Still in braces and just graduating high school, 17 year old Tori Nonaka is the newest addition to team Glock. She shoots several different guns and has found Glock to be a good fit for a woman shooter.
Just because a Glock is double stack doesn’t mean it can’t be a comfortable fit for small frame shooters.
By Brian Jensen
As a Range Instructor for a medium sized department, I soon learned that shooters come in various shapes, sizes, experiences, and abilities. One aspect we found, was that many of our smaller stature officers, who happened to be female, struggled to use the department issue gun, a Glock 22 or 23 in .40 S&W.
Back in those days, it was a “one gun fits all,” department, and that was what I had to work within. We struggled, cajoled, and trained to beat the issue. The problem was, that some people’s hands just aren’t that big, and most double stack autos have a healthy-sized grip for most average hands, let alone the more petite variety.
Another issue I found was that some struggled with recoil, and it didn’t necessarily matter if you were male or female. (Those recoil machismo junkies, go ahead and roll your eyes, but it’s true.) That snap of the .40 was punishing for some, and didn’t allow for quicker follow up shots. For a defensive gun, recoil can be a disastrous problem. I may hit an assailant with one shot, but I’m not aware of many shootouts that end with one shot (Thus the name shootout). On the competition side as well, both gun size and recoil can be a problem. Speed waits for no man, or, in this case, woman.
This also applies to consumer guns – self defense and concealed carry alike. For those of small stature especially, if the gun is no fun to shoot because it feels like I’m carrying a 2 x 4 in my smaller hand, and the recoil makes me flinch, chances are I won’t shoot the gun much. I won’t practice, I wont carry it, and I’ll never feel confident with it as a defensive or competition weapon.
For this installment we are going to cover some of the issues with choosing a defensive or competition gun for women, and we have an interview with 17 year old Team Glock member, Tori Nonaka. Glocks are the most widespread of all defensive handguns, and we thought it would be a great idea to get Tori’s take on why she got involved with Glock, and how a woman shooter should look at the Glock lineup when choosing a defensive or competition gun. First let’s look at the issues.
One of the biggest obstacles I’ve found in my years with women shooters who have smaller hands is the grip. We all know that smaller hands make for a more difficult grip on a bigger gun. Don’t get me wrong, people can adapt over time and through training – I’ve worked with many women shooters over the years to do just that. However, in today’s modern age, with all the gun choices in today’s market, I would ask why should they have to?
The benefit of a gun that can be adapted to different shooter makes sense to me and over the last several years a lot of guns have entered the market with interchangeable backstraps to fit different sizes of hands. Glock’s Gen 4 Multiple Back Strap (MBS) system is just that. Yes, I know for years Glock was kind of a “One-Size-Fits-All” kind of manufacturer – it was one of the common complaints about them that had some validity to it – and I heard it over and over. Luckily for us, this isn’t the case anymore. The MBS allows for three different sizes and I can find a size for just about everyone.
However, service pistol Glocks are still double-stack guns, but it’s far easier to manage the pistol with the small sized grip for smaller hands when you set up the MBS correctly. The grip without any inserts is better for smaller hands, the medium insert is the same as a standard grip, and the large insert is for those with big paws.
For some, the MBS isn’t an option – like those Gen 3 and earlier versions I have sitting in my safe. I’ve seen first-hand some solutions for that as well. There are a whole bunch of companies these days that do some incredible grip reductions for our little polymer friend the Glock. Robar comes to mind, as does Bowie Tactical. They can reduce the size of the grip considerably or re-texture it. . It will slim down and re-contour the grip to better fit your hand. They can also switch the grip angle some for those who just can’t make the grip angle fit. Those are but two of many, many companies that do something like this. They make a plain-jane Glock look sleek, stylish, and functional.
The most problematic issue I’ve found for my female shooters is recoil. I had shooters who built in so much of a flinch it was almost comical. If you’re stuck with a particular caliber like we were with the .40, it was pure torture for some shooters. However, the new recoil system for the Gen 4 better absorbs the recoil of the snappy round.
What are you supposed to do if you don’t like the .40, and the Gen 4 doesn’t do the trick? You can still love your Glock, just love it in another caliber. I suggest the 9mm. The 9mm is easy to shoot, the guns last forever and allow for quicker follow-up shots due to the low recoil.
