In reviewing the best handguns for women, some interesting statistics about gun ownership come into play. The article is designed expressly for those ladies amongst you looking for a lethal weapon for good self-defense. However, if you’re looking for a gift for the lady in your life, a bag or jewelry may be outdated.
While gun ownership is on the decline for men, the reverse is true for women.
Women are now increasingly buying guns more than they have ever before. We will delve into some of the pros and cons of gun ownership for women later. First, let’s have a look at some of the top handguns for women on the market.
So, let’s go ladies!
Top 10 Best Handguns For Women Reviews
1 Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm – Best Self Defense Handgun for Women
Along with the growing interest in women owning guns, they are getting smaller and lighter. For a concealed handgun, this Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm really deserves to be on our list of best women’s handguns.
Is it good for self-defense?
Women will find the size of this gun most appealing. The lightweight polymer construction makes this a very discreet small weapon. This 9mm version, sports a 1” profile, and an 18-degree optimized grip angle. Reliable performance and simple operation make it an excellent choice of handgun for women.
The one-inch designation is really 0.95”. Compared with the M&P Compact, it’s actually 0.2” slimmer. This may not seem like much on paper until you hold the weapons side by side. They look and feel very different.
How about safety?
Here is another feature that we really like. For those who say you don’t need a safety on a striker-fired pistol, this model comes with or without. The model with the thumb safety can be left off most of the time. The switch is very secure, and there is little to no risk of it being switched on or off accidentally.
A great little package indeed. There are no sharp edges or superfluous bulges, and it can be hidden no matter what your size or clothing is – nothing to snag on clothing, or on your hands.
- Caliber: 9mm
- Action: Striker Fire
- Capacity: 7 and 8 Round
- Barrel: 3.1″ / 7.874 cm
- Rearward Sight: White 2-Dot
- Fwd Sight: White Dot
- Total Length: 6.1″ / 15.5 cm
- Width: .95″ / 2.413 cm
- Total Height: 4.6″ / 11.684 cm
- Weight: 19.0 oz / 538.7 g
- Material: Polymer
- Finish: Black 68 HRc
- Pull: 6.5 lbs. +/-
- Sight Radius: 5.3″ / 13.3 cm
- Safety: Thumb Safety
- Low recoil.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Heavy trigger pull.
- Only the mag release can be reversed for left-handed shooters.
2 Glock 19 Gen 4 – Best Lightweight Handgun for Women
Many handgun owners will say that you need to own a Glock at least once in your life. Started by a curtain rod manufacturer in Austria in 1982, Glock expanded into the American market in 1988. This was a time when the police and the military were feeling out-gunned by criminals and drug runners.
As a result, Glock became famous, and the brand worked its way into the handgun lexicon in America, including Hollywood. The Glock became synonymous with “street cred” and, more importantly, street power.
The first models were well built, easy to conceal, and, most importantly, reliable. The Glock 19 Gen 4 is a wonderful addition to the Glock lineup. Besides still being popular with Police and Military, the new light polymer models also make very good handguns for women.
Improvements in design…
The Glock 19 Gen 4 is the result of Glock listening to what buyers were saying about the previous model. Many of the suggestions of users have been incorporated into the new model, and the result is a much-improved firearm.
On the range is where the Glock starts shining. Subjectively the recoil does not feel much different from previous models. The ergonomics, however: how the overall weight is distributed and the shape of the gun, create a very different experience. It has a vastly improved and has a more usable feel to it — the advantages of this benefit its accuracy.
The Glock on the range displays accuracy which may be equaled by other models, but not beaten. Coupling its light weight, and the ease with which it can be concealed makes it an ideal handgun for women.
- Caliber: 9×19
- Barrel: 4.02”
- Total Length: 6.85”
- Weight: 20.99 oz
- Finish: Parkerized Tenifer
- Capacity: 15+1
- Light recoil.
- Very accurate.
- Easily concealed.
3 Glock 43 9mm – Best Conceal Carry Handgun For Women
Our next handgun is almost identical to the Glock 42. However, the polymer frame G43 is a little longer, heavier, and wider. However, when you hold either in your hand, you would not notice the difference.
