Based on the latest statistics provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 2021 proved to be another strong year for gun ownership, particularly among women and first-time buyers. In fact, one third of new gun buyers last year were women. We celebrate and welcome these new Second Amendment warriors into our fold and invite them to take advantage of all the resources offered on this site. Whether it’s for firearm training, competitive shooting, 2A advocacy or hunting, we at NRA Women strive to offer helpful information from renowned firearm experts, and also to act as a clearinghouse for those who support, educate and inspire others to be good ambassadors for gun ownership.
One of the resources we continue to share is The Well Armed Woman’s Annual Survey of Gun Purchases. In other words, what are women buying? These surveys are extremely important because they offer a true perspective into women's gun ownership. While we can’t possibly know what every woman in the U.S. went home from the gun store with in 2021, we can get a good idea from the representative sample offered by the results. If you have been paying attention to the survey results year after year, you’ll notice a trend—which can possibly be attributed to women gun buyers taking the advice they read in this very survey and others. Check out what The Well Armed Woman most often put into her CCW bag and holster in 2021!
1. Tie: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ and SIG Sauer P365
It's no surprise that these two pistols are now head to head in popularity among women. Introduced in early 2020, the M&P9 Shield EZ is modeled after its wildly popular petite predecessor, the M&P380 Shield EZ, which took the firearm industry by storm when it was introduced in 2018—and continues to rank in the top 10 of TWAW surveys. The M&P9 Shield EZ features the now-famous easy-to-rack slide and mild recoil, and is only negligibly larger than the .380 ACP model, making this a great first CCW pistol, especially for those who have difficulty manipulating the slide on a semi-automatic. smith-wesson.com.
Likewise, the SIG Sauer P365 has edged its way to the top for good reason. As one of the best-selling pistols in the entire United States, the P365 is the pistol that inspired the flurry of higher-capacity 9 mm micro-pistols introduced to the concealed-carry market. Introduced in 2018, the first pistol of its size and caliber to feature a standard 10+1 magazine (12+1 with the extended magazine), now is offered in a 9 mm “XL” model with a standard 12+1 capacity and optional 15-round mags, as well as a .380 Auto chambering. Features on this pistol that women most loved: size, grip and round capacity. sigsauer.com
2. Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Moving up into second place is this phenomenal M&P380 EZ pistol—a game changer for new shooters in 2018, especially for many women (and men) who had difficulty with slide manipulation due to diminished hand strength and conditions such as arthritis. The women in the survey still love this gun’s effortless functions and lightweight frame. Easily tucked away in concealed carry clothing, the pistol features a double safety—ideal for everyday carry (EDC). smith-wesson.com
3. Glock 19
This gun likely won’t—and shouldn’t—disappear from lists of favorite guns for years to come. Arguably the world's most popular pistol, the 9 mm Glock 19 has a little more size on it than others on this list, but its renowned reliability, 15-round capacity, light recoil and easy takedown assure that the G19 will remain highly desirable among both men and women. glock.com
4. Springfield Hellcat
An underrated favorite, perhaps? The Springfield Hellcat has been one of the best-selling pistols of 2021, largely due to its ability to pack 13+1 9 mm rounds in its micro-sized grip. While some have reported a bit of slide tension and snappy recoil, this ultra-concealable gun is still a pleasure to take to the range. Springfield-Armory.com.
5. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
There have been numerous iterations of the original M&P Shield in 9 mm since its introduction more than 10 years ago, which is one reason it continues to be a mainstay on this list. Newer models such as its EZ cousins have bumped it down a few rungs on this Top 10 ladder, but women continue to favor the way this gun feels in their hands—which is reported as secure and comfortable. As with many of the small polymer 9 mm, it packs a punch, so if this is your choice, be sure to visit the range frequently so that you are familiar with the recoil in the event you are required to use it in a defensive situation. smith-wesson.com
6. Glock 43X
The "X" designation started to adorn several popular models of pistols a few years ago, and the Glock 43 is no exception. Typically this means the pistol's frame remains the same, but an added round capacity makes the gun just that much more appealing as a defensive choice. If you love the reliability and ease of use with the 43, but feel more prepared with 10 rounds of 9 mm, give this second Glock on the list a shot. glock.com
7. Glock 43
The Glock 43, which answered the question, "What took you so long, Glock?" when it was introduced in 2015 as the manufacturer's first compact 9 mm option, drops to seventh in the survey, but retains its popularity for being an extremely reliable pistol for women and men alike, especially with those who demonstrate brand loyalty. Small and slender for optimal concealment, recoil is still manageable. glock.com
8. Ruger SR22
It’s the perfect model designation for all those new shooters who have joined our ranks in the past two years. If you’re looking to become a a new gun owner in 2022, check out this popular rimfire pistol, which can help you gain significant confidence before you decide to pull the trigger on a more powerful chambering. While typically not recommended for self-defense, a .22 can provide a new concealed carrier the opportunity to become accustomed to the responsibilities of arming themselves. Ruger.com
9. Kimber Micro 9
After its near-miss last year (it placed 11th) the Kimber Micro 9 has now broken through to the top 10, and deservedly so. This 1911-style pistol offers all the wonderful attributes of the platform, including that pleasing single-action trigger pull, as well as a traditional 1911 thumb safety, slide release and magazine release. But don’t take our word for it; the TWAW site is filled with actual user-generated gun reviews on this pistol. Read more about what they loved about this gun here. KimberAmerica.com
10. SIG Sauer P238
This historically popular pistol may be the inspiration behind the booming micro-size polymer personal-protection market. Still, as fantastic as many of the new striker-fired pistols are, there's something about a hammer-fired steel-frame 1911-style pistol, with its unmistakable smooth trigger. A buttery slide and barely-there recoil make this smooth pistol ideal for anyone with hand strength issues. It holds 7+1 rounds, and the surveyed shooters praised the light trigger pull and small size. SigSauer.com
Read more about the TWAW 2021 Gun Buyer's Survey here, and see which other guns women purchased beyond these Top 10.