Women are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the hunting and shooting markets today. Despite this, the major manufacturers still don’t specifically design very many guns for women. Luckily, this is changing and there are many more quality self-defense handguns for women on the market than there used to be.
There are several important characteristics to look for when choosing a self-defense handgun. Though you would think from the marketing that all pistols for women have to be pink, that is certainly not the case. Indeed, the color of the handgun should be low on your list of priorities if you’re a woman seriously looking for a good handgun for self-defense.
First, the handgun must be in chambered in a cartridge powerful enough to reliably stop an assailant when the shot is placed properly. Now, the purpose of this article is not to debate the merits of the various handgun cartridges that are on the market today. However, we considered the .380 ACP as the bare minimum cartridge acceptable for self-defense.
Second, the handgun must comfortably fit the hands of an average woman. This is a very important characteristic to consider because a properly fitting handgun will have less perceived recoil and be more enjoyable to shoot. This provides an incentive for the shooter to practice with the handgun, which therefore generally increases proficiency.
On that same note, all other things being equal, while smaller handguns are easier to carry and conceal, they are generally not as easy to shoot as larger handguns. A person only looking for a handgun to use for home defense, where concealability and portability are not as important as someone who wants a handgun for concealed carry, should probably go with a larger handgun.
Finally, the handgun must be reliable and easy to operate. When trusting your life to a handgun, it must work every time without fail. If it constantly malfunctions at the range, it very well might malfunction when you really need it and that’s completely unacceptable. At the same time, the handgun must be easy to operate under stress. In a desperate situation, everyone’s fine motor skills are dramatically reduced. For this reason, the best self-defense handguns for women are the ones that require only a few simple movements to operate.
Our choices for the best self-defense handguns for women embody all of these characteristics. However, there are many other good guns for women out there that will also work well. Just because a particular gun is not on this list does not necessarily mean it is a poor choice for self-defense.
Scroll through the images and see our picks for the best self-defense handguns for women.
Ruger LCP (.380)
First up on this list of the best self-defense handguns for women is the Ruger LCP. At 9 ounces unloaded, the Ruger LCP lives up to its name of being lightweight and compact. A pistol this small tends to be carried more often than not, which is what we want in a CCW pistol.
Equally important are the external surfaces. There are no sharp edges, protrusions or areas prone to snag or otherwise impede the draw of the Ruger LCP.
This is not just with the special edition we purchased, but something we have seen on hundreds of LCPs over the past few years.
Aftermarket support in the way of extended magazines, lasers, holsters ( https://amolnd.us/cg ), and even a pocket clip is very strong for the LCP. The author is not a fan of lasers on handguns but can see their merit and there are several out there that work well with the LCP.
Finally, Ruger offers outstanding customer service should anything befall the pistol at the range or while maintaining it. Ruger literally treats their customers like royalty.
Obviously, this is a big plus. Finally, the LCP is chambered in .380, which is a great choice for a self-defense cartridge because it is powerful enough to deal with most threats, is commonly available, is reasonably priced, and has manageable recoil. All in all, the Ruger LCP is an excellent all-around handgun for women to consider to use it for self-defense.
Sig Sauer P365 SAS Sub-Compact (9mm Luger)
Produced by Sig Sauer, the P365 SAS (Sig Anti-Snag) was one of the first handguns specifically designed for concealed carry by showcasing its sleek Anti-Snag design. Wielding counter-sunk rear sights adds to the smooth transitions of the firearm. In our opinion, it’s one of the best concealed carry options for women out there. It is a pretty simple design with all the bells and whistles in new tech & firearms, the P365 SAS will always be a formidable choice as a handgun for women. It is a reliable and accurate handgun and can often be found for less than $700, which is a big advantage for those who have an interest in style and power.
Additionally, the Sig P365 SAS also uses a ten-round, which will include the extended magazine for pinky stability. Visit us to begin customizing your new Sig SAS!
As a trusted and known reliable source for self-defense tools, the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Sheild is a great concealed carry handgun for women who want to take that route. The M&P9 is the latest in a line of excellent quality pistols produced by Smith & Wesson. The synthetic grip makes the revolver easy to hold and noticeably reduces recoil while possessing a super sleek and thin frame.
also has an ambidextrous cylinder release and comes standard with an integrated Crimson Trace laser sight. Used properly, the laser sight can provide a psychological edge in a stressful situation and allow for easier aiming in reduced lighting.
Weighing in at just over 20 ounces, the S&W M&P9 Shield is one of the lighter handguns on this list of the best self-defense handguns for women. However, it is so well designed that the recoil felt from 9mm +P Special defense loads, while somewhat stout, is very manageable to get back on target.
• Extremely thin and lightweight – can be comfortably carried all-day
• Polymer frame with embedded stainless steel rigid chassis system
• Striker-fired for short consistent trigger pull, every time
• M&P’s patented take-down lever and sear deactivation systems allow for disassembly without pulling the trigger
• Includes 2 magazines; 1 with extended capacity and one flush.
