…is the gun you shoot well, and that you’ll actually carry.
There IS no end-all, be-all perfect woman’s gun, in spite of all the kvetching on our favorite gun forums and oodles of articles in convenience-store gun mags.
Women use different criteria when selecting their personal carry firearm. Most of us have a few more curves than our gentleman counterparts, and some of us have fashion standards that preclude us from wearing baggy clothing or those gawdawful concealment vests that look like they were dreamed up by somebody’s gramma suffering from fruitcake overload. (It’s easy to say, “What do you value, fashion or your life?” For some women, fashion IS life.)
This post isn’t going to go into the finer points of caliber selection, though I will caution anyone from selecting a caliber less powerful than .38+P for personal carry. Nor will I tell you what holsters you MUST get. What I will subject you to is a little story of how I came to carry the gun I do, and the path that got me here.
When I first decided to get my concealed handgun license, I set out to kick a lot of tires in the search for my personal firearm. I got a lot of stupid advice from well-meaning but less-than-brilliant men, such as “get a revolver! They’re not intimidating to the ladies, and don’t need much knowledge of firearms”. How insulting!
This advice propelled me toward autoloading pistols, and ultimately the Kahr P9. I know the 9mm round is a good, inexpensive and common round to shoot with. I knew that I’d find anything in .45acp to big and bulky for my own carry needs, in spite of the fact that I shoot far more accurately with the larger, more powerful caliber. (My next handgun will be a .45acp for non-carry use, i.e. fun and general non-carry protection).
I got a custom Kydex holster–which I loved–for my Kahr and began to carry it, but in truth, I never really shot well with this little pistol, no matter how much I practiced. Plus, I found that the stock protruded a bit in all but the loosest garments. (I shot far worse with the smaller PM9, in case you’re wondering). So, to make a long story short, I stopped carrying altogether.
And guess what? About a year ago, I sold the Kahr and purchased an S&W Airweight 642 revolver. And I love it.
I know that the six pre-loaded magazines for my Kahr were much easier to reload than the three full-moon revolver autoloading devices, but I’ve learned to use the latter quickly. I know that the .38+P round of my new S&W is less powerful than the 9mm+P+ that I used to didn’t carry, but the point is, a gun that’s left at home isn’t very powerful at all, is it?
I also love how easy my little revolver is to carry. It honestly fits in a pocket, and the name Airweight says it all. And while it has a heavy trigger pull, there’s a technique I use that allows me to draw the trigger back nearly all the way, check my target, then give one final squeeze, therefore using the firearm almost like a single action.
Even better, my little pistol has Crimson Trace sights. Useless during the day unless at very close range, but very handy for low-light situations, and a TON of fun during dry-firing practice.
Maintenance? A snap. To be fair, cleaning autoloading firearms isn’t rocket science, but nothing beats the simplicity of a revolver. And the same principle of simplicity makes a revolver a more reliable machine.
My old Kahr has found a happy home with a friend of mine who loves it, and shoots it well. It IS a good gun, just wasn’t my type. (“Honey, it’s not you, it’s me”). Fit and function will vary from person to person, which is why I recommend trying out as many guns as possible before making that important purchase. Many ranges will allow you to rent, and others may have members around who are more than willing to let you try out their handguns for a chance to show off their own skills. Work it, girl; don’t settle down until you’ve played the field. In my case, the “good guy” revolver came in last, but better late than never.