Best CCW pistol for newbie female


Sky Dog
October 4, 2013, 08:40 AM
I'm looking info on a carry piece for my wife-to-be. Mid 50's, small frame and an absolute newbie to firearms. I'm looking at SW 637/638CT Airweight .38 specials. You all's thoughts?

If you enjoyed reading about "Best CCW pistol for newbie female" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
October 4, 2013, 08:55 AM
i would stay away from airweights... but thas my opinion..

take her out and let her choose..

be blessed

October 4, 2013, 08:56 AM
I have a S& W 638 Airweight, it has a very smooth action and lite trigger when cocked. Generally speaking it is a great gun but you wouldn't expect anything less from S&W.

My wife has a Taurus model 85. It is a 38 special with +P capability. The nice thing about the Taurus is if you shoot it double action, a subtle hammer stop can be felt at the end of the trigger travel just before a bit more pull makes it go bang.

Both guns weigh about the same and work flawlessly. The Taurus is somewhat less expensive.

October 4, 2013, 09:10 AM
Women have the option of carrying in their purse so I would stay away from the smaller pocket pistols, and obviously avoid any caliber bigger than she can handle. So the best would depend on just how big a purse she carries full sized pistols tend to have less recoil and be more accurate than their smaller counter parts. Though if she still wants something a little smaller a good compromise would be a walther ppk or one of its various clones, or a snubby 38sp revolver, though avoid ones that are too light.

October 4, 2013, 12:21 PM
Have her pick out her gun and remind her that there are a variety of grips that fit J-Frame guns. As a new shooter It may be wise to look at something with a laser. Those things can be very intimidating when sitting on a BG's chest.
As others have pointed out she may do well looking for a 3" model 60, if it is not a carry gun she could even opt for a longer barrel.
In either case try to buy, or load, some wadcutter target ammo so she can get used to the recoil.

Deus Machina
October 4, 2013, 12:29 PM
Nothing wrong with the airweights, but if she doesn't mind a little extra weight go heavier. It will handle recoil better. Depending on ladies' hands, it's even more important than guys to hold before you buy.

I would also advise not carrying in her purse. That's the first thing muggers and plain old pursesnatchers go for, and then they have the purse and the gun she may need.

October 4, 2013, 12:29 PM

October 4, 2013, 12:48 PM
I was considering an airweight .38 for my wife, but she ended up choosing the Bersa Thunder 380 adn carries Buffalo Bore 100gr Hardcast "+p" and she loves it.

October 4, 2013, 01:00 PM
I'm a big fan of letting your wife/ girlfriend significant other pick out her own gun. I took my small framed, tiny hands fiance out to the range and let her try a Glock 26, S&W 649, a SIG p239 and a Glock 17. After she shot them all and a had chance to handle them all she picked the Glock 17. The biggest gun there. She said it felt more natural and was easier to shoot. When we talked about carry options, she indicated it would ride in her purse which is almost as big as her. She had a carry method all figured out. How to keep it in place and how to get to it. Moral of the story: you never know what will make them happy.

October 4, 2013, 01:05 PM
1. Let her pick her own gun.
2. This involves shopping, dry-firing, and shooting. If she is not willing to participate in this process, she is probably not going to carry the gun anyway. She must be comfortable with the weight and feel of the trigger and control of the gun under recoil.
3. Airweight .38 Special revolvers have substantial recoil and heavy triggers.
4. The Walther PPK has a heavy recoil spring and is difficult to rack without using proper technique or at least average hand strength.

October 4, 2013, 01:11 PM

October 4, 2013, 01:18 PM
Go to a place that rents guns let her shoot every type that interests her.. You just sit back keep your mouth shut and pay...

I would have never chose the gun that my wife chooses to carry. (Glock 19)

October 4, 2013, 01:30 PM
Go to a place that rents guns let her shoot every type that interests her.. You just sit back keep your mouth shut and pay...

I would have never chose the gun that my wife chooses to carry. (Glock 19)
Absolutely agree - and make sure she shoots several, not just hold them. I wife LOVED the LC9, right up until she fired it.... She ended up with a M&P 9c, which she chose over an Airweight.

October 4, 2013, 01:35 PM
As usual when men talk about getting firearms for their wives I like to point out its best to take them to the store and let them try them on and if the shop has a range then rent some to see how she feels about them. Pistols like shoes must be tried on to check fit. A bad fit results in a bad experience and thats not what you or her are looking for. SO take her to the LGS's and let her shop. Whatever you do do not force your idea of what she should have on her and don't let the LGS employee do it either. LGS employees like to push little stuff on us because they think we women cannot handle anything over a 38 at the top end and .380 at the bottom end.

Vodoun da Vinci
October 4, 2013, 02:13 PM
Luckily my local range has rentals and one can shoot just about anything they are interested in. My Wife's personal fav now (she has a Colt Officers ACP .45 that she has grown too old to handle the recoil) is a Colt 1903 Model M in .32 ACP.

Then she shot one of her fathers revolvers - an S&W model 19 4" and loved it. Then she rented (and is continuing to rent and test) several guns including a Ruger LCR, a Walther PPK/S .380, a Glock 26, and a Ruger LCP 380.

She's still looking but so far she feels the most confident with her Colt 1903.

End result is that the user must choose...we can only offer reasonable suggestions.


