Large Caliber Handguns and Women


gdcleanfun

Banned
Link Removed


by Janis Cortese

The women's firearms market is growing by leaps and bounds, and given that on the whole, women tend to be more easily intimidated by firearms and related information, this translates to a large number of interested people who need not only hardware but education as well.

One of the first questions a woman who is considering a firearms purchase for self-defense will ask is, "How strong a gun should I buy?" The advice I give here will hinge on two assumptions:


  • You are purchasing one firearm, a handgun, and
  • You are purchasing it for defensive purposes.

If you find yourself intrigued by the mechanical aspects of firearms and have the money to indulge, by all means purchase what interests you. But if you are looking for one handgun for home defense, you'll want to be a bit more selective.



"That's a big gun for a girl!"


When you start shopping around for your first handgun, it seems that everyonehas advice to give: revolver vs. autoloader, Magnum or no, what size grips you need, and especially what caliber. I was lucky enough to receive my first in-depth instruction from a friend, Ron Moore, who also happens to be a law enforcement officer and firearms expert. He is also utterly without the preconceptions revolving around which firearm is best for a "girl," and thinks instead in terms of what is suitable for an adult gunowner. (It's probably also helped by the fact that he is married to Cindy, a brown belt in aikido who shoots a .357 Magnum!)

As a result of this, I was never told that such-and-such was too big a gun for a girl, too strong for a girl, or kicked too hard for a girl, and it surprised me when I would hear people solemnly advising women to purchase the weakest and smallest handguns on the market, the .22 or the .25 caliber. While these guns can be fun to practice with since their ammo is very cheap, for a market concerned primarily with self-defense, it seems preposterous to advise us to get the weakest handguns ever made!

Much of this advice stems from the misconception that a stronger caliber will kick too hard for a "girl" to control. There seems to be an image in the minds of some advice-givers that even a .45 will fly out of the hands of a woman who shoots it while remaining rock-solid in the hands of a man. This just isn't the case. Remember Cindy, who I mentioned above as a brown belt and .357 Magnum enthusiast? She's 5'2"! A friend of mine with whom I test fired a S&W .357 Magnum loved the gun and shot quite well with it at a diminutive 4'10". While Magnum caliber handguns might not be ideal for the noise they make (staggeringly loud, especially indoors in a quiet bedroom at 2am), the recoil is simply not a problem, even for smaller women.

What determines how well you can handle a large caliber handgun is not so much brawn, but proper stance. There are a number of accepted stances for shooting a handgun (see my page at http://www.io.com/~cortese/resources/guns2.html for a more thorough treatment), several of which go a long way toward rendering the kick from a .38 or even .45 quite manageable even by small-statured women. The primary reason why a smaller woman might not want to purchase a large-caliber handgun comes more from the fact that the guns are physicaly bigger and hence reaching the trigger might be difficult for someone with small hands. Often, however, even this can be cured with the proper choice of grip.

So far from the popular image believed by many women of a handgun kicking itself out of your grip when fired, it is quite easy, with good training, for even a physically small woman to keep control of large caliber handguns.


"So what do I buy?"


There are many considerations that you should review before purchasing a handgun for defense, but they can often be boiled down to only a few issues. You want to get something large enough to stop an attacker (meaning the .22 and .25 are right out), manageable enough that it will not intimidate you, and sized properly for your hand. Magnum caliber ammunition is also a poor choice for the reason stated above; in a darkened, quiet bedroom, the muzzle flash and noise will temporarily blind you and possibly permanently damage your hearing. When you may need to listen up for a second home invader or call the police and an ambulance for the first, it's not the time for a dull ear!

However, most all Magnum caliber handguns are also capable of shooting less powerful ammunition as well, and it's not unsafe. A .357 Magnum revolver is designed to shoot .38's as well although the reverse is definitely not true. A good choice can be a .357 Magnum revolver since you can shoot any of the various flavors of .38/.357 during practice, and load it with .38's for defensive purposes. (It's like getting two-for-one.) If you aren't interested in shooting a .357 Magnum at all, a .38 is the perfect choice.

