Now, you may be thinking, “Shoe Shopping??? I thought this was a gun blog.” Don’t worry. It is. However, I discovered an amazing connection between these two apparent opposites. Shoes and guns are astoundingly similar in a one key area: it’s nearly impossible for somebody else to pick out the perfect one for you.
A Woman’s Advice
As the only full-time lady working behind the counter at Autrey’s, I am asked all the time: “What’s a good gun for my wife?” Nearly everyday, I hear one of the many variations of this question. Sometimes, the question comes from another lady assuming that she’ll like whatever gun I like, simply because we are both female. The false premise behind these questions is this idea that there is a specific gun or a specific type of gun that is ideal for women. To refute this, I offer up the suggestion that there is one specific car that is ideal for every man. Silly, right? Same thing with guns. Each person, man or woman, must find which gun feels right to them, which gun they shoot well, and which gun they can afford. Individual preferences rule the day when it comes to gun-buying. While I can suggest general things to consider (weight, recoil, size, etc…), these generalities in no way assure success. I can no more tell a husband which gun his wife will like any more than I can tell him which shoe to buy her. And I pity the man who would ask me to pick out his wife’s shoes.
Whoever will be using the gun needs to hold it, feel it, make sure they can operate it, and, if possible, shoot it. From my experience, I say shooting the gun you are interested in buying, or a gun similar to it, is vital to long-term enjoyment of said firearm. For example, those little, light-weight guns everybody loves to market to women are some of the most uncomfortable guns I have ever shot. For the women out there: just because it is small, cute and you like the way it feels in your hand, does not mean you will like shooting it. Those little things pack quite a kick.
Whenever possible, shoot before buying. Going back to the shoe analogy, buying a gun without shooting it is like buying shoes without trying them on. The shoe may be the right size, style and color but still be completely miserable to wear. A gun may meet all your other criteria but still be a literal pain to shoot. (At which point, you have to decide if you will get it and put up with the pain or find something more comfortable.)
Trying on a Gun:
1. Fit: For best results, the gun must fit the user. The trigger should be a comfortable reach for their finger, not too close and not too far. The operational buttons (slide lock, magazine release, safety, etc…) should be easily accessed and operated. For semi-automatic users, the user must be able to rack the slide. Some guns are harder to rack than others, so don’t give up on semiautomatics completely if you struggle with the first one you try.
2. Feel: This is the intangible aspect of gun-buying. There are some guns that just feel right in your hand. The contour of the grip, the weight, the texture, and the overall size of the gun greatly influence the feel of the gun but only you can determine what feels right.
3. Fun: As a general guideline, I believe a gun should be enjoyable to shoot. I readily admit that concessions to comfort must be made when situations demand a small carry gun as the only option. However, people tend to do things that are fun and not do things that are not fun. With that principle in mind, I will sometimes suggest the buyer might also consider investing in a more enjoyable gun at some point in the future. This will encourage range time and practice. At a minimum, the user must be able to safely operate and control the firearm while shooting; enjoyment is an important, but secondary consideration.
I do not want to discourage people from asking me, or other women, for recommendations on firearms, but I do want to expose the mythical “Good gun for a lady.” There is no such thing. Some guns are preferred more by women than men, but your woman may not like any of them. Buying a gun, especially for the first time, is a very personal decision. Such a decision can, when encouraged, truly reveal a person’s individuality. So, I urge all you to never pick out another person’s gun (unless they gave you very clear and precise directions or it’s a collector’s piece), for they may end up not liking anything you thought they would like. I recently encouraged a friend to look at a couple of handguns I thought he would really like. He ended up putting his hand on a completely different one and that was it. That was the one he wanted and no other would do. It just felt right. He would have been very unhappy with my choices and I am just very glad I didn’t get him one of the ones I recommended. So live and learn… and Try on a Gun!