Working in a gun store has been a lot of fun for me. In the past 6 months, I’I've met a lot of cool people, seen some really cool guns, and helped more than a few people get into a hobby that I enjoy.
One question I get asked a LOT is “I want to buy my wife/girlfriend/mother a gun – what do you recommend?” I've been through this with a few friends and even my own mother in the last few years, and there’s only one good answer – and it’s simple – if you aren't sure, don’t buy her anything…yet. Instead, take her to the range and let her try a selection of guns.
Last month I had a friend tell me she wanted to get a gun, and was wondering what to get. After an afternoon at the range, we came away with some good conclusions. She was uncomfortable shooting a Glock, and found that my full-size 1911 was too big for her hand. She enjoyed shooting my XD’s and M&P’s, and we came to the conclusion that her first purchase will likely be an XD Compact, probably in 9mm. We also tried a snub-nosed .38 and my LCP – She found both to be extremely unpleasant and summed up that they were “not fun” to shoot. Oddly enough, I have the same opinion… I don’t enjoy shooting them, but I am proficient with them and carry both occasionally.
Worst way to teach someone to shoot? Buy them a compact gun (especially one that happens to be pink) and expect them to become proficient with it and it alone. Want your girlfriend to never want to shoot again? Start her with that Scandium J-Frame with +P ammo, or a .380 pocket pistol, with no other instruction. My bet on the results? She might put a dozen rounds through it, then her hands will be hurting, she’ll be frustrated because the sights aren't great, and she may never want to shoot again. Just because a gun is pink doesn't mean it’s a good gun for a female.
Short-barrel handguns like a J-Frame revolver or a pocket .380 are “compromise” firearms. For the sake of concealment, weight and barrel length have been reduced. The short barrel and reduced mass result in an increase in perceived recoil compared with their larger siblings. Shooters will usually be more successful if they learn the fundamentals on larger firearms. Once comfortable with the basics, give the LCP or .38 a try again, and while it may be uncomfortable, the shooter will likely be more successful and comfortable with the gun for carry.
Once she’s selected something she likes – then yes, feel free to buy your wife a gun and surprise her with it. If you’re not married, you’ll need to get her a gift certificate, because you can’t transfer a handgun to your girlfriend in PA without it going through a dealer anyway.
On the topic of “pink guns” – Most modern striker-fired semi autos come in one color – Black. Sometimes you can get a stainless slide, or a gun in a neutral tan/coyote color. If you must have flair, there are some options. First – check out Brilliant Backstraps – I have no affiliation with them, and have never bought their products, but my friend Annette over at Beauty Behind the Blast likes them, and they are an easy way to personalize a firearm. Another option? A permanent coating like Cerakote or Durakote. They can do a lot of cool things to truly personalize your favorite firearm.
For more information related to firearms from a female perspective, check out Kathy Jackson’s website: over at Cornered Cat. If you’re local – stop into the store and I’ll gladly show you some options, too.