Hunting revolvers? Yes, please.
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Five years ago I walked into a local gun store for a closer look at a SIG Sauer I had been curious about for some time (if you must know it was the SIG Sauer Spartan, the only “molon labe” or bronze gun I’ve ever considered). I’d been looking for a good deal on the popular single-stack 1911 which had lead to my driving to new, more distant locations. But I digress.

So I walked into the new-to-me store and made a beeline for the glass display cases, quickly spotting the firearm I’d driven out there to see. Two things happened. First, I was ignored for quite a while by the guys working the counter even though they weren’t exactly busy and I clearly needed assistance.

Then an older gentleman swaggered – yes, swaggered – over and uttered the words so many women in gun stores have heard repeated ad nauseam for decades on end: “You lookin’ for a gun, honey? We got some nice revolvers over here.” I blew another ten minutes trying to talk to him and he never strayed from his wildly stereotypical attitude.

Sigh. Needless to say I did not buy anything from that gun store (and that was just one can-I-get-you-a-revolver experience of dozens — if not hundreds — over the years).

I’m supposed to be talking about revolvers for women here. This undoubtedly means waxing poetic about the best Charter Arms Pink Lady or Smith & Wesson Model 642 LS Ladysmith snubby for the job and the FlashBang bra holster to go with it. You all won’t mind if I don’t do that, right?

The Taurus 856 (author image)

Revolvers have long been peddled as The Ultimate Women’s Gun. The logic behind it varies from our apparently weak hands to our need for a “softer recoiling” pistol – ha! – to our apparent inability to load magazines or understand the enormously confusing moving parts of a semi-automatic. (Magazine release? How does that work?) I am, after all, a delicate flower…right?

Here’s the thing about revolvers. The average revolver has more parts than the average semi-automatic and more parts than polymer pistols like GLOCKs. If your GLOCK experiences a significant failure, odds are good you can home-gunsmith your way to a repair; if your revolver experiences a major failure odds are extremely high it’s going to the gunsmith.

Then there’s the fact that a double-action trigger pull isn’t exactly simple to master (and if you’re using a gun for self-defense you’d better be able to run it double-action, not only single-action). If you think a snub-nosed .38 Special recoils far less than a 9mm, well, there’s nothing I can do to fill the gaps in your knowledge.

Colt Python (author image)

Let’s hit “pause” for a moment because this is beginning to feel like an anti-revolver piece. Full disclosure: I love my revolvers. There is a double-digit count of revolvers in my house. I’ve carried them, trained with them, and hunted with them as recently as last week. Revolvers rock. Fight me on that.

However, this isn’t about my personal affection for the Nighthawk Mongoose or the Ruger Super Redhawk…or my sharp, almost painful desire for a Colt Python of my very own. This is about revolvers for women. Women who will typically be after their First Gun and potentially their only gun. Women who, unlike me, do not have a career devoted to firearms. It’s about something else, too, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out what.

You know what’s a good first-and-possibly-only-carry-gun for a new female shooter? A GLOCK 19, if her hand size allows it. Or perhaps a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield in 9mm. There are just too many good choices to list here. A revolver is rarely one of them.

Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ (author image)

But what if the gun is for my elderly mother/grandmother, you ask. Her hands are arthritic and racking the slide is an iffy scenario.

I’d tell you to check out the Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ. Is the EZ perfect? No. No gun is perfect. (And I dislike .380 ACP.) But the slide is ridiculously easy to rack and its overall bulk and barrel length dampen recoil significantly. It’s reasonably accurate, too. I’ve spent significant time running one and was impressed by it. My one complaint was that the grip safety could be an issue for truly arthritic, weak hands because it had its finicky moments. However, I would still recommend trying it before a revolver.

Revolvers for women. There’s a phrase that’s a serious misnomer. So are the phrases “1911s are too complex for women,” “best handguns for women,” and “guns for women.” Oh, “holsters for women,” too. Imagine me shaking my head right now because I totally am.

Nighthawk Mongoose (author image)

Let me bottom line it for you: guns don’t know gender. Guns are inanimate objects and no more know the gender of the finger on the trigger than they know how to talk sense to an anti. What does affect firearms use are things like hand size, experience, and application. Hand strength and arm strength can be improved upon with minimal effort in most situations – you might be surprised how many shooters use grip strengtheners and lift free weights.

I can easily list a number of shooters I know of both genders who started out barely able to rack a slide who are now competent, dedicated shooters all because they refused to give up. Yes, there are scenarios where a revolver is the only or best option, but those situations are the exception to the rule, not the norm.

I cannot reiterate enough that gender has no place in the gun world. I’m a woman. Who cares? Most of you are men. Who cares? I can tell you what truly doesn’t care. Your gun doesn’t care.

Your gun only responds to your ability to grip and run it. Your gun doesn’t care whether your plumbing is indoor or outdoor. Guns just want to have fun.

The author with the Remington R1 Tomasie Custom. Compare hand size in this image to the image below with a different shooter and the same gun.
Outdoor writer Brian McCombie with the Remington R1 Tomasie Custom. Compare hand size to the above image of the author with the same gun.

When fitting guns to shooters, go by the shooter’s hand size and overall ability. Keep in mind that those abilities can and hopefully will evolve with time and training. Remember there is more to racking a slide than muscling it back; slides should be finessed, not forced.

