If you’ve been following firearm industry news, you know that the “average American gun owner” looks a little different these days. More women are purchasing and carrying firearms than ever before, and chances are good your significant other has thought about buying a handgun for self-defense.
Mine has, anyway. My wife Ana and I have moved around a bit the past few years, but now that we’re in the Great State of Texas on a semi-permanent basis, we decided it’s time for her to get her Concealed Handgun License.
But first, that all-important question: What gun should she get?
- 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
There are, quite literally, dozens of compact and sub-compact pistols to choose from these days. And the options are endless: Semi-auto or revolver? Double-stack or single-stack? Striker-fired or hammer-fired? Safety or no safety? 9mm or .380?
Choosing a concealed carry handgun can be overwhelming, especially if you—like me and thousands of other Americans in 2016—are relatively new to the firearms world but still realize the benefits of owning and carrying a gun.
If that sounds familiar, this series of articles is for you. We’ll cover the basic questions you need to ask your significant other, many of the most popular concealed carry options, and how to find and purchase a firearm.
The strategy Ana and I used might not work for everyone, so if you had a different experience I encourage you to share it in the comments below. But my hope is that between my articles and your comments we can compile a great resource for anyone looking to help their wife or girlfriend purchase their first concealed carry handgun.
And I use the word “help” deliberately. Speaking with others on this subject and researching it myself, I’ve found that men often mistakenly purchase a pistol for their significant other rather than helping them purchase their own. If your wife has expressed interest in firearms, it’s tempting to buy a gun you think she’ll like, wrap it up, and put it under the tree. I understand the temptation, but it’s a bad idea.
Unless your wife is already well-versed in firearm usage, choosing her handgun should be a team effort. Your job isn’t to give her your favorite gun; your job is to help her find hers. She might have to use her handgun to save her life, so it’s crucial that she be absolutely comfortable with it.
With that in mind, Ana and I found it useful to discuss what she wants in a concealed carry firearm even before hopping on GunsAmerica and visiting our local gun stores. This gave both of us a chance to share our thoughts in a low-pressure environment and saved us from awkward, whispered arguments at the gun counter.
SEE ALSO: Concealed Carry Products for Women – The Well Armed Woman
I had a list of questions I wanted to cover, but I also gave her the chance to voice concerns I had never considered.
Jordan: So, I obviously want you to have a handgun so you can defend yourself, but why do you want to carry?
Ana: Peace of mind. When I’m running errands or at home by myself I like to know that I have a way to defend myself against a much larger person. I also want to be able to defend our kids.
Jordan: Do you think you’ll carry the gun on your body or in your purse?
Ana: I know carrying on the body is safer, but, honestly, I don’t see myself doing that very often. I’m a slight person, and I don’t wear clothes that are great for concealing a weapon. I’ll give it a shot, but I think realistically I’ll carry in my purse most often.
Jordan: Do you know whether you’ll be more comfortable with a revolver or a semi-auto?
Ana: I’ve shot your semi-auto lots before, so I think I’d be comfortable carrying one. I like how simple revolvers are, but it would also be nice to have more than six rounds.
Jordan: Ok, so we’ll try both and see if you gravitate towards one or the other. What are your biggest safety concerns?
Ana: I’m really worried about the kids getting the gun, whether I’m carrying in a holster or in my purse. I know keeping the gun away from the kids will be entirely my responsibility, but are there any features on a handgun that could help protect against that?
Jordan: You have to strike a balance between making the gun easy to use against an attacker but tough for little fingers to operate. You can carry without a round in the chamber, so anyone who picks up the gun would have to rack the slide first. But that might make it too hard to use if you’re ambushed in an alley or getting into your car.
One option might be to get a gun with an external safety and a heavy trigger. That way, anyone unfamiliar with the gun will have to first figure out how to disengage the safety. Then they’ll have to give the trigger a firm pull, which lessens the chance of accidental discharge.
Ana: That sounds like it might work. What are the disadvantages of an external safety?
Jordan: It takes a lot of practice to get fast with it, so you’ll have to take it out to the range on a regular basis and practice dry firing at home.
Ana: I can do that.
Jordan: Ok, so we’re looking for a revolver or semi-auto with an external safety and a reasonably heavy trigger. Obviously, the gun will have to feel good to hold and to shoot, but we’ll figure that out at the gun store and at the range. It also has to be small enough to fit in the purses you use on a regular basis.
Ana: Great, let’s start looking.
That’s more or less how our conversation went. It doesn’t have to be long, but you need to cover a few basics. After you know roughly what you’re looking for, you can head over to GunsAmerica to browse listings in your area. When you’ve found a few you want to try, just visit those local GunsAmerica dealers and see what happens!
That’s what we did, and we’ll share our experience in Part II: The Search.
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.