Depending on how chic you want a gun to look, this may not be the ideal choice. But many people like the chunky old-style look, which goes with Glock’s traditional power, accuracy, and reliability.
Why does it qualify for our list of Best Handguns for Women?
Size matters, and in this case, the lack of size is all-important. This is a very neat gun for smaller-handed shooters, and tiny enough to successfully conceal it. Plus, for an emergency weapon or a backup gun, it has to be reliable.
Glock has upgraded the successful G42 and engineered it to take the larger 9mm rounds. This and the typical Glock reliability makes it compatible with almost any cartridge. The reliability is matched with accuracy that will serve you well at longer ranges and not just the close quarters, which is most common in self-defense.
A superb choice for concealed carry…
Glock have included both a six and seven-round mag with a ten rounder available for use on the range. The extra length is great for larger hands also. A 5.5 lbs. slow trigger pull produces a very convincing, powerful reaction, along with a reassuring audible reset click. The shot takes place with a minimum of wrist whip, making it a great concealed carry gun for women.
- Caliber: 9mm
- System: Safe Action
- Magazine: 6 Rounds
- Length: 6.26”
- Height: 4.25”
- Width: 1.02”
- Barrel Length: 3.39”
- Weight (unloaded/loaded): 17.95 oz. / 22.36 oz.
- Sights: Steel set
- Barrel: 3.39”
- Famed reliability.
- Highly concealable.
- Solid and dependable.
- None to speak of.
4 Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard – Best Pocket Pistol for Women
The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard was first introduced alongside a .38 revolver. With the skyrocketing demands for pocket pistols that are easy to conceal, S&W created some new models, some of which had integrated laser sights. For those of us not needing lasers, they also created the iron-sighted Bodyguard, which is a great gun handgun for women.
So, let’s have a closer look…
A semi-automatic and double action only, which is perfect for throwing in a pocket, handbag, or even a large purse. It has a fairly long trigger pull that is very smooth and rated at 9.5 pounds.
The hammer is bobbed so it won’t get caught on anything while you are pulling it, or on clothing. While being super small, the Bodyguard sports all the controls you need – a slide stop, manual safety, and steel sights.
How safe is the safety?
Considering how a pocket gun can get thrown around, the serrated safety catch is flat and barely protrudes at all. Also, being fairly stiff makes it difficult to engage or disengage accidentally. When used, it makes a very audible click. Also, with a bit of maneuvering, you can stage the trigger at the end of the pull, which makes it almost possible to emulate a single action.
However, like many small guns, the recoil is quite pronounced. A nice-looking, reliable weapon which is very accurate and a great pistol for a woman. Not much bigger than a deck of cards, this is a highly durable weapon to protect yourself for many years.
- Model: M&P® BODYGUARD® 380
- Caliber: 380 Auto
- Capacity: 6+1
- Barrel Length: 2.75″ / 6.9 cm
- Overall Length: 5.3”
- Front Sight: Stainless Steel Drift Adjustable
- Rear Sight: Stainless Steel Drift Adjustable
- Action: Double Action Only
- Very slim.
- Highly concealable.
- Strongish recoil.
5 Springfield Armory Hellcat 3” Micro-Compact 9mm – Highest Capacity Handgun for Women
The Hellcat series comes from the Springfield Armory’s aim to produce the best, most affordable compact on the market. Combining innovative designs with user feedback, they have succeeded. So, of course, they would have to feature on our list of best handguns for women.
The secret of their success…
Springfield is renowned for producing guns of high-quality with excellent features. So, the next step was to improve on even that, through innovative engineering.
The first improvement that Springfield brings us is an 11 shot flush fit mag and a 13 shot extended mag. This gives us one more bullet to fire drawing from the hip, or wherever you have concealed this little beauty. Using the model’s extended mag, firing 13 x 9mm rounds from such a small gun is truly innovative.
