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

shoe-shopping (1)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. 

gun-shopWhoever 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:

Right grip1. 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.

basic-gun-safety-course-for-one-two-or-four-people-13699884503. 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.


Concluding Thoughts

969572_364713273655812_1015285563_nI 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!


* June 2014 Update: I still this question every so often, so I figured a repost of last year’s post was in order. Enjoy and please share.

This question was put before me multiple times Friday. As the only lady on staff, full-time, at Autrey’s, I get a lot of questions from men about the right gun for their wife/girlfriend/mom/etc… “How to get my wife to carry ?”was a new question for me. The best I could tell them was to have their wife explore websites dedicated to women and self-defense; such as The Well Armed Woman, Mothers Arms or Cornered Cat. As I am able to easily open carry nearly everyday, the question made me curious. What are the reasons women do not carry as often as the men would like? As most of us do today, I took to the internet to find my answers. I explored the previously mentioned websites, forums on carrying and various articles. I concluded that woman do not carry for a number of reasons.

1. Inconvenience

2. Discomfort

3. Insecurity with the firearm

4. False security in the environment

5. Perceived inability to take a life

(If you know of other reasons, please let me know in the comments below.)


From what I’ve read, this seems to be the main reason women do not carry more. With women’s fashion being what it is, it is a challenge to daily wear a gun. Women have to get creative in order to wear a gun daily. It is difficult but not impossible to dress fashionably and carry. Take a look at TheWellArmedWoman  and TheCorneredCat  for some good tips in overcoming this obstacle.


Highly related to the earlier issue, many women find daily carry uncomfortable.  Clint Smith said, “Carrying a gun isn’t supposed to be comfortable, it is supposed to be a comfort.” This is true, however, I do believe it is possible to find ways to carry that is comfortable. Many manufacturers have developed carry options designed specifically for women’s bodies. TheWellArmedWoman is one website that sells many of these carry options and has video reviews of a number of them.

A woman may also dislike the gun she has. For example many women will buy, or have bought for them, subcompact .380’s due to their minute size and concealability. However, as most have then discovered, they are not easy nor fun to shoot. This discourages many new shooters from practicing with their firearm. Not practicing with their firearm will lead to feeling insecure about their competency with the gun.

Insecurity with the Firearm

Frequently, a woman will not carry a gun because she is not confident she can handle it if the need arises. This is a legitimate concern that we should not take lightly. A great solution to these concerns is to take advantage of one of many gun courses available. If you prefer a local class we offer Ladies Only Classes at our store or there are national organizations that offer training courses throughout the country. The NRA Women’s Programs and Babes with Bullets are two examples. Another possible solution is to find a gun that works better for you. Go to a range that has a large selection of rental guns and try as many as you can. With time and experience you will find a gun that works for you.

False Security in the Environment

Perhaps many women who don’t carry are unaware of the crime in their area or they may naïvely believe crime will never impact them personally. Historically, many of us have grown up in relative safety and security. Society has changed. We no longer live in such a safe and secure world. I will not go into the data and statistics here, since they are readily available on the web. Women are frequently picked as easy targets and guns are the great equalizer.

Perceived Inability to Take a Life

To carry a gun means you must be willing to take a life to save your life or the life of a loved one. We women must overcome any false compassion we may have toward the person threatening us and defend ourselves and our loved ones. I say false, because he/she surrendered any right to compassion when he/she decided to endanger me or my loved ones. Many women do not see themselves as capable of taking a life but I do believe more women would pull the trigger than they give themselves credit for. Massad Ayoob wrote a great article on this topic. My favorite quote is: “The lioness is often more formidable than the lion. No instinct is stronger than that of mother protecting child. There is nothing unfeminine about strength and empowerment.” I would recommend exploring his other articles on that site, especially Armed and Female and Against a Rapist.

While there are definite obstacles women must overcome to daily carry a firearm, I believe with the right equipment, training, support and encouragement women can daily protect themselves, their children and other loved ones.


Some other valuable online resources are:


By Ruth Goodman

umpire safe

I am declaring it official. The gun-buying panic is over. The mad rush to arms following the Sandy Hook tragedy (and the politicians’ attempts to exploit it) has finally come to an end. In case you were out of the country or otherwise occupied during the last two years, let me bring you up to speed. The gun industry was already experiencing high activity thanks to the reelection of our current president when tragedy struck in Newtown, Connecticut. Immediately following the reports of a school shooting AR’s began flying off the shelves.

