woman gun shoot range practice
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A few years ago, I was working at a gun show to promote a concealed carry course I was teaching. It was pretty obvious that I wasn’t just an assistant or the instructor’s wife keeping an eye on things. Despite this, I had multiple men walk up and start telling me all about what I should be doing with firearms. Unfortunately, one of these Fudds was working at the next table.

“You see, darlin’, the best revolver for women is a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson. It fits in any purse, and even if your lipstick or somethin’ gets into it, it won’t shoot off. I hope you’re teachin’ the ladies in your class that. More important, a lady can’t screw up runnin’ a little revolver. All ya gotta do is pull the trigger.”

In other words, many men believed that women are obviously too stupid and mechanically clumsy to handle a semi-automatic pistol, so what we really need are revolvers, and the simpler the better.

The good news is that a recent survey by The Well Armed Woman and NRA Women shows us that, while there are still those who think that way, this myth is now pretty much dead. Out of 6,000 female buyers surveyed, a snubbie didn’t even break into the top ten.

In Case You Are Still A Believer…

Before I get into what women are buying these days, let’s put the “revolvers are best for women” myth to bed real quick.

As an instructor, I have nothing against revolvers. For some people and some situations, a revolver is a very good choice. I own several wheel guns. Indeed, they are dead-simple to use, as long as you don’t extend a thumb or other digit past the front of the cylinder (and get a nasty power burn).

For concealed carry, many if not most defensive gun uses are over with in under two rounds, less than two seconds, and happen within two feet, so capacity isn’t that likely to be a problem. Probably. You can get some highly concealable and extremely light revolvers that make carrying them a breeze.

If you take good a look at your defensive options and determine that a revolver will best fit your needs, there’s nothing wrong with that. The only time a revolver becomes a problem is when people try to shoehorn it into situations that it doesn’t fit. When someone decides that around 50% of the population should always be carrying a .38 snub nose, they’re giving out bad advice.

Here’s an example of someone in my family (who I won’t identify because this is an embarrassing story). The man decided that his wife needed to be carrying a .357 lightweight Scandium revolver–the S&W 340PD. After all, it’s so light and easy to use, right?

After owning the gun for months, he finally got her out to the range to shoot it, and she could only tolerate one shot of even .38 Special. Years earlier, she had sustained a wrist injury and the lightweight Scandium frame didn’t “soak up” any recoil. The result was a re-aggravated wrist injury and a desire to never touch that gun again.

I’ve seen the same reaction with that gun from others who didn’t have wrist injuries.

For smaller-framed people with less muscle mass, recoil management is a bigger issue than it is for larger-framed people with more muscle. The simple fact is that a somewhat heavier semi-automatic gun with a recoil spring is going to be a lot easier to shoot than a revolver, especially for someone new to guns.

In my classes, even the most elderly and frail women would do great qualifying for New Mexico’s permit with a steel 1911. The heavy gun and the heavy recoil springs I’d put in them would more than compensate for the additional recoil of the .45 ACP round. As a bonus, they got that higher caliber rated on their license (Yeah, New Mexico has some weird laws).

Occasionally, an older man shows up and tells me that his wife is too weak and inexperienced (read: stupid) to use the 1911 to qualify, so he brought along a .38-caliber revolver for her to use. Nearly every time (and to the man’s horror in several cases), I would often have the old lady outshooting her husband with the 1911 within 20 to 30 minutes.

What Women Are Buying These Days

The data from NRA and The Well Armed Woman bears this out. All of the top ten guns that are selling now are semi-automatics, and because they are often used for concealed carry, they are cambered in calibers that the smaller guns’ frames can soak up, making for more manageable recoil.

SIG P365
Jeremy S for TTAG

The #1 choice was the SIG P365, which surely didn’t surprise the NRA Women staff because it’s routinely one of the most popular carry guns in terms of sales.

Smtih & Wesson M&P Shield EZ
Jeremy S. for TTAG

The #2 and #3 spots were taken up by Smith & Wesson Shield EZ models chambered in 9mm and .380. The EZ versions of the Shield pistols are easier to rack than many other compact guns, but still have the advantage of being relatively easy to handle when firing. The regular M&P Shield (non-EZ) model came in at #7. That the Shields took three of the top 10 spots doesn’t surprise me at all, as I carry a Shield in .40 S&W myself. They’re compact guns that act a lot more like a big gun.

The rest of the guns in the top ten were very similar (G43, Hellcat, G43X…), with two exceptions: the GLOCK 19 and the Ruger SR22. The list wasn’t specifically for concealed carry guns, but today’s increased popularity of concealed carry obviously heavily impacted what people are buying.

The G19 is no surprise because a larger pistol with more capacity is just a lot of fun at the range and is great for open and car carry as well has home defense. The SR22 shouldn’t surprise either because it’s a great gun to learn the basics with. Plus, the lower cost (in normal times) and ultra low recoil make it easy to learn the fundamentals of pistol shooting.

So it seems that the “revolvers are the choice for women” myth doesn’t have the sway it once did. More women are actually getting good advice these days, often from other women. More importantly, more new shooters are going out and trying different guns before they lay down their cash for a handgun.

Most importantly, this also shows that the gun community is getting a lot better at welcoming and bringing on new shooters and getting them started. That’s definitely a good thing.

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  1. Not saying wheel guns are bad, but this myth is one I have no issue burying, salting the bones and burning it into oblivion.
    My daughters favorite gun? A CHP version S&W 4006.
    Yup that full sized stainless steel .40 caliber.
    I happen to fancy that pistol as well.
    Who knew.

    • My daughter’s favorite is her FNX45. I’ve gotten her two small pocket autos in 9mm, but she shoots the big gun the best–with either hand.
      She went to the range once with an acquaintance from work. They get there and he pulls out his Glock 9 mm, and it was clear to her that he expected to “teach her how to shoot.” When she easily out shot him with her FN, he moved on to an “easier” female “target.”

