With a rising interest among women in guns for self-defense and protection, an important question is: What is the best handgun for women?
Finding the perfect handgun involves finding one that adequately adequately fits your hand and feels comfortable to shoot. In 2024, the handgun market caters more than ever to women shooters.
Finding the best handgun takes the right insight, and this guide aims to help women through the process by sharing information and suggesting some proven choices. Keep on reading.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Handgun for Women
Size and Weight
There is a long-standing myth that smaller firearms are the only choice for women. That’s simply not true. Women can shoot all sizes of pistols. The most important factor when choosing a firearm is not its size but the intended use.
What do you need a gun for? Self defense? Sport shooting? Recreational purposes? Once you’ve decided, you can consider the size – it is important to choose one that fits comfortably in your hands.
Lastly, try before you buy – if possible, visit a shooting range that offers firearm rentals or seek advice from experienced shooters.
The suitable caliber varies based on individual strength and comfort. Popular choices for women are 9mm, .380 ACP, and .38 Special.
The trade-off between recoil and stopping power is important when selecting a caliber. A higher caliber firearm will have more stopping power but will also have more recoil, which can make it difficult to control and shoot accurately.
On the other hand, a lower caliber firearm will have less recoil, but may not have enough stopping power. A firearm with moderate recoil and stopping power is ideal for most women.
Ergonomics and Grip
A comfortable grip and ergonomic design help maintain control and accuracy while shooting. Features such as finger grooves, palm swells, and textured surfaces can enhance the grip and minimize slipping during shooting.
Additionally, adjustable grips are a great feature that can accommodate various hand sizes and provide a comfortable and secure grip.
Firearms with built-in safety features, such as manual safeties and trigger safety mechanisms, provide an additional layer of protection against accidental discharges.
The oldest and most common form of handgun safety is manual safety. This switch or lever, when placed in the “safe” position, prevents the firearm from firing when the trigger is pulled. Trigger safeties, on the other hand, use a small lever on the trigger itself to prevent the pistol from firing unnecessarily.
Sub-Compact Handguns for Women
Sub-compact, lightweight pistols with manageable recoil and ergonomic designs provide an ideal concealed carry option for women seeking portable protection. Here are three examples:
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ
The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ is a popular choice for concealed carry, designed with user-friendly features that make it an excellent option for beginners. It is particularly well-suited for women. Its compact and slim design makes it easy to carry discreetly, while the easy-to-rack slide requires less force compared to other handguns.
The M&P Shield EZ is available in 9mm and .380 Auto calibers, featuring a lightweight polymer frame. The pistol boasts a tactile loaded chamber indicator, a grip safety, and a light, crisp trigger with audible reset, ensuring both safety and ease of use.
What makes this gun the perfect choice is its manageable recoil, easy-to-operate controls, and customizable grip options, accommodating a wide range of hand sizes.
- Weight: The unloaded weight of the pistol is 23 ounces.
- Barrel Length: The barrel length of the pistol is 3.68 inches.
- Sights: The pistol features 3-dot sights
The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ is available in three models, distinguished by their color finishes: Model 13246 comes in stainless/silver finish, Model 13248 features a black finish, and Model 13249 also comes in black finish. They are chambered in 9mm caliber and have a capacity of 8+1 rounds. It features a stainless/silver finish and an overall length of 6.7 inches.
Ruger LCP II
The LCP II is renowned for its reliability and simplicity, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a no-nonsense firearm for personal protection.
It is a subcompact pistol available in .22LR caliber, featuring a lightweight and durable construction, making it easy for concealed carry.
It is the best choice for women who need a dependable and easy-to-use concealed-carry firearm.
- Weight: The unloaded weight of the pistol is 10.6 ounces.
- Barrel Length: The barrel length of the pistol is 2.75 inches.
- Sights: The pistol features integral sights
The Ruger LCP II is offered in three models, distinguished by their finishes: Model 13714, Model 13705, and Model 13747, all featuring a black oxide slide finish all chambered in .22 LR caliber and has a capacity of 10+1 rounds.
