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7 Best Handguns for Women to Carry

womens concealed handgun

One of the most commonly asked questions in our Hunting Department from both men and women is, “what is the best handgun for women?” 

The answer is really preferential. It depends on the woman’s hand size, arm strength, recoil, and more. 

Whether you’re a concerned spouse wanting your significant other to be safe or you’re looking to purchase your second (or more) firearm, this article will give you an idea of what to consider beforehand as well as 7 recommended handguns for women to carry. 

What to Consider When Looking for Handguns for Women

When looking to buy a handgun for a woman, there are six features that should be considered. Those features include size, weight, reliability, safety, recoil, and caliber. 


For women looking to carry a handgun, size matters. The best firearm for a woman can be secured in a bag, purse, or holster. So, size does matter. If the handgun is for at-home self-defense, then the size is less of a concern. But, if the firearm is to be carried on the person, making sure it is compact enough to conceal is critical. 

However, the handgun should fit neatly in the palm. There should be no reaching or straining to reach the trigger. If there is, then the gun is probably too big. 

Also, a woman shouldn’t have to significantly alter their grip to reach the safety or magazine release. It should be done without having to shift the hands too much. 


When carrying throughout the day, the weight of the handgun can play a significant role. While a heavier gun often has less recoil, it can be harder to hold or aim if there is less arm strength. It’s essential to find a middle ground here. Look for a handgun that is manageable for shooting and aiming and has a recoil that can be handled. 


Trusting that your equipment will work at the most crucial times is critical. Look for handguns that provide consistent performance and have a reputation for reliability. Also, consider the ease of use. When testing the handgun at a firing range, note if it’s hard to handle. If that’s the case, the size probably isn’t correct, which can reduce the reliability in a high-stress situation. 

Safety features

There are various safety features to look for when looking at good handguns for women, such as a heavier trigger pull weight or protection against accidental firing if the firearm is dropped. Other features to look at include trigger safety and/or grip safety and thumb safety or slide safety.  


Recoil is determined by the weight and size of a gun as well as the caliber. However, felt recoil is different from person to person depending on arm strength. A lighter recoil will help improve the accuracy of follow-up shots and be more comfortable for the shooter. The best way to determine recoil is to spend time shooting. 


For women looking to carry, it’s important to find the right caliber that will stop an attacker and light enough to manage the recoil. A large majority of women’s handguns are chambered for 9mm or .380 ACP. Both will provide adequate protection. 9mm is a far more versatile caliber than .380 and is usually easier to find in stores.

7 of the Best Handguns for Women

There are several great options for women when it comes to handguns. As we talked about earlier, it’s really based on preference. The following list includes some of the most popular choices (not the only choices) for women. 

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

This S&W is slim, lightweight, very concealable, and easy to shoot. It’s also an affordable, reliable, and lightweight 9mm option for women. It’s comfortable for all-day carry, weighing in at 20.8 oz (1.3lbs). 

Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ

The S&W M&P Shield EZ is easy to use, disassemble, and designed for easy cleaning. This 380 has an easy-load magazine and a slide that is super easy to rack (i.e., it’s easy to pull the top back and load the chamber) which is excellent for first-time shooters. It is also available without a slide safety. The 380 EZ is very lightweight (18.5 oz.) and can be concealed on the body or in a bag and is also available in 9mm. 

Springfield Armory Hellcat 9mm

Springfield Armory Hellcat for Women

This is the best-selling micro-compact handgun of 2020. Springfield Armory has announced that in 2021 there will be an addition of two ambidextrous safety models. The Hellcat is another excellent lightweight option (18.3 oz.). It’s incredibly reliable, and it has a loaded chamber indicator to do a quick check to see if there is a live round in the chamber. 

Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380

One of the lightest handguns on our list is the S&W M&P Bodyguard 380, weighing in at 12.3 oz.! This one of the best handguns for women to carry because of how lightweight and compact it is. You can even hide it under a tank and skinny jeans!  

Ruger LCP II .380

This is the lightest and smallest handgun on the list. At less than 11 ounces (10.6 ounces, to be exact), this 380 is a highly effective concealed carry choice. The slide only requires moderate effort, which is ideal for those with low arm strength. It’s also smooth in movement. The LCP II is available with or without manual safety. 

Sig Sauer P238 .380

This classic-style handgun is an excellent option for women. It’s a single action and has minimal recoil making it very manageable. Its compact size makes it a cinch to conceal. The P238 is also a great choice for those who struggle with racking the slide or don’t have a strong grip, because of how easy it is to wield.

Glock 43 9mm

The Glock 43 is on the list because it’s rugged and reliable. It’s a great choice for those looking for a more petite frame and less recoil. The 43 is still highly concealable due to its slim profile, and holsters are relatively easy to find. It also has a lever incorporated trigger safety.

Handguns for Women

There are a lot of great handguns for women to carry, but it boils down to preference. If possible, it’s an excellent idea for her to spend time shooting the handgun that’s being considered for purchase beforehand. Head over to our gun counter and get a hands-on feel to see what’s comfortable, and ask as many questions as you need! Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are ready to help!

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