Getting it Right the First Time

By Kellene Bishop

Start out with your ideal weapon of choice. Photo c/o

Start out with your ideal weapon of choice. Photo c/o

I’ve had many comments come to me that a new woman shooter should “start out” with a revolver.  I have nothing against a revolver, however, I vehemently object to a woman purchasing and practicing with something other than their ideal tool of self-defense. 

A revolver may be an ideal firearm for a woman, but until they have tried other firearms, they will not know this.  For many women, just taking the step to finally own a firearm is a big one and a financial sacrifice as well.  So why advise a woman to do it “half way” or “incompletely?”  Why can’t she start out with her ideal weapon of choice? 

Ladies, make use of the firing ranges in your area to try out various kinds of guns.  Don’t settle.  Make your first purchase count.  Yes, your tolerance of the firepower may change later on down the road, but one of the reasons why I counsel you to practice with different firearms is to help in this process.  Get THE gun that feels good in your hand and in whatever manner in which you’re going to store it (preferably on your person).  This way you will be sure to make your practice and your shots count.  A gun is one thing that you shouldn’t compromise on.  It’s there to save your life.  You want to learn to “dance” with it expertly, not constantly switch it up based on the latest hype.  Get it right the first time, at least as much as possible.

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

10 Responses

  1. I agree, and take the position that a gun, like anything else, is personal preferance. Use what you can afford, hit the target, and are comfortable with.

    If you have a gunny friend with alot of guns, have them take youi out and try many types of guns. Or, you could got to a gun range, where you can rent different guns. Try them, out to see which one suits you.

    Then trust your own judgement for the finally purchase.

    In short, think for yourself, and don’t let a gun store expert decide for you. That goes for both men and women.

  2. The best situation is that you can get a hold of several different pistols to try before making a purchase. The ideal first gun is sort of an interesting conundrum.

    The typical and arguably sexist theory is that since revolvers are the simplest they are the way to go. Anyone needs to have enough training to be safe and effective. To say it takes a whole lot more practice to shoot an auto isn’t accurate.

    In a pre Glock era the revolver argument held some water. The various automatic options were simply not as simple as a revolver, needing to remember if it is cocked, if the safety is on, etc. My Dad bought a pair of revolvers 25 years ago because they are simple and reliable.

    One big thing taken out of the equation is failure drills. With a revolver you just pull the trigger again.

    With the various options we have my wife chooses a revolver.

  3. A revolver may be an ideal firearm for a woman,…

    A revolver is the ideal weapon for this man. No disrespect, but I think most CCW holders imagine themselves getting into an extended, 50+ round gunfight lasting >5 minutes.

    Reality: most “real” gunfights last about 5 seconds, and the winner (survivor) is not the ‘slinger’ who sprays Burger King with the most rounds. The winner is the shooter who gets there with a functioning weapon and places accurate, well-aimed shots.

    Keep your 1911, & I’ll keep my S&W 686.

  4. I think one mistake people make is assuming that the ideal firearm for a woman is something as small & light as possible.

    Obviously a 40+oz. brick may not be ideal due to upper body strength, but a 13 oz. airweight snubby has it’s own drawbacks. The last thing you’d want is for a new shooter to end up with something they don’t enjoy shooting.

  5. first rule of shopping .. try it on.

    It has to fit your hand, be comfortable, left / right handed, buttons and releases need to be reachable & things like that. It also needs to fit your purse or your hip or your waist; it won’t always be in your hand.

    Find a range or a friend that has a selection and will let you try stuff out and get a feel for what is comfortable. You may find a pistol you like and need to switch grips or sights to make it work for you.

    Pick up everything. Even stuff you don’t like or stuff that is too expensive. Don’t pre-set limits on your search. Explore all the options. When you’ve found what fits, you can worry about price and color.

    Find a women only class or a female firearm instructor.

    This is the sort of thing you will be carrying most of the time, so it needs to be serviceable. If you are not comfortable you will be tempted to leave it home and that does you no good.

  6. For a lot of women, the double-action trigger pull can be a little much. My wife has a bit of arthritis that limits her finger strength, and she has found it is difficult to fire some revolvers in double-action mode.

  7. I was going to avoid commenting as I didn’t want to crowd in on this woman centric blog, but then I noticed it seems like all the commenter’s are men anyway.

    First off, I completely agree with you. There is no “one size fits all” perfect answer and anybody looking for a “starter” ccw would be well served to try out as many firearms as possible and choose what they find most comfortable (and not what is most recommended by their “gun” friends).

    Having said that though, I have to admit I regularly recomend revolvers for first time firearm purchasers (both men and women). The reason for this is that most of the people I know who ask me about firearms are not “gun people”. They may have gone shooting with me a few times but are looking for a weapon for their home and likely aren’t going to become serious gun enthusiasts. I steer this group towards revolvers as a first choice as I fear that if they won’t properly maintain a semi-auto on a regular basis. With a revolver even if it sits in their bedside table untouched for five years chances are good that when they pull the trigger it will still go boom.

    • Thanks for your comments, Griffen. And yes, somehow, in spite of our focus, 90% of our readers are male. 🙂
      In my personal experience and expertise, “non-gun people” a) can easily be educated when they are open enough to be purchasing a gun, and thus deserve to start out “right” and b) such individuals, since they are less experienced with skill, need all of the “chances” they can get in a self-defense scenario. I’ll take a dozen or more bullets over 5 in a revolver any day. I don’t believe for a moment that there is a “radical” difference between a revolver and a semi-auto. Much too much thinking required on a revolver in a time of alarm, too few bullets, etc. Whereas with a Glock, for example, just point and shoot, and shoot, and shoot. Rinse and repeat. 🙂 I also find that women are much more fanatical about gun maintenance than even men are. It’s the “feminine” instinct for aesthetics, order, and cleanliness. 🙂

  8. I agree with Griffin. People are individuals, but most of the people I recommend guns for aren’t gun enthusiasts and they don’t want to be. They want something that will work when they need it.

    I love semi-autos, I own a few, but I also know that even the best of them occasionally malfunctions in ways that revolvers don’t. I’ve never had to worry about what brand of ammunition will work best in a revolver. I just find the caliber and put it in. Ammo is chosen for self-defense, not because of the brand quirks which a semi-auto may not like. The revolver won’t start to stovepipe if it’s not cleaned. There’s no need to fuss with the safety. No tap ‘n rack.

    Any gun is better than no gun, so yes, people should get what they feel most comfortable with, but I do think there’s a very good reason why revolvers are often recommended. What pisses me off is that they’re always recommended for *women*. Nobody asks how much practice she’ll be doing. Nobody asks if she likes DA, or would prefer DA/SA, how much time she’ll spend at the range, if she wants to use the gun for other purposes, etc. It’s just ‘oh, you’re a woman? Get a revolver.’ And any new male shooter is guided to the latest and greatest semi-auto– the higher the caliber, the more manly he gets to be. Nobody asks HIM how much shooting he’ll be doing, or whether or not HE will practice malfunction drills regularly. Men aren’t magically endowed with the ability to clear malfunctions in under 2 seconds, yet the attitude is, the semi-auto is a nice shiny man-toy, but women are simple and weak and can’t figure out how to use those semis…give them a revolver. Just the other day some guy was saying on Facebook that women shouldn’t be in the military because they don’t know how to operate the slide of a semi-auto. Really?? Maybe not any women he knows, maybe because all they’re allowed to have is a semi-auto.

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