4 Things Women Are Told in Gun Stores (That You Can Ignore)

A short primer in purchasing firearms while female.

by posted on March 9, 2020
Gun on counter at gun store

When you’re a woman who’s on the market for a new gun, you’re going to hear a lot of advice—some of it solicited, some of it unsolicited and some of it just plain odd. It’s all coming from good people who care about your safety and want to help you, but it can definitely be confusing. Even experienced gun owners can be led astray by the well-intentioned but ultimately unhelpful commentary of their friends, loved ones and the people behind the counter at the gun store. Here are four things that you might just hear the next time you’re in search of a new pistol, shotgun or rifle…all of which you may safely ignore if you wish.

You Need a Smaller Gun
One of the most important facets of finding the right gun for yourself is gun fit. This is truest when we’re talking about hard-recoiling firearms that you’ll be firing frequently, like a competition shotgun. It’s also true of handguns—especially when we’re talking about a measurement known as grip circumference. Women do tend to have smaller hands than men, and so it’s become sort of a reflex to advise women that they should look for smaller handguns or pistols with replaceable grips. However, that’s not necessarily true for all women…and we don’t necessarily need to have visibly “big” hands. Some women will find that as long as the grip angle works for them, the pistol can have a “factory standard” size grip that fits just fine. 

You Need a Bigger Gun
Actually, most of the time, people aren’t exactly advising you to get a bigger gun so much as they are advocating for a bigger caliber. Just like No.1 above, this is often the right advice. Speaking in terms of the science, in general, the larger the caliber, the better its stopping power. What the science fails to take into account—because it can’t—is that what you really need is a firearm that you can comfortably and reliably shoot. (For more details on “the great caliber debate,” check out this article from our own Sheriff Jim Wilson here.)  

You Need a Revolver
Revolvers are fine choices for self-defense. Their operation is relatively simple; it’s easy to safely verify whether a gun is loaded, and they don’t tend to have much in the way of moving parts that you’ll have to worry about under stress. They also tend to be far more forgiving of different kinds of ammunition—you don’t have to worry about whether the ammo you’ve loaded has enough oomph to cycle your gun’s action. 

All that said, of course, you don’t need to have one. What you really “need” to do is to pick out a couple of them, as well as a couple of semi-autos, and take them for a test shoot if that’s at all possible. What are you most comfortable with? That’s the one you “need.”

You Need a Semi-Automatic
Semi-automatic pistols are a newer technology than revolvers, and they offer greater ammunition capacity than do revolvers. The ones designed specifically for concealed carry can be made much smaller than even the snubbiest of snub-nosed revolvers, since there’s no cylinder. What’s more, many of them offer grip safeties that are simple and intuitive to use under stress. Most police departments issue semi-automatics to their officers these days, and that ought to say something. 

But that doesn’t mean that semi-automatics are for everyone. Many people prefer the simplicity of a wheelgun, and aren’t worried about needing more than the five or six shots that revolvers usually offer. 

Think of purchasing firearms while female the same way you would purchasing a car. Listen to the advice that makes sense for your own situation, keep an open heart and a skeptical mind, and pay attention to your own intuition.


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