Buying a Gun for Your Wife?

Last night, one of my coworkers was looking at a back issue of GunUp Magazine and reading a roundup article including the new micro compact Glock 42. He told me he was considering something like that or a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard for his wife. He then asked me what I might recommend. The intended use was home defense (she wasn’t going to carry it concealed) with the caveat that she has no training or interest in obtaining any training. Sound familiar?

Well meaning shooting enthusiasts understand that skill-at-arms and a reliable handgun offer safety and security far beyond that of a locked front door and a cell phone pre-programmed to call 911. We’ve gone to great trouble and expense to research, purchase and train with a quality firearm so that should the unthinkable happen, we are prepared to survive a deadly threat to ourselves or our loved ones. Naturally, we want to extend that security to our significant others so they can be safe when we aren’t around. But we forget that a lot of the time, they don’t share the same interest as we do. Those of us in law enforcement are constantly reminded of the  worst human beings have to offer, but our families may be sheltered from that, so they don’t feel the need for security beyond a locked front door and an alarm system.

Many of us have been able to convey the importance of security to our wives or girlfriends so they at least learn the basics of gun safety. But competently operating a handgun during a deadly force encounter requires a requisite level of competence and mental preparation that some folks lack. If your girlfriend, wife, or loved one falls into this category, and refuses to get the required training, then you need to take a critical look at whether or not a handgun would be a benefit or liability. My opinion is that the average person with zero training, and hasn’t worked out any ethical dilemmas of deadly force usage beforehand, is better off with a loud dog, alarm system and a cell phone than a handgun.

In the case of a significant other that is willing to invest some time and effort, I suggest a full sized quality handgun that fits the hand. Note, I am not suggesting taking them to the range and allowing them to pick a gun that “feels right”. That’s like taking a brand new driver to pick out the right Formula One race car based on how they feel behind the wheel. Find a full sized handgun that objectively fits (i.e. grip size, trigger pull length, etc.,) preferably chambered in 9mm. Folks typically like to choose small, cute handguns for women, forgetting that the smaller and lighter the gun, the more recoil. This translates to poor trigger control and quicker onset of fatigue.

Bottom line: Objectively evaluate your situation to determine whether or not buying a handgun is the right choice for your loved one.


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About Tim Lau

Tim Lau has over a decade of experience as an end user, armorer and instructor. He has worked for several well known firearms training organizations, and holds multiple firearms instructor certifications. He owns and operates 10-8 Consulting, LLC, which provides industry consulting services as well as marksmanship and specialized firearms training to qualified civilian, law enforcement and military personnel.

11 thoughts on “Buying a Gun for Your Wife?

  1. Agree completely !

    No training, and no interest in training. That says it all. No matter which gun is chosen, it is probably not the answer.

    • This is a great article–I would also add to the requirements mentioned (get training and work out the ethical dilemmas ahead of time) two more considerations–willingness to practice on a regular basis, and willingness to properly maintain the gun. I think if someone isn’t practicing at least once a month or so they won’t maintain a basic level of skills, plus they will not be well enough acquainted with the gun to spot maintenance issues. And of course the gun has to be cleaned regularly, parts replaced as needed, etc.

  2. A lot of ‘common’ sense in this article! As a woman, I get a lot of questions from female friends, not only about firearms, but also tasers, stun guns, knives, etc. Most of us grew up in or around Chicago, which is as good a reason as any to consider purchasing a weapon. But I always warn them (especially the more timid ones) that if they don’t have the competence or willingness to use any of those tools against someone else, it can easily become a tool used against THEM.

    They have to draw a line in their mind so that if someone crosses it, they’re ready. If you want something to even your odds against a larger attacker, you have to be willing to use the equalizer.

  3. S&W Model 15 with Safariland Speedloaders keep my wife safe. Not small, not pink…she shoots it well, can reload quick.

    • Funny. My wife’s go to gun is a 4″ Model 19.

      I wanted her to go Glock for capacity but I made sure there were plenty of types of guns on the table when we went shooting the first time together.

      My advice for the question, “What should I buy my wife?” is what does she like and what has she shot. Once we work on those two points then we can get to what to buy. Even then she has access to the bank account right?

  4. This will offend a great many people, I think.

    Yet it must be said: the purchase of a gun cannot be done for someone else. A firearm is only as deadly as the skill level of the person wielding it. Which means ,in this example,a firearm owned by a wife uninterested in even handling it may as well be sitting in the FFLs display case, for all the good it will do her should the S hit the F.

    Further, there are legal consequences to the use of deadly force which can alter a person’s life after the incident. A certain instructor once said that he’s had students -presumably male- who sold their guns and gave up their CCW permits after taking his class , realizing that they’d rather take their chances being unarmed then face the consequences of a potential trial ,possible jail time, and signifigant legal fees.

    Lastly, getting good with a gun costs money. Before I got training I had 5 handguns all made by different companies. This year I’m down to two identical models, and shooting them frequently costs as much as an entire gun does. Buying the pistol at $550 was relatively easy, compared to the $700 I’ve spent on ammo shooting through it in the last six months.There’s no way to get around that economic fact. Throw in a class at $600 plus travel expenses, and proficient ownership of a gun isn’t cheap.

    For those points and consequences, I’d say that a well intentioned man who buys his uninterested spouse a gun isn’t just wasting his time, but actually placing his spouse in danger. The intersection of untrained people, a scary situation, and a handgun is a bad place.

    • Whole heartedly agree. Been around guns professionally for as long as the next guy and an uninterested spouse presents a danger for the rest of the family, neighbor kids, etc., in my opinion. There exists a percentage of sworn folks who, when required and justified, will have issues to include failing to use deadly force with a firearm. How can one expect an uninterested, untrained and therefore highly dangerous individual to do the right thing with a firearm?

  5. My suggestion would be to find a range that has rental pistols. Take her, and let her try different pistols to see what works best for her. As for the mental approach, you might have her read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker.

  6. Good article. First and foremost if a person, man or woman, cannot say without hesitation they are capable of using deadly force prior to the event then a deadly weapon is not the answer. Classes on situational awareness, good locks, an alarm system and a Rottweiler may be more appropriate. I also agree with the other comments regarding the need for professional training and regular quality practice. But mindset will determine whether one survives a deadly encounter.

  7. I support the notion that hand fit/comfort should not be the highest concern when purchasing a firearm.

    In my experience I’ve chosen to carry a glock 19 not because it is the most comfortable or is the best fit to my hand but because:

    1.) it is reliable
    2.) it is light
    3.) it is the perfect size for concealment for my situation without having to sacrifice too much barrel length/capacity.

    There are other guns that fit better in my hand – a beretta 92, a 1911, or even a glock 17. However none of those fit my needs for carry.

    As long as a the pistol isn’t completely and utterly uncomfortable to shoot I don’t think comfort matters much. With sound fundamentals you can shoot any pistol well.

    • Comfort is subjective and a novice lacks the competence to adequately evaluate a suitable firearm based on “comfort”. I don’t care about how a gun “fits” my hand beyond objective characteristics. What I care about is performance based on metrics that are measurable with a timer and a ruler.

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