gender’s got nothing to do with it.

  • Please recommend a conceal handgun for a man
  • Men and home defense
  • Why to choose a gun before choosing a man
  • Slim gripped auto for young man
  • .45 for a man
  • Target revolver suggestion for a man
  • Why a handgun is better than a man
  • Any suggestions for man wanting gun?
  • Does being prepared to protect himself make a man less masculine?
  • Young single man carry?
  • What’s the best caliber and gun for a man?
  • 9mm for a man?
  • The Little Man says he wants a .380…
  • Shotgun for a man
  • Can a man shoot the USP Compact .40 well?
  • Good home defense handgun for a man?
  • A handgun for men
  • Men and concealed carry?
  • Are guns useful to men for self-defense?

Anything bug you about those statements?  If you’re a male, do you read through that list, and ask yourself “What does my gender have to do with that?” on most of those bullet points?

Well, welcome to the world of guns and the shooting sports…as seen from the other side of the gender fence.  Those are all thread titles from a gun-related discussion board where I’m the admin.  The only alteration I’ve made was flipping around the referenced gender.

These were all statements made by men in reference to women.

Now bear in mind that this is one of the most tightly moderated and high-brow of all the firearms discussion boards out there.  Given that list of threads, how do you think a new female shooter looking for information will feel when she skims the board and sees thread titles like that?  Would you recommend that your daughter or wife seek out advice from those folks?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve overheard bad advice given to women when it comes to guns.  Seven out of ten times, people will recommend a lightweight snubnose revolver as an ideal first “woman’s gun”, even though the airweight snubbie is a terrible first pick for any new shooter, male or female.  The athletic college track runner is told that she may have problems cycling the slide on a pistol because of her presumed lack of upper body strength, but the pigeon-chested 115lb. male grad student who has wrists like pipe cleaners won’t get so much as a second glance when he asks to see the Desert Eagle (which has a recoil spring that requires three men and a mule to compress it.)  Worse than the assumption of physical inferiority is the assumption of mental inferiority–that’s when the sales clerk tries to steer the little woman away from the Beretta 92FS, because it has too many switches and levers that may confuse her in a stress situation.  (Good thing they make cars and planes for women–vehicles that feature only two controls labeled GO and STOP, because a woman can’t possibly remember how to work a bunch of controls all at the same time when her life is at stake.)

Point out the rampant misogynist attitudes in the gun community, and you get labeled “PC”.  You’ll be told that men and women are simply different, and that any denial of that fact is political correctness running wild.  These folks miss the point that while there are physiological differences between males and females, very few (if any) of those differences count when it comes to handling firearms.  There’s no gun ever made that requires testicles to operate it properly and safely.  (One could argue that testicles can actually be a detriment to safe gun operation, as you’ll find very few examples of women killing themselves or their friends accidentally while showing off their new Glocks to their buddies.)

Here’s a little primer to tell if a statement about women and guns (or any gender-based statement, really) is sexist: flip the gender in the statement to match your own, and then see if the notion bothers you when applied to yourself.  If it makes you even a little angry, uncomfortable, or puzzled, then it’s probably sexist.

Women are just like men in every way that counts when it comes to this, and many other subjects.  Women, just like men, come in different shapes, sizes, and dexterity and strength levels.  They come with different educations, backgrounds, and attitudes.  Most importantly, they come with their own acquired skills and preferences, just like men.  When you assume anything about the woman standing next to you at the gun shop counter or the shooting range…well, you know what they say about assumptions.  You start getting paternalistic and condescending on her, or use the opportunity to “show her how to improve her stance”, you may just turn a novice off the shooting sports forever…or you may just find that the woman in question has not only forgotten more than you’ll ever learn about firearms, but can also outshoot you with your own gun on her worst–and your best–day.

(For women new to firearms and the shooting sports, I can think of few better online resources than my friend Kathy’s Cornered Cat, which has a ton of spot-on advice for women who have decided to get into guns for either recreation or protection.  She makes all the points I’ve made in this spot, and a whole lot more I can’t even hope to cover as well as she does.)


74 thoughts on “gender’s got nothing to do with it.