A choice of sights…
There’s a high-quality grip to burn on this gun that will suit most people. Tests showed great results for overcoming ‘slippery when wet’.
And next is the removable sights, and there are two options with about $30 between them. This one, the HC9319B, with standard steel sights and the other HC9319BOSP, OSP stands for Optic Sight Pistol. The Hellcat OSP ships to accept a Shield RMSc red dot sight and other brands. This makes the OSP model worth the extra for the sight options it provides.
A highly ranked design…
The flat-faced trigger gives a good crisp feel. The longer length of pull will be suitable for longer fingers. After extensive testing, the National Tactical Officers Association recently awarded the Springfield Hellcat, its highest ranking. You can now put that on your belt or in your pocket.
- Type: Striker-fired Semi-Auto
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 11 + 1, 13 + 1 (Extended Mag)
- Barrel: 3 Inches
- Length: 6 Inches
- Height: 4.12 Inches
- Width: 0.88 Inches
- Weight: 18.3 Ounces w / Flush Mag
- Finish: Melonite (Steel)
- Sights: Optional steel and OSP
- Safeties: Trigger Lever, Striker-pin Block
- Large mag capacity.
- Excellent sight options.
- Nicely textured grips.
- Award-winning design.
6 SIG Sauer P238 Nitron Micro Compact Pistol .380 ACP – Best Compact Handgun for Women
The SIG Sauer P238 has an interesting history, starting life with the old Colt 45 design. Colt stopped production in 1986, and Sauer bought the rights. They upgraded the design and released this weapon to the world.
Always a winner…
The SIG Sauer P238 has since won critical acclaim, marketing success, and is highly suitable as a great handgun for women. We actually wish we had more space because this pistol deserves it – its modern evolution is very cool.
Maintenance is simple. Broken down, it takes minutes to clean, plus some canned air blown on the hammer area to remove lint. And you’re good to go. Also, you get what you most want from a self-defense weapon, with all reports of this model’s reliability being Five Star. You can depend on it.
Safe and secure…
Carrying “cocked and locked”, may not suit some, but this SIG is packed with safety features. Disengaging the manual safety on the draw will qualm all fears. Practice your draw, and an attacker will be neutralized effectively and quickly. The SIG will not “go off” unless you want it to.
Most small guns can be a bit snappy on the wrist. The SIG is surprisingly lenient, and a light recoil means you’re back on target quickly. Because of this and the other features we’ve covered, we highly recommend this model.
- Caliber: .380 ACP
- Action Type: Semi-Auto
- Finish: Hard Coat Anodized
- Slide: Stainless Steel
- Trigger: Single Action Only (SAO)
- Sights: SIGLITE Full Size Night Sights
- Barrel Length: 2.7”
- Overall Length: 5.5”
- Overall Width: 1.1”
- Height: 3.9”
- Weight: 15.2 oz.
- Capacity: 6 Rounds
- Easily concealed.
- Simple to maintain.
- Very safe.
- Light recoil.
- Starter kit is a bit light.
7 Smith & Wesson .380 EZ Shield – Best High Quality Handgun for Women
Smith & Wesson introduced the M&P Shield series in 2012, and the EZ series was added in 2018. As one of the top brands, they have made a valuable contribution to producing a high-quality handgun for women. EZ translates to a gun that’s “Easy”. They have certainly succeeded in those requirements with this model.
Easy to load – Easy to rack – Easy to work with the safety – Easy to shoot.
Do you think safety first?
If the answer is ‘yes,’ then this gun should be high on your list. Smith & Wesson have made a model for people who are not necessarily gun savvy.
They have also produced a gun made for people whose strength could be on the low side. Like the elderly, someone with arthritis, or smaller hands. The physical strength required to load, rack, maintain your gun, and operate the safety is minimal.
Larger yet still lightweight…
While this is not a compact, it is still of a handy size that can be concealed easily. It is also large enough for a good sight radius and a very reasonable capacity. Despite its slightly larger profile, it is still light enough to be a great option for concealed carry.
Coupling the ease of handling, the accuracy, the low recoil, and sleek looks, it makes a great handgun for a woman.