But don't let anyone tell you that a .357 Magnum or a .45 is "too much gun for a girl." It may indeed be too much for a girl, but for a properly trained woman gunowner, it could be just right!


The Bottom Line


In summary, you'll want to avoid anything overly small or overly loud. The .22 and .25 is a poor choice, and the .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum are overly loud (the .44M may indeed be too difficult to control as well. It was designed for big game hunters and while it's terrific fun at a range, it kicks far too hard for most men to handle it in a home defense situation. It's a great second purchase, but not a first.). This leaves you with a .38 or .357M loaded with .38's, and possibly a .45 if you like something a bit chunkier. If you prefer autoloaders, a 9mm is another good choice.

And if the handgun seems a bit too big for you to reach the trigger comfortably, try asking about different sized grips before putting it back on the shelf. Size is an important consideration in how well you can handle a handgun since it affects how well it fits in your hand. However, strength is another matter entirely, and you certainly don't need to be Xena: Warrior Princess, Arnold Schwarzenegger in heels, or a man to shoot a large caliber handgun with accuracy and confidence!


Copyright 1996 by Janis Cortese

mailto:[email protected]

http://www.io.com/~cortese/
 

HootmonSccy

New member
I always find this subject humorous and or sad..

I know a guy, he is 5' 4" and weighs 135 lbs.. What size gun should he have??

My wife is 6' 0" and I won't mention her weight.. What size gun should she have??

What is it about a woman that requires her to have a smaller caliber gun??

Yes, I will agree that on average women are smaller than men, and that might lead toward a smaller caliber, but shouldn't it be on a case by case basis and not a gender judgment???

How about a woman who is a soccer mom in Small town USA, versus a woman that lives in the not so good area of a large urban city?? Even if they are the same size, should they carry the same size gun??

How about the woman that lives in Alaska and spends quite a bit of time in the wild, should she have a smaller caliber JUST because she is a woman??

BTW - My wife is 6' as I mentioned, but decided to carry a .380 for a list of reasons. the biggest factor was not that she was a woman, but because she has a metal plate in her wrist from a Softball accident and Larger Caliber pistols can aggravate her wrist injury. The .380 is easier to conceal with all types of clothing. and she looks good in tighter fitting clothes :wink:

So, before you purchase a pistol, especially for concealed carry.. STOP and THINK about what you want out of the pistol, how much do you have to spend, what fits your hand well, how do you want to conceal it?? (IWB, Belly Band, Pocket Carry), where will you be carrying most often, what is appropriate?
Once you have your list, then you can start to shorten the list of possible pistols that are right for you (male or female)..

A salesman almost had my wife buying a .40 caliber, talking about combat situations, etc.. I had to talk her back down from behind the wall and out of her fatigues and make her review her list again.. She (not I) decided to rethink what she wanted to purchase.. She has been very happy with her decision on the Sig P238 .380 - (But likes to shoot a 1911 when she gets a chance!!!)
 

NDS

New member
Valuable post; all too often men discount the ability of women and women don't have enough faith in their own abilities. Prior to her stroke, my wife kept a .45 as a bedside gun and a KelTec .380 in her purse when she wanted something inconspicuous. Sensitivity to recoil varies among individuals. She now keeps a .357 loaded with .38s as it's recoil is minimal and she finds it easier to reload.

I believe, given proper training, many women can handle much more recoil than generally expected.
 

