Lots of firearm enthusiasts will recommend hand cannons like a Desert Eagle for self-defense, even though that’s a bit overkill for most situations.
But many of our readers may have smaller hands or not as much grip strength as the average man. This means that they need a self-defense weapon that’s right for them, not the biggest shooter on the market.
How To Pick the Perfect Small Handgun for Self Defense
Why Firearms Are Important for Self Defense for Women
Let’s face it; women are smaller and weaker than the average man, meaning they can’t always rely on their physical strength to get out of a confrontation. It’s even more important that women who spend lots of time alone to have a backup sidearm on hand in case someone tries to give them trouble.
With easy access to lots of concealed carry holsters and the ability to get your concealed carry license in any state (plus some state that don’t even require a license), there’s no reason women should be without their own personal firearms.
What to Look For
When buying a handgun with smaller hands, arthritis, or just not a lot of grip strength in general, you’ll want to keep a few aspects in mind.
Firstly, remember that size isn’t everything. Larger handguns might be slightly easier to shoot but they are hard to conceal and harder to handle.
Self-defense pistols, too, are usually fired at close to point-blank range, so caliber doesn’t matter as much as you think. 9 mm compact rounds, for instance, are a great all-purpose self-defense round.
You’ll also want to think about the grip. In a self-defense situation, or if you have arthritis or weak hands, you definitely want a pistol that’s easy to hold and easy to keep a hold of when you squeeze off several rounds in quick succession. That means finding a pistol that has a textured grip.
Next, try to find something that doesn’t provide tons of recoil. A gun that falls out of your hands because it takes too hard doesn’t do you any good or could make a situation worse.
Finally, make sure your chosen self-defense pistol has good sights and accuracy.
When you raise your weapon, you should be aiming to kill. That means having a good set of iron sights at the bare minimum, plus good general accuracy at ranges up to 75-100 yards, at least for self-defense.
What’s the Best Handgun for Women?
The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield is a fantastic self-defense weapon through and through, but it's especially good for those with smaller hands, like women.
It’s compact and has many of the same advantages and benefits as larger pistols at the same time. It features a light but refined trigger, plus an excellent grip texture that makes it easy to hold as you fire off multiple rounds.
A 3-dot sight system, a corrosion-resistant finish, and a special striker-fired design all make it a perfect self-defense pistol.
The last option is particularly good for concealed carry users; the lack of a hammer means that it won’t snag on your shirt as you draw it.
- Designed to securely attach to M&P Shield 40/Shield 9 specifically
- Includes an integrated 640-660nm Class 3R >5w red laser; ultra lightweight and compact
- Batteries can be replaced while light remains mounted on gun
What About Other Needs?
The above pistol is also great for those with arthritis or not a lot of hand strength. It’s very easy to hold because of its lightweight and small size, plus the recoil isn’t too much to handle for most.
A little practice will let you hit targets with reliability, even with a slightly shaky hand.
Everyone, and we mean everyone, should have a pistol for self-defense, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman.
Remember that there’s always a weapon that’ll work for you, and don’t ignore your constitutional right to bear arms just because you can’t use a machine gun as well as some other guy. You never know when you might need a firearm in a tense situation!
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 1, 2020, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.