5 Best Handguns for Women’s Self-Defense


Gun Tests Magazine has recently reviewed dozens of self-defense handguns that are suitable for women, but women want to know what other women are buying before they invest their hard-earned money in a particular handgun.

So, to determine which tested handguns are most popular with female self-defense shooters, we consulted a list of handguns that women brought to the A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League 11th Annual National Conference. All 600 participants were required to go through a “Gear Check” process where their handguns were reviewed, function checked, and logged.

The participants came from 123 A Girl & A Gun chapters from 40 different states, so we believe their choices of firearms represent a good cross-section of concealed-carry choices. Paired with results from our experienced female and male testers, the list of pistols below contains several good choices for female self-defense shooters.

5. Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ M2.0 12436 9mm Luger, $499. July 2022. Grade A Our Pick. 

We liked the way this pistol handles and operates. Racking the slide is easy enough. The trigger is good and accuracy more than adequate for a pistol of its size. This is a crackerjack all-round defensive handgun.


Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ M2.0 12436 9mm Luger

4. SIG Sauer P320 AXG PRO 320AXGF-9-BXR3-PRO-R2 9mm Luger, $1200. March 2022. Grade A Our Pick. 

The P320 AGX Pro changed our mind about the P320 model. This pistol is well suited as a competition pistol and defense gun. While it is full size, making it more difficult to carry, we’d trust it with our life because it was so easy to shoot well. The X-Series trigger module and aluminum grip module work well together. This gun is expensive, but in our opinion, it is worth it.

SIG Sauer P320 AXG PRO 320AXGF-9-BXR3-PRO-R2 9mm Luger

3. SIG Sauer P365 365-9-BXR3 9mm Luger, $599. December 2021, Grade A Our Pick. 

The SIG Sauer P365 has good sights, a decent trigger and, while small, it is actually big enough to hold onto. All things considered, SIG’s P365 is a real winner, as sales figures confirm.

SIG Sauer P365 365-9-BXR3 9mm Luger

2. Glock G19X G5 PX1950703 9mm Luger, $594. June 2018. Grade A-. 

The Glock’s combat accuracy was good and the absolute accuracy adequate for the task and better than previous Glock 9mm handguns we have tested. The Glock features a light rail and night sights as well as good magazine capacity. The Glock was clearly an effective combat handgun. 

Glock G19X G5 PX1950703 9mm Luger

1. Walther PDP F-Series 4-Inch 2842734 9mm Luger, $599. June 2023. Grade A Best Buy.

Walther’s Performance Duty Pistol F-Series has an upgraded and reconfigured grip that was designed with female shooters in mind. The polymer-frame handle is designed to accommodate not simply smaller hands, but the female hand structure — a certain size hand, with long fingers. The female rater on this team really liked the hand fit. But all the male raters also liked the hand fit of the Walther.

Walther PDP F-Series 4-Inch 2842734 9mm Luger

Honorable Mentions


Heckler & Koch VP9 9mm Luger, $630. March 2015. Grade B.

Glock G17 Gen4 MOS PG1750203MOS 9mm Luger, $726. July 2016. Grade A-.

Glock 43 Subcompact Slimline G43 PI4350201 9mm Luger, $445. September 2017. Grade B.

Glock G34 Gen5 MOS PA3430103MOS 9mm Luger, $710. April 2019. Grade A. 

CZ-USA CZ P-10 C 91520 9mm Luger, $480. February 2018. Grade A-, Best Buy.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Shield 2.0 11786 9mm Luger, $735. March 2020. Grade A.

Note: All prices reflect actual retail purchase prices at the time of testing. Prices will likely have changed. Older models may still be available as NIB products or as used guns. 

As always, Gun Tests Magazine is supported by reader subscriptions only, so you can depend on these recommendations being free of monetization considerations on our posts or videos or social media traffic, and we don’t accept display or other advertising in the magazine. 

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