Revolvers can be fantastic and are certainly an option, but they shouldn’t be your immediate inclination for a new shooter, male, female, or orangutan. They can be used for concealed carry guns, but I’ll go ahead and show what some in the industry see as my younger side by saying I’d prefer to have more than five or six rounds available. I’ve carried them and will undoubtedly carry them again, but revolvers are not my favorite concealed carry guns.

Side note: there are those who believe revolvers are ideal for women due in large part to the idea a revolver will shoot just fine from inside a purse. First of all, don’t encourage purse carry. Explain why on-body carry is highly preferable and help the person in question find a good holster. Purse carry, bad. On-body carry, good.

Although revolvers can function a little better within the confines of a purse than a semi-auto they can still fail and still produce super-heated gases and pressure which blows apart the purse in question and burns the shooter’s hand. Try shooting some guns from inside purses – purses with random crap in them – and get back to me. Been there, done that.

The moral of the story is gender has no place with guns. The idea gender matters with guns is a fallacy. There are men and women who are shorter and slimmer just as there are both men and women who are taller and larger. Small hands and small size are not exclusive to women; there are a heck of a lot of smaller men in this industry, in fact.

Shooters ready on the firing line during MAG-40. (author image)

Guns are often referred to as the great equalizers and they are, in more ways than one. Put us all on a range together and there would be a wide variety of skills on display, all of which could and would change with training.

Want a revolver? Get one. See revolvers as the go-to choice for women? No. So much no. All gun owners should buy the handguns best suited to their hand and grip size and overall abilities and needs.

Guns know no gender. It’s past time the gun community and industry followed their example. There’s no sisterhood, only guns. That’s what it should be about: guns (and more guns). Who’s with me?

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  1. Not only do autoloaders hold more rounds, they are relatively FLAT! Allows both genders of handgunners to keep their “bulges” in the appropriate places.

    • Small revolvers (like J-frame Smith and Ruger LCR) conceal much better than you would think based on cylinder diameter. Maybe it has to do with the fact that this is the only thick part of the gun. These guns pocket carry quite well, probably better than single stack 9s like the G43, Shield, LC9, though not as well as the micro .380s. I like to pocket carry and will switch between my LCP, 642, and P11 depending on my mood, and attire.

      I wouldn’t presume to tell a woman to carry a revolver. I do think that a mid-sized steel framed .38sp is one good option for folks that aren’t into guns, are frail, or are gun shy.

      I think a S&W model 10 would be a good defensive firearm for my parents (dad and mom both in 70s and not gun people). Of course a Glock 19/17 would also be just fine for them.

      I recently suggested my sister (40s, very petitie, and gun shy) might consider the Shield EZ in .380, though a Model 10 or G19/17 type gun would also likely work well for her.

      Even an SR22 is better than nothing, if people are sufficiently gun shy. My extremely gun shy wife has only shot my .22 revolver and CZ82 (she hated the 9×18, but liked the .22 revolver). My next step is to get her to try my SR22 and Marlin 60 & 795. Maybe someday she will move up to the G19 and AR15.

      On the other hand, a lady that is a friend of ours loves shooting Mosins and .357s. We aren’t all the same.

      Some gun store workers are obnoxious.

      • Women don’t pocket carry because women’s pants have no pockets or are expected to be form-fitting. Women’s belts are also thinner than men’s belts usually. You can see the way Kat’s holster is oversized for her belt (which also might not be big enough to fill her jeans’ belt loops). Personally, I hate when holsters have extra space in the belt loops. Afaik they don’t even make L-frame holsters for anything but 1.75″ (jean loop-width) belts.

        • True. I know most women won’t pocket carry. My comments about pocket carry were more about the “concealability” of various firearms in general, not necessarily the method women use to carry.

          Also, those guns I suggested (Model 10, Glock 19/17), are more for home defense than CCW, for most people. The Shield works reasonably well for both CCW and home use.

    • In all honesty he doesn’t know yet… it’s from last winter. I suppose he’ll find out soon enough. Don’t be a snitch.

      • Kat, this was a great article full of some compelling points, but I’d suggest you dig a little deeper on that claim about most revolvers having more moving parts than an auto loader and “significantly more than a polymer pistol like a Glock”.

        That’s kinda not, well, true.
        At all.

        • “That’s kinda not, well, true.”

          I’ve experienced what happens when you tell a woman she is wrong.

          You are a braver man than I… 😉

        • “More parts” does not equal “more moving parts”.

          The claim was that “on average” revolvers have “significantly more moving parts” than polymer pistols, like the Glock. You suggested we Google the parts list for perhaps the most complex revolver, vs the parts list for perhaps the simplest poly pistol.

          Revolvers tend to include lots of screws, and bushings, and such, but those parts are there as part of the manufacturing process, and to facilitate service/repairs.

          No doubt, the average DA revolver is more complicated to disassble and service than the average polymer pistol, but the moving parts count in the function of the weapon is about the same- certainly not “significantly more”.

    • That’s just Brian’s hair-do. It makes the rest of his face look non-plused by comparison.

      He actually does have a lot of fun with his job.

  2. Quote from the article: “I cannot reiterate enough that gender has no place in the gun world.”

    Article: constantly references gender…….

    When I come here and read the articles I assume anyone interested in guns (man or woman) will want to take a gander. But we didn’t use to have read numerous articles about the oppressive patriarchy of the gun world.

