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“In the gun world, there are obvious women’s guns,” pronounces, without revealing which firearms qualify for the double-X chromosome set. It’s a good question: what IS a woman’s gun? We asked our readers that very thing last month in Question of the Day: Is There Such a Thing As A “Woman’s Gun”?. Some 98 members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia weighed-in without obvious consensus, and a lot of obvious snark. Our friends at Remington hit the NRA convention in Nashville in search of answers . . .

“There needs to be a distinction in firearms for men and women,” explained Ashley Kerr who works for Remington. “That’s one of the big things we’re doing here at Ladies Zone, we’re encouraging ladies to stop by and give us their feedback.”

The Ladies Zone is a new launch by Remington that’s tapping into a market that’s largely been ignored.

“We’ve been conforming to male designed firearms for a while, and we want to get the feedback. What is it about this rifle that we could change that would really help you?” Kerr said.

Adjustable stock? Low recoil? Ergonomic grip? I’m thinking . . . an AR-15! ANY AR-15! But what do I know? And when it comes to handguns, props to Remington for developing the R51.

No seriously. Although the R51 was a production disaster, it’s easy-racking slide, diminutive (but not dinky) size, low recoil and sleek, stylish design made it the perfect handgun for women’s armed self-defense.

We had high hopes for that handgun. And still do. Let it be known that we will give the new, improved R51 a fair review when we get our hands on one. AND we’ll give it to a female writer.

Props to Big Green for doing market research for female-friendly firearms…assuming the Ladies Zone was not a PR exercise in pusillanimous pandering. Remington is, it must be said, making all the right noises.

With the feedback it gets this week, Remington will begin designing new rifles and handguns for women and others who are looking for guns that aren’t necessarily marketed toward male gun owners.

“We really want to make something that’s well-rounded but in order to do that we need to get a ladies feedback and what they’re needing,” said Kerr. “We seem to know what the gentlemen are wanting but we need to know what the ladies are wanting as well.”

I wonder how the Remington RM380 suits women shooters. Dan liked what he saw of it in the booth this weekend. I guess we’ll have to buy one and find out.

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  1. At the Great American Outdoor Show last year my wife handled the R51 and several other compact 9’s that were on display at the event. She liked the R51 better than all the others because of the easy racking slide design. Too bad it turned out to be a non starter. I hoping that R51 2.0 turns out to be a reliable choice.

    Yes, I know that using the pushing technique women can overcome the force of a heavy recoil spring but the women that do are committed to learning how to handle those pistols. My wife doesn’t have that commitment. She enjoys my .22lr pistol because she is confident with it. I’d like to see her confident with a caliber more appropriate for self defense.

  2. I’ve never met a woman who couldn’t rack the slide on any garden variety production pistol. It’s really not that hard.

    However, I have seen women complain about guns with snappy recoil. And if that’s the problem, then a small gun is not the solution.

    • You must not know many women, or have seen them handle small guns.

      No offense meant, but it’s a real problem.

    • Well, learning HOW to rack the slide properly is often the issue with ladies, rather than weakness. Too many try the index-thumb pinch to do the job. And that said, while my wife carries a .25 ACP Bobcat or .38 Bodyguard, her favorites for range use are a full-lug .357 with 6″ barrel, or a Gov’t/Commander-size 1911. She likes to shoot the powerful stuff, but only in heavy guns, to help absorb the recoil.

    • How many women over the age of 70 do you know who can rack a Glock or 1911?

      My experience in teaching women tells me that as they age, most women lose muscle mass and strength much faster than men do, and by the time they’re in their 60’s, most of them cannot rack the slide on a Glock 9 or 1911, no matter what technique they use. They simply cannot do it. They really need(ed) to get to the gym and lift weights, but too many women think that lifting weights and pumping iron isn’t for women. Well, their doctors would disagree, but that’s another story.

      The same reason why my wife keeps handing me more and more jars to open as we get older is the reason why, if gun companies want to cater to women with a semi-auto, they need to reduce the slide spring force. It is also the reason why I advocate revolvers for older women.

      • There in lies the problem. Lighter recoil spring means snappier recoil. They’ll need to find a butter zone most women can handle.

        • It depends on the design of the action. In a straight blowback design, yes, you’re right. The solution is to dispense with a straight blowback design and come up with a action locking design that doesn’t require such a stiff spring to cycle.

      • As you know, Baretta used to make a little “Tip up” 32 semi auto. If you can find one, seems to me that would make an excellent choice, if you must have an autoloader, although a bit under powered.

