What is the best firearm for females? As more and more women become involved in the sport of shooting this has become a very popular question and much debated topic. It seems everyone has something to say about it; from the people marketing new products aimed at the female shooter (pun intended), to the instructors who genuinely want to help, to the people who do not have a clue but just have to put in their own two cents. Considering how far we have come as female shooters it amazes me how much of the "delicate little lady needs something small she can handle" kind of attitude is still out there, so for what it's worth and since I have also been asked the question on numerous occasions here are my thoughts on the topic.
There is no correct answer to the question. Even though you can now get them in pink and purple, last time I checked guns were not gender specific. The question you should be asking is "what is the best gun for me?" The answer depends on a lot of factors. For starters how do you intend to use the gun? Are you looking for a target gun to take to the range for fun, or do you have a desire to get into competition, maybe you are looking for a strictly self-defense firearm? If you are looking for a self-defense firearm do you intend to carry it concealed, or are you looking for a home defense weapon that will be left at home. Ladies, like men, come in all different shapes and sizes and we all have different abilities, disabilities, and needs so to assume there is a one-size fits all firearm would be like trying to stuff us all in the same pair of shoes, they might work for some of us but certainly not for all of us. I mean come on ladies we know we like variety in our shoes, why would we all want the same gun?
This is not to say that you can't give good advice on firearm options, you can, and you can certainly write good informative reviews about why you prefer a particular gun. The best advice I can give is to do lots of research, keep the good and throw out the bad, and when you have an idea in your head of what you think you might like then research some more. The best research is holding and if possible firing the weapon yourself. Go to the local gun shops armed with any questions you may have from your research and pick up the firearms you are interested in, see how they feel in your hand, make sure you can comfortably reach the trigger while maintaining a proper grip on the gun. See if you can operate all of the mechanical aspects of the particular firearm that you are looking at. In other words, if it is an automatic can you rack the slide? Can you manipulate the slide lock/release? Will you be able to take it apart to clean it without assistance? Ask lots of questions while you are there. If they do not want to answer your questions or seem condescending go to another store. If at all possible take a class that will allow you to try out several different handguns before you decide, or go to a range that rents firearms.
The only other advice I have without turning this blog into book is to seek training. If you are new to this whole adventure and don't understand the terminology the gun shops are using or don't know what a proper grip should even feel like, then the best place for you to start is with a good trainer who can teach you the basics and help you to become a more informed shopper. You can find a listing of NRA courses in your area by visiting the NRA Instructors website here: http://www.nrainstructors.org/searchcourse.aspx
Now for what not to believe, please don't buy into the whole "that gun is too much for you to handle" attitude. I had a guy behind the counter in a local gun shop tell me that when I was shopping for my first 1911 he basically said that a .45 caliber handgun was just too much for someone my size. I left that store and a week later purchase my Springfield Ultra Compact 1911 from someone else. It was not too much gun for me and to this day remains one of my favorites.
If you are a man reading this with the intention of buying a gun for one of the special ladies in your life the best advice I can give is don't do it! Unless of course you really want the gun for yourself because chances are you're the one who will end up with it. Do, however, involve her in the process. If you want to buy her a gun then take her with you when you visit the gun shop and let her pick out the firearm that best fits her hand and her taste.
Every year on Memorial Day I try to write a little tribute to our fallen soldiers and shed some light on the history and traditions of our current Memorial Day. If some of this blog sounds familiar to you because you read it last year, then I apologize in advance for the repetition but I strongly feel that some lessons are worth repeating. As you celebrate this long weekend with your friends and family remember that this is not simply a holiday to mark the beginning of summer but a day of remembrance to honor all of the men and women who have died for this country so that we can enjoy our freedom.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. Observed on May 31st, it was a day that the graves of fallen soldiers would be decorated in remembrance of their sacrifice for this country. Decoration Day was first widely celebrated in 1868. After World War I it became a celebration to honor fallen soldiers from every American war and in 1971 congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday that would be celebrated the last Monday in May. The American Flag should be flown at half-mast from dawn until noon and then raised.
