by Wiley Clapp - Monday, June 9, 2014
This point came up in a gun counter discussion just last week: What is the most important consideration is helping a new female shooter select a handgun for personal defense? In my opinion, it is the size of her hand. Look at a woman’s hand as compared to a man’s. With some exceptions, her hand isn’t as wide, nor are the fingers as long. In order to shoot a new handgun well, she has to be able to get a positive grip. Most of the time, that means a sort of medium-sized pistol or revolver. I was in a Gunsite course a couple of years ago, where the class consisted of 16 shooters-eight men and eight women. Several of the ladies were professional law enforcement officers and handled their handguns with no small skill. Others were near neophytes and worked hard at learning the basics. I felt that two or three of the ladies would have been happier with and shoot better with slightly smaller pistols.
If you are asked to contribute to the selection process for a particular woman, understand that there are several common mistakes to be avoided. Understanding that the woman’s hands are smaller, don’t go too far in choosing something that is little and fits the popular image of a woman’s gun. If a woman really wants a handgun, she knows her own mindset and wants all the gun that she can possibly handle. A too-small handgun may fit the hand and lifestyle of a particular woman, but it hurts to shoot and she won’t practice with it. Conversely, don’t pick out a handgun so big and powerful that only an NFL linebacker could manage it. This sometimes happens in the mistaken belief that if she needs a gun, she needs a monster.
The important thing is matching the size of the gun to the hand. I have long felt that medium-frame revolvers (with proper grips) were a great choice, but revolvers seem to be falling from favor. Full-size semi-automatic pistols with double-column magazines tend to have thicker butt sections, which are not always compatible with short fingers. If she can’t get her hand around the pistol and fire several shots without losing her grip, the gun is not for her. Happily enough for those women in this category, the makers are beginning to offer single-column pistols of medium size that are ideal for this situation. If the lady in question can manage one of the short, double-stack pistols, so much the better. To re-iterate, match the size of the gun to the size of the hand.
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