      • “why I advocate revolvers for older women.”
        I am that older woman and can rack pretty much any pistol handed to me. I like pistols and revolvers. But for carry it’s going to a revolver, has nothing to do with hand strength or more rounds. Six rounds of hollow point .38 special is a decent SD for majority of situations. Fine motor skills, muscle memory are going to go to hell in a high stress, life of death incident. Recoil probably won’t be a major aspect as long as can get rounds on target. Oddly after having a number of very nice & expensive name brand pistols & revolvers. I have retired Ruger LCR .30 stub nose for carry, for an Armscor 206 6RD 2″ 38 Special double action trigger. Replaced tiny wood for Pachmayr Grips For Colt “D-Inchframe, Post 1971 Revolvers Finger Grooves Palm swell Covered backstrap. Trigger pull feels as smooth/crisp as my LCR, tank of a gun at 1lb+ Mine is pleasant enough to shoot and accurate enough to become my favorite range gun. Shooting a revolver is very different from a pistol, unfortunately not a lot of trainers out there can teach good marksmanship w/revolvers. Get Grant Cunningham’s book Defensive Revolver Fundamentals If you are going to use a revolver and have not been shooting one accurately for years, this book is a must have. Armscor is a worthy addition to list of guns to recommend to anyone for $300.00 total from FFL to FFL + $25.00 new grip, couple of bucks for white nail polish for fixed ramp/trough sights BTW: gun comes with ugly mat washed out looking grey/black frame, rub some Frog Lube on external frame and you will have deep black mat finish that lasts

    • To echo what everyone else is saying, you don’t know many women.

      My gf cannot rack the majority of pistols’ slides.

    • I’ve met many women who couldn’t rack a slide but barring physical disabilities like arthritis or carpal tunnel the reason they couldn’t do it was because they didn’t know how. Some men who are new to guns can’t do it either. Show them a proper technique and the problem usually is resolved, unless they just don’t care enough to listen and follow directions–or again, actual physical disabilities. “Being a woman” is not a physical disability.

  3. There seems to be a huge backlash to the idea that men and women are in fact not completely the same thing. I wonder why.

    • Well, feminists have been peddling this nonsense that women are just as capable as men for 40+ years now. Today, their capstone idiocy is the idea that women can serve in the infantry of the USA and USMC, when women can’t even make it though the PT requirements to get into the infantry training in the armed forces.

  4. Excellent that Remington is rethinking it’s approach to satisfy an emerging market which is non-competitive women shooters with an eye toward self defense.

    Color is the easy part. Hopefully the engineering staff is up to the task.

    • I don’t know that color is the easy part. While I know a LOT of highly-educated, intelligent women who at least enjoy shooting occasionally and carry for self-defense, all of them are also highly annoyed, if not offended, by the male marketing departments deciding to just offer the same guns in smaller sizes and pastel colors. My wife and one of her friends calls it the “pink and shrink” overly simplistic philosophy.

      • The “pink and shrink” idea is stupid, and I’ve been saying so (not in quite those words, which I shall appropriate with your permission) for years now. Women have ergonomic requirements that are simply not being met by the gun companies. And these ergonomic requirements go far beyond just shrinking a gun.

        For example, here’s a requirement that almost no gun company handles well, if at all. Women with larger breasts really appreciate toe-out on a long gun stock. This means that we take the butt of a rifle or shotgun, and we “twist” the stock so that the toe (the lower part of the butt where it mounts to your shoulder) is to the right of the center-line (for a right-handed shooter, vice-versa for a leftie). This helps avoid the situation where the toe of the stock is digging into the woman’s upper/outer breast, and causing a heck of a bruise after a few shots of even trap loads. I’ve had women tell me that this is one of the reasons why they get started in trap and then drop out. They’re tired of getting bruised and having black-and-blue marks for a week after a day of trap shooting.

        It would be a simple fix – but gun companies don’t seem to recognize the issue.

      • “…“pink and shrink” [is ]overly simplistic”

        That sir, was my point. The operative word is ‘engineering”.

        • Companies run by and for sales forces tend to loathe engineers. They really just want something to sell. They don’t like having to tolerate engineers to create something to sell.

        • And the age old coflict between those who value style over substance vs. those who value substance over style continues.

      • “I don’t know that color is the easy part. While I know a LOT of highly-educated, intelligent women who at least enjoy shooting occasionally and carry for self-defense, all of them are also highly annoyed, if not offended, by the male marketing departments deciding to just offer the same guns in smaller sizes and pastel colors. My wife and one of her friends calls it the “pink and shrink” overly simplistic philosophy.”

        I wish I could find such women… Where are you hiding them?

