The magnitude of the mystery of “what women want” may never be fully unraveled, but we took a step toward that goal by examining what types of concealed carry guns we ladies choose most often. To discover the answers to this age-old (OK, maybe not quite that ancient) query, I consulted with one of my favorite firearms experts, Kaitlyn Lentz. You met her in the recent series titled “Girls Who Sell Guns – The Consultant: Kaitlyn Lentz.”
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Cheryl: Kaitlyn, as a firearms specialist at AZFirearms.com, a brick-and-mortar retail store in Arizona, what do you see as the most popular concealed-carry guns for women?
Kaitlyn: One of the guns that many of our female shoppers take home is the Glock 43, the semi-auto 9mm slimmer framed Glock, due to the magazine being a single stack style. Another popular choice is the semi-auto Smith & Wesson M&P .380 Shield EZ, popular for the easy of functioning the slide.
Often our customers, men and women alike, come in thinking they want one particular firearm, but then once they put several different guns in their own hands they realize the best gun for them is something entirely different.
For both men and women, aesthetics are important: shape, size, color, weight. Questions they are seeking to answer are “How is this item going to fit in my hands, into my lifestyle and with my clothes and appearance?”
These are all excellent questions, and while appearance is important, more important is the functionality. It may be “cool” or “pretty,” but is that really the right choice? These are the things that we help each individual customer discover.
Cheryl: What are women looking for in concealed-carry guns?
Kaitlyn: Most women come to us looking for small, easy to conceal, lightweight, purse/pocket guns. Something important to remember, however, when picking a smaller gun is the physical change that takes place between tiny/micro pistols versus the larger framed guns. For example, the more metal in a firearm, the larger the frame, the more recoil energy it will absorb. Because of this, the smaller framed guns are sometimes less comfortable to shoot, due to the amount of recoil and impact your hands will feel.
Cheryl: How do your customers make their decisions? Do they do a lot of independent research or do they rely on experts like you?
Kaitlyn: Overall, I would say they look to the sales person/expert for advice, but our customers are getting more and more informed each year, due to the excellent research opportunities available online. When it comes to purchasing a life-saving tool of self-defense, there are few things that are as deeply personal as that. Each individual woman and man has a unique life circumstance and they are ultimately the best determiner of what will work best for their lives.
Cheryl: You are in the area of Phoenix, Arizona, where the intense summer heat has to impact how and where women carry their firearms. How do your customers handle the changing seasons: heat, less clothing … when it’s cold and more layers … off body carry/purse carry, etc.
Kaitlyn: What I say to my customers is that the right firearm is the one you are comfortable carrying and will diligently practice with. Your concealed carry gun doesn’t necessarily have to be a micro-mini sized gun. There are plenty of adaptive clothing items available on the market to assist with successfully concealing your carry gun.
I carry a mid-size firearm everywhere, even if that means open carry, which is legal here in Arizona due to our Constitutional Carry laws. However, if I were to carry off-body in my purse, the size of the gun becomes less important, while the weight of carrying the gun becomes more important.
Whatever you carry and wherever you carry it, train to carry that specific firearm. Practice drawing from the holster: thigh, appendix, bra, purse wherever – just be proficient with that set up.
Long range goals for many of our customers is to own a gun for every season, scenario and occasion, so while you are working toward your ultimate collection, train with what you have, carry what you have, become proficient with each new gun and holster.
Cheryl: Do you find that women are more or less inclined to want to carry versus own for home protection?
Kaitlyn: In my experience, women are looking for a carry gun. However, a gun is a gun and defense is defense. It doesn’t matter which reason initially motivated you, you’re going to use that firearm to defend yourself no matter where you are, so training and situational awareness are indispensable to being a responsibly armed citizen.
Cheryl: How did you decide to carry outside the home?
Kaitlyn: For me, it was never a decision of when, but of what, to carry. It took me awhile to make the decisions around what and how to carry. My personal journey led me to (mainly) carry what I’m training with at the time. That may change in the future. Even those of us who grew up around guns can feel the enormous responsibility involved in carrying a firearm outside our homes. It sometimes feels like an elephant-sized accessory that we think everyone can spot, no matter how well-holstered it is. Dedicated and ongoing practice with your concealed holster or purse will help make it feel more natural.
Cheryl: What is your conceal carry gun of choice/dream conceal gun?
Cheryl: Thank you for your time, Kaitlyn, and for helping both men and women, many of them who are new to the shooting sports, to find just the right tool to help keep them and their families safe!
Kaitlyn: It is absolutely my pleasure. I cannot imagine doing anything more fulfilling or meaningful.
Cheryl Todd, owner of AZFirearms.com and cohost of Gun Freedom Radio, has more than 30 years of experience in the firearms industry. She holds undergraduate degrees in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, which allows her to bring a unique voice to the gun world. View all posts by Cheryl Todd