Glock 43 (9mm Luger)
The Glock 43 is one of the latest models introduced by Glock. Similar to the .380 ACP Glock 42, it is a slimline subcompact chambered in 9mm Luger and is one of the smallest handguns ever produced by Glock. Though at just over 1 inch wide, it is slightly wider than the Kahr CW9, it is still small enough to be easily concealable and comfortable for most shooters with small hands.
While it only has a six-round magazine, the Glock 43 is still a worthy entry on this list of the best self-defense handguns for women because it does such a great job combining small size with the legendary reliability Glocks are known for.
Glock 19 Gen4 (9mm Luger)
Next on this list of the best self-defense handguns for women is the Glock 19, which is Glock’s “compact” 9mm pistol.
It’s a good compromise between being small enough to carry concealed without too much trouble and large enough that most people can shoot it well, making it one of the best guns for women that money can buy. It is also just generally an outstanding choice for shooters with smaller hands.
The Generation 4 variant of the Glock 19 has a dual recoil spring system that also acts to reduce the amount of recoil felt by the shooter. Additionally, the handgun also comes with a modular grip system that allows the shooter to further customize the grip depending on the size of the shooter’s hands.
The magazine release on the Glock 19 Gen4 is also easily modified to accommodate left or right handed shooters. The Glock 19 accepts 10, 15 (standard), 17, and 33 round magazines, which gives the shooter plenty of ammunition to deal with a threat.
Keep in mind though that, as a “compact” handgun, the Glock 19 is by definition, a compromise, which won’t please everyone. Shooters wanting an even smaller handgun for concealed carry should consider the Glock 26 or the Glock 43, while shooters not concerned with concealing it and who want a larger handgun that is easier to shoot should consider the Glock 17.
That being said, the Glock 19 Gen4 is arguably the all-around best handgun for women and it should come as no surprise that it is also one of the most popular self-defense handguns for women as well.
Since 2017, Springfield Armory has been at work to challenge the dominant SIG Sauer P365 9mm. The newest pistol, the Springfield Hellcat, has done more than that. If the P365 had received a Version 2.0 update, it might look like the Hellcat. In short, both are subcompact 9mm striker-fired pistols with excellent ergonomics and accuracy. However, the Hellcat takes the contemporary subcompact concept farther.
With a 3-inch barrel, the Springfield Hellcat Standard weighs 1 pound, 2.2 ounces, with an empty flush-fit magazine, which is a half an ounce heavier than the SIG P365. The Hellcat feels a little larger than the P365, which might have something to do with its improved capacity over the P365. The Hellcat’s flush-fit magazine will carry 11 rounds, while the P365 holds 10. The extended magazine, included with the Hellcat, takes capacity to 13 whereas the P365’s next-up magazine holds 12.
Springfield Armory achieved this capacity gain by accident. Reportedly, an engineer was only tasked with matching the P365’s capacity while respecting SIG Sauer’s three magazine patents. He returned to the project manager later and asked, “Is it OK, if it holds one more round?” It wasn’t a joke. No matter how they looked at the design, there was room for one more while maintaining reliable functioning.
All in all, the Sig P238 is still a fantastic choice and is certainly worth looking into as a good self-defense handgun for women.
All women interested in obtaining a handgun for self-defense should experiment with several different handguns before purchasing one. See what fits your hand the best, experiment with manipulating the controls on each handgun, and compare how each gun shoots. Everyone has different needs and what works for one person may not work for another. If you’re going to be trusting your life to a handgun, make certain that it is the right one for you.
The work is not over once you purchase the perfect self-defense handgun. Even the best handgun for a woman is useless if you cannot hit your target when it counts and if you’re using poor-quality ammunition. So, make sure you use high quality self-defense ammunition and spend as much time as possible practicing with it and learn how to use it properly. If necessary, get professional training. A highly-trained woman with a handgun that fits her well is a formidable obstacle for any miscreants bent on doing her harm.
We do not recommend using novelty ammunition (like the G2 RIP) or target ammunition (like a full metal jacket or wadcutter bullets) for self-defense. Instead, invest in one of the many proven types of ammunition specifically designed for the task.
Additionally, make sure you shoot several hundred rounds your chosen ammo in the handgun you plan on using for defense in order to verify that it shoots accurately, and your handgun functions reliably with it. Different firearms sometimes prefer different loads and the only way to know for sure is to spend some serious time at the range and determine what your handgun shoots well.
Finally, make sure that the handgun and ammunition you choose are legal where you live. Some states and local jurisdictions have very strict laws regarding certain handguns, types of ammunition, and magazines over a certain size and you don’t want to inadvertently run afoul of them.
What do you think of our choices for the best self-defense handguns for women? Did we miss any?