“What’s The Best Defensive Handgun For A New Shooter With Smaller Hands?” - Warrior Life | Urban Survival | Close Quarters Combat | Tactical Firearms Training | Live Life Like A Warrior

“What’s The Best Defensive Handgun For A New Shooter With Smaller Hands?”

I get asked this question a LOT…

“If I’m new to shooting, what’s the best handgun for me to buy?”

Well actually, a question that came in last week for our Tacti-Cool Taco Tuesday livestream, from Emily of Illinois, took things to a whole new level as she qualified herself as having “smaller hands”.

This is a very common concern for both men and women who are of a smaller stature, or are older and don’t have great hand strength.

I think my answer to Emily’s question will be a bit of a surprise for many of you… and I’ll give you some in-depth info on how YOU can decide on your first handgun – or how to respond to others who may ask you this question.

Here’s My Recommendation For The Best Handgun For New Shooters With Smaller Hands…

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Each week, our rag-tag team of hairy-backed mooks - along with some of the world's top experts - bring you "no B.S." tips, tricks, and tactics to level-up all your skills in tactical firearms training, urban survival, escape & evasion, and close-quarters combat self-defense!

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Here’s What You’ll Discover In This Week’s Episode:

  • Why the local gun store is often the absolute WORST place to shop for a new gun!
  • 4 questions every person should answer BEFORE they purchase their first gun!
  • The 2 pistols I most often recommend as a “first gun”! I’ll tell you the make and model… AND which one will suit you best depending on your personal needs!
  • My surprising choice of “man-stopping” caliber that works as well for smaller hands as it does for humongous hands!
  • And much, MUCH more!

While there’s no “one size fits all” answer to this question – there ARE some critical criteria you need to look at before you plop your hard-earned dollars down onto the gun store counter!

Resources Mentioned In This Podcast:

What Was YOUR First Handgun… And Why Did You Choose It? Would You STILL Choose That Gun Today As Your First?
Please Share Your Feedback With Your Fellow Warriors Below…

  • Ted Stevens says:

    My first pistol was a Sterling .380 DA. Purchased over 40 years ago. I chose it because of affordability. I still have it although it never makes it into my carry rotation (I would like to get a good .380 to take its place). The company went out of business shortly after I bought it. My EDC is a Springfield XD9 Mod 2 subcompact. On dress-up occasions, I carry a Kimber Ultra Onyx in .45.

    • Bulletcatcher says:

      The best 380? Walter PPK. pricy yet heavy with light recoil.

      • My first gun was a pre-engagement gift from my future fiance – a Walther PP in .380. When we broke up, I gave back the ring, kept the Walther. Eventually, it was stolen when my home was burgled so I replaced it with a PPK in .380 and a Ruger Speed-6 in .38. I still have both but have since broadened my collection to 7 different Walthers. Since my husband passed away, that collection has increased a lot since he was a gunsmith/FFL and NRA instructor for 40+ years. I have been an NRA instructor for the past 15 or so years.

        These days, I would recommend the PK380 rather than the PPK. It has the modern improvements of a slide lock and a paddle magazine release which I much prefer to a mag release button so you don’t need to change your grip to change your magazine.

        I agree with a new shooter starting off with a .22LR and a revolver is definitely a simpler way to learn with fewer things to go wrong but I would try to get a student to move up to a center-fire caliber as soon as they are able to, not so much for stopping power as for reliability. Rimfire ammunition is notorious for failures at the worst possible moment, even in a revolver, and in a life or death situation, I don’t want to run that risk.

        With that being said, I have been known to carry a Walther P22 when my wardrobe called for it but my usual EDC is a Walther PPS in 9mm in a Kydex paddle holster outside the waistband and 2 extra mags on my offhand side. The advantage of the P22 is that it works the same way as my P99 and my PPS so it is a great choice as a more economical way to practice with live fire at the range.

  • Totally agree a Glock is not right for either gals1st;
    – there’s lots of choices out there & revolvers are great…!
    As for .22 a WRM w/50gr Federals are seriously no joke;
    – with some units having more then a 6 round capacity…!

  • Ladies, shoot through the purse! I love it.