For me this Memorial Day will hold a special significance because a funeral will be held for my Great Uncle, Charlie Deal who passed away Thursday May 24th at the age of 97. He didn't die in combat but he certainly lived a life of service to this country. Charlie Deal became a firefighter in Polk County Florida on December 26th 1939 and then joined the Unites States Navy Seabees in July of 1942 where he served two years in the South Pacific during World War II. He was discharged from the Navy on October of 1945 at which time he returned to the Lakeland Fire Department. He advanced to the rank of Fire Chief in 1954 and served in that capacity until 1982 when he retired with a total of 42 years of service to the Lakeland Fire Department. There is so much more that I could say about this man and the way he lived his life but the bottom line is he was a great man who had a large influence on my life and he will be greatly missed by many.
Fun and Informative Female Firearms Web Sites
If you have read my About Me page or any of my early blogs then you know one of the reasons I started all of this was a lack of available information for female shooters. Lately, there has been a lot of information about how our numbers are increasing and how there are now more firearms products being marketed to the female shooter. You can now get everything from pink handguns and rifle stocks to jewelry in the shape of your favorite firearm and lots of stuff in between with a simple internet search. Just for fun I decided to see what other female owned or focused businesses and blogs are out there now for our shopping and browsing pleasure. Some of these you might have already found yourself, but hopefully you will find something new in the list as well. I have attached the links so please feel free to check them out; it's a lot of fun to see what others have come up with and you might just learn something new.
Armed in Heels: www.armedinheels.com
Bang Bang Boutique: www.bangbangboutique.com
Bullets & Bubblegum: www.bulletsandbubblegum.wordpress.com
Cornered Cat: www.corneredcat.com
Dauntless Dames: www.saltmarsharmory.com/Dauntless-Dames.html
Flashbang Women's Holster: www.flashbangholster.com
Girls of Fire: www.facebook.com/girlsoffire
Girl's Guide to Guns: www.girlsguidetoguns.com
Girls with Guns Shooting Industries: http://www.gwgsi.com
Gun Goddess: www.gungoddess.com
Lipgloss & Lead: www.facebook.com/LipglossandLead
Pistol Packin' Pretties: www.pistolpackinpretties.com
Pistols & Pumps: www.pistolsandpumps.com
Pretty Dangerous Accessories: www.shop.prettydangerousaccessories.com
Sassy Shooters: www.sassyshooters.com
The Well Armed Woman: www.thewellarmedwoman.com
Women of Caliber: www.womenofcaliber.com
Women with Firepower: www.womenwithfirepower.com
Some of these links are stores, some are blogs, some are facebook pages, some are training sites, and some are a combination of the above. You will find some websites also have facebook pages which I did not post (I thought you could find those on your own).
I had a lot of fun doing this little project and I love the creativity in the different name but I'm sure I probably missed some really good websites so if you know of one you would like to see included in this list just send me a message and I will add it in. I hope you have as much fun as I did looking through these sites...my only dilemma now is that I have found too many to keep up with.
Awareness is a very powerful tool. I know that I have written in the past about the importance of being aware of your surroundings but I just cannot stress the importance enough. Today while I was taking my daily lunch hour run, I ran past several other females on the sidewalk and I could not help but think about how unaware of their surroundings they seemed. I was running with a male coworker and not one of the people we passed on our two-mile run turned around to see who was running up from behind them. Maybe they feel like they live in a safe town, maybe they just do not think about safety at all, or maybe it's the classic "it can't happen to me" syndrome. Then again maybe my mind is biased from all the thousands of 9-1-1 calls I have had to listen to.
My husband (also my business partner) and I agreed early on in our plans to start the business that we would never use scare tactics to sell our classes and I promise that in no way is that my intention in writing this blog. Instead I write this from a place of deeply felt concern for other females and a desire to somehow impart just a smidgen of understanding about what is really out there. With 3 colleges here in the area I am particularly concerned with the young college age women who seem so oblivious to the dangers of not being aware or of thinking "oh that stuff doesn't really happen" I can assure you from years of experience that it does really happen and it does happen right here in our safe little town on a regular basis. I do not mean this as a slight against young women. We all tend to feel a little invincible when we are young. However I can't even begin to tell you how many 9-1-1 calls I have heard from young women who went out with friends, and for whatever reason be it a fight or just a desire to be elsewhere, they wander out of the club or house they are in at 1 or 2 in the morning and set off on their own walking down the street. This is not a scenario I made up; I have heard it over and over again throughout the years. Some of the girls get lucky and make it to where they are going with no problem or with just a little scare because they ended up in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time of night. Unfortunately some of them are not so lucky, some have been robbed, beaten, and or raped, and over and over again I want to bang my head against a wall because this is one crime that could have easily been prevented.
