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Old 04-10-2013, 11:31   #1
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Woman's first handgun

Here the situation:

I'm a man. I have a female friend (and I mean friend) who wants me to help her choose her first handgun. I don't want to be a part of her choice because I have my biases and preferrences, and I feel this choice should be hers. Best example is she is looking for HD only, and so I would recommend a shotgun. But she wants a handgun, and it's her choice.

The last thing I want to do is lead her in a direction that she will regret. How should I approach this?
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Old 04-11-2013, 18:29   #2
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Take her to a range that has rental handguns. Find something that fits her hands and she shoots well. When she does that, have her take it home. As long as it's a decent quality manufacture she will be fine.
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Old 04-11-2013, 22:37   #3
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Does she even know how to shoot?

Always start out with professional training. Then she can go and rent/borrow guns to try out before she makes her own decision on which gun to buy.
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Old 04-11-2013, 22:57   #4
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Hauptman6 gave you good advice. Make sure it's a caliber she can handle. Make sure the gun fits her hand. The more different types of guns she can rent/shoot the better. Personally, i would let somebody who is new to handguns shoot my .22 pistols first before they graduate to the home defense gun.
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Old 04-11-2013, 23:05   #5
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Taurus Judge or Public Defender or S&W Governor combine the hand gun and a home defense "shotgun" effect. For carry the Sig P238
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Old 04-12-2013, 17:01   #6
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I assume you have handguns and access to a range. I would take some of your more common type guns and take her to a range and let her shoot everything. If she is completely new I would take a .22 for the first trip and that would be it so you can focus on fundamentals. Otherwise a couple of revolvers and a couple of different styles of self loaders. Glock, some kind of SA/DA, maybe a true single action like a BHP or 1911. You can rent to fill the gaps in your collection, I couldn't put my hands on a SA/DA to save my life, haven't owned one in 30+ years.

If someone is new enough to shooting I like to talk to them about their concerns and preferences with no guns on hand, just to get a feel for how they think. I personally feel that unless someone who is totally new to shooting is an unusual person has an natural grasp of how machines work a revolver is the best starting point just because you have to be pretty dense not to be able to grasp at a gut level how it works. Loaded is all the little holes filled up, empty is all the little holes empty. Once you fire a cartridge, take it out and replace it with one that hasn't been fired. No magazine out first, chamber empty second stuff to remember.

Right now of what is on the market new I would look at the end of the case where they keep the .357 Magnum Ruger and S&W revolvers like the GP100 and 686s. Maybe a nice K frame or Security Six if you can find one from the used side.

If she is the kind of person who would quickly internalize the manual of arms for a self loader then the can of worms becomes a bucket or barrel. I guess my criteria would be:

First, overall size
Second, operation method, SA, DAO, SA/DA etc.
Third, fit and feel
Fourth, caliber
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Old 04-13-2013, 01:36   #7
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First off, thanks for the responses. There are a few details I probably should have included from the start. She has some experience with handguns. Before her dad died, he took her to the range a few times. She doesn't know which models/calibers she shot other than they were larger than a .22. A couple of them were revolvers, but again, she doesn't know what caliber, and I can only guess they were .38/.357. I would love to take her to the range, but I travel nearly non-stop for work, so that's a no-go. I have suggested that she take a training course, but she just wants me to tell her a specific handgun that she should go out and purchase. If I felt that were okay, I would suggest a K or L frame smith. But for all I know, she might have been using ultra-tame .38 target ammo in an N frame, so the recoil of a K frame might be more than she wants.

I'm trying like hell to convince her to seek out professional hands-on training, but she doesn't think it's necessary. She lives in a relatively safe area and has a husky that is very protective, so I don't worry too much about her.
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Old 04-13-2013, 08:28   #8
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I've trained several women in how to handle and shoot their first handguns. Know what? It's, kind 'a, like teaching a kid to love eating hot cereal! All the other kids say, 'Ugggh!' 'I don't want to eat no hot cereal!' I, on the other hand, smile, act and look positive, and start off by showing a female student who well she is going to be able to shoot IF SHE LEARNS HOW TO PROPERLY MANAGE RECOIL during her initial experiences with a pistol.

I much prefer to begin neophyte pistol shooters out on revolvers; and a dual caliber 38 Special/357 Magnum revolver is always my first choice. I have never actively trained anyone to use a handgun without first making sure that - at the very least - that person knows the basic handgun safety rules: backwards, forwards, and by heart!

Which still ain't going to be good enough because if, 'Cooper's Four Safety Rules' are ever going to actually work, and work well, then they have to be consistent; AND the only way to genuinely inculcate any safety rule is to, first,


We'll begin with 38 Special wadcutter (or semi-wadcutter) loads; and, then, I start slipping in individual rounds of full house 357 Magnum, or - especially at the last few cylinders of the session - entire speedloaders of 357 Magnum rounds. I neither use, like, nor recommend any barrel of less than 3 inches in length as a first handgun. A hammer spur is, also, another, 'must have' feature.

