8 Great Shotguns Befit for Women

In the market for a shotgun? Here are some female-friendly options to consider.

by posted on February 22, 2024
Deering Shotguns For Women Opening Image

Whether you’re buying a shotgun for hunting, clay target shooting or home defense, there’s one key aspect that matters more than anything else. It’s not gauge, or capacity, or action type—it’s fit. For a shotgun to shoot where you are looking (not aiming), it has to fit you properly. Off-the-shelf standard shotguns are made to fit the average male who is between about 5’10” and 6 feet tall, 170 to 200 pounds. Does that sound like you? If it doesn’t, you’re not alone.

There is no substitute for a real gun fitting by a qualified professional, but buying a gun that’s made for a smaller-statured person is going to get you closer out of the box than a standard shotgun would. This generally means a gun made specifically for women, of which there are precious few, or a bantam/youth model. The trouble with youth-specific models is that they can often be too small—yes, the average woman is smaller than the average man, but they’re also bigger than the average kid. In addition, some companies size down more than just the stock on a youth model, including the controls. You might or might not want that. The only way to know if a youth model, some of which are mentioned here, will work for you is to shoulder it in a gun store and see how it feels.

Guns made specifically for women share some key features: A shorter length of pull and a smaller grip and forearm that better fits smaller hands. Because women have proportionately longer necks than men, many women’s models have a higher comb or a Monte Carlo, although this isn’t universal. And often, a gun made specifically for women will have cosmetic touches that are intended to give the gun a more pleasing or feminine look.

That said, we’ll look at a few guns made for women, most of which are over-and-unders, and then a few guns made for youth that might work well for you, depending on your build and your needs.

Franchi Instinct Catalyst
Franchi is a sister company of Benelli, and “Catalyst” the company’s designation that a gun is made specifically for women. Franchi makes a semi-auto Affinity Catalyst that we covered in a previous article, but they also make the beautiful Instinct Catalyst over-and-under. It’s got a satin walnut stock and glossy blued 26-inch barrels, and you can get the receiver in an aluminum alloy or a color-case-hardened finish. It only comes in 20-gauge and has a 3-inch chamber. The drop, cast, pitch, length of pull, grip length and forearm have all been designed to better align with a woman’s body. Features include auto ejectors, a recoil pad, a tang safety that automatically resets to “on” when the action is opened, a vented rib, a fiber-optic front sight, three chokes and spacers to adjust length of pull. At an MSRP of $1,579 for the color-case-hardened steel receiver and $1,899 for the aluminum, this is surprisingly affordable over-and-under in any category, much less for one made specifically for women. franchiusa.com

Rizzini Venus Sport
The Rizzini Venus over-and-under is also specifically designed for women, with adjustments made to the frame, stock and forearm to better fit the female form. It’s designed with elegance in mind and includes beautiful cosmetic touches like floral engraving and a roundbody frame. The Venus features a Turkish walnut sporting stock including an option that’s adjustable for comb height, a sporting pistol grip, automatic ejectors, single selective trigger, chrome-lined barrels, five nickel-coated choke tubes, and an included case. Perhaps best of all, you can get this gun in 12-, 20- or 28-gauge, with barrel lengths from 28 to 32 inches depending on the model. This is designed as a sporting gun, which makes it ideal for target sports or upland bird hunting. MSRP on the Rizzini Venus Sport is $5,695. rizziniusa.com

Zoli Z-Bella
If bling is your thing, the Zoli Z-Bella might be up your alley. This women’s-specific over-and-under is embellished with Swavorski crystals and has elegant deep scroll engraving on the frame. Of course, it’s not all about looks—the gun is designed to fit a woman’s body, and the stock has an adjustable comb to help you further customize the fit. Features include boss-type locking bolt, monolithic frame, silver soldered barrels, removable trigger mechanism with titanium coated components and lubricant springs, bushing firing pins, a Negrini case (airline approved), titanium-coated choke tubes, and two different shaped forearms depending on the model—rounded on the sporting version and beavertail on the trap and skeet version. It comes only in 12-gauge, with silver-soldered barrels (28, 30 or 31 inches) with a tapered flat rib. Mid-height and high ribs are available for an additional charge. Custom stocks are even available, for an additional charge. MSRP is hard to find, but I’m finding some listed online at reputable retailers for $9,700 ($10,400 with the adjustable comb). zoliusa.com

Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon I Vittoria
“Vittoria” is Beretta’s indicator that a gun is made for women, and the company makes several of its models in a Vittoria version. The 686 Silver Pigeon Vittoria is an over-and-under designed for hunting. It uses Beretta’s strong, low-profile 686 action and is a little bit no-frills, which isn’t to say that’s not beautiful, with an oil-finished stock and a scroll-engraved receiver. The smaller pistol grip radius and semi-Monte Carlo stock are designed to fit women well. The gun comes in 12- and 20-gauge, with 28-inch barrels and a 3-inch chamber. Interestingly (especially at this price point), Beretta also sells the Silver Pigeon in with scaled-down 28-gauge and .410 receivers, though it’s not clear online if those come in a Vittoria version. MSRP on the 686 Silver Pigeon Vittoria is $2,549. berettausa.com

Syren Julia
Syren is, to my knowledge, the only shotgun company that exclusively makes guns for women. The Julia over-and-under, available in 20- and 28-gauge, features striking gold engraving on a color-case-hardened action and a deluxe-grade Turkish walnut stock with a semi-gloss oil finish. Barrel length is 28 inches, and both models feature chrome-lined bores, five nickel-plated choke tubes, a silver front bead, manual safety (auto as an option), single selective trigger, and an included hard case. Both models are even available in a left-handed stock for a small upcharge. MSRP on the Julia is $6,550.

As you can see, with very few exceptions (Syren’s XLR5 Waterfowler being one, Franchi’s Affinity Catalyst being another), most women’s-specific guns are over-and-unders designed for target shooting or upland hunting, and many are priced higher than you might want to spend for a gun you plan to drag through the woods on a serious hunt. If you’re looking for something less refined (and less expensive), a youth model of a popular hunting gun might be for you. A few to consider: syrenusa.com

Mossberg International SA-20 Bantam
In Mossberg terminology, “bantam” is code for youth model, and many of the company’s guns are available in a bantam size. The SA-20 Bantam is a sub-gauge gas-operated semi-auto ideal for hunting waterfowl or turkeys. It comes in 20-gauge with a 3-inch chamber, a light weight of just 5.5 pounds, a 24-inch barrel, five choke tubes and a vent rib. No guarantees it will fit you, of course, but shoulder one and see. MSRP starts at $721 depending on configuration and stock (black synthetic or walnut). mossberg.com

Escort PS Youth
This gas-operated semi-auto comes in 20-gauge and .410, with a 22-inch barrel and five choke tubes. Designed for smaller-framed shooters, the Escort PS Youth is made to handle light and heavy loads reliably, and it comes in black synthetic as well as three different camo patterns. Three stock spacers are included to help you adjust length of pull, and stock shims allow you to customize drop and cast. The gun weighs 6 pounds and retails in the vicinity of $499. escortshotgunsusa.com

Browning Silver Field Micro Midas
Browning’s Silver shotguns have been around forever and have a solid reputation, and the company sells a field version in a “Micro” size, which translates to a shorter length of pull and more compact dimensions. It’s a gas-operated semi with a semi-humpback receiver that has a silver and matte black bi-tone finish, to complement the satin-finish walnut stock. It’s made for hunting and for sporting clays and will cycle a variety of loads. The Silver Field Micro Midas comes in 20-gauge with a 24- or 26-inch barrel, although you might find a used 12-gauge on the market if you’re lucky (Browning stopped making them). MSRP starts at $1,069. browning.com





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