Tuesday, March 15, 2011

a snubby for the pretty lady?

from The Women's Guide to Handguns by Jim Carmichel, hardcover, 1982 - found lurking in the stacks by a certain gunnie librarian (who notes and celebrates the author's use of the word "if")

I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that I should buy an airweight .38 snubnosed revolver. It doesn't matter whether I'm standing in front of a counter in a gun shop, a glass case at sporting goods store, or a table at a gun show - it's a common enough occurrence that when it doesn't happen I'm completely surprised. In fact, now that I have magical iPhone audio recording capabilities, I've considered documenting the interactions - a little lesson on "How Not to Sell a Woman a Gun."

Sure, snubbies live up to a lot of their selling points (It's small! It's light! It'll fit in your purse!) but no one ever seems to tell women what it feels like to shoot one. So let me say it right now...

It sucks.

A lightweight .38 snubnosed revolver is quite possibly the worst choice for a potential new gunchick because, you know what? Practicing with one enough to actually be able to hit your target is the opposite of fun. The recoil hurts, your hand goes numb, and if the trigger is heavy, JMB help you...your finger will be sore and red long after your trip to the range. You'll be tempted to give up and let your "best gun for a woman" collect dust in a drawer somewhere.

I know this because I was that girl with a snubby .38, though obstinate enough to spend hours at the range, forcing myself to shoot round upon round until my targets improved.

Semi-automatic pistols were a revelation.


Mike W. said...

Roomie & I were just discussing this the other day while watching a movie where they gave a woman a little .38.

Snubbies are a bad choice for any new shooter's 1st gun IMO. Lightweight, heavy recoil, short sight radius, terrible sights, small grip, god awful DAO trigger pull... need I go on.

A single stack 9 is a far, far, better choice.

Breda said...

Then again, they say that if you can shoot one well, you can shoot anything. So there's that.

TBeck said...

I personally tended to recommend a Glock 19 to my female customers. But only because the Springfield XD had not yet been released.

Heather said...

Yeah, I keep hearing over and over "Women can't handle semi-autos! They are too weak! Also, revolvers are simpler!" (Because apparently we're stupid, too)

Well, I'm a woman, with significant hand weakness (I've had surgery on both hands, in fact) and guess what? I've never once had any trouble racking the slide or anything.

I cannot STAND double-action revolvers though. Snubby or not. Hate!

Mark said...

I carried a Chief when I drove a cab. Hated it.

Mark Alger

Ambulance Driver said...

I've shot your snubby at Blogorado.

It's damned hard for a man to shoot accurately, too.

North said...

I have a friend who is a female and ex-FBI. She hates here 38. It beats her hands. I keep trying to get her to the range to try out other guns. I know that I would get her to like other guns better.

Mike W. said...

Thank you Heather! I have both arthritis and poor grip strength because of my CP, especially with my right hand. If I can handle a semi-auto there's no reason most women shouldn't also be able to.

And of course if you lack the hand strength to rack the slide on a semi how in the hell are you going to have the hand/finger strength to pull the trigger on a DAO J-frame? Maybe my Airweight trigger just sucks...

Dan said...

My carry gun is a snubbie .38, never understood the hate. The recoil is much less unpleasant than those little pocket .380 autos, and it didn't take much practice (one box of 50) until I got used to the double action pull and the sights. After that I was consistently hitting in the 9 and 10 at seven yards. I'm not a particularly good shooter either, but getting hits with it wasn't nearly as hard as some people (as in, everyone) make it out to be.

Get some better grips, maybe.

PPPP said...

Someday, I hope to get one of those little snubnose .38s. Maybe a J-frame, maybe a Ruger LCR. And, yes, I have shot them, and still want one.

However, in the meantime, and even if I do get a snubby, my main carry is a Sig P232.

Joanna said...

My carry gun is a snubbie .38, never understood the hate.

I'm guessing you have big thick man hands. .38s hurt like hell on soft little woman hands, especially if they're not used to handling a gun.

I've been learning on my SigOth's 1911, and I can't get enough of it. Even though it's sized for his big ol' mitts, I prefer it to the smaller guns I've tried.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I recommend a snubbie to everyone because I like mine. One big caveat. They have to try it out and see if they take to it. I warn them, it's not for everyone. So far I haven't gotten any takers. No pain with .38 +P but lots of DA work can cramp the finger if you don't dry fire bunches.

Now a Bersa Thunder, THAT hurts... Well, me at least.

Jason said...

Snubbies have a U-shaped utility curve.

At zero experience the utility is high compared to other guns. You're not going to be all that accurate with anything you shoot. At least you have a gun if you need it, and can reliably get 5 shots off at contact distances. There's no safety to forget. It's unlikely to malfunction unless it breaks, and it probably won't break because you don't shoot it enough to put any wear on it. And since you don't shoot it, you never notice that it's painful.

At moderate experience, it's a horrible firearm. It's painful to practice with, the short sight radius and long trigger are difficult and frustrating. It makes a horrible and discouraging range gun. It's only a matter of time until it breaks, or you give up. Hopefully you don't give up shooting entirely, and just buy a proper range gun for range use, while keeping the snubby, because...

