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Old February 3, 2002, 10:00 PM   #1
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Good home defense handgun for a woman?

A friend of my wife wants to get handgun for home defense and has absolutely no experience with guns. She is looking to me for recommendations. I'm thinking a revolver such as a Ruger GP100 because of the increased reliability revolvers have over automatics. No chance of jams, FTF or FTE, etc. You can just pick it up and go bang without having to fiddle with a safety or rack the slide. Also a revolver would be much simplier for her to clean and maintain, no real disassembly, etc. What do you guys think?
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Old February 3, 2002, 10:54 PM   #2
David Scott
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Sounds like a good proposition, but in your place I would take her to the range and let her try a variety. The GP100 may be too big for her hands, or she may just like the feel of something else better.

One woman I know went through the selection process and wound up with a Taurus snubbie revolver in .45 Colt. Another lady friend has a SIG P228. I suggest your friend should choose her own gun, with advice from the more experienced.
"As I looked at my two young sons, each with his gun, and considered how much the safety of the party depended on these little fellows, I felt grateful to you, dear husband, for having acquainted them in childhood with the use of firearms."

-- Elisabeth Robinson, in The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
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Old February 3, 2002, 11:35 PM   #3
Jay Baker
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I agree with David Scott. Go to a range where you can rent handguns and let her try several. And for Pete's sake, start her off on a .22 revolver. More women (and many men) have been turned off defensive shooting, simply because some person started them with large, center fire guns. ("Never fired a gun before, sweetheart? Here ya go: try out this Dirty Harry special. Hahahahah.")

Teach safety, familiarity, and fundamentals with a .22, and later, most will never have any trouble graduating to the center fires.

Never forget safety glasses and ear muffs.

My wife's home defense handguns are a S&W Mdl. 15, Combat Masterpiece .38, and a Ruger Security Six, 4", with .38 rounds.
But she fired approx 1,500 rounds of .22LR in revolvers and pistols before I moved her up to the centerfires. No problems.

Good luck. J.B.
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Old February 4, 2002, 12:29 AM   #4
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You should take your friend and his wife to the range and teach them how to handle a weapon safely. You say they have no experience with a gun. Its your responsibility to not only help them choose a weapon for defense but to properly handle and fire such weapon. They asked you for information not only on a weapon but I think also on how to safely handle one. Maybe not direct on the safety issue but they see that you know more about handguns them then they do so they are asking you more than just to chose a weapon for them. A .357 in either a Ruger, Smith or Taurus would be appropriate. That way she can use .38 if the mag rounds are too much. Take them out to a range that you can shoot various rounds and instruct them on safe handling.
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Old February 4, 2002, 12:33 AM   #5
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Agree with all three above.
firearms safety.
Shootin skills
Try all that are available.
Let her choose.....with a little supervision to keep the junk out.

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Old February 4, 2002, 01:46 AM   #6
Eric Larsen
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Again, agreed with everyone. I just wanted to throw in a small point. Most d/a autos these days have firing pin safety's..same scenario as a d/a revolver...hammer down w/ no safety ...aim and pull the trigger. More options never hurt..shoot well
If they dont know you have a gun.....then I did alright!

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice......Rush
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Old February 4, 2002, 02:01 AM   #7
Tropical Z
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I just went through this tonight with my ex-fiance.She wants something for home protection and occasional plinking.I set out a number of handguns(revolvers & semi's)and let her get the feel of each.Right away she didn't like revolvers(which were my first choice for her)but loved how my Bulgarian makarov felt in her hands.Thats what she wants.
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Old February 4, 2002, 07:36 AM   #8
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Jay Baker, is right. Let her start shooting a .22 handgun and shoot several autos and revolvers.

My wife likes Glocks, as well as S&W K frames. I'd rather recommend a .40 over a .357 for self defense. A .357 seems to intimidate those who do not shoot a lot.
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Old February 4, 2002, 08:56 AM   #9
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My suggestion would be a 12 gauge pump shotgun.

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Old February 4, 2002, 10:07 AM   #10
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I agree with Sam 110%.

Try all that are available. Let her choose.....with a little supervision to keep the junk out.
Dan O
When Guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns! Scary thought.
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Old February 4, 2002, 10:16 AM   #11
Double Naught Spy
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There is nothing wrong with a revolver, but it may not be the best choice. The long, double action pull of many revolvers can really affect the accuracy of the shot fired, from the perspective of the shooter. It isn't the gun's fault for not hitting the mark, but the shooter's for not being able to maintain sight alignment during the long trigger pull. In other words, it can be a lot easier to miss with a revolver for the inexperienced shooter, especially if there is much distance involved, say >3 yards.

Revolver mechanics are a no brainer, pull the trigger and it shoots. Staying on target is not as easy, however.

