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Big Green Blog

Women’s CCW Handgun & Caliber Selection

10.03.2023 | By Remington Contributor

Ladies! Choosing a concealed carry pistol should be a personalized experience to ensure proper caliber selection, ergonomics, and fit. We don’t need a hot pink 1911 or a leopard-print micro-compact pea shooter (unless that’s what your heart desires, of course). We need a gun that we can conceal in both leggings and a dress, a smooth-racking slide, and a comfortable amount of recoil.

women aiming handgun

And let’s face it –– most of us aren’t pro-shooters or experts in firearm lingo. In self-defense situations, it’s often a point-and-shoot situation. So, let’s nix the expensive red dot sights, the 17-round extendo mag, and pic rail flashlight (all of these things add bulk and little advantage for concealment). Aim for a subcompact carry gun that fits well in your hand, is easy to rack, is lightweight (holds between 6 and 10+1 rounds) and is made by a reputable and reliable manufacturer. Skip the $200 gun –– and $1,000 gun. There’s a sweet spot in the middle that will provide exactly what you need, with some spare cash leftover for ammo.


  • 22LR – Sometimes, bigger isn’t always better. 22LR offers convenient self-defense in a smaller than average frame. You’re not going to impress anyone with velocity but they’re small, lightweight, and very easy to carry. A revolver in 22LR will be your best option if you have any sort of health limitations that may prevent you from easily racking a slide or managing recoil. Good news: 22LR will be the most affordable option out of the 4 most popular carry calibers.

womand Loading a 22LR magazine
(Pictured: Loading a 22LR magazine)

  • .380 Auto – If recoil is a concern, consider .380 Auto. Afterall, it was designed as a low-recoil, easy to manage load. A shorter version of 9mm Luger provides less felt-recoil, although slightly more expensive. If you opt for a .380, ensure you are using the proper self-defense ammunition (JHP) for maximum stopping power. A 9mm is going to have more stopping power, but that means nothing if you can’t comfortably, safely, and accurately shoot your firearm.
  • 30 Super Carry – These award-winning rounds provide more magazine capacity than 9mm Luger but deliver the same muzzle energy and performance. A few extra rounds can make all the difference in a real-world self-defense situation. For more in 30 Super Carry, click here.
  • 9mm Luger – The most popular CCW round, affordable, and readily available in various options like FMJ (Full Metal Jacket), JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point), +P (Overpressure Ammo) and FNEB (Flat Nose Enclosed Base). You can pick up practice rounds for less than $0.50/piece or a box of carry ammunition for slightly more. These rounds pack the biggest punch out of all 4 calibers.


  • Springfield Armory’s Hellcat is one of the best-selling handguns for a reason. Available in 9mm with slide serrations for easy racking. You’ll get up to 13+1 rounds, high visibility sights, with a 3” barrel, weighing less than 18 ounces, measuring 6” and only 1” wide. Plus, it’s one good lookin’ gun.
  • Ruger’s LCP is a slim, compact, single-stack .380 Auto. Perfect for those small-framed ladies who want to carry with ease of concealability. Ringing in at just under $350, the LCP is a powerful and affordable choice.
  • The Glock 19 has withstood the test of time (circa 1988) for a good reason. It’s small enough to conceal and large enough that it’s easily managed by new shooters. The Gen 4 model has a dual recoil spring system that actually reduces the amount of felt recoil. BONUS: You can customize the grip to fit your hands.

womand aiming a handgun
(Pictured: Gen4 Glock 19)

  • Smith & Wesson’s Shield EZ .380 semi-auto is a great option for those who have difficulty racking slides and prefer light recoil. .380’s traditionally have a lighter recoil spring providing less recoil but providing nearly the same performance as a 9mm. Another great option? Check out the same S&W Shield EZ, chambered in 30 Super Carry. You’ll get nearly identical performance as a 9mm but with less felt recoil and a few more rounds in your mag for about the same price as .380.
  • If racking a slide isn’t on the table, consider a classic revolver. You can pick up a Ruger Wrangler chambered in 22LR for under 3 Benjamins. Even better than the affordable price of the gun? 22LR is notoriously affordable. Hard to beat 50 rounds for $5. Perfect for plinking, target shooting, and personal protection. Another great 22LR revolver? Taurus 942. The downside? The trigger pull on a revolver can be much longer and heavier than a semi-automatic pistol – prohibiting any kind of rapid fire.


women loading a magazine into a handgun


  • Rent a few handguns from your local range, fire a few mags through each and see what you’re more accurate and comfortable with. Take those bad boys for a test drive before you take the leap.
  • Full-size handguns with longer barrels are going to have less recoil but they will be harder to conceal. Consider where you will be carrying – on your person or in a handbag. The recommendation is to always carry on your person, but clothing choices do not always permit.
  • Revolvers don’t include any kind of quick-reload option. Semi-automatics carry ammunition in a removable magazine, allowing you to carry loaded back-up mags where revolvers do not.
  • While shot placement trumps all, consider grain weight when purchasing ammunition. Heavier projectiles will travel a bit slower and lighter grain weights will result in less recoil and flatter trajectory, but can feel a bit ‘snappy’ depending on your barrel length. For a defensive situation, opt for the higher grain weight. You’ll get better expansion and penetration on impact.

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