At high experience, the snubby becomes a great firearm again. The trigger and sights are no longer an issue, you've learned to deal with them. You've lost your flinch and your hands have callouses. You own more than one gun, including all-steel revolvers that are functionally similar, but better for high-round-count range sessions. Having tried to conceal many different firearms, you deeply appreciate a handgun you can easily carry everywhere, and that has very few failure modes as long as you treat it with a little care.

It's really not about male vs. female shooters, it's about whether or not they're going to enter the middle of the 'U' at all, and if you do, whether or not you intend to move to the other side.

I've seen good firearm trainers escort women who'd never touched a gun from one side of the 'U' to the other in about 2 days. There was crying and bandaged fingers at the bottom of the 'U', and I did not blame them in the least. But by day two, it looked like Linda Hamilton out there. Ever since watching that, I have felt that telling women that the .38 is not for them is almost a bit condescending.

Boyd K said...

Here's some gender neutral advice, worth every penny or double your money back: If anyone tells you a specific gun you should buy, say thank you and walk away.

The way to choose a gun is to educate yourself about the basics of how they work and what they're used for, and then try as many as you can. This is why there are NRA classes and rental shops (install software, explore hardware, buy -after-). Your hand (and potential uses) is to much complexity for some bubba (or bubbette) to analyze in a few minutes and then give you your answer. Find the answer yourself. -Boyd

Dan said...

"I'm guessing you have big thick man hands."

Um, no, not really. If anything it's because it doesn't have the stock grips on it. I use Hogues, and if the gun still hurts shooting with those then I don't know what the hell is going on.

Jason said...

"If anyone tells you a specific wine you should buy, say thank you and walk away. The way to choose a wine is to educate yourself about the basics of how they work and what they're used for, and then try as many as you can."

Wine can be a great hobby, and you certainly can go through that exact process, and have a rewarding time. But not everybody needs a new hobby, or can afford a new hobby.

Sometimes you just want a nice dinner, without a lot of fuss. You want a sommelier - someone who's already spent all that time and money so that you don't have to - to recommend a wine that's likely to taste good with a particular dish. It's understood that they won't know your taste buds like you do, but they also have a breadth of experience that will still make them more knowledgable than you, and likely to give you decent advice. If you walked into a restaurant, asked for a recommended pairing, and they waiter rolled his eyes at you and said, "Sir, before I can even begin to answer that question, you need to embark on a 6 month exploration of wines. I'll be happy to sell you a subscription to our tasting series. But I can't even begin to guess at what you'd like tonight", you'd probably walk out, offended.

But oddly, when it comes to guns, a salesman with a lot of experience is a "bubba" you should actively disregard.

North said...

I like the way that you made your point, Jason.

It might be argued that too many sommeliers all just say Boone's Farm because it is easiest to say. Or because they think it is the right answer.

I call them smelly-A.

Gun selection shouldn't have default answers based on gender.

Jason said...

I don't think this guy drank Boone's Farm. Snubbies have been carried and used by some of the greatest names in firearm lore. And remain so today. When so many people, with so much collected experience, independently come to the same conclusion... maybe we'd do well to at least hear them out.

North said...

I'm neither pro or con .38 snubbie. I don't know or care who "This Guy" is.

My friend doesn't shoot because she hates her gun. It happens to be a .38. I'm trying to get her to like another gun. I want to see her have something she likes for self-defense.

Perhaps I should tell her to suck it up and like the gun because other people like the gun. Yeah, that'll go over real well.

I'll just do my horrible thing and try to get her to defend herself with something other than the .38 as wrong as that is. :roll:

Jason said...

She may want to suck it up because a .38 happens to be an excellent tool for its intended purpose. It is not an excellent tool for a pleasant day at the range.

Too often, people say they want one thing, when they really want another. Or they don't know what they want. Or they want two different things, but don't want to spend enough money to buy two different guns for two different purposes, try to compromise, and get something that does neither well.

Now, an excellent sales person is aware of this, and can help a customer draw an accurate picture of what they really want by asking probing questions. But some sales people are merely good, or don't have time to second-guess you, and if you tell them, "I'd like a small, light weight gun that is simple and good for concealed carry," they're going to take you at your word, and recommend a gun that is small, light weight, simple, and good for concealed carry.

The classic .38 Airweight.

North said...

Thanks Jason. I'll tell her that she doesn't know what she wants.

Jason said...

You're welcome.

pax said...

One of the biggest problems with airweight snubby advice is that the person who suggests that firearm also often adds, "...this is the best gun for a new shooter" or somesuch.

Sometimes they even add, "Revolvers are the easiest guns to learn on" as they hand the new shooter a firearm with a stiff trigger, short sight radius, vestigial sights, and snappy recoil.

So the new shooter tries it, and discovers that it hurts like blazes to fire, that she can't hit the target because the heavy trigger pull moves the muzzle out of line, that the sights are tiny and confusing, and that the gun is just flat NO FUN to shoot.

But she still loves her helpful buddy who told her that this gun would be the best gun to learn on, and she still trusts him, so ...

No wonder she's resistant to trying anything else! No wonder she's not interested in going to the range with you again! You gave her a painfully snappy gun to shoot and told her that it doesn't get any easier than that. She doesn't want to go to the range again because she believed you. If she really loves and trusts you, and believes you knew what you were talking about when you told her it doesn't get any easier than that, of course she's done.

Skullz said...

I believe most women should own an airweight or airlight snub nosed revolver.

