First off, this is an incredibly loaded question. Everyone is different and will have their own opinion on this subject.
In the end, I highly recommend that anyone looking to get a firearm get some first hand experience with several different firearm types and styles. This way they can come to their own conclusion and get something that fits their own personal needs.
One of the best ways to do this is to go to the range with a trusted friend. Someone with a good knowledge of firearm safety is a must. If they have a variety of different firearms for you to try out, that is also very important and helpful.
If you don’t know anyone who fits this description, you might try renting some guns at a range.
Many people go into a gun store or go to the range with preconceived notions about what they want and why. After they shoot or handle a firearm, they walk away with a completely different opinion.
With that said, I will give you a few different opinions on guns I might suggest trying.
- Glock 42
- S&W 9mm/.380 Shield EZ 2.0
- Glock 43X
- S&W Shield
- Glock 43
- S&W Bodyguard .38
- Walther PPS M2
- Ruger LC9S
- Sig P365
- Kel-Tec PF9
These are just a few suggestions.
My wife really likes the Glock 42. Although she is a petite girl, she can still rack the slide. Heck, my sons could operate the G42 just fine when they were 10-12 years old. She shoots it well and the recoil is manageable for her. The biggest downside for the Glock 42 is low capacity.
The Shield EZ is an attractive option since the slide is exceptionally easy to rack. This is one of my top picks for someone who might struggle to rack the slide on an semi-automatic handgun. S&W makes a great handgun.
The Glock 43X is a full step above in caliber, capacity, size, and weight over the Glock 42. My personal favorite handgun.
I’m not particularly big on revolvers for women, but the S&W Bodyguard .38 is one of the best choices for CCW in a revolver that there is. Revolvers don’t require the racking of a slide, are generally more reliable, and if you pull the trigger and it doesn’t fire, you can just pull the trigger again.
However, most people tend to be less accurate with revolvers and the recoil is harsher for the caliber than with semi autos. They are also low capacity and slow to reload.
This list could truly be 10 times as long, so I am admittedly leaving off many good options. Don’t let that dissuade you from trying other guns that may appeal to you.
There’s a theme here with these guns. Most are 9mm or .380, semi automatic handguns, and fairly small. As a general rule, this tends to work for many women.
In fact, most of these guns are excellent CCW handguns for men as well as women.
I’d steer clear of shotguns in general. Some women shoot them fine, but many women don’t shoot them exceptionally well. My wife doesn’t like shooting shotguns at all.
Semi auto rifles, particularly AR-15’s and other intermediate and pistol chambered rifles are easier to shoot due to less recoil.
The less experience someone has shooting, the more sensitive they usually are to recoil, male and female. So, that is something to keep in mind. If a you’re is gonna be shooting a lot, you will probably be able to handle most anything out there.
Outside of being able to operate the firearm, IT MUST BE RELIABLE, and lastly, you need to be able to be accurate with it. Accuracy is far more important than caliber, so if you shoot better/faster with a weaker caliber, I would recommend you go with that one.
It also helps if you enjoy shooting it because that means you will practice with it more often. The more you practice, the more likely you will perform better if you ever need it.