Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Handgun recommendation for Women

Dear Mr. Aguirre,
After my son and I read “Surviving the economic collapse”, I started
looking around and paying more attention to everything that is around
me, my family and especially my children.
We’ve made some small steps so far in preparedness around the house
and have extended our trucks emergency kit to hold a few items I
never would have thought of necessary 5 to 10 years ago.
With current events in the US I’m even swallowing my fear of firearms
and figure it is better to know how to handle anything that is in my
home rather than have an irrational fear of the subject as a whole.
So, I have a question for you that I have not found a reasonable,
sane or logical answer to in my search for a plausible answer.
As a newcomer to the gun world, what would you recommend as a decent
gun for a female? I’m not looking for anything showy and have become
weary of gun stores automatically going for the silly pink guns when
I say I’m looking for something for myself.
I am looking for 3 things. Easily carried, easily stored and common
ammo. I settled on a .22 revolver but I’m still not sure if that
would be wise for basic home protection and practice as a first gun
for a newcomer.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :)
Your book brought hope and direction to an otherwise bleak and dark
future. Thank you for sharing your experiences in a no nonsense and
clear manner.

Hi LMA, thanks for your email and I’m glad you found my book useful.
Sounds like you’re more aware now and getting prepared, congratulations!
The kind of people you may come across in gunstores is diverse. Some will advise you well, some will suggest a gun like you said, based on color as if you were buying a purse or accessory, and some will make awful recommendations thinking women can’t handle a “real” caliber. Sometimes they recommend the type of gun they have the hardest time selling. You will rarely get good advice in gunstores, so don’t let them influence you in spite of your own judgment or research.
The type of gun I would recommend depends exclusively of how much time you will put into learning how to shoot it and how much practice you think you’ll be getting.

If you want something that is easy to carry and handle, that will provide good protection in spite of just visiting the range once or twice a year at most, then my recommendation is a 2” snub nose revolver. Such a firearm may not be the most rugged or mechanical simple when it comes to mechanism and repair, but the user interface is indeed the most simple. The snub nose revolver with its 2 or 3 inch barrel means easier weapon retention when struggling with an attacker, no empty chambers to forget about or safeties, no failure to fire drills to practice, and a very instinctive point and shoot method of use that will come in naturally when reacting during an attack. This will serve a person with minimum training during a last ditch defensive situation, at very close range. Of course with a six round capacity and slow reloading your capabilities are more limited, yet adequate for most of the possible defensive encounters you are likely to come up against.

Having said that, in my experience women (and men) shoot better and enjoy shooting Glocks the most when compared to revolvers, even if they are first time shooters. Either the Glock 17 or slightly smaller Glock 19 will serve you well. Both are 9mm so ammo is pretty affordable. While the auto pistol requires a bit more training so as to be proficient with it, it does offer more in terms of firepower and accuracy. When in the shooting range I’ve seen that both women and men shoot faster and more accurately with a Glock than with a short barrel revolver. The Glock has more distance between sights, and the trigger pull is shorter than longer double action pulls. Having 16 or 18 rounds vs 6 also means you can defend yourself from more people. With a 6-shot revolver two or three attackers will be the general limit. If you take into account that hardly 20% of the shots fired will hit your mark according to police statistics,  that means chances are only two of your shots will impact your attacker. This is why I would consider the revolver more appropriate for last resort, close to contact range defense against one or two at most. This is of course light years ahead of begin unarmed, but if you can commit the time to go to the range at least once a month and take a Defensive Pistol shooting class, the Glock is indeed a more capable weapon. The important part is being honest with yourself about how much you will practice and if you will take the class so as to learn how to use it properly or not.

As for calibers, please don’t use a 22LR for defense. While all rounds can kill, not all of them will stop an attacker. People have been choked to death after shooting their attackers several times with a 22LR, it is indeed the weakest caliber you can shoot, and honestly unless you have some serious physical impediment any adult is perfectly capable of handling more efficient calibers like the ones I mention.