The good news is that with modern ammunition the great “gap” between the .40 S&W and 9mm has narrowed considerably. If a shooter can’t hit the broadside of a barn with a .40 because the recoil is too snappy, but can take the wings off a fly with a much tamer 9mm, do you really want to argue about caliber??!!
I have several women shooters who have shifted to the 9mm and are far more confident shooters, and do much better after making the switch. They enjoy shooting again, and have no concerns that the gun is “underpowered.” Their 9mm Glocks are easy to shoot, and as reliable as any of our other weapons.
I can’t speak for all women shooters – I’m not a woman. But I am a huge Glock fan. For the woman shooter, as Tori can explain, whether the concern is grip size, recoil, or just feel, there are answers in the Glock. No, I am not a paid company spokesmodel, but in my experience, regardless of the gender behind the trigger, the Glock line offers a reliable gun that will work for any shooter.
An Interview with Tori Nanoka, a Woman’s Persepctive:
Tori Nonaka (age 17) is one of the newest members of Team Glock. She’s been shooting since she was three, as have all of her siblings – a tradition started by her father, Aaron Nonaka. Now, she’s a member of one of the premier shooting teams in the US. She has gotten opportunities to travel and compete around the world, and she has only just graduated high school. She’s an avid shooter, and invites her friends to join in, spreading her love of the sport whenever she can. It’s a family appreciation for shooting and gun safety that her dad instilled in all his kids.
I recently got the chance to interview Tori, and get her perspective on shooting, and how Glock works for women shooters. She liked the new addition of the Gen 4 backstap system to adapt to ladies, who generally have smaller hands. She sees the system as just another step in Glock getting a more adaptable pistol out there.
Tori, as one of the members of Team GLOCK, you’ve become something of a sensation. I understand you began shooting at the age of three with your father, Aaron Nonaka. Can you tell us how that happened?
My father has always been an avid shooter and pro second amendment. I began shooting when I was three like all my other bothers and sisters. He always thought it was important to learn to shoot and also to learn about gun safety. I have a three year old brother who’s gong to start shooting this year at my graduation party. It’s important to my father.
What do you like best about competitive shooting?
I really enjoy competitive shooting, because it’s given me so many opportunities and I’ve gotten to go to so many places. And it’s great to get other shooters involved. We’re always getting people involved and the sport provides so many avenues to explore. I actually just got a family friend involved in shooting.
Being in high school, how do your friends feel about your being on the shooting team?
In school they are very supportive of my shooting, they are definitely interested especially when I come back from a trip. They see me at school like a regular person, then they see me on the internet and its kind of funny.
I’m sure you use different pistols for different competitions, but which is your favorite?
My favorite would probably be the Glock 24 because its an extra long .40 cal, and having the extra weight and the longer sight radius it just really makes it a good gun for the women’s competition. It’s just really straight shooting and the way it comes back on target fits my style. I really enjoy shooting that in competition a lot.
What have you done to your Glock to make it better suit you?
Actually, they are good right out of the box for competition but I have some small modifications like a lighter trigger pull and different sights (Dawson Adjustable) because they do allow for that. I shoot all black sights and use the Dawson adjustable so I can really “dial it in”.
How does Glock Perfection help women shooters?
Well, I think women shooters often have small hands, and the Glock Gen 4 guns have the interchangeable backstraps to adjust the grips. It offered a new option for women shooters.
What has the sport of shooting done well for women, as well as what could the sport maybe do to improve opportunities for women to compete?
I believe the shooting sports has done a good job of bringing in and welcoming women shooters. We’ve seen an increase in the number of women shooters. I would like to see more ladies and I think the TV shows we are doing are helping to attract more. Everything the sport is doing seems to be going in the right direction.
If a female friend came to you and asked you how to best choose a gun for self defense, or for just shooting, what would you tell her?
Well, I would tell her to use the pistol that best fits you and that you will actually practice with. Due to the simplicity and now, the adaptability (of the Gen 4 Pistols), I’d definitely suggest the Glock to them.
As a woman in the shooting sports, what would you like to let other women know about shooting and firearms?
Well I’d like to share with them because this is such an exciting time for shooting. With all the new exposure to TV shows, shooting sports are getting recognized even more. It’s growing, and they should try to be a part of it. I’ve been just enjoying it since I’ve become a part of it. Everyone I’ve brought to the range has come back and enjoyed it. I am graduating this Saturday from high school, and I’ve recently taken up trap shooting as my next thing. Not many people can practice 5-7 times a week like me, but get out shooting and see what comes next.