Of course, I also believe that most women should own an M82A1 Barret, at least one AR15, an AK, a Remmy 700, a few 1911's, a selection of Glocks, and over / under shotguns, a semi shotgun, and a pump shotgun too. But first, they should own a gun they are comfortable shooting and carrying everyday.

TBeck said...

Pax, don't forget the "semiautos are too complicated" argument. I always thought that one was hilarious given that the little lady managed to operate a motor vehicle and follow dozens of traffic laws to get to the shop.

Jim said...

Preach it, sister! I made the mistake of buying my wife a S&W .38 special airweight for a carry gun. She liked the look and feel of the gun, but firing it was an exercise in pain. Got her a Ruger LCP and a XD sub-compact in 9mm and she couldn't be happier with them... now going to the range is something she anticipates and misses.

Dan said...

Again, what the hell is it with the whole ".38 snubbie hurts to shoot" bollocks? "Unpleasant", maybe, I'll buy that for a dollar, but I still don't understand what HURTS about it?

Breda said...

Dan, what the hell is it with you not understanding that this post was written BY A WOMAN, for OTHER WOMEN? (and possibly men who would like to get the women in their lives into shooting)

Is it so impossible for you to imagine that PERHAPS a woman might experience recoil differently than you?

Gay_Cynic said...


Not every gun is a grand fit for every hand. I like double-stack .45 auto's (and S&W 25-5's). I have medium-largish hands. I happen to be a guy, and gay. And I like big bore pistols without unduly punishing recoil.

Some guys (and gals) are recoil whores, and some of those shoot minute of berm.

And some folks happen to fit a .38 snubby, whether in need set or enjoyment, just fine.

As long as they aren't hurting anyone that doesn't need hurting, and are enjoying themselves who are any of us to criticize?

Sure, we might inquire about the tactical logic of carrying an n-frame .22lr for self-defense, but..that's just curiosity.

And yes, I carry and hate shooting my Keltec P3AT - but it's discrete and in at least a marginally effective caliber.

Dan said...

Breda, I get that someone with smaller hands might experience recoil differently from me (and I have pretty small hands as it is), but I don't see what being a woman has anything to do with it outside of that. Maybe I'm an asshole, but I'm genuinely curious as to what makes a .38 PAINFUL to shoot.

To me, H&K USPs are painful to shoot because the backstrap cuts into my hand. I've experienced hammer bite shooting 1911s. Hell, even the recoil on my own SIG 229 .40 is unpleasant. But just don't see how a .38 is painful with decent grips?

Breda said...

But just don't see how a .38 is painful with decent grips?

And you never will.

Dan said...

And I had mentioned the "decent grips" thing already, twice. I was hoping someone could just explain how it hurts, that's all I was looking for.

Jason said...

Dan, even with good grips, a .38 airweight will torque hard. It does not come straight back. Most grips do not cover the top of the frame around the hammer, and as the gun rotates, that part can give your thumb knuckle a pretty decent rap. With no spring to absorb the impulse, it's almost like a little hit from a ball peen hammer. I've also had a scandium .357 twist so badly that the cylinder latch cut my thumb, and opened the cylinder, dropping the contents on the ground! That gun got Pachmyr Decelerator + finger groove grips put on it really fast, and is now controllable. But still not what I would call enjoyable.

That's ok. Different tools for different purposes. When I want to relax, it's an all-steel 686+ with .38s in it. But while that may be a great gun to shoot, it's not such a good gun to carry.

This is why you're allowed to buy more than one!

Dan said...

Okay, great post, thanks! Mine isn't the "airweight" variety (SS Model 60), I bought it with Pachmayr grips, then put Hogues on it, and neither myself nor my girlfriend have had a problem with it.

Besides the double action pull, she doesn't like that at all.

Tam said...

Okay, so we know that a snubbie is Not A Good Gun For A Woman.

What is A Good Gun For A Woman, then?


(FWIW, I don't much like shooting an Airweight J-frame, either, no matter what grips are on it; even the .32 Mag bruises the knuckle at the base of my thumb...)

North said...

There aren't any good guns for a woman, any more than there are good guns for Norwegians.

Possibly good guns for people that have light grip strength - either gender.

"Sleep around" Try a bunch. determine if you have weak hands. Determine grip comfort.

North said...

gah. I meant to type "Shop around".

However you get your hands on a gun is up to you.

Breda said...

Not a Good Gun for a NEW Woman Shooter. Because shooting one sucks.

Good golly, the internerds sure can become pedantic.

Mike W. said...

A gun that's potentially uncomfortable AND hard to shoot is not conducive to fun range trips and is not a good gun for any new shooter, woman or not. I wouldn't suggest a scandium framed .357 Mag snubbie for a newbie either, unless you want to turn them off to shooting.

I don't understand why this is such a hard concept to grasp.

Is anyone in comments here going to tell me an airweight J-frame is easier and more fun to shoot than your average semi-auto? Does anyone here enjoy shooting their airweight more than the semi-autos and heavier guns in their collection?

Tam said...


"Good golly, the internerds sure can become pedantic. "

Sensitive, too. Obviously I needed Moar Winkie Smilie. :(

iainmcphersn said...

When we were dating, I loaned her my S&W M36. She got more comfortable with it (I found out later she was afraid of guns before meeting me). She did not shoot it as well as she wished due to the heavy trigger pull.