  1. John Gall says:

    I think this post is one of the best I’ve read in years of poking around the net. I’ve noticed examples of such maleness but couldn’t articulate the problem.
    Years ago I was at a range when a bud brought out a .338 WM to sight in. Offered the chance to shoot the weapon, I couldn’t pass it up and so cranked off two rounds from the bench. The recoil wanged my trigger hand into my nose twice and nose bleed was the reward. The killer was when the bud let his niece have a turn and she promptly sent several rounds 100 yards down range and into the black from a standing position with no fanfare and no nose bleed. I learned my lesson. Today my wife shoots her 629 better than I with either specials or magnum rounds. And I’m the one who bought it for her.
    Gentlemen who condescend to women about firearms are sadly misinformed.

  2. JD says:

    I was brought up to not see woman any different than men. With that in mind I have to say after reading Tam’s blog I am at the point where I know there are probably many women out there that know a HELL of a lot more on guns than I do. . . .
    Lesson learned? Keep my mouth shut unless asked a question. . . . she may know more than I do. . .

  3. Tam says:


    Just… word.

  4. Weer'd Beard says:

    Just another extention of the “Guns are not one-size-fits-all” point. I’ve been introducing a coworker to shooting, and he’s a little asian guy. A lot of “Woman” issues are a factor for him (smaller hands, upper body strenth, body dementions for carry) And of course there’s little-tiny Breda and her lust for .45s.

    Each shooter has their own abilitys and their own body, and the gun should be fitted to them from there. Gender can have some corrilations, but just as many outliers.

  5. “For [men] new to firearms and the shooting sports, I can think of few better online resources than my friend Kathy’s Cornered Cat…”

    Heh. Just poking fun.

    But in all seriousness, Cornered Cat is a site for everyone. It just happens to be pink. I recommend it as a first read for anyone interested in guns/safety/self-defense regardless of gender.

  6. […] A look at chicks and guns and misogyny. […]

  7. […] Speaking Truth Posted on March 26, 2009 by Caleb When you assume anything about the woman standing next to you at the gun shop counter or the shootin… […]

  8. jimbob86 says:

    What Gregory Morris said. Exactly.

  9. perlhaqr says:

    I dunno, I can see the answer to your third item as being “Because if you don’t already have a gun, whatever man you pick will probably try tell you what one to buy.”

  10. Tony says:

    Shouldn’t you describe the Cornered Cat as a resource for all new shooters and not just women?

    I know that there are lots of people (men and women) who know more than I do about lots of things, including shooting; and I never give advice unless someone asks me for it three times. I figure they are just being polite the first two.

    Keeps me out of trouble, and I learn a lot that way.

  11. Kellene says:

    This is a great post, it’s good to see a man point this out. This stigma absolutely exists, even in our own back yard. One of my employees’ husband recommended she get a little .25 gauge gun to which she responded, “I don’t want a sissy gun!” –particularly one that would be less effective in a self defense scenario. It’s been great to see so many strong women emerging in the firearm realm. Heaven knows we need it.

  12. Marko says:

    I mentioned Kathy’s site as a good resource for beginning women shooters precisely because she covers many of the angles I’ve addressed, only from the female side of the fence.

    I gladly concede the point that The Cornered Cat is excellent reading for any new or advanced shooter, male or female.

  13. Joanna says:

    I’m going to be buying a handgun soon, God willing, and this was just the boost I needed. Thanks for putting this up. I love it when someone knows that there are differences — and that the differences don’t make a difference. Does that make sense? It did in my head. 😛

  14. […] Here’s a fantastic write up on this very problem.  Caleb offers his comments on the write-up, as does Tam. […]

  15. gender’s got nothing to do with it? you seem unconvinced of that yourself.

    “One could argue that testicles can actually be a detriment to safe gun operation, as you’ll find very few examples of women killing themselves or their friends accidentally while showing off their new Glocks to their buddies.”

    while that statement may be true today, it is more likely due to history, culture, and raw numbers than testosterone. give women time to catch up with men in the percentage of them who shoot, and no doubt we will see an equality develop in the stupid tricks department. witness that bad/aggressive driving is an equal-opportunity sport these days; that probably wasn’t the case in my parents time. again: culture/numbers.

    sexism, like racism and other isms, is a double-edged sword. as you make your case on the downstroke, you gotta be careful you don’t cut yourself on the upswing.