While this picture is not of our store (we did not think to take pictures of our empty racks and shelves), it is remarkably similar to what happened to us.

While this picture is not of our store (we did not think to take pictures of our empty racks and shelves), it is remarkably similar to what happened to us.

Most of our inventory of Modern Sporting Rifles was gone within a week, all of it was gone within a few weeks. (On our busiest day, we went from a regular staff of 5 to 9 and still had customers lined up to the door.) Once all the AR’s were gone, attention turned to handguns. Self-defense purposed handguns became impossible to keep in stock. The rapid rise in handgun purchasing led to ammo shortages in nearly all the popular calibers. For most calibers, the supply quickly caught up with demand and the shortage ceased to be a problem many months, if not a year, ago. The notable exception to that is .22 ammo. In our store, the .22 ammo shortage began around the same time the rest of the calibers were catching up with demand and has continued on from that time. The most bizarre thing to many of us in the industry, is how long it has taken .22 ammo to catch up. A full year later and we still have a very limited supply of .22 and impose strict limits on how many boxes a customer can purchase. 

However, as we entered Spring we noted a marked slow-down in our store. As we talk with others from around the country, we are hearing of the return of the normal “summer slow season.” Gun stores and industry reps for national companies are reporting an industry-wide slow-down of purchases and firearms activity (with the exception of states that recently enacted increasingly infringing gun laws). I believe this slow season feels much slower to many, because it stands in stark contrast to the record making sales of the last two years. We have been so busy for so long, that record busy became the new normal. Stores increased staffing and ordered more product, producers ramped up production, etc… 

out of breath

Now that pre-chaos norms have reinstated themselves, this is the perfect opportunity for us all to rest and catch our breath. It’s a chance to look up from the daily activities and see the bigger picture. How many of the recent gun-buyers were first time buyers that now need training, supplies, and support? How can we as an industry meet those needs? Women are steadily increasing their presence in the firearms world. What can we do to encourage and support that growth? Have the local demographics changed in the last two years? Should a store focus more on building their online presence or on their brick-and-mortar functionality? There are countless questions we, as an industry, can ask ourselves at this time. Now is the chance for each of us to really sit down and evaluate ourselves as a store, an industry member, a service provider, and a member of the community. 

Let us all make the most of this time and catch our breath. 

By Tommy Harper

So you ask “why do we need a blog about how to clean an AR-15 style rifle?” Well, my answer is that due to the panic buying that began before the last national election and continued up until recently many of these rifles have found their way into the hands of people who have little or no experience with them. More than a few of these rifles are in safes for “just in case” and have not been shot. Some rifles have been shot and may be waiting on some advice on the proper way to clean them. While the instruction manual that comes with all firearms these days goes a long way toward explaining how to clean and maintain our firearms I think a picture is worth a thousand words!


imageTo begin, you will of course need the proper equipment and cleaning supplies. A ten-dollar rifle cleaning kit is all that is really needed to complete the task but there are a few extra items that will make the task much easier. The first is the hinge pin link that will hold the separated halves open and keep them from closing while you clean the rifle. Next is a bore guide that will allow you to add solvent to a cloth patch and guide your cleaning rod from the chamber end of the rifle. The chamber is the preferred end to clean from so as not to nick the crown of the rifle muzzle. Next is a specialized chamber brush. This brush is only used to clean the chamber area of the rifle. It helps to use the chamber brush on a pistol rod instead of a long rifle rod. The last special item is a gas tube pipe cleaner. These are extra long pipe cleaners made for AR15 rifles and can be found at most gun and gear web sites or at local gun shows. You can also find them in the craft section at Wal-Mart.

CLEANING THE RIFLE (see below for pictures)

Now to get started. First thing is make sure that your rifle is unloaded!

Then locate the rear hinge pin(1) and push it out from the left side of the rifle and open the halves. Then if you have a hinge pin link(2) add this to hold open the rifle.

Pull back on the charging handle and remove the bolt carrier and handle(3). Lay aside for cleaning(4). Insert the bore guide in place of the bolt carrier and handle and clean the bore using solvent, patches, and bronze bore brush until clean(5).