    • Do you know a scum sucking whore of an attorney who practices in Portland Oregon named Geoffrey Silverman? He once put a marijuana bootlegger on the witness stand and misrepresented him as a gun expert to present perjured testimony to support the Elmer Fudd defense. This guy’s claim to bring a gun expert is that he assembles AR-15s from parts kits. My children are experts on ballistic missile engineering because they assemble rocket ships out of Lego.

      This TactiCoolFool attested that you can’t shoot slugs through a shotgun with a choke. The barrel will allegedly explode, just like what happens to Elmer Fudd when Buggs Bunny sticks a carrot in the muzzle of his shotgun.

      He also claimed that a shotgun slug would just be rolling along on the ground past 100 yards. Depending on the exact slug, the residual velocity at 100 yards is about one thousand feet per second.

      • Well I guess you should have brought a full choke shotgunm ala slug in the court room and shot the judges toupee, damned spiders. Nykuk Nykuk

    • What about the myth that simpler is better for both people with and without a vagina? I mean, I may have a penis, but if someone who outweighs me by 100 pounds has me pinned down and is trying to rip my panties off, the last thing I need is to need to remember not to shove my gat into his/her ribs and push the slide out of battery. How you shoot at the range matters little when you’re shitting your pants.

    • His forum consists of childish people that shouldnt own drivers let alone gun licenses..

  2. I easily trained my wife to operate and reliably fire “her” rifle (Palmetto State Armory’s AR-15) and pistol (Springfield Armory 9mm).

    But we started her on .22s as she seemed to have a bit of recoil concern with both. She’s better now, but once in a while…her bucking returns at the range.

  3. I always ask that the student has in mind. Are they going to train and practice, or is it going to get loaded, stuck in the sock drawer, and never handled again until it’s needed 10 years from now in the middle of the night? Different mind sets, different needs, so different guns.

  4. With modern 9mm handguns, the typical “J” frame size .38 IS NOT for new shooters or even most women. Exception is those “old timers” that no longer have the strength to rack a slide. Even then, the “light weight” .38s. like the S&W 638, are not a good choice. Being both so light, and with too small grips, the better choice would be a 3″ stainless steel .38, with decent size grips, rather than the 638. I personally found that my 3″ S&W model 60 OR my 9mm STAR BM is much better than the 638 for almost everyone. ~20 oz. is as light as a .38 revolver should be for new shooters, which is why the S&W model 10/19 was the “Police Gun” for so many years.

    • My favorite EDC gun is a Model 65 with a 3″ barrel. No big rear sight to snag on clothing and a full range of ammo choices. I had the cylinder machined for moon clips so now I can reload as fast as the semi-auto guys. I prefer Uncle Mike’s grips as the closed front and back fill my hands nicely and they’re just soft enough to noticably soak up recoil.
      I never understood why the 13/65 was so much less popular than the 19/66. How often do you really need to adjust the sights on a 3″ or 4″ revolver?

    • Grumpy 49:
      I like my S&W 642, which I have fitted with a Hogue Mono Grip. The grip is easy to hang onto, and it really helps with the recoil.

  5. To borrow a once well know advertising slogan “You’ve come along way, baby.”

    When my wife was getting her first gun she let the salesman talk her into a S&W 642 over my objections. Too much recoil. He next gun was an LCP. Much better. She has fired most of my nines and we have pretty well concluded that .380 is her limit. Glock grips are way too big for her. Now she has her eye on the Kimber Micro.

    Every gun she can’t shoot is another one for me that doesn’t count against my limit, so I have no problem with her trying as many as finances will bear.

    • Too many people I shoot with have had issues with their Kimbers. If you can borrow a Sig P238, have your spouse try one of these out. If she likes it that’s good…if she doesn’t like it that’s better (for you).

      • The P238 is awesome. My sister chose it over a Glock 42 because the slide was so much easier to work – for many women, I think this is a definite consideration. Otherwise, both are super easy to use and both shoot well.

      • P238 is a mini 1911 in look and operation. Recoil is mild, sight radius short, field strip simplicity and racking it is so easy a one handed person can easily do it. Shoots outstanding to 10 yards by middling shooters. Conceals to nothing. So lots to like regardless of your pronoun preference. Males and females will enjoy it too.

      • She picks guns more on the available colors than functionality, but I will show her the sig and see if we can find one to try out. Since I got the Star cerakoted it is easier to get her to look at “ugly” guns, since she can make them whatever she wants afterwards.

        • Just don’t let her see the Hi-Points, if she’s a penny pincher. They can be painted to match her shoes too, and have a price tag that wouldn’t scare even my mother, whose tightwad tendencies are the stuff of legend.

        • Crimson:
          You should remind her that a pink gun will look really swell on an evidence table. NOT.

    • You may want to try out a S&W Shield EZ in 380 caliber. Larger than the LCP & absorbes recoil better. Also has a full size grip so that you can get all your fingers on it. Sig P238 is a sweet shooter as well if you can afford the cost.

      • I’ll show her that one too and see how she responds.

        Thank you all for the advice.

      • She has a limit on what she can spend on her stuff, and I have a limit on what I can spend on my stuff. Those 2 limits allow us to pay the rent and keep the lights on. 😉

        • Just to be sure, here, all that does not affect the rule, right? You know, *the rule*? “The man who dies with the most toys, wins!”?

  6. Another good question is: what if she’s left handed? Unless you have an old Weably or a S&W Schofield, a hand ejector revolver is difficult to use. I know a woman who is, and she bought a ln HK P7 M8 instead, back in the day when mere mortals could afford them.

    • It’s not really more difficult, it’s just a different drill to do reloads left handed.

