WON Landing Page March 2022

What’s the Best Concealed Carry Pistol for a Woman?

When discussing the topic of shooting with new shooters, the number one question I’m asked is “What’s the best pistol to carry for a woman?” My answer is, “The best-concealed carry gun is the one you can safely shoot with confidence, accuracy and precisely in order to stop the threat.”


Mia & the Little Gal is sponsored by Girls with Guns Clothing.


With that being said, now comes the hard part – determining which carry gun is best for you.


Colt Mustang Pocketlite with LaserMax laser.

I asked a few friends, based upon on body-carry methods, what they chose and why. The answers they offered varied widely.

  • Walther P22 (.22 LR) — “I wanted something that wouldn’t kick.”
  • Ruger LCP (.380 ACP) — “Although it’s a rough shooter, I like how small my Ruger is. I can carry it anywhere on my body, even in the summer, and no one knows.”
  • Walther PPQM2 (.40 S&W) — “The grip fits well and I like its power and target acquisition capabilities.”
  • Smith & Wesson 642 (.38 Spl) — “One of the most popular guns in America for concealed carry, this gun comes in stainless and in an airweight model.”
  • Colt Mustang Pocketlite (.380 ACP) with LaserMax laser — “Perfect for on-body carry anywhere and just a nice, accurate, well-machined gun. The laser is a marvelous addition.”
  • Glock 17 (9mm Parabellum) — “The 9mm is said to be an effective large caliber cartridge, but it doesn’t have kick like some of those larger rounds.”
  • Beretta Px4 Storm compact (.40 S&W) — “It feels as though my .40 is big enough to take out an attacker.”
  • Kimber Pro Carry II (.45 ACP) – “My pistol is of legal caliber to kill big game animals in my state. The way I figure it, if it can knock down a 400-pound bear, it will work on a large, aggressive, dangerous attacker.”
  • Smith & Wesson model 686 (.38 Spl or .357 Magnum) – “It was my grandfather’s and I love the huge hole it knocks in everything.”

With reasons ranging from recoil to family loyalty, we need to dig a bit deeper into what makes one pistol more appealing than another.



The author, Mia Anstine, shooting her Ruger LCP. (Hank Anstine photo)


In order to break the decision process down a bit, let’s first look at the primary reason for carrying. We want to protect ourselves, our families or other people. In other words, we want to stop a threat.

If you feel that your life is in danger, you’ll no doubt experience increased adrenaline and an elevated heart rate. This will absolutely hinder your shooting accuracy, so heading to the range on a regular basis to practice is imperative in order to overcome those disadvantages.


Babbs on the draw with her Smith & Wesson 642 revolver. (Jason Baird photo)

The best way to see what features are your “must haves” in a pistol is to actually shoot any gun you want to depend upon for your life. According to the laws in your state, you might sign up for shooting courses at your local range. Ask the instructor if he/she will bring more than one pistol to test fire. Another option is to talk to friends and family. Let them know what your end goal is and ask to shoot their pistols. Attempt to shoot more than one model, caliber and type of pistol. Many ranges offer rentals, and spending a little cash up front can save you hundreds of dollars of problems later.

Often times, inexperienced shooters want to shoot the most petite pistol because it appears less intimidating, and well-meaning husbands and boyfriends often buy into this concept for the lady shooter. Take note, although smaller and lighter is “cute,” these pistols can be sending a whole lot of momentum down a very short barrel from a lightweight gun. That means you are the one who is going to absorb the recoil. A longer barrel on a heavier gun means lower recoil.


Kimber in .45 (Mia Anstine photo)


Features to consider when choosing what size handgun you want to carry 

  • Knock-down power– When fired, small caliber bullets quite simply create small holes. A larger size bullet will do more damage, creating a larger hole in the target, or attacker. Whichever you choose, practice a lot because shot placement reigns supreme in a gunfight.
  • Size and weight – You need to think about how much weight you want to carry around on your belt, or on your person somewhere, all day. You need to feel the grip in the palm of your hand because, just like buying jeans, we’re all shapes and sizes so they’ll all fit differently.

Ruger in .380 (Mia Anstine photo)


  • Shooting Comfort (little recoil) – Just because a pistol is smaller in size does not mean it will have less recoil. Some compact carry handguns have extremely short grips so there is not a lot to hold onto when you’re shooting. Testing a pocket carry pistol versus a bigger one with a longer barrel, in the same caliber, will illustrate that the bigger gun will actually have less recoil. All other things being equal, the better a handgun fits your hand, the less that recoil will bother you.
  • Concealability – When you are looking for a pistol to conceal, consider the seasons you’ll be carrying. Give thought to what part of your body you’ll use as your point of attachment. Will potential attackers see the imprint? Will slides, releases or hammers catch on your clothing as you draw?
  • History – Ask around. Grandpa may have been happy with one pistol, while your friend with smaller hands may want something with a smaller grip. Find out what experiences they’ve had, how they feel about their guns and don’t forget to ask “Why.”

A Walther PPQM2 also comes in in a compact version.


The Well Armed Woman offers a series of short articles on the steps to choosing the right gun. 

  • About The WON

    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.


The Conversation

One Comment
  • Milie Breck says: January 15, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I found that I don’t have lots of hand and arm strength as I get older, so working the slide on lots of handguns was just too hard. I wound up with the Taurus .25 caliber with the tip up barrel for the first round and a clip. Love, love, love it.