Don’t Buy a Pink Gun Before Reading This

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Firearms

At a gun show or gun shop, have you ever overheard,  “I want a purple gun?” Or maybe it was pink, or Tiffany Blue. Either way, it wasn’t about the gun, it was about what the gun looked like. I understand the appeal of something other than black and clunky. After all, we ladies do like pretty things. However, buying a gun based on looks alone is like buying a car just because it’s painted “chameleon.” Yes, that was me. And yes, that car turned out to be a lemon.

Picture shows a close up of a woman with bright pink fingernails holding a pink and silver Taurus small semi-automatic handgun.

It sure does look good, but try before you buy.

As a woman wishing to buy her first gun for self-defense, let me ask you this—have you ever bought an expensive pair of shoes or a fancy dress online just to find that after its arrival it doesn’t fit or is extremely uncomfortable? Unlike the dress or shoes, your gun might just save your life. What use is it stuffed in the back of the closet with the tags still attached? A gun isn’t an accessory. A gun is a tool that can save your life.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “When picking out a gun for a girl—fit, feel and caliber are much more important than what is typically marketed as a “woman’s gun.” When looking to buy your first gun for personal defense, make your choice on what fits you best, not what color matches the majority of your outfits. There are four major aspects you need to consider before rushing out and getting the first pink-gripped, small-barreled revolver you see. Just like dating, caliber, reliability, shootability, and ease of use are more important than looks.

Caliber

Most self-defense experts agree, when picking out a gun for self-defense, you should never go smaller than .380 ACP for pistol, .223 Remington for rifle, and 20 gauge for a shotgun. You need a gun that shoots a bullet powerful enough to stop a threat. Though .22 Long Rifle has been known to kill many an assailant, it is not recommended for your go-to self-defense gun.

A note about rifles: Rifle gets a bit tricky for home defense, as most traditional rifle calibers are too large to shoot at an intruder or attacker safely without over penetrating and putting innocents in harm’s way. However, due to the increasing popularity of the AR-15 for home defense, do not rule out the .223/5.56mm.

Since this article focuses on handguns for self-defense—the most logical choice for carrying—the calibers you need to try, in order from smallest to largest, are .380 ACP, 9mm, .38 Special, .40 S&W, .357 Magnum and .45 ACP. Don’t let a bigger caliber scare you off. With the right gun, .357 Magnum and .45 ACP are a pleasure to shoot. Remember, the smaller the gun the bigger the caliber, the more it becomes uncomfortable to shoot. You need to find the right mix between size and caliber that is perfect for you.

Picture shows a SIG Sauer pistol Cerakoted in custom Louis Vuitton pattern.

A gun isn’t an accessory. A gun is a tool that can save your life.

Reliability

This is very basic. Will the gun go bang! every time you pull the trigger? When it comes to a gun’s reliability, there are a few questions you need to ask:

  • Does the gun have a reputation for failures and malfunctions?
  • Is it picky about what type of ammo it shoots?
  • Have there been recalls on that particular model?
  • Are there complaints of part failures?
  • Has the company remedied any known issues?

How often will you practice with your new gun if it only likes expensive ammo? What if it continues to fail to fire (FTF) every other round? You could be dead in the seconds it takes to recover from a jam. Personally, I prefer a gun to run “dry.” This means that your gun will fire, even when it hasn’t seen a drop of gun lube in months. If you aren’t diligent about cleaning your car, you probably won’t be diligent about regularly cleaning your firearm. Get a gun that will fire dry and dirty. Revolvers absolutely run dry, as will Glocks.

As far as answering the reliability questions, it is more difficult than answering “is this gun comfortable to shoot?”—you’ll know the answer to that question after putting 50 rounds through it. A true test of reliability really only comes with time. It is extremely hard to judge a gun’s reliability when renting one for just an hour at the gun range. Though online gun forums shouldn’t be the source of all your gun info, the shooting community sure is honest when it comes to what we like and don’t like. Spend some time surfing gun forums and getting the opinions of regular people on a particular gun before committing. You will usually find a consensus on the reliability of most well-known pistols and revolvers.

Shootability

Many aspects fall under “shootability.” These include fit, feel, grip, sights, trigger pull and perceived recoil. All these will effect your accuracy with the gun. Sights aren’t such a big deal as the other features of the gun, as long as they are removable. You can always upgrade to night sights, 3-dot or a laser if the gun you prefer comes with basic or rudimentary factory iron sights.