  7. Had to look that one up: Caliber specific designation in N.M.’s concealed permit.

    From N.M. Statutes 29-19-6

    (4) the category and the largest caliber of handgun that the licensee is licensed to carry, with a statement that the licensee is licensed to carry smaller caliber handguns but shall carry only one concealed handgun at any given time.

    Wow! A Concealed License issued by caliber and only one concealed firearm at at time.
    No B/U weapon for the peons.

    How common is this across the States the rest of TTAG’s readers reside in?

    • California has no legal limit, but you do have to list your CC guns on the permit. Most issuing sheriffs will limit you to the number of guns that fit on the front of the permit (3), and a few have caliber specific and model specific limitations (but those are in the almost never issue counties).

      • @Mark N.

        Thank you for your response.

        All that my County and MT State knows is that I have a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP)…they do not know what (or how many) concealed weapons I own or am carrying at any time.

    • Florida has no limit on number of guns carried or caliber.
      Once you have the concealed carry permit, go ahead and conceal as many guns as you can handle.

    • Ks. has no limit.
      And if you do get a CC permit you can qualify with a .22 and carry whatever you like.

      • OOoo. I don’t think TX is like that, unless it’s changed recently. I distinctly recall that if you used a .22 for qual, you were limited to .22. Also, if you used a revolver for qual, you were restricted to revolvers. But qual with a .380 and carry anything. So I got the bride a Sig P230, and she eventually carried a Scandium .38 revolver. Wouldn’t SHOOT it, mind you, but then neither would I or our sons, sumbitch flat HURT to shoot. But she carried it because her purse was too heavy even without it, and she did not intend to ever need it. Before you bitch, she had no qualms carrying it where she was not allowed to, including to her workplace in state employment.

        • Texas has no regulation connecting qual gun to carry gun. None at all. Concealed carry in Texas means you carry whatever you like v

        • When I was talking about qual with a .22 in Texas was something around 25 years ago. If I disremember perzactly, I am happy to hear that it’s changed. I am certain about qual with a revolver, since I went out and bought a .380 specifically for the bride’s carry course, glad to hear that’s gone as well (though I still have the .380). Part of our course was about knives, specifically maximum legal blade length, which increased and increased until now there is no maximum, you can carry a damn SWORD! Without any license! So now, I have just received my very own copy of a Roman short sword, I have GOT to find something to swing it at!

      • No gun restrictions like that in OH. My wife and I took a Walther 9mm and a Buck Mark .22 to the CHL class, so she could shoot whatever she was comfortable with that day, and we both shot both. I could carry the scoped Contender in my backpack, the Walther and the 1911 on my belt, the TCP in my pocket, and the LCR on my ankle, mix of open and concealed. And, as of a couple days ago, a switchblade up my sleeve. But no loaded guns in a vehicle unless they are my concealed handguns (i.e., no loaded rifles or shotguns).

        Big changes here the past couple years, and more in the pipeline.

        • I hope it’s like that everywhere. Here in TX, without me ever hearing it was possible, a couple years back the Leg pops up with unlicensed car carry. Holy smoke! Fascinated me in that some states allow so long as the gun is visible, TX it must be NOT visible, where do they get these ideas, or the concept that we have to have a LAW to force one or the other when it really makes no difference to anyone?

    • Oregon doesn’t even have a qualification requirement if you have a DD214 that says “Pistol” on it somewhere. Oklahoma categorizes licenses (no longer necessary but useful for those traveling in states with reciprocity) as derringer, revolver, or semi-auto, in increasing precedence (an auto license holder can carry a revolver or derringer, too), based on what you use on your course of fire.

      • Washington doesn’t have a qualification requirement at all, just fingerprints and background check, and no restrictions that I know of for what kind of gun you carry. Strangely reasonable for an otherwise liberal state, IMHO. That being said, things may have changed since I first got the permit…

        • Washington state was for a long time more libertarian than liberal. The gun laws were pretty dang reasonable for a long while. That’s not going to last long, though, I don’t think.

      • I have a DD214 somewhere, was not aware it had pistol or whatever on it, but then I just stuck it in a drawer since anything else it does my retired ID card works for. Actually, I may have another DD214, since I had a break in service at one point.

    • NY, which I am leaving very soon to move back to America (!!!) requires that all owned handguns be listed on permit. They’ll print extra permit cards for overflow if you have lots of pistols in your collection. Any of them can be carried, and there’s no limit to how many you carry at once that I know of. No weird caliber designations either, but the process for buying and adding guns to the permit is incredibly stupid. 10 rounds max per magazine, which eliminates the advantage that real guns have over itty bitty ones. Accordingly, I carry a Glock 43, but I actually like it quite a bit and might not change when I move.

      • Register EVERY pistol…not gonna happen in this lifetime.

        What State / area you headed to? Hope the firearm laws are better than N.Y.’s.

        • To West Virginia. Between the vastly lower taxes and the (lack of) gun laws, it’s looking like a great move so far.

          Possum, I did actually live in Los Angeles for a few years. I don’t recommend it!

        • @napresto

          Here’s hoping that the move works out well for you and family.

          Sunny and in the 50’s today…headed out on a dump run and to the range to make smoke and noise.

    • Pennsylvania has no limit on caliber, type, or how many you can carry. Pennsylvania has no training course and no shooting qualification. Pass the background check and you get the License.

      • @TCP

        That is much closer to what lawful carry should be like…no wonder the Progressive Communists are trying so hard to subvert Pennsylvania.

        • I agree and Dad not only had a carry permit for DECADES when he died, but he helped a preacher who worked with him get one too. The kicker to that story: the preacher lived in New York state. The estranged husband of one of his congregation had threatened to kill him and it was a credible threat Dad not only helped him get the permit, he met him at the state line every day before work to hand him the gun Dad lent him for the duration. He’d already applied in New York but didn’t get his carry permit for another five years–and he walked out of the county courthouse with his PA permit the day he applied. Thankfully he never needed the gun but he jumped at the chance to move to a church in PA when it came up and ended up somewhere outside Pittsburg last we heard.

