Picking Your First Handgun

Best Handgun for Womens

One of the most frequent questions I've been asked is, "What handgun would you recommend for a woman?" I'm thankful that you guys have the confidence in me to ask my opinion and more importantly see me as a resource in this industry to help you. I still consider myself a beginner with more to learn. I had very similar thoughts as I embarked down this road and I didn't find many online resources that I felt provided me with suitable answers. Alternatively, if they did provide the information it was too much for me comprehend without having some hands-on experience. I went to gun stores and felt intimidated by the sales associates and overwhelmed with the numerous choices of the glass enclosed pistols. When I did ask to see some pistols or ask for assistance, unfortunately I got the standard, "This gun {insert brand name} is very popular among women" response. Well, I didn't care what was popular, what the women before me bought, or how many of particular style or brand of gun they've sold to women. I wanted to know what was going to be the right one for me. After all, it was me that was going to have to learn the ins/outs of it, become proficient in shooting it, and rely on this as one of my self-defense tools. So, to answer your question bluntly, no one can tell you the gun that is right for you except you.

Everyone has their recommendations and I even have my own now. However, it's up to you to find your gun. While there are many great on-line resources that will help breakdown what you need to look for when choosing a firearm, I wanted to share some of my tips that are more on the simple, less complex side. I hope these will help you navigate this question and hopefully get you closer to picking "the one."

  1. Consider Your Purpose. What's the reason that you want to own a handgun? For most, including myself, it's for personal/home defense. I initially wanted to learn to shoot because the husband wanted to get a handgun for home defense (you can read about my first time at the range here). I eventually decided I wanted to get one for myself. Another point to consider is if you will also want to be able to carry concealed?

  2. Size & Caliber. If you're planning on concealed carry, then you will want to consider a sub-compact sized handgun versus a full-size handgun. From there, you'll want to take into consideration the caliber. When it comes to handguns for personal/home defense most buyers go with a standard 9mm handgun. It's the most common size caliber used for handguns because the caliber (the diameter of the ammo/projectile and/or size of the gun barrel) has the right amount of stopping power for personal/home defense. If you want to dive into something of a different size, this is a great article on the various handgun calibers. You can read about the different sizes and determine if maybe something other than a 9mm is right for your needs. For me, since I mainly wanted something for home defense and target practice, I opted to look for a full size 9mm handgun.

  3. What's Your Budget? As with any big purchase, you should have an idea of what your budget is. However, in my personal opinion, unless you are on an extremely tight budget I wouldn't let cost dictate what handgun is right for you until you have nailed down tips 4 and 5. That doesn't mean you can't find the right firearm that fits your budget. If budget is an important factor, then make sure you only look at handguns within that price range. If you find the perfect handgun for personal/home defense and it's out of budget, then I would suggest saving up until you can get the one you will love and learn to shoot with.

  4. How Does It Feel & Fit? While all the points so far are all very important, personally I think the feel and fit is really where selecting the gun that's right for you comes into play. What do I mean by feel and fit? I'm talking about how it feels and fits in your hands. How does the grip feel? Hold the handgun using the proper shooting grip and see how it feels in between your hands. Extend your trigger finger and check the trigger placement. How does the weight of the gun feel? Remember, it will be heavier once a magazine is loaded with ammo. Can you reach the slide and magazine release levers easily (in semi-automatic pistols)? One of my favorite places to really test out fit and feel of guns are gun shows as I mentioned here. It's a great place to really get a feel for lots of makes and models.

  5. Test Them Out. After you have narrowed down your choices the next thing you want to do is find a range that has your choices to rent so you can take them for a little test drive. Just because you liked the way it felt at the gun show or store doesn't necessarily mean you will like the way it will feel while you're shooting it. Be sure to pass several rounds of ammo through your potential pistols. Don't forget to also take into consideration some of the questions regarding fit and feel while shooting. Also, don't feel pressure to select your gun of choice right then and there. I went back a few times after trying out my choices to shoot them again and finally to only shoot the one I was planning on buying.

The above five tips are what I would consider as a good foundation for picking your handgun.  There are many other online resources that will tell you that you also need to decide on if you want a revolver or semi-automatic pistol, if you want double-action or single action, one with a safety or no safety, and so on. While I think that these are all great points to also consider, I didn't worry about these items until after. I read about all these other features beforehand and it only confused me because I didn't have any real experience to associate these items to. As a matter of fact, I selected my gun of choice based on my 5 tips above. Whether my handgun was single-action or double action didn't matter and honestly, it still doesn't matter to me. I'm sure though there are some gun enthusiasts that will be more than happy to tell you why I need to care about these things. 

Tips for Picking A Handgun

Personally, one the most important things for me when I was looking for "the one" was how it felt in my hands, which is why I ultimately went with the Heckler & Koch VP9. Most pistols allow you to interchange the back strap/grip but HK takes it a step further and allows you to change the side straps as well. So you can essentially have a large back strap with small side straps or vice versa.  I would definitely recommend checking out the Heckler & Koch line. Keep in mind that if you do go check these out to ask the sales associate what size grips are on the gun so you can get an idea of what that size feels like. I liked the way the HK VP9 shot and with the smaller grips it makes it a perfect fit for me. It felt secure and comfortable in my hands, which is why I chose it has my first handgun. I don't regret the decision at all.

As you can see, it's these tips that help determine what handgun is right for you. No one else knows what fits you. It's sort of like buying jeans or shoes. While you may see styles that look great on other women or hear great things about a particular brand, they may not work for you. It's not a one size fits all lifestyle. I have friends who swear by a certain brand of jean and every time I see them in these jeans, they look amazing but when I go try them on, it's a different story. It's not for me but I have found the one that works for me and that I love. It's Rag and Bone, in case you’re wondering ;)  

Since you've come this far in deciding that you want to own a handgun, I would just like you to stop and take a moment to really think about the responsibility of what owning a handgun means. If your purpose is for personal/home defense then just know that at some point down the road, this means you need to be prepared to use it in defense of yourself. It means that one day, hopefully not, that when you pull that trigger there might be a person at the receiving end of the bullet. The decision to own and/or concealed carry is a very personal decision that bears a lot of responsibility. However, that shouldn't stop you. It's not a decision that should be made lightly and this responsiblity requires lots of continued training and practice.

I commend you and I welcome you to this community of women that are taking responsibility for their own safety, the responsibility of their family’s safety, and who aren't afraid to be self-reliant.


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