A lot of firearm manufacturers and vendors have very set ideas when it comes to which is the best handgun for woman. Generally the assumption is small and low caliber. However many women, when they have tested a variety of guns on a range, choose a favorite that is rarely the smallest gun, or the lowest caliber. The most important thing you can do is to try a range of handguns before you commit to buy. It’s important to not be swayed by a manufacturer’s or vendor’s ideas of what the best handgun for women should be. After all, you will be the one using it! Also, when it comes to self-defense use, remember that women are more likely to be victims of violence. In your hour of need, you will want a handgun that you feel comfortable using and would be powerful enough to stop your attacker. Many low caliber guns ‘recommended’ for women (such as .22, .25 and .32) may not be enough to stop a reasonably sized male attacker. So how do you choose the best handgun?
The first consideration should be the type of gun you choose; a revolver or semi-automatic pistol. There is no wrong or right answer here. Your choice should depend on your specific needs. Again, don’t listen to outdated advice that women should start with a revolver and then ‘graduate’ to a semi-automatic. This idea comes from the fact that revolvers are simpler machines compared to semi-automatics, and the generalization is that women would not like using a more complex machine such as a semi-automatic. The truth is that, as a beginner, you can learn to shoot using a revolver or a semi-automatic.
Best handgun for women – Revolvers:
The revolver is a simple machine which involves a cylinder with a number of chambers that hold ammunition. Pressing on the trigger rotates the cylinder. Revolvers tend to allow a user to have multiple calibers of ammunition, so you are not stuck with just one caliber. As the mechanics of this type of handgun is so simple, there is little to go wrong here, and that can be an important reason for choosing a revolver. When carrying a handgun, you will want to feel confident that if you need to use it, it would not let you down. There is less cleaning required with these guns to keep them at optimal efficiency, ideal for those who don’t relish this type of chore.
Other advantages are that revolvers tend to be more accurate when hitting targets, ideal for beginners who are still not hugely confident when shooting, and they tend to be easier to handle for anyone who has weak hand strength. Lastly, revolvers tend to be the most budget priced when it comes to handguns.
On the negative side, revolvers are bulkier and heavier in general compared to semi-automatics, which make them more difficult to conceal. Generally, revolvers don’t have a safety catch, although the trigger is usually more difficult to pull, which in itself becomes a safety feature. However, the harder trigger pull may be seen as a disadvantage to some. Revolvers tend to hold fewer rounds, which means more frequent reloading, and typically will have a greater recoil action. Lastly, on SA (single action) revolvers, you will need to cock each round that you want to fire. This makes it very difficult to shoot multiple rounds rapidly, which you may need to do in self-defense scenarios. We recommend that you never buy a SA revolver for self-defense, but instead choose a DA (double action) revolver which automatically cocks whilst the cylinder is rotating to the next round.
Best handgun for women – Semi-automatics:
With a semi-automatic, the magazine which holds the ammunition slides into the hand grip and, when the gun is fired, it automatically loads a fresh cartridge whilst ejecting the spent cartridge. The benefits of this type of handgun are that the magazines can hold a large number of rounds, and the rounds can be shot rapidly one after the other, with an easier trigger press compared to a revolver. Most will also have a safety catch to safeguard against accidental discharge. Add to that easier reload of ammunition, typically less recoil, and a slimmer, lighter and more compact design that is more readily concealed, and you can see the appeal.
Disadvantages are that these handguns require thorough cleaning in order to eliminate issues such as mis-feed and jamming. After all, the semi-automatic action depends upon the first round firing successfully so the second round automatically cycles into chamber. If the first round does not fire successfully, then you are stuck. However, most modern semi-automatics are extremely reliable, so long as they are kept clean. On the whole, semi-automatics tend to be more expensive than revolvers. That includes overall price of handgun as well as ammunition. Another factor is that you are less likely to able to use different brands of bullets, as these handguns tend to work with only certain brands of ammunition. We recommend calibers of .380, 9mm, .40 S&W, and.45 ACP when it comes to self-defense usage.
So you have looked at the advantages and disadvantages of revolvers and semi-automatics and have made your decision. So which handguns do we recommend as the best handguns for women?
If your choice is a revolver, than our top two best handguns for women are:
Ruger LCR .38 SPL
This gun is fantastic and our favorite revolver! Recoil is very manageable, trigger press is smooth and you will find you can conceal this weapon quite well for a revolver. Also, it’s not too pricey and there’s no difficult slide that needs racking. You do only have 5 rounds and reloading can be slow, but this is to be expected with a revolver.
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 ACP
We love this little gun for its awesome sights, and a red laser comes as standard too! Easy to conceal, this would be more suited to you if you feel you have good grip and a strong trigger finger, as racking the slide can be difficult and the trigger pull can be heavy. This is also a good buy if you are on a budget, as these handguns are very reasonably priced.
If you have decided that a semi-automatic weapon is the way to go, then we have 3 top best handguns for women:
Sig P239 .40 S&W
Our favorite of the bunch; light trigger, Siglite night sights, a very manageable recoil, and very easy to conceal. Only downsides are that racking the slide is a little on the heavy side, but this is nothing that cannot be resolved after a break in period, and it is rather expensive. But you get what you pay for!
H&K P2000SK .40 S&W
Another pricey semi-automatic, with a crisp trigger, good sights, little recoil, and simple to conceal. This weapon has the same issue as the Sig P239 when it comes to racking the slide, but again, this loosens up given time and use.
Springfield XDs 9MM
Our favorite budget priced semi-automatic is this Springfield handgun, which is easy to conceal, has a smooth trigger, and great sights, with a fiber optic front sight which gives high visibility. However, racking the slide is the heaviest out of all three of our semi-automatic top picks, but this is a fantastic weapon if you are looking for a cheap semi-automatic.
Some final tips to for you to find the best handgun for women:
- Be honest regarding how often you would realistically clean your gun. Semi-automatics are very reliable nowadays, and definitely don’t need cleaning every time you use it. However, they do generally require you to clean them more often than if you owned a revolver. Are you prepared to disassemble a semi-automatic (which is usually more complex and takes more time) to clean it? Also, some semi-automatics are easier to disassemble than others, so test out a range and find out how complex your favorites are. If you really don’t like the idea of cleaning your weapon very often, a revolver might be the answer.
- None of us are made of money, but a lot of the times you get what you pay for. A reliable gun that you feel comfortable using is a matter of life and death. We’re not saying take out a loan against your house just to get a pricey weapon! But don’t go for budget. Work out what is the most you can comfortably afford, and then go for a gun in that price range.
- Factor in the cost of ammunition. Most people look at the cost of a gun but forget about the ammo. It is actually better to buy a gun that costs a little more but has cheaper ammo, then it is to go for a more budget priced gun with more expensive ammo. If ammo is expensive, you are less likely to practice because of the costs involved. No matter how good a gun is, it is only as good as the person holding it. To become effective at using your gun in self-defense situations, you need to get to a range and practice often. You don’t want to be thinking of the hole in your pocket every time you are at the range because ammunition is so expensive!
- Do not let someone else buy a gun for you. By all means take in their recommendations, but your gun has to fit you and your needs perfectly. Therefore, the choice of weapon has to come from you.
- Try and test out as many weapons as you can. Find an instructor who will allow you to test many weapons at a range. A lot of ranges even have their own shops where you can buy your chosen gun after you have tested several guns out. What feels great in your hands over a counter may well feel atrocious once you’ve fired a few rounds…..and vice versa!
Happy handgun hunting!