    This would have been a perfect article for you to argue the merits of carrying a semi vs a revolver (I completely agree). Instead it came off as a rant about random gun store douche bags you found condescending and how everyone says women should only carry wheel guns (which they don’t). A short paragraph within the article saying that men who try to pigeon-hole women into only buying revolves would have been fine. Instead that was the whole article. Just one non-writers opinion worth as much as ya paid for it.

    Btw, congrats on the double digit revolver collection. Sounds like I’ve got some catching up to do.

    • Supposed to be specifically revolvers being suggested for women, though. 😉

      Revolvers versus semis could be a good one. Comes down to personal preference and use, though.

      • Nowadays I hear far more people (including gun store employees) recommending small .380 semi-autos for women. In fact, it’s almost universally what I see recommended for, and carried by, women.

        • I tried to convince my wife that my little .380 was perfect for her but that’s just cause I wanted a new gun…..

          She ended up with an LC9s after we went to the range and shot every pistol/revolver I owned or could borrow at the time. She didn’t actually shoot an LC9s at the range, she shot a shield, but liked the feel of the LC9 better when we went to buy a shield.

      • What I always suggest to people but especially women looking for a first gun, which I believe you mentioned, is go to a gun store and hold the various guns and see how they feel in your hand. Finding one you personally find comfortable is one of the most important things.

        The only other thing I recommend is getting something in 9mm… cuz a dainty little woman can’t handle the awesome 1 shot stopping man power contained within the .45ACP!

        *puts G19 back in holster*

      • Kat funny thing about guns and genders, the only 1911 my wife has ever asked me for was the Sig Spartan Carry lol. Funny coincidence.

  3. Damn Kat! Sounds like someone hit a nerve.

    I agree gender doesnt matter and have cringed when hearing some gun shop matador directing the “little lady” to the pink TCP or Charter.

    My wife is long familiar with guns and has recently switched to an auto.(took a while to decide on one).

    Her main reason for switching is because she decided to carrying and her model 10 was too heavy in her purse (her decision). So weight was the main factor.

    After dealing with off-body carry and its headaches, she now carries IWB in a kydex holster.

    So I agree it is not about gender but about deployment. Many people want a gun to have at home or in the car. Revolvers hold up to neglect well. People are usually somewhat familiar with them even if they havent shot much.

    The thing most POTG dont want to address is that even if a DA trigger is tough to master, cocking the gun makes it easier to shoot.

    Lots of non-gunny people have a revolver and cock it for every shot. Not necessarily a good thing, but true. No slide to rack, no mag to load, jum punch in 5 or more rounds and it is ready when you are.

    I recall a DGU in Michigan ( I think) where the woman shot a perp by cocking and firing.

    My point is a lot of non-gun folks will look first at a revolver on their own. While they may be better served with something else, a wheelgun will fill the bill of “having a gun”.

    • Yep. The revolver fills the bill for two types. The first is the non gun person that needs a gun. They want to load it and stuff it into the sock drawer and forget about it til the bad happens. They don’t want to learn about stoppage clearing, mag swaps, or anything else. They just want to pick it up and squeeze the trigger. There’s a lot of these gun owners out there.

      And it takes little to no skill to fire a .38 at average house or apartment range with effect. We’ve seen a number of reports over the years of people never firing a gun until the moment of truth and they prevailed. Including some real seniors.

      The other types are folks like me. I can and have run guns of all types. From Ma Deuce, the 81mm mortar, The Pig, and just about all types of ‘civilian sporting’ firearms. I’ve been shot at and returned the favor.

      I just happen to prefer a revolver.

      • Please, please do tell me more unsolicited information about yourself and your exploits; was this “nam” or the “sandbox”? You’ve “returned the favor” and still prefer a revolver,… really? Must of been ‘nam. You just did exactly what she was bitching about, do you even realize that? You’ve worked retail innnnn, … let me guess,… a gun store, haven’t you?

  4. Very well written article, When I got my wife into shooting those were the very concerns I had, I knew if recoil would bother me it surely would bother her 120lb self as well. She has 2 her favorite range gun and her EDC, saw one of Lenny McGillis where he talked of ways to help women racking which really helped her (aka where you hold the slide and PUSH the frame) that was what she needed. Bottom line her favorite is a lightly modified 1911 in 9mm, @ almost 60 she is very very accurate and proficient. I used the same ideas in helping her make a very good choice for her. MAKE IT FUN.

    • Thanks, Markd. Exactly true of gun selection. Specific to the person and fun (and finessing slides…it makes quite a difference for a lot of people). Nice to hear your wife’s a 1911 fan (me too).

      • My wife owns a few pistols but she only carries her 1911 platform ones. I started her (and all new shooters) on a .22 revolver because of the very deliberate ritual of loading a single round into the cylinder. Then two with manual cocking in between. In my experience new shooters (particularly nervous ones) experience a calming effect from the slow, deliberate, manual manipulation required to operate a revolver as their first experience. No risk of the evil .9mm killing machine going fully-semiautomatic on them as soon as they reach for it like the media has taught them will happen. Not everybody comes to their first range trip with that mindset but lots do. Thinking back over the years none of the gals I have taught to shoot ended up owning revolvers and only one of the guys.

        Lots of gun counters have idiots behind them. Usually those idiots who you are describing above are also idiots to the male customers who walk in, just with a different approach. The same guy who expects you to buy a dainty revolver will likely consider a guy to be a moron if they don’t go directly to the 1911s. After all, he works at a gun store so he must know more than the rest of us. Stupid people are gonna stupid because that’s what they do. Unfortunately they are everywhere. Even behind gun counters. Sorry you continue to experience this but don’t let it get under your skin too much. They are not just a jerk to you because you are a woman. They are jerks to everybody because <>.