Ruger LCR Revolver

Smith & Wesson Night Guard
With a 357 magnum or 38 special+P revolver, you have an acceptable level of stopping power when you buy ammunition for such purpose, same thing with 9mm. Remember that a revolver that shoots 357 magnum will shoot the slightly shorter 38 special and 38 special +P. The 38 special cannot shoot 357 magnum, so you may want to buy a 357 magnum so as to practice with 38 special and keep 357magnum or 38 special +p for defense. The blast of the 357 magnum is a bit more than that of the 38 special so still shoot a few rounds of the more powerful caliber so as to know what to expect.  9mm will have less muzzle blast than a two inch revolver and may be easier to handle if you’re recoil shy.

Glock 19 9mm Pistol
For Glocks, stick to 3rd generation models for now. As for revolvers, I like Smith & Wessons revolvers such as the Night Guard or M&P and Ruger makes a nice revolver called Ruger LCR-LG that can be bought with an integrated laser sight. Just put the red dot on the attacker’s chest and pull the trigger.
Take care and good luck!

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hsu said...

My experience is the opposite of yours - women seem to like revolvers better, and they seem to shoot them better.

The key is to have them shoot a K frame revolver, which is a 35 oz revolver (unloaded) with a 4" barrel, designed for 357 magnum, but actually using target load 38 special ammo.

Obviously, a K frame is large gun to carry, but it demonstrates two key principles: weight and barrel length make a huge difference on how well you can shoot.

For example, I would not recommend the Ruger LCR, a 13 oz gun, to anyone as their first and only pistol. It is just too light to shoot well without a ton of practice.

Instead, I would recommend the Ruger SP101, which at 26 oz is twice as heavy, but only a half inch larger. It is a LOT easier to shoot than the Ruger LCR.

Anonymous said...

As my wife is unable to rack the slide on almost any semi-auto, I have become quite a collector of .38 snub nosed revolvers over the years. I agree with Ferfal that it's a great choice.

Don't forget the S&W airweight 5 shot snubby. It's tiny, well-built, inexpensive, and I would put it up against Ferfal's Glock in accuracy any day.

sethmcdonald said...

I can't speak for women, but I know I shoot my Glock 19 better than my snubby .38.

Bones said...

Go to a range and rent a variety of guns. A good gun for concealed carry is a compromise - you lose ammo capacity and weight which is important to absorb recoil. Hence you may decide you need two guns - one for concealed carry and one for home defense.

Revolvers are simple but typically have a long, heavy trigger pull and relatively low ammo capacity.

Semi autos are more mechanically complex but can have a large magazine, while the slide acts to absorb a lot of recoil. Triggers can be relatively light.

Again, go to a range and try a bunch. Teach yourself.

Oh, and google "cornered cat" - it's a great resource, written by a woman, about firearms. Terrific place to start as it covers all the bases.

Anonymous said...

Get out and practice practice practice, it's the only way to know how well you shoot and with which firearm.

Of all my firearms I like my Glock (19) the least, so to each his own. Technically it is a superior firearm: few parts, reliable, hi-cap mags available, easy-to-clean. On paper, I love it, but when it comes to shooting I don't. That is all. Now get out and practice. Try as many different guns as possible.

Anonymous said...

I still haven't shot my LCR, but i loaned it to a friend for her handgun-safety class using the same reasoning as here. She found the recoil to be painful and could barely hit the target, even with one of the instructors coaching her for most of the session. Thankfully, this didn't lessen her determination in the least. I'm not sure how much to blame the gun or the shooter, but recoil and long trigger-reset were certainly factors. I thought the LCR would have relatively tolerable recoil based on reviews, but i should have interpreted this to mean that it just wouldn't beat you black-and-blue like the typical light revolver.

Armscor 206, anyone?

CeeZar said...

Count another vote against the LCR. Too light light to tame recoil for a new shooter. A snub or short barreled .38 is a great choice, but for a new shooter I'd recommend and all-steel model.

I'm less hesitant than most to recommend a semi. While there IS more to go wrong, quality modern semis are quite reliable - Glock, S&W M&P, Kahr, Sig. But racking the slide may be an issue for some.