Now that we have answered that question in Part 1 (which is any damn gun she wants), we will now move on to some popular options and calibers.
A woman needs to be comfortable with what she carries but there are actually some levels of necessity here as well. It’s generally not a good idea to carry a .22 or other small caliber for self defense. You might get lucky, but chances are you’ll just piss off your attacker and make things worse for yourself. Not that you shouldn’t have one as a backup and ANY gun is better than NO gun, though. That being said, you really should carry at least a .380ACP (or .38 if you prefer a revolver). They are still nice and compact but have an acceptable amount of stopping power that you need to give yourself a good shot (pun intended) should you find yourself in a situation where you must defend your life. Some people will tell you that it’s perfectly fine to carry a .32 as a matter of course, but I disagree. It might be more concealable but when someone is attacking me, I’d rather have something that I know will put them down.
The highest caliber you’d likely want to consider carrying for self defense is a .45ACP. Go any bigger and you’re going to have a really tough time lugging a gun around. Keep the higher calibers beside the bed or in the closet, maybe. You wouldn’t enjoy lugging around a Desert Eagle very much.
Here are some of the many options that are popular among women for self defense concealed carry. This is not an exhaustive list and if you like something that’s not on this list, you should get it. As I’ve said before, guns are a personal choice but there are a few tried and true populars. What follows are only my personal opinions from my experience and your mileage may vary.
If you like a revolver, then you are like many women. The great thing about a revolver is that it is very easy to operate and learn on. And in a highly stressful situation, there’s not much you need to futz with. Personally, I have never been a fan of any revolver I’ve ever shot. I just don’t like the way they feel and they’re just not my thing. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be your thing. If you do go with a revolver, my recommendation is a double-action only. The trigger pull will be long but you won’t need to worry about cocking the hammer in a stressful situation. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about the hammer snagging on clothing while drawing.
As far as revolvers go, you can’t go wrong with a S&W Airweight .38. It’s small and weighs just under a pound. This is an ideal gun for any woman who wants self-protection but isn’t necessarily “into” guns. The same can be said for the Ruger LCR. You can add laser grips to either one and you have a gun which is not only convenient and easy to operate but helps ensure your aim in a life-threatening situation.
S&W Airweight .38
I’m going to break these down into pocket carry models, sub-compacts/compacts and full size.
Pocket carry models are pretty much exactly what they sound like. You can insert them into a specially designed holster that will fit in your pocket and go about your day. You can also carry them in other ways but we’ll save the holster discussion for another time. They are very small, lightweight pistols that are easy to carry and conceal. The only caliber in the pocket carry I’m focusing on is the .380ACP round. There are pocket models in .32 and .25 and such, but as stated before, they’re not ideal for regular carry. The most popular among this category would be the Colt Mustang, Colt Pony, Taurus TCP, Ruger LCP, S&W Bodyguard and the Sig P238. They all have their pros and cons. The Taurus, Ruger and S&W are all made of a polymer frame, making them very lightweight but not so much fun to shoot. The lighter weight your gun, the more recoil you’ll experience. So, it’s a tradeoff. I personally carry the Colt Mustang when I need something lightweight and small. I have also owned a Colt Pony and we will soon have another as soon as the UPS man delivers it. I sold my old one and have regretted it ever since. And I can’t say enough good things about the Sig P238. I don’t have one. Yet. But I will. It’s a beautiful little mini 1911 and I WANT one. Again, here, the tradeoff is that they will weigh a little more but to me the weight difference isn’t enough to make me want a polymer frame pocket pistol. You’re looking at an average of a 5oz weight difference. I have no problem with polymer but I don’t care for it in such a small gun.
Sig P238 .380 ACP
Colt Mustang .380 ACP
Ruger LCP .380 ACP
In the sub-compact and compact categories, you have a few in the Glock series, Beretta Nano, Ruger LC9, S&W M&P Shield, Kimber Solo, a sprinkling of Springfield models like the XD-S and XDm and others. What you’ll find here are mostly 9mm, 10mm, .40 and .45 calibers. All of these calibers are very good for self defense – at this point it’s just up to general preference. My personal daily carry weapon is a Springfield XDm Compact .45. I know many may think a .45 is too much for a woman to carry, but I assure you it’s not. In fact, it’s a much easier round to shoot than the .40 caliber. My previous daily carry was a Glock 27, which is a .40 caliber and it was just too snappy of a round for me to enjoy it. I went to the .45 and I’m much happier. A 9mm is perfectly acceptable choice as well and might be one that you want to consider if you plan to carry it on your person at all times. It’s a little easier to conceal. I happen to carry both in my purse and on my person most times, so my .45 works fine for me most days. You’ll find a great deal of polymer frames on the market in this category and I do recommend them in this case. The weight of the slide coupled with the overall weight once the magazine is loaded with ammo, will balance out nicely to absorb recoil.
Springfield XDm Compact
Glock 26 9mm
S&W M&P Shield
Among the full size category, you’ll find the many makers of the 1911 frame, full size Glocks, Springfields, Sigs, etc. These are larger and more difficult to conceal usually, although it CAN be done with the right concealment plan and accessories. But overall, most women choose to carry something a bit smaller. The full size is something great to have for home defense, though. Keep it in a drawer beside the bed or wherever works for you.
Les Baer Custom 1911
I hope this has given you some information on options. Remember, there are many more options and new ones coming out all the time. The key is to find what feels good in your hand, fits into your lifestyle and that you enjoy shooting.
Happy Memorial Day! Please remember the men and women who have died to keep your freedom intact and this very post possible.