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Whether you need a handgun for self-defense, competitive shooting or just for fun, you’ll want something that offers comfort and reliable performance. Consider the right size, weight and caliber for your needs, as well as something that’s easy to operate and enjoyable to shoot.

While many of the best handguns for men can also be excellent handguns for women, women’s guns should be slim enough for a comfortable grip and light enough for concealed carry. The top handguns for women are lightweight and compact yet powerful enough to get the job done, whether for target shooting, recreation or self-defense.

Top Handguns for Women:

  1. SIG P365
  2. S&W CSX
  3. SIG P238
  4. Kimber Micro 9
  5. Glock 19
  6. Glock 43X
  7. S&W M&P Shield
  8. S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ
  9. CZ 75 P-01
  10. S&W M&P Bodyguard 380
  11. Springfield Armory Hellcat
  12. Ruger MAX-9
  13. Glock 48
  14. Glock 42

 

Considerations for the Best Handguns for Women

There are several factors for women to consider when shopping for a handgun, including the size, weight and ease of use. Because women typically have less upper body strength and smaller hands, the best handguns are often compact and lightweight.

The caliber of a handgun significantly impacts how light or heavy the felt recoil will be. Many women prefer handguns chambered for smaller ammunition, as they generate less recoil while being more comfortable to shoot.

However, you should also take your intended use of the handgun into account. A self-defense handgun must be a sufficient caliber to protect the shooter while being light enough for comfortable shooting.

For concealed carry, a gun must be slim and lightweight enough to carry throughout the day without fatigue. A competitive shooting handgun should have a snappy trigger and a large enough magazine capacity.

The best handgun for a woman will depend on the shooter’s personal preferences and needs. Keep these factors in mind as you search for your perfect handgun.

THE BEST PISTOLS FOR WOMEN IN 2024

To begin your search, we’ve gathered a few of the top handguns for women that offer excellent performance in a comfortable size and caliber.

 

1. SIG P365

Sig Sauer P365

 

Beginning our list of the best guns for women is the celebrated SIG P365. This micro-compact, slim 9 mm pistol accommodates easy concealability, reliable performance and extended ammunition capacity.

The 1-inch wide grip of the SIG P365 is comfortable for small hands, while its 3.1-inch barrel enhances shooting accuracy. The SIG P365 features a stainless steel frame and slide and weighs 17.8 ounces, making it lightweight yet well-balanced. This striker-fired pistol offers a clean and crisp trigger pull for enjoyable shooting.

However, the crowning feature of the SIG P365 is its modified double-stack magazine, which can hold 10+1, 12+1, 15+1 and 17+1 — all while maintaining a smaller size than other micro-compact pistols. With an overall length of only 5.8 inches, the P365 is ideal if you’re seeking a concealed carry weapon with an impressive punch. Check out some pros and cons:

  • Pros: The P365 offers superior accuracy and an easy-to-maneuver grip. Its advanced day and night sights also provide excellent visibility in various lighting conditions.
  • Cons: Some users experienced issues with night sights and extraction with earlier models, and others reported the extended magazines being difficult to load. However, newer generations addressed many of these complaints. The P365 also has a higher price tag than models with similar features.

Purchase a SIG P356 today!

 

2. S&W CSX

S&W CSX

Chambered in 9 mm with an overall length of 6.1 inches, the 2022 Smith & Wesson CSX features a 12+1 capacity with an additional 10-round magazine for enhanced concealment. Its aluminum alloy frame and interchangeable polymer backstraps allow you to tailor the pistol to your ergonomic fit and preferred concealment level.

CSX

Additionally, its external single-action hammer provides a clean, consistent trigger press. Designed with flexibility, sleekness, customization and ease of use in mind, the latest CSX is easily one of the best concealed carry guns for women.

Purchase a S&W CSX today!

 

3. SIG P238

SIG P238

The SIG Sauer P238 is a great choice for women seeking a classic handgun style chambered for .380 ACP. It’s modeled on an all-metal 1911 frame while weighing only 15.2 ounces. Its caliber and comfortable grip create a lighter recoil, making it easy to handle and shoot.

