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Old January 30, 2006, 06:12 PM   #1
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What is the best caliber and gun for a woman?

What is the best defense handgun for a woman? Granted there are some women out there who love to shoot and go down to the range and best even their husbands with a 9mm or even a .45 acp. but in general to the average woman who is relatively unfamiliar with handguns, doesn't shoot regularly, isn't particularly interested and of course, being a woman, has 50% less upper body strength than a man and will likely be drawing and shooting with both ands and not be drawing from a hip but from a purse or the bedside table.
What is the best kind of gun. Some would instinctivly say "Getum a S&W or DS snubby." I was talking to a gun dealer and fellow church member about this a while back and we were kind of stunned at this idea. People don't realize that you are talking about a small gun and a fairly high powered round (no the .38 special is not a .357 magnum or .45 acp but neither is it a .25 or .32 or even .380 acp) They can have quite a kick in those J frame guns, especially if you use +P. Pretty vicious.

A lady that went shooting with us a few weeks ago didn't seem to care for the viciousness of my DS and stuck to one of my Official Police 4 inch .38s. When pondering a carry gun for her purse she looked throught the glass at a .25 acp pistol. Yes that would fit great in her purse. But 1) it was an automatic (complicated) and she didn't care for the slide going back and all the different things to remember when shooting my Sig P226 and again stuck with my .38 OP. 2) the .25 is not much in the way of stopping power.

You might say the .38 Official Police should be it (still needs some practice this particular lady) but not much in the way of a carry weapon for a lady for either hip or purse.

My mother two years ago got a K frame 2 inch S&W which she keeps in her nightstand.

What do y'all think?
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Old January 30, 2006, 06:19 PM   #2
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I think a Walther PPK or Makarov in .380 would be just about right.

I also think you'll get better response on this in the General Handgun Forum .
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Old January 30, 2006, 06:27 PM   #3
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My wife loves her SIG P220 .45ACP and is quite fond of our SIG P226 9mm.
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Old January 30, 2006, 06:28 PM   #4
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I think that this question has no real answer, and the best option is to let the shooter decide for themselves. As you mentioned, some women do just fine with a .45 ACP, and others are interested in .25 ACP. To each their own.
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Old January 30, 2006, 06:29 PM   #5
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Old January 30, 2006, 07:50 PM   #6
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I have been pondering this same question. I have decided on a 3" Smith .357 Mag. I am starting my wife out with .38, let her get used to shooting the gun. Then some practice with .38 Spl. Then a few rounds of .357 just so she knows she can shoot it and feel the recoil. The .357 ammo will not be fun range ammo.

If you have ever been deer hunting with a snappy rifle that hurts your shoulder when target shooting, do you remember the recoil when you pulled the trigger on that deer?

As long as she can handle the gun and hit what she is shooting at with 6 .357 rounds the recoil is totally irrelevant, IMO.
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Old January 30, 2006, 08:26 PM   #7
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My wife loves her SIG P220 .45ACP and is quite fond of our SIG P226 9mm.
What's hers is hers and what's his is hers too. I miss being married.

What is the best defense handgun for a woman?
No different than for a man......One she is comfortable with, and one she can control and afford to practice with.
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Old January 30, 2006, 08:48 PM   #8
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My wife loves the 9mm with 147-gr. Ranger T's and a small 357 revolver stoked with 38 Special 158-gr. lead semi-wadcutters.
Aim for the Thoracic Triangle Area between the armpits & throat.
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Old January 30, 2006, 09:08 PM   #9
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When I was first introducing my wife to shooting, I tried to get her into the .380 Bersa/PPK/Sig 232 family, assuming they would be perfect autos for her. Not so much. To my surprise, she preferred my 9mm USPf and still does. Fine with me!

Last edited by choochboost; January 30, 2006 at 09:40 PM.
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Old January 30, 2006, 09:21 PM   #10
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There is no universal answer. My small girlfriend loves to fire my 629 .44 Magnum (stoked with .44 Specials, naturally). One of my friends commented on my downloaded "girly ammo" and I laughed, telling him the gun is only girly when it is in my girlfriend's hands.

Of course my gf dislikes my Glock 17, with all of the moving parts when it fires.
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Old January 30, 2006, 10:08 PM   #11
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A snide response:

A more serious one:

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Old January 30, 2006, 10:09 PM   #12
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What is the best defense handgun for a woman?
Any gun she wants to shoot with.
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Old January 30, 2006, 10:35 PM   #13
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My daughters (ages 12-14) shoot all my handguns in all calibers up to .45 just fine.

So I am with Wildcard
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Old January 31, 2006, 07:27 AM   #14
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My wife shoots a .45 CZ, can't stand my Paras or my Colt Commander and is never without her P3AT in pocket holster. Seems like the majority opinion is "Whaterver you are comfortable shooting (and you'll never know what that is ahead of time)".
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Old January 31, 2006, 08:52 AM   #15
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SP101, with 38 spl for practice and .357mag. 125gr. for SD.
Or something in the S&W model 10 range with+p for SD, and 38 spl. for practice.
Be sure to practice with more powerful ammo, so there are no "surprises".
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Old January 31, 2006, 10:24 AM   #16
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My wife is real recoil sensitive, she does well with a heavy 4" .38 revolvers,(She is better overall with revolvers) and semi autos that are .380 or less. She hates shooting my .38 airlight snubby, and would probably do better with an all steel snubby with Federal 115g hp low recoil ammo. I'm currently looking into a full size or heavy .380 semi for her too. .32 H&R magnum revolvers are good but the ammo is real hard to find. She does well shooting .32 S&W longs out of an old H&R .32 revolver I bought.