- Model: M&P380 Shield EZ
- Caliber: .380 ACP
- Barrel: 3.68 inches
- OA Length: 6.7 inches
- Weight: 18.5 ounces (empty)
- Grip: Polymer
- Sights: Three white dot
- Action: DAO
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 8+1
- Type: Hammer-Fired, Semi-Automatic
- Very safe.
- Great accuracy.
- Easy to load.
- Good looking.
- Excellent for weaker hands.
- None to speak of.
8 SIG Sauer P365 SAS Micro Compact 9mm Pistol – Best Handgun for Women with Sight Upgrade
Sig Sauer surprised the gun market when they came out with the micro-compact P365. A tiny gun with all the features of a larger weapon. Their latest upgrade of the P365 is the SAS model.
A quick clean draw…
Focusing on the clean draw requirements of a self-defense weapon, SIG removed everything from the gun that may catch. Sig Sauer is a clean draw specialist, but on the P365 SAS, the company has extended the improvements. The side catch and the mag release have been totally minimized, not to catch on the draw.
The most interesting development has been a complete upgrade to the sights. Doing away with the standard fitting, they now have flush-fitting Bullseye sight in fiber-tritium. This displays a green circle centered inside a green ring. The shooter now focuses on the rear of the slide and the highly visible green circle and dot.
Just how smooth is smooth?
SIG have also recessed the slide lock and removed the takedown lever. This has definitely created one of the smoothest guaranteed no-catch draws in the market. With regards to recoil, SIG has ported the barrel and slide, and the company claims a 30% muzzle flip reduction. For a tiny gun like this, that is a significant improvement.
How about magazines?
The P365 SAS comes with a flush fit 10 round magazine. The gun also takes company made 12 and 15 round mags. All this makes it an excellent small, attractive gun for a woman to own.
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel: 3.1 inches
- Overall Length: 5.8 inches
- Weight: 17.8 ounces (empty)
- Grip: Polymer
- Sights: FT Bullseye
- Action: Striker-Fired
- Finish: Matte black
- Overall Capacity: 10+1
- Great safety features.
- Smooth no catch draw.
- Minimal recoil.
- Spare magazine.
- The sights take some getting used to.
9 Springfield XDS – Most Comfortable Handgun for Women
An unfortunate recall has sullied Springfield’s relationship with the public. We just want to note that since the re-supply, there have been no further problems. The Springfield XDS now stands on its feature-packed merits and is a great handgun for women.
Getting a grip on things…
When you pick this gun up, its chunky ergonomics give it a nice fit in your hand. The grip provides a good firm feeling. While this feature feels better, it makes the gun slightly less concealable.
The XD-S includes a very useful ambidextrous magazine release. To avoid snagging on holsters and clothes, the takedown lever and slide stop on the left side are low profile. A reliable grip safety is a great addition, and this gun will not fire if dropped.
Choice of mags…
In addition, the XDS sports an accessory rail that will take a variety of standard weapon lights that are not XDS specific. The 7 round mag has a great flush fit, and the optional 9 round magazine, gives the compact a full handgun feel. The trigger pull is slightly on the heavy side but very reliable.
Used with a variety of ammunition, the XDS stays accurate and the recoil on the light side for a handgun, which makes it even more suitable for women. Last but not least, the sights are probably one of the XDS’s best features. Pro-Glo front sight with Tactical-rack rear. This provides great target acquisition, high performance in low light, and an option for a red or green front sight.
If you’re looking for a quality holster choice for your XDS, please check out our comprehensive reviews of the Best Springfield XDS 45 Holsters currently on the market 2020.
- Width: 0.9”
- Length: 6.3”
- Barrel: 3.3” with 1:16 twist
- Weight: 23 oz. (empty magazine)
- Cartridge: .45 ACP
- Slide: Melonite-coated steel
- Frame: Polymer
- Sights: Fiber-optic front, 2-dot rear.
- Innovative sights.
- Rail for adding accessories.
- Grip safety.
- Well equipped starter kit.