        One side note. While it doesn’t sound like it was the case for the guy above words like “honey” in an introduction are still considered polite casual conversation in some parts of the country. I still use “darlin” several times daily as a course of habit. It is considered a formal word akin to ma’am where I grew up. Certainly don’t tolerate people disrespecting you but remember on a case by case basis that often the person greeting you with “Mornin darlin!” believes they are greeting you with the same level of respect that a tuxedo wearing valet would greet the first lady when she walks into the country club.

        Shoot your revolvers more. Shoot your pistols more. Ignore the haters. Don’t let stupid people influence your life anymore than it takes to stay away from them (and in this case their businesses). Keep doing what you’re doing darlin. You’re doing a great job.

  5. …”you might be surprised how many shooters use grip strengtheners..”

    Yep, have several types. Anyone interested can should try out the Varigrip Sport. Think it was made for musicians/string instruments primarily as you can exercise individual fingers.

  6. Glocks know no gender but if the shooter is prone to limp wristing, he or she might have a problem. They’re the only brand of semi automatic I’ve ever had issues with.

    • I always hear that but I’ve never seen it. When I first got my Gen 4 G19 I tried, as hard as I possibly could, to limp wrist it and cause an FTE, and it just wouldn’t happen. Disappointing, really

      • My sister had that issue when I had her try a Glock 26. It took me a bit to figure out the problem.

  7. WRT elderly or other folks whose reduced grip strength makes racking a semi difficult, a friend recently reminded me of another alternative . . . .

    What about a “tip up” semi like the Baretta Cheetah – which can be loaded / unloaded without racking? I.e., insert magazine, release the catch so that the barrel tips up (think: like a o/u shotgun), load a loose round into the chamber, and close the barrel. To fire, cock the hammer (which doesn’t take much strength) and pull trigger. To unload, drop the mag, tip up the barrel, remove the round from the chamber, close it up and drop the hammer.

    No racking required. Granted, you’re going to be limited to .380 (or less), but with Lehigh Xtreme Defender ammo in .380 it would still be pretty potent personal defense.

    • Try the APX. The funky slide serations on the APX aren’t for looks. It makes it much easier to grip and rack the slide especially with gloves on.

  8. Depending on a person’s hand size and relative strength, is a good starting point. How the gun will be carried is another. Women have different body types than men, so holsters do not fit the same. If a gun is for CCW, there is much more than type of gun to worry about. Women are different then men(I think about the differences every day), so handgun choice is going to be different between a man and a woman.

    I am not going to say, “Hey, sweet thang, let me show you these pretty lil’ pink revolvers, that is wut you need…”, but if I were showing you a handgun the first time(based on my limited knowledge), I would ask you to try a .380 for size(maybe a Makarov size) and then go from there.

    I prefer a handgun that is shorter than 7″ long, that has a grip I can get at least 3 fingers on, so that is what I would show you for carry or personal protection. Once you told me that this was not your first gun, I would figure that you already had a good idea what you wanted.

  9. for while both me and my sister were in viet-nam, she came down to the ship and brought her ss detail with her .the lead spook was one of the renegade type ,[didn’t like female shooters] we were talking shop and i asked if he had been to the range lately , his partner poped up with a yes ,it coast him 400 dollars, she out-shot him 6 out of 6 times .she shot a 1911 F-bob chow accurised military 45 he was shooting a 9mm brown-ey so do not think that just because a female is soft, that she can’t shoot with the best….

  10. I’ve long considered revol vers to be best suited to either novices that aren’t interested in practice or maintenance OR advance shooters.

    There is an advantage to purse carry – when a woman is walking to her car in a dark parking lot she can have her hand in her purse holding her weapon without drawing attention to herself. She could easily find herself pinned against a car and unable to reach a holstered weapon.

      • Just get yourself a possibles bag. If a purse has black powder gear in it then you can keep your man card. (Don’t forget, its not a purse, its a satchel)

    • This is also an advantage to pocket carry. If you are in an iffy situation you can be gripping it in your pocket and be able to draw extremely fast.

      • You can draw from your pocket sure, but I wouldn’t try firing from your pocket.

        …maybe if it’s that or getting raped…

      • Carry at 4 or 5, put your hand on your gun underneath your cover garment; it sends a much clearer message and the only way you’ll get in trouble for brandishing,threatening is if your dumb enough to stick around and tell the truth. It doesn’t satisfy the elements of those crimes in most jurisdictions anyway.

  11. Fit, Feel, and flinch factor. If it doesn’t fit the hand or doesn’t “feel” right. Some handguns, mostly semi autos, can feel like a potato in your hand. Even between same caliber/mag. style. A Sig 226 feels right a Berreta 92 feels like a piece of fire wood. Flinch factor self explanatory, don’t try a .44 mag. just so someone can laugh at you. Single use with no maintenance like in a nite stand, revolver. Guns are inanimate objects w/o feelings as you said. Also, unlike shoes, guns don’t get softer over time. Gotta work the first time.

  12. Walther’s CCP is a 9 mm with a slide that’s easy to rack. The M2 version fixes problems with the original.

    One complaint. The holster in the fifth photo doesn’t fit the belt. I blame holster manufacturers for this. There is no reason not to have models for different belt widths from 1″ to 2″ in 1/4″ increments. If kydex manufacturers can do this, so can leather manufacturers.

