In order to find the best budget handguns for women (or anyone, really), I compiled a list of popular handguns used by my friends and students. I also did some research in a few Facebook shooting groups to note budget-friendly models discussed there. Then, I checked out online reviews of the models that kept coming up again and again. Finally, all six models were deemed of good quality by a local gun store owner. This isn’t just a list of inexpensive pistols. All of the guns on this list are manufactured by reliable companies with a solid reputation in the firearms business and (most importantly) great reviews from women like you.
Taurus G2C 9 mm
Taurus has a large selection of budget-friendly pistols, but the G2C stands out because of its capacity and size. The magazine holds 12 rounds, and the barrel is 3.2” long, so it’s not small and jumpy like some other tiny pistols. “The Taurus G2C is a great handgun if you’re on a tight budget,” says Gerard Stezelberger, owner of Relic Hunter Firing Line gun store and indoor shooting range in Coplay, Pennsylvania. “It also has a shorter trigger pull, which is important for accuracy.” MSRP: $271.21
Taurus G3 9 mm
If you’re willing to spend a little more money, the Taurus G3 has all of the G2’s best traits, just a bit bigger. It has an impressive 15-round capacity, 4” barrel and an overall length of 7.28”. When shooting the G3, I particularly liked the crisp, 6-lb. trigger. The polymer frame also has an integrated Picatinny rail, in addition to both a manual and trigger safety. MSRP: $360.70
Ruger LCP .380
One of my first students showed up at the range with a pink LCP .380. She took one shot with it, flipped out and immediately threw it on the ground. I warned her that small guns can be a bit jumpy! However, the LCP is one of the most popular handguns in the sub-compact world. LCP stands for “Lightweight Compact Pistol,” and this little cutie comes in at 5.16” in overall length, with a 2.75” barrel. Many of my female students like this gun because it is very easy to conceal under a tank top, inside leggings or in a handbag. “The Ruger LCP is a great choice for someone who wants a small, compact gun to easily conceal, especially if you are running or biking,” says Stezelberger. MSRP: $259.00
Ruger EC9s 9 mm
The EC9s is a great pistol for everyday concealed carry (EDC) because it is slim, lightweight and compact. The overall length is 6”, and the barrel length is 3.12”. Despite its small size, it has a 7+1 capacity, and is made out of steel, making it a little heftier than if it were made out of polymer. This is a good thing, because the heavier the gun, the better it will absorb recoil, and that increases accuracy. Another feature that I like about this gun is the grip–for the low price, it has a secure, fully textured grip. This gun also benefits from an integrated trigger safety, manual safety and a magazine safety which prevents the handgun from firing without a magazine inserted. These are all great safety features for the first-time gun owner. “My only comment on the EC9s is the trigger pull is a little long,” notes Stezelberger. MSRP: $299.00
SCCY CPX-2 9 mm
I have to admit, when the CPX-2 kept popping up in my research, I was a surprised. I wasn’t too familiar with SCCY prior to this article. I’d seen their ads in some of the gun magazines that I read, but that’s about it. I knew that I had to check it out.
The company founder and CEO is Joe Roebuck, who started out as a tool and die maker, just like his immigrant father. He couldn’t understand why there was such a huge difference between a $200 pistol and a $500 pistol. After a lot of research, he used his machinist background to launch his own company making affordable, reliable pistols. What sets SCCY apart is that Roebuck designs the pistols himself, instead of a team of engineers and machinists. These two departments conflict at most firearm companies because they like to blame each other for design and performance problems. SCCY does that differently, so their end result is a pistol that is easy, simple to operate and inexpensive.
The SCCY CPX-2 has an overall length of 6.01” and a barrel length of 3.1”. The feature that impressed me the most is the double-stack magazine with a 10+1 capacity housed in a polymer frame. Stezelberger says, “The trigger pull is a little long, but the price can’t be beat.” MSRP: $269.99
Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield
Smith & Wesson manufactures very reliable firearms and a wide variety of EDC handguns. I chose a heavier pistol, at 20.8 oz., because of the reduced felt recoil. The M&P 9 is about the size of your hand, making it very easy to conceal, yet it retains all of the power and features of S&W’s full-sized M&P pistols. The M&P 9 Shield has a 7+1 and an 8+1 capacity, with a 3.1” barrel MSRP: $385.00; The M&P 40 Shield has a 6+1 and a 7+1 capacity, with a 3.1” barrel MSRP: $385.00