          By the way, when Dad got an ATV after he injured his back, he licensed it for one reason: so he could hunt without getting off of it–and hassled Fish & Game until he got a handicapped hunter permit so he could do it legally.

  8. I’ve been married to the same woman for 51 years. I learned long ago not to tell her what she could or couldn’t do. 😉

  9. My wife is a goddess…she has no problem shooting a semiautomatic pistol. A regular Annie Oakley with quite minimal instruction!

        • Just shot the shit, visited about hunting.
          For some reason he doesn’t answer my phone calls anymore. Guess he found out I’m nuttier in real life then on a blog.

      • I wondered about JWM too my marsupial man…dunno. They come & go. Lately I feel like there’s no reason for ANY social media what with the dim onslaught.

  10. ”“You see, darlin’, the best revolver for women is a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson. It fits in any purse, and even if your lipstick or somethin’ gets into it, it won’t shoot off. I hope you’re teachin’ the ladies in your class that. More important, a lady can’t screw up runnin’ a little revolver. All ya gotta do is pull the trigger.”“
    What, no one else going to touch that? The only thing better would have been to say, “get it in a matte finish, so you don’t catch a glare on the vanity mirror“.

    • …then there’s the weight factor….some of those revolvers can be carried effortlessly…slip it into your pocket and it won’r pull your pants down….

  11. Someone once told me that a snubbie was easy to learn, but difficult to master. I tend to agree.

  12. From what I’ve seen, the biggest problem most people have with revolvers is mastering the double action trigger pull while maintaining any sort of accuracy. You can only lower the trigger weight on a small framed revolver so much before you run into problems with light primer strikes. I shot revolvers exclusively in competition for several years, and while it is absolutely possible to shoot well with a double action wheel gun, it takes way more time and effort than all but a small portion of people will really invest.

    • I agree completely. Jerry Miculek can do great things with a DA revolver, but it’s not the best choice for a beginner.

      The argument “You have less hand strength; therefore, you need something with a 13lb trigger pull” isn’t sexist; it’s just retarded! I’m a 200+lb man, and any <5 shots on my M9 quals were always DA.

      There are difficult steps with a semiauto too, but they're done before the shooting starts. I even had female students in my CCW class whose husbands had loaded theirs at home! A crappy trigger is there for every shot.

      • the idea is for it not to go off unless you really want it too…that trigger pull is a safety factor…

        • There are a lot of other safety factors (mechanical, gunhandling, trigger-covering holsters) that also work to prevent negligent discharges, without continuing to work against you for every intentional discharge.

          The gap between 12lb and a trigger that “goes off” is huge. The difference is that revolver pull weight is a mechanical necessity rather than a feature, and (as Dan noted) you can’t lower it much without affecting reliability. You can add trigger spring weight to a semiauto with zero negative effect on reliability.

    • It doesn’t really take that much practice to be able to quickly place 5 or 6 shots on a 12″ target at 10 yards, although it does take practice. And the heavier the pull and the smaller the weapon the more practice it takes. Odds that you’ll ever require better proficiency than that are pretty slim. Almost as slim as needing 15+1 and an extra mag.

      • Proficiency on paper targets builds confidence. And given the effects of adrenaline on fine motor skills, I should think anyone pondering the possibility of having to fight for his life with a handgun would want to be as proficient as possible. Back in the last century, when most cops carried .38 Special wheelguns, lots of them qualified on paper targets with K-5 hit after K-5 hit on a B21 silhouette at fifty feet–then missed more than half their shots at halitosis distance in a dark alley when some coked-up skell lunged at them with a knife. Lack of proficiency cost a lot of them their lives.

        If you’re fighting for your life, proficiency matters. Skill matters. Confidence matters, real confidence, not phony confidence, because without it you are more likely to hesitate and freeze. Training until the gun comes up to eye level and you focus on the front sight and press the trigger without conscious thought, just from pure muscle memory, matters. Because paper targets don’t shoot back. Because it’s not going to be easier if you have to do it for real. It’s going to be harder. Because if you’re fighting for your life, getting good hits fast is the only thing, the ONLY thing, that can save you. Because your first warning that you’re in a fight may be getting shot from ambush and you may have to fight with a non-disabling wound. Because it’s not a game.

        We all need to train more, not less. We do people a serious disservice when we say “well, you were able to hit that brightly illuminated white paper target that’s hanging motionless a short distance away and not shooting back, that’s good enough.” We need to be saying “Front sight, press. Front sight, press. Front sight, press.” We need fewer pats on the head and gold stars for effort, and more El Presidentes and Two-Two-Two drills. I don’t see this “well just remember to try to kick him in the groin and you’ll be fine, sweetie” attitude in the world of empty-hand martial arts.

        There will be people who just won’t want to put forward the effort. There will be people who are discouraged at the prospect of having to train, at the idea that the gun isn’t a magical good-luck charm that keeps bad people away. For those people, the appropriate tool is a rape whistle, not a gun, not a one-day fifteen-minute “street fighting” course, not a pat on the head and “you’ll be fine.”

  13. i got no issues w/ gals ringin’ steel so long as they’re finished rattlin’ some pots ‘n’ pans.

  14. NEVER, EVER underestimate a woman with a gun. I taught my wife (who was previously anti-gun) to shoot. She not only found that range time is a fun pastime, she became a better shot than me.

    • I have a friend who faught in both Iraq wars that told me it’s the women snipers that cause the most damage.

      • I’ve read that women are easier to teach because most have no prior experience and therefore no bad habits that have to be unlearned.