Later she found a Star BKM in 9mm and this became her new gun. I noticed when we went to the range that she would shoot my hotter practice ammo rather than the standard pressure ammo. She said it "felt better". Since the lifespan of a aluminum framed 9mm was going to be short with +P ammo, she found a Star Firestar in 40 S&W and was pleased with it.

The Firestar did not get carried a lot due to its weight. Recently she got a Ruger LCP which kicks enough for her but is much lighter and smaller.

Still it's not what she wants... She wants a full blown USPSA open gun with all the bells and whistles. Unfortunately the budget won't support it. Of course, she'd probably still carry the LCP. ;)

Just more evidence that the best gun for a lady is one she chooses.

David said...

I personally cringe every time I hear somebody (usually male) issue the "what you need is a snubbie .38, little lady" advice.

I prefer to start my recommendation conversation with, "we need to find something that you can shoot, that you will shoot, and will carry." (if that's its purpose).

Breda said...

Tam, yeah. It was early and trying to resist responding to almost every other comment with "No, this post is not about YOUR personal experiences with .38 snubbies. It is about why snubbies may not be the best choice for NEW WOMAN SHOOTERS." kind of wore me down and snapped.

I apologize.

SpeakerTweaker said...

Wow. There's a great deal of "I don't see what the problem is" going on here. "If it fits, it hits" is gun-speak for "Different strokes for different folks."

And stow the Get Better Grips argument. We're talking about new gun for new shooter. I've been along for the ride and seen "She needs a .38 snubbie" argument, too, and none of those glass counter commandos ever once suggested a new grip. I wonder why that is?


w/v: flunc. How apropos.

Boyd K said...

Jason, I didn't say "But oddly, when it comes to guns, a salesman with a lot of experience is a "bubba" you should actively disregard."

I said this is a personal decision for a complex device. Wine is a beverage. Guns are complex mechanical tools used to save lives. You couldn't find two things more different to try and analogize.

Everyone else; take a second, hold up your hand and look at the lengths in your hand between joints. If you're like most of us (including the base of the thumb) there are 15 measurements there not including how the palm of your hand wraps and the width of your palm. This isn't a wine glass we're talking about, it's a tool you -may- use to save the life of yourself or another and how it fits in your hand measurable affects how quickly you'll be able to do that in a crisis.

Taking a 10 hour class for $50, besides being a LOT of fun, isn't a suggestion that you adopt a new hobby. Although if it turns into that you, you can thank me by sending a box of ammo ;) It's a reasonable introduction to being safe enough with your new gun that you can go find the one that fits you best without depending on a cursory suggestion from some guy/gal who just met you across a counter at the store/show.

Sorry if I've stepped on toes here, but these are not products like wine or hair gel. If you put a little personal time into "installing the software" you'll get huge rewards out of it down the line.

Jason said...

No, Boyd, you don't get huge rewards for it down the line.

Have you ever looked at the murder rate suffered by white, middle-aged women in America? It's terrifically low. It would be hard to reduce it further. I ran the numbers a while back, and a woman who drives 20 miles to the range every other week is increasing her risk of death (by accident) by more than she'll decrease her risk of death (by murder). Most of the utility comes from having a gun, any gun. Beyond that you're well into the realm of diminishing returns.

A .38 airweight is not a good introduction to the shooting sports, but from a public health & safety standpoint, it's just what the doctor ordered. If you want to save a life, buy one, carry it, and don't worry about whether it fits perfectly. Use the time you save shopping for guns and going to the range to check your tire pressure, order something healthier off the menu, and get to the gym for some cardio.

Nate said...

Sorry I can't find the link for what I'm about to say. I remember reading a physical therapist say it takes more hand strength to hold a revolver than it does to hold a semi-auto. ALL the female shooters I know prefer semi-autos.

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

Gun choice is as unique as the individual, but it seems to me that anyone who would recommend any kind of lightweight revolver as any kind of first firearm for any shooter needs to have their gunnie card revoked.

Have you ever looked at the murder rate suffered by white, middle-aged women in America? It's terrifically low.

And I am certain that is infinite consolation to the families of the women who were murdered...

Sabra said...

I don't know of any woman who is going to buy a gun and then start to carry it without taking it to the range at least once.

So she buys the .38 snubbie that some dude said she should have because it's a purse-gun (nevermind that putting a gun in your purse is asinine) and takes it to the range and shoots it...

And it's painful and she's not good with it, so she takes it home and puts it in a drawer and it sits there. And it's gonna do a GREAT job of protecting her from being raped while she's walking home from work.

Sabra said...

Oh, and though I shouldn't even need to go there: Jason, Dan, a woman has a much better handle on what another woman will appreciate than a man does. Are you going to help me pick out tampons next?

Jason said...

About as much consolation as it is to the families of women who die on the road, on the way to the range.

We all play the odds, and sometimes the dice come up snake-eyes. The trick is to tilt them in our favor. When it comes to public health and crime prevention, if we spend all our time and energy to eliminate tiny risks, and ignore big risks, we're basically killing people.

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

And it's gonna do a GREAT job of protecting her from being raped while she's walking home from work.

Oh, but I'm sure the rape rate is terrifically low...

North said...

Sabra: There is part of a drink on my monitor. Thanks for the chuckle.

Mike W. said...

