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Choose Your Weapon: Women & Guns

Choose Your Weapon: Women & Guns
By Marie McGaha
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Choose Your Weapon: Women & Guns

There are many factors that should be considered when purchasing a weapon for self-defense, especially for women. The facts are women have smaller hands with less strength. Over the years, I have found that while my ability to shoot has improved, my ability to load a magazine and pull the slide and trigger has declined, due to carpal tunnel surgery and arthritis. Therefore, my weapon of choice has also changed. When I first started shooting, I learned with a .22 rifle.  I was a kid and my dad took me squirrel hunting.  That weapon was a good start. As an adult, I had an affinity for revolvers and fell in love with the Smith & Wesson Model 686 .357 magnum. I loved the weight and firepower. For me, blowing up shaving cream cans was quite a thrill! The problem was that the double-action was so stiff I couldn’t pull the trigger all the way through, I had to cock the hammer in order to fire the weapon. Another problem was that it didn’t work very well as a concealed carry weapon, for obvious reasons!

Since then, I began my search for a better weapon, one that fit my hand, wasn’t too heavy for repeated firing, had an easier trigger pull, and was good for concealment.  I made sure it still had the power I was looking for in a handgun. My husband’s weapon of choice is the 1911 chambered in .45 ACP.  But, after shooting it a few times, I found it too big and bulky for my hand and heavier than I preferred.  For Valentine’s Day one year, he bought me a Taurus Judge Ultralight .45/410, which I love. It’s easy to shoot and lightweight.  However, it only holds five rounds and is still a bit bulky for concealed carry. My search continued!

Several experts on the matter suggested weapons chambered in .380 ACP  or the hammerless .38 special, saying that women like how small they are. Not to mention, they are both easily concealable. The .38 special revolver is great, but again, it has a very limited ammo capacity. These two handguns are what I call “girl guns.” Not that they aren’t good for up close and personal self-defense, but I wanted something with a little more knockdown power at a distance. My view is that if a man gets close enough to do me harm, he’s close enough to take my weapon and use it on me, which is not the outcome I’m looking for.

After more searching, I picked up a Glock 19 9mm. The grip fit my hand like it was made for me. I can pull the slide back with no problems and it’s light enough to practice with all day long.  It’s easy to conceal, holds fifteen rounds in the magazine (plus one in the chamber), and I can defend myself before an attacker can get close enough to hurt me. Depending on where I’m going and what I’m doing, I’m able to carry it in my concealed carry purse with extra magazines, or I can conceal it as an appendix carry with extra mags stored in my purse.  At that point, the Glock became my main concealed carry handgun. But, there came a time when I thought about what kind of problem I might have if I was ever attacked from behind and knocked to the ground. If my Glock was concealed in my purse, I’d have no chance of retrieving it. So, what were my options? A “girl gun” of course!

Enter the Ruger LCP II .380.  I must admit that I wasn’t thrilled with it at first, but I also wanted it as an ankle carry weapon.  This handgun was the perfect fit for my ankle holster. Because it’s so small, it doesn’t fit my hand very well.  But, by adding the extension to the magazine, it significantly improved my grip. I had never fired anything that small, so off to the range we went.  I was very impressed. This little “girl gun” is extremely accurate up to about thirty feet. And, I was hitting my 3” styrofoam cube targets 100% of the time.

At this point, you might think I’ve found my perfect concealed carry handgun and back-up weapon, but something else happened—I discovered the Bersa Thunder Pro Ultra Compact .45ACP and I fell in love. This little semi-automatic is like the bulldog of compact pistols. Not only is it perfectly balanced and fits my hand well, but it has the awesome stopping power of a .45.  With an ambidextrous safety, even lefties can use it. The slide pulls easily, even with my arthritic fingers, and the curved trigger gives me perfect finger placement. It’s double and single action and it has an added safety measure with a loaded chamber indicator.  Plus, it is very accurate.

Whatever you are looking for in a concealed carry weapon, don’t just settle for one that someone else says you need. Test fire the weapon, ask questions, practice concealment with it, and make sure it’s something you are comfortable with.

11 months ago
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Rasheena
8 months ago at 4:06 PM
I have a Ruger Lc9s and SCCY CPX-2. Both are small enough for a purse, light weight, and easy to conceal. Arm yourselves ladies.
Ken Taylor
4 months ago at 7:03 PM
I bought my wife a Lady Smith 38 Special black with rosewood grips 5- shot with two speedl loaders. She’s about 4’ 10” so she won’t be to in to 9mm, so it works well for her and has good firepower.
CHERYL ANN RICKARDS
4 months ago at 7:03 PM
Hi Ken! I’m your wife’s size. I started with the Lady Smith, but was uncomfortable with only 5 shots. I bought the Sig P320C RX last year (9mm). The slide WAS tough, so I practiced 1-2 times/week wearing a leather glove until my hand strength improved. I’m now an NRA instructor. The 320 Red Dot really boosted my confidence and performance. Good luck!
Robert W Mckinney
4 months ago at 1:33 AM
What about the new Ruger 57?
Marcia
4 months ago at 6:54 PM
I like this little story, Marie. You kept looking with an open mind until you found what fit you. Especially when "Bersa" is a much frowned-upon Mfr. from the gun-snob crowd. You likely heard from people what "crap" Bersa makes, but you found it to be the opposite. Guess what, so have I! Low cost, good fit, what's' not to like.
Jon Lochner
4 months ago at 8:22 PM
A few years ago, I read an article about the author's wife shooting a 1911 .45 semi-auto handgun. It was pointed out that the average size of a soldier in WWI was about 5 feet 5 or 6 inches, about the same height as an average woman today. So he observed that his wife could "handle" the 1911 Colt just fine. In the long run, it comes down to trying several firearms to find your own best fit. I have found that my XL glove-sized hand loves to hold my Para-Ordnance P14, Glock 17 & 19 with the biggest grip adapters, and the sweet Beretta Model 81 surplus from ClassicFirearms.
Pete
3 months ago at 5:48 AM
Shot placement is all that really matters.
Ron
3 months ago at 9:41 AM
This also sounds like an ideal piece for an elderly man. Thanks for the insightful article.