- Reliable performance.
- Easy to clean.
- Chunky design.
- Trigger pull is a bit heavy.
10 Ruger LCP – Best Concealable Lightweight Handgun for Women
The Ruger LCP has been in production for over ten years. So, we’ll outline the reasons for its enduring charm, and why it makes a great handgun for women. LCP stands for Lightweight Compact Pistol, and both lightweight and compact it is.
Sometimes cheaper is better…
Ruger added the LCPll model, but the LCP is a lot cheaper, and a better buy considering what you get. You will have no trouble in tucking this little gun away in a purse or a pocket. 5” long and 10 ounces unloaded, this gun can be concealed easily and discreetly.
However, the accompanying holster for this gun does have a tendency to interfere with the draw. There are other holsters available, but most of them just give this small gun a larger profile.
Stopping power is always a consideration, and the .380 doesn’t have the grunt of a 9mm. Having said that, the seven-round mag should not leave you wanting in a self-defense situation. And most personal protection situations will be fully covered.
While the standard steel sights are above average for use on the range, they contribute to ease of draw. If you need something better, a model option is the Ruger LCP Custom. For only about $10 more, you get larger sights with a photoluminescent front.
A great all-around choice…
Most rounds work well in this elite small gun, and the recoil is not intrusive enough to affect short range. A great little feature is the manual slide hold over lever, which makes cleaning so much easier. This is an ideal gun to carry with you, and a perfect handgun for a woman.
- Action: Recoil Operated
- Barrel: 2.75”
- Capacity: 6+1-Round
- Cartridge: 380 Auto (ACP)
- Finish: Black
- Front Sight: Fixed
- Length: 5.16″
- Weight: 0.67 lbs
- Low price, great value.
- Easy to clean.
- Low recoil.
- Holster can slow down draw.
Best Handguns For Women Buying Guide
This part of our reviews is dedicated to two groups of people, basically total beginners and more experienced shooters. It is relevant for both because the handguns discussed here have been chosen from a very wide market. The beginners will know roughly what they are looking for. The experienced will know more about the individual specifications to select the best handgun for a woman.
All the weapons in our reviews are of high quality and reliability, and any of them will provide great service.
So Much Choice…
From recent surveys, women’s interest in owning handguns is outstripping what has been a male-dominated market. Having their fingers on the pulse of market demand, manufacturers have been very quick to respond.
The immediate consequence has been the manufacturing of a dazzling array of choices in gun models. This has left many first time owners slightly confused as to where to start. Quite understandable, and in making it easier to understand, we will now help to narrow down your choices and needs.
The result of this has been that research and development have brought out a lot of improvements in handguns in the last ten years. Gun and rifle associations have sprung up to cater to women’s growing demands. Educational programs and gun schools have proliferated. And well-established groups, such as The National Rifle Association, have created new departments dedicated to women.
For those of you who are starting out, joining one or more or these groups will be of great benefit to you. Besides bringing you general gun awareness, they also cater for training and safety issues. No doubt, safety being of the utmost importance.
Safe and Secure…
This is well worth discussing because the issues of safety go far beyond the mere handling and successful shooting of guns. Mention statistics, and many of us will run for cover. However, to fully understand the safety issues, statistics will help us out a bit. Therefore, we are going to present some.
Oh, No! Dry Facts?
Not that dry. When it comes to gun ownership, statistics can give us a unique insight into important issues, that we should not ignore.
A recent survey received over 4,000 responses from women. The age groups of women respondents had a much higher age range than expected. Women’s ages ranged from 18 years of age to over 75. The survey analyzed data on numerous topics; these include gun purchases, concealed carry preferences, buying habits, and demographics.
This survey was carried out by The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters non-profit organization. The owner and founder, Carrie Lightfoot, had this to say about it.
“Thousands of women’s responses demonstrates the desire of the American gun owning woman to speak up and be heard by the shooting and firearms accessories industry. Women want the shooting industry to see them for who they are, and not whom the industry dictates them to be. And I think the industry will be fascinated by the results.”