        • Yep, that is correct, and there’s also the macho element, or lack of it for women. My wife is from a country where it is illegal for citizens to have personal firearms, period, so until I taught her, she had never even touched a firearm. She likes Clint Eastwood’s characters, so she knew well the Hollywood gun crap, but wasn’t stuck on it. Within 15 minutes at our first shooting session, she was perforating the individual letters on the labels of plastic 2-liters with an iron sighted .22 rifle, a quick study if there ever was one. Our daughter can shoot well too, but kinda prefers archery and made the old man elbow the neighbors at high school shoots, and say, “You see that shot? That’s my kid.”

  15. To Males or females. If your not going to reguarly practice with your gun. And attend a training class or two or three or… Then stick to a revolver. There are simply fewer things to go wrong, when you need really need a gun to go bang. Every time you pull the trigger.

    Several years ago there was a story of a single mother on TTAG. Who used a gun to defend herself. Unfortunately her attacker managed to kill her. But she shot her attacker at least twice. It was suspected that her gun jammed and she didn’t know how to clear the malfunction.

    Tuarus makes some great 6 shot .38 special revolvers. Or the 6 shot ruger .327 federal magnum. Charter Arms makes 6 and 7 shot .32 H&R magnium revolvers as well.
    It’s not necessarily about the size or type, of the gun that you have. But are you training with whatever gun you have???

    Having said all that some men, sadly, can be jerks when it comes to women gun owners.

    • I’ve got lots of wheelguns…but my little Charter undercover does just fine at 50 ft in double action…and fits nicely in either a shoulder rig or on my ankle….

      • The most available ammo that I have found for handguns currently is 32 Smith & Wesson long. And I have one handgun that takes that caliber. My taurus judge using caliber adapters.

        I’m looking at buying a Charter Arms revolver now. They seem to be the only company around that is still making a DA/SA revolvers in 32 Caliber.

  16. Lmao

    Carry what you want. I suggest the highest caliber that you can conceal and shoot well.

    Just understand how and when to use it. Know the law where you are. Have extra rounds. Have one chambered. And be happy.

    Whoever you are….

  17. My advice for any novice ,man or woman, is a double action revolver.
    Preferably a 4 inch barrel in .357 magnum.

    • Hey! That was my first handgun! 4″ Colt Python, almost never fired .38 Spl out of it, almost never fired double action, really, really loved that gun, stolen from car at the Alamo in 1969. Eventually owned 3 more Pythons, last one purchased in 1972, currently downstairs in the safe although owned by elder son for the 25 years since he turned 21.
      OH! And the bride shot that one like she was born with it in her hand.

  18. I used to work as a USAF contractor. We (the contractors) would always take our lieutenants to the shooting range before they deployed. On our dime, because they were our friends and coworkers and the USAF wasn’t going to spend money on range time.

    Every single one our our female LTs could should a 1911 better than any other pistol with just 20-30 minutes of instruction.

  19. I still see a fair percentage of women who end up choosing a revolver.

    Even those who learn on an auto and can handle one with no problems.

    The answer I usually get is that it is “rounder” and more comfortable to carry and shoot.

    Easy to understand as I often carry a wheel gun snubby for the rounder profile.

    I also see a lot Tiny 9s, and a few LCPs and Glock 42s.

    Lots of options and women should have no problem handling a self-shucker.

    • they can…and a lot do…but no one ever got shot accidently because they forgot a round in the chamber when the mag was removed…and the gun still fired…a major cause of accidental shootings that is often overlooked…a revolver is either loaded or it isn’t….

  20. Haven’t you been watching old PERRY MASON episodes? Anyone knows that any woman who confronts a man with a gun will just get the gun taken away from her. She will then get slapped around with the insinuation of a subsequent sexual assault which isn’t shown on camera. After she leaves in angry humiliation, someone else will murder her nemesis with her gun then she will have to hire Perry to defend her, LOL.

    You obviously understand the basic physics of how reciprocating mass affects recoil energy and how the length of slide travel absorbs recoil energy. Anyone will find it easier to shoot a semiautomatic pistol accurately than a revolver. It gets even better when you factor in the amount of trigger force multiplied by distance needed to rotate the cylinder and cock the hammer when firing in double action mode.

    Don’t forget the LADY SMITH version of the Smith and Wesson 3913.

  21. From .22 to .380 to 9mm, my wife can shoot them all well, although she prefers autos to revolvers.

    From what I’ve seen in the comments, it appears the author may be tilting at windmills among this crowd. You may sheath your sword, as we’re not arguing.

  22. I still remember my Dad’s advice when I was researching handguns before I bought my first one: “Don’t buy a snubnosed; they’re mostly built too light for you to handle and hard to aim right. Don’t get anything smaller than a .357 Mag.; you want a one shot man stopper, not a plinking gun. I say get a revolver, but that’s me. You might not find one you’re comfortable with. Make damn sure you can handle the gun before you pay–if they won’t let you test fire it, walk away and go to another store.”

    Yes, I am a woman. And very much my father’s daughter. When I did go buy that handgun, Dad went with me to help sort out the deadweight from what I needed. And he backed me in yelling for the gun store owner when the clerk (who was 18 to my 22) kept pushing light semiautos on me and refused to let me test fire anything. The store owner, who we didn’t know at the time, was so disgusted at what the clerk did that he fired him on the spot and fetched every single gun I tried on their range. I walked away with a .357 Magnum revolver AND a .9mm Glock semiauto. And Dad decided that just maybe there was some sense in owning a semiauto after all.

    • TLC, where did you find the elusive .9mm Glock? The news media has been talking about the dangers of .9mm Glocks for years — apparently the .9mm bullet is ten times deadlier than a 9mm bullet!

      • Believe it or not, it’s a typo. I didn’t mean to type .9mm, I meant 9mm. I know better but I’d been writing other writers about guns all day and I guess I was too used to typing the English measurements instead of the metric.