Welcome to the United States of America, a land where you are no longer a “subject” but a citizen with rights!
I’m more than a little concerned with how the discussion about a mother’s concern for her children getting access to a concealed handgun was presented and suggest something different for that. First, consider that 2-year old children have successfully fired double action revolvers and unfortunately have killed others in doing so. This means that one must always keep their guns where they are not accessible to unauthorized people, especially children. It doesn’t matter what type of gun it is – keep them away from children.
One example comes to mind of a woman who kept her revolver in her purse in a shopping cart and her toddler got the gun out and shot her. Whether you keep a concealed gun in a holster on your body or in a purse/briefcase, or other type of storage, you must control the gun/holster, gun/purse, at all times. You must be ever vigilant. This is serious business. If you are in the car, you must do the same. If you are at home, you must do the same.
I highly recommend anyone who is going to carry concealed take the NRA personal protection outside the home course – it covers all that good stuff.
So, pick the gun that you can shoot effectively and conceal effectively (but not one based solely on ability to conceal), and then develop a concealed carry plan to effectively conceal that gun while carrying it. Develop a plan that considers not only your children, but any children. Control the gun at all times while carrying it.
Good luck and stay safe.
I took a concealed carry class and when the instructor told a story about buying his wife a snub nose .357 it made me suspect how qualified he was to teach anyone anything. I owned one for a short time and every time I pulled the trigger on a full house .357 load the gun made my hand bleed. he said his wife fired one shot thru the gun and would never shoot it again!! I understand that. I didn’t own that gun for very long. there are a lot of options to a good usable weapon that won’t scare or hurt anyone just because they pulled the trigger.
I am curios as to what or how did firing the gun make your hand bleed, I am guessing this was a revolver, though itvvould have been a semi auto. If you were shooting a revolver and had your hand up around the cyclinder, then for God’s sake never shoot a for example S&W 500 magnum.
Like anything else, doing this properly requires a good deal of time and education. First she needs to be indoctrinated in the basic safety rules and shoot .22s until she’s comfortable, safe and accurate, and then gradually go through various calibers of centerfire revolvers and pistols. She will know what she wants when it feels right and she can shoot it well. If you don’t own at least a dozen assorted handguns (though you should), find friends who do. First comes basic competence, then trying an assortment of styles and calibers to find what she’s comfortable with — if she likes it, and can shoot it well, she’ll want to shoot to stay in practice (and get better).
I don’t buy into that start with a 22 and work your way up. No reason not to start with a .38 or 9mm. Main thing is to make sure the grips allow you to get a good hold on the gun. Don’t get that other story about the 357 Mag revolver.. why not shoot .38 special through that if the 357 is to much.
My daughter’s husband bought her a S&W shield .380 as her first pistol.. shortly after that she was shooting a friends 1911 in .45acp and managed that quite well. She’s decided that’s her next gun.
My advice to all you gun guys that want your wife to be comfortable shooting is to hire an instructor that’s not going to fill her head with a bunch of tired cliches. Then let her make her own choices.. I get a kick out of all these fellas that buy their women these dainty little guns then wonder why they don’t like to shoot. I’d shoot357Mag out of my steel snub nose any day before I shoot 32acp out of my NAA mouse gun.
Guys that have wives interested in guns are really lucky. My wife dispises guns, do not know why and do not really care.
I used to be scared too but I found myself scared and a president that didn’t want to protect us I just began my journey of gun owner and NRA member and feel empowered
We have purchased 2 pistols for my wife, a Kel Tec P32 and a Kimber Micro Raptor Stainless Steel 380, but she prefers my, ours now, Springfield Armory XDM 4″ barrel 9mm which holds plenty of ammunition. The benefit is that she truly does fire the 9mm the best and it means the Kimber, which is a sweet little weapon, is now my hot weather carry.
Ex Malo Bonum!
God Bless the USA and Springfield Armory!
Well this is a topic all Instructors/Police will have an opinion on. And there are a few truisms that many will deny or argue buttttt. Anyone recommending this model over that or caliber over that is not taking into account one very basic issue – what can SHE handle? What is HER personality, i.e. can SHE stay come during the brief crisis (hell few guys can – but braggadocio mocho’ism always says otherwise). Is SHE military combat trained/experienced or an everyday housewife/professional?
When I answer the common question from most females of what gun is good for them, I have to ask them can you pull the trigger and kill? You be surprised how many say ‘maybe’ and falter to ‘no’. I ask them then what good is a gun other then for your attacker to take it form you and use it against you or your love ones? I get some very dirty looks, then. If you’re doing CCW are you willing to shoot 50rounds per month to stay proficient – do you have a range near you? So I counsel them to STAY SIMPLE but effective! (aka hammer-less revolver, 380 or bigger, simple, just pull, point, and shoot until he drops)
Smaller the caliber the less kick but less stopping power too. Shorter the barrel the less accuracy and louder the noise – do you want to scare the attacker or put them down – at a very close range <10ft or 20ft?
