Advice for daughter's first handgun


April 23, 2007, 10:36 PM
My 21 year old daughter will be graduating from college in about a year. I'd like some advice for a handgun to send with her. Currently, I'm thinking about an S&W model 10. She's not an enthusiast like me, but I'm trying to impress on her the need to have protection available, if the need should ever come. Hopefully I'll be able to get her some good training and range time between now and graduation. Anyway, I'd really appreciate what the members would recommend.


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April 23, 2007, 10:45 PM
A Model 10 is a good choice. When my sister got that age and was off at college my grandfather sent his Ruger Security Six with her.

I'd recommend J, K, or L-frame Smiths, Ruger Six Series, SP101 or GP100. Just find her one she likes.

April 23, 2007, 10:50 PM
Take her to the store. Enthusiast or not, she should pick out her own gun.

April 23, 2007, 10:59 PM
I have to agree with PotatoJudge except for one thing. I would not recommend a J-frame as the first gun for someone. While they certainly are easy to carry their small size makes for a decided increase in recoil over the other guns. A J-frame should be used by someone who is fairly proficient with firearms and is willing to do the practicing necessary to learn to control the smaller gun. That being said the 3" barrel Model 36 and 60 are much easier to handle than the snubbies and don't really loose much in the way of being concealable.

April 23, 2007, 11:04 PM
Archer, you're right and I had thought of that. I was also thinking about my wife there. She has had a couple of dreams where someone broke in and the gun was too heavy to pick up. Weird how in dreams guns never seem to work right. Anyway, since mostly guns are there for peace of mind something like weight and size can mean a lot.

April 23, 2007, 11:18 PM
I have noticed that some women prefer Kahr handguns. Their larger guns are still pretty small and are a good size for most women's hands. I assume some of you are recommending a revolver instead of semi-auto due to the strength required to pull the slide. The website "cornered" tells about how women really shouldn't have trouble with the slide on a semi-auto if they use the proper technique.

April 23, 2007, 11:24 PM
Just to +1 a couple points made above:

1) Everybody wants to give new shooters and women blowback .380's and small frame revolvers, but these can be among the most unpleasant handguns to shoot because they are too small and too light and the recoil can be harsh for a new shooter. Guns with some mass and substance help dampen the recoil and are much more pleasant to shoot. My wife has a Model 60 for carry, but when we go to the range she won't shoot more than 5 or 10 shots from it because it is so unpleasant for her. By contrast, she can shoot her 6" 686 all afternoon and enjoy every minute of it.

2) She has to pick. If it's going to be her gun and she's going to shoot it, much better that she picks it out. Go somewhere they rent guns and rent a pile; see which ones she likes.

Two additional points:

3) My wife, reading over my shoulder, suggests the book "Armed and Female" by Paxton Quigley.

4) Don't downplay the good old .22 for new shooters. If you want to get her to feel comfortable and enjoy shooting, the most important thing is that she enjoys her first couple range trips and has some success to build confidence. For enjoyable shooting, building confidence, and improving skills there is no substitute for a .22

April 23, 2007, 11:28 PM
My daughter grew up shooting everything i had , and i am a guntrader . That being said , when i gave her her first pistol she went out and made me buy a star 9mm . Not the choice i would have made for her , but its her choice and she does carry it faithfully ( it was a package gift of ccw and pistol for her )

April 23, 2007, 11:34 PM
Another one to consider is the S&W Mod. 13 3". Same size as the 10 except .357 mag (in case she ever wants them) and the 3" barrel plus the round butt make it fairly easy to conceal. When you find them, they are relatively inexpensive as most are L.E. turn ins.

April 24, 2007, 12:09 AM
If she is interested in shooting, first spend $300 and buy her a Ruger or Browning semi-auto .22 and a few thousand rounds of bulk, hollow point ammo.

Over a few months, have her (and you together!) shoot at least 1000 rounds at paper and reactive targets - like soda cans or clay pigeons.

Once she has shot her 1000 rounds, take her to the gun shop and buy her the defensive pistol she likes. As mentioned above, semi-heavy is better. ANOTHER GUN would probably be better for CCW, unless she is going to CCW right away. Let her decide on autoloader or revolver. Take her out and have her shoot her weapon of choice a lot. Get her involved in shooting competitions.

