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.

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Speaking in sweeping generalities, women are typically a bit smaller and a bit weaker than men. 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.

The “Best” Handguns For Women

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, and easy to use. 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.

Walther CCP

In a cluttered sea of defensive handguns the Walther CCP is refreshingly different. The trigger is a bit gritty for my tastes, but the gas-retarded action is quite literally brilliant. In this case, gas is tapped from the barrel and used to impinge upon a gas piston arranged backwards in the gun’s frame. This slows the gun down rather than speeding it up. Imagine an M1 Carbine in reverse. The design allows the gun to run full-power 9mm ammunition through a chassis the size of your typical .380 ACP. It also means that the racking force for the slide is markedly more manageable than that of a comparable more conventional heater. Thin, powerful, and attractive, the Walther CCP is the ideal “girl gun.”

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Ruger LCP

The Ruger LCP is purpose-designed for concealed carry. The gun is no larger than a cell phone and sports smooth no-snag lines. It also packs 6+1 .380 ACP into a package small enough to ride in a pocket. It has the added benefit of being very reasonably priced.

The trigger on the LCP is a long double action, and the gun comes in a variety of colors for those who might indeed want to color coordinate their defensive weaponry. Recoil is a bit snappy and the trigger is designed more for safety than recreational plinking, but the LCP is a trim and effective deep concealment gun. Whether it rides in a purse or a discreet holster, the LCP is all but painless to tote.

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Taurus Curve

The Taurus Curve represents a radical departure from traditional concealed carry weapons. The Curve indeed sports a gentle curved architecture to better conform to your natural shape while either on the waist or in a pocket. It also eschews sights of any sort. In their place is a white printed crosshair of sorts on the back of the slide that helps align the gun when fired with both eyes open.

The trigger is a long double action, and the gun comes with a built-in light and laser. There is a handy belt clip on the side, and everything is smooth and snag-free. The Taurus Curve is a radically fresh approach to concealed carry.

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Glock 42 & Glock 43

Glock has mastered the art of doing one thing very well. All its handguns are variations on a theme depending upon caliber, magazine capacity and intended application. The G42 and G43 sport the familiar 5.5-pound Safe-Action Glock trigger along with a trim packable architecture.

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The Glock has no manual external safeties beyond the traditional blade in the trigger. However, the trigger pull is consistent and crisp from the first round to the last and the gun comes into action very quickly. The Glock 42 is chambered for .380 ACP, while the Glock 43 runs 9mm. Both guns are almost, but not quite identical otherwise.

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Rock Island Armory TAC Ultra FS HC Combo

This bulky steel-framed 1911 pistol is boat anchor heavy and will not be concealed underneath anything less substantial than a burka. Rock Island’s plus-sized cannon also packs a whopping 17+1 rounds onboard. However, the Rock Island Armory TAC Ultra FS HC Combo offers something nobody else does: It fires the .22 TCM cartridge.

The .22 TCM is a 9mm case necked down to accept a .22-caliber jacketed hollow point bullet. Pushing a 40-grain bullet to around 2,000 feet per second, the .22 TCM is like carrying a sawed-off M16 around in your glove box. Additionally, swap out the barrel and recoil spring and the same gun runs 9mm Parabellum.

The Rock Island Armory TAC Ultra FS HC Combo offers a trivial slide-racking force, no recoil and blistering downrange performance. If your gun will ride in the car and not on your person, this revolutionary heater from Rock Island Armory is the coolest advancement in handgun technology in a generation.

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North American Arms Mini-Revolver

North American Arms produces an extensive line of adorable little single-action five-shot stainless steel revolvers. The smallest of the lot is little more than a novelty. The .22 Magnum version, however, is a legitimately effective defensive tool.

My gun has a pivoting grip that covers the trigger when stowed and provides a healthy bit of real estate to grab onto when deployed. The manual of arms of a single-action revolver is a bit more complicated than might be the case with an autoloader, but the gun will pack painlessly literally anywhere. When stoked with Winchester PDX1 Defender expanding rounds, the North American Arms .22 Magnum mini revolver is the gun you can always have on you.

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Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380

The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380 is a trim recoil-operated pocket gun that incorporates combat-proven features. The slide locks back on the last round fired, the magazine release is in the right spot for rapid manipulation, and the slide release allows for combat reloads, albeit on a tiny scale. Sights are low profile but effective, and the gun can be had with a great built-in laser sight. The trigger is a long double action. While not much fun recreationally, it leaves the gun nice and safe for concealed carry.

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Smith & Wesson Model 642 LS Ladysmith .38

The J-Frame Smith & Wesson revolver has been around since 1952. This tidy little wheelgun still offers certain attributes not bettered even today. The Ladysmith is built around a lightweight alloy frame and a stainless steel cylinder rated for +P loads. The gun carries five rounds onboard and sports that smooth S&W double-action only trigger. Using the double-action revolver is as simple as point and squeeze, and the .38 Special chambering brings serious power to the purse.

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Sig Sauer P238

The Sig Sauer P238 .380 ACP brings 1911-style combat efficiency to the realm of pocket guns. Available in a variety of attractive grip and finish options, the P238 offers a trim package that sports a crisp single-action trigger and lightning fast employment. Any 1911-style handgun will require practice for safe and effective employment, but what you get in return is unparalleled accuracy and speed. The controls are all right where they should be and the sights and features are likewise bred for combat.

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Sig Sauer MPX

The MPX may seem an odd handgun for inclusion on a “Best Handguns For Women” list. It’s big as a hubcap and weighs as much as your kid’s school backpack. However, nothing says, “Step away from my minivan!” in the midst of a violent urban insurrection like a tooled-up soccer mom protecting her kids with this semi-auto submachine gun.

The MPX, particularly when equipped with Sig’s revolutionary sliding Pistol Stabilizing Brace, combines rifle-like accuracy, a 30-round magazine capacity, familiar M4 controls, negligible recoil, and plenty of space for accessories. Should your daily sojourn take you through sketchy spaces, a tricked-out MPX tucked into the center console leaves you immune to much of life’s darker stuff.

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