Nothing will replace regular practicing.
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Old February 4, 2002, 11:05 AM   #12
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I agree totally about starting with a .22lr.

The next most important thing is that the gun must fit her hand and she must be able to reach and use the operating controls.

I teach NRA Basic Pistol classes and a number of my students have been women. In general, women's hands are smaller and significantly weaker than most men's hands. As a result, most of my women students could not effectively use a medium-framed revolver like a GP-100 or K-frame. For most of them, a small-framed revolver like an SP101 or S&W Model 60 is a better choice. With today's lawyer-proof triggers, they'll likely need a spring replacement and trigger job for most women to be able to handle the DA trigger.

Regarding .357 vs. .38, yes .357 full house loads are unpleasant, but you can shoot .38 Spcl out of the same gun and the load is no slouch. Personally I find most .40S&W semi-autos have rather snappy, uncomfortable recoil. YMMV.

Similarly, most of my women students have hands that are too small for double-stack semi-autos like Glocks. In addition, they often have trouble operating the slides (particularly troublesome is locking the slide open). A single stack design with an exposed hammer may work better -- they can manually cock the hammer prior to operating the slide to reduce the force required. Examples to consider include Sig P239 and S&W 3913.

This gun is for her, not you. What works great for you might not work for her.

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Old February 4, 2002, 11:18 AM   #13
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4" bbl .38 spl. REVOLVER

Start w/ wadcutters. No +P. Adequate, accurate, simple.
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Old February 4, 2002, 11:29 AM   #14
Ala Dan
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After learning the technique's, and with proper training; newbie's
should be allowed to choose what firearm is best for them. The
age old theory of "what works for me, may not work for you"
holds true in this case. I've seen a good many women that
easily could handle the DA/SA self loader's; and other's who
struggled to become familiar with a revolver. Size, caliber, and
weight all figure into the equation; as well as the size of a
persons hands. With that said, there are lots of good choice's
out there; become acquainted with them, and stay away from
"junk gun's".

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, Life Member N.R.A.

Last edited by Ala Dan; February 4, 2002 at 02:14 PM.
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Old February 4, 2002, 11:49 AM   #15
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Ask her if she has considered some kind of a scatter gun. If she wants a handgun and has limited experience a revolver would be very hard to beat and as far as they go Rugers are very hard to beat. Do you have or have access to any similar guns so she can shoot them and get a feel for them? Take her to a gun store and have her handle some to get a feel for them and if possible find a place that rents them so she can acutualy shoot them.

Hope you can help her find somthing good and let us know how it ends up.

good shootin
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Old February 4, 2002, 05:11 PM   #16
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M1911 is on the right track here. STRONGLY URGE THEM, to get professional help from NRA, or other certified pistol/handgun instructor (or widely recognized expert). If done correctly they will get the info to assess her hand fit, trigger reach and pull, desired action and safety features, etc - that work for her, it has to be her gun! Then get her to "fly before she buys" - ie, try out the finalists at a range. And start her with fundamentals using a .22LR!! It may cost a few bucks in range time, ammo, even gun rental fees, but we are talking about something she is going to bet her life on isn't it? (Notice I said certified instructor/expert here, no offense to gun shops, or LEO's, but not all shop "clerks" or LEO's are that knowledgeable - and some certainly are though too. Again, no offense meant.)
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Old February 4, 2002, 05:58 PM   #17
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Never just give a woman a gun, with an attitude like "here, maybe you won't hurt yourself with this one". TEACH her how to shoot first. Once she can shoot she'll learn how to pick one for herself. Who knows, she may eventually settle on a customized Les Baer or something.
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Old February 4, 2002, 08:48 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the good information guys. As usual you have been a great help! I will follow everyone's advice on this one and make sure to do it right. When you think about it, it's a great responsibility on oneself to properly introduce a newbie to guns and shooting.
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Old February 4, 2002, 11:01 PM   #19
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My wife has chosen a hi-cap Beretta in .32 ACP though I had recommended her a snubby .38 or .357
Dr Smith
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Old February 4, 2002, 11:54 PM   #20
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S&W M10 : Four inch barrel loaded with standard SWC's.

Colt Police Positive : Four inch barrel, chambered in .32-20 or .38 Special, again use standard SWC loads.
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Old February 5, 2002, 11:04 AM   #21
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After the handgun choice, see what she thinks about the Remington 870 Youth Model in 20 gauge.
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Old February 5, 2002, 01:15 PM   #22
Doug 29
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Sorry, I can't resist bragging on my wife! She thinks guns are SUPPOSED TO RECOIL! The first time that she shot a 1911, .45 ACP, she put all shots into the black at 25 yards. Her favorite gun is a S&W "Combat Magnum". (If you don't like the DA trigger pull, simply cock it!)
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