Buy her CCW training (even if she won't carry), a good holster for it (even if she won't carry), and a nice locking case or quick-access safe for the two guns.

Keeping the .22 will help her teach others about shooting.

Of course, in the "real" world, all this may not be possible. People have different priorities and interests. I think she will respect you for offering the $$ investment and time, but she just may not have the time or interest herself. She's got a whole new life in front of her, and a Saturday on the Shooting Range takes away from a whole lot of other social options.

If she is not interested in spending some trigger time with the .22 pistol, consider buying her a "standard" shotgun (26" Rem 870), a case, a combination trigger lock, several boxes of ammo, a few trips to the trap range and a father/daughter defensive shotgun training class. A "shotgun for protection" might be easier for her to accept than a handgun.

Getting her a gun is an awesome fatherly act. But if she is not engaged in the process, a rusting revolver sitting in her sock drawer waiting for a girlfriend's kid to come over and discover does no one any good.

If she has zero interest in guns, maybe you buy her some self-defense classes or meet her for coffee one day with a self-defense expert.

With your guidance, I'm guessing she will become interested in shooting ... but maybe not right away. Put the offer out there. I think she will appreciate the offer to help her learn to defend herself - in what ever manifestation it takes.

April 24, 2007, 05:11 AM
I have introduced several women to shooting and all were started on a Ruger .22 auto and all moved to larger and more powerful calibers when they were ready. IMO, the non gun enthusiast needs to start with something they can feel in control of.

April 24, 2007, 05:58 AM
I would not recommend a J-frame as the first gun for someone.

Nor would I. I have a j-frame snubby, but I've been shooting for many years. At 19oz., it really does kick like a mule. Whatever you do, stay away from the Airweight/Scandium varieties - they're worse still. They're not for beginners. Something along the lines of a k-frame and some 148gr midrange wadcutters would be a good starting point.

April 24, 2007, 06:02 AM
I think a Ruger sp101 in 9mm would be a good combination of readily available ammo, low recoil, and concealabillity(SIC)

April 24, 2007, 06:20 AM
Maybe you should write down a list of suggestions and let her go to the store alone, or with a friend she chooses.

April 24, 2007, 08:09 AM
How about a Desert Eagle 50 AE :p

April 24, 2007, 08:13 AM
When my daughter left home, she left with a S&W model 10, an old nickel plated police trade in that I got for under $125 long ago. She shoots it VERY WELL and loves to shoot. It has a VERY smooth action from use and is, I feel, a perfect fit for her. Get what she likes and can shoot well. Good luck to her.

April 24, 2007, 08:33 AM
Agreed: j-frames take a larger investment of time to master than most handguns.

April 24, 2007, 11:05 AM
I just went through this with my own oldest daughter. Her birthday is in a few days, and she has the gun she picked out waiting for her at the store. On the blessed day, she gets to go fill out the paperwork and take it home with her.

She grew up shooting various revolvers and semi-autos. She stated that she wanted something for concealed carry. So, on my last visit, we checked out a bunch of different guns at the gunstore, and went shooting with my S&W 638 Bodyguard. It is a J frame, airlite, 5 shot .38 special. She loved it, enough that she wanted one just like it. She passed by larger and heavier guns, as well as those with more capacity. Everyone is different though, and you need to take your own daughter's physique, mindset, intended use, etc, into consideration. My daughter handled the J frame with no problems at all, including shooting some +P Hydrashocks. Yours could be different. In any case, good luck with it, and I hope she does well with whatever the two of you decide!

April 24, 2007, 11:48 AM
Whatever you get, make sure it fits her hand.


April 25, 2007, 09:44 PM
Thanks to all for the good advice (except for the Desert Eagle:) ). Here's the plan. She will be starting out with my Ruger 22/45 pistol. From there we'll start looking at .38 Special revolvers, starting with wadcutters and working up to defense ammo. I still think the model 10 is a good place to start, but we'll see what she likes. I especially appreciate the good advice about J frames. I agree these are simply not beginners guns. There is one possible exception though. My local gunshop has a brand new model 60 with a three inch barrel (I think someone alluded to this possibility). This could be an excellent choice for her petite hands. Add a hand filling laser grip and we could be in business.

Thanks again all.

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