Woman at gun range

BEGINNERS GUIDE: TTAG Writer Sarah Tipton’s Guide To A Woman’s First Gun


By Sarah Tipton via

My best friend Josie was attacked and hospitalized by her husband in March. She sustained injuries to her head and neck from being choked. She wasn’t armed. In fact, she’s never been armed. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband is sitting behind bars in a South Carolina jail facing felony assault charges. He could even be released soon, before his court date,  should he post bail or bond out. We all hope that doesn’t happen. Meanwhile, she wants a gun . . .

When Josie ask me to recommend a first gun, I suggested a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. I know: a revolver is more “idiot proof” than a semi-automatic handgun and just as deadly. But Josie is no idiot. She will master loading, running and cleaning a semi in no time flat. So why not carry the extra capacity and quick reload capability – even if the benefit may be largely psychological?

These days, you can buy an excellent handgun from a large number of brands – SIG SAUER, FN, GLOCK, Springfield Armory, Heckler & Koch, Smith & Wesson, Walther, Ruger, etc. No matter which brand you choose, you’ve purchased an accurate, reliable firearm. For people who simply want a pistol for protection, people like Josie who are new to guns and not that interested in guns, all the details separating these firearms are irrelevant. Any of them will do just fine.


Of course, that’s no answer. Like many women buying their first gun (confused by all the alternatives), Josie wanted me to tell her which gun to buy. Period. So, I told her to buy a GLOCK 19 or a Springfield XD, whichever fit her hands better. I also reminded her to ask the salesman to fit the smallest possible back-strap. Josie is a small woman with small hands. Which is also why I suggested a full-size 9mm handgun.

I’ve taught many women how to shoot. The number one complaint from first time female shooters: recoil.  If you hand a woman a gun that generates a substantial amount of recoil upon firing, she’s less likely to fire another shot. Or return to the range. Or shoot confidently. I teach women how to shoot with my Sigma 9mm or my SIG .22 to start. And recommend a 9mm handgun for first-time buyers.

The biggest mistake first-time female gun buyers make: buying a small gun. I have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut watching gun salesmen exploiting first-time women buyer’s desire for a smaller gun. Women buy the guns because they appear less intimidating, maybe even “cute.” They don’t understand this simple math: the larger the gun and the smaller the caliber, the less felt recoil. The smaller the gun and the larger the caliber, the more felt recoil.

It’s a [mostly] free country. Women who wish to arm up for the first time are free to buy whatever gun they prefer. If a woman needs a small gun for concealment, recoil may not be a prime consideration. But the general principle remains. Finding a balance between comfort, acceptable recoil, gun size and caliber is key. A full-size striker-fired semi-automatic pistol is not for everyone, but it’s a safe choice for a woman new to guns, who may never buy another gun. Especially if they really need it.

Categories: Beginners Guide, General
About Brandon Curtis | View all posts by Brandon Curtis

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady…

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense rounds, and rides comfortably in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 holster.

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  • dragos111

    Can you comment on the “low recoil” Hornady Critical Defense Lite rounds? Any good?