Wait, Jason? So you're seriously saying a woman should go buy a gun and then NOT shoot it because driving to the range increases her risk of death? *headdesk*

As for "Most of the utility comes from having a gun, any gun."

Seriously? Having a gun but not having actually shot it at the range seems like a terrible idea to me.

Personally I'm waiting for women gunbloggers to start giving advice on the best jockstraps for newbies. I'm sure they're experts on that.... sigh.

Boyd K said...

Jason you seem to be assuming that "shooting sports" can't be a side effect of buying a defense gun. With the approach of a little education followed with a gun that -fits- it can. So yes, yes I did "get huge rewards for it down the line". I still am actually. And most people can.

Sabra said...

And most people can.

But not if you're a girl. Damn women drivers.

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

About as much consolation as it is to the families of women who die on the road, on the way to the range.

So how many women have died in car wrecks on the way to the range? What's the rate for that? Somehow I'm thinking it's even lower, perhaps even so low as to be statistically insignificant.

Boyd K said...

@Sabra; :-)

Borepatch said...

Hmmmm ... "what's the best gun for a woman to shoot?"

Why not ask her? If she tries a bunch, she'll figure out what she likes. Mrs. Borepatch picked out her own (SIG P230), and did it while I was away traveling.

Seems that she didn't need my help at all. Gentlemen, there's a word to the wise there.

Or heck, just tell her what to do. While you're at it, don't forget to give her directions when you're driving or tips for the perfect "military crease" on the bedsheets. Just don't do it standing next to me, as I might get caught in the blast radius ...

Boyd K said...

Borepatch you forgot to suggest mentioning how obviously superior knitting is to crochet ;-)

Jason said...

Actually, other crime rates (including rape) are also low. And just as not all crimes are fatal, not all auto accidents are fatal. I believe our hostess knows a little something about that...

How many lives could we save if all the money we spent on ammo went instead to paying for a car with better impact ratings? An extra $50-100 on a car payment can make a big difference in what you drive.

Face it, most of what we spend on guns has nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with fun. There's nothing wrong with that. Everybody who rides a motorcycle or even just leaves the house to go see a movie instead of staying in and Netflixing it is trading some safety for fun.

But let's not make safety arguments when it's not about safety.

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

But let's not make safety arguments when it's not about safety.

Oh, but it is about safety. If it wasn't, you wouldn't have brought up the "terrifically low" murder rates of white middle-aged American women The argument that it isn't about safety looks to me to be an attempt to camouflage the fact that you're shifting the goalposts in order to justify your argument for snubnosed revolvers.

Jason said...

The argument against .38 specials is not an argument about safety. The safety difference between a .38 and (for example) an easy-to-shoot, highly-accurate, high-capacity, low-recoiling 9mm you could win competitions with is minuscule. And that's even assuming they're equally easy to carry. In practical terms, the .38 is a much better gun for safety because you're more likely to have it when you need it. Any gun always beats no gun.

Now, the difference between enjoyability at the range is huge. The difference between which one will attract more people to the shooting sports is massive.

But what's the goal here? To promote a sport? Or make people safer? I love the shooting sports. I'm shooting USPSA tonight. But I love seeing more people with guns in their pockets and handbags even more. And that means tiny, light guns that often aren't very pleasant to shoot.

perlhaqr said...

Tam said: What is A Good Gun For A Woman, then?

Well, crap. If you don't know, how the hell are the rest of us supposed to have any idea? ;)

Jason said...

southtexas, how many women have died because their defensive handgun didn't fit them just so?

I personally know many more women who have been involved in serious - even fatal - auto accidents than have ever fired a single shot in anger. Much less hit anyone. Much less been shot.

Let's cut the fearmongering.

It simply doesn't happen that much, and I believe that by making buying a gun such a long, involved, confusing process for them, we're deterring women (and men) who would be perfectly well-served with a basic firearm from taking that step, improving their safety by a reasonable amount, and then moving on with their lives.

"Try out dozens of guns, spend hundreds of dollars on ammo and range time, then take this class, then decide between these six magical concealment holsters..."

If you're into that kind of thing, great.

Otherwise, just buy a .38 and a pocket holster. Shoot it a couple of times at a big silhouette target at 5 yards, carry it, and be happy. Unless you're a gun geek, and want to be a gun geek, your time and money are better spent on other things than worrying about finding the perfect handgun.

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

Let's cut the fearmongering.

Says the one who talks about women dying in car accidents on the way to the range.

Savor the irony, friends. Let its full-bodied assertiveness but not offensiveness linger on your ear.

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

And this was not about anyone's defensive handgun not fitting them just so. It was about said handgun not fitting them at all. Way to shift the goalposts again, homes!

Jason said...

You do realize that you're commenting in the blog of someone who was recently in a serious accident and is still suffering from that, right?

You are far more likely to get into a serious accident than you are to get into a shootout. If it was about saving lives, we'd spend less time discussing stopping power and sight radiuses, and more time discussing stopping distance and side-impact bags.

When was the last time you went shooting? When was the last time you checked your tire pressure and tread depth?

Jason said...

If you can squeeze the trigger to the breaking point, it fits. Maybe not well, but well enough to realize most of the utility the average person will ever get from a handgun.

Atomic Nerds said...

Wow. Towards the end here I had to make popcorn to keep reading. I'd thank y'all for the entertainment, but that you're not playing it for yuks kinda sours things and makes me wish some folks weren't actually folks.


