Guns & Gender Neutrality

November 6, 2020
David Workman

To my fellow gents out there trying to figure out what women want, here’s a doozy for you: What kind of guns do they like to shoot? Men are easy to figure out: we want guns that make holes in targets, look cool, are easy to handle, and won’t break the bank (or at least stretch it too far). Fairly simple, right? But for women…well, we know they want cute pink guns they can tuck inside their purse, right? Wrong!

One of the biggest mistakes gun manufacturers ever made was the pink gun. Mind you, they had good intentions, thinking the ladies would like something cute and feminine. Their motives were pure: create something eye-catching to encourage women to get into shooting. Not a bad idea. They just went about it all wrong.

We know what happens when we assume. Yep, you thought it. And that’s exactly what happened when gunmakers failed to do their homework and ask real women what they wanted in a gun. Turns out their answer wasn’t pink. Or cute. What they wanted was a serious gun that did all the things “manly” guns did.

Size Matters

Before we get into the age-old debate of men vs. women when it comes to gun size, think about how hard it is to design a gun that fits everybody. It can't be done. Not every gun works well for everyone. First, our hands are all different, so just the grip alone isn’t one-size-fits-all. Then we get into the overall size: how much gun do you want to handle? Is heavier better or light better? The challenge for gunmakers over the years is to find the “perfect” gun that everyone can use. So far, nobody has come up with one.

A big gun isn't necessarily a good thing to choose for the lady in your life. Let her choose.

Now add in the female factor and gun-making just got even more complicated. Or did it? Are we wrong to assume women want something different in their guns from what men want? Or do they want the very same things?

Upper Body Strength & Grip

As a firearms instructor, I see a lot of new shooters, many of them women, come through my classes. Often, this is their first time firing a gun – ever. They have zero experience. Sometimes they just bought their first gun, often on the advice of a well-intentioned but misled man who suggested something either way too small or way too big. Other times, the gun purchase was based on stereotypes that forced her to get a “girl gun” because that’s what she’s supposed to get, right? Maybe it wasn’t pink, but it was still the wrong gun. It hurts when she shoots it because it’s too small and kicks like a mule. Or it’s so huge she can’t control it. Now she’s scared of it. Or at the very least, she wants a different gun.

But this isn’t a female-only challenge. While it’s easy to peg women as the “weaker sex,” that’s not always true. There are plenty of women who are stronger than their male counterparts. And some men couldn’t hold their own again some women. So this is really a gender-neutral issue. For example, I’ve had plenty of male students who can’t rack a slide because they lacked hand strength. This isn’t a slight on them. We are all different. That’s kind of the point. That is precisely why gunmakers offer a wide variety of shapes and sizes of guns. Some even include interchangeable backstraps for different size hands and lighter recoil springs to make slide racking easier.

It’s All About You

Purchasing a firearm is a very personal decision. Not all guns work for all people. And it’s more than just what you’re going to use it for: home defense, concealed carry, range gun, etc. It’s about what fits your hand, the amount of recoil you can or want to handle, capacity, availability of accessories, and a ton of other considerations. And, yes, color, if that’s important to you. Above all, be sure you are comfortable and confident shooting whatever gun you choose.

Many gun stores are attached to ranges and offer rental guns for public use. Try a few to help narrow the field. Whichever gun you land on, be sure it’s the one you really need, the one that fits you the best. ~ David

David Workman
David is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor and RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. "Real life shootouts don't happen at a box range."