This edition, I want to give special attention to the ladies. I have more ladies than men attend my NRA pistol classes. Many ladies have a unique set of problems when selecting a handgun for self defense. The main problem is men! Too often, men try to select a gun for their wives or girl friends. Me-thinks there is a nefarious plot here. Guns are to men, like ladies shoes are to women! I think the saying goes, “he who dies with the most guns wins?” Well, there might be a subtle ‘misquote” there, but I think you get the idea. If a man buys you a new gun and says, “Honey, look at the cool gun I bought for you, I want you to feel safe.” Ladies, if you hear those words, I hope you realize he just bought another gun, (for himself.)
Several years ago, I was working at a big box sporting goods store selling guns. I was helping a man select a handgun. It was near Christmas and the gun counter was packed with lookers and buyers. The man had selected a Glock 9mm and just as I was finishing up the paperwork, the man’s wife arrived saying, “What on earth do you need another gun for? You have a whole safe full of guns!” The man looked at me with an expression which said, “Help me!” Well, I just had to put in my two cents worth so I said, “Asking a man why he needs another gun is like asking a woman why she needs another pair of shoes!” It took a few minutes for the laughter to die down among the mostly men crowded around the gun counter. The man left with a smile on his face, the wife, not so happy looking. She should have been happy. She had a new shoebox under her arm.)
So, to make amends for the error of my ways, I want to offer some serious help for the ladies, who want to buy a gun. Choosing a new gun is kind of like selecting a new boat. Whoops, I will say as little about new boats as possible. Forgive me, it’s a man thing. Guns, boats, trucks and dogs, sorry, we just can’t help it. When choosing a boat, you have to ask yourself, “Do I want to cross the Atlantic or paddle up the Elk River? Obviously, the same boat will not do both. It’s the same with guns. There are literally dozens; no hundreds of different sizes of guns. Ladies, you must ask yourself a number of questions.
- Is this gun for self defense or target shooting?
- Do you plan to carry the gun concealed on your person or in your purse? Are you going to keep it close by at home in a drawer or safe?
- Are you of slim light build or are you a little sturdier? (I’m trying to be careful here)
When choosing a gun, size matters. I often hear the ladies say, ‘Oh, I like that small one, I don’t want one that kicks so hard.” This is just the opposite of what they need. Fact: the smaller the size of the gun, the harder it will kick. The small, lightweight gun of the same caliber will have much more recoil than a larger heavier gun. The weight of the heavier larger gun, absorbs the kick or recoil. We also must take into consideration the caliber of the gun. Caliber is the size of the ammunition a specific gun uses. A study of calibers and bullet weights is a whole other lesson. Remember too, the larger caliber will have more ‘knock down power.” Putting that bluntly, the bad guy gets stopped.
Have you decided you want to carry concealed? If so, you will want a gun that is easily carried and small and light enough so you won’t decide to leave it at home, because it’s too heavy.
Remember, it’s a constant trade off in size, weight and caliber. A small gun will carry fewer bullets. A larger gun such as my Glock will hold sixteen bullets. Glock makes different sizes and calibers. Many popular guns for carrying concealed may only hold seven or eight bullets. There are some very small but powerful guns on the market that only have two shots available before reloading. Higher capacity guns are quite popular right now. But considering the facts of “close encounters of the deadly kind”, two shots are fired and at a distance of less than three yards.
Just this week, I had a lady in my pistol training class. She had bought a very nice Ruger, snub nose revolver. Because her job sometimes takes her into questionable parts of town and exposes her to people she does not know, she feels the need to be properly trained. Bravo! Shooting a firearm and properly defending yourself, is a lot more that just pointing and pulling the trigger. And, the best part, she wants to keep up her training and practice. For anyone, ladies or men, to purchase a firearm, then put it on a top shelf and not touch it for the next ten years, is just not the way to stay safe.
This lady had concerns about how she was going to “carry” her firearm. Several months ago, I wrote in this forum, “Don’t Let Your Gun Go Naked”. Everyone, ladies and men need to have a proper holster with which to carry your gun. With ladies, carrying a firearm often takes second place to fashion. Yes, men are guilty of this too. Anyone who carries a concealed weapon needs to fit their clothing style to the gun, not the opposite. The ladies just cannot wear today’s form fitting skinny jeans and tank top and still expect to carry a gun and have it concealed. On the other hand, today’s long flowing tops are perfect for concealing a firearm on your person. Overall, I do not recommend ladies carry their gun in a purse or handbag. There are exceptions. Carrying a firearm in your purse, takes a very disciplined lady. The purse must never be left sitting anywhere. It is best to carry the purse across your body. The armed lady cannot lay her purse in the shopping cart. She cannot leave it lying on the front seat while she fills her tank with gas. The concealed carry lady cannot lay the purse down ANYWHERE in which she does not have total control over the purse holding her gun. Does it sound like I am encouraging you NOT to carry in your purse? It really depends on how careful and diligent you are while carrying a firearm.
Other than the cross body purse for ladies carrying concealed, there are some other very good and safe options. The lady I mentioned above, is going to be in her car for hours at a time in mostly city driving. She plans to carry the purse’s strap across her shoulder and the purse, with firearm, sitting in her lap. If she sticks with this discipline, I think she will be fine. Another way to carry for the ladies is an ankle holster, which again would be fine for quick access while driving a car. With ankle holsters, the pant leg needs to be loose and big enough to cover the holster and firearm. While in the car, the ankle holster is easily drawn from a sitting position.
A cross draw holster on the waist is another option for carry while driving. Again, it needs a cover garment such as an un-tucked blouse or jacket. The “strong hand” holster on your waist, whether right or left, can be difficult to draw from with a seatbelt. All of these options, strong side waist, cross draw waist, ankle or purse can ONLY be safe and efficient if you PRACTICE! Back in the 90s’ I was a deputy in Lee County Florida. We were issued new holsters for our Glock 9mm pistols. The holsters were “high retention” holsters. A Law Enforcement officer’s greatest fear is having their gun snatched away by a criminal with deadly intentions. The Range Instructor told us to holster and draw, the new holster, 100 times, to lock in our muscle memory. There was only one way to draw from this holster which I will not write in detail here. Attempting to draw any other way would result in the gun staying secure in the holster. After about the 50th practice draw, the cussing stopped and the deputies began to be able to draw their guns properly and very fast.
You need to do the same with your holster, no matter where you carry it. Get trained and practice constantly.