However, its short barrel length of 2.7 inches can make accuracy more challenging for beginner shooters. Measuring only 5.5 inches overall, the SIG P238 is easy to conceal in a small bag or purse.

If you’re looking for small guns for women, be sure to add the P238 to your list. Here are more pros and cons:

  • Pros: While more on the expensive side, the SIG P238 is a reliable pistol available in several colors and styles to suit any shooter. The SIG P238 is also easy to maintain, requiring no tools for field-stripping.
  • Cons: The P238 only holds six rounds, giving you a limited magazine capacity for your investment. Additionally, some shooters find the safety lever too small and difficult to disengage. The short grip may cause a dangling pinky.

Purchase a SIG P238 today!

 

4. Kimber Micro 9

Kimber Micro 9

Kimber’s Micro 9 is another great option for a compact handgun on a 1911 frame. Produced by one of the most well-known manufacturers of 1911 handguns, the Micro 9 features the signature short single-action trigger pull of a 1911 to improve accuracy and performance. It also offers a quick magazine release and easy reloading.

Weighing just 15.6 ounces and measuring 6.1 inches overall, the Kimber Micro 9 is designed for concealed carry. Consider more benefits and potential disadvantages:

  • Pros: The Kimber Micro 9 is built to last with a strong, durable stainless steel barrel and aluminum frame. Its mild recoil and slim grip width make it comfortable to shoot for beginners and expert shooters alike.
  • Cons: The Micro 9 falls in a higher price range, yet it has a limited capacity of seven rounds.

Purchase a Kimber Micro 9 today!

 

5. Glock 19

Glock 19

With a 15-round magazine capacity, the widely popular Glock 19 is perfect for self-defense or competitive shooting. While heavier than other handguns on this list, it’s still light enough to handle comfortably at 21.5 ounces without the magazine. With an overall length of 7.28 inches and a barrel length of 4.02 inches, the Glock 19 is small enough to carry concealed, yet large enough to shoot accurately.

The Generation 4 and 5 versions of the Glock 19 include a dual recoil spring system which provides a lighter felt recoil. The trigger pull weight is also relatively light at about 6 pounds, making the Glock 19 easy and enjoyable to use.

Glock 19

Because this gun operates with few controls and has a consistent trigger pull, new shooters can quickly feel comfortable firing it. The Glock 19 also offers excellent safety features, including a safe action system that protects against accidental firing if the pistol is dropped.

Both the Gen 4 and 5 models offer a customizable grip size. The Glock 19’s modular backstrap system allows the shooter to adjust the grip size easily to fit their hands comfortably. Here are more factors to keep in mind:

  • Pros: The Glock 19 can be easily modified to fit right- or left-handed shooters. Because it’s such a popular handgun, it’s also easy to find grips, holsters and other accessories in various styles and colors to customize your pistol. For competitive shooters, the Glock 19 also offers an enlarged reversible magazine catch for faster reloading.
  • Cons: Some shooters find the trigger difficult to learn and maneuver.

Purchase a Glock 19 today!

 

6. Glock 43X

Glock 43X

The Glock G19 is a reliable, durable pistol option. However, it’s double-stacked, making it slightly larger around the grip. If you need something a little slimmer, you might consider the Glock 43X instead. With an overall length of 6.50 inches, this single-stack, 9mm pistol offers a more compact package without compromising the reliability Glock is known for.

The “X” designation has embellished several popular pistol models in recent years, including the 43X, which was released in 2019. This “X” usually indicates the pistol’s frame remains unchanged, but an extra round capacity makes it all the more appealing as a defensive firearm. Its short trigger reach, slimline frame and lightweight design make it easy to conceal and one of the best guns for small hands. Learn more:

  • Pros: If you enjoy the ease of use and reliability of the original 43, but you like the thought of 10 rounds of 9 mm instead of six, the 43X may be for you.
  • Cons: You’ll get a slightly longer and larger grip on the 43X than the 43.

Purchase a Glock 43X today!

 

7. S&W M&P Shield

S&W M&P Shield

Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield is a lightweight and slim 9mm pistol that’s easy to shoot and highly concealable. With a grip width of less than an inch, the Shield is perfect for shooters with smaller hands. The Shield also offers a longer grip height, resulting in a tighter grip, better recoil control and overall improved shooting accuracy.