Ladies, please understand this: I am not trying to restrict your freedom but be aware of your surroundings and use basic precautions. Do not walk down the street after dark by yourself, stay with a group of friends. If you absolutely have to be alone be very aware of your surroundings and people who may be lurking in the shadows. Stay in well-lit areas. Do not have an iPod turned up so loud that you cannot hear another person approaching and do not be distracted by texting on your phone.
I would love to see more females stepping up to the plate and taking their own safety more seriously. As much as I am a proponent for females learning to shoot I do not believe that carrying a firearm is right for everyone and it is certainly not right for every situation but everyone can learn basic common sense principles that will make them less likely to become a victim. After all, it does very little good to educate yourself, obtain a permit, or carry a weapon if you do not have the mental fortitude to use that knowledge when it becomes necessary.
Why do I fight the things that come naturally? Maybe it's because I was born a fighter of all things that should be easy. Maybe I'm just a tad to stubborn. Maybe it's that rebellious streak that's been around for as long as I can remember, fighting the notion that some things I just can't do. I should probably learn to take my own advice. You see in every firearms course that I teach, I tell my students they need to find the gun they are comfortable with, the one that fits well in their hand, allowing them a proper grip and fingers that can reach the trigger comfortably. In our course, we provide ten different handguns for our students to try so each person can at least get an idea of what works for them and what feels the most natural in their hands. If you train hard enough you can learn to shoot anything, but it seems to me that for each person there will always be that one firearm model that just comes naturally the one that allows you to just relax and shoot.
Knowing all of the above I still fight my own basic instinct of the right gun for me, the 1911 chambered in .45 ACP. I can't explain exactly how it feels when I hold a 1911, but every time I pick one up... I feel it. It's a lack of effort, a oneness with the gun; I don't have to think about proper grip, stance, or breathing. The gun just becomes a natural extension of my hand which allows me to relax and do what comes naturally. Almost like magic, my shots hit where I want them to, all in a nice little group. Perhaps it is because the first gun I ever picked out and purchased for myself was a Springfield Ultra Compact 1911 chambered in .45 ACP, or because a 1911 was the first hand gun I learned to field strip and reassemble. I can't say for sure but I can say that everything about a well built 1911 just draws me in and speaks to me. The fact is, it's a mystery to me why I can shoot like that with a 1911 but not always with other gun models. I know it's not the accuracy of the other firearms because I know how accurate the others can be; they are all good solid shooting firearms. It's something within me and so I fight it, I fight against what feels natural for a hundred different reasons. I argue that if I can shoot a 1911 that way then I should be able to shoot the Glock that way or my Smith and Wesson M&P 9c. I argue that 9mm ammunition is cheaper so it makes more sense to practice with it. I argue that I am an instructor so I should be able to pick up any gun and do well. I have heard it time and again from my husband, friends and fellow instructors who have seen me shoot a 1911; "Why are you trying to qualify with that gun (fill in the blank with gun of the day) when you can shoot a 1911 .45 like that". In the end it boils down to sheer stubbornness; a desire to master something difficult, to prove to myself that I can shoot the other models as well if not better than the 1911. Today, though, is one of those days when I find myself asking "Why do I fight so hard against what comes naturally to me? Why not just do as I teach?" Does this mean I have decided to give up on mastering the M&P or the Glock? Absolutely not! Giving up on such a challenge would not be what comes natural to me. It would go against every rebellious cell in my body. What it does mean is that I will concede to all who keep saying it; that the 1911 just might be the best gun for me.
There are a lot of great firearms on the market and not everyone's experience will be the same. Personal choice of firearms certainly will not be the same for every individual. After all, I have talked to plenty of people who hate the 1911. However, for me personally, the only other gun I've ever felt this connection with is my Smith & Wesson Model 14 K-frame revolver. It holds a different type of connection for me but a connection nonetheless. This gun was passed down to me from my dad and when I shoot it I almost feel him beside me coaching me. It's my comfort gun, the one I go back to when I'm having a frustrating day at the range. It puts me back on target, it builds my confidence; it somehow seems to channel the energy and voice of my father. I wish everyone could own at least one gun that has that effect. So what is you weapon of choice?