Breda said...

Jason, this is what you sound like:

"No need to practice, honey, don't worry your pretty little head. Just put this revolver in your purse and forget about it. I'm sure you can get it out by the time the nasty man gets his hands on you. And anyway, rape usually isn't fatal."

By all means, let's continue to encourage women to be mediocre and complacent little sheep.

Boyd K said...

@atomic; I don't want to be immodest but I started playing for yuks when I sent the
to sabra and made the comments about crochet (which, in truth, every red blooded 'merican male knows to be the Monarch of textile crafts ;)

An Ordinary American said...

I recommend an Airweight as a carry gun, but not a practice or range or "fun gun."

The job of an Airweight is to get you out of a jam. That's it.

It's not to become proficient on. It's not a training or learning gun. It's not a beer-can plinker.

It's a short-range, lethal instrument that will save your life IF you have it, and IF you can shoot it.

Those "ifs" or completely within your control.

I trust a Smith & Wesson Airweight .38 Special to protect both my wife and my nineteen-year-old adopted daughter.

They have an advantage, though. I reload, as well as cast my own bullets. I cast a small, lightweight 105 grain SWC bullet, and load it with a light charge of Bullseye for them to shoot five rounds each from their Airweights at the range.

The rest of their practice shooting is done with a S&W Mod 19 with a two-inch barrel and a Taurus 85.

Both are a helluva lot more pleasant to shoot.

But I insist on five rounds with the mouseload rounds out of their Airweights so they will know the trigger pull, the feel, the grip, etc.

Having been in the military and in some interesting situations as well as having been a federal lawman and firearms instructor, I tell people--from experience--that they'll never feel the gun kick if they have to shoot it "for real" at someone.

For women, a small, lightweight gun is a good choice. It's job is to give you room to run, scream, or whatever.

If you want or need more than that, re-think your daily routines and purchase accordingly.

pax said...

Look! It's a shoot off between the "gun as talisman" and the "gun as tool" factions! With a strong undercurrent of "women can't learn" on the side, just for fun!

Ah, well. Go ahead, guys. Give a nasty little gun to a novice shooter. The difficult learning curve will dampen her enthusiasm and deter her from practice, and then confirm your own prejudices when it does. She doesn't want to shoot? That's *proof* that the unpleasant little gun was the best choice for her. She only needed a talisman, anyway, not a tool she could actually use.

Oh, wait, what if she does turn out to be stubborn enough and motivated enough to learn to shoot despite all that? What then?

Well, you can always argue with her when she says that handing her a difficult and unpleasant little gun wasn't the best way to encourage her on her journey to armed self defense.

After all, you know what she needs and wants better than she does. How could she know anything about it? When it comes to firearms, women won't learn...


It's hard to parody this stuff, for some reason. The really sad part is that some of the commenters are nodding along with my sarcastic comments above.

Breda, my hat's off to you and to every woman who's ever learned to shoot with a tiny and difficult firearm. You done good.

Jason said...


I wouldn't call anyone who carried a gun of any kind a mediocre and complacent sheep. Quite the opposite.

The question must always be, "Compared to what?" Compared to no gun? Compared to a big comfortable gun that they don't carry at all? Most people have limited time and money. Most people find carrying a hunk of metal annoying. Most people are not gun nuts. Most people would be lucky to get to the range once or twice a year.

I have a cousin who's working full time and raising three kids on her own, on a health-care worker's pay. And she sometimes has to work the late shift in some not-so-nice parts of Ohio. She wants a gun. It's all very well and good for me to tell her to rent a bunch of guns and pick the one that fits just so. I'm a DINK. But where's she going to find the money or - even if I were to contribute that - the time? And if she doesn't have the time to practice regularly, how can I, as a concerned friend and family member, ensure that if she ever needs it, she'll at least be able to get a couple of rounds off, enough to present a credible threat to a bad guy, even if she hasn't been able to get out to the range in a year or more?

It's called a .38 revolver. If that's condescending, so be it. When you're walking through the valley of the shadow of Akron, 5 shots at the end of a heavy trigger is a good, good thing.

SpeakerTweaker said...

southtexas, how many women have died because their defensive handgun didn't fit them just so?

Hmmm... let's see. Take the number of women who left the new snubbie in the sock drawer at home, subtract the number who were raped, mugged, etc., uhh.. carry the one... add a dash of Don't Worry, Hon, Just Point and Pull...

I'mma have to write this one out.

AAaaaannnd Breda gets QotD with "And anyway, rape usually isn't fatal."


Jason said...

Where in that equation do you work in the number of women who don't have a gun because a bunch of relatively well-off gun geeks insisted that there was no point unless they were willing to invest months and hundreds of dollars on research, and more money and time to follow a practice schedule? Is rape only something women above a certain income and spare time level get to prevent?

Look, I know gun owners tend to be better-educated and higher-income than average. If we didn't have disposable income, we wouldn't be in this hobby. But it leads to certain assumptions that really reek of privilege. I don't think anyone would stand up and say "The RKBA is only for DINKs!" But the practical effect of promoting certain minimum standards for gun ownership is to raise the bar on who can and can't afford to take part. And every time you raise it, more and more people fall below.

That's why I want to set the bar as low as possible.

North said...

I think this will be the first time I've ever unsubscribed to a post...

Dan said...