    • Unfortunately that’s my fault. I was at the range and decided to break the clasp on my belt. Borrowed that one.

      That said I have a variety of belts for the reason you mention: holsters with openings technically large enough for a given belt but too stiff or poorly stitched.

      • How often is your choice of pants limited by the width of the belt needed to properly fit your holster? You shouldn’t have to do this.

  13. Revolvers are good for novice shooters, not women or men. Now, I’m not talking about some pocket .357- a good .38spl Smith or Ruger is a great way to learn.

    “Here’s the thing about revolvers. The average revolver has more moving parts than the average semi-automatic and significantly more moving parts than polymer pistols like GLOCKs.”

    Nah, or at least not moving parts that matter to shooting. The vast majority of shooters are not going to go home and take a gun apart to fix a malfunction aside from stovepipe. Hell, the vast majority of gun owners don’t even shoot their guns. Glocks are probably about on par with revolvers for simplicity.

    • Moving parts as in, every tiny component. And they really do all work together. It’s one of the things I actually enjoy about working on revolvers – the intricacies – and also more problematic for new shooters who would be happier with the simplicity of a Glock. Not that Glocks are not also awesome in their own ways because they are. I’m equal-opportunity pew-pew.

  14. The one gun I would not recommend to a new shooter, male or female, is a J-Frame revolver. Hey, I love my M642, but it isn’t easy to shoot, the sight radius is short and it’s a snappy bitch too.

    • Is say the smallest “new shooter” revolver is an SP101 3” barrel with hogue grips and .38 special ammo.

      Smaller than that is a bad idea.

      • A steel frame 3″ revolver is pretty reasonable for new shooters. I use to have a couple of Rossi 68s. They were good basic inexpensive beginner guns. The sight radius was good enough, and basic 38sp recoil is pretty mild with the 25oz weight.

        • If you’re advocating a 3 inch barreled revolver I would recommend a Ruger SP 101 in .327 Federal Magnum. More power than .38 Spl and can work up to the Fed mag loads using .32, .32 Long, .32 H&R mag. Heck, can even shoot .32 ACP if desired. If you want a shorter barrel you can go with the LCR or LCRx and still have 6 rounds on tap.

  15. Revolvers are the ideal choice for home defense (for women and men) because there is no safety to deal with or magazine and chamber problems. The dirty little secret is that high power automatics need a solid platform to chamber a second round and woman who aren’t used to the recall or aren’t strong enough might cause a limp wrist failure to feed which would catastrophic in a violent encounter.

        • Only gun I have ever managed to limp wrist was a Glock. Don’t think it was a strength problem, I’d been enjoying high power .357 loads from a Python for 30 years at the time, and my 1911s never gave me a problem. Once the guy who rented the gun told me about limp wristing (I thought he was kidding), I had no further problem, except an inability to take Glocks seriously as a defensive gun. Just as well, since I have not been able to keep a round in the chamber, either.

  16. As a person who has trained numerous friends, relatives, acquaintances, etc., through the years I can say definitively that there is no difference between men and women when first learning. Many of the men are horrible at loading magazines, sloppy with racking slides (or have significant trouble), limp-wrist the gun, etc. So any objections to a beginner’s firearm for ladies should theoretically and objectively apply to the men as well. That being said, when my wife, who formerly had little interest in firearms, was first starting out, I started her on what I think is one of the greatest firearms of all time – the Smith and Wesson Model 10. The fact is that it is often much simpler for a beginner to understand LOAD CYLINDER, FIRE, LOAD CYLINDER, FIRE and people are more familiar with revolvers I find just from movie knowledge. Also the limited number of rounds requires more reloads which I think is good for a beginner. So it really didn’t have anything to do with her gender as much as that being a very basic system that was very fun to shoot. I do find that there are many women who have trouble racking slides on certain guns. The men will often start out with trouble just because of nervousness or not understanding to draw the slide all the way back. Some women will often persist in the trouble because of hand weakness even once they understand very well how it works. I think we live in a time where we want badly to minimize differences between males and females. Yes, there are many weak men in our time – we shouldn’t be using them for comparison. All one has to do is look at the plethora of “.40 S&W is too snappy!” articles and videos out there to see that our men are currently badly disappointing our historical forebears. But let’s remain objective and compare serious men to serious women. I find that many women still have trouble with many slides. There are also a huge number of women who have no interest in constantly studying and toying with firearms who absolutely would use one to defend their families. (Cue the “if you aren’t training with it all the time, don’t get one!” doofuses. They are wrong.) Many women with minimal training use firearms in self-defense effectively. A simple system that is easy to remember after much time away from guns is a benefit there. We say gender should play no role, but on the contrary, it is the very life of who we are and should influence everything that we do to some extent. The erasure of gender is the erasure of humanity. It results in BOTH sexes having sustained issues and not meeting their glorious potential. That being said, all the women I have known could care less for pink or Tiffany-blue guns. That is a clear case of assuming that women just prefer dumb pastels. Do they friggin’ dress in those colors all week? Use your heads, people. Now that my lovely, darling wife has spent more years studying firearms occasionally, we have moved her to the Sig P365, which was surprisingly easy for her to rack even at first and shoots really well in her small hands.