When you pick up the gun, you should be able to get a firm and secure grip on the gun. (Learn how to grip a semi-auto here or a revolver here.) Does it feel like you are still going to drop it after learning how to grip it properly? Then move on. It probably isn’t the gun for you.

Picture shows a young woman with a giant smile on her face shooting a small, black handgun.

If it puts this much smile on your face, who cares if it’s ugly?

After finding one with a good grip, you’ll need to determine if you can also easily reach the safety, magazine release and other controls? Can you pull the trigger with the pad of your finger without problems? Do you have to turn or twist the gun or take one hand off the gun to manipulate the safety—did the gun go off target? If so, then stop right there.

The backstrap determines the size of the grip and your hand position on the grip. Perhaps try one of a few different guns that come with interchangeable backstraps, such as the S&W M&P, Beretta Model Px4 Storm, or Glock 23 Gen 4.

Also try smaller, more compact handguns, sometimes called “pocket pistols” that are just all around smaller. Pocket pistols are incredibly popular due to their easy-to-conceal and comfortable-to-carry size. Such as the S&W Shield, Taurus TCP, Ruger LCP and LCR, SIG Sauer P238 and P938, Diamondback DB-9, DB-380 and the Springfield Armory XD sub-compact.

Do you like the feel of the trigger? You will hear gun people describing triggers as long or short. Meaning, how long you perceive you must pull the trigger before the gun goes off. Some people prefer a longer pull— especially on revolvers for safety reasons. However, it is a matter of personal preference. Compare two side-by-side to get a feel for the difference. For example, when comparing trigger pulls—though these two guns are not comparing apples to apples—try the compact S&W .380 Bodyguard (long) to the full-sized SIG Sauer P226 (short.)

I have written two more in-depth articles concerning how to gauge the shootability of a particular firearm written specifically for women: Size Does Matter… Guns for Girls and How to Shop for a Gun.

Ease of Use

I have shot a lot of guns. Some you pick up, load and shoot—such as revolvers or Glocks. Others have more external safeties and slide stop catches, and other buttons and switches like slide releases that take a bit more thought to operate, such as 1911s or the Bersa Thunder 380.

Ease of use isn’t all about how easy the gun shoots, but also how easy the gun is to maintain. For example, how difficult is the gun to field strip and reassemble, such as the notorious Ruger Mark I, II, and III series of semi-autos. Or do you just push a button and after a simple manipulation, it comes apart? Regularly taking down your gun and cleaning it extends its life and keeps it working in tiptop shape.

To answer all the above questions, the best thing to do is to rent many different guns from your local gun range before making a final purchase. You may also ask your gun-owning friends if they would accompany you to the range and allow you to shoot their guns. The more guns you shoot, the more you will learn what best works for you.

If a good-looking gun encourages you to practice, shoot and carry more, there are ways to “dress-up” an otherwise factory (boring) gun with different colored grips such as pink or green, Duracoat or Cerakote and purple range bags, pink holsters and other accessories.

Ladies, have you ever bought a gun based on looks and regretted it? If so, share your experience with us in the comment section.

If you are a woman new to the gun world and seeking further guidance on purchasing and shooting your first gun, then read the following blogs:

SLRule

Introduced to shooting at young age by her older brother, Suzanne Wiley took to the shooting sports and developed a deep love for it over the years. Today, she enjoys plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

View all articles by CTD Suzanne

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (21)

  • Suzi

    |

    I have a question.I am a novice.I have been to the range a few times,But that was before my back surgery.The instructor handed me a Ruger 9 mm.I can’t remember which one.I guess the decide?Anyway It was not at all comfortable.With my back being bad, after about 10 minutes I was in agony .Well I had MAJOR back surgery in DEc 2017.I only weigh about 100 lbs.Also I have had 2 neck fusions.What I am getting at is I NEED A good SUGGESTION on a handgun.I have been researching allot and now I am totally confused…..I understand bigger gun less recoil.But then it gets heavier.All I hear or read is it a personal choice TRY a few different ones.OK Well I will be in this beautiful back brace for another 6 or 7 months.I haven’t asked my DR exactly when I will be able to do ANYTHING.SO if anyone can give me either a website they suggest IGOOGLED ALOT Or any input I would love to hear what you suggest Please serious answers ONLY.. You wouldn’t believe some comments I have had, Hope to hear from someone soon

    Reply

    • Dave

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      Suzi,
      Glad to hear you are approaching this issue in the correct way. My recommendation is to look at the 9mm hand guns. This is due to cost and availably of rounds(just my suggestion). Look online for local gun ranges that offer rentals. Talk to your friends that own guns and shoot as well. Each make and model is slightly different, you need to find what works for you before purchasing. If you cannot accomplish this, go to a gun store with a selection. Tell the clerk your parameters, caliber, size, use, price range, etc. Have him show you the guns in your parameters. 2 tricks I learned years ago.

