Let’s get this out of the way: the idea that you, a man, should choose a firearm for a woman who’s never had one is sexist and disrespectful. Women are fully capable of making their own decisions. They don’t need you, a man, telling them what gun is best for their home defense. To even think such a thing reveals you as a Neanderthal. Contact your local community college and sign up for some sensitivity training at your earliest opportunity. Now, let’s have a look at the three questions you need to consider before you choose the right gun for your woman . . .
1. Where will you put the home defense handgun?
Most men looking to arm their Significant Other (SO) start with the question “Do you want a gun?” They spend countless hours trying to convince their SO that a home defense firearm with her name on it is a necessity. This involves a lot of discussion about horrific violence and constant entreaties to go to the range.
That strategy depends on wearing her down. Like all long-term campaigns, the “Annie get your gun” battle is fraught with danger. Simply put, you can REALLY piss her off by harping on about “her” gun. Which leads to nasty high volume “conversations” about her lack of situational awareness. Then it’s maison bow-wow for you Boyo.
Hello? Of course she wants a gun. A gun. Not the gun. You know: the gun that’s real, right there in her hand. That gun that makes all that noise and puts her in league with all those crazy gun guys. Unless, that is, someone is trying to rape her, kill her or f with her children. Oh then she wants a gun. Any gun. That gun is OK.
The best method here: an assumptive close. Simply assume you’re going to buy her a gun. Honey, I’m trying to decide the perfect home defense gun for you. I thought we discussed this. I don’t want a gun. [Ignore.] Where should we keep it? Unless she says something like “in the safe,” pay no attention to any statement after that.
Ah, but should you keep her handgun in a safe? I’ve said it here a dozen times (and counting): the proper place for a home defense handgun is on your person. Unless you’re sleeping. In which case a quick access bedside safe is the way to go. (Review of 9G version next week.) But if she’s awake, the gun belongs on her. Where she can get it, but kids and strangers can’t.
Keep in mind the question about her gun’s eventual 10-40 is strictly rhetorical. You’re just getting her adjusted to the idea of gun ownership. The “where” of the matter is something you have to ponder on your lonesome, based on your knowledge of her psychology and your persuasive abilities.
The chances of you getting her to home carry right from the git-go are small. While it should be your goal, you may have to start with an easy-to-shoot larger gun locked in a safe and work your way towards carry. Yes, size matters . . .
2. What size home defense handgun should she own?
In general, really small handguns of a reasonably-effective self-defense caliber suck. The recoil puts new not-to-say-extremely-reluctant shooters right off the whole idea. In the hands of an average shooter, dinky guns are only good for close-quarters combat. Even then it’s entirely possible they’ll miss their target at point blank range. And most small semi-automatic pistols are fiddly and prone to failure through limp-wristing.
On the positive side, small guns appeal to non-gun-o-centric women. They are not as intimidating as hand cannons (which are easier to shoot, counter-intuitively enough). They’re cute! Small guns even come in girl power pink! (Sexist perhaps, but true.) Most importantly, smaller lighter guns are easier to carry.
The general rule of thumb: choose the heaviest version of the smallest gun with the largest caliber that she can comfortably shoot and carry. Base that decision on any prior firearms experience your SO may have; her size, weight, strength and general demeanor. Also your sense of her style. Which one of your guns does she like, if any?
Basically, stay well away from lightweight guns and don’t buy something cheap and nasty looking. The stainless steel .38 caliber Smith & Wesson 642 and Ruger SP101 are the entry level revolvers to beat. (Plan for Home Carry: go hammerless.) Small semi-auto nines are also a good choice, such as the Ruger LC9 or Baby Glock.
For some reason, a lot of guys try to make this selection a cooperative endeavor. Do you like the way this one feels in your hand? Shall we rent this one at the range? How was the recoil on that? How about we try a .22 and work our way up? Would you carry this one in your pocket? That process is the dictionary definition of a fool’s errand.
Have you ever gone shoe shopping with your wife? Well, exactly. Now imagine that she doesn’t want shoes (alternative universe I know) and you’re pleading with her to try on and critique ten pairs that you chose, whilst explaining mind-numbing detail why you chose them. Just buy her the damn gun. If it doesn’t work out, you have another carry gun.
3. How can you convince her to become proficient?
If you’ve listened to my sage advice and bought her a relatively heavy gun, her home defense handgun will not be painful to shoot. That’s good. But not good enough. It’s one thing for your SO to own a gun, it’s another for her to know how to shoot it. To do that she has to shoot it. Which she may not want to do.
If you failed to win the home carry debate, you’ve got your work cut out for you. A handgun locked in a safe is out of sight, out of mind. Even if your SO does consider the gun as “hers,” she may not have (i.e. make) time for range practice. Ever. The trick here: forget about the range. Get her to wear the gun.
Car salesman call the technique “puppy-dogging.” Give someone a puppy (i.e. a new car) for a while and they won’t want to give it back. Get your SO to Home Carry her gun and she’ll “own” the firearm.
If she wears it often enough she’ll naturally want to shoot it. I swear this works. But you have to be patient, and realistic. At the moment, my wife only home carries when I’m not in the house. And shoots maybe once a month. And that’s the way it is.
So focus on the holster. Buy the perfect holster for her gun. Indeed, you might want to start with the perfect holster and work your way backwards to the type of gun that fits in the perfect holster. Back up. Start with the perfect belt to hold the perfect holster to hold the perfect gun for the perfect holster supported by the perfect belt.
This is as at least as difficult as it sounds; as you know from the large number of holsters gathering dust somewhere in your basement. Your SO may reject a holster out for no good reason. She may need—yes need—several different types of holsters to match her outfits. Her holster budget can dwarf the gun buying investment. And she might only wear a gun once in a blue moon and shoot it with the changing seasons. The longest journey and all that . . .
To finish as I started (as a sexist pig), it’s best to think of your SO’s handgun as a fashion accessory rather than a self-defense weapon. Not because you’re trying to trick her into Home Carry but because— no, wait. You are trying to trick her into Home Carry. If she likes the look and feel of her handgun on her person, she might feel the need to look like she knows what she’s doing.
To those of you who didn’t have to resort to deviousness to git ‘er done, I say congratulations! For the rest of you, the ends (getting the one you love to take at least some responsibility for her self-defense and the defense of any sprogs) justify the means.