  23. Just another thing while I’m here: if Dad liked the gun but didn’t like the way it fit his hand, he’d change out the grips. Dad had large hands (large enough that he had trouble getting gloves that weren’t tight) but a tight grip; most commercial gun grips were too big for him. Ironicly, the grips Dad put on his handguns fit my hand well and I have a small hand! He said it was the way I gripped the gun, firm but not the stranglehold he put on the grips. But then, he’s had a couple of handguns go flying when he shot them: too light a frame for the caliber and too big a grip.

  24. The fact that you use the term “Fudd” shows you do not have rhe proper attitude to teach any class.

    • More like she’s willing to admit there’s a section of the firearms owning community that are an active detriment to everyone else and should rightfully be called out for it. “Fudds” are just as much a detriment to the gun owning community as the “tactical mall ninjas”, but are on the opposite end of the spectrum; instead of preaching anything not made in the last 10 years or covered in rail mounts is worthless, they pretend they never left the 70’s and anything made after that is “inferior technology” or “a fad that will pass while more ‘proven’ designs stay”.

  25. So Sensiba not only hates Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but she also hates white men and their male patriarchy.

    Bless her heart.

  26. Silly and likely artificial anecdote to conjure a specific mindset in the reader. Complete with stereotypical accent. I am a 230 lb., 6’1″ male who can shoot anything well and one of the best guns any person can have on them is a simple, small revolver. Modern ammunition is very good, semi-automatics are vastly improved, and yes, my wife has a P365. But the revolver still has more sureties given the exigencies of daily carry, variety of carry methods, chance you struggle with an attacker for your weapon, safety, second shot response time in event of ammo failure, and a whole lot of other things. Many of these gun store employees understand reality, that many beginning shooters will not practice with their weapons regularly, and so if the point (and it is still a good one) is to get someone a weapon they could keep handy for an extreme situation, they could hardly do better than precisely what these salesmen have advised.

  27. When I went through Military Police school 34 years ago, men qualified on the M1911A1 and women qualified on .38 Special revolvers with 4″ barrels. Once we got assigned to our units, though, women were allowed to choose which pistol they would carry and qualify on it. At least 75% of the women chose the M1911A1 and they had no more trouble qualifying with it than men did. After I got out, I taught my future wife to shoot, including .357 in a L-frame (after several cylinders of .38 for familiarity) and eventually she shot three magazines worth of full-power 10mm through my Delta Elite. It was a bit much but she was insistent and she didn’t do that bad. Every shot she took hit paper and only a couple were outside the scoring rings at about 10-12 yards. I should add that she was 5’4″ and about 110# at the time. I’d never put anything like a .454 Casull or J-frame .357 in her hands but she could shoot any standard service-type pistol or revolver without any issues whatsoever. I’ve never understood why anyone wants to put dinky little pistols with harsher recoil in women’s hands. Give ’em a big honkin’ auto pistol to learn on. That’s how the US Army has done it with M9 pistols since mid-1987, about a month after my MP class qualified.

    • All my female USAF officers struggled with the M9, and all could shoot a 1911 much better.
      That giant grip on the M9 can be a challenge.

  28. @Jennifer – You know if your hands are covered in butter and flour from making your husband’s biscuits the revolver is a really good idea.

    Just kidding lol.

  29. Nice to see this myth is slowly going where it deserves; to the grave.

    I’ve seen way too many female shooters sold a lightweight snubnose revolver only to absolutely hate it once they get to the range with it, at which point they’re most likely not going to carry it if they hate shooting it.

    If they really want a revolver, I’ve seen far more long term satisfaction opting for a larger, heavier revolver like a Ruger SP-101 or S&W Model 10, and once they’ve gotten enough practice in with a larger revolver is when a lightweight snubnose becomes a better option.

    As for revolvers being better for women with weak hands, that makes little sense when a double-action revolver trigger is going to be longer and heavier than most semi-auto pistol triggers. At that point your just making it harder for them with that approach.

    Ironically the female shooters I’ve introduced to firearms tend to gravitate to the 1911 pattern pistols; Government Models, Commander’s Models, the Star 9mm pistols, and the Sig P238 tend to be popular choices I’ve seen.

  30. Here’s a question for all.
    I’m going to teach my adult daughter to shoot this summer. She’s never had a desire to learn or own a gun until the last few months. I’m going to teach her on an S&W shield, a Colt Trooper 4″ (38 spl and then 357) and a Kimber pro carry Commander in 45.

    When showing her the double action trigger on the Trooper I want to show her the difference between cocking it first and firing and using the DA trigger.

    Which do you think I should show her first?

    • One could argue that the best use for shooting a DA revolver by cocking it first is to see how close you can make the holes when shooting at the range. For fun.

      For defensive use- one should never shoot a DA revolver in single action. When training for defense, practice for defense- DA ONLY.

      To teach a revolver’s action/handling/trigger pull, etc.- that is best done by dry firing before any live fire takes place. I recommend the first live fire be done with .38 SPL 148gr. FWC- in DA only. Single action should be taught as a “range only/accuracy” lesson. Work up to .357 at her pace- not yours, and stop when she says so.

      I would then move to the 1911 in .45 (a 9mm 1911 would be an even better start- if available). A single action 1911 follows logically after someone is trained to shoot a DA revolver in single action.

      Lastly, I would introduce the Shield- which is “hybrid” DA/SA…ish. Just present the information to her, but allow your daughter to figure out what she prefers on her own. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is keeping your personal preferences to yourself- but remaining neutral is much more conducive to learning (for both of you).

      • +1 on the dry fire practice. Watch what’s happening with the front sight as you pull. And use the first joint of your trigger finger, not the pad.

        It’s pretty rare that a defense engagement would require SA, but I wouldn’t say never. Most likely if you’re coming to the aid of another person. I like having the option, it only takes a quarter second to thumb the hammer back.

    • Buy a Ruger SR22. It’s a DA/SA pistol. Why screw with the big bang and recoil at the very start? Why even consider a .357 when a .38 Spl is adequate?