October 4, 2013, 02:14 PM
This may be a dumb question, but if she's in her mid fifties and has not ever shot a gun (my take on the phrase "absolute newbie to firearms"), what is the rush to get her to carry concealed? Why not go through a bunch of familiarization first, allow her to develop her own opinions on firearms and what feels "right" and then pop the question (you know, "Which one will it be, my darling?")

My opinion is that if she must absolutely carry a concealed weapon in short order for whatever reason, get her a couple of intensive training sessions and a Glock 17 or 19 - they're inexpensive, and work really well. From there, she can form her opinions and will probably want to ditch the Glock at some point in the future.

October 4, 2013, 02:36 PM
Sky Dog - having had to teach my 7X year old mother to shoot about 10 years ago, take your wife to several stores and let her try various guns to see how they fit her hands.

As a newbie, you might want to stay with just revolvers. They are less prone to mechanical flaws than autos.

After working with my mother on a .22 revolver and my .380 (she could NOT work the slide!), she tried several revolvers and got a Ruger SP101 2" snubbie in .38 Special.

Good luck to your wife.


October 4, 2013, 03:35 PM
My wife has taken a liking to the Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard in .380 with the laser. I plan to make it a Christmas present. I like the idea of a slimmer semi auto to a revolver.

Posted from App for Android

October 4, 2013, 04:41 PM
My wife had trouble with the slide on auto and she chose a S&W 640 Centennial.

October 4, 2013, 05:17 PM
I looked at several, but when I took my wife out she liked the feel of the 1911a commander. This was her choice and that is what I bought her. She now has several more and she picks out her own. I would never tell her to get anything. Let her handle them at your LGS.

October 4, 2013, 07:22 PM
I agree with the comments relating to being able to rent and actually shoot the model she thinks she wants. J frames are great guns but they are not for the beginner or novice. The require more practice than larger frames and because of their light weight they tend to recol a bit more.

October 4, 2013, 07:38 PM
One of my sisters got her pistol permit a few years ago. She was in her mid-50's and a total newbie. I did a lot of research on someone like that and it usually wound up pointing toward a small revolver in 38 Spl.. A friend of mine is the owner of the LGS who is very knowledgable on the subject and is a retired sheriff also recommended the same thing and said; "if you don't believe me, do some research on your own". I told him I already did and we had her see how she liked the feel of a few. She wound up with a S&W mod. 642, J frame snubby which she has had for 4 years now. No slide to rack, no safety to flick off under stress, just pure, reliable simplicity. I'll admit those little snubbies can be hard to aim except at point blank range but luckily I reload 38 Spl. and with some practice time she got pretty good with it at normal self defense range. Her only complaint at first was that the recoil was worse than she expected. Turns out she wasn't gripping it very tight; and now she enjoys shooting it. If she ever decides she wants something else I told her she can sell it to me but I don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

Sky Dog
October 4, 2013, 10:29 PM
I think I'll let her make her own choice, but strongly suggest a .38 snubby.

October 4, 2013, 10:57 PM
No way I'd steer any new shooter to a snub nose, lightweight revolver.

As many others have said, take her someplace where she can rent or borrow a bunch of different kinds of sidearms and have her shoot until something tickles her.

It MIGHT be a snubby airweight. That's great. But DON'T try to steer her to that. Let her find something SHE's comfortable shooting and can shoot ACCURATELY with. It very well might be a .45ACP 1911. (They're easier to shoot well than a snubby revolver anyway.)

Snubbies tend to be neither comfortable for new shooters nor accurate in their untrained hands.

Let HER find what works for HER.

(FWIW, my 11 year old daughter prefers a full-sized 9mm. Trying to shoe-horn her into shooting a light snubby would have been disaster.)

Do it RIGHT. No just following the conventional wisdom of what you think a "ladies' gun" should be.

And because Kathy's site has only been mentioned once or twice:

Revolver Ocelot
October 5, 2013, 12:43 AM
My wife started on an old 38 service revolver with a 4" barrel, she eventually shot a variety of guns and found what works for her until we took her to the store for her to pick one out for herself. Let her shoot some big guns (not calibers) and let her find what her comfort zone is, you wouldn't let someone else pick your carry gun right? ;)

October 5, 2013, 12:50 AM
Rossi 5 shot 38 special snub nose.

October 5, 2013, 07:23 AM
Fortunately I own a 2" 38 poly protector, a 380 Smith Bodyguard, a 4" 357, a 3" 38 j frame, (among others). My wife prefers the 3" 38, likes the 2" poly 38", can shoot very well but doesn't like the 380 Bodyguard. I have her try various firearms and let her decide. I like them all, but carry the Bodyguard and 38" Poly Protector the most.

Cee Zee
October 5, 2013, 08:26 AM
I recently went through this with my wife and again with my daughter. My wife has never shot handguns (until she decided to get a CCW with my daughter). My daughter has shot many firearms in her 25 years. My wife is in her mid-50's.

I took both to several gun shops to let them decide for themselves. My daughter had all sorts of trouble with getting a new pistol to rack. She has long fingers and it was like she just couldn't get the right leverage on them. I guess I had always racked any pistol I had given her to shoot because she plain couldn't get the semi's to work at all. The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard revolver in .38 Special +P was another story. She loved it. She got one with the laser. Shooting it became another matter. But my daughter has mastered any firearm I've ever handed her as far as shoot it goes. She can flat shoot pretty much any firearm she has tried and she has already made great strides making the S&W work for her.