GeneM

New member
Before buying a gun for my wife she tried several different ones. She tried my Sig 232 .380, 1911, .357, .9mm. She also tried various guns of my brothers. She didn't like the smaller guns like my .380 and my brothers Karr .9mm. She liked the 1911, .357 and my Taurus .9mm. After holding different guns at the stores we finally bought a xdm .9 wich she realy likes. She is 5'3". Personal preferance is a big factor when making a choice.
 

gdcleanfun

Banned
I always find this subject humorous and or sad..
Just hoping to educate. All to often women are intimidated by the whole subject and nothing was being posted on the forum to allow them to think more on the matter. I merely thought to try and help. This forum is not strictly for women. As always, men and women are welcome to post, just as women and men are welcome to post on all the USA Carry threads.:biggrin:
 

gdcleanfun

Banned
Before buying a gun for my wife she tried several different ones. She tried my Sig 232 .380, 1911, .357, .9mm. She also tried various guns of my brothers. She didn't like the smaller guns like my .380 and my brothers Karr .9mm. She liked the 1911, .357 and my Taurus .9mm. After holding different guns at the stores we finally bought a xdm .9 wich she realy likes. She is 5'3". Personal preferance is a big factor when making a choice.

I'm glad she's happy with her choice of self protection, and yes, personal preference plays a huge part in the decision. I love love love both my 1911 and my .9!!! My Beretta .9 is my CCW of choice. The Link Removed is a great looking pistol. I'll have to check it out the next time I visit my local store. I've never had a problem with any size pistol, from a Cobra .25 up to my 1911. Dh has a 44 (don't know what make or year) but which I can't wait to try when he's well enough and we can get back to the range. All I know is that it sports a longer barrel than most of my current pistols. I'm 5"6" (average women's height and with a woman's average hand size, but usually much smaller than the average man's hand.) My weight isn't a factor for my choice of carry, only for my scale.:cray::fie::biggrin:
 
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sweetokole

Creator of the PHANTOM
gdcleanfun... do you mind my asking how you carry... I make the Phantom and find that it is not the best design for most women. There seems to be quite a challenge when it comes to method of carry for the opposite sex and it would be interesting to see if I could come up with something that would help.
 
Am I missing something???

Being that this is a thread on large caliber handguns, I'd like clarification on a particular caliber. At least 2 posters have talked about a ".9" caliber handgun. I've also seen reference to a ".9mm" handgun. I am not familiar with either caliber. The largest caliber handgun that I know of is the S&W .500 Magnum. I do not know of any caliber larger than the .500 mag. I'm guessing that the ".9" is a typo, but being that there's new stuff coming out all the time, I could be wrong.

On the converse, a ".9mm" would be very small. A millimeter is small to begin with. Imagine a bullet that is 9/10 the size of a single millimeter.

This is an open forum. Our posts could be viewed by a lot of people. It's important that we realize this and be sure that we're posting accurate information.




gf
 

Ringo

A WATCHMAN
With men or women I believe it's personal preference. My wife and daughter are both small frame and can handle and shoot any .45 or .357 easily, and accurately. My daughter has a lot of fun shooting her hubby's Ruger .44 magnum. However, they both prefer a nice J-frame revolver for carry or personal protection. My wife carries in her purse.
 

Rocketgeezer

New member
My wife shoots my ruger 454 she don't like it but she can shoot it if she has to, she carrys a Taurus 9mm and a 380, she shoots my Bersa 45 almost as well as I do, I think she would carry a 45 but one small enough for her to be comfortable with is way out of my price range, so I dont put no stock in that, that guns to big for a girl stuff.........oh and she's 4.8 and is barely a 100 lbs
 

gdcleanfun

Banned
gdcleanfun... do you mind my asking how you carry... I make the Phantom and find that it is not the best design for most women. There seems to be quite a challenge when it comes to method of carry for the opposite sex and it would be interesting to see if I could come up with something that would help.

I carry 2 ways. First is on my hip in a generic kevlar-type holster, both open carry and cc with an over-sized outer shirt. The other way I carry is in a fanny pack. Today, I just bought a Bianchi Auto Retention Carrylok holster and have questioned its use for both carry on my "curvy" frame. See here.
 
I carry 2 ways. First is on my hip in a generic kevlar-type holster, both open carry and cc with an over-sized outer shirt. The other way I carry is in a fanny pack. Today, I just bought a Bianchi Auto Retention Carrylok holster and have questioned its use for both carry on my "curvy" frame. See here.


