I was riding in the car one day with a female colleague from work when we began talking about guns. She told me she had a carry permit and kept a gun in her car. She went on to tell me a story about how her ex-husband had run her off the road one day and got her door open threatening to beat her up but fortunately not actually hurting her. She’d had her gun in the center console but had never even tried to get at it while he was chasing her or after she was run off the road. I asked her why not, and she said she was too afraid because she’d never really learned how to shoot it. Again, I asked why not? She explained that she hated her gun and never practiced with it because it was too painful to shoot. After asking her permission, I dug her gun out of the console and found it was a nice, almost new Ruger LC9 that was so painful to shoot that she never took it to the range. I told her to sell it and get something with a little more heft that was comfortable to shoot, practice with it, and get some training.
The Perfect Gift
Christmas is rapidly approaching and for many of us that means we are about to add new guns to our family collection. And with today’s environment, that also means we will be buying guns for wives, daughters and girlfriends and there are literally scores of articles on how to buy a gun for a woman, many of which advise us that women should have little .380’s because that’s all they can handle. In my opinion, a gun for a person you care about is the perfect gift but we need to approach the topic with a little forethought. I am not a proponent of the school that says women should all carry little guns. Little guns may be easy to conceal, but they are difficult and painful to shoot when compared to something a little bigger, so they are less likely to practice with it. And if they don’t shoot it regularly, they not only can’t hit anything with it they don’t have the confidence necessary to use it in the first place. So, let’s talk about how to choose guns for the women in your life.
Less is Not Better
My wife is a very capable shooter and does well with full size pistols. Her EDC is a Beretta 92 in her shoulder bag (no, I’m not getting into the off-body carry discussion here). She absolutely refuses to carry, or even shoot my little PF9 because it is no fun to shoot. I carry it daily as a BUG and practice with it every time we go to the range. It is reliable and shoots very nice groups at combat ranges, but it isn’t a gun I would ever give her to carry. Why? Because she wouldn’t practice with it. Male concealed carriers are always admonished to carry the biggest caliber and most powerful gun we can comfortably and practically carry and shoot competently. Why would our advice to a woman be any different?
First things first
The first order of business is to get her shooting. Before you even consider buying her a gun, get the lady in question to the range, but be careful what you give her to shoot. Make sure it is something comfortable and fun to shoot. The last thing you need is for her to have a bad first experience, or one where she gets discouraged. To be completely honest, I have taught scores of people to shoot and in my experience, women tend to be natural shooters so just give her something accurate and comfortable and she will have fun. Once she has had a good first shooting experience, work with her to evaluate her style and preferences and then let her try guns that suit her. For example, my wife is strong and a very aggressive shooter, so she does well with full sized 9mm and .45 ACP handguns. Other women may be more tentative and recoil shy, so might be better off with a .380 but that is something to determine with her rather than decide for yourself with no experimentation.
Practice, practice, practice
Give her opportunities to try our several brands and calibers of handguns. If you don’t have an extensive collection of your own, talk to your friends or find a range that rents a variety of handguns for her to try out. Encourage her to find her own gun ‘happy place’. For example, my wife does not like striker fired pistols, she prefers DA/SA pistols with a hammer because she likes the feel of the trigger in SA mode and wants to feel comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber and the hammer down. And because she likes her gun she practices with, because she practices with it she feels confident with it, because she’s confident with it she carries it with her whenever she leaves the house or when she’s home alone. See the pattern here?
The big day
We all want to surprise our loved ones with Christmas presents, but a gun for EDC is not something you should pick out of your own and then surprise the lady in your life with. Guns are a very personal thing, and the gun you carry should be one that you trust and love, so why should it be any different for the ladies in your life?
And remember that just owning and carrying the gun is not enough, she must train with it and learn how to deal with dangerous situations. If you cannot train her yourself, then invest in a class for her and yourself as well. Trust me, taking a class together is a wonderful bonding experience.
The gun you give your wife, girlfriend or daughter should have the following characteristics:
- She can carry it comfortably
- She can shoot it well and likes to practice with it
- It has adequate power to be useful in a life and death situation
- She trusts it
- It is the largest and most powerful handgun she can practically carry and use
- You have ensured she has had a significant amount of training and knows not only how to punch holes in paper but how to use it to save her life.
© Mike McMaken 2018