My sister on the other hand (who by the way is maybe 2 or 3 inches taller than my wife and just as thin) can shoot anything from a .22 to a 30/06 rifle. Her handgun caliber of choice is .40S&W.
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Old January 31, 2006, 11:24 AM   #17
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Doug.38PR, there is not best caliber or gun for a woman. Just where did you get the stat that women have 50% less upper body strength than men? That most definitely is not the case for men and women of the same height and weight. Women may still have less upper strength than men of the same height and weight, but the difference isn't nearly so dramatic.

Besides, just how much strength is needed above and beyond the .75-3.0 lbs of handgun so as to be able to shoot it? While I am decidedly a lot stronger than my wife (who is significantly smaller than me), she wields the same full sized 1911 as I do and does it well.

It has been my experience in training and training with women that the lack of strenght and recoil sensitivity are all pretty minor affairs once the women get accustomed to the activities required to draw, aim, and discharge a handgun. It is not due to the women getting significantly stronger during the process, only getting used to stressing their muscles differently.

In three pistol classes I have taken at Thunder Ranch, I think there were a total of 5 women. In DH1, of the two women, neither had shot much and both had issues of the prolonged instruction given while we all stood with guns out and in the low ready position. Initially, the women had some problems, as did most of the guys. By the end of the 5 day week, these women with reduced upper body strength were dealing better with the prolonged periods of low ready than several of the men who were bigger and stronger.

As for recoil sensitivity, lots of people have it initially. Many guys may be too macho to complain out loud, and when they have become accustomed to shooting the gun that initially resulted in the recoil sensitivity, it passes. The same holds for women as well. Unless suffering some medical condition (arthritis, carpal tunnel, sprains, etc.), they will get beyond it if they stay with the program and continue to shoot. It all boils down to that which one has become accustomed.

Besides, if you are playing the weaker sex angle and talking about self defense guns, then should not the 'weaker' woman be carrying a much bigger or more powerful caliber to help offset her physical lack of strength?

Funny at home and when there is a bump in the night, my wife breaks out the Rem 870 Marine Magnum as her preferred home defense gun. By comparison, I get the lowly 5.56 AR15. My wife likes the shotgun because as she says, she would prefer not to have to shoot a 2nd time and feels the shotgun or more likely to gain her that desired result.
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Old January 31, 2006, 11:39 AM   #18
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Its hard to go wrong with a three inch K frame for eitehr women or men....
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Old January 31, 2006, 12:40 PM   #19
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Old January 31, 2006, 03:06 PM   #20
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The BEST for her???
the one SHE likes!!!
Would you buy her shoes?

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Old January 31, 2006, 04:09 PM   #21
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Mine picks Her OWN.

Hey Y'all,

My DSW picks her Own handguns. Why wouldn't she?
She is handy with all of mine, .357's to .45's.
But, she has her own.
She uses them. She picked them.

Her regular Carry gun is a S&W 6906, 9mm.
She goes to the range, on a regular basis.
No use having any handgun that you can't shoot well.

Carrying a gun is a sacred trust.
Never abuse it.
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' Til Later,
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Old January 31, 2006, 04:22 PM   #22
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Women can learn to shoot anything - they are no more recoil sensitive than men.

However, many women possess less hand strength, or the willingness to really crank their fingers down against sharp metal. For that reason, autos with difficult to grasp and move slides are probably a bigger issue than recoil. Blowback .380 guns like the Walther PPK, Mak and Bersa are among the harder slides to manipulate.

For any weaker, smaller handed or recoil sensitive shooter I'd recommend a heavier gun firing a somewhat lighter round - 9mm, .38 Special, etc. For an auto, a gun with a locked breech and tall slide is going to be much easier to load. Single stacks may often be better than doubles, but full size guns better than compacts.

Something like a Kahr T9 would be a perfect gun for someone with weaker/smaller hands who wants minimal recoil. Or a 4" .38 revolver.
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Old January 31, 2006, 04:32 PM   #23
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Glock 19 (compact 9x19mm, 4" barrel) IMHO the best all-around and unisex gun.
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Old January 31, 2006, 05:37 PM   #24
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Depends on the lady I guess. Some women love their S&W 642 but I hated my 442, which is essentially the same gun. On the other hand, I love my 4" and 2" 686 (even with magnum loads), my 2" 60, and can shoot my snubbie LS36 just fine - though I removed the wooden grips and replaced it with a Pachmayr. I have the Glock 19, Sig 228, seven Berettas - yes, my favorite caliber is the 9mm which I handle best. Everyone differs though. Still, a 3" SP or GP100 isn't tough to carry and I prefer the DAO SP myself. She should rent or go with a decent barrel length and a little weight to help with the recoil. She'll know soon enough what's comfortable for her.

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Old January 31, 2006, 05:39 PM   #25
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Whatever they can comfortably shoot with accurately.
Have a nice day at the range

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