Welcome! I'm Jim's wife, mother to our two beautiful children, and also a serving military member dedicated to helping all women be prepared for anything that life may throw at us. You may be here because you're just getting started and looking for unbiased advice from another lady. Well self defense is near and dear to my heart, so let's get started!
Don't be a statistic.
I won't bore you with pages of data, but here are the FBI's most recent numbers in brief.
1,163,146 violent crimes occurred in 2013:
- 6.3% Rape
- 5.0% Aggravated Assault
- 4.4% Murder/manslaughter
- 2.8% Robbery
8,632,512 property crimes were committed in 2013, with victims suffering an estimated $16.6 billion in losses.
But you probably knew that already. That's why you're here, right? Don't be a statistic. 🙂
Becoming a well armed woman is going to take a little time. You'll need to learn about local gun laws and get a concealed carry license in your state. This is also known as a concealed handgun license (CHL) or carrying a concealed weapon (CCW). Of course you'll need the best concealed carry gun for you. You'll want to get a little marksmanship training and practice regularly. If you like to shop as much as I do you'll need a few accessories such as a concealed carry purse, or maybe a concealed carry holster.
So, without further ado, here's how to go about getting all of this done.
Guns For Women Step 1: Apply For Your License
Everyone wants to start by buying a gun. I recommend you wait until you've taken your CHL class and had a chance to talk with gun store clerks, other gun owners, and instructors about the best options. Before you go gun shopping search for "concealed carry laws" in your state. There are some states that allow you to do an online course, and many that require an in-person class (usually a few hours in the evening) at a local gun range. I recommend you take the in-person class, even if your state allows you to do it online. Search for "concealed carry classes" in your town. Make a few phone calls asking about the prices and days/times of classes, and (important), ask if you need to bring your own gun or if you can use one of their rentals.
There are a lot of benefits to an instructor-led class. Instructors for these classes are generally highly experienced marksmen (or women), often with a police or military background. You'll get to ask them questions that won't be covered in the online courses. For example, what if someone tries to get into your car? What are the legal ramifications if you shoot an intruder in your state? You'll come away from an instructor led class with a much firmer grasp on both the nuances of self defense and the laws in your state. Also, by showing up at the range/gun store, you get to do a little hands-on research into which pistol you may wish to buy.
Guns For Women Step 2: Choose your gun
Why did I tell you to wait to go gun shopping? Because it will take a while for your license to arrive. More importantly, it's one thing to read reviews online and quite another to actually go handle the guns. I recommend you make a list of pistols that you think you might like and take it to your local range and gun store, maybe even the same place you're taking your CCW class. Have them show you each one. Feel how heavy it is in your hand. Practice racking the slide, dry firing, and working the magazine. Once you've made your choice you can buy your gun online and have it delivered to your gun store for a nominal fee (usually about $15). You'll probably get a better deal this way, and you'll know that you're not getting a gun that's been used or handled by a hundred other customers.
Should you get a semi-automatic pistol or a revolver?
There's a lot of debate around this question but I'll tell you something you're going to hear from me over and over again. Buy the pistol that you'll actually carry. It's useless in your nightstand or glove box.
- Magazine capacity is usually six rounds for a .380
- You can carry more than one magazine (uncommon)
- Usually lighter than revolvers
- Flatter, easier to carry in the waistband or bra
- More moving parts = more of a chore to clean.
- More likely to jam if not cleaned properly.
- Hand strength required to rack the slide.
- Few moving parts = easier to clean
- Few moving parts = most reliable, no jamming
- Fewer moving parts = simple to operate
- No magazines to carry
- Capacity is usually only five rounds for small revolver
- Often slightly heavier than the semi-auto
- Often don't feature a safety (neither do some semi-autos)
My recommendation? Buy the pistol that you'll actually carry. You'll probably never need to use it, but, like insurance, you want to have it if you need it and it needs to be effective. If you'll carry in your purse then get a revolver and a holster that covers the trigger (for safety). If you're going to carry on your body get a semi-auto, but practice extra with it and learn to clean it properly every time you shoot.
What do I carry? Since I don't carry a purse I usually have my Ruger LCP in a waistband clip. Of course, I shoot a lot. I clean my guns meticulously. I've also learned what ammunition each gun likes best. So I'm comfortable with my semi-auto because I've got a lot of experience and know how to handle a jam or "stovepipe" (when the empty casing doesn't fully eject).
What about caliber (bullet size)?
Again, there are exhaustive articles all over the internet and gun nuts like me just LOVE to talk about caliber. I'll save you some time. For a gun with enough fire power to actually stop an attacker, but still small enough that you'll actually carry it, most women go with .380 or 9mm for a semi-auto, and .38 Special or .357 for a revolver. All of these are acceptable. Avoid .22, .25, or .32. They're just not powerful enough to stop a big man who's drunk, high, or desperate. There, that was easy, right?
Guns For Women Step 3: Get some training
If you're lucky, you can get training and practice at the same place you'll take your CHL class. Find an instructor that you can work with at least two or three times. He or she should spend a lot of time going through basic gun safety practices and marksmanship. You can even have them show you how to clean your gun at the end of each lesson (recommended). After you're comfortable shooting on your own, make it a point to go to the range frequently. Especially at first so that you can really practice what you learned in your lessons.
Caution: If you're not willing to practice regularly and learn to use your gun comfortably you should scrap the whole idea and buy a taser or some pepper spray. I'm serious. If you're not comfortable you either won't carry or you'll be a danger to yourself and others.
Step 4: Buy accessories
You're going to need "stuff" for your gun. At the bare minimum, you'll need:
- A cleaning kit
- A concealed carry holster or concealed carry purse
- Somewhere to lock up your gun (critical if you EVER have children, neighbors, or workers in your house)
You can do this!
I know it sounds like a lot. Owning and carrying a gun is a big responsibility and there's definitely a lot to learn. Get a license. Buy the pistol that you'll actually carry. Practice regularly enough to be comfortable. Carry it every day.
But you know what? Just like anything else important in life, if you take it bit-by-bit and learn as you go it won't be hard. I believe in you and want you to stay safe!
That's it for now gals! It's been great talking to you.