    • I’d really like to pick u p a Model 10. I’ve got the 642 for pocket carry, a Security Six for .357, and a couple of .22 revolvers. Now, I need to get a Model 10.

      • A Model 10 along with a .41 or .44 mag, and I’ll be content on the revolver front. I’ve got more auto loading pistols than revolvers, but honestly both types of handguns.

        • Get the bull-barreled Model 10, it just looks cooler. Also, for a .41, get a Ruger Blackhawk. 🙂 For the .44, we have a 629 in 5-inch full-lug and it is awesome.

  17. Did I miss it? Did you ever get a SIG Spartan? I’m not a SIG fan but I bought one because of the Spartan concept. The original Molon labe.

    My wife carries a Glock but I love her anyway. She doesn’t like the weight of the 1911. I carry Ed Brown’s.

    In the mountains we both do carry S&W N frame 44 magnums.

    We are just past mid 60’s. She grew up in western Pennsylvania and she can run anything.

    • I never got a Spartan. My next handgun after that store visit was for hunting (and was purchased at the store where they knew me).

      Sounds like we have several other guns in common, though.

  18. The 3 or 4 times I’ve shown a female friend or family member how to shoot a handgun, it’s been with a compact 9mm. No complaints yet. And the Shield 9 or the Bodyguard have both been popular carry choices.

    However, every woman that I’ve shown a Taurus Judge or S&W Governor wants one.

    • I was going to give you kudos for carrying a classic wheelgun, the Security Six. Then i noticed you said Security Nine.😦.

      By the way, how do you like it? I’ve been thinking about picking one up. I won’t carry it, but just have it as a second double stack nine, to go with my G19.

  19. Well written article and the points are fair. My only real feedback is the author glosses over the hand issues, look arthritis and grip strength are real but so are hand injuries; and speaking from experience it takes A LOT of time and retraining to learn to run a gun after removing a finger (27 months on I can finally manage not to jam a Glock after every 1-2 rounds).

    • Had a buddy that was right handed. Had his right little finger and part of the palm of his hand were lost to an industrial accident. He tried to left hand it for a while but it just wasn’t working for him. He slowly rebuilt the use in his right hand by going back to basics. He got a pellet pistol. No recoil to speak of. It was a struggle and I don’t believe he ever got as good with a handgun as he was. But he got good enough to do if he was threatened with violence.

      • I pretty much agree I actually lost my right trigger finger which is my weak hand (Surprisingly that finger can be responsible for like 40% of a hands grip strength) so the biggest problems I was having were:
        1. Obviously it changed the whole geometry of how my hand engaged the gun. Apparently guns aren’t happy when you change recoil geometry and grip angle by 15 degrees, who knew.
        2. The honest truth of it is my grip strength sucked, I was on a 2 lbs lifting restriction for a couple months and see aforementioned 40% comment.
        3. Guns are not built for four fingered hands.
        4. Honestly the part probably was the hardest to retrain, the stump is pretty sensitive to well any violent movements. Major flicking issue with basically a brand new trigger finger.

        So what I ended up doing was getting creative with a glove and some medical tape; buying a no-frills revolver and retraining myself that way. I’m not back to where I was but I can now manage a respectable group size and not practicing weak side clearance drills on the firing line.

        • My wife prefers revolvers and shoots lights out with both her Rugers (.38 and .357) but weirdly just had surgery for something called “trigger finger” in her thumb. She can’t shoot anything, but when I get her back in action I’m going to put my Glock 19 in her hand and I think I can convert her. If not, I’d wouldn’t want to be in front of her with the wheel guns, for sure. Ultimately it’s whatever she’s comfortable with.

  20. The best place to take a novice to learn about firearms is a gun store with a firing range attached. Just holding a gun tells you nothing about what the caliber does. Many guns come in multi calibers and one caliber may be pleasant to shoot but another might tear your hand up! Some folks are very sensitive to recoil while others are desensitized to a hard kicking piece.
    Just because someone is female is no reason to treat her like a person who is only interested in fashions .{Doesn’t this pink pistol just match my handbag?) Find out what her plans of use are, what caliber she might be comfortable shooting, etc. Like a motorcycle, try before buying; a test under power will tell the buyer more than just sitting in the saddle or holding in your hand.

    • The best way was the now-gone Texas Firearms Festival. Shoot dozens of different guns (free ammo!), with the opportunity to buy most of them at great prices.

      My wife had tried lots of my handguns but none of them really worked for her. At TFF #1, she tried 40-50 different ones, until she found the one that really worked best for her (Walther PPQ M2) — which we were able to purchase onsite at a great price.

      Too bad TFF is no more.

  21. Kat –

    I’ve noticed in nearly every picture of you aiming a gun, you look royally *pissed*.

    Does shooting not bring a smile to your face? 😉

    • Ah, it is a royal edict of gun pubs we must not smile. Failing to take it seriously is…well, frowned upon. And this is my full time job. Guns and hunting. Also, I sometimes look crazed when smiling for endless photos. Okay, frequently.

      You should see my growing collection of duel-wielding photos (which shall never see the light of day because…). 😉

  22. Hi Kat,
    I’m a white guy and I have been ignored in a few gun shops while the owner and or co workers talk to their friends about silly things. I have had trouble getting their attention to just ask a question. I have walked out shaking my head and saying to myself, “I have money to spend!” It’s their loss. Many years ago, the owner curtly told me to wait my turn. I never went back and he eventually went out of buisness. It happens to the best of us.