My wife settled on the Ruger LCP. She loved how easy it operated and how well it fit her hand. She has only shot that pistol a few times but I have been working her up from a Buckmark Hunter .22. She not only loves to shoot that gun but she is also very accurate with it for a newbie. I got her to shoot 3" groups at 25 yards the first time I took her out shooting with it. It will take some work to get her to shoot that well with the Ruger.

Yes she needed to try out any pistols before she bought them. Same goes for my daughter. But we don't have a range that allows you to try various guns. They both wanted a light handgun to carry in a purse without it weighing them down. They both wanted something without a big bunch of kick. I think the smaller guns have just as much kick as bigger caliber guns but they think different. They do have much smaller hands and the leverage for them does seem to work better. For example both of their guns will pivot at the bottom point of the handle in my hand. That hurts my hand. But they both have hands that don't cover the entire handle but instead fit the handle about the way my hand fits bigger guns. Neither seem to have a problem with their guns.

October 5, 2013, 05:47 PM

I would not start your wife or anyone off with a 5 shot, J-frame .38.

For a new shooter, go with a .22LR. Auto or revovler, does not matter. Try to keep the weight at less than 2 pounds unless your wife is a large woman.

After she learns on a .22LR, then let her try HER CHOICES, not yours.

She may want 5 shot, J frame or a .32ACP or .380ACP. My wife chose a SIG 225 9m.m. and she is petite. The combination of weight, not too heavy or light and excellent grip meant she could hold it comfortably and was not bothered by the recoil.
A coworker who inherited a S&W model 66 with a 4 inch barrel ( a good all around choice for car or home defense) asked me to show her how to shoot it.
We started with .38 wadcutter, that got her over the initial hurdle of not have shot without any problems. Then we shot some standard velocity ball to increase the recoil and noise. No problem.
Next was +P .38 Special and then 110 grain .357 magnums. She did not like the noise, blast or kick from the .357, so she settled on the .38 +P.

It has to be the shooter's choice as to what they will want. A good shot with a .22LR is safer than a flinching shooter with a .38.

You can ofter rent guns at a range. That will let her see her options. I would do that after starting her off on a .22LR.

My nieces started on .22 semi autos and now use 6 shot .38 Special loaded with +P.

Just my experience.

Good luck,


October 5, 2013, 10:04 PM
Rent some if you can. Either way she needs to try a bunch on herself.

Ed N.
October 5, 2013, 10:25 PM
My wife has a .38sp Airweight, but that isn't what I started her shooting with.

The first handgun was a Crosman CO2 pistol, which we shot (and still shoot) in the backyard. That got her accustomed to shooting with no recoil and no noise.

This is a GREAT way to start and you should consider this method for your wife. You can pick up a CO2 pistol for under $40. Apart from the gun being very easy to shoot, she can begin learning in the privacy of her own backyard or garage, rather than at a range with strangers firing cannons on either side of her. Also, the ammo is extremely cheap, so she can shoot hundreds and hundreds of rounds.

From the CO2 pistol, my wife moved on to shooting my H&R .22 revolver, then my Keltec .32.

When it came time to shoot the Airweight, I bought her cowboy action loads for practice. The recoil is very low with these rounds and she enjoyed shooting the gun. They work fine for practice. At home in the safe, her gun is stuffed with Hornady Critical Defense rounds.

If your wife is truly an absolute newbie to guns, I strongly recommend starting her off with a CO2 pistol. It will take a lot of the stress off and let her learn sight picture and trigger control, not to mention gun safety.

Cee Zee
October 6, 2013, 12:17 AM
A good target type .22 pistol isn't so bad to start. They're heavy enough to absorb nearly all the recoil and hearing protection does away with any issues with being scared by the noise. I had my wife shooting fine groups with a Buckmark Hunter in about 10 minutes. All that time was spent going over grip and stance options.

October 6, 2013, 08:23 AM
Threads like this always pique my interest. The OP is going to get eleventy-zillion different recommendations. How will he know any more at the conclusion of the thread than at its genesis? ;)

My opinion, which is now cast amongst the other eleventy-zillion, is that the OPs wife would probably pick a G26, if she shot it side-by-side with any .38 special snubby. She'll hate the long trigger pull of the snubby and won't be able to hit jack with it.

I bought a G26 for my daughter, for her first carry pistol. She loves it.

October 6, 2013, 12:47 PM
I would get her a 3" GP 100 and load it with 38 specials for her. That way if she doesn't like it you got a nice .357 snubby for yourself;)

October 6, 2013, 04:29 PM
I have been thru this with wife and daughter's.. Make life easy Let them choose. Have 3 kelTec P-32 and a Kahr 9ccw .

October 6, 2013, 06:38 PM
I'm looking info on a carry piece for my wife-to-be. Mid 50's, small frame and an absolute newbie to firearms. I'm looking at SW 637/638CT Airweight .38 specials. You all's thoughts?

Absolutely do not purchase a snubby revolver. She should not buy a gun until after training.

1) Take her shooting. Borrow a few guns from friends and let her try them all. She will find several that she likes. However, these are not the guns she should choose just yet. You should also take her to the range and shoot a few rental guns.