      • Because the Trooper is a 357. I normally do shoot 38 spl out of it but not always.

  31. My wife is slowly warming to the idea of learning to shoot. I showed her some handguns and the first one she gravitated to was a 38 lcr revolver insisting that’s the one she wants. I had to have long talk about why a larger heavier gun is better. I even have a 380 shield ez for her!

    • That’s a mine field of trouble that takes a delicate touch to navigate. Hats off to you, if you succeed!

      On the one hand:

      Husband says, “Ok dear, I really think you should try this auto. It kicks less than that little revolver, and should be easier for you to shoot well.”

      Wife goes all Gloria Steinem and dents the new skillet on his head, “Oh, so you think I’m too delicate to handle a little popgun! Take that, you pig!”

      On the other hand:

      Husband says, “Here’s a couple different models and calibers. Try them and see which one you like better.”

      Wife grabs the small one, Pow, “That hurts! Why didn’t you warn me about that, you beast!” Husband gets three nights sleeping on the veranda, all expenses paid.

      Same man, same woman, same guns, and you’re liable to lose either way.

      Minefield. Here be dragons.

      • We all know the correct response, not all can afford it. I’d just put a couple towels on the dining room table and spread 6 or 8 semis and 3-4 revolvers on it, from .22s to .45s, and play all afternoon until she decided which 2 revolvers and 2 semis she wanted to try, then head for the range the next time she wished to try. Ranges are loud and scary, sometimes even to me. If you can find something better it’s a good plan.

  32. Sorry, I agree that someone who is not interested in practicing with their firearms are much better off with a revolver. They are simple, you do not need to rack the slide, just point a pull the trigger.
    Keep that gat in a drawer for 12 years and need it, point and shoot. No messing up in a stressful situation.
    I would prefer it was a steel gun, so it had enough weight to absorb the recoil and was a .38 or smaller(that way they could keep it on target after the shock of sound and recoil.
    Stress can make for mistakes, keep it simple for those that do not train.
    If you are going to carry every day, you need some training every couple of months. a semi auto handgun is a better choice then since it hides better and should snag as much.

    • Should specify a DA revolver, years later your shooter may not remember to cock a SA. My sister had been shooting occasionally for over 50 years when I handed her a bolt action .17 HMR. She loved it, but TWICE forgot that you need to work the bolt before firing another shot.

      • Larry,

        Are you suggesting that your bolt-action was not fully semi-automatic in operation…this may be the next target of Moms “triggered” for Demanding Action.

  33. Good write up but should we really be cheering this on now? This should have happened like 50 + years ago if not earlier. The bar is set so low for women they can pass gas and high five each other then get a write up on it somewhere on the net. “Youv’e come a long way baby”, wow women can smoke – I saw online where an Orangutan did the same thing. Next thing you know they will be getting tats and dropping f-bombs.

    Women can shoot guns – go figure. Robots and kids can too. Women have been cops and military members across the world for about half a century now. And when did .45 or 9mm become a bull named “diablo” that only a heartbroken cowpoke on meth would dare ride?

    Do something noteworthy like rambo fire a 1919 like Sgt. Basilone or shoot a 6-shooter 12 times in under 3 seconds like Jerry Michulek and we’ll talk . . . and females have! TTAG’s own Kirsten Joy Weiss is far better than average with things that go “bang”. Lyudmila Pavlichenko may have been a commie but “BA” would be an accurate description of her.

    Ladies you can do better than just show up! “I did it too” a.k.a. “#metoo” was never good enough. Participation trophies for over half the human population is what the other side is about.

    Pardon the rant yall but I hate to see people who like guns even appear to drink pinko, commie kool-aid. No hate just passion. Now I feel better.

  34. What has this world come to, when we have an article like this. Maybe it’s cultural, maybe it’s generational, but women can shoot as good as men, with anything. My wife, mid-sixties can shoot her glock 19 with as much proficiency at her SW mod 36. She’s also comfortable with an 870 and an AR…Her dad taught her to shoot. I taught my daughters as well. They have no problem. It isn’t the gun or the gender. It’s fundamentals. Oh, and my mom when in her late sixties took her CC permit course using my late father’s 1911. She did it for fun. She was a depression era farm girl from MN.

  35. My wife is a die hard revolver carrier. She’ll carry a P3AT, likes it and shoots it well, when her attire requires it. Otherwise it is a revolver, no 5 rounders only 6, and not the lightweight models. But not because it’s a revolver, it’s a caliber war thing in our house. She just hasn’t been able to warm up to .40, 9mm, or .45 and insists on .357 mag., no .38s for her. Been thinking about trying to get her hooked on 10mm to have some semiauto options to purchase.

    • nothing is simpler than a revolver for people that never practice and have no intention of doing so….and that’s a lot of them….

  36. I found Ms Sensiba’s comments interesting.

    Perhaps unknown to her, much of the .38 revolver as a woman’s gun myth originated with the US military many years ago. Back when the M1911A1 was the standard service pistol across all branches of the US military, the .38 revolver was added to the authorization tables specifically because so many women in the military were unable to qualify (or even fire the required 10 rounds of “familiarization”) with the M1911A1 simply because their hands were too small to get an adequate grip around the M1911A1. This had nothing to do with intelligence or any other factor, but simply the fact the most women have smaller hands than most men and many women are unable to get a proper grip on the M1911A1. This FACT made me wonder a bit about Ms Sensiba’s insistence on pushing her female students towards using an 1911 in .45ACP (especially when combined with her notion of using a heavier than standard recoil spring with the false notion that this would reduce felt recoil). Of course, one difference between the military experience and Ms Sensiba’s undoubtedly comes from the fact that the military was teaching one-handed shooting when the problem was originally noted – the use of a two-handed grip did not enter military training until much later.