Do you use a "Kevlar" or "Kydex" holster? Kydex can be heated and molded using a heat gun. I'm not familiar with a Kevlar holster.

If you're having problems with your new holster, and it can't be properly adjusted, you can attempt to retrain to get the holster to work properly, or you can do as many of us and add them to the collection of holsters that "don't quite fit". It's important to have a holster that functions properly as in retains the firearm in the desired position when not in use, and releases the firearm properly when you need to draw the firearm without any hang ups.

I've had students in the past come to me with various versions of Kydex holsters that didn't quite fit their jeans, belt loops, etc. Some quick modifications with the Dremel, straight file, and heat gun were able to make the holster function properly for them. Working with leather is a little more tricky and not something I would recommend.

Good luck in finding a solution.




gf
 

gdcleanfun

Banned
Do you use a "Kevlar" or "Kydex" holster? Kydex can be heated and molded using a heat gun. I'm not familiar with a Kevlar holster.

If you're having problems with your new holster, and it can't be properly adjusted, you can attempt to retrain to get the holster to work properly, or you can do as many of us and add them to the collection of holsters that "don't quite fit". It's important to have a holster that functions properly as in retains the firearm in the desired position when not in use, and releases the firearm properly when you need to draw the firearm without any hang ups.

I've had students in the past come to me with various versions of Kydex holsters that didn't quite fit their jeans, belt loops, etc. Some quick modifications with the Dremel, straight file, and heat gun were able to make the holster function properly for them. Working with leather is a little more tricky and not something I would recommend.

Good luck in finding a solution.




gf

No, Link Removed, and kevlar-type holster is what I was told to call what I bought. That's not what I have. Damn, lied to and again made out to be the fool by a salesperson! Sux! What's the proper name for this type of holster? Thanks for teaching us, gf.

BTW, me thinks it would be easier to modify my belt loops rather than modify this new holster. It seems to work just fine, just not sure it will fit my curves. I need more practice with it, and I'm not giving up just yet.
 

ecocks

New member
When selecting her personal firearm, my wife tried all of my handguns. This included a Browning Buckmark .22, Sig P-230, Bersa .380, S&W Sigma 9, S&W M&P .40 and a CZ-40. Additionally, she took her first training class with a Glock-19 and fired a buddy's .40 Ruger, .44 Magnum and all three caliber Springfields on the same range where she trained. For "her" personal weapon, she immediately rejected the Glocks as "funny-feeling" (I swear I didn't say a prejudicial word beforehand but confess I LMAO when she said how she felt), the .22 as too light, both .380's as "too much snap" and the .45 as physically bulky or too few rounds since she was inclined to discount being in a situation where she had to worry about split-second reloading. She was okay with the 9mm with regard to mag cap and controllability but really loved my CZ-40.

Of course, they quit manufacturing that model a couple of year's ago. :cray: Sigh.

Her final decision was a CZ-75 P-06 (.40 w/3 7/8" bbl.). A couple of my buddies were a bit envious. What's the only thing better than having your well-trained, most trusted friend/partner backing you up most everywhere you go ? It's when your partner selects their weapon and reminds you that you can resupply from their purse or belt if necessary since the mags are interchangeable. :victory:
 

imadragonkeeper

New member
I tried several guns as well - sadly having to buy them and then trade them in when I found I really didn't like them very much. I finally found a gun that felt great in my hand - like it was custom made for me - a mid sized 1911. I like heavier guns for some reason and this baby weighed in at 2#. Hubby liked it so much he traded in his full size Taurus 1911 and bought the compact version (which I now carry and he carries my mid size ;) ). We switched guns only because with my curves it was a little easier to conceal the one with the shorter grips - they both shoot very well and are fun to shoot too (just wish ammo was a little more reasonably priced lol). I am 5'4" with average size hands and curvy (plus could stand to lose a couple pounds) and I carry IWB in a Kholster. After wading through5 state troopers and a handfull of sheriffs at a convenience store after work the other night I feel pretty confident that my gun is well concealed lol.
 

