The Latest Pocket Pistol is not for Beginers

20140107-215201.jpgI remember a few years ago when the general public couldn’t get their hands on the Smith and Wesson Shield but every woman I spoke to was convinced it was the gun for her. Since then a few new pocket pistols have come out each year and I have seen the same dance repeat. Many times, the women who are clamoring to buy one of these tiny gun, have never pulled a trigger in their lives. Now I see Glock getting in the game, and I cringe thinking, it’s all down hill from here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to see the growth of women’s concealed carry options, and I realize these guns are not purely being marketed to the “hot new” female market of the firearms world, but I wish these offerings could be hidden from new shooters, until they weren’t “new” any more.

New female shooters almost always oogle the tiny handguns in the sales case, assuming those are what is best for them. It’s amazing how quickly, some time on the range, has them singing a different tune. The small guns hurt their hands and they tend to feel like they can’t control them, thus being inaccurate. These gals need to build they gun confidence before they dive into the questions, “What should I buy?” and “What should I carry?”

And even once they’ve got their first gun class under their belts, they are rarely prepared to explain their likes and dislikes when it comes to concealed carry. Unlike cars, guns rarely have a try before you buy option. Sure there are rental counters, but pocket pistols don’t tend to hold up well under rental use. So when a new shooter begins to consider gun shopping, how can they know what they will feel comfortable shooting once they are no longer “new”.

Announcements like Glock’s 42 and Remmington’s Model 51 should get all of us excited, (at least until we can shoot and review them) but I wish new shooters could just slow down!


  1. SO TRUE!

    Whenever I take my GirlFriend shooting she goes for my full size M&P every time. She went through one magazine on my Shield when I first got it and never wanted to touch it again. I ask her every range visit “Shield or Full first” she always picks the full and stays with it the whole range time. This works out for me so I can get more trigger time on my carry gun. I also find that when I take new shooters to the range and they try the Shield they aren’t even on paper. Compact nines are less forgiving that is for sure!

  2. I have to respectfully, perhaps, disagree on this one.

    The G42 may be precisely what such shooters need. I larger, lower recoil version of what almost everyone else is putting out, and thus more shootable and enjoyable.

    Lots of guys saying “WHY NOT 9MM, WTFF!!!!!!!” don’t get that part.

    1. Honestly, I am with the 9mm guys. I’ve met many women who, if their fingers are long enough, feel very comfortable with a G19… Why spend more on ammo, get less power & fewer rounds?

  3. a shield is not that small and has very little recoil,it is the size most women can handle.

  4. The Shield is currently my got carry gun. I’m amazed at how little recoil it has. WAY less than my LCP or S&W 642 (aluminum J-Frame) with a little more capacity and stopping power.

    However, I carry the Shield IWB. I wouldn’t consider it a pocket gun. If the G42 is Shield sized, I wouldn’t pocket carry it either. I doubt a low recoil, pocket gun with “stopping power” will ever exist unless someone figures a way around physics.

    1. When I said “Pocket Pistol” I was referring, generally, to the extra small category of guns that have been appearing recently (especially those utilizing calibers larger than 22, 25 or 32). I guess, depending on your pockets, a Glock 26 or an LCR might be small enough… But for me, and most other women, they are not.

  5. Gabby – good thoughts above. I cannot tell you the amount of women that come into the shop with their SO’s (hubby, boyfriend, male friend) that aren’t pushed directly to the “pocket rocket” or “miniature hand punisher” section – the ultra compact .380ACP plastic wonders (Keltecs, Ruger LCP, S&W Bodyguards) and the airweight J-frame style revolvers are “all/what she can handle” according to the guys. This is the largest load of horse hockey that is foisted on women when they first are introduced to handguns.

    This isn’t to say the guys are fully at fault. Some women do come into the shop and ‘oogle’ the ‘cute ones’ in the LCP/J-frame genre. And because “it’s cute!”, they cannot be talked out of that gun. What they sometimes leave with is a pocket rocket that they’ll shoot maybe one box of ammo through, proclaim that ‘this hurts’ or ‘this isn’t fun like YOU said’, and they simply put it in a drawer or sell it and not ever really learn to enjoy shooting.

