Oh the things you'll hear

Being a gunnie, I will occasionally venture to Gander Mountain – while their prices aren’t the best, they will at times have something that’s difficult to find or is worth paying a little extra for to have in hand “right now” as opposed to waiting for shipping.  They also will sometimes have deals on used guns – every now and then something will pop up in their used gun case that is absolutely worth it.  For example, yesterday they had not 1 or 2 or 3 but 4, 4 HK USPs in .40 S&W with night sights for about $500 each.  That’s a deal for a USP…but you could also buy a brand new Glock 22 for that same price, so caveat emptor.

All that aside though, Gander Mountain is a great place to hear things that make your head hurt – and so I relate this story to you.  Yesterday I’m idly cruising around and debating whether or not a used USP is really worth $200 more than a used Glock (answer: if you like HKs, yes otherwise it’s not) and I see a young couple talking to one of the counter guys about getting a carry gun for the female member of the couple.  They’re standing over a rack of 1911s, so there’s a part of me that’s hoping that they’re going to do something smart like pull out an all steel, easy to shoot Kimber in 9mm – basically the easiest shooting gun on the planet.  Needless to say, I was hoping in vain, as out of the case comes a micro-compact 1911 in .45 ACP with a 3 inch barrel.  Let’s see, small grips, excessive recoil, short sight radius – clearly it’s the perfect first gun for a novice shooter!  On the bright side though, it wasn’t a snub nosed revolver…but alas I spoke too soon, as the very next gun out of the case was a sierra foxtrot Taurus Titanium .357.  Now you’ve hit the perfect gun: really excessive recoil, small grips, low ammo capacity, crappy sights, and to top it all off, a lousy trigger!  IT’S PERFECT.

Rant mode off here for a second, as I’m going to talk to the ladies.  Ladies out there, I implore you: if your husband wants to get you a gun, for the love of all that is good in this galaxy please demand that he take you shooting to a range that has rental guns if you’ve never fired a gun before.  Hold as many guns as you can until you find one that fits your hand well and allows easy access to the controls.  In fact, if you could find someone other than your significant other to help you select a firearm, that would be ideal as it would avoid any of his personal biases.

Now for the guys.  Gentlemen.  Men.  Do not ever buy a gun for your wife unless she wants to get a gun.  And then when you do, let her pick the gun. That’s it.  Two simple rules.  Don’t buy a “girl’s gun” or a “man’s gun” because there is no such thing.  There are two kinds of guns in this world: guns that fit a shooter, and guns that don’t.  Let her find a gun that fits her hands and that she enjoys shooting.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a .25, a 9mm, or a .45 ACP.  Let her pick.


  1. A long time ago I had the job that I never had to work for, in a gun store. (It’s true what they say that if you do what you love you’ll never have to work a day in your life) A “gentleman” called up wanting to order a Jennings .25 Auto for a Christmas Gift for his wife. The owner, a somewhat eccentric man, asked him one question: “Do you have a good Divorce Attorney?” When the “gentleman” asked why he responded: “Because when your wife finds out what kind of a piece of [redacted] you gave her to protect her life with, if she’s smart she will leave you.”

    Amazingly he heeded the owner’s advice and brought his wife in to look at guns. She picked up a used 3″ S&W model 65 .357 that was modified in a similar manner to the later 65 Ladysmith.

  2. Caleb,

    Wiser words might have been spoken but when they were it is likely it was immediately followed by an ass kicking.

    You can buy them flowers, jewelry, gift certificates and even lengerie (this one is tricky – always err on the small side) but never buy them a gun, shoes or pantie liners. You will inevitably get the wrong size, shape, color and you will buy it at the wrong place.

    Regardless of how smart you think you are, there are some things you don’t know.


  3. Wow – this is how you know Caleb is married: He’s learned “The Secret” of a happy marriage!

    I’m 100% with you and Richard on this one…

  4. And for God’s sake, take her shooting FIRST and start with a .22 LR of whatever type – best to let her shoot both revolver and semi-auto, then move up to 9mm. Baby steps. Or, spend the money and send her to one of the Babes With Bullets camps. Women teaching women, supportive atmosphere, no pressure. I’ve been around the fringes of these camps twice and the women act completely different than a group of guys out shooting. They start them with .22s. Big box gun stores, gun shows and ranges are often bad places for good gun knowledge.

  5. I’ll toss my anecdotes on the pile too:
    – My wife has so far shot what I own. .45 ACP pistols, .22LR rifles, and a few mil-surp rifles. She had no inherent fear, listened to directions, and shot all of them well her first time out.
    – My wife cannot operate my Taurus PT145. I think its in her head, but she can’t grip and rack the short, stiff slide on it. I gave her the opportunity to shoot with it, she tried it, and didn’t jive with it so we switched.
    – She LIKES shooting my GI 1911. Damned if I know what it is, but thats what I own that she likes.

  6. Loved the article… but even more partial to “Steve’s” comment!

    Looking at the comments, I am guessing I am the first gal to respond, so I do want to address some of the theories and ideas that were shared.

    Buying your girlfriend/wife a gun. Agree… just as I would not buy one for my husband. Guns are personal, style, fit, everything. They are just not a gift-able item… get them a gift-certificate to a gun shop… if you wish to surprise, place it in a gun case it add to the fun. (if the case does not fit her desired gun, it is easier to exchange)

    .38, .357 .45 .22… Do not focus on caliber. The first guns I used were 45 & 9mm… Then I opted for a .357… And eventually purchased a 22lr… but ONLY because the ammo is cheaper, and it is not as jarring for target shooting (which does make it more fun)… but I do still have my eyes on a 357, that eventually I hope to get… but not any time soon. So unless your girlfriend/wife is the type who gets knocked over by a good wind, or is afraid of her own shadow, seriously do not restrict her to the lightweight calibers. Women are tougher then you realize!

    Shoot First, YES… if she never held/used/shot before… DEFINITELY take her to a range where there are rentals. Encourage her to try different things, but all in all she likely will gravitate to something, trust that choice. Gut choices are quite often dead on. Remember this is not restricted to women, guys will gravitate to specific guns too.. just as people gravitate to specific types of vehicles, or books.

    Now who teachs her? I know I personally would not enjoy a women only training camp. I get along better with guys. The most important thing about the person who teachs her, she has to trust them, and feel comfortable with them. My husband introduced me to shooting, and he knew to show me once, step back and let me go.. that is how I learn, and how I am comfortable.

    My husband encouraged me to try his pistols. I did not care for them. I gravitate immediately to revolvers and still adore them. But you cannot push someone to an automatic or revolver, but encourage them to try both.

    Thank you for letting me share!

  7. My wife bought a Bersa .380 as her first weapon. Was her choice and we both got one.( i bought one cause i like guns) now she wishes she had bought a glock

    1. Well sure, that’s because for anyone that’s serious about shooting, the Bersa isn’t a great gun. It’s a fine piece if you don’t shoot very much, but it doesn’t hold up well to serious round counts.

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