One of the most common inquiries I get from men through the CGO contact form is the one mentioned in the title. While well meaning, almost 100% of the time this question involves the man "taking care of" the woman or girl without any input from the female until he buys her what "she needs".
The comments often go something like this when trying to decide what gun they should buy for a female in their lives:
"Well, she has smallish hands and not much experience with handguns, so I'd like her to start out with a small .22 ..... so there's not much recoil. And she can get used to shooting before going to a larger gun and caliber."
Or it may be something like this: "She wants to carry concealed so I'm trying to find her a small revolver like a (insert any small light .38spl thru .357 mag here). She doesn't like recoil, so getting her a small gun is going to be important. Plus she has to be able to conceal it."
Most Common Misconception
Here is one of the all time most frequent assumptions: "I'm going to get her (x,y,z) .380 that she can put in her pocket. And it's important that she has a gun that she can control. I like the "(anything small)" so I thought I'd start her there. I think she'll like the small, controllable size."
There are lots more variations of these and nearly all of them are so off base that the only answer I can give to these guys is for them to completely change directions. Because any man choosing a gun for any woman without that woman's input while deciding on the gun, is a study in off target assumptions about what the woman in their lives will love shooting.
And it's an assumption that because he is a man, his decision about her gun without her handling, shooting, or many times even seeing it will be correct .... because of his maleness. Everything will be ok .....?
No such thing as a "best for" (men or women) gun
More guns that are useless to the recipient have probably been bought this way than any other way on earth. Because until a woman sees, touches, feels, works the action and shoots a gun, there is nobody (including those closest to her) that can determine what she will shoot successfully and with confidence.
Unfortunately I also get frequent questions from women (not as often as men buying for them) about the "best gun for a woman". Sadly, there is no such thing. If I could find this firearm, I would probably become famous very quickly. But that firearm does not, and will not exist because all women are different in size, strength, and most importantly, personality.
A woman's size or the size of her hands not most important
And that last part is what plays the biggest part in a woman deciding on a gun. When it comes down to it, her size is not most important.
The size of her hands is not most important because grip can be adjusted to shoot most common handguns sold to consumers.
The reality is that if a person does not have a significant negative physical attribute that limits them, it's their personality that will determine most dramatically what they will shoot with confidence. And it will determine how much they will work physically to carry the most effective handgun they can manage.
My daughter started shooting casually with me when she was 12 and only liked to shoot a 9mm that I told her was "hers". As far as she was concerned anything else was not suitable for shooting.
She went through a few years where she didn't want to shoot much, but at around 15 started to show an interest again. One day she said she would like to shoot some "different stuff" (meaning guns).
So, we took out about everything I owned to let her try it out. Today, her 3 favorite guns are a Taurus 627 .357 magnum, a S&W Model 29 .44 magnum, and a Sig Sauer P220 .45 ACP. And today, she is one of the most careful and competent gun handlers on the range with our Group. Go figure.
I didn't push. Her personality just emerged.
My wife, on the other hand, is not afraid of larger, more dramatic handguns, but she doesn't care about shooting them. She'll go out with our Group and go through 500 rounds of .22LR put through a Walther P22 pistol.
Personality. Of all the women that shoot with our Group, every one of them is different, liking to shoot various calibers and shunning others. Each with their own personality. It would be impossible for me to pick a "just right" handgun for any of them to carry. I could give them broad advice on quality, but they would each have to try what would eventually work for them.
So, this is the answer to everybody for this question. I can give general advice on quality, dependability, gun size, etc. But there is no way that I ..... or you can tell what will work for any woman until they do their own tests with the guns in their hands.
Choose a gun for her any other way successfully, and you have been stricken with the greatest focused lightening bolt of luck ever known.
Don't do it. Take her with you and get her input at every stage of the process. The only way to intelligently choose a gun for a woman. Let her do it.