Since it seems like some people's reading comprehension is suffering as a result of preferring to argue and throw around condescending remarks, I'd like to jump in here and clarify something right quick:

I never disagreed with Breda's original statement, but I was genuinely confused about one particular thing. Only two people actually bothered to answer my question (thank you Jason and Tam). I never recommended anything one way or another, besides saying "decent grips might help." Oh no.

Now feel free to continue arguing, but I'm rather hungover so keep your voices down.

Breda said...

North, I hear ya. I'm wishing I could unwrite it.

SpeakerTweaker said...

I've never seen Smith Airweights and "low-priced" in the same sentence, unless the sentence is "Smith Airweights are not low-priced."

I can think of many, many other reliable firearms that are lower-priced than an Airweight .38. Keep moving those goalposts, but at the end of the day, it's about preference. And it's just as easy to say "subcompact Glock" as it is to say "Airweight .38. Easier, actually. "Subcompact Glock" only has four syllables.

I have found, as I actively listen to women who have fired a handgun, that many do not like snubbies, but lots of 'em like Glocks.


Jason said...

Reading comprehension quiz: How many times did I use the word "time", or words related to time? "Months", "years", "spare time"?

Don't ignore what I say and then accuse me of moving the goal posts.

Glocks are great. For anyone who has time for training with them, I highly recommend them. But even Glocks can malfunction if you fail to seat the magazine. Even with Glocks you do have to remember to chamber the first round. Even Glocks will hurt you if you instinctively put your off-hand thumb behind the slide. These are things I've seen repeatedly on the range. Things that take practice and time to correct. (And think about it: if they're on the range, these are the people who have the money and time to practice!) If you don't have that time and dedication to drill these things, then a Glock (or any semi-auto) is really not for you.

Phelps said...

I recommend it to friends and family when I know that they want it to CARRY, not to shoot with (men and women). By that, I mean someone who wants to put it in a pocket or purse and shoot maybe 50 rounds a year (or ever) through it. I don't recommend it, but we all know someone like that. A concealed hammer .38 is good for that.

Of course, I don't recommend airlights or titanium models for that, because if they do shoot it, the recoil is going to hurt. Women can certainly enjoy big guns -- my tiny sister-in-law's favorite gun is my brother's huge .45 LC. It's heavy enough that there's little felt recoil, and you can put all six rounds through one half-inch hole if you are so inclined.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

One of the first handguns I ever fired was a Desert Eagle in .45. I liked it so much that I refused to fire handguns for roughly six years after that. Then I was given something else that was "a great gun for a woman", which hurt so much I refused to try shooting handguns for years, until my fiance, after months of patient trust-building and love, finally coaxed me extremely grumpily to the range. I fully expected to spend the next few days signing things with my left hand, and only came because I was willing to make the point that I loved him enough to do something nasty, stupid, pointless, icky, and painful with him just because he really liked it. Once.

I was startled when the Walther P22didn't hurt. Still pissed off and mad as a wet hen at being out at the pistol range in the cold and wet instead of at my favorite indoor rifle range with my beautiful little rifle, though.

For all the guns that Calmer Half and Oleg have given to me to try, from single-action to double-action, revolvers and semi-autos and all, the only one I've liked instead of put up with or hated is the PMR-30. A .38 snubby has all the attraction of somebody else's five-year-old throwing glass jars on the floor, screaming, and trying to bite anyone that gets close because its baby-momma said no to its favorite cereal.

Lergnom said...

When we were first dating, my GF and I each tried things the other liked. It was win-win for me because she had a BFA and 5 years of Art History, so I got "dragged" to museums with all those paintings and statues of nekki... uh, great art.
Then we went to the range. I gave her my Security Six loaded with mild wadcutters. she had one flyer and the rest almost touching, in the 10-ring. She thought it fun but boring, and much preferred table trap with my Winchester '97 because it was more challenging.
As I said, win-win.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jakes said...

My wife carries a Kel-Tec P3AT but almost never shoots it, she just carries it because it's small and easy to conceal, not because she enjoys anything about the gun when it comes to putting in range time. She does enjoy shooting a Hi-Point Carbine, Hi-Point C-9 9mm, and a Mossberg 20GA, and we've got plenty of other guns she could choose from that are a bit more exotic.
The best gun for a woman is the one she picks for herself, I've learned that after 25 years of marriage... :o)

Sam said...

Dan, your model 60 weighs quite a bit more than an airweight snubby. That probably has a bigger effect on the felt recoil than the grips do.

the pistolero said...

You do realize that you're commenting in the blog of someone who was recently in a serious accident and is still suffering from that, right?

And she still disagrees with you. (Protip: Using an appeal to authority doesn't work when the authority is telling you you're wrong.) And as for the financial element, it really all boils down to the old question of how much you think your life is worth. I'd think it's worth whatever it takes to find the gun I shoot the best, and if I was a gun store clerk, you can be damn sure I'd tell any customer that. Sure, more guns in purses are good. But not if the folks carrying the purses hate to shoot them. You're taking an awfully myopic and narrow-minded view here. We don't just want women not afraid of guns. We want more women as part of our gun culture, and we're not going to get them if we tell them the best gun for them to shoot is a gun that they don't like to shoot.

Jason said...

