Glocks for Girls – Tori Nonaka Team Glock

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.

The Gen 4 guns come with an integral backstrap system that changes out easily for smaller hands.

Even the .45ACP G21 can be adaptable to women shooters with smaller hands.

The Glock 19 fires the 9mm. The 9mm is easy to shoot, plenty potent, and a worthy round for anyone in self defense, competition, or just plinking.

Glock Safe Action Pistols:
Tori Nonaka on Facebook:

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.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Doug March 21, 2014, 3:09 am

    Hi @ TARA….watch all this womans “youtube” vids. She is a small woman and has great vids and reviews! Smith and Wesson “Shield” might work for you or a small “body guard” revolver by Smith and Wesson although the “Ruger”s version of the same gun has an easier trigger pull than the Smith and Wesson! Hope that helps!

  • stickers February 17, 2014, 1:58 am

    Hi i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when
    i read this article i thought i could also make comment due to this sensible paragraph.

  • tara October 21, 2013, 4:37 am

    Never had a pistol. Need one for self defense. Small size and I can take on walks. In car. Purse. Hide and I have children youngest being 10. Suggestions. Please. Im 5 2 and 115. Help

  • JTF July 9, 2012, 3:09 pm

    I am so glad to see this article. My employer took me from Glock 17 to 21 to 22 to SW M&P then back to the Gen 4 21.
    I don’t like the gen4 as much as I liked the other Glocks. Only reason is the finish. Glock isn’t using the same process in their coatings as they used to use. That became evident in the first 2 months.
    Glocks do fail but not as much as the M&P. I shot my Glock 22 (.40 ACTUALLY CAN’T RECALL IF IT’S A GLOCK 22 BUT I KNOW IT’S A 40). I shot the 40 and yes the gun did break. A pin broke which led to functioning issues. Mind you that I have shot this gun so much that the blisters popped.
    The M&P , Where to start. They rusted alot more than Glocks. They shoot nice. The mag springs broke from wear and tear. Thos few M&P’s we have left are accompanied by a huge box of springs. One M&P was sent minus a fireing pin. After 2 M&PS and 3 slides we went back to Glock.
    I will from here everafter be a Glock man. I am sure I will shoot it till something breaks but I’ll accept that as trigger time.
    As for small hands, I think even a tiny 17 year old girl can adjust to the Gen 4.
    I enjoyed the read.
    Oh one more thing. I hope she doesn’t break a nail attempting to take down a Glock for cleaning. They are a little tight.
    Take Care All

  • Linda Walters July 9, 2012, 2:47 pm

    There are 8 year old piano and guitar prodigies that play those instruments better than most adults.
    But that doesn’t mean the average small-handed shooter will become proficient using a gun that is too big for her hand. Try operating the slide or mag release without shifting your grip using a little hand.

    As for Glock reliability. There are many You Tube vids out there documenting all the FTF’s and FTE’s of the venerable Glock ‘Perfection’ guns. Many clip-fed pistols have problems with feed & ejection and Glocks are no exception. Ask your local gunsmith.

    For a woman’s small hands there just isn’t a better fitting 9mm than the Kahr CM9 or PM9.
    In .380 the Kahr is perfectly useable with a small female hand. After break-in the Kahrs are very reliable too.

    Until Glock designs and markets a .9″ width, 15.9oz, 9/40mm here in the U.S. they will be bought mainly by men and police departments who force their female employees to use a gun that doesn’t fit.

  • Striker43 July 9, 2012, 2:02 pm

    It’s good to see that Glock is finally coming to the party in terms of grip size matching the public. Smith & Wesson started their interchangeable grip sizes YEARS ago however in their M & P models. Now I’m not a Glock basher by any means, I mean when Glock came upon the market they made a clean sweep of it! I’ve shot with both Glocks and S & W M & Ps and purchased the M & P .40 back in 2009 and it is an absolute Cadillac of handguns IMHO! It is TONS lighter than the Glock, has a straight up (direction) recoil that is quick and snappy, alowing you to stay on target and feels like a dream in my hand with the size small (I’m a man with small hands 🙁 ) grip! It is also a snap to disassemble and clean and incorporates a good design at staying clean, I guess by the way it controls the discharge gasses I assume but don’t know. In fact, I used to clean my guns about every second time I would take them out to shoot but with the Smith M & P it was never dirty enough to warrant it! I clean it about every four times I shoot it now and it is still pretty clean…more so its just my cleaning policy. I have to agree with “barleycorny” above on asking “T.M” to clarify his comment on Glocks being unreliable. I noticed that “T.M.” never responded to that query. I’m not surprised because I have NEVER heard of one single case (except for compensated Glocks AND Smith M & Ps) of a reliability issue! I am not alone in my praise of the Smith M & P though as more and more law enforcement agencies across our country are swapping out their venerable Glocks for the Smith & Wesson M & P .40; the same model that I now own. Not just Mom & Pop agencies either, the Atlanta Police Department has now gone to the Smith & Wesson M & P .40 exclusively (go ahead and Google that by using any search engine OTHER THAN GOOGLE)! And my wife loves it too and proved it to me by shooting JUST AS GOOD AS ME when we took it to the range for the first time (a little embarrassing for me being a former (if there is such a thing) Recon Scout in the US Army)! But its all good!!

