Handguns for Women

by Teddy Jacobson, Pistolsmith
Sugarland, TX
reprinted with permission

I have received many phone calls about this very subject. I have thought about this and even made a video on this subject years ago. The requirements for women are quite different than the average man. Most women are recoil sensitive. Many women like nice looking semi autos like the James Bond Walther, but this is not practical, they also like fancy wood grips.

There are only 3 semi autos that I know of that are easy for most women to rack the slide.

One is the Beretta 92F (9mm) which is a wide grip large frame handgun that uses a 13 lb. recoil spring which makes it relatively easy for a woman to pull the slide back. The down side is, its big and heavy and hard to hold if a person has a small hand. I can cut the original plastic grips half thickness which helps somewhat. This is a very hard gun to conceal for a woman, although this was my wife's selection and she really likes this model fully loaded using hi cap magazines.

Another good selection is the Glock 19 (9mm) which is easy for the average woman to to rack the slide. Every caution must be taken using this model as it has no external lever type thumb safety. You would need a good holster that encompasses the trigger when carried in a woman's bag, to protect the trigger at all times against accidental discharge if a shell is kept in the chamber.

The third option is the P SERIES of Ruger semi autos in 9mm. It would be best for women to go to their local gun shop and put these pistols in her hand and its their decision as to what is best for them and not mine. I know women that have used these P series pistols and like them.

Having a Walther PPK or PPK/S is not the way to go because it's very difficult to operate the slide as the pistol is equipped with a 20 lb. recoil spring. The trigger pull out of the box averages approximately 16 to 18 lbs. in the double action mode. This is out of the question for most women.

After the selection process is complete and the new owner takes her handgun to the range, its practice time, she should have at least 3 magazines for this pistol.

I personally think most women are better off with a small revolver in 38 special caliber.

I have always recommended the S&W "J" frame revolver, model 60 with a 3 inch barrel with target sights. This model 60 can be smoothed out a great deal.

Another good revolver is the Hammerless Centennial models by S&W.

Looking at a Ruger, I suggest the SP101 also in 38 special caliber. It's much heavier but well made. It's what fits the womans hand best, I can not decide for anyone. I can present her best options. I do not care for Taurus revolvers regardless of what you read or what the know it alls tell you. I am not concerned with past politics that leads you to pick certain foreign made guns.


Next step is to select a large bag or purse which is made to hold a handgun in a separate compartment and will also hold your holster if necessary. I first bought my wife a Galco many years ago, later on she needed a new one, so I got her one made by Coronado leather company which is excellent. They make all sizes and shapes and colors and there are other companies that make these gun toting bags also, which I am not familiar with.

When at the range, a woman can practice using target ammo with mild recoil, but she needs to carry it using hotter self-defense ammo. She must shoot some of this hotter ammo at the range in order to experience and get used to the added recoil she will experience.

The handgun a woman selects can be her best friend but she must practice where it becomes natural for her to operate and use. KEEP IT CLEAN AS YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.