The Shield features a corrosion-resistant polymer frame with a stainless steel chassis system. Weighing 20.8 ounces, the Shield is comfortable to carry all day. For long-term durability, the Shield’s barrel and slide are coated with stainless steel.

As a striker-fired pistol, the S&W Shield offers a consistent and short trigger pull as well as an audible reset. For easier target acquisition, the Shield has a 5.3-inch sight radius. Priced in the $400 range, the Shield is an affordable option for a reliable 9mm pistol.

Purchase a S&W M&P Shield today!

 

8. S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ

S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ

As its name suggests, the Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ is designed for easy use and maintenance in every aspect. This .380 ACP handgun features an easy-to-load magazine and easy-to-rack slide, so beginners can comfortably shoot it in no time. The 380 Shield EZ can also be disassembled without pulling the trigger and is designed for easy cleaning.

Weighing 18.5 ounces and measuring 6.7 inches overall, the 380 Shield EZ is suitable for concealed carry or home protection. Its crisp trigger features an audible reset for more comfortable shooting, and its 3.7-inch barrel offers improved accuracy, making it a great choice for beginners or experienced shooters. Explore the pros and cons:

  • Pros: The gun is easy to use in many respects, including slide racking, magazine loading, and cleaning and maintenance.
  • Cons: The Shield EZ has a very light trigger. While this feature makes the gun easy to shoot, it can also make it easy to shoot when you don’t necessarily intend to. Additionally, the gun has a relatively limited capacity of eight rounds.

Purchase a S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ today!

 

9. CZ 75 P-01

CZ 75 P-01

Featuring a compact design and smaller stature, the 9 mm CZ P-01 is another great concealed carry option for women, despite being originally created for military and law enforcement use. This hammer-fired pistol features a de-cocker, 14+1 round capacity and 1913 Picatinny rail for accessories.

Combining balance, control, combat accuracy and reliability, the CZ P-01 is a great all-around use pistol. While they can run a bit pricier than Glocks and other manufacturers, you’ll likely find they’re worth it. Consider the pros and cons of this gun:

  • Pros: The CZ P-01 combines a smooth double-action trigger with superior ergonomics, allowing for comfortable carrying and firing.
  • Cons: The P-01’s overall length of 7.17 inches makes it slightly more challenging to pocket carry, so you may want to invest in a comfortable holster or bag if you don’t already have one.

Purchase a CZ 75 P-01 today!

 

10. S&W M&P Bodyguard 380

S&W M&P Bodyguard 380

Chambered for .380 ACP, the S&W Bodyguard 380 is ultra-lightweight and easily concealable. Despite weighing just 12.3 ounces, the Bodyguard 380 is still a powerful self-defense pistol when loaded with quality ammunition.

The handgun measures 5.3 inches overall, making it a great concealed carry choice. Its ultra-slim 0.77-inch grip width is ideal for small hands, and the magazine provides an extended finger grip for a more reliable hold.

The 9.5-pound trigger pull weight of the Bodyguard 380 can be challenging for some shooters but adds a level of protection against accidental firing. Although it has a short 2.75-inch barrel, its lighter caliber makes the Bodyguard 380 easy to control and aim accurately. Read more about it:

  • Pros: The Bodyguard 380 cycles well. It’s compact, lightweight, sleek and ergonomic.
  • Cons: The gun only features a 6+1 capacity, and some shooters report a snappy recoil that makes handling difficult. Others note a short sight radius and poor-quality sights.

Purchase a S&W M&P Bodyguard 380!

 

11. Springfield Armory Hellcat

Springfield Armory Hellcat

Given its microsized grip, 6-inch overall length and a patented magazine with an impressive 11+1 and 13+1 capacity, it’s no surprise the Springfield Armory Hellcat is among the most beloved handguns.

While some users have reported some snappy recoil and slight slide tension, this highly concealable gun is still a top choice for everyday carry and range practice. It’s also equipped with high visibility sights and optics-ready OSP™ configuration, making it a great women’s pistol for self-defense. Plus, it’s the world’s highest-capacity micro-compact gun. Here are some pros and cons:

  • Pros: The Hellcat combines powerful performance with a concealable package. The slim grip is easy to control, and the additional mass in the slide and barrel helps reduce muzzle rise.
  • Cons: Some shooters find that the Hellcat has a slightly sharp recoil.

