You’ll probably read lots of articles advising you what to buy your wife, girlfriend, best friend or any other gun-loving woman for Christmas. Some of them might even contradict the advice I’m about to give you! But I’ll give you the head’s up right now: These are the things you don’t want to buy her for Christmas or any other occasion.
1. A Gun You Picked Out for Her
If it’s in your budget, the answer to what to buy a gun girl seems obvious: a new gun, right? Who wouldn’t want a new gun!
There’s nothing wrong with buying a woman a gun, aside from some legal aspects you should consider. What you don’t want to do, however, is pick the gun out for her unless you have very specific firsthand knowledge of what she wants. If it’s a rifle or shotgun, you won’t know what fits her best unless she shoulders a variety of guns in the store. Unless you’re including the cost of a professional gun fitting with your gift (a really terrific present, by the way), stay away from picking out a long gun until you know what will fit her.
If it’s a handgun, the same concerns about fit apply, although in a slightly different manner. And handguns can be intensely personal—they all shoot differently based on caliber, design, size and shape and more. She knows best what will work for her, so don’t make the choice for her.
If you do want to give her a gun as a gift and you don’t know for certain exactly what she wants, your best options are to either let her pick it out herself beforehand, which takes away the element of surprise, or buy her a gift certificate to the local gun shop and let her pick out her own firearm after the holidays.
2. Range Pants
Range-specific pants are a terrific item to own, and she’ll probably get a lot of use out of them. The problem is that the fit is radically different from one brand to another, and even from one model to another within the same brand. If you don’t have your girl’s exact measurements, you’re taking a wild guess as to what pants will fit her best. And even that’s a gamble, as you’re bound to be missing some measurements—the rise is an important concern in women’s pants, and some range pants are built with a rise too low or too high to be practical, especially if she’s short-waisted or has a longer-than-average torso. As none of the options on the market are exactly cheap and most need to be ordered online, making returns a little more of a hassle, picking out a pair of range pants without her input isn’t a gamble I’d recommend.
If you want to buy her rangewear as a gift, you have a few options. Shirts and jackets have far less variability in sizing than pants, so they’re a safer bet if you know her general size. A gift certificate is always a welcome option, of course. Or you could sneak into her closet, find a pair of range pants she already owns that you’ve noticed her wearing a lot, and buy her a new pair in that exact model and size, maybe in a different color.
3. Specific or Random Ammo
There’s not a gun enthusiast alive who doesn’t love getting ammo as a gift, but don’t just go to the store and grab any old box of .308 Win. just because you know she shoots a .308 in deer season. Shooters are particular about their ammo, especially hunting and precision (competition) ammo. Every rifle, for instance, has a particular load it “likes,” and other brands and loads often don’t shoot as accurately. Even if it does, she’ll have to sight her rifle in all over again if she changes loads. She knows what her gun likes, and unless you know that information, too, don’t buy it.
Shotgun hunting ammo is less specific to each gun, but most hunters generally have a favorite load they like to use for upland birds, waterfowl and especially turkeys. Handgun shooters, too, probably have a specific load they like for defensive use.
If you want to buy her ammo, stay away from center-fire rifle ammo unless you know the exact load she prefers. A brick or bucket of .22LR, assuming she owns a .22 LR firearm, is always welcome and universally useful. For handguns, if you know her preferred caliber, full metal jacket ammo is useful for training, and most shooters aren’t particular about the brand or load for general plinking and fun shooting. Shotgun shooters might be particular about their hunting ammo, but target loads designed for sporting clays, trap or skeet are versatile, and unless she’s a serious competitive shooter, she’ll probably be happy to shoot any brand for a fun day on the course.