  • Randy Carollo says:

    As Jeff mentioned if somebody asks what handgun should I get the first thing you should do is ask them a lot of questions to narrow down you know what their needs are however the first question I would have for them is not handgun related directly but how are you going to store the gun at your place of residence that’s a 24/7 risk you assume as soon as you own a gun and hardly anybody ever talks about this it’s very important you it’s good to get training it’s good to know the laws and everything else but as soon as you walk in the door of your home with a gun you need to have a plan to secure it as best as possible before anything else takes place thank you

    • Andrew Weiner says:

      We tell no one that we have them or where they are but can be accessed fast if someone comes in at night. They are hidden in the house if we travel–guns and ammo. It would be like looking for the Ark of the Covenant in the government warehouse in the Indiana Jones movie–won’t be found. We never had guns until the kids moved out of the house–They are great kids but I did not trust them 100%.

    • Good point, one thing most people never consider: everybody should know how to clean their gun. Admittedly, disassembly can take a couple seconds, but reassembly, load, ready to fire is pretty quick at least for me. Store it disassembled. Carry the rod and spring or cylinder with you or secure it separately.

  • I understand where you are coming from. Maybe a revolver in 22mag? From my experiences of over 60+ yrs I have recommended a revolver yes, but in 38spl. with at least a 4″ barrel. My wife, 5’2″, started with a Kimber 38spl / 357 for her carry & training and really liked it. However, first I let her shoot a .22 Buckmark. She now has a 365 which is her pride & joy. Of course we have gone to training classes.

  • I met a guy at a range that I go to. He was renting different guns to try them out. I did that also at first. I asked him what he was going to do with it; he said home defense. I recommended a steel frame 9mm. I let him try my Beretta M9A1. I think that the recoil is more reasonable with a steel (or aluminum alloy) frame gun. If I were to recommend to the average guy today; I would say a Sig p226. I bought Sig 226 LEO trade-in in a .40 cal. The recoil is surprisingly reasonable. I also bought one in 9mm. I figure that in an emergency I am going to fire it; no kidding. When I first bought a pistol, I thought that a safety was important to have; perhaps for cops and the military it is. I train a fair amount but not as much as soldiers. I don’t want to fumble for the safety. I keep my Sig loaded with one in the chamber. I will not put my finger on the trigger unless I intend to fire it in self-defense.

  • Michael Julson says:

    Good show. Bought my wife a Ruger LCR+ in 22lr for her first handgun. In time I hope to upgrade her to a .38special or 9mm on the same frame

  • Andrew Weiner says:

    My wife and I went to our local pistol range and tried out everything they had. My wife settled on her father’s S & W .38 revolver as it was something she could handle, hit the target and did not have too much recoil. I settled on a Springfield Armory 1911 in 9mm. It has light recoil for me and I was accurate with it. We tried .45’s–too much recoil, poor accuracy. My wife likes the .22 semi-auto her father had also. But for her simpler is better. They are used for home defense, kept loaded with the semi-auto without one in the chamber just in case a wandering guest gets inquisitive. I have trained myself to rack the slide before pulling the trigger. This is Los Angeles, California, so no concealed carry (legally, ever). Our choices have not been regretted.

  • Starling Black says:

    Hello Jeff,
    Yes your advice is right on. My wife 65 years old carries a S&W hammerless .22 magnum revolver. It is lite and she can handle it. I on the other hand am 70 years old and have a Glock 17, but don’t carry it. Rather I carry a S&W .22 long rifle revolver. I can handle and run the Glock, but the .22 caliber is lighter and I always have it on me. The Glock is either in my car or at my bedside. Thanks for your video and your advice is golden.

  • Wade Walker says:

    You missed an important safety requirement for purse carry. Always put the revolver in a holster inside the purse. This will prevent items in the purse (lipstick, keys, coins, etc.) from getting in the trigger guard and pulling the trigger resulting in an accidental, and possibly fatal, discharge.

    • and or she has to fumble around with a bunch of junk before she can get it into action.

      • OR….get a concealed carry purse! where the gun is in its own pocket with no other junk.

    • If the gun is in the purse and someone steals the whole purse. The gun does no good as you watch the crook run away with the gun and the purse.

