Woman chooses a handgun in store

Handguns for Women: What You Should Know

While it’s never a case of one size fitting all, here are a few general guidelines that women should keep in mind when buying a handgun.

The smallest handgun might not be the best

Woman stands with handgun next to course instructorDon’t choose the smallest handgun you see because you are petite or have small hands. It’s not that simple. Most people assume that small guns are easier to handle, but that’s not the case.

Many customers purchase a sub-compact (small) pistol as their first gun, and end up regretting it. Why? Smaller pistols are more difficult to shoot because they have more felt recoil than a large-frame pistol. Also, learning basic marksmanship is substantially easier on a larger handgun. The bigger frame allows for a proper grip, and a larger sight radius (longer distance between sights) increases accuracy.

It’s important to balance size and concealment. Carrying a full-frame pistol on your body is often unrealistic, but carrying it in your purse is an option. If you do choose to carry on your body, a compact pistol is much more practical.


Stick to a manageable caliber

Many customers also believe that using a large-caliber round can stop a threat with one shot. The police regularly report that when an assailant is shot with one round, there is little to no effect. The best way to stop a threat is for the pistol handler to put multiple rounds into the upper-thoracic region of the assailant’s body.

When it comes to caliber, I recommend 9mm handguns. This is a reasonably manageable round, and is less expensive to shoot, which leads to more training. In 88 Tactical’s Intro to Handgun, CCW and Handgun Level 1 classes, the other instructors and I focus on teaching students the fundamentals, which include how to properly and safely handle your firearm, and how to utilize it for self-defense.

Test it out before you commit

Woman stands with handgun and instructorThe best way to find the right handgun is to come into the store. Figure out which type of pistol fits your hand best, and test it in our Womens intro to handgun course. Led by a female instructor, this women-only handgun course introduces new female shooters to safe use, storage, and operation of a handgun in a judgment-free atmosphere.

The class consists of a demonstration, dry-fire practice, and a brief live-fire session. Females will learn about different types of pistols and ammunition, weapon maintenance, misfires, the fundamentals of marksmanship, and more.


We have a large selection of rental handguns to choose from. Don’t be afraid to take your time, you may make multiple trips to the gun store and range before you find the right pistol.


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