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Ever wonder which handguns women choose when they’re looking for a self-defense weapon?

These are five of the most popular handguns purchased by women based on their size, weight, fit and ease of use. Whether for concealed carry or the bedside table drawer, all of these are great, reliable options that you can bet your life on.

Would you go with one of these picks? What else would you add?

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  1. You might even say that these are weapons that anyone might prefer for CCW/self defense. Although, my wife carries a G19 as her duty weapon, and it is not a gun that will conceal on a smaller framed person, except maybe in the dead of winter. Further, many women find the slide on my Kahr CW 9 very difficult to operate.

  2. Small pistols and revolvers of the type shown in the video aren’t the easiest things to shoot and the Glock 19 is too big for many petite concealed-carry permit holders. The 1911-style pistol shown in the vid is cute but is not the best CCW choice either.. a modern striker-fired pistol without a safety makes more sense in a self-defense situation. One competing YouTube at-the-range vid showed several women testing the Glock 42 against other competitor pistols with the G42 coming out on top. (The G42 is a reliable .380 Auto pistol without a safety lever to complicate use during a self-defense situation.) I recommend the Smith and Wesson M&P line in 9mm for most shooters, including females. My EDC, BTW, as a big man, is a Glock 23, in .40 S&W, which is the same size as a Glock 19.

    The most important things are to make sure you actually carry, get realistic training and practice strict gun safety at all times. Make sure your gun is reliable and make sure you are level-headed enough to carry a gun in the first place. If you are hot-headed, carry pepper spray instead.

    • Just because a majority prefers these five does not mean they are all guaranteed to be the best choice. My wife has selected the Walther CCP as her new EDC and im in no position to argue.
      The five listed here are often the ones female customers spend time examining at my shop – but when I get the feeling they’re not completely in love with any of them, I’ll pull out the CCP, it pretty much sells itself.

  3. Since I introduce women to firearms, I have all most all of the single stack 9mm’s tested as well as a couple of .380s (G42, Ruger LCP II). What I have found women care about most is hand fit, trigger, and recoil.

    I don’t have any 1911 style .380 or 9mm handguns, as I consider them guns that need to be practiced with consistently for anyone to be competent – it’s not an introduction gun and I have enough 1911 .45s for girls to try if they want (some do).

    Limiting revolvers to .38 special is just that – limiting. The recoil in most light weight J frame size revolvers is just too much for most folks to practice with for more than 100 rounds at a time. Even in something as light recoiling as 148 gr Fiocchi wad cutters (and that’s about as light as it gets) just isn’t fun, and that should be the point.

    Not tested or mentioned is the Ruger LCR in .327 Federal Magnum, and I am a big fan. Terminal ballistics are at least as good, and probably better than .38 special, and practicing with .32 wad cutters is like shooting a .22. If the .327 is still too much to carry, the .32 H&R magnum is a very viable alternative. It’s a great little gun and every girl that’s shot it loves it.

  4. Wife loves her SigP226, 9mm
    But, she really prefers her Sig m-400 (M-4 clone) with it’s red dot sight.
    I prefer a quiet little Ruger .22, an empty barrel, and lots of lye.
    A recipe me ol’ mum taught me: “You can’t prove shit without a body”

  5. Another G-d damn never ending auto-play video. Thanks TTAG. Why do we keep complaining? Nobody there seems to listen.

  6. I’ve never even heard of a S&W M&P Bodyguard 38 special before this video. Any person who shoots a lightweight 38 in +p will not prefer it. Maybe accept it for what it is. This video should be re-titled “5 Self Defense Guns that Guys have told their Girlfriends/Wives to buy”

  7. I’m a big proponent of the Glock 42, it is a decent defensive caliber, and the 42 is a very soft shooter. Big enough to get a grip on and very concealable. It is a terrific “gateway” semi automatic that sets someone up nicely to move to a 9 at some point. But, frankly, seven rounds of Gold Dot 380 is more than adequate for many people.