2) Take her to NRA Basic Pistol. This will reinforce safety and give her a basic background in handguns.

3) She does not know what she needs in a defensive handgun. Both of you should attend a two to four day defensive handgun course. You'll both have the same vocabulary. Many places have handguns available for use in class.

Don't purchase a gun until you have taken both classes. Otherwise, she'll be buying a gun out of ignorance. The last thing she should do is take the advice of gun store sales people. Go to a professional and then purchase the gun based upon what she's learned. Her choice will be much better.

October 6, 2013, 09:01 PM
I let my wife choose her own. The trouble is I ended up buying the same for me. Twice. First was a Glock 19 then an S&W Airweight. She bought 'em first, I tried 'em, liked 'em and bought one of each for me.

I don't know why so many are suggesting to stay away from light .38 Special 5-shot revolvers, every female new shooter I have had try one of ours loves them, especially for personal carry. All steel (GP100, etc) for home defense.


2A Citizen
October 6, 2013, 10:51 PM
Go to a place that rents guns let her shoot every type that interests her.. You just sit back keep your mouth shut and pay...

I would have never chose the gun that my wife chooses to carry. (Glock 19)


Also, line up a GREAT basic firearms course.

Several folks here have commented towards this end;

By allowing her to pick and choose, you empower her. When you empower her, she feels responsibility for her own choices and defense. She will ultimately be safer and more attentive overall if you empower her. If you truly care about her, you will push your ego out of the way and ensure she makes her own choices.

A Gun safety and handling course cannot be under-estimated.

I just went thru the same thing with my GF about 5 Months ago. Women or anyone else will take this seriously when you facilitate them making choices and follow thru with encouragement; course-work, etc!

Have fun!

October 7, 2013, 07:22 AM
Best advice I can offer is don't help her pick, you will be wrong. My wife went through 4 handguns before she found her perfect happy handgun that she carries: a Bersa Thunder. Before she found the Bersa I recommended she try a Walther PPK or PPK/S. She handled these at a gun show but they were too heavy/bulky and the safety was too far away. however she loves the Bersa even though it is almost a direct clone.

Take her out and fire some options. More and more gun stores are allowing firearm rentals to help customers make informed decisions about what they are buying and what they will like. Stand by and coach on technique but try not to dissuade her in anyway. Unless she wants to try a 44MAG or something with a caliber that starts with 5, let her try it. Your spouse may surprise you as mine did. She loves to shoot a 1911, she just won't carry it because of the weight.

October 7, 2013, 07:29 AM
Why is it that husbands tend to pick the harshest recoiling, most difficult to shoot firearms for their wives? I've even seen experienced shooters do this, and completely turn off their wives, and girlfriends to handgun shooting. Many times they won't even try it again because of the bad experience, and once a woman makes up her mind, well you know.

October 7, 2013, 09:00 AM
I steer my students to start with a G-19 or J-frame.

October 7, 2013, 09:56 AM
I'm looking info on a carry piece for my wife-to-be. Mid 50's, small frame and an absolute newbie to firearms. I'm looking at SW 637/638CT Airweight .38 specials. You all's thoughts?
Its been said already, but small frame, short barrel revolvers are some of the most difficult firearms to master and even with .38 spl ammo Airweights can be a bit intimidating for newbies when it comes to recoil. I'd try finding something like a nice, used S&W K frame or Ruger Security-Six with a 3 or 4 inch barrel instead. They will be much easier to master and handle recoil better.

That said, its even better to let her shoot a few different guns and then pick her own handgun. She may supprise you with what she ends up liking best. ;)

October 7, 2013, 10:05 AM
I steer my students to start with a G-19 or J-frame.
I'd say that's a statement that needs a lot of further explanation.

It sounds a bit like saying, "I tell my driving students to either start out with an automatic transmission sedan, or a 13-speed Mack dump truck with air brakes and a split rear."

It would seem that some of those students would find their way to success fairly easily, and others would struggle a bit to get a handle on what they were trying to do.

Can you honestly say that your students who've chosen a J-frame have performed as well, as easily as those choosing the mid-sized Glock? Which take more of your instructional time to develop?

October 7, 2013, 10:50 AM
There are TONS of these threads, so I will summarize the best responses:

1. If this is really you wanting to get her a gun so she will carry it, she probably won't carry it. So only worry about this if carrying a gun is something she actually wants to do and if she's willing to put in some work and thought into doing so.

2. "My wife can't rack the slide on a semiauto..." ... because she doesn't know how, not because she doesn't have the strength to do it. Another subset of "women who can't rack a slide..." includes those with zero familiarity with guns who have an ingrained belief that they will somehow break the gun if they use their full strength.

Anyone who truly doesn't have the strength to rack the slide on a semiauto due to severe arthritis, muscle wasting, or neurological impairment will also have the same problem pulling a double-action revolver trigger. The weights are actually fairly comparable, with the added issue of pulling a trigger being done with a single figure, whereas working a semiauto's action can be done as a gross motor function with the whole of both arms and the chest.

Racking a slide without the strength to overcome a 12-24 lb recoil spring by sheer force is a matter of technique. The wrong way to do it for a weaker person is to try and do everything with two fingers or just one hand. Sure, those of us who are stronger can do this.