      At home find your dominant eye. Hold your arms out and bend your wrists to point your fingers to the sky. Like a traffic cop motion a car to stop, only use both hands. Over lap your thumbs and rotate your wrists so your fingers begin to overlap. When you have about a 1″ hole left after overlapping your hands, with both eyes open looking through the hole, pull your hands to your face making sure to look through the hole. You will naturally bring that hole to your dominant eye. For most right handed people it is the right eye and left the left eye, but free to verify. You can shoot using either eye, and can learn to use either, but best to start out using what your body already uses.

      Second, is gun and hand fit. Pick up the gun as if you are going to shoot it. This includes inserted magazine as many compact have a magazine extension. Aim at a point on the wall. While holding the gun on that point, close your eyes, lower your arms to your waist, take a deep breath, and raise your arms back to where you think they were before. Remember your eyes are still closed. After you believe to be aiming at the original spot again, open your eyes and look at where you are aiming. If you see the gun is no longer straight in line with the target, meaning left or right in your hand, this is not the gun for you. If you see the gun is still in line in your hands and above or below the target this gun is a better fit.

      Finding the right gun is key in accuracy. Anyone can be taught or teach themselves to shoot correctly and better through time and repetition. It is always recommended to shoot before you buy.

      Reply

    • HW Stone

      |

      Suzi, I am going to make a couple of suggestions that might sound really “off the wall” but that are really useful.

      Consider buying two of the “same gun” with caliber being the only difference. Really getting used to a handgun means shooting it a lot, and a snub nosed .38 can be expensive to shoot and hard to get used to, but if you have an identical .22LR version the ammo is cheap and it is easy to carry your practice from teh .22 to the .38 and feel more confident with the larger caliber. Familiarity works in your favor, and this is even more true with a semiautomatic pistol because it allows you to get used to safety movement, grip angle, and target alignment– plus you can practice misfire or misfeed clearing and the drill is the same for both guns.

      “Look” at the guns with your eyes closed. Pick up the firearm, handle it, set it down, pick up another, do the same, and find the one that fits your hand.

      If you have a place to practice that has variable distances and allows bouncing tennis balls or the destruction of bad apples, the practice of doing that with the .22 and then confirming it with the larger caliber means that if everything goes bad and either an angry animal or a larger, armed attacker comes after you then a little voice in the back of your head speaks: “If you’re bigger than a tennis ball and closer then twenty feet, you are going DOWN.”

      And hopefully you’ll never need to hear that voice.

      Reply

  • Kayla

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    I purchased my first handgun (pink .22 Taurus) because I thought it was cute. Later.. came to find out worse purchase of my life. This site could not be a better eye opener for ladies out there! I since then have purchased SEVERAL beautiful guns but learned that quality is definitely a necessary more than color. My recent colorful purchase was a Tiffany Blue .308 Walther! I love this gun and so far it has made me very happy! So do some homework before purchasing a gun because its “pretty”!

    Reply

  • Jessica Wall

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    Thanks for the advice, we are looking for a gun for myself to protect my family at night!

    Reply

  • Amanda

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    Just a word of advice, I don’t like to carry in my purse but my pride didn’t let me get a “small” enough gun for my body. I love my Taurus 9 slim but my 380 ruger is so much better to carry, nice to shoot too! I’ve been shooting since I was a kid.

    Reply

  • Kent

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    Always look for function first, then form. If you want a pink gun, but the gun that functions best only comes in black, there’s always the option of going and getting it cerakoted. Sure, that costs more, but I’d rather spend $700 on something that fits me and works than $400 on something that is only reliable enough to use at the range. When a cheap gun jams at the wrong time, you’ll really be wishing you had spent a little more to get something better.

    Reply

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