LilRedMeanie

New member
I carry a Ruger LCP .380 daily. I mainly bought it for concealed carry (IWB, in my purse, or ankle holster while I'm running) and that's one of the main reasons why I wanted a smaller pistol. I do occasionally open carry in a hip holster, but mainly when I'm out in the woods or something to that extent. The recoil was a big issue with me also, that's why I went for a smaller caliber pistol. I have weak wrists. I'm finding the more I shoot, the stronger they get. I'm sure in time I will be moving up to a larger caliber pistol or revolver.
 

CCWOFNC

CCWOFNC
Hey Gang,
I recommend new shooters, male or female, try before they buy via asking friends & family if they would mind sharing their handguns. I often share from my personal collection during a Basic Pistol or Concealed Carry class usually consisting of a Buckmark 22, my personal carry S&W 38 (642 Airweight), and my personal fav a H&K P7 9mm....although the Springfield 1911 is an awesome shot it's tough for me to conceal on my med size frame. In my experience some of the best (untrained) natural shots are Gals. Also have a galfriend who's a Marine, expert markswomanship ability is an understatement and she's my heroine!
 

Jay

New member
This is strictly my opinion, and has worked in many years of firearms training, and for men and ladies alike. Buy a handgun just like
you would buy a pair of shoes. If Ol' Joe over here says he likes Charlie China tennis shoes, and you're looking for a new pair of
shoes, do you run out and buy Joe's pick, just because HE likes 'em? Probably not. If a new shooter is asking what to buy for a
carry gun, it doesn't matter what works for me, or anyone else. I suggest telling that new shooter to go to many gun shops, and/or
gun shows, and handle all the guns they can get hold of. Just like they would try on shoes. Before long they'll be able to make a list
of guns that feel ok, pretty good, real good, and "that really feels great in my hands". The last two are the ones to pursue, and
here's why I say that....

If a given handgun doesn't feel "right" in your hands, you'll not shoot it enough to become proficient with it, because it's not
comfortable, and you won't like shooting it. Just like you rarely wear shoes that are UNcomfortable. If you're not gonna become
proficient with it, save your money, and buy a ball bat to carry. With proper fundamentals, he/she can learn to shoot almost any
handgun. Very few folks can re-train their hands to make just any handgun feel comfortable. The last suggestion.........proper
shooting techinques, practiced slowly, but proficiently, will breed speed. Do it slowly, and do it the right way, every time.......If you
practice speed first, and introduce less efficient techniques into your training, you'll have to do it all over again to get it right.

By the way..... anyone who introduces a new shooter to our pastime by having them start with a large-caliber handgun, makes a
very poor decision. Yes, some folks do ok starting out with large calibers, but the vast majority will not continue to shoot if their very
1st experience is with .50 S&W.

Again, just my ramblings.... but they work for me...

Shoot Safely....
 

crowsnake

New member
gdcleanfun... do you mind my asking how you carry... I make the Phantom and find that it is not the best design for most women. There seems to be quite a challenge when it comes to method of carry for the opposite sex and it would be interesting to see if I could come up with something that would help.

I carry Appendix, but I took my Belly band and put it in the more commonly called "Smart Carry" position. I can not wear it around my belly as I have had weight loss surgery and I still have the extra skin, So the belly bands rolls up bad. Plus with my body shape it looks like I have a tumor growing out of my arm pit. Unless I wear a really baggy shirt. Now I was surprised that it was not bad. I expected my Dunlap to dun lap over the gun butt and pinch. But what pinched with the stupid rolled up belly band with the wide Velcro. I have looked at Smart Carry and it looks a little floppy? Like maybe it does not protect the trigger as well as I would like.

I wanted to wear a tighter shirt and the appendix allows profiles. So I stuck it up front. So do you have a link to your holster. I would like to look at it more closely. My larger .45 needs to hide better.
 

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