But the best way to do this (honestly for everyone, IMHO), is to use the push-pull, C-clamp slingshot method. Anyone can be taught to do this. Just take your weak hand and wrap your whole hand around the top of the slide so that your fingers and bottom of your palm are touching the slide serrations (weak hand thumb should be basically pointing back at you or wrapped around the upper back of the slide to allow the hammer to move, if there is one). With your strong hand, grip the gun firmly in a normal grip, indexing your finger above the trigger guard on the side of the frame. Simultaneously pull firmly back with the weak hand while pushing forward into the grip frame with the strong hand.

A more administrative way to do this is to hold the gun in your strong hand grip, bring the gun in front of you, pointing toward your weak side, then bring your weak hand over the gun and grip the slide serrations with your thumb on the side of the gun nearest you and your fingers on the outside side of the slide. Then using your arm and chest muscles in a motion similar to clapping, push the slide toward your strong side and the frame toward your weak side.

Obviously you should keep the muzzle pointed downrange if you are on a range, which you can do by turning to present the weak side of your body downrange.

3. "I was thinking of getting her one of those airweight .38 J-frames, or a Ruger LCP or something like that because it's very small and kind of cute, plus, a .38 or a .380 won't recoil like my 10mm or the .500 S&W magnum that I carry every day..."

Hold up there, high speed. Small J-frames are substantially harder to shoot and have much more recoil than a mid-size steel revolver and most compact 9mm semiautos. The heavy trigger, light weight, short sight radius, and substantial recoil on an aluminum, titanium, or scandium J-frame revolver make them difficult for new shooters to shoot accurately or comfortably. This makes it more likely that they will consider shooting an unpleasant experience, which in turn makes it less likely that they will want to do it again. Even a steel J-frame will still have a goodly amount of recoil.

Those little .380s are handy, but due to the small grip, direct blowback operation of some, and tiny or nonexistent sights, these can be almost as bad as the J-frames while providing the benefits of an even weaker cartridge.

It would be better to start with a 4" steel revolver like a Ruger GP100, Six-series, or a S&W K-frame. On the semiauto side, a S&W M&P, Springfield XD, Glock 17 or 19, or a 1911 would be safer guns to start with, then branch out based on preference.

Now, I am not saying that female or weaker shooters cannot carry J-frames or subcompact .380s, I am just saying that if they are NEW shooters, they should not START there.

October 7, 2013, 11:09 AM
Start with professional training. Let her go by herself--you stay home.

That will point her to the right considerations and "arm" her to make a good choice.

October 7, 2013, 03:23 PM
My recommendation is to stay away from anything Airweight or Scandium. 38 Special defensive loads in those guns are downright painful to shoot and require an experienced shooter to appreciate their virtues.

I second the recommendation on a GP100 or S&W 686 357 Magnum. Your significant other may initially think they are too big, but that will pass after she shoots it and uses the gun to get familiar with how to run a revolver defensively.

Load either Revolver with 38 special wadcutters to start and she will quickly gain familiarity and learn to love shooting...which is great when you want to buy more guns...she'll already be on board!

After she familiarizes herself with the revolver manual of arms she can move in any direction that makes sense...

Enjoy and stay safe!

Sauer Grapes
October 7, 2013, 03:53 PM
I agree with beatledog, get her into a pistol course first.

October 7, 2013, 08:25 PM
Why is it that husbands tend to pick the harshest recoiling, most difficult to shoot firearms for their wives? I've even seen experienced shooters do this, and completely turn off their wives, and girlfriends to handgun shooting. Many times they won't even try it again because of the bad experience, and once a woman makes up her mind, well you know.

That is because they usually become his gun. Saw it all the time at my old gun store. Husband and wife come in and she MUST have the 10mm Glock.

October 7, 2013, 08:39 PM
That is because they usually become his gun. Saw it all the time at my old gun store. Husband and wife come in and she MUST have the 10mm Glock.
Well that makes sense. I almost did it myself once.

However, I've seen may recommend a tiny .38 Spl, .357 mag or .380 that are just really unpleasant to shoot. It is fine for an experienced shooter who expects recoil, and blast from a small firearm, but new shooters get really turned off.

October 7, 2013, 11:18 PM
I steer them to a G-19 or a J-frame because they are both well-proven to work reasonably well for just about everyone. I also emphasize that if they change their minds and decide they like something else better and decide to divorce it, they don't have to pay it alimony.

October 8, 2013, 07:33 AM
You find that a J-frame works reasonably well for everyone? Really?

How do you define "reasonably well?" And would you honestly say that the average performance with a G19 and a J-frame are equivalently "reasonably well?"

I've not seen anything close to those results.

October 8, 2013, 10:08 AM
My daughter and ex both started with revolvers, my daughter has a M60 that she shoots 38's in and the ex had a M66 but she wanted lighter and smaller so I traded her a Titanium Taurus 85.
They both had dozens of handguns to choose from and liked the simplicity of the revolvers and at the time I was ok with it as well. To do it over again I would have softly steered them toward a 9mm like the G19 and in fact that is what the daughter wants now.
They must learn how to operate the slide with confidence and for some the extra effort is not worth it. I'm no longer a fan of the limited capacity of revolvers so that now does have a bearing on what my suggestions are.