    Let me state quite clearly that my wife, my daughter, and my oldest grand-daughter each started out firing a 1911 in .45 ACP. They each were taught to use a two-handed grip. They were never told that .45 ACP has “too much recoil” and they never found the recoil unmanageable. On the other hand, none of them particularly liked the 1911 as either a range or carry gun. My wife carried a .380 for a while, then changed to an ultralight .38 snub, then to an even lighter and thinner subcompact single-stack 9mm (a gun that I find a bit too whipy to be comfortable). My daughter never found a pistol that she really liked, although she carries a compact 9mm, the gun she really prefers to run at the range is a Mossberg 590. My oldest grand-daughter chooses to carry the .38 snubby that used to belong to my late wife. The middle grand-daughter carries a .380; the youngest grand-daughter isn’t carrying yet.

  37. What’s a woman? When you think a change in gender is as easy as visiting your local dress shop, it makes this article meaningless.

  38. I’ve daughter now 21, petite young woman. She does love shooting .22’s. Revolvers, sem-autos, rifles.

    But she does not shy away from enjoying my centerfire handguns or rifles either. From a little Kel-Tec P3AT .380 to my Para 1911 .45ACP, or the rifle calibers. How is to first show her proper stance and hold while firing the gun, she can see how it recoils for me. Then load only one round and let her try it. No pushing or cajoling or trying to trick her into getting whacked by recoil, just be forthright.

    She did well with .38’s and .357 too. She enjoys it, but does say the .22’s are more fun.

    It’s all possible if you respect the woman or girl and help them learn at their own pace and do not try to play some damned fool prank on them.

    Come to think of it, it is no different teaching a boy or young man who has no experience with firearms.

  39. More important that revolver vs automatic, is WHY do some many gunstore “experts” continue to brainwash women (and men) that Gluck is the nirvana of handguns?

  40. My Sister in law purchased a 9mm. The problem is she has severe arthritis in both hands and cannot grip the pistol well enough to shoot. Any recommendations? Larger pistol, finger attachments on the magazine?

  41. I would recommend a revolver for novice shooters, male or female, especially if they are not motivated to spend a lot of time learning to shoot. My wife who is not a novice shooter just prefers revolvers. My daughter liked the “cool factor” of revolvers but her go to is an M-9.

  42. This is proof that women like to write columns about how dumb, blind or evil men are. Yes, you don’t have to be a feminist to do that. So which comes first; the bitching about men or the feminism?

    Why she felt the need to make those points about how women are oppressed by stupid men I don’t know.

    Supposed to be talking about firearms.

  43. My wife only shot a revolver one time. A rented 357 shooting 38 special loads. The first 30 rounds were for her concealed carry permit qual shoot. She passed with flying colors.
    Every handgun she owns now is a semiauto 9mm.

  44. Every time a couple walk into the shop and the fellow states, “I’m here to pick her out a gun.” I tell the woman, “If you trust him to pick our your bras and shoes, you can trust him to pick out your gun. If not, you need to decide for yourself what fits and is comfortable.

  45. Lake County Examiner, Lakeview, Oregon: Wednesday, March 24, 2021/Letters To The Editor

    Letter to the editor: Best general purpose handgun

    For a general purpose handgun consider Ruger’s SP-101 .357 Magnum revolver: “stainless steel”, 5 shot swing out cylinder (double-action), with 4.2” barrel and target sights for the citizen owning only one handgun. Versatile for “self-defense/house protection/concealed carry”, as a kit and trail gun for the outdoorsman/ sportsman, and for urban metro vs. wilderness rural use. At 30 oz. unloaded lightweight (for the hiker, backpacker, trapper), yet heavy enough to handle the .357 Magnum.

    Loaded with .38 Special 148 grain lead target wad-cutter ammo (next to a .22 or .32) practical for hunting small game: rabbit, squirrel, and grouse (for the campfire skillet), for dispatching vermin such as raccoon, skunk, possum, etc. Even for butchering livestock such as cattle with a head shot. Loaded with CCI’s classic .38 Special shot or snake load of No. 9 shot highly effective in killing rattlesnakes. Readily and instantly accessible in reach via a nightstand, dresser or bureau drawer, or next to a sleeping bag inside a tent is very comforting armed security to have, especially at night!

    This handgun would also be great for a long haul trucker, or hay hauler, to carry. Even for the motorist traveling on a road trip. Yes, bear in mind being broken down, stranded, and having to spend the night alone in your vehicle. This .38/.357 revolver combination along with an Atomic Beam Flashlight, survival knife, fresh drinking water, food, toilet paper, shovel ,matches, wool blanket, etc. could certainly take back the night.

    Even for a woman it’s smaller frame and size would still fit her smaller hands. And firing.38 Special ammo in this .357 Magnum could still be handled by a female. Double action revolvers can be improved with aftermarket combat rubber grips.

    I recommend reading, “Meet Ruger’s SP-101 Revolver: The Ideal Gun For Self Defense”, by Kyle Mizokan via the April 2019 issue of The National Interest.

    -James A. Farmer, Merrill
    Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County)
    Long Live The State of Jefferson!

    Both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols have their places of course. An individual (male and female) must decide what is best for themselves, and will provide the most use, utility, and versatility.

  46. When this subject comes up, people always through out J-frames as the example, as if they’re the only option, and concealed carry is the only reason someone has a handgun.

    Both are nonsense. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman having a K frame 4″ Smith and Wesson revolver in her nightstand. That heavy revolver loaded with even HOT .38s isn’t going to recoil very much at all. It’s more pleasant to shoot than a light 9mm.

  47. I don’t know where the Author got the idea that gunfights are at 2′, require 2 shots, and are over in 2 seconds. If you must quote, quote Tom Givens: The average non Military, non Law Enfocement gun fight is over in 3-5 seconds, involves 3-5 rounds, and the distance is 3-5 yards.

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