Best Handguns for Women [2022]

When examining handguns for women, we have to acknowledge that guys and girls are not the same. Some these days would have us believe that the two genders are essentially interchangeable. However, this could actually be one of those rare occasions wherein we should take a lesson from the French. Viva la difference. Personally, I like the stuff that makes us different.

The “Best” Handguns for Women

Speaking in sweeping generalities, women are typically a bit smaller and a bit weaker than men. Not to mention, compared to men, women typically have small hands, and tend to have an easier time handling small guns. Female fashions are also, thankfully, a bit clingier and more form-fitting than those of their male counterparts.

At a time when female shooters make up the fastest-growing segment of the defensive firearms market, it behooves us all to devote a little time and treasure to the thorny topic of guns and gear for the fairer sex.

What you don’t do is Cerakote your favorite 1911 in Pepto-Bismol pink and expect lady shooters to flock to your shop like it was Black Friday to make one their own. Defensive handguns for women should be compact, effective, easy to load, easy to use, and easy to conceal. Interestingly, much of what makes a defensive gun good for a woman carries over to us hairy Neanderthals as well.

Without further ado, here’s our list of great defensive handguns for women.

Springfield Armory Hellcat 3-inch Micro-Compact OSP

Springfield Armory Hellcat 3-inch Micro-Compact OSP.

Chambered in 9mm, the Hellcat 3-inch Micro-Compact OSP features an overall length of 6 inches and height of 4 inches. As a result, the small frame of the Hellcat makes it a very compact handgun that is easy to conceal. Likewise, the 1-inch width is ideal for smaller hands, while the crisp, smooth trigger aids in excellent shot placement.

The optic-ready pistol ships with Tritium/luminescent front and Rack U-Notch rear sights. However, if you prefer, you can order it already set up with a Hex Wasp or Shield SMSC optic. Each optic comes set up for co-witnessing.

The flush-fit magazine has a capacity of 11-rounds, but the available extended magazine provides a 13-round capacity. The Hellcat is available with or without a manual safety.

MSRP: $620 – $827 (depending on options)

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Walther PDP F-Series 3.5-inch

Handguns For Women: Walther PDP F-Series 3.5-inch.

The Walther PDP F-Series 3.5-inch was designed specifically with women in mind. In fact, the “F” in F-Series even stands for Female. Chambered in 9mm, the PDP (Performance Duty Pistol) has a capacity of 15+1, ideal for personal defense. In addition, the modular design offers two frame sizes and three slide sizes. As a result, you can build the right firearm for your personal carry preferences.

With an unprecedented 20% reduction in slide racking force, chambering a round, clearing a malfunction, etc. is dramatically easier. Likewise, the new F-Series Reduced Trigger Reach offers enhanced trigger control for any size hand. Similarly, the F-Series is completely redesigned around the ergonomics of a women’s hands with a reduced grip circumference.

The PDP F-Series comes optic ready and includes a free optic plate of your choice.

MSRP: $699.00

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Glock 43

Glock 43.

There isn’t much that can be said about the Glock 43 that hasn’t already been said. Whether you are a Glock fan or not, you have to admit, they have been proven reliable for years. With an overall length of 6.26-inches, height of 4.25-inches, and width of 1.06-inches the Glock 43 is very concealable.

Chambered in 9mm, the Glock 43 has a capacity of 6+1 rounds. Although that is not much for a defensive handgun, the Glock 43 boasts excellent accuracy. The simple design is small enough for smaller hands, while still maintaining a manageable recoil.

Typical to Glock models, the safety features are built-in, with the Safe Action trigger.

MSRP: $599.99

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Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield Hi Viz Sights

Handguns For Women: Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield Hi Viz Sights.

Featuring a lightweight polymer construction, coupled with a narrow 1-inch profile, the M&P 9 Shield is easily concealable. Not to mention, the grip fits smaller hands easily, while the 18-degree grip angle helps with recoil management.

The striker-fired pistol offers a short, consistent trigger pull, sending 9mm rounds downrange with improved accuracy. Although it only has 7+1 and 8+1 round capacity, it ships with both magazines. So, you are sure to have enough rounds on hand to fulfill your self-defense needs.

The Hi Viz comes with fiber optic green front sight and fiber optic orange rear sight. In addition, the tactile loaded chamber indicator features red sides for visual verification as well.

MSRP: $536.00

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SIG Sauer P365 SAS Micro-Compact

SIG Sauer P365 SAS Micro-Compact.