    New shooters are not well versed in the relationship dynamics of gun weight vs felt recoil, or how important it is to have a proper, full hand grip on the gun and not just two fingers with the ultra compacts.

    I’ve instructed at women’s only handgun courses and have introduced many to shooting informally, and there isn’t gal that could not handle a full or midsize 9mm or .45ACP right out of the gate. I’m not convinced at all that women need to shoot .22LRs before being introduced to larger calibers, either. There is very, very little in the way of handguns that women cannot overcome with proper technique, **correct sizing to their physical hand size**, and selecting the correct frame size for the job at hand – the right tool for the job.

  6. Pocket gun is an interesting term: Coat,Vest, Pant, Shirt, Skirt, Kilt, Short; just what sort of pocket are we talking about? I have an LCP, I wouldn’t carry it in my pants unless they were cargo pockets, coat or vest no problem. I don’t want to walk around with a gun in a holster in my pants pocket, it is too cumbersome in my opinion. The only firearm I would be willing to carry in my pants pocket would be an NAA Mini of the smallest variety, but it’s only a 22LR or 22WMR. Personally, except for the NAA Mini, I prefer IWB for most all firearms except for those with a barrel over 3.5″ or larger guns. Then I use an outside belt holster. My preferred handgun is mostly steel as they transfer less felt recoil, due to higher weight than a similar sized weapon in polymer. That’s why I like the Kahr K & MK series as well as the Sig 238 & 938. I find the 938 & MK are even fine in an ankle holster.

  7. ToddG’s review described the 42 as being fun to shoot. Sounds like it may hit a sweet spot in terms of being small enough to conceal but mild in recoil. Waiting to see (and shoot).

  8. I always start new shooters with a full sized .22. I have seen many, many women who do not shoot well with that .357 snubby get a big smile on their face when they shoot little groups at 5 yards with a quality full sized .22.

    They go from suffering reluctant punishment to enthusiastic shooters.

    Every serious instructor ought to have a dedicated .22 or three that they use for new shooters. I have serious considered obtaining a suppressor just for this purpose.

  9. I agree and disagree at the same time. As a sales person I can’t get most women to look at the G19. It’s too big they say. So the new 380 Glock would be good and the Shield seems to be the medium ground that everyone can agree with. The guy dire tearing to get a gun won’t let her get anything smaller then a 9mm but she wants the smallest gun on the table. I’ve sold a couple guns knowing that they wouldn’t be fun as a first gun but that is what the couple wanted and there was no talking them out of it.

    How do we get women to see that they don’t need the smallest gun on the table for home defense? How do talk to guys and let them know there are different calipers for different things?

  10. Chuck Haggard — in similar guns, the recoil difference between a 9×19 and a 9×17 (AKA .380ACP) just isn’t that bloody much. This new Glock doesn’t look all THAT small, not like an LCP; more like a Kahr. Which is pretty easy for newbies to shoot, if they don’t hate the long DAO trigger. But such a Glock would be likely both cheaper and more reliable than a Kahr (not bashing Kahrs, nor am I a particular fan of Glocks; but Glocks are pretty darned bombproof and reasonably priced).

  11. When I went shopping for a nice shooter, I must have handled over 50 nice pistols and shot with quite a few of them. Hubby never steered me in any particular direction. Given that I have rather wide hands with relatively short fingers it was extremely difficult to find the right fit. Finally found a Sig P250C Diamond Plate 9mm. Knew the minute I put it in my hand that it was THE one. Shoots well, a little heavy to carry, but I knew there would be a trade-off for a comfortable fit.and have learned to deal well with that. The smaller pistols just leave entirely too much finger dangle to suit my taste, but may be perfect for smaller hands. Am currently paying on a Sig P232 to add to my collection since it has a nice big grip. So I would suggest lots of shooting, lots of handling, and you will just KNOW what fits you best in the end.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: