Women Afield—The Five C’s of Gun Buying, Part 1

More women than ever before are stepping foot into gun stores to buy their first firearm. Whether it is a handgun for personal protection or a rifle or shotgun for sport, purchasing a firearm can be intimidating for any first time gun buyer and especially for a female with no previous gun buying experience.

Finding the Right Gun

There are a lot of knowledgeable salesmen who offer great advice for women regarding firearm purchases; then there are those who have no idea how to help a woman purchase a firearm. Take it from me; I have encountered both types at gun stores while looking for a firearm.

I remember being completely overwhelmed by a fast talking salesman trying to sell me what he called “a sexy little sidearm.” The problem with that was I was not looking for something sexy.

And then there was the salesman who thought I should be packing a large frame .50 caliber handgun for the sole purpose of intimidating any would-be-bad-guy who might try to harm me. The “Dirty Harry” salesman as I called him, had one thing right, this handgun would have certainly intimidated people, including me who, at the time, was a first-time gun buyer.

Luckily, I figured out “Harry” was banking on the notion that it would not take long for me to figure out the handgun was not practical for my needs and I would most likely end up asking him to sell it on consignment. This gave him two chances to make money off me, all because I would have let him talk me into purchasing a gun that was not practical for what I needed at that time.

No thanks! The key word to remember when shopping for a personal gun is the word “me,” after all that is who will be doing the shooting.

Nowadays when I look at buying a firearm, any firearm, I try to keep the five C’s in mind and use this system as I navigate through the maze of firearms.

Of course there are other things I may need to look at when making a purchase, and I almost always stick to these five points to help me determine if a particular firearm is a good fit for me.

The five C’s are …

  • Caliber
  • Comfort
  • Cost
  • Consumer savvy
  • Confidence

Let’s take a look at the first one: caliber.

Caliber Choices

Armscor Family of Ammo
Caliber is one consideration when making a firearm purchase.

If you are purchasing a handgun for personal protection, caliber may make a difference in three other categories, so it is important to consider the options.

  • Which caliber do I want — 9 mm or .40 caliber?
  • Can I easily buy ammo in the caliber I am checking out?
  • Which caliber has more knockdown power?
  • How much knockdown power do I really need?

There is a “Dirty Harry” salesman around every corner trying to convince women they need to buy bigger calibers. Doing some research ahead of time to determine a few optimal caliber choices for the intended use helps you avoid falling for “bigger is better” sales pitch.

Caliber choice is one of the first things I look at and consider when shopping for a gun.

In Part 2 of “The Five C’s of Gun Buying,” we will look at the rest of my basic gun buying guidelines.

Do you have a suggestion or tip when buying a gun? Share it with us in the comment section.


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 (5)

  1. The article was short but to the point, revolvers included. As a customer I have spoken to lady customers to find out why they are looking for a firearm. We then go a little further and discuss several firearms both semi auto and revolvers. In sizing up the lady with a slight figure and small hands most handguns will be large for her. Even a .380 will make their eyes get big. There is a League of women who shoot called Girls and Guns in my area. I suggest they communicate with them for information and education. I have trained a couple of women to shoot revolvers and semi auto but they were police officers in training.

  2. The very 1st “C” is Cause. What is causing you to want a handgun (or another handgun). Is it for home defense or for personal protection (aka concealed carry)? The answer would lead a knowledgeable and honest salesperson to point out vastly different guns.

    As part of your “Confidence” and “Consumer Savvy” pieces advise shoppers to walk away from salespeople that talk exclusively about a particular brand, design or caliber. Such as Glock over anything else (or conversely anything over Glock), 1911 or nothing, or finally “if it ain’t .45 it ain’t worth shooting.”

  3. Be sure you handle the firearm, including racking the slide while holding it in or near the shooting position. Some pistols have a very heavy spring, and if you can’t get the slide back, you need to move on to another firearm. Put a magazine in and remove it with the magazine release to see if it drops freely. And of course, check the sight picture to see if you can accurately line up on the target.

  4. I have actually had salesmen argue in the opposite for a 9 mm over .40 SW or .45 acp. No sane rational person is going to stick around to be shot at by either caliber and with 9 mm being cheaper why not save money there. And to further this argument, the same can be said of concealed carrying a .22 lr firearm. No sane and rational person is going to look to see if its a .22 or stick around once shots are fired. Now “sane and rational” is a disclaimer for normal people. If the need to stop a serious threat quickly is perceived of course the bigger calibers is called for.

  5. Lisa’s intro to her 5 C’s didn’t indicate if the new shooter wanted a handgun for carry or for home protection(?). A carry gun can do both, but home-protection (no carry) opens a broader spectrum of appropriate and effective guns that may be easier for a novice to shoot. Hope this, plus revolver options, are covered in the next installment.

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