Purchase a Springfield Armory Hellcat!

 

12. Ruger MAX-9

Ruger MAX-9

The Ruger MAX-9 is a micro-sized, semi-automatic pistol with a smooth trigger pull and clean break. With an overall length of 6 inches, it’s easy and comfortable to conceal in a pocket or inside-the-waistband holster, offering multiple ways to carry.

Despite its slim, compact and lightweight design, it offers a powerful capacity of up to 12+1 9 mm rounds. The MAX-9’s medium-textured grip frame allows for a secure and comfortable hold. It also has a rugged alloy steel construction, giving it the perfect balance of sleek beauty and high performance. Check out more:

  • Pros: Many users find the Ruger MAX-9 to be a reliable, accurate pistol with comfortable concealability.
  • Cons: Recoil tends to be a bit snappy, and the slide release isn’t ambidextrous.

Purchase a Ruger MAX-9!

12. GLOCK 48

The G48 features a slim and lightweight design, ergonomic grip, excellent sight radius and extreme reliability, making it one of the best Glocks for concealed carry. While it resembles the 43X in many ways — including caliber, magazine capacity and compact frame — it’s somewhat heavier with a longer barrel. It has an overall length of 7.28 inches and weighs 25.12 ounces with a loaded magazine.

GLOCK 48

The 9 mm pistol comes with a standard magazine capacity of 10 rounds. However, aftermarket magazines can increase this number to 15. From target practice to concealed carry, the Glock 48 will be your trusted comrade through it all. Check out some pros and cons:

  • Pros: The G48’s slim frame and lightweight design make it easier and more comfortable to conceal than similarly sized models. This handgun is also easy to maintain, and replacement parts and add-ons are widely available.
  • Cons: Despite being the same size as the G19, the G48 offers five fewer rounds. It’s larger than other pistols with similar or higher capacities. Additionally, many shooters report the Glock 48 as having a heavy trigger.

Purchase a Glock 48!

13. GLOCK 42

GLOCK 42

As Glock’s smallest handgun, the G42 is another staple for concealed carry. Its single-column magazine can hold up to six rounds of .380. With ultra-compact dimensions, soft recoil and large sights, the G42 is perfect for beginners and anyone seeking a concealable pistol. Sporting an overall length of 5.94 inches and a loaded weight of 15.87 ounces, this handgun is simple to maneuver and fire, and you can comfortably carry it for extended durations. Learn more:

  • Pros: The G42 is simple to use and conceal.
  • Cons: The pistol has a limited capacity. Additionally, people with larger hands may find it challenging to shoot this handgun, but a pinky extension may help.

Purchase a Glock 42!

Try a Handgun at Keystone Shooting Center Before You Buy

With so many models and styles available, it’s essential to test out any handguns you’re considering. At Keystone Shooting Center, we offer more than 100 rental guns so you can put a handgun to the test before making a purchase.

Our rental inventory includes some of the best pistols for women, featuring popular models from top brands like SIG Sauer, Glock, Smith & Wesson and more. Our indoor shooting range is clean and climate-controlled, with competitive prices and flexible services for every shooter from beginners to professionals.

When you find a handgun you love, you can make it your own when you purchase it from Keystone Shooting Center’s gun superstore. With over 500 new firearms available in many calibers and sizes, you’re sure to find the right handgun for you. Contact us to book a range or learn more about handguns for rent or purchase at Keystone Shooting Center.

Try a Handgun at Keystone Shooting Center Before You Buy

The absolute best place to buy and shoot guns in the wider Pittsburgh area. This place is light years ahead from any other gun store. The level of service is impeccable, employees will get out of their way to help and accommodate, and the facilities are 5 star hotel equivalent. There is always an experienced employee supervising all three shooting ranges and they are there to assist in case of a jam or malfunction. This is really a place we are fortunate to have in the area. I now have a membership and recently had a 1-1 class with Mike helping me with my technique. He was unbelievably helpful and cordial. This is a 5 star place.

Felix M.

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