Now that you know what features your wife or girlfriend wants in her concealed carry handgun (covered in Part I of this series), you’re ready to help her start looking.
If you’re familiar with the wonderful world of compact and subcompact handguns, you probably already have several options in mind. If not, it can be intimidating to weed through the wide variety of semi-automatic handguns and revolvers currently on the market.
With that in mind, I’m going to split this article into two sections. First, I’ll talk about how to narrow your list to a manageable number of solid concealed carry options. Then I’ll go over a few strategies for helping your significant other choose from among those options.
- Help Your Wife Purchase a Concealed Carry Firearm, Part 1: The Talk
- Help Your Wife Purchase a Concealed Carry Firearm, Part 2: The Search
- Help Your Wife Purchase a Concealed Carry Firearm, Part 3: The Range
A Few Guns to Consider
If you’ve had The Talk with your wife or girlfriend, you’re already halfway there. In our conversation, Ana (my wife) and I determined that we’re looking for a subcompact, semi-automatic handgun in 9mm with an external safety. She wants an external safety to provide one additional protection against accidental discharge, and she wants the gun to be small enough to fit in a small purse or carry on her person.
So right away I was able to rule out dozens of compact options as well as anything that doesn’t come with an external safety.
That’s a great start, but if you don’t know which guns have which features you’ll still have a hard time.
We started with some good old fashioned internet research. GunsAmerica publishes lots of great reviews on concealed carry handguns. Reviewers of each gun discuss the firearm’s features, its quality, and its affordability. Here’s what we were able to find (more or less) within our parameters:
- Smith and Wesson M&P Shield Review
- Springfield Armory XD-S Review
- Ruger LCP II
- SCCY CPX-3
- Walther PPS M-2
- Glock 43
- Kimber Solo
- Sig Sauer P938
GunsAmerica also publishes articles like this one that lists 10 of the best concealed-carry handguns. Here you’ll find guns that aren’t on my list above like the Kel-Tec PF9 and the Sig P239. (If you have any firearm options to add, include them in the comments!).
After you’ve conducted a similar search within your parameters, you’ll be ready to visit your local gun stores. I encourage you and your significant other to use this opportunity to talk to the folks behind the counter and ask if they can recommend any options you haven’t considered.
This will also be your wife/girlfriend’s opportunity to hold a few of these guns for the first time, which brings us to the most important section in this series…
This is how I helped Ana choose a firearm.
We started by visiting several big-box and locally-owned gun stores. We brought our list, and Ana had a chance to hold each gun, rack the slide, and pull the trigger.
“Once I actually started holding guns, I was surprised at how quickly I was able to narrow my list,” Ana told me. “Some of the guns were way too small. Others were too difficult to load or the controls weren’t quite in the right place.”
By the end of the day we’d narrowed the list to the Springfield XD-S, the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield, and the Sig P938.
“It was a tough decision, but these three guns really stood out to me as particularly comfortable and easy to operate,” Ana said. “I’m sure others would feel differently, but, for me, the decision was pretty clear.”
Ana and I weren’t comfortable purchasing a self-defense handgun without firing live rounds. Holding a gun is great, but it’s impossible to know how a firearm shoots without actually shooting it. I know some say they can get used to the gun after the fact, but I don’t see why anyone would want to start out at a disadvantage.
So once we had our top-three list of firearms, we started looking around for a place to try them. There are lots of gun ranges that have a wide selection of firearms available for rent, which this is a great way to test lots of guns all at once.
There are several such ranges near our home, but we also know quite a few gun owners, so we were actually able to find all three guns amongst our friends and family. Ana tested each of them, paying attention to accuracy, comfort level, and firearm control. She shot about 50 rounds through each gun from 5, 10, and 15 yards.
After quite a bit of thought, she ultimately selected the M&P Shield.
She liked all three guns, but the XD-S felt a little large for her hands, and the P938 kicked too much and wasn’t as comfortable to shoot. “The gun needs to be comfortable to shoot, both for a self-defense situation and for practice,” Ana said during our range session. “I’m not going to want to go to the range if I hate shooting the gun, and if I don’t go to the range I won’t be confident enough to carry it around.”
The Shield is one of the most ergonomically pleasant subcompact handguns I’ve ever shot, and Ana agreed. Its slim profile allows for easily concealability, but it’s still easy to shoot, especially with the extended magazine. The trigger pull is solid, though there are some aftermarket options we might consider.
Plus, Smith and Wesson’s legendary reliability will give Ana peace of mind as she begins carrying a handgun to use for personal defense. Click here to read a full review of the Shield.
Once we settled on the Shield, we searched GunsAmerica’s firearm listings and found a great deal in our area (local sales are always FREE on GunsAmerica). This saved both shipping costs and FFL fees, which allowed us to really take advantage of the low price we found.
The process you use to find the right handgun might be different, and I encourage you to share your experience in the comments below. But I think stopping by a gun store and a gun range is a good idea no matter what firearm you’re looking for, and I hope our experience will be helpful to anyone in a similar situation.
Most importantly, be sure to let your significant other control the process. Help with research; help in the gun store and at the range. But don’t force it. That way she’ll end up with something she likes, and you’ll both be comfortable with her decision.
Be looking in the next several weeks for the third and final installment of this series. We’ll talk about how to acclimate your wife/girlfriend to their new firearm, what drills to consider, and whether or not to pursue additional training.
About the Author: Jordan Michaels is a new convert to the gun world. A Canadian immigrant to the United States, he recently became an American citizen and is happily enjoying his newly-acquired Second Amendment freedoms. He’s a communications professional, a political junkie, and an avid basketball fan.