Now you need to disassemble, clean, lubricate, and reassemble the bolt and bolt carrier assembly. Pull out the cotter pin on the side of the bolt carrier(6&7). That will allow the firing pin to be removed from the back of the bolt carrier(8&9). With your finger push the bolt back into the carrier(10&11)). Then turn the rectangular bolt retaining pin so that it aligns with the carrier(12). You may now pull this pin out, which will allow you to pull the bolt forward and out of the carrier(13,14,15). Following that, you must clean all carbon build-up from all the parts. Once clean, a small dot of a good lubricant on all parts is needed. Before reassembly, note that the rear of the bolt has three silver metal rings that serve as gas seals(16). These rings are not solid but have a gap so they can be replaced. You must make sure that the gaps are not aligned with each other to prevent gas loss. Leaving the gaps aligned will cause malfunctions. Take a pointed tool and space the gaps apart by rotating them around the bolt. To prevent you from putting the bolt back in the wrong way, the hole in the bolt that the rectangular retaining pin goes through is larger on one side than the other. After getting the correct side toward you reassemble the bolt and carrier by simply reversing the disassembly process. Before you can replace the bolt carrier back into the rifle you must extend the bolt out to the front by pulling on it until it stops.

hinge pin pulled out to open halves

(1) hinge pin pulled out to open halves


At this point, I recommend that you remove the link and bore guide and push out the forward hinge pin and separate the upper from the lower. This will allow you to clean the trigger group inside the lower much easier. Clean it with solvent and a brush. Remove any solvent with a dry rag and lubricate the trigger group. Now depress the buffer spring retaining pin and remove the buffer and spring from the buffer tube(17,18,19).

After that, clean inside the buffer tube and wipe dry with a rag. Wipe down the spring and buffer and lightly oil with a rag. Replace the assembly back into the buffer tube. At this point, you should be finished with the lower. Wipe out the mag well area and dry. Lube the mag release button and the bolt locking lever.

Now turn your attention back to the upper. Clean inside and around the chamber, gas tube, and upper where the bolt carrier rides. Here is where you want to use the gas tube pipe cleaners. Place a small amount of solvent on a pipe cleaner and insert it into the gas tube. Needle nose pliers are a great help! Push all the way in and out a few times to remove all carbon build up inside the tube and run a dry one in and out to remove any solvent(20).

clean inside upper and inside gas tube

(20) clean inside upper and inside gas tube

Finish Up..

Now all that remains is to put the halves back together using the forward hinge pin. Reinstall the charging handle and bolt carrier. Close the two halves and push the rear hinge pin back into place to lock the halves together.

Always do a function check at this point! Charge the rifle by pulling back on the handle and let go. Place the rifle safety on. With the rifle pointed in a safe direction try pressing the trigger. It should not release the hammer. Now take the safety off. Again in a safe direction press the trigger. It should allow the hammer to release. Check to make sure a magazine will insert into the mag well and that it locks up and releases. If all is good, then you can wipe down the rifle’s outside with a rag and store away. You are finished!

I hope this helps! Know that this my way and not the only way do accomplish this task. It works for me and has for many years. If I have missed a step I am sure that those of you out there who are accomplished at this will add to this basic instruction to aid the beginners! Thanks in advance!


Way to go Blaze for encouraging more women to shoot….


Hey Women, if You’ve Ever Been Intimidated by the Thought of Going to the Gun Range, There’s Now a Show for You

“For many women, a public range can actually be the first barrier to picking up a gun, simply because they don’t know what to expect.”

That’s how the introduction to the new NRA show, “Love at First Shot,” begins. And if you’re a women who’s ever been intimidated by the thought of going to the gun range, it’s entirely dedicated to you.

“If you’re afraid of anything, it has power over you. So let’s take that fear factor away.”


“It’s a show for the female shooter, and really for the beginning female shooter, although it’s great for anybody,” Natalie Foster, an NRA commentator, new wife, gun enthusiast and blogger told TheBlaze.

Foster hosts the show, which just launched on the NRA Women website. “There’s no content out there to help navigate the world of firearms, and it can get so overwhelming.”

So the NRA and Foster set out to change that.

“We wanted to give women a starting point, a friendly face, a friendly format to where they can just click on it and say, ‘OK, this is what I should expect going to the range for the first time,’” she said, speaking at the NRA convention in Indianapolis earlier this month, her blond hair hanging loosely over a flowery dress.

