Concealed Carry & Home Defense

Foxwell: Tips for women buying their first handgun

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Amelia Foxwell, Z7 Tactical

You have made one of the most important decisions of your life and of the lives of those who love you. Many women struggle with the decision to buy a handgun and I’m here to help you. 

Now that being said, you have arrived at the corner of empowerment and gunpowder and unfortunately there is no sign showing you what to do next.

I know the feeling. I was there and I wish someone had taken the time to help me instead of misleading me, ripping me off and belittling me. I was alone until I hit the empowerment jackpot (I now rent him out for the low price of $250 a weekend. He makes a terrible mess and snores horribly but he is an amazing defensive trainer). Many women are not so fortunate. 

These articles are for all women who do not have an in-house firearms coach and who, like I did years ago, are starting this journey alone. I am writing these articles to share with you what I have learned from my experiences and to take the mystique and angst out of buying your first handgun.

The first two things to think about when buying your first handgun are price and reliability.


You get what you pay for and you also pay for what you get. 

There are a few misnomers out there but largely a solid, reliable pistol will cost in- between $400-$600 and slightly less for a revolver. You may have to do a bit of shopping but there is no reason to stray outside of your budget. 

A week after I decided to purchase a handgun, I bought a pistol for $250 and I thought it was an amazing deal. After going to the range to shoot my new gun I decided I hated handguns period. It took a year to find out I simply did not own the right handgun for me.

Simplicity =Reliability 

The simpler it is to break down and clean your firearm the more often you will do it, and that makes for a reliable firearm.

I fell in love with a gun when I saw my first Kimber. However it was complex to disassemble and that meant it would be a very dirty gun if it were mine. Maintenance is much of what makes the difference in reliability. Be honest with yourself; if it makes you nuts to put it back together how often will you take it apart? Buy something simple to use and maintain.  

Ammo use is beneficial to your health 

The more affordable your ammo the more you will train with your firearm. The more you train with your firearm the more capable you will become. With ammo prices soaring a 9mm you have trained with extensively will do you a much greater service than a .45 you can’t afford to take to the range.

Try it before you buy it 

Find a shop with a range or an instructor that offers a course where you can shoot several different firearms. The way a handgun fits while you are firing it is very different from when you are holding one over a glass counter. Handguns are not one size fits all so you need to shoot several to find the one for you.

Find what you believe in 

Everyone has firearms they swear by. Do your own research and find what instills confidence in you. Find a few firearms that come highly recommended for reliability and are within your price range. Then go to a gun store, instructor or a range that rents firearms and tell them what you would like to shoot. 

Think about the process of purchasing a car; you do your research, you find something affordable you like and you go ask to take it for a drive. Most people don’t walk into a dealership and ask a total stranger what kind of car they should buy. Choosing the right handgun is every bit as important as buying the right car. This is your life, your empowerment and your decision.

Reliability, a story of revolvers and humans 

Revolvers are structurally more reliable than pistols. However, humans under stress are very unreliable and often need many rounds to deal with a single threat. Pistols usually hold more rounds than a revolver. 

Pistols are more likely to jam or malfunction than revolvers but quality modern firearms are very reliable. Good training and practice will make you capable of dealing with a malfunction should it occur. 

Please do not chose a firearm, or let someone recommend one, because of doubts about your ability. This is about empowerment not about placating to our weakness. 

Please choose a firearm that will fit you and your needs. The rest is simply about getting you up to speed on how to use it correctly. The right training partner can make the process much more satisfying and enjoyable than you may think.

Take your time and don’t let anyone rush you. This could be the most important decision you will ever make. Give it the thought and effort it deserves. Think about your budget, research reliable firearms (you will notice the same names will pop up a lot) and join me next week to start thinking about fit and function.

Happy hunting!

If at any time now or in the future you walk into a gun store and they try to steer you toward a certain type of firearm based solely upon you being a woman please do the following:

Tell them to prepare for an unpleasant phone call

Turn around and walk out

Email me the name of the store,


Amelia Foxwell is a women’s self-defense instructor as well as the Course Coordinator and a founder of Z7 Tactical. Ms. Foxwell is a Masters student and a mother who travels extensively both within CONUS and OCONUS hosting training and developing relationships with instructors and students.