The Glock 43 is a 9 mm Luger caliber pistol, known for its compact size and slim profile, making it easy to conceal. It is also renowned for its reliability and accuracy, making it a favorite among gun enthusiasts.
- Weight: The unloaded weight of the pistol is 12.19 ounces.
- Barrel Length: The barrel length of the pistol is 3.39 inches.
- Sights: The pistol features fixed sights.
Compact Handguns for Women
For women seeking a balance of shootability and concealability, mid-sized pistols offer control and versatility.
Sig Sauer P320 Compact
The Sig Sauer P320 Compact is a versatile and modular pistol that is suitable for both concealed carry and home defense. It is also adaptable, allowing users to switch between different calibers and sizes easily.
The pistol is chambered in 9mm Luger and weighs 25.8 oz. It has a 3.6-inch barrel length and is equipped with Steel 3-dot Contrast Sights.
Beretta PX4 Storm Compact
The Beretta PX4 Storm Compact is a reliable and adaptable firearm for women who want a pistol that is easy to handle and safe to use. Its ergonomic design, multiple safety features, and modular design make it an excellent choice for various shooting scenarios.
The pistol is chambered in 9mm, weighs 27.2 oz, and has a 3.2-inch barrel length. It is equipped with a 3-dot sight system that provides excellent accuracy and precision.
The Beretta PX4 Storm Compact has multiple safety features, including a firing pin block, manual safety, and decocker, ensuring that it is safe to handle and use.
The CZ P-10C is designed for self-defense and use in the armed forces. It is a compact and reliable pistol that is known for not only its quality and accuracy but also for its ergonomic design and comfortable grip which make it easy to handle, even for those with smaller hands.
The P-10C’s balance of size and firepower makes it ideal for concealed carry, while its 15-round magazine capacity provides ample firepower for home defense and other scenarios
It is chambered in 9x19mm and weighs 26 oz. The pistol has a 3.2-inch barrel length and a 15-round magazine capacity. Furthermore, its modular design allows the grip module, slide, and barrel to fit any shooter in any situation.
Full-Sized Handguns for Women
Full-sized handguns with comfortable grips and adjustable sights provide a reliable and accurate option for women seeking a powerful and effective firearm. Here are three examples:
Heckler & Koch VP9
Heckler & Koch VP9 is a polymer-framed pistol that uses the familiar tilting block, locked-breech design. With an overall length of 7.34 inches and a height of 5.41 inches, the VP9 fits right between the compact P30 and long-slide P30L pistols.
The VP9 is chambered in 9x19mm and weighs 25.56 oz. It has a 4.09 inch barrel length and a 15-round magazine capacity. The VP9’s modular design allows the grip module, slide, and barrel to fit any shooter in any situation.
Walther PDP Full Size 4.5″
Walther PDP Full Size 4.5″ is a striker-fired full-sized pistol chambered in 9mm Luger. It has a barrel length of 4.5 inches and weighs 25.4 oz. The dimensions of the gun are 8 inches in length, 5.7 inches in height, and 1.34 inches in width. It has a capacity of 10 or 18 rounds.
Glock G17 Gen5
This is a semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9mm Luger. It has a barrel length of 4.49 inches and weighs 25.56 oz. The dimensions of the gun are 7.95 inches in length, 5.47 inches in height, and 1.34 inches in width. It has a capacity of 17 rounds.
Training and Practice
Proper training is essential for anybody who owns firearms. It is important to learn how to handle a firearm safely and effectively. Women, who are new to firearms, should consider taking a training course to learn the basics of firearm safety and how a gun works.
There are many reputable training programs available that cater specifically to women, such as Armed and Feminine and Women on Target. Such programs provide a safe and supportive environment to learn about firearms and build their skills.
With many options now available, women have great choices for guns for self-defense and protection. Factors like size, caliber, ergonomics, and safety features allow female shooters to find the ideal handgun to fit their needs. Proper training remains essential to handle firearms safely and effectively.
It is also important to stay informed about regulations pertaining to carrying and buying firearms, as well as the legality of open carry.
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