Sorry, Double Action Only Revolvers Aren’t Always The Best Guns For Women

pocket carry

My pocket carry snub originally purchased for my wife, and Sticky Holster

If I had a nickel for each time I heard someone say that a small, double action only (DAO) revolver was the absolute best gun for a woman new to shooting guns I'd have at least a 5 dollar bill out of it. I have personally been given that advice a few different times when shopping with my wife for her first gun, and I have to admit I even fell for it once.

Before I go any further, you should never buy a gun for your wife. That sort of thing is personal, her hands are most likely shaped way different than yours, and she needs to pick it out herself. If you remember nothing else from this article, let it be that. Bring her to the gun store with you, rent a few guns including the DAO revolver, and actually give her the chance to manipulate a slide and shoot a semi-automatic pistol.

She may surprise you.

Here's their logic:

Women are inherently built different. Therefore, they do not have the hand strength or coordination to effectively manipulate the slide on a semi-automatic handgun. Plus, let's make it as simple as possible for them. If she wants a safety on her gun, let's give her a trigger pull that is so long and hard that it equals a safety. After all, you have to intentionally pull the trigger for it to go bang with a DAO trigger on a carry revolver. Let's make it as easy as possible, in a point and shoot gun.

It goes something like that, each time I hear it.

But here's the thing, if your wife has a hard time manipulating the slide on a semi-automatic pistol because of a lack of strength (not because of lack of coordination which can be learned most times), do you honestly think she would be able to accurately shoot a small revolver with a 12-15 pound trigger using only ONE finger while maintaining the rest of the proper shooting mechanics?

Mine couldn't.

In fact, my lady couldn't even squeeze off a single shot from our little DAO revolver.

Sure, the argument can be made that some have lighter triggers than others. That is true, and I hate making blanket statements as if I were some high and mighty know-it-all. I'm not. But speaking from experience I know for a fact that a DAO snubby isn't always the best choice for newer female shooters simply because of the finger strength that is sometimes needed to pull the trigger.

I doubt my wife is alone in this.

And, it's not that she can't shoot. Because she can. With a different gun and a 4 pound trigger she's a force to be reckoned with.

Here's the deal, we want to protect our wives, but we don't want to pay for them to go through a proper class first. We want to teach them ourselves, or, maybe worse, just set them free to figure it out on their own. Woman or not, nobody should be left to figure it out on his or her own.

Try not to be offended by what I'm about to say:

If you really wanted to protect your wife, or have her protect herself, you'd sit down together and find a good class that teaches her everything she needs to know so she can be a competent firearms handler.

After having taught a few of my own family members how to shoot, I can say that it's a better idea to have someone else do the teaching so it doesn't put undo stress on your relationship.

So no. The DAO revolver isn't always the best gun for new female (or male, for that matter) shooters. Can it be? Sure, any gun can be the best gun for any one person. But, it is dependent upon that person and the only real way to know for sure is to let her try it out for herself. And who knows, she may surprise you by actually being able to rack the slide on that semi-auto of yours. The point is to let her decide for herself.

Want to find a qualified instructor? We have firearms instructors in more than half the country. Check out our instructor location map, here.

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Anita Ray on September 26, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Thank you, Joshua! When I was looking for my first handgun, I shopped alone. The sales guys ALWAYS walked me straight to the revolvers! I had been a Security Police Specialist in the Air Force, and I knew from experience that I wanted nothing to do with a revolver! You give me any rifle (M-16, Shotgun, M-60 machine gun…) and I’d fire expert marksman every time! Put a revolver in my hand and I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn! It took a while for me to get used to racking the slide on my Glock 42, but I’ve got it now. And I can honestly say the rounds are hitting where I point them now. The guys back at Little Rock AFB would be so proud! LOL!

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