The SIG Sauer P365 SAS Micro-Compact really comes in on the small side, with an overall length of 5.8 inches. Likewise, the 4.1-inch height and 1-inch width help with the micro-compact designation. However, when it comes to drawing the pistol, the SIG Anti Snag (SAS) treatment ensures an obstruction-free draw. But there is a tradeoff that requires some getting used to, regarding the sight.

The night sights, or should I say “sight,” is a departure from the traditional sights you may be used to. As opposed to a front and rear sight, the P-365 SAS features a single rear FT Bullseye sight, embedded in the slide. This will take some getting used to for most because this pistol requires that you focus on the rear sight.

Chambered in 9mm, the P365 has a capacity of 10+1 and comes with a flush fit and extended fit magazine. Although it is small in size, it maintains a manageable recoil.

MSRP: $599.99

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Springfield Armory XDS Mod.2 OSP 3.3-inch

Handguns For Women: Springfield Armory XDS Mod.2 OSP 3.3-inch.

With an overall length of 6.3-inches and height of 4.4-inches, the XDS Mod.2 is slightly larger. However, the .9-inch width makes it ideal for smaller hands and helps with concealment.  In addition, the slightly larger frame also helps mitigate recoil. Three separate safety systems help to ensure safe carry, whether holstered or secured in a purse.

Chambered in 9mm, the XDS Mod.2 includes one 7-round and one 9-round extended magazine. Featuring a white dot front and serrated rear sight, the pistol also includes a Crimson Trace CTS-1500 red dot optic, optimized to co-witness. However, it also includes an OSP cover plate, if you prefer to remove the optic for better concealment.

MSRP: $568.00

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Bond Arms Momma Bear

Bond Arms Momma Bear.

Of all the concealed carry guns on the list, this is by far the smallest. With a length of only 4.5-inches, the Momma Bear will fit in just about any pocket or small purse. Available in either .357Mag/.38Spl or 9mm, the Momma Bear is a Derringer style two-shot option for up-close defense.

However, it is not a semi auto. So, pulling the trigger requires manually cocking the hammer with each shot. Also, with its diminutive size, the recoil will not be as manageable as the larger framed pistols on this list. But, in a close-quarters self-defense situation, you probably won’t even notice.

MSRP: $541.00

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SIG Sauer P238 Extreme Micro-Compact

Handguns For Women: SIG Sauer P238 Extreme Micro-Compact.

Even though it has a very diminutive size, the P238 is chambered in .380 ACP and features very light recoil. Utilizing 1911 design features, the P238 Extreme has a very familiar feel, on a micro-compact scale. However, with an overall length of 5.5-inches, height of 4.46-inches, and weight of 15.4-ounces, it doesn’t carry like a full size 1911.

The P238 Extreme features Hogue Extreme Series G-10 grips to ensure a comfortable, secure purchase while firing. Additionally, it includes SIGLITE full-size night sights for low light conditions. The 1.1-inch-wide X-Grip holds a 7-round magazine tube and ergonomically designed magazine adaptor.

MSRP: $589.00

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Ruger LCP II with Viridian E-Series Red Laser

Ruger LCP II with Viridian E-Series Red Laser.

The Ruger LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol) has been around for quite some time. During that time, it has more than proven itself as a dependable, reliable concealed carry pistol. With a low recoil, the LCP II is ideal for follow-up shots and smaller hands. Although .380 ACP might not be the most powerful round, it balances performance and manageability.

While the standard LCP II features integrated front and rear sight, the Viridian E-Series includes a trigger guard mounted red laser for improved accuracy. With its short sight radius, this becomes very helpful under duress.

The LCP II has a capacity of 6+1 and includes one magazine. With the lower round count, springing for an additional magazine is not a bad idea.

MSRP: $519.00

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Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380 Crimson Trace

Handguns For Women: Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380 Crimson Trace.

The pocket-sized M&P Bodyguard is ideal for concealed carry, as it will fit just about anywhere. Similarly, while the short grip helps in concealment, it does have a slightly strong recoil. Chambered in .380 Auto the Bodyguard has a capacity of 6+1 and has double-action fire control for 2nd strike capability.

Although it has stainless steel drift adjustable sights, the Crimson Trace version includes an integral Crimson Trace red laser just forward of the trigger guard. This is ideal, due to the short sight radius.

MSRP: $475.00

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