It's not an appeal to authority, it's an appeal to reality. It happened. It's happened to me too. More than once. But I've never even had to draw my gun in anger, and I spend many more hours carrying one fo those than I do on the road. Unless you're a drug dealer, auto accidents are far more common than shootouts. Even cops are more likely to get killed on the road than by gun.

We want more women as part of our gun culture,

Speak for yourself. I want more women to have guns when they need them. I don't care if they're part of the gun culture or not.

And yes, I know you're going to say it, so I'll just address it right now: we do have to choose between the two. Not always, but on the whole, it's necessary to make a choice. Most women do not buy guns because they want to join a new subculture. Most have friends already. Most have hobbies already. They want a tool to get a job done, and then they want to go home and not think about it.

I respect that.

I'm not about to make joining the subculture and going through our initiation and rites a condition to having a simple, effective tool for self defense. I don't think it's fair to impose my desire to promote my sport or my culture on someone else. They don't know and don't care about the gun culture, and really, they shouldn't have to.

Glenn B said...

Well, if it had to be a 38 as a first concealment gun, I would opt for a 3 inch barrel on an all steel revolver.

As for the snubnose, lightweight, 38 revolvers, such as the S&W airweights, they are not even good choices for men for their first pistol.

All the best,

the pistolero said...

I don't care if they're part of the gun culture or not.

So if they don't do this, and they go on to vote for politicians who run on the platform of "keeping guns out of the wrong hands" (i.e., yours and mine), you wouldn't care about that? We have a big enough problem with certain factions of gun owners throwing others under the bus. Call me crazy, but I think the best way to get people to understand that -- and to combat it -- is to get people as into guns as we can.

And we're not going to do that if we encourage one-size-fits-all solutions.

Jason said...

I don't care how they vote either. They're already voting that way. And if they're buying a gun to carry every day, they're probably voting the right way. But even if they don't - and you do get the occasional hypocrite - that's neither here nor there. When I go to the hardware store to buy a tool, I do not want the salesman to use the opportunity to promote either his fraternity or his politics.

Kim said...

I love my little 637 Airweight, but I'm the first to admit that once the target is outside 12 feet, I can't hit the inside of a room with it.

Both Daughter and The Mrs. absolutely hate it, by the way, and refuse point-blank to shoot it, for the reasons Breda gave. Daughter would rather shoot .357 Mags in a full-size revolver, while The Mrs. prefers her Browning HP.

Kim said...

By the way, the gun The Mrs. WANTS to carry is a Colt 1905 in .32 ACP, but I can't afford the $$$$$$ to get her a decent one.

Kim said...

I meant 1902. The pocket pistol.

John B said...

most of you cheerfully missed the point. That paragraph was published in 1982. Back then every cop was either carrying a colt or Smith & Wesson, in guess what? Yep! .38 caliber. You could grab a box of semi wadcutter reloads for $2.95. At my favorite gun shop, They'd waive tax and toss you a 50 cent can of coke if you dropped $30 for ten boxes. I averaged that every three weeks. Yeah! Those were the days. My $10 a week habit!

now I'm really maudlin for the good 'ol days.

But I hated the guts of all those lightweight revolvers. I chose a big horse of a Smif .357 revolver.

John said...

Between Tam's place and here, this topic has been well thrashed out -- in fact, pretty much taken to the woodshed on all sides.

However, here's my try at a postscript:

The .22 Mag lite-wt snubbie revolver.

Or the same in .32 mag, if the person takes to it.

"person' being someone who is distinctly unlike the all previous contributors here -- who are most distinctly gun people.

Also, read Fairbain's small book on how he trained the un-shooting, non-gunny Chinese recruits for his anti-gang team.

Sometimes we hobby types tend to over-complicate our world, because we love it so.

PS: I suppose one could consider those recommends as anemic, unless one were shot with same.

Mike W. said...

John - I own an airweight snubbie in .32 H&R Mag. I wouldn't call it anemic either.

Then again I doubt someone would want to get shot with it even if it were loaded with .32 S&W short.

Ben said...

Male here. I shoot an auto a lot better than a snubbie, but that's what I carry. My auto (Makarov) was just too heavy and bulky, and I didn't want a mouse gun.

Maybe a lightweight 9mm (ruger LC9?) would suit me better, but for now I'm happy with my 642. I figured a carry gun wouldn't do me any good if I never wanted to carry it. And I like carrying the revolver, despite its significant disadvantages.

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

When I go to the hardware store to buy a tool, I do not want the salesman to use the opportunity to promote either his fraternity or his politics.

Analogy FAIL. Unlike the purchase of a power saw or a drill, the purchase and use of a gun is an inherently political (and politically controversial) act. The Founding Fathers would've had nothing to say or write on the matter if guns and politics weren't inextricably intertwined. You can't divorce guns from politics no matter how hard you might try. You might want to get away from the politics of the thing, but it will find you sooner or later.

Jason said...

Reading comprehension FAIL.

I didn't say guns and politics had no connection. I said a salesman shouldn't be using his position to promote his personal ulterior political motives.

Unless you're willing to be completely upfront with a customer, look them in the eye, and say, "This gun meets the requirements you gave me, but I'm going to recommend this other one, because it'll make you more likely to vote the way I want you to vote in the future," you're being selfish, disingenuous, and manipulative. Stop that. Other people (and their money) are not your playthings.

Breda said...

Okay, I've had it. I'm closing comments.

Go have your argument on your own dime.