I suggest the lady's seek an indoor range, often many of these ranges will have pistols to loan (you just buy the range ammo and time) and try the models. Shoot what SHE is comfortable with and not scared to handle. I know of few lady's that can feel comfortable handling a 1911, 357mag or 44/45 anything. Remember Dirty Harry had specially light loads rounds to allow him better control and less recoil!
So I go back to – what is SHE comfortable shooting? In this high emotional state can SHE think to clear a stove-pipe or misfire? With spontaneous adrenaline FEAR that long trigger-pull of a hammer-less revolver ain't to hard to do! And I tell HER to keep shooting until he stops coming at her – aka SHE neutralized that threat.
Ask yourself How Much Is My Life Worth ? (or spouse ) Nothing worse than some AHOLE giving a 50 S&W to a first time shooter ! Start with a 22 and let them move up slowly !
LOL my wife and I have an agreement I don\’t pick out her guns and she doesn\’t pick out mine ! Go to an indoor gun range and rent the gun before you buy to see if you like it FIRST ! If you like the gun, tell the owner you will buy it if he will apply the gun rental toward the purchase ! Should you find out you don\’t like it you are just out the rental (not stuck with a gun you don\’t like)!
Bet my wife owns more guns than he does ! Spend time with your wife at the range ! Shoot as a team ! Shoot moving targets and shoot targets while you are moving ! Maybe then your wife will let you shoot her m16a2 or her 475 Wildey !
I’ve been down this road with Wife and Daughter. Wife went through a Beretta 70S .380, Ruger SP101 DAO (bobbed), Glock 27 and now a Glock 42. She swaps between the Glocks based on what she wears. Daughter just snatch my old Bulg Mak in .380 which she had shot a lot. She later Went to a Glock 27 too.
The Ladies are “Sight Gatherers”. This fact is not lost on MFGs. The visual appeal of what they are looking at often skewes performance and ergonomics factors in favor of “its pretty”. If you could blindfold them and then let them check grip fit and feel then let them rack the slide and dry fire: you would eliminate the shiny object syndrome. The great thing is you can sell her on a good ugly gun if you accessorize it: coat it, new grips, engrave it, colored holsters, pretty “under holsters”, handgun handbags: make it hers. A common guy oversight is not getting her night sights!
Get her trained. Not just with the gun but from the Draw to the Law and practical scenarios. CCW Classes cover the basics (+-) and she may not be as well versed or comfortable. You must nurture her development and assist the maintenance of her proficiency.
I agree with the article. Whatever you get must be chosen, handled by her and if at all possible fired by her before you purchase.
We made the mistake of buying a S&W Bodyguard .380 with Crimson Laser. It looked awesome, it was lightweight and felt very well constructed, but when my wife fired it at the range, she was positive that this little stalwart and well liked pistol was going to be sold. She hated it. She despised the trigger. She hated how hard the slide was to rack. She hated how it felt while firing. It was jerky and even with the super cool Crimson Laser she struggled to keep it on target when shooting multiple rounds. So off to the online sales web this little gun went. We lost a grand total of $50 in the resale of the Bodyguard and the accessories we had purchased.
But then my wife saw me firing my SIG SAUER P938 Combat. It fit her hands well. She loved the upgraded trigger I had installed which made staying on target a breeze. She also really liked the SIG Night Sights that came stock. Plus it was a 9mm.
In the end, I was supper happy because my wife was safe. Additionally, this new purchase was compliant with my policy of buying handguns in one caliber that I adopted for our family. This makes buying ammo much cheaper.
So, I bought my wife the Sig SAUER P938 w/ Black Rubbger Grip. I then had a custom Cerakote job done to match the color of her favorite jewelry/antique company. For accessories, I purchased Crossbreads Belly Band Holster. I also purchased an Aliengear OWB holster and 3 of their new Cloak Docks for the truck, the underside of her desk at home and beside our bed. I purchased 6 additional magazines and a double mag holster. I also purchased a new trigger from W Engineering and a Hammer Spring from Galloway Precision. Down the road, I might buy a Crimson Trace Laser or a Streamlight Light/Laser Combo kit. Beyond that, I purchased a 1000 rounds of target ammo and 500 rounds of Sig 9mm V-Crown. If I could have gotten it, I would have bought Liberty Ammo, but that stuff is hard to get.
Finally, we hit the range and I helped her focus on dropping the safety and firing the P938. I asked her to set this goal for her range time, “to be able to draw the P938, release the safety and fire a 3″ group at 25′.”
This worked for my wife. Hopefully, it will help you…