  23. I have seen salesmen always steer women to the smallest and brightest colored firearms. A small framed female friend has been shopping for a first self defense firearm. She had tried a pistol (not sure what it was) and is convinced that she wants something smaller, but in 9mm. I let her handle my SIG P320 compact, SIG M17, Glock 19 Gen 5 (completely customized by Agency Arms) and SIG P365. She liked the idea of the manual safety on the M17, but loved how cute the P365 looks and how it felt in her hand. I tried to explain that unlike what most stereotyping men tell women, a smaller pistol is not necessarily better nor easier to use. I love the SIG P365, but because of its size it is quite “snappy” and takes a little getting used to; not something I would recommend to a noobe who actually intends to shoot with it. I suggested that for her level of experience and body frame, of what I own, the SIG P320c or Glock 19 (both about the same size, the Glock is slightly lighter) would be a better choice for her in 9mm.

  24. The stereotype of women needing anything should be a semi auto with a massive amount of ammo. 509, Glock (in any 9mm flavor) FNX 45, Beretta, M&P, etc. Point gun, pull trigger. Pull trigger until bad man stops or gun is empty. Having 17rds or more on tap should solve most problems. Handing a woman a 5-6 shot snubby, 6 shot 380 is insulting. Even if they have zero understanding of how to reload, chamber, or unload the gun. Strength or no strength, point and shoot is about as simple as it gets. Seems a lot of men don’t care about their women because they cheap out, buy crap guns, and give them nothing in terms of capacity.

    • Oh, be nice. My bride has carried for over 50 years, now, makes up her own mind, thank you very much. She was carrying a Sig P230 when I dragged her down to a shop and rented a S&W Airweight .38, she fired it once and said “Jesus, that HURTS!”, then fired the other 4. I assumed that was it, she didn’t want it, but she pointed out she was planning to carry it, not shoot it, and she has now been carrying it for 15-odd years. In all that time she has never needed *one* shot, why carry around a boat anchor holding 17? If you fancy yourself an operator, go for it, but we tend to keep it real.
      We bought that Airweight just in time, BTW, S&W sold out to the grabbers about a week later, and I haven’t bought anything from them since.

    • “Cheap out” cheap out” ? You’ve got to be kidding Jon! Overall quality revolvers cost less than good poly framed hi-cap semi autos. Both of my Ruger .357 SP101s cost more than the S&W M&P 2.0 Compact I am thinking of getting. They are also more expensive than the other polymer semi autos I have thought about getting (i.e. CZ P-10 C, Beretta APX and Walther PPQ). A Gen 5 Glock 19 (which commands a premium because of the name) costs about the same as the 5771 but less than the 5775. When I get married I will let my wife pick out the gun she wants. Cost of the gun will not be a factor unless she wants something like a $3000 custom 1911!

      • I meant to say ” Overall quality revolvers cost MORE than good poly framed hi-cap semi autos.”

  25. My wife carries an M-9. Enough said.

    I hate revolvers. I have only one, a 686/6″. It is for hunting and i shoot it SAO.

    Most of the stuff revolver fanpeople say is BS. Yeah, they are point and shoot until they don’t and then you die if it’s a DGU against man or beast. Beyond that everything else that is said about revolvers is wrong. The manual of arms is far more complex than a semiauto because the MoA includes reloads. A revolver has the mechanical complexity of a Rolex and it doesn’t take a lot of dirt to screw it up. While a quality revolver has a good SA pull you won’t be using that in a DGU. The DA pull is long and hard to master. The recoil is terrible making practice unthinkable for many and rendering followup shot problematic. I took a woman friend to the range and let her shoot my 1911/10mm loaded with Buffalo Bore hardcast. After putting 9 rounds in the center at 10 yards she said it was easier on her hands than her J-frame.

    • Poo. Not only poo, but my damn Rolex has been working for me happily for 30 years now. And its value has quintupled, if I were interested in selling it, it would be the best investment I’ve ever made. As to complexity, put it on wrist, take it off wrist, I’m sharp enough to handle that. You think big shit about reloading? Loading magazines is part of that, try including that in your manual of arms.

      • Apparently he doesn’t think semi-autos require reloads??? Practicing reloads is one of the best things for beginners to do.

    • Revolvers are good for 3 things 1) back up ankle carry if for what ever reason you still think thats a good idea or for some bizarre reason have too 2) for hunting animals you really should have the sense to be using a rifle on anyway. 3) Nostalgia.

  26. Best, most professional salesperson I ever was lucky enough to work with carried and knew how to use one of the last Swenson .45s made for her hand by the late Master himself. Never had to look around, if things started to get a little…tight, she was always right there. -30-

  27. I wouldn’t advice a revolver for CC self defense. The recoil is too much and small ones barely have any grip.
    Put two hands on it to get a hold of it and your hand gets cut from the pressure if you put it anywhere near barrel and cylinder mating.

    • Whereas there is zero possibility of a semi’s slide tearing your hand to pieces? You can’t be serious!

    • Agree. Biggest issue people don’t think about because they mostly practice from a bench is getting a proper firing grip and base for presentation quickly. On a small revolver if your a man with medium to large hands you cant, not without much practice. You will draw, present, readjust and fire or fire, miss (at anything over 3 yards) and then readjust.

