Large Caliber Handguns and Women
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Thread: Large Caliber Handguns and Women

  1. #1
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    Large Caliber Handguns and Women

    Large Caliber Handguns and Women


    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/

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  3. #2
    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

    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!!!)

    Gulf Coast, Floriduh
    Sccy is the limit

  4. #3
    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.
    People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome.--River Tam

  5. #4
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    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.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by HootmonSccy View Post
    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.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneM View Post
    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 XDm .9 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.
    Last edited by gdcleanfun; 02-17-2010 at 01:04 AM. Reason: typo, again

  8. #7
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    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.

  9. #8
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    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
    "A few well placed shots with a .22LR is a lot better than a bunch of solid misses with a .44 mag!" Glock Armorer, NRA Chief RSO, Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Muzzleloading Rifle, Muzzleloading Shotgun, and Home Firearm Safety Training Counselor

  10. #9
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    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.
    Americas Epitaph
    "Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, He gave them up to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done"

  11. #10
    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

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