(Source: NRA video screen shot)

The show will follow Foster as she interviews industry experts and new gun users about what it means to take up shooting as a hobby as well as a means for protection. And it will walk them through how to do it.

“The point is to make all women feel welcome,” she explained. With more women than ever joining shooting in the last five years, “the industry is finally catching up to the enthusiasm of the female shooter.”

Viewers can expect everything from talk about shotguns to discussing shooting stances to understanding what to expect on a first hunt. (Foster was jetting off to the Midwest to film a turkey hunt the day after our interview). There’s even an episode guiding you through how to cook your first kill.

And it’s not like Foster — who is proficient in firearms — is standing idly by as a stoic and condescending expert. There are some things she’ll be learning along the way.

“I’ve grown to appreciate all this so much more,” she says of the experience of shooting the show.

Reducing the ‘Fear Factor’

Some may be wondering if a show about new women shooters is geared only toward younger women. “No at all,” Foster said emphatically. “It’s ageless.”

In fact, the first episode features a mother of three taking up shooting to protect herself and her children while her husband travels for work.

But besides teaching beginners the basics, Foster sees the show as fulfilling a larger purpose.

“People are so afraid of firearms,” she said. ”And it’s because they’ve been conditioned to be so fearful, and the reality is they don’t need to be.”

“It’s really about reducing the fear factor — it’s a nasty thing. If you’re afraid of anything, it has power over you. So let’s take that fear factor away.”

The show’s first episode, then, offers new shooters the “do’s and don’ts for your first trip to the range.” It also offers advice about what to wear: Cover up your legs, wear a hat if possible, and stay away from low-cut shirts. Why? Because hot shell casings can find their way into every nook and cranny:


As Foster’s name has started to grace the lips of the gun community, she’s dealt with a variety of backlash. The “most frustrating,” she said, has been charges of being anti-male.

“I got into guns because I love guys, I love my dad, my brothers and my husband. The whole reason I got into shooting was to build a relationship with the guys in my life,” she said, echoing comments she made to TheBlaze last year.

“We all come from different backgrounds with guns. Everyone has a firearms history whether they realize it or not, from watching it on TV or being exposed to it on TV,” she said.

“Make guns your own. This [the gun community] is a place where we can all feel confident.”


Here lately, I have found myself repeatedly asked for recommendations on a “good purse gun.” If, after much encouragement she still won’t consider on-body carry, I whole-heartedly urge her to go with a revolver. Why? Because at some point in the not too distant past I read an article about semiautomatics jamming when shot through a purse. The article I read, which I could not rediscover tonight, indicated the fabrics of the purse entered into the slide and caused the firearm to not only jam but get stuck in the purse. Effectively this converted a 15 round 9mm to a 1 or 2 shot brick in your purse.


As I went back and researched this topic further, I realized the previous issue must be a worst case scenario and the most frequent malfunction with semiautomatics was actually the stove-pipe (a round not fully ejected) caused by the confined space in the purse. On a good day, a stove-pipe can be cleared very easily. On a bad day, with training, a stove-pipe can still be cleared, but it will use precious time. Of course, both problems are resolved if you simply pull the gun out of the purse before firing. However, that counts on you having ample warning and time enough to draw your gun. Time is a luxury we are not always afforded.

While not much has been written about this topic, to me, this factor is critical in deciding which gun to purchase. I would love to see more tests done. As shown in the videos below, if the purse is large enough, the semi-automatic may not jam at all. However, I would need to see some very definitive data before I would ever feel comfortable recommending a semiautomatic as a purse gun.


How about you? Have you ever shot a gun through a purse or some other similar material? What happened?

*Disclaimer: I am not recommending or advocating for any of the products displayed in the pictures. My use of pictures is simply to illustrate a point.


Here are the only videos I could find of people actually shooting through purses.

And the only article I could find about it:

Other resources worth your read/watch:

CT Gun Battle

Posted: March 10, 2014 in Self Defense
Tags: ,


While I have not heard much in the media about it lately, be assured many in Connecticut are continuing the fight against the gun registration law. One person in particular has taken the fight to those who passed the bill. He wrote an open letter to express his outrage, lawful resistance and concern over the potential resulting violence. It is an excellent letter and I can only hope somebody there with power to change things actually read it.