I wrote this article over 4 years ago, and while the industry is catching up, there is still some work to be done in how many think about handgun selection for women. The foundational problem is that until recently, men mostly designed the “women's line” of concealed carry guns and gear. And because (spoiler alert) men aren't women, they just shrunk gear down and colored it pink, purple or some other pastel, Easter egg color.
By now, everyone should know that women make up an overwhelming percentage of new gun owners and concealed carriers. So much so that companies scrambled to introduce products specifically geared for women. One example is the Walther PDP-F series of semi-automatic handgun.
But is hasn't always been that way.
Guns like the Ruger LCP, Taurus TCP or the S&W Bodyguard were quite popular with woman, and still are.
Now, to be clear, I think, in general, there are better choices for an EDC gun. However, one of these guns may fit your needs perfectly. At least for the purpose of this post, the issue isn't with the specific gun, but the reasoning for selecting a gun for EDC. So yes, a gun like one mentioned above may be a suitable choice for some women. But not ALWAYS the best choice for EVERY woman, or man, for that matter.
Then why do so many women end up with one of the above mentioned guns for concealed carry?
Maybe it is clever marketing? Perhaps it's that male gun shop employee who has little experience using firearms but lots of experience selling guns? Or maybe the gun is from a loving husband who is just doing the best to select a gun he thinks his wife will like.
The point is, I've talked to many female gun owners who selected a gun primarily because of its size or color. And often, after shooting some other guns, they regret the selection. Whatever goes into your selection process, I think we can all agree that for an everyday carry (EDC) firearm; we need to consider more than its appearance.
Are Micro-Compact Guns Good for Concealed Carry?
Micro-compact guns are great and serve a role and purpose. Some cases where a micro-compact makes sense is where you need deep-concealment. You may also choose a micro compact as a back-up gun. You may just settle on a micro-compact because you just can't seem to conceal anything larger. Sometimes the last reason has more to do with clothing and holster selection than gun, but that is outside the scope of this post.
However, compared to larger guns, micro-compacts are generally more difficult to shoot. Why?
- Long, heavy double-action trigger
- Diminutive grip area
- Poor/basic sights
- Lack of inherent recoil management
- ‘Snappy' recoil
- Difficult to rack the slide
They also have some inherent drawbacks.
- Lower caliber
- Low muzzle velocity
- Low ammo capacity
- Short sight radius
Now, not that someone can't shoot these guns well. But placing one of these guns into the hands of a new shooter makes learning the fundamentals compounds the challenge of learning. When learning a new skill, especially something intimidating like shooting a gun, early confidence is important. And regardless if you have XX or XY chromosomes, learning the fundamentals on a tiny, snappy gun creates challenges.
What can Women Do?
First, if you're a new handgun shooter, try starting out with a .22LR semi-automatic, or a full-size 9mm. Learn and apply the fundamentals with a gun that is inherently easier to shoot. Develop the confidence and proper fundamentals, then try a smaller gun if that is something that appeals to you.
Second, on average, women's hands and bodies are more petite than men's. Their clothing is more form fitting, stylish and rarely includes a belt. So, concealing a larger gun in a traditional inside the waistband (IWB) holster that attaches to a belt is a challenge. I see the appeal of small handguns for women.
Times have changed, and many holster and gun manufacturers use women in to design gear specifically for women. Looking for female-specific gear? PHLster, JM4 Tactical Quick Click and Carry and Can-Can Concealment, are just a couple companies designing gear specifically for women's needs. This has provided women better solutions for concealed carry, designed specifically for their needs. These products can make a world of difference in concealing a slightly larger gun.
What Guns Do Women Actually Like?
The American Rifleman, a publication of the NRA embarked on the most extensive look into what handguns are really ‘female friendly.' Dubbed the Ladies Pistol Project (LPP), the project used 35 woman shooters and exposed them to 18 of the ‘best handguns for women' as voted on by many internet publications. They ranked the guns using several criteria and if you're following along with the gist of this article, the results should not be too surprising. Here is the best, rated in class:
- Trigger: Heckler & Koch VP9
- Magazine Release: Bersa Thunder Pro XT
- Slide Stop Lever: SIG Sauer P238
- Sights: Smith & Wesson M&P 9
- Recoil: Smith & Wesson 67-5
- Loading/Unloading: STI 5.0 Marauder
- Grip width/Circumference: Walther CCP
- Weight: Walther CCP
This is just one part of the important findings that came from the project. You can see the complete list of guns tested and all the data collected during the LPP by following this link.
Again, I think it bears repeating that if you carry one of these micro guns, have tested the gun's reliability, and are proficient, fantastic. If you've considered the pros and cons of micro-compact handguns and are okay with the tradeoffs, great.
The point I am hoping to make with this post is you don't have to be pigeon-holed into a certain gun because you're a woman.
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