Friendly and Certified Firearms Training for Women Since 2011

5 Tips for Women — Choose A Gun For Self Defense

When selecting a firearm that you will depend your life upon, there are 5 very important factors to consider:


Your gun must work each and every time you reach for it. This means having a gun of good craftsmanship (you get what you pay for), and remember KISSKeep It Simple Sister. Don’t go crazy with too many toots and whistles…except night sights! This also means you need to maintain your firearm – regularly shoot it, clean it and twice a year, rotate ammunition & magazines.

Reliability can be affected by your ability to shoot the gun successfully. If you notice when shooting a certain handgun that it malfunctions a lot… try different ammunition. Sometimes certain guns and ammo don’t get along. If you eliminate the ammunition the problem causing malfunctions and you are still experiencing malfunctions, it may be an indication that you and the gun are not compatible, or you need some more training if you are inadvertently causing the gun to malfunction due to technique. The last thing to consider is that you and the gun just don’t get along, and it is time to look for something new.


Your intention is to STOP someone who is actively trying to kill, cripple or rape you. There is debate within the industry of what the minimum caliber is that you should carry as a primary defense gun – .380 or 9mm. We don’t want to bring that debate here but will remind you to consider barriers such as the ability to penetrate seasonal clothing, such as heavy jackets. It is suggested that you do some research on your guns and your ammunition of choice in various calibers and come to your own conclusion as to what will be your best performing and reliable round. At any rate, anything less than a .380 is not recommended for a primary self defense gun. I will also say that if all you have is a .22, it is better than harsh language and throwing rocks.


You must be able to carry your gun openly or concealed on your person throughout your daily routine. Choosing a gun of the correct size and weight is directly related to the size of your body frame and/or ability to carry extra weight of the gun. Do you have any physical limitations that you need to compensate for? That can be anything from the ability to carry the weight on your hips, paralyzed or missing limbs, body weight (too thin or too heavy) and flexibility in your shoulders and back. There are several on-body carry options, and thankfully Kathy Jackson of The Corned Cat has put together a complete on-body concealment system that requires four things:

  • a firearm of the appropriate size,
  • a safe holster,
  • a secure method of attaching that holster to your body, and
  • a good cover garment.

Many of these considerations also applies if you intend to purse carry as your primary option. We all know a ladies purse is heavy enough, adding a big ol’ gun is not really an appealing idea.

Bottom line is this is a lifestyle choice, and if your gun does not fit your hand, wardrobe or body frame you are less likely to have it with you everyday. If you don’t have it with you when you need it, how can it help you?


The gun you choose to potentially save your life someday must make sense to you. It must be designed to use quickly and efficiently AND match your muscle memory. What this implies is if you choose a gun with an external safety then your training should include drawing from the holster and sweeping the safety off, then re-engaging the safety before holstering. Safeties and other controls must be designed so you can operate them efficiently without having to modify your strong hand grip.

You also must be able to rack the slide and pull the trigger. I know that sounds like an odd thing to say, but seriously make sure you can do these two functions.  I had a client recently in a crisis situation. She went to a local gun store and bought what the salesperson told her to buy (see the post on why it is important to buy your own gun and KNOW what you are looking for).  When she came to me for a lesson she couldn’t pull the trigger on her brand new hammerless revolver. Often we think a simple solution for a “user friendly” gun is to get a revolver, but that is not entirely true as I learned from my client.  Pulling the trigger on a revolver can be just as difficult as racking the slide on a semi-auto.

If you have strength issues of any kind, this is will be high on your priority list to try before you buy or spend some quality time dry firing.


As with any purchase, it is important to enter into the buying process with some kind of information. If you are a complete newbie and really know nothing… well, you’ve already read the above 4 things, so you DO know something. Keep going! Grab a gun magazine, review online blogs, make trips to several gun stores, talk to multiple instructors, and consult your friends/family IF they are what you consider to be knowledgeable on the subject. Find the common language and suggestions and use that as your baseline. Choosing the right gun for you for the purpose of self defense is a very personal process. There is no one size fits all, but options that fit most!

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