By: Kimberly Drake
For women who carry concealed, finding the right pistol that is easy to use and high on the concealability spectrum can be a challenge. The weapon must be lightweight, small enough and comfortable to conceal, while still producing enough knock-down power to stop an assailant.
Handguns are considered to be “female friendly” that have ease of function under stress, comfort carrying concealed, a smooth trigger press, low perceived recoil, and consistent sights, “The Ladies Pistol Project,” an examination of firearms done by The American Rifleman, determined.
Other aspects of importance are caliber and holster availability. In general, for adequate self-protection, a pistol for concealed carry should be of at least a 9mm or .380 caliber. Anything less than that won’t have the power to halt an assailant effectively. Being able to holster the weapon adequately, so it’s comfortable and concealed, is crucial. A pistol that is pleasant to shoot and fits well on the body when concealed will make it more likely for a woman, or a man, for that matter, to carry consistently.
The female concealed carry sector is the fastest-growing market in the firearms world, and so there are plenty guns from which to choose. Here’s a list of some of the most favored concealed carry pistols for women, according to research by this author.
With its micro-compact frame size and weight of 15.2 ounces, the P238 is one of the most popular .380 caliber pistols with women, and for good reason. It boasts very little recoil, and racking the slide is easy to do for those who don’t have a strong grip. It has a 7 plus-1 round magazine and an overall length of 5.5 inches.
For a concealed carry pistol in a 9mm caliber, the 5.9-inch-long P938 is a great choice. It has a 6-round magazine that can be extended to 7, as well as a sleek body style that’s perfect for daily carry. Just slightly larger than its sister, the .380 version still features a light weight of 16.0 ounces.
This 9mm double-action pistol has a slim profile that’s easily concealed. At 21.5 ounces and 6.35 inches in length, it’s a small gun that packs great knock-down capability with very little recoil. The trigger pulls smoothly, and its grip will fit virtually any hand size. Bersa owners say the company stands by its warranty, which makes this weapon one that will stand the test of time.
Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38
For the woman who wants simplicity and ease of use, this double-action revolver is just that. This gun is surprisingly concealable for a revolver, having a length of 6.6 inches and a weight of 14.4 ounces. The Bodyguard also comes with integrated Crimson Trace laser sights, setting it apart in the concealed carry lineup. The ambidextrous cylinder release and laser controls give this gun an advantage in usability.
Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard .380
Subcompact and in a caliber that provides both power and low perceived recoil, the Bodyguard .380 is a lightweight (12.3 ounces) and easily concealed pistol. Overall length is only 5.25 inches. That combined with a 6-plus-1 round capacity and ergonomic grip constitutes a weapon that will, as its name applies, be of great service in a self-defense situation.
No conceal carry must- have list would be complete without the GLOCK. At a weight of 13.76 ounces and length of 5.94 inches, this .380 is perfect for concealment under form-fitting clothing. It has a reputation for being super reliable, with fewer jams than some others in this caliber, and boasts a “Safe Action” system for added assurance.
The G43 is a very popular choice for a female friendly concealed carry in 9mm. It’s reliable, tough, and small (at 6.26 inches long), with more-than-adequate fire-power (“Nine is fine,” so they say). The slim design and 17.95-ounce weight and drop safety (“Safe Action”) makes this a solid choice for women.
This 9mm has a smooth design that won’t get hung up when withdrawn from concealment and is comfortable to carry next to the skin. It’s ambidextrous, easy to disassemble and maintain, and the grip can be easily modified. Weighing in at 19.8 ounces with a length of 5.63 inches, it’s smooth as silk, but packs a punch. If, by chance, the first shot doesn’t do the job, the Nano’s ample 8 round magazine has you covered.
Once a concealed carry weapon is chosen, where and how to carry it becomes top priority. There are many options, some more comfortable than others, and it takes trial and error to figure out which way is best in each individual case. My Bodyguard 38 does well in a waistband holster that clips to the inside of my jeans, but what about when I’m wearing a dress?
Fortunately, there are many and ever-increasing concealment options, including belly bands, bra carry straps, ankle and thigh holsters, as well as purses and clothing that have built-in holstering systems. Never before have we, as women, had so much to choose from in what we carry and how we carry it. Armed with knowledge and training in firearm self-defense, the female gun enthusiast is a force no assailant wants to reckon with.
Kimberly Drake is a freelance columnist from Minocqua, Wisconsin. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos courtesy of the manufacturers.