  • My wife took a basic intro handgun class. She used a Glock 19 for the class but it was too big for her. She also used a Glock 43 in the class and she seemed to do better with it. We went to a gun store and looked at the Glock 43. They had a Springfield Hellcat Pro on sale so we set it down side by side with the Glock 43. I had my wife rack the slide, change mags, get a feel for the trigger etc. The Hellcat won hands down. The cincher was that she had trouble with the mag release button on the Glock 43. The Hellcat was smooth as glass. Plus the Hellcat Pro has a 15 round mag vs a 10 round mag with the Glock 43. Also the sights on the Hellcat are much better. The rear sight is a U vs the Glock goal post and the front tritium front sight intuitively fits into the U so there is faster target acquisition. The Glock doesn’t come standard with a front night sight. Secondly, the Hellcat has a RMR cut on the slide if you want to put an optic on the gun. Thirdly, the Hellcat came with a green laser plus a total of 5 magazines and a carry bag with the package. It was about $100 bucks more than the Glock 43 but over all it was a far better deal. Jeff recommends the Ruger LCR in .22 cal. I disagree. Mt wife used to have one. The double action only trigger was notorious, about 10 – 12 lbs pull and for a woman with small and weak hands a hard trigger pull has a negative effect on accuracy. That’s another reason my wife has a hellcat. It is a gun that she picked out for herself. I didn’t pick it for her but I did help lead her in the right direction so she could determine for herself what is the best gun for her. She did pick the LCR for herself when she bought it but later determined that it wasn’t the best gun for her. I hope this info helps any new shooter on their journey to pick the best handgun for themselves.

  • Definitely get to the range and rent some guns you think might work for you. Learn the basic principals of marksmanship like heaver gun less recoil lighter gun more recoil. Everybody is different. Even people who are physically similar can be different neurologically. For example, I do not like trigger safeties. I prefer a firm thumb safety and a lighter trigger pull on a gas operated pistol. I don’t like grip safeties either, so I’m not a big 1911 lover although I respect the heritage. Personal defense weapons are that personal. Your piece is like you guard dog. Your not going to spend $800 on a shepard, dobi, or am. staff. and chain it up in the back yard. If you do you are asking for trouble. Find something that fits you, and don’t stop there. Try different grips until you find the best ones. You can even switch them out for the season or special occasions. Take it to the gun smith and get that trigger pull just right. While you are there, see if there is something you can put on the slide grip that will increase grip without the annoyance of the metal digging into your fingers. Revolvers are great, but remember you can customize the grips and make other customizations that can dramatically increase your performance on them also. The only thing I would add is if you are going to carry your double action revolver in your purse, keep it in its own pocket and don’t put anything else in that pocket of the purse.

  • kalihi scorpion says:

    1-get a 4-6 inch .22 caliber revolver. 2- get a 6 inch barrel .38 caliber revolver. 3-get a derringer. * no matter what the size of your hand size most guns will suffice. your breathing is the key. you must be able to pull the trigger at the right time. a woman with small hands could easily fire a .45 caliber or larger gun if she is breathing properly and pulls the trigger at the right time. breathing is the key to determine how effective your gun is. do you really know this? if not, practice your breathing. it will increase your accuracy! good luck!

  • Dave Braun says:

    What is the second pistol you recommend? You just identified the Ruger LCR 22.

  • This was a good suggestion, as a senior citizen and a 4’11” woman with a short reach and a bad wrist this may do the trick, I have been shooting/hunting in my life and always went the long rifle/shotgun route but never did much with handguns, now for home protection or personal protection I dont need name brands, large caliber, or what is trendy, I want easy, reliable, and light for these old hands!

  • Hi Jeff. Thanks for this podcast. It was a great reminder to hit the range more often. I am a 130#, 5’3″ woman and I keep a Smith and Wesson model 36, 38 caliber in my headboard. It’s small and easily hidden when I travel. I’ve had guns my whole life so it’s not my first. I actually practice (empty) grabbing and firing it sometimes and exercise with a squeeze ball to help keep my hands strong.
    In my 30’s I attended a par-military academy and was taught to occasionally practice with my weak hand (reloading and shooting) in the event that your shooting hand was to be injured. I’ve always thought that was good advise.

  • Shooting through the purse … I have always said if you don’t have to draw your pistol to shoot it, you can shoot faster. So I often carry in a sweatshirt, jacket pocket or guayabera. You look harmless standing there with your hands in your pockets, but you can be a faster blaster should the need arise.

  • Horace Busch says:

    Thanks. I’m not necessarily a first time gun user. While in the US Navy and US Air Force, I received training on the M1 Carbine, a WWII .45, an M16, and a 9 MM pistol. However, although I do own a .22 rifle with scope, a 12 gage shot gun, and a pellet rifle with scope, I’ve not fired a weapon since. The latest guns above have yet to be fired at a range. I’ve practiced once with the pellet rifle in my basement. Would like to own a hand gun. So, the advice you gave today is very helpful. Thanks again.

  • I enjoyed your podcost, very informative
    Thank you

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