  5. As much as some of the feminists in the past would like us to believe that men and women are the same it is just not true, on average. Most women, though not all, have smaller hands and less muscle mass and strength than most men. However, they have many strengths in other areas that men don’t have. Which is one reason we love them. Women, in the military, are OK by me but in the proper areas. I suspect that many excel in areas where manual dexterity, thinking and fine motor skills are involved. They can also be a great buffer when too much testosterone is flying around. Men and women were meant to complement each other and not take the place of one another.

  6. I would think one amazingly easy solution is a progressive rate recoil spring.

    for women, it allows inertia to build when racking the slide. my wife has a hard time when starting to rack a 9mm, but can easily do it once it gets moving.

    put in a spring that is lighter the first half, and slightly stiffer the last half.

  7. “There needs to be a distinction in firearms for men and women,”

    No, there doesn’t. Just make GUNS. Women are smart. They’re actual people. They can find a firearm that fits them. For my wife, that’s an M&P45. This became her favorite gun with ZERO input from me. And she is very small at 5′.

    • +1

      The best “gun for a woman” is whichever one she likes best and implying that all women are so physiologically inferior to men that they need to be coddled to when it comes to firearm design is pretty insulting.

  8. My wife has a problem racking the slide on most pistols and cringes at the idea of a pink gun. Her favorite full-sized handgun is the Beretta 92 and the current favorite compact is a Sig 938 Blackwood. The 92 is all black and and the Sig is the kind of bling she likes. She has a difficult time racking the slide on both unless she pulls the hammer back first. She has no difficulty at all if she adds that step and it is the price she is willing to pay to use guns that she can shoot significantly faster and more accurately than others. I somewhat pushed for her to go with revolvers but it became clear very fast that it was a lesser option for her. She has been accurate with a 92 since the first round she fired. Those are some of the things that end every which-gun-is-best debate for me.

  9. “Friends at Remington”…so you guys officially kissed and made up? BTW my wife has no problem racking any semi and likes black guns. Which is why I love her…

  10. The ladies are gonna love Remington’s rifles — they won’t even need to pull the trigger to make ’em go bang.

    • Ralph, I’d hate to go up against you in court. You’re lightening-fast with the pithy observations that would leave a jury begging for more…

  11. They already have a near perfect ladies rifle in the Model Seven but it seems to be Remington’s neglected orphan.

  12. Thinner grips. The end. Seriously, women can rack the slide. I watched this with great amusement at my ccw class, women claiming they can’t rack the slide and the instructor telling them they could and showing them how. It must have been a miracle, they were suddenly able to do it.

    I have small hands so finding a gun I can grip comfortably can be difficult. I have a full size .45 Px4 Storm and the grip is too wide. It’s still my favorite gun but grip wise…gotta go with the M&P Shield. Easy to grip and my only gun that I can actually touch the trigger guard with my finger extended.

    And pretty sparkle guns? I can feel my IQ dropping. Sorry, not sorry.

    • Yeah, I’m a perfectly normal guy with perfectly normal sized hands. For my height. And half the guns I can choose from are pink! We have to teach our ladies that ‘adorable’ just isn’t it.

  13. This is the problem with women picking a first gun, there’s so much bullshit pumped at them…

    I’d like to see as many women armed as possible. I don’t mind lending a few of my guns to the curious. They immediately pick the PT738. It’s cute, small, not very powerful. Women assume they can’t handle a .45… But after a few hours of shooting over several visits tot he range, most realize what I try to tell them from the beginning. Though cute, small, and not very powerful, the lack of weight makes it very annoying, even painful, to shoot the PT738, and all similar pocket guns. The 1911 just gives you a shove and has much more manageable recoil in spite of being a “Big, scarry .45!! OMG!!!” I still haven’t met the woman who, after actually giving it an honest try on several occasions, doesn’t prefer the big ol’ 1911. Even with small hands. The PT738, hard to rack, there’s barely anything to get a hold… 1911? No problem!

    Painting it pink and catering to the pre-conceived mis-conceptions just takes their money and leaves them with a gun they end up wishing they didn’t buy. Targeting women in this manner does them a dis-service. It’s difficult to get women to see past their initial emotional response and presumptions, and this marketing is just taking advantage of it, not helping them…

  14. I’ve seen plenty of marketing that seems to be targeted towards women… Lots of scantily clad model-types with guns…

    “Buy X gun, it makes your boobs bigger!”

    “Buy X gun, it makes you pretty!”

    “Buy X gun, dudes will want you (more)!”

    Women in advertising are placed for the same reasons when targeting men, or targeting other women… To say it is for one or the other looks overlooks this fact…

    Don’t believe me? Look at tampon ads, or Victoria’s Secret… What am I going to do with a wonder bra and a box of tampons? Same “sexy” ladies acting sexy to sell their wares…

    This whole angle is a failure to think, and merely patronize the non-thinking.


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