wife purse carrying because of the fact that if your purse gets stolen you have now lost your firearm and armed the attacker)

  25. Ray, that’s a good gun and I can’t say anything negative about it – I’ve shot it in the 9mm and .45 & I love the way it fits in my hand. The biggest issue I had with this gun is accuracy – I couldn’t put a group small enough that I could cover them with my hand. I’d pick up another gun – Glock, Sig, etc. – and bust the bulls eye out. I don’t understand exactly why, but I’ve seen that other people aren’t as good a shot with the XDS either. I think this one has a fair bit of recoil, considering it’s only a 9mm. That might partly be why I have accuracy problems. I don’t enjoy shooting this gun and would never carry it, personally. If offered to shoot an XDS, I generally say no – I’m no good with it & don’t like how it shoots. So, if this is a gun you’re considering, shoot it – a lot – at least 100+ rounds to get a fair feel for it. Lots of people love these guns, but it didn’t work for me. Other people love them and swear by them, so give it a shot & see how it works. Also, if you’re considering this as a gun for you, not your wife, I think this would rank pretty high on the list for a guy’s gun.

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