It Gets More Interesting…
76.5% of respondents were aged between 36 and 65 years old. The largest demographic of 33% were those in the 56- 65-year-old age range. It is now certain that there are more than 20 million lady gun owners in the U.S.
Women between 36 and 65 are now the quickest growing gun-buying demographic in the market. Since Carrie Lightfoot made the above comments, the industry has sat up and taken a lot of notice. The results are spectacular, and women are now being catered for in this market like never before.
Before we move on to the actual firearms we have presented here, let’s look briefly at some important safety issues.
Some sobering facts about gun safety…
When we read the following figures, we realize just how much they show us about gun safety necessities.
The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences
Source Azrael, D., Hepburn, L., Hemenway, D., & Miller, M. (2017). The Stock and Flow of US Firearms. The Results from a 2015 National Firearms Survey.
“In 2015, 36,252 people died from a firearm-related injury in the United States. This is approximately the same number of deaths as those that occurred in motor vehicle crashes. The same year, more than 80,000 people were non-fatally injured (CDC, 2017).
It should also be noted that the distribution of firearm deaths in 2015 is typical of distribution over the past several decades. With the majority of firearm deaths being suicides (22,018). These were followed by homicides (13,463) and unintentional firearm injuries (fewer than 1000). By contrast, of the eighty thousand plus nonfatal firearm injuries, 60,470 were assault-related, 15,928 were unintentional (self or other) injuries, and fewer than 3,320 were acts of deliberate self-harm that proved nonlethal.”
Almost a safety crisis…
What stands out for our buyer’s guide, are the unintentional injuries, suicides, and how many of the injuries are assault-related. As a result, one of the driving dynamics behind our wish to buy a gun is our personal safety. Most people in our biggest demographics are buying handguns and concealables.
This Leads to Our Chosen List of 10 Product Reviews
All of the handguns we have on our list are concealables. That means they’re the smallest and most versatile for self-defense. Because they are designed for use at close quarters, concealables also have unusually high standards in safety features. It’s important to own a gun that will not go off when we don’t want it to.
We don’t like talking about some things…
The enormous figures on suicide demand some recognition. Many people will be buying a gun in order to commit suicide, and we cannot change that. What we can do is to make sure that when we have a gun in our possession, it is safely stored. This applies especially, where children and teenagers are living in the domain.
Never leave your gun unstored unless you have total control over it. This will ensure that it cannot be used by someone else.
From the American Public Health Association
Suicide is responsible for almost one million deaths each year worldwide. Commonly, it is an impulsive act by a vulnerable individual. However, the impulsivity of suicide provides numerous opportunities to reduce the risk of it by restricting access to lethal means. Handguns are by far the most common means of suicide and there is nothing worse than providing the means through some oversight of ours. Therefore, take care of your weapon.
Your Gun Choice…
All the guns we review here are medium-priced and will provide state of the art reliability. Whichever one you choose, you will get satisfaction, and all of them will give excellent service in being concealable and reliable deterrents.
Some have added value and can be used with larger magazines on the range. Some are more easily serviced and shot and can be used by people with less strength in their hands. Your choice is just picking the one whose features you like most.
Not Quite Sure Yet?
With so many options out there, we can help with that! Check out our reviews of the Best .380 Pistols, the Best 1911 Pistols, and if you’re looking for a holster, the Best Cross Draw Holster, the Best Small of Back Holster, or the Best Ankle Holsters currently on the market could well be of interest.
And, well, we’ll let you decide.
So, what are the Best Handguns For Women?
We will say this once more. All the guns we review here have excellent manufacturing standards backed by years of experience.
For personal defense, your choice need not be about reliability or accuracy as all the guns have those attributes. You can spend ten times as much on something more fashionable but not go beyond your basic need.
We narrowed the field down to the Glock G19, the Sig Sauer P238, and our winner, which is the…
Partly in terms of its industry award. Other factors include its easily interchangeable custom sights, its generous rail, and the availability of the two oversize magazines. In other regards, it equals and or exceeds the industry standards available in our breakdown.