One of the fastest growing groups of handgun consumers are women. People all around the country have begun to realize that big brother isn’t always going to be around to save them. We’ve seen many success stories of private citizens taking out the threat before law enforcement was able to arrive on scene, and the tragic results of what happens when good guys and gals aren’t allowed to have weapons. One of the great questions posed by new firearm purchasers is “What is the best gun?” Too bad there isn’t one answer for that.
The key to obtaining the correct firearm is not merely listening to some salesman behind a counter. Although a lot of these professionals can offer excellent advice it is best to do some research prior to visiting the gun store. The first thing you must consider is what type of restrictions your state imposes. (It would be unwise to purchase an FN 5.7 with a twenty round capacity if your state only allows six rounds max.)
Once you have narrowed down your options to what is legal to carry you look at the two major divisions separating handguns. Revolver or Auto? Each category has a myriad of advantages and disadvantages. The starkest difference boils down to reliability vs. capacity. If you insist on purchasing a firearm and not touching it until your life is in danger go with the revolver, it is less prone to malfunctions. If you will train for malfunctions and wish to stay in the fight longer an auto might work for you.
Once you have tentatively decided what group of firearms you wish to carry it is time to narrow down style and caliber. Typically for concealed carry revolvers, double action hammer less works for most people. For autos most people like to carry those with the least amount of buttons and switches. The important thing to remember is that you will not be able to narrow down from here without some range time. Too many times I have seen people arrive to a class with a brand new weapon straight from the box. It fit well at the store but when they shoot it they don’t like the way it (looks, feels, smells, sounds etc.) The best thing to do is borrow the weapon you think you like from a buddy, acquaintance or mom and fire it a few times. The more expensive option (if no one you know has the weapon you wish to shoot) is go to one of the indoor ranges and rent the weapon. I know it costs money but it will save you some in the long run.
A big can of worms at this point is what caliber to choose. I’m going to avoid any land mines by saying no one caliber is perfect. If there was any conclusive, undeniable proof that one caliber is better than another there would be no debate. The fact is handguns are the worst choice for personal defense. They are slow, inaccurate and have limited capacity. We carry them because they are small, light and easy to conceal. (If a Benelli M-4 could fit in a pocket then handguns would be obsolete.) Every study done comes out with different conclusions, so again for this choice I will point you to a range. Shoot a bunch of different calibers and determine which one works best for you. Can a little lady handle a 500? Sure. Can a big tough guy prefer a .380? Absolutely.
Once you have fired and tested a bunch of different things you can go to a store with a much better idea of what will work for you. Don’t just buy the one your friend says is good or the one your husband thinks is best, take the time and do the research for yourself. The time invested will pay dividends in the end.