Sep 14 2017

The Best Guns for Women

Best Guns for Women Springfield Armory XD Full-Size and Compact Semi-Auto PistolsSo you want a list of the best guns for women? I have a hard time recommending just one, but since I get this question all the time, here are some of my favorites. They may not be perfect for every woman, but they’re a good place to start. These four handgun categories all have a place in a good personal-defense plan, and the specific models can be found chambered for reliable self-defense rounds.

Full-Size Semi-Auto Pistol

In terms of the best full-size guns for women, like the Smith & Wesson M&P pistols in both full-sized and compact models. They’re simple, ergonomic and come with three different, easily changeable backstraps to customize fit to your hand.

In the full-sized versions, they’re excellent for training, but a tad big for concealment. They offer excellent ammunition capacity, and with the built-in rail for attaching a dedicated light, make great house or car guns.

These are extremely soft-shooting pistols, and felt recoil across all three chamberings I’ve tried (9 mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP) is insignificant.

Compact Semi-Auto

In terms of a compact semi-auto pistol, I’m a big fan of the Springfield Armory EMP, ColtDefender or Smith & Wesson M&P Compacts. There is more variety among these choices, as they are offered in different calibers and each feels different in the hand.

The biggest difference is found in their triggers. This includes trigger pull weight—the actual feel and movement of the trigger as it is pressed and the consistency of both. A trigger is not just a matter of personal preference, it can affect your shooting significantly.

External safeties also vary, so make sure you know where they are and can reach them well enough to disengage them easily. Each of these pistols will hold more ammo than small, five-shot revolvers, in some cases more than doubling the capacity. They will, however, be heavier and bulkier, so consider how and where you’re going to be carrying.

Medium-Sized Revolvers

Medium frame revolver preferences of mine include the Smith & Wesson K-frame revolvers, Ruger SP101 (non-snub nose) or the GP100. These small- to medium-framed revolvers are available in configurations that allow firing .38 Spl. as well as .357 Mag.

They are great, all-around revolvers—which in themselves are great all-around handguns when thinking about the best guns for women. Simple to fire and easy to load and unload, they are a good size for shooting multiple rounds at the range or in training as well as for carrying. They also make good car or house guns. In this medium-frame configuration, even .357 Mag. loads are comfortable to shoot.

Like most revolvers, they can be fitted with a wide variety of grips, allowing modification to fit a wide range of hand and finger sizes. Revolvers also generally don’t have sharp edges or rub points that can wear on inexperienced hands.

Snub-Nose Revolvers

For pocket revolvers, my choice is the Ruger LCR and Smith & Wesson J-frames. These are compact, five-shot revolvers and in their various models can handle anything from a .38 Spl. to .357 Mag. cartridges.

Light enough to always carry, they are also small enough to easily conceal, which lands them on my list of the best guns for women. I carry mine whenever possible, and with an internal hammer, I can fire it through a pocket or purse. The downside is they hold only five rounds—so always have at least one full reload on you, and know how to use it.

These true pocket guns are a handful to shoot, but they aren’t unpleasant. I routinely fire 30 to 50 rounds in practice. That said, I wouldn’t want to fire many more in a single session.

This post was originally published in Shooting Illustrated.


Aug 3 2015

Choosing a Home Defense Shotgun

choosing a home defense shotgun Il ling newIt’s been a few years, but shotguns for home defense seem to be making a comeback. It’s not that rifles and handguns won’t work well for home defense, it’s just that shotguns have so much going for them in that realm.

With the array of ammunition available, shotguns can shoot everything from “less-lethal” loads (think rubber bullets, bean bags and others) to snake shot, to buckshot (.30+ caliber projectiles!) to 400-plus grain slugs. While most of us who aren’t in law enforcement or the military will negotiate shorter distances with our defensive shotguns, the scattergun’s versatility does offer the ability to shoot ammo that can address targets at much longer ranges. On the flipside, there is shotgun ammunition that will travel and/or penetrate less, and that might be appropriate for your circumstance. When we add to this the array of accessories also available for them (which isn’t always necessarily a good thing; we’ll touch more on this later), shotguns might be the most versatile home defense firearms you can get.

Visit NRA Family for the entirety of Choosing a Home Defense Shotgun.


May 7 2015

How to Properly Fit a Shotgun

how to properly fit a shotgun il ling new

As a shooter and an instructor, nothing pains me more than watching someone get thrown around by his shotgun.  Except, perhaps, being beaten up by my own shotgun.

Why? First, it doesn’t have to happen. Second, it’ll have a negative effect on the shooter’s learning and performance. Third, that just might cause him to walk away from the sport altogether.

The most common reason for this abuse is a poorly fitting shotgun, especially among shooters who are smaller in stature. And by that, I mean pretty much anyone who doesn’t fit the standard or average measurement of a male shooter: approximately 5’10”, 185 pounds. It’s not their fault, and it’s not our fault. Manufacturers have to have some sort of standard to work to–and fortunately for us smaller folk, several are addressing our problem and are creating scaled-down versions of their various firearms.

Visit NRA Family for the entirety of How to Properly Fit a Shotgun.