October 8, 2013, 10:41 AM
My wife recently expressed interest in getting a weapon for self-defense. I am thinking a revolver to simplify things. The problem is she is a radical leftie- I mean, she can barely do anything with her right hand. Is there such a thing as a left handed revolver? Or even an ambidextrous one? Is there a small frame top break made? She would most likely have difficulty grasping a slide strongly enough to pull it back on a semi-automatic pistol, that was why I thought a revolver would be good for her.

October 8, 2013, 03:08 PM
Most of my students don't choose revolvers at all. Only a few want to. Of these, some start with a LCR or a 642 Airweight, and find the recoil too stiff. I have had one choose a K-frame and shoot .38s through it, but it was because someone in their family had one available. If there were more 4" Pythons available, I suppose I would steer them that way, but there aren't. I had one start with a J-frame and find they like and shoot a Ruger better.

But everyone has to start somewhere. J-frames are plentiful and reliable. My experience reflects decades of history, that a rookie with a few boxes of ammo and some simple good instruction can shoot a j-frame reasonably well. Doesn't mean they have to keep it. Doesn't mean they aren't allowed to trade up. But it works.

What is your experience?

October 8, 2013, 03:37 PM
Only that small revolvers tend to be difficult for experienced shooters to shoot accurately (sight radius, and tough triggers most prominently affect this), and the recoil varies from sharper than they find comfortable up to very painful.

(I had a 30-something pal insist he couldn't go on shooting an SP101 because it hurt his hands...that one I thought pretty anomalous, though.)

I know a lot of folks with J-frames. I don't know ONE of them who practices with them regularly, and I consider regular practice to be crucial to being at all proficient with a handgun.

If it is all a person can get or already has access to, I can understand making the effort to work with that. But I can't see steering them in that direction if they're choosing a gun! The sheer amount of effort it will take them to overcome their discomfort and to learn to shoot it accurately must surely be double that required to become competent with more appropriate weapons.

October 8, 2013, 03:45 PM
Well, like I say, most don't look at revolvers at all. And I find they shoot them better than airweights and LCRs.

Jim NE
October 8, 2013, 03:47 PM
A snubnose revolver makes sense in that she doesn't need to worry about clearing jams (if it's a decent quality weapon).

If a local range rents guns, though, I'd seriously have her try out a SR9c Ruger pistol. It's modestly priced and very controllable. And if you want to spend even less for a concealable 9mm, I'm hearing good things about the new Taurus PT 111's...if you stay with the 2nd generation model (G2).

Good luck.

October 8, 2013, 03:52 PM
I made the stupid decision to buy a Ruger LCR with a CT grip...thinking it would be perfect for my wife. All I had to do was zero in the laser and we were going to be all set. WRONG!! That little revolver with a service load in it sucks to shoot in any practice situation. I shoot a ton....but my hands are bigger and that little lightweight gun with tiny CT grips is not very pleasant to shoot for long periods of time. She prefers my M&P "C" 9mm. Very comfortable, recoil doesnt seem to bother her..therefore I don't have to worry about her jammimg the gun by limp wristing it. I DO worry about her having to rack the slide. We have practiced in several different ways and methods, but she has not got me convinced that she has got it down. I believe that a nice S&W 442 in carbon steel might be the best option.

Jim NE
October 8, 2013, 03:58 PM
You find that a J-frame works reasonably well for everyone? Really?

How do you define "reasonably well?" And would you honestly say that the average performance with a G19 and a J-frame are equivalently "reasonably well?"

I've not seen anything close to those results.
I've always liked shooting my j frame Smith model 37 Chief's airweight Special....until I shot it immediately after shooting the old Rossi snubnose model 68 I recently acquired. Ow!! A whole lot of snappy compared to the Rossi, which had almost no recoil (using the same ammo).

The Rossi is bigger, heavier and harder to conceal, but still very concealable. I think I always thought the 37 was relatively easy to shoot because I was expecting something worse (it has the old small wood grips, no less). But when I was expecting something better, it was a rather unpleasant shock. :)

If the OP can find an old Rossi 68 or 88, that would be another good option.

October 8, 2013, 04:00 PM
I was actually pretty annoyed when my mother wanted to learn to shoot, and I took her to the local rental range, and all they had for revolvers was an LCR. I showed her how I can crank through five shots fast and easy, but it beat her up too much. Several years ago she broke her left wrist and it didn't heal well, she can't rack most slides.

October 9, 2013, 10:49 AM
The practicality of purse carry or concealability of larger revolvers on petite women and their dress makes some difference as well. A K frame with proper grips would be much better at the range or nightstand but to get them to carry it it needs to be a balance of weight, and size.
If I had my choice I'd put a G19 or 26 on the belt of all the women that I have helped arm but I would also want them to dedicate the time and effort to be proficient as well. The revolver is as simple and safe as it gets with a loaded gun. The sad fact is that many gun owners will never become close to being proficient with their defensive guns.

October 9, 2013, 08:59 PM
Ruger 22 magnum LCR, light enough to not be combersome, double action only, comfy grip, nice trigger, not much recoil if any, fun to shoot and practice with. Snub nose, 6 shot.

