It is never too late to take responsibility for your own security, whether in your home or on the street or your place of employment.
Predators seek out easy victims and those predators most often view women as the easiest prey. Ladies, no matter what you have been told about fighting back, you can defend yourself and your family!
One size does not fit all and size does matter. The best self-defense gun is the one that fits you and you are comfortable with. The choice of a handgun is a very personal decision and should not be decided upon for you by any well meaning family members or friends.
The first thing to consider is the purpose for the gun you are intending to buy. Here are a few purposes:
-personal protection on the street
-personal protection at home
-range - taking classes and practice
-carry in pocket
-is it your first gun to learn on
Once you have the purpose, you should think about the frame size. For new shooters it is absolutely easier to learn on a medium to large frame handgun, as long as it fits your hand. The larger frame size will absorb more recoil, tend to have good sights and are generally easier to handle.
Some things to consider are how the gun fits/feels in YOUR hands. Can you reach all the buttons, levers, etc? It is very important that you be able to reach the safety and the magazine or cylinder release. If you have decided on a semi-auto, you need to be able to work the slide and lock it open. Handle several different handguns. Of the medium frame polymer (Glock, M&P, etc) I think the M&P9 has the softest recoil spring to work against to lock the slide open. Some of the issue with locking the slide open is technique and some is spring stiffness. If you cannot operate the firearm when you have all the time in the world, will you be able to operate it in an emergency?
Does the back strap fit properly into the "V" between your thumb and forefinger? If the gun does not fit your hand properly, you will not be able to reach the trigger correctly or you could sustain injury to your hand. As a general guideline, the center of your fingerprint should rest on the face of the trigger.
You should consider caliber, the size of the ammunition that the firearm fires. You should choose the largest caliber you can handle comfortably. Think about running 100 rounds through this gun in one afternoon practice session. If it hurts after 10 rounds, you probably will not be able to get used to it within a reasonable amount of time. For most women, 9mm or .38 special is the best choice. The felt recoil is one of the easiest to learn to control and one of the least expensive ammunition sizes to purchase.
You should think about how easily the gun can be concealed on your body along with being able to practice with it. If you cannot afford a carry gun and a range gun, you need to get ONE firearm to fill both needs. While the cute little very lightweight revolver is great for concealing, will you be able to put 100 rounds through it at a time? If you can only have one gun, consider something like the Ruger SR series compact. This gun has a longer magazine for practice and a short one for concealed carry.
Over the last few years I have found that some women are intimidated by the medium frame handguns. They think they can better handle the tiny .380's better, until they shoot them. These small guns are a handful and not fun to shoot. You should look forward to going to the range to practice, not look at it as a chore.
Come see us and we will help you work through all these issues.
Something to consider, is to go to a local shooting range that rents guns. Shoot everything you can get your hands on and think about how they feel in your hand, did 5 rounds hurt your hand, can you see the sights, can you reach the trigger properly?
One more thing, get training. There are many good firearm schools and most local sportsman clubs offer basic firearm orientation classes. If you are going to go to your local club, do make sure the class is an NRA class, taught by NRA certified instructors, or an instructor with credentials you can trust.