  16. Marko says:

    I don’t know about that, jtc. While the hormonal makeup of either gender won’t keep anyone from learning a skill or a craft, there are stupid gun/car tricks that are just about directly attributable to testosterone overdose. Women have been driving cars for a long time, and the percentage of women drivers is roughly equal to that of male drivers…but virtually every Stupid Car Racing Fatality you hear about involves a young male driver.

    With guns, I’ve found that novice women are often more willing to take instruction, because they don’t come into it with an ego that tells them “guys ought to know how to shoot”. Put a guy in the same spot, add a buddy or two on the range, and the problem is magnified tenfold.

    Of course, that’s not meant to be a general statement, and you’ll notice that I didn’t say “all men” or even “most men”. Also note that in those cases, I don’t claim that gender has anything to do with inherent ability or achievable competence, just with mindset and attitude.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Oh gods, don’t even get me started, and at the same time, hear hear! Glad to hear this said!

  18. TXGunGeek says:

    I posted on the teaching side of this a couple weeks ago to share lesson learned from teaching women to shoot and the bias that all to often happens when men assume to know what’s best for women.

  19. Tam says:

    …but virtually every Stupid Car Racing Fatality you hear about involves a young male driver.

    True, but again with the being wary of generalizations. While we’re statistically more likely to hit a telephone pole while texting than racing, I knew my share of other chicks in the darkened back lanes of office parks in my street-racing-for-money days.

    That being said…

    For the doubters out there, who believe there aren’t any mouth-breathing dumbasses in the gun world, I offer the eleventeen jillion times I’ve been at a gun show and some cretin asks the guy I’m with how much he’s asking for the gun I’m carrying.

    This was especially amusing when it was with my ex-beau who, while a nice guy, knew just enough about a gun to tell you out of which end the projectile would emerge…

  20. Nick says:

    Great post, thanks for this. Reminds me of when I took a female friend to a gun show a little while back. The attitude of one guy selling ammo (he smirked condescendingly and asked her how she was “enjoying the big boys’ toy show”) probably would have turned her off shooting sports if she hadn’t already been out with us a few times.

  21. Anna says:

    This news story seemed especially fitting after reading your post this morning:

    Man shot while teaching wife about gun care

    By: News 14 Carolina Web Staff

    CHARLOTTE – Police are investigating a shooting in northwest Charlotte.

    The victim told police he was showing his wife how to load a gun when it went off, shooting him in the stomach. The incident happened around 1 a.m. on Lightspun Lane.

    The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment.

  22. Shootin' Buddy says:

    Objection! Geographic/cultural bias, your honor.

    This has not happened in Indianapolis or Louisville. In Louisville they asked me to get you. 🙂

    And, as you know, at the Ohio River and north, gun show attendees are magically well-behaved, well-groomed, and have the teeth of toothbrush models.

  23. Tam says:

    In Louisville they asked me to get you.

    At one of my first Indy 1500’s, one guy asked the total stranger standing next to me how much he wanted for my 6.8 AR.

    Then there was the guy at Bradis who tried to sell me the pink Charter POS with the line “Hey, little lady, you need to buy this gun. Or do you already have one to protect yourself?

    No, little buddy, I don’t have “one” to protect myself… This is me, rolling my eyes…

  24. “…there are stupid gun/car tricks that are just about directly attributable to testosterone overdose.”

    “…virtually every Stupid Car Racing Fatality you hear about involves a young male driver.”

    “…women are often more willing to take instruction…”

    “I don’t claim that gender has anything to do with inherent ability or achievable competence, just with mindset and attitude.”

    hmm…so your original title is incorrect? in many ways i think it is, and you seem to agree. but you also acknowledge that human behavior is largely a function of conditioning and culture…and most importantly, is transitional.

    there is really no contradiction: not only are men and women different by design (thank God), but often their chosen and/or assigned roles are different as well. our best path is to treat every individual individually. and while that means not imposing preconveived notions of our own on a (wo)man, it also means not making broad assumptions of superiority or assignation of misogyny on the part of those gun-board posters when none was intended.