October 9, 2013, 09:24 PM
Too small is a frequent mistake for a novice female shooter.
-A 2-finger grip gun is harder to shoot accurately and better for advanced shooters.
-A lighter gun will recoil more for the same load
-A smaller gun has less sight radius and often less "pointability".
-Women's bodies/clothes offer much better concealment than men's bodies/clothes. If you don't believe me you should watch some of the gals on YouTube!


October 10, 2013, 01:01 AM
Their bodies? Some of them. Their clothes? Only if they planned their wardrobe around carrying. When I met my wife, she didn't have a single outfit she could conceal with.

October 10, 2013, 02:09 AM
A few folks have mentioned .32, and I concur. Despite its reputation as a "weak" cartridge, it has far more zip than a .22 LR. Fifteen rounds of .32 ball in a very controllable handgun sounds like an excellent ladies' defense package to me.

October 10, 2013, 02:53 AM
The problem with buying another person a gun is that often what they get is what WE think they want, as opposed to what THEY want.

That said, take the lady out shooting and let her try a variety of handguns for herself. Getting her involved will not only result in her getting a handgun SHE likes, it'll also result in appreciation over the consideration for her input which you took in the process.

October 10, 2013, 05:02 AM
After 3 whole pages of this I can't believe how many posts are putting women down like they are dumber than a stump. Statements like a revolver is easy to use so they don't have to worry about racking the slide or clearing a jam. Well, don't guys have to rack the slide and clear jams? How long did it take to learn to clear a jam and why do you think women are to stupid to learn that?

The reason why women are not good at shooting is they didn't go shooting a lot when they were kids as many guys did. I find they catch very quickly and then shoot just as well or better than many men. I also read somewhere up to half the women on the planet are cross-eyed dominant. That would also give the impression of not being able to shoot accurately.

I'm not aiming this at anyone so if you are offended by what I said, tough...

October 10, 2013, 06:55 AM
When I first met my wife she had one handgun . It was a P 90 Ruger. Not exactly a carry piece if you plan on conceal it.
Due to some strange conditions at the time she needed to carry 100% of the time.
I lent her my 640 and a R9 Bianchi holster.
It worked out just fine.
Now I can[t keep track of what she has but do know what she likes and caries. Either a 642 with laser grip or the LCP. The 1911's are available one is a Kimber Ultra Carry II, The SP 101 is a house gun but was not planned as such,
For some reason most times it is pocket or purse carry.
I am partial to my J frames also and I would say that is the way I go unless heading for the city. Then a 686 or 66 with a J BUG is the plan.

I hope this video is more helpful than my old school opinion.

October 10, 2013, 08:55 AM
Nobody is putting women down, the thread is about women so the conversation is not about men and why they don't want to carry/own beyond a revolver.
There are many threads discussing that topic for men.
If you want to see some parity it's out there.

October 10, 2013, 04:49 PM
After 3 whole pages of this I can't believe how many posts are putting women down like they are dumber than a stump.

I'm looking info on a carry piece for my wife-to-be. Mid 50's, small frame and an absolute newbie to firearms.

My first carry gun was a revolver. When I got a lot more experience and training I switched to automatics.


October 10, 2013, 05:43 PM
but if she doesn't mind a little extra weight go heavier.

Totally agree. The idea that small hands need small firearms is common, but leads to some unfortunate choices. Women, with purses, can actually tote more iron than most men. And it's almost always better for beginners to start with large steel frame handguns. They have a longer sight radius and recoil less. Difficulty racking the slide, if a semi is chosen, is usually a matter of technique not a lack of muscle strength.

October 10, 2013, 06:43 PM
In all my CCH classes, I provide a variety of guns for the new shooters to try during the range portion. These range from my .22LR to .40S&W. Since most of my students live in my community, I ask them later what gun they had bought. Now, mind you, this is from my sample size so don't take this as a universal truism.

100% of the women in my class have chosen to carry a revolver. However, not all of the women were happy with that choice. Why? The loaner revolver my students use in class is a S&W Model 10. It's not overly heavy, but it's sufficient to absorb the recoil for 38 loads (including +P). The women loved this gun in class and could shoot the snot out of it, but when they went shopping for their own, they bought tiny, lightweight models that they ended up disliking, so much so that several students eventually sold theirs and bought something else.

The advice I give women students (besides try, try, try before you buy) is to NOT get a gun that is too small or too light, especially if they're not going to be practicing at the range frequently (although I stress in class that they should shoot as often as possible to build competency and comfort).

October 10, 2013, 11:53 PM
I got distracted by the title of this thread, and answered it incorrectly. The correct answer is "the largest gun that she can shoot comfortably and still conceal" - same as for a man.

After all, why carry? In case you need it. If she's going to carry responsibly and effectively, she will need to train and practice with her gun. If a gun is too small (in any dimension) or too light weight, it is less comfortable to shoot. If it is too uncomfortable, it won't get shot much or well. A larger grip reduces felt recoil, spreading it over a larger area. It also is a real help and comfort to those with a touch of arthritis - common in 50-something females in my family.

My wife started shooting handguns a year ago, but missed much of that due to shoulder surgery. When she first started, she shot a .38 Airweight snubbie pretty well, a .22lr snubbie pretty well, a 5" 686+SSR very well, and a full-size Colt stainless 1911 extremely well. My 22/45 was not a favorite for her - didn't balance well for her. She shot a .22LR converted G17 well, though.