  8. Interesting… I didn’t see a single gun I’d have as a gift. No use for Glock period.

    I’ve trained hundreds of ladies to shoot. I’ve spent a great deal of time and effort discussing and showing them different guns, letting them shoot different guns, going to gun shows and shops with them to help assess what they find there… and give them every reason to make up their own mind.

    This single minded insistence on concealed carry gets tiresome. Sure, many choose that. But it shouldn’t be presented as the only option. BTW, I”ve carried and CONCEALED a full size double stack XD 9mm – even in the summer – personally. Stop pushing little bitty hand biter guns on women, as if that were their only logical option. Thank you.

    • The G19 is close to being a full size gun. The CW9 is big enough for me to get all of my (glove sized L) fingers on the grip. Rubber gripped .38 snubbies allow a good grip on the gun, for most grown men and then they listed 2 pistols suitable for smaller hands. Methinks you are seeing a problem where none exists.

      • ” Methinks you are seeing a problem where none exists.”

        Wasn’t talking about just THIS article, but the general trend of such.

        But the idea that ONLY “glocks” are listed make this article dumb as a box of rocks. Or a glock commercial. An honest “list” of the guns most women choose would include a lot of other guns.

  9. My wife loves the Bersa BP9CC, I like it too. It’s an 8+1 single stack with a slim grip, basically perfectly comfortable, with a talon grip. Plus the trigger is extremely nice. It’s a decently budget gun, I picked up a used one for $200.

    I’d also look at a Kahr CT/W9, they’re a good goldilocks size too, and I saw one on for $229.

    Both are available in 40, and Kahr’s in 45, too.

    • as an owner and carrier of a Kahr CM40, I highly recommend staying away. Definitely “too small” for caliber.

      • I have a CM40 too, and a CM9. The 40 is definitely borderline for me, but the CW/CT are the size of BP9CC, basically a slim g19 size, without the odd grip dimensions of the glock, making Kahr and Bersa great for smaller hands.

        I actually prefer the S&W SD9VE’s grip profile to almost all of the slightly smaller than full size double stacks. They’re cheap, but you’ve got to throw in the Apex kit if you want them for a range toy, like a DA revolver, if your going to shoot a couple hundred rounds. But for standard defense work, it’ll do.

  10. My wife carries a Ruger SR9c and she can hit what she aims at, repeatedly, consistently. Whatever works for you is what is right for you.

    • Amen! For women and men. In fact, as we learn and practice, what “works” for us often changes as well. I’ve carried a number of guns in the last ten years. I started with a snubby Ruger SP101 .357. Could not tolerate firing the .357 rounds, and carried .38+P hollow points for a lot of years. Then I carried an XD compact .45 and loved shooting it. Then my hands began to show signs of arthritis, and I could no longer control either the snubby or the .45 well, and definitely not with just one hand. Went to an XD compact 9mm, and carry it most of the time. I can shoot it better now, however, with the left hand alone so am looking for a lefty holster for it. And in between, I carried a lot of other things for one reason or another. 🙂

      We all have our favorites, of course. But it seems wise to keep our mind and our options open. 🙂

  11. The Bersa Thunder .380 takes the price in our family. Wife and two adult daughters who carry – they all chose it. One of the very few subjects for which they all hold the same opinion.

  12. I just wanted to say that there is no way in hell that I am pressing play on this video. I prefer to read my news that is why I go to websites such as this one in the first place. If I wanted to go see a video I would go to full 30 or YouTube. Thank you, that is all

  13. Many folks believe women are doomed to carry and become proficient with the smaller and lower recoil weapons. As a believer in the often repeated advice: Carry the most powerful weapon you can shoot fast and accurately – I know this advice doesn’t describe just one firearm or caliber per person. The most powerful gun you can shoot fast and accurately is a function of your dedication to your training. If an armed citizen, man or woman, decides a big bore is what they want to draw and fire in that moment of crisis then that man or woman just needs to train to the challenges of their particular choice.

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