  • chris July 9, 2012, 11:48 am

    How do you become a member of the glock team. I shoot a glock G26 its one of the frist ones that glock came out with. I’am not really good at shooting but I would like too get better and be able to compete, but I guess that will always be a dream Iam probably to old anyway.

    • Administrator July 9, 2012, 11:53 am

      Go shoot in competition and if you win then ask them.

  • JiminGA July 9, 2012, 11:46 am

    I carry a Gen3 Glock 17 and my wife loves to shoot it (she’s 5′-2″ with small hands) as does my daughter who is more average size. My daughter prefers my full sized Glock to her husband’s baby Glock .40 cal because of less recoil and muzzle flip. The problem for my wife is she isn’t strong enough to rack the slide on my gun. I know I can replace the spring with a lighter resistance but won’t, as it also servers as a “safety” mechanism in case the grandkids get curious. The wife now shoots a wheel gun (Ruger Sp101 .357/.38) using .38 Sp +P+ ammo.

    • Ginger July 9, 2012, 7:21 pm

      Before you change out the slide, try (if right handed) pushing with the right hand forward and pulling the slide back with the left. Guys never think about this as an issue because of their strength, but in my experience gripping the slide firmly with the left hand palm and gently curly fingers over to make the grasp then pushing forward with the right hand seem to minimize many slide issues for women not compromised by arthritis. I have actually put a high impact recoil spring in my Browning HighPower to be able to shoot +P and P+P ammunition without hesitation. With that in mind, the lighter the recoil spring, the more wear these extra impact rounds will make on the working mechanism of the firearm. Do try this method first before changing out anything stock with GLOCK… just a suggestion. I love the stock Glock 23 and 35! They’re built to take a beating! Happy Shooting!

      • Ginger July 9, 2012, 7:22 pm

        * spring * not slide… oops.

  • Drew Pitcher July 9, 2012, 11:22 am

    Like Tori says above.. try several and what you like and what fits your shooting style would be best for you. That’s the ticket.. if you won’t use it for some reason then it’s not the gun for you; but if it’s good for you and you will practice with it and enjoy it then go with it.

  • T.M. July 9, 2012, 3:57 am

    The Glock Gen4 still feels blocky and has had many reliability issues. For a small handed shooter I would look hard at an Smith & Wesson M&P instead.

    • barleycorny July 9, 2012, 11:50 am

      T.M. What specific “reliability issues” has the Glock had? Back up a statement like that with some facts or it will be assumed you are a fan boy poser – Never heard of any problems whatsoever and would be glad to learn if there were but trolling opinions are already too plentiful so say it straight or not at all.

      • varoadking July 11, 2012, 7:46 pm

        If you have not heard of the 9mm Glock Gen4 issues…I can only offer that it’s hard to hear anything when your head is buried in the sand.

        barleycorny July 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

        T.M. What specific “reliability issues” has the Glock had? Back up a statement like that with some facts or it will be assumed you are a fan boy poser – Never heard of any problems whatsoever and would be glad to learn if there were but trolling opinions are already too plentiful so say it straight or not at all.

    • mark July 9, 2012, 1:55 pm

      Personally I have never heard or experienced any reliability issues.
      I favor my 1911, but the Glock will run all day with her.
      Can you give us some specifics or reference?

  • Kelly July 8, 2012, 1:20 pm

    I am a female who just got into shooting and am looking for my first pistol. I have shot the Glock 24 that my brother shoots in competition and I loved it. I will probably end up getting the 19 though since it’s a little more manageable for me. With the smallest backstrap on the Gen 4, I don’t have any problems with it and I liike that I can just point and pull the trigger and the gun will work everytime.

    Thanks for this helpful article.

    -K Mcneil

    • Luke July 9, 2012, 6:43 am

      Kelly: You might also want to try the Walther PPQ and the PPS before you buy anything.

    • Archie July 10, 2012, 6:36 am

      I also suggest you try a Sig Sauer P250 (or others in the line). Not really a comp gun, but it is extremely reliable, a good carry, and you can switch calibers like Glock switches back straps. For a first gun (that you would presumably carry), you could do much worse. If you have not purchased, yet – try them all. A good gun should fit your hand and hit the bullseye – anything less and you’ve short-changed yourself in today’s market.

      • Geoff July 22, 2012, 11:33 am

        I agree with looking at Sig Sauer…6 of my 7 pistols are Sig’s and their accuracy, reliability and simplistic saftey system make them second to none. Of all the GREAT guns Sig offers, I would offer one caution on the P250 line. This is Sig’s only Polymer gun. Yes it lightens the actual gun but one of the main discussions of this article was recoil, not weight. It is my opinion that to assist with recoil a heavier gun will be one of the #1 ways to help handle more “pop”. That said I would recomend the P239 for a 9mm medium sized frame. Single stack and very thin, but all steel and very solid which helps with the recoil considerably. If you enjoy the extra stopping power of a .45 then the P220 is a thin single stack as well but full size power! ENJOY and BE SAFE!

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