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How to Choose a Handgun for a Woman (2022) Full Guide

how to choose a handgun for a woman

Ladies, the lack of reliable resources is noticeable when choosing a handgun, and we don’t want you to waste time and money on the wrong one. As long as guns are still predominantly marketed toward men, finding the right firearm that meets your needs can be daunting. This resource cuts through the machismo and aims to highlight the most important steps a woman should go through when choosing their perfect handgun. 

Whether for self-defense, a new hobby, or an upcoming competition, if you want the best handgun that will fit your needs, here is the best guide on how to choose a handgun for a woman.

6 Steps in Choosing a Handgun for a Woman

1. Determine Your Purpose

One of the most important factors to consider is the guns purpose. Identifying this will narrow down the smorgasbord of choices on the market only to those that will fit your needs.

For example, if you want a gun for personal protection or competitive shooting, the Glock 19 9mm has been available since 1988, and it continues to be a fan-favorite today. It’s beginner-friendly, requiring minimal controls to operate effectively.

2. Find the Right Size

Visit a gun shop, gun show, or any venue where you can size the weapon up (remember to apply safety rules). Here are the standard gun sizes and their characteristics: 

  • Full-size pistol – barrel length: 4.5 inches and longer; best for people with larger hands 
  • Compact pistol – barrel length range: 3.5 to 4.5 inches; best for concealed carry
  • Subcompact pistol – barrel length range: 3 to 3.5 inches; the magazine having a form of grip extension 

The CW9 by KAHR Arms is one of the first concealed carry guns. Because it only has a seven-round single stack magazine capacity, this sub compact is slender at only 0.9 inches — a popular choice to carry concealed. This small-size firearm is also relatively affordable, although the slide catches at times. 

Size probably won’t matter if the gun will be used for home defense (full-size sidearms are also better at accuracy for a new shooter). The Glock 19 comes with swappable backstraps, grip panels, and other accessories for easy customization and can house up to 33 round magazines if you need more ammo. 

Find out the best Ruger 10/22 trigger here

3. Determine the Gun Caliber

If the pistol is for self-defense, consider the caliber. The majority of small firearms are chambered for .380 ACP or 9mm ammunition which are sufficient to stop attackers. The classic SIG Sauer P238 is a firearm chambered at .380 ACP with an all-metal frame. This is an excellent choice for a woman with small hands as it is only 5.5 inches overall yet doesn’t compromise on power, and it can easily fit inside your purse.

Most people agree that a 0.22 won’t stop a large assailant, but a gun like the Walther P22Q is perfect to practice with at the range. 

Read more: Most Useful Walther P22 Accessories

4. Check If the Recoil Is Controllable

The higher the caliber, the stronger the recoil [1]. As ammunition goes up in size, more combustible material is required. Larger amounts of combustible material means larger force is created  when you fire, which is the recoil you feel

The good news is, this is controllable — a good grip and the right stance is key.

Generations 4 and 5 of the Glock 19 have a dual recoil spring system that reduces the force, making shooting comfortable.


5. Check the Trigger, Grip, & Controls 

The grip should be a comfortable width with your palm and wrists in line with the firearm. Measure the feel of the firearm as if you were to use it and nudge the trigger with the weight of your finger. Test the magazine release and inspect safety features such as protection against accidental firing, too. 

6. Test Shoot It

When shopping for shoes, you try them on and walk around to see how they feel, right? A gun is no different. First-time shooters (and even those with experience) should visit a gun range to practice some rounds with the firearm before making the final purchase. Most ranges have a variety of guns available. Once you have your list of favorites, visit a local range and test-fire them to find your favorite.

Can Women Use Handguns For Men?

The best handguns for men are also excellent pistols for women, but because a woman typically has smaller hands than men the grip must be comfortable. Some ladies prefer a more lightweight firearm, especially if they experience difficulty steadily shooting a heavier gun. 

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Other Factors to Consider


Is It Wearable? 

Ladies’ clothes are typically lighter and tighter; therefore, small guns are ideal. If you plan on bringing the firearm daily — whether concealed or open carry — you must be comfortable with the weight of the one you ultimately choose. The holster should also feel secure. 

Read: Best Pocket Holster for SIG P365

Is It Reliable?

A lot of practice is required in using a gun efficiently, and it’s important to be armed with a reliable gun and ammo in stressful situations. There’s a reason why S&W, Glock, and HK are major manufacturers of notable firearms — their guns work without fuss – very ideal for a woman. 

Does It Have an Effective Stopping Power?

Ask any gun experts’ opinions on which caliber suits your needs. If your firearm is for defense against attackers, effective stopping power is crucial (some calibers would only make a pursuer angrier, which you don’t want). 

Is It User-Friendly?

There’s no other way to find out if a gun is user-friendly other than testing it. Study how it works: see if you can rack the slide and pull the trigger by yourself, and test out different ammo.


Absolutely! Women need to personally check the handgun. Just like shopping for clothes or shoes, you wouldn’t rely on someone else to do it for you — personally checking it is necessary, especially if it’s your first gun. Handguns are personal, and only you can tell if it’s a great fit for you. Here’s how you can buy military surplus

It depends. The trade-off for larger pistols is that they’re easier to maneuver and shoot accurately. At the same time, smaller, compact firearms are great as portable weapons yet are generally more challenging in terms of accuracy.

Ladies, This is How To Choose A Handgun

Choosing a gun is a personal choice, and there is no “one size fits all” or “the best gun” for ladies out there. Whether it’s a Glock, a Luger, or an S&W, it’s important to be armed with the right information when it comes to choosing a handgun best suited for its purpose (just like with any other buying process). 

Do your research, consult enthusiasts, and run a few magazines with the weapon you’re considering. And if you want multiple handguns, by all means, go for it. Uphold the second amendment in style!



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