I have a lady friend in her early 20s who finds .380 out of a PPK to be too harsh. For her carry piece, something a little more gentle is needed.
What are the typical pistols that ladies can carry on their person? (i.e. Not in hand bags)?
Typical? I should let the wimmens speak for themselves. Whatever they can handle.
There is such a thing as human sexual dimorphism (duh). There's a lot of overlap, but the female of the species does tend to smaller, lighter, weaker and differently shaped.
Problems with the PPK -- A small blowback .380 -- I'm thinking maybe she should look at a slightly larger .380, or one that's locked breech, not blowback.
Maybe, Ruger's new LC380. This is a compact locked breech .380, with the same frame size as Ruger's compact 9mm LC9. This model was just announced, no telling what actual availability is.
Or just go with something big enough to absorb the recoil. Small guns are specialized, and comfort takes a back seat.
Someone else that might be worth reading (though I haven't seen much buzz about her in recent years) is Paxton Quigley. http://www.paxtonquigley.com/