We (well, mostly me) decided she should have her own, and she chose a nice, slim LC9 after holding someone else's at the LGS. Took a while to get one, and when we did she was excited - until she shot it. Three rounds and she was done. It punished her hands. Tried a grip sleeve, still not good. Rented a bunch of 9mms, and while she shot the G19 marginally better than the M&P9c, the M&P was much more comfortable for her. She's very happy with her 9c, and the new owner of the LC9 is happy, too.

The 9c is about as big as she can handle well. With Gold Dots, it is as much recoil as she wants, where the .40 is too much. The weight is just right, where the all-steel guns are too heavy for her. She prefers the balance of the 9c over the 9 full size - she shot both, and the choice was clear. She has learned to hold it close and push the grip to cycle the slide, and does that well now. She enjoys shooting her gun, and she shoots it well.

I have half a dozen 9mms that I shoot better than the 9c - and that doesn't matter. What matters is what she shoots well and is comfortable with - so she shoots often. Every time she shoots, she improves. She has gotten to the point that she corrects her own form, and I hear her mumble "It's all about the trigger" every once in a while - and she improves. Next it will be "slow is smooth, smooth is fast"....

October 11, 2013, 05:14 AM
My wife uses a P238. They are very easy to rack, and very soft shooting.

October 11, 2013, 11:20 AM
I just scanned the thread, but don't think anybody has linked to this yet:

This kind of backs up my own experience. The wife (20+ years ago when she was the "wife to be") didn't care for revolvers. She liked traditional DA/SA guns much better. I thought that was mainly because I loaded her mags and she just shot. She never had any trouble w/ jams and really didn't respond to my gentle persuasion towards the revolver. She also much preferred a third generation S&W 9mm to a smaller .32 (Beretta Tomcat, which was a piece of junk anyway).

October 12, 2013, 09:15 AM
I gave my ex a SP101 and she was drilling the center out at 12 yards with .357 loads on her first time ever shooting. Go shoot a bunch of guns and see which one suits you best. There are plenty of ranges that offer rentals. I like the SP101, it's rugged 5 shots, 38/357 and requires little maintenance. Stay away from lightweight or airweights, they recoil very harshly.

October 12, 2013, 04:30 PM
Frankly, a Smith K Frame, Model 10, with a 4 inch barrel.

It's not only the best first handgun for women, it's the best first handgun for men. Not tacticool enough for some, but the best with which to learn to shoot.

November 2, 2013, 11:56 PM
Took my wife to a gun show today to have her feel a lot of weapons and get an initial opinion on what she might like. A lot of them were too "right-handed" to suit her. After handling a lot of different guns she settled on 3 candidates. Ruger LCR, closely followed by a Charter Arms Lavender Lady. However, the one that surprised me, and her favorite, was a Magnum Research MR Eagle 9mm. She liked the way it fit her hand and was pretty lefthand friendly. Next step is to take her shooting with a variety of calibers to see how she handles recoil.

November 3, 2013, 09:51 AM
i think you should listen to queen_of_thunder. she is the only female, so far (hint, hint), that has posted on this thread. she gives good advise.


November 3, 2013, 01:55 PM
See post #7, then go to the site referenced there (

Kathy Jackson is a very wise and accomplished instructor who understands women (being one) and has worked with many. She is also very well-spoken, and her writing style is informative and enjoyable.

The accumulated benefit of her experience and wisdom is available to you and your wife at that site. Both you and she should read what Kathy has to say on selecting one's first gun. There are some things you can do to help, but mostly it will be her it should be.

Kathy will help make sure that the decision is a good one and the gun will prove appropriate for the shooter.

November 3, 2013, 04:30 PM
My wife carries a S&W 360 with .38 Spl 125's. She handles it very well (it has only ever had one cylinder of .357's through it).

She originally wanted an auto and most sales people wanted her to have an auto but she soon realized it didn't work for her and after handling many handguns, decided on the S&W.

November 3, 2013, 05:56 PM
Sky Dog, what did she end up picking out?

It's probably too late for a recommendation, but I highly recommend against an airweight. Heck I don't even like to shoot them, at practice, which means she may not like to practice with it either. Being a snub nose will make her even more discouraged as it'll be harder to hit anything.

If you have to carry an Airweight to defend yourself, fine...but if you can afford it, it might be a good idea to get the all-steel brother of it for practice. 80% steel, 20% airweight practice. It'll help with flinching. If her only impression of shooting 38sp+P is through an airweight, it might intimidate her too much.

Deaf Smith
November 3, 2013, 10:57 PM
I'm looking info on a carry piece for my wife-to-be. Mid 50's, small frame and an absolute newbie to firearms. I'm looking at SW 637/638CT Airweight .38 specials. You all's thoughts?
Taurus TCP .380 if she wants a lightweight DAO .380 Semi-auto that does not cost an arm or leg. Stainless slide to so minimal cleaning needed.

Yes I'd prefer bigger gun but I must admit it works very well, very good DA trigger, and is a slim and small as you would want.

If 9mm is the floor then the DAO Taurus 709SS would also work well, especially with DPX 9mm ammo (it's not loaded hot and the DPX slug is a very reliable expanding slug.)

And yes, snub revolvers are EXPERT ONLY guns. Very hard to hit with unless you practice alot.


If you enjoyed reading about "Best CCW pistol for newbie female" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!