By Sam Hoober
This may have become less common in recent years, but it’s something that still is seen from time to time: a lady of nearly any age or experience goes into a gun store, whereupon the clerk shows her a number of pocket pistols, usually chambered in .380 or .22. Another gun that gets shilled in this manner is a J-frame or other snub .38.
Ever have this happen to you? I’ve seen it happen more than once.
None of these are particularly good first guns for anyone, let alone a first handgun for women. In fact, “a good handgun for a woman” is a good gun for anyone, as the best gun for anyone is the gun they can shoot well with.
By now, we all know the reasons. Women have smaller hands, and until somewhat recently the only guns that had grips that fit smaller hands very well were pocket guns and snubnose revolvers. Also, smaller calibers have less recoil than larger calibers…or so it would seem.
In the viable self-defense calibers – meaning at least .38 caliber or more – recoil mitigation is far more a function of the sheer mass of the gun than anything else. Technique and grips help, but sheer mass does far more. The lighter the gun, the more it will “kick” and the more the muzzle will rise, and anyone who has shot a pocket .380 more than once knows that follow-up shots take longer than with some .45 full-size pistols.
Granted, you might not NEED more than one…but it’s better to be able to deliver as many as needed in the shortest possible time.
Additionally, shorter barrel lengths aren’t necessarily the most accurate. Not that they can’t be and there are shooters out there that can make shots with a J-frame that some people can’t with a Ruger 10-22. It’s going to take a lot of time for the inexperienced shooter – or shooter used to larger pistols – to gain proficiency with a pocket gun. That’s why pocket pistols were always used as an emergency backup or for deep concealment, when carrying anything larger is just not possible.
Luckily, the past couple of decades have brought a large number of subcompact pistols to market that are practically “Goldilocks” pistols, meaning they can fit most hands AND can shoot very well. Guns like the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield, Walther PPS, Glock 26 and 43, Sig P938 and others.
Male or female, you need to not listen to what anyone tells you about what gun you should carry. What you should do is get to a range – indoor or outdoor – where there are guns for rent. Try out as many as possible. When you find one that fits well in the hand, that you can shoot well, and is small enough to be discreetly carried…then you’ve found a good carry gun. If that happens to be a little .380 or a snubbie, then that’s fine. If it’s a Shield, or even a Glock 19, that’s great too. Just as long as you can shoot it well.
About The Author: This article was contributed by Sam Hoober, contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is also contributing editor for Bigfoot Gun Belts, and appears elsewhere writing about almost anything and everything related to guns and concealed carry.