  28. My wife and I went to the range recently, took a variety of handguns with us. She is usually a 9mm girl, and shoots her Sig 320 very well. I loaded up a S&W model 19 with .38 spl and she loved it. Then loaded up with .357 (yes I warned her, I’m not that big an asshole) and you should’ve seen the smile on her face.
    She was giggling between shots!
    We also had an LCR that we rented just for fun. With 38 spl she hated it. Quite honestly I didn’t like it either. Never tried it with .357. After that she stuck with her Sig. She did say she want more trigger time with the model 19.
    It’s all about what is comfortable for you to carry. Now that we live in a more gun friendly state, we carry all the time. She has her sig, and I carry my m&p45.
    Revolvers are not the be all, end all choice for anybody, and nor should they be. This is America, with freedom of choice!

    • Small revolvers, even in .38 special can’t be shot we’ll by almost anyone, man or woman who doesn’t have a high degree of proficiency. Think you can’t miss five times at three yards, think again. Most people will. To anyone born after 1970 or so with at least some professional training this isn’t even a debate anymore.

  29. The first firearm I gave my daughter was a revolver, but that was mostly because she shot it so much better than me. When it was time for a carry piece, I bought her a PT111G2.
    She handles it just fine. She agrees that mags are easier to empty than they are to load…

  30. Good write up with the appropriate amount of snark for the topic, well done.
    After 3+decades of shooting, mostly handguns and mostly action/combat/SD related disciplines and equipment, including teaching formally and informally many new shooters and quite a few experiemced ones, I feel like I have a solid understanding of the topic.
    My one caveat against semi autos for new shooters is the manual of arms. When someone without experience seeks a nightstand gun they admittedly will not train with or carry, I recommend revolvers, male, female, trans, you name it. The simple manual of arms and the passive safety of the loading, unloading and fire processes mean basic administrative competence can be achieved in minutes. For all others seeking a handgun suitable to SD/HD I recommend autos and some training.

    That said, I find new female shooters are different from males in that they tend to have fewer preconceptions and bad habits that get in the way of training. They also tend to lack problematic egos that also get in the way of training. I’d bet heavily that given a random sample of 10 women and one of 10 men, all new to shooting and each given the same 2 hours of instruction, the women will perform markedly better.
    For reasons I won’t go into, on the topic of guns, many men seem to have all their ego on display, and despite being novices who arent expected to know anything, and being lead by experts in the craft, simply must attempt to display some knowledge or baseline ability. Their pride is on the line with every action and every shot, making them tense and difficult to instruct. Meanwhile, my experience with women is that they tend to be unafraid of admitting ignorance, accept and appreciate that their instructor knows what they are doing, and actively seek the assistance of the instructor. They tend to be more relaxed and to accept that at first they probably won’t be terribly good, but will improve with instruction and practice.

    I said all that to say this: while the operation of many auto pistols are quite complicated compared to most revolvers, they are not difficult to operate with minimal instruction, and new female shooters tend, at least in my experience, to be much more open to asking questions, seeking assistance, and internalizing training without reservation than their male counterparts. Thus perhaps we have had it backwards all this time; perhaps we should be foisting revolvers off on new make shooters, and let the women pick what works best for them.

  31. I would recommend revolvers over semi autos to women but I would recommend them to men as well. Handguns are primarily emergency weapons. If one knows that trouble is coming it makes a lot more sense to go for a carbine or a shotgun (depending on the situation) than a handgun. Revolvers excel in those scenarios that are sudden and over quickly. That said I realize that everybody has their own preferences (and of course face their own challenges) so if a person of either sex prefers that Glock 19 over a .357 SP101 I say go for it!

    P.S. I would bet Kat Ainsworth is a lot stronger than David Hogg notwithstanding his “Y” chromosomes!

    • I would rather have 15+ rounds than 5+. A Glock goes bang when you pull the trigger, and then the next 14 times too.

      Don’t get me wrong, I own two revolvers and love them. One is a Chiappa Rhino 60DS in .357. That’s my woods gun. The other is a Ruger LCRx. That’s what I carry when I don’t feel like sticking a bulky Glock 19 or Steyr S40-A1 in the back of my pants. Or when I’m wearing shorts and a tighter t-shirt in the summer. Etc.

  32. As sort of an addendum to what I said above regarding revolvers and new shooters who don’t wish to seek training, the entire Glock line, and especially the G19 are sort of derigure as a go to recommendation for newer shooters. With blocky, obvious operation and virtually indestructible construction, paired to a simple manual of arms that includes no fiddly bits, and no break in, no lubrication witchcraft and an astounding reliability with virtually any factory ammo of the correct caliber, and an immense aftermarket support catalogue it’s hard to go wrong. Even still, it’s possible to induce malfunctions via limp writing, which is impossible with a revolver, and the manual of arms is still considerably more complicated.
    There are other makes that (mostly) meet this criteria. One gun I would argue really isn’t for beginners is the 1911 series. Between ammo sensitivity and a predilection for fairly precise cleaning and oiling to achieve reliability, coupled with a manual of arms that absolutely requires either the use of a manual safety or Israeli carry, the 1911 is perhaps best left to those with more experience.
    All of that being said, auto pistols are not terribly difficult to operate, particularly with even a small amount of instruction. With the internet, and especialy things like youtube, mastering the basics of any given auto pistols isn’t exactly difficult.

  33. I find that .38 Special does recoil *slightly* less than a 9mm… when both are shot from a revolver of the same weight. 🙂

    …but I take your point

  34. I’ve taken several women and girls shooting for the first time, and found that they all just liked revolvers better.

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