Personally, I do not believe a neophyte pistol shooter should begin with a semiautomatic design. (Your job as an instructor is going to be a lot more intense if you elect to begin with a semi-auto.) Not all women, but, many women are not going to do well with a semiautomatic weapon. There are, simply, too many, 'ancillary safety and handling issues' that need to be watched for and carefully addressed; AND, the reality is that,


Sometimes when you're there; and sometimes when you're not! Some common gun safety faux pas: (1) Always remembering that there is often a live round left in the chamber AFTER the magazine has been removed from the pistol. (This is a, 'biggie' that - even when a student is, 'intellectually aware' - continues to occur with alarming frequency!) (2) Knowing how to properly clear a stoppage - Especially without tilting the pistol sideways and, consequently, down the firing line! (Just for the record, I see this mistake all of the time too.)

Last weekend, in fact, I left a firing line when the, 'gun dufus' on my right began placing his 5.56mm tactical rifle down on the bench sideways while he, 'played' with it. (What he was doing with a tactical rifle on the 25 yard line I do not understand? If a guy can't hit at 25 yards with a rifle then, as far as I'm concerned, golf should be his real game because he, sure as Hell, shouldn't be fooling around with guns!) (3) Clearance drills are, of course, a lot more complicated and difficult to carry out when a new student is using a semi-auto.

A smooth and efficient, 'Tap, rack, bang' drill (or any of the several other variations on clearing a pistol) requires a lot more familiarity than simply pointing the muzzle in a safe direction, working the latch, and smacking a cylinder open with the palm of the hand! The frequency of occurance for these sorts of handling problems is, also, a lot less for revolvers than it is for semiautomatics - especially when a woman is the operator. (No I'm not being a male chauvinist; I'm simply stating a readily observable fact!)

Whoever trains your friend should start her out on the close targets: 5 to 7 1/2 yards is ideal; and I like to get a student going, right away, on double-action firing. (A lot of training benefits arise from learning how to, 'manage the bounce' and watching the front sight at the same time.) You might be wondering, 'What' the hammer spur is for? At and beyond 12 yards is when I teach its use for more accurate single-action fire over greater distances.

The most important thing I would recommend for you to do with your friend is NOT to lead her into choosing a first handgun without, also, setting her up to receive proper safety and handling instruction. A couple of years ago a brand new girl with a brand new handgun hit the target with her first shot and instantly spun around to declare, 'I hit it!' 'I hit it!' She was still holding the gun; (A Glock, I believe.) and her finger was still on the trigger!

Where was the muzzle? Pointed right at the end of my nose! No exaggeration. I saw my life flash before my eyes; and the anger I felt was, almost, indescribable! (Not so much at her as with her father and brother - or, maybe, boyfriend? - who were with her.) Ruined my afternoon and I ended up sitting in the car: watching, observing, and thinking to myself while I calmed back down. I didn't return to the firing line until after they had, all, left the range.

I am NOT a proponent of universal background checks in order to purchase a firearm. All this does is generate a lot of - let's be honest - questionably reliable - paperwork and needless expense. I am, however, completely against people being allowed to just walk into gun shops and walk out with deadly weapons in their hands WITHOUT any sort of proper training in gun safety and handling.

People aren't allowed to buy cars that way; and guns should be no different. Besides, you can learn a whole lot more about a person if you spend some time with him while he's handling and learning how to use a gun than can ever be learned by merely requesting written references or doing a cursory background check. As far as I'm concerned: There is no substitute for personal interaction between students and teacher.

(Don't forget: If you don't work for your parents, THAT is exactly what your employer did to you before you got your present job - Right! Should possession of a deadly weapon be any different? True, you're never going to stop them all; the Adam Lanza's of this world are still going to, 'slip through the cracks'; however, these horrific incidents of, 'covert lunatics with guns' would be greatly reduced.)

PS: Naturally after putting this up on the board I read your latest post. Here's a link for your friend to get both a gun AND training in how to use it safely. (There's also some excellent home defense firearm training to be had as well.)

Unless your friend is going to limit herself to 38 Special only (Why?) I'd suggest she stay away from S&W, 'K' frames. (They're inherently weak; and, yes, I've already blown one up.)

Here's a picture or my own wife's EDC. It's a dual caliber 38 Special/357 Magnum Ruger SP-101 with (among other things) a 3 inch barrel, hammer spur, and Hogue Monogrip. I trained my wife in the manner described above; and, to my complete satisfaction, she is now absolutely deadly with her Ruger.

Last edited by Arc Angel; 04-13-2013 at 08:44..
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Old 04-13-2013, 18:18   #9
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Find a place that has female trainers so that she wouldn't feel intimidated.
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Old 04-13-2013, 18:58   #10
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