  25. Shootin' Buddy says:

    “Then there was the guy at Bradis who tried to sell me the pink Charter POS with the line ‘Hey, little lady, you need to buy this gun. Or do you already have one to protect yourself?'”

    Was that directed at you?

    I thought that was someone else?

    Living in my own private Idaho sometimes.

  26. Tam says:

    I’ve got it too…

    I think it’s his standard pickup line.

  27. Brian Dale says:

    I recently took a CCW class at a range that belongs to a gun club. The students were all middle aged men. Along the way, the instructor pointed out a framed photograph of a club member there who’s had some wins in the National Matches at Camp Perry. There were no looks of surprise, no “What…A Girl??” foolishness, just enjoyment that there was at least one such shooter who is “from here.”

    Maybe we grouchy old guys need to speak up a little more about manners. Thanks, Marko.

  28. pax says:


    Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

    One of your commenters wrote, “Then there was the guy at Bradis who tried to sell me the pink Charter POS with the line ‘Hey, little lady, you need to buy this gun. Or do you already have one to protect yourself?’”

    Friend of mine in Portland had a fellow at a gun show try to sell her an ancient little .25 with the words, “This is just the gun for a little lady like you …” He then proceeded to tell her that beginning shooters generally do best with small handguns. The whole thing was particularly amusing as my friend is a very competent pistolera who especially enjoys her high-end 1911s, and people of both genders pay her to teach them how to shoot as well as she does. But all That Guy could see was that she was a female, therefore (of course!) she needed a tiny little gun and a nice heaping spoonful of friendly and undoubtedly well-meant condescension to go with it.

    Everyone: please don’t be That Guy.

    Men and women are different. But when it comes to firearms, the variations within the genders are almost all far more signifcant than the differences between the genders. And yes, I say this as someone who’s made a schtick out of teaching women. My website is pink and frilly in part because I wanted to make the point that women can be and are both feminine and able to protect themselves using modern tools — but a careful reading of the site will show that every word of firearms manipulation and mindset advice would equally apply to any thinking biped. (And it always secretly amuses me when someone says to me, “… why, there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s good for men too!” We aren’t actually different species, folks. Don’t let the wrapper fool you.)

  29. Steven Gould says:

    You woman of my acquaintance pulled into a mechanic’s with a carburetor problem. He adjusted a sticking flap in the air intake and then said, “Let me show you how to adjust this so you can have your father or boyfriend do it next time it happens.” She watched very carefully and then said, “I guess I wasn’t watching closely enough. Where does the penis go?”

  30. Steven Gould says:

    Ack. Previous first word was supposed to be “Young” not “You.”

  31. Laughingdog says:

    “Why a handgun is better than a man”

    “Why to choose a gun before choosing a man ”

    To be honest, I really don’t see the original versions of those as being anything close to the other topics. “Why [insert hobby or thing you enjoy here] is better than [opposite gender]” is such a common form of humor.

    Those really aren’t any different than:
    “Why dogs are better than men”
    “Why cats are better than men”
    “Why cars are better than women”
    etc., etc.

    Also, not seeing the full questions associated with those titles, it’s hard to really get spun up over about half of them. There’s a big difference between thinking that there are certain guns that only men can handle and just not being descriptive enough in your title. “My wife weighs half as much as me, and is less than 5′ tall. Any suggestions for a gun that she can conceal that won’t have such brutal kick that she’d want to beat me with it after one shot?” doesn’t fit that well in a subject header.

    I will add that my ex-wife, a 5’4″ Asian woman, carried a .357 snubbie (not and Airlight). If we were going somewhere really nice, I’d end up carrying it. But it was understood that, if something happened, I was just giving her the gun. Shooting that thing hurt like hell, and I’m horrible with that long revolver trigger pull. But she loved it, and shot it better with one hand than I could with two.

  32. MauserGirl says:

    There are switches and levers on a Beretta 93FS? Where? What do they do? I am blissfully unaware of any switches and levers on my own, aside from the safety and the trigger.

  33. Marko says:

    Safety, slide stop lever, takedown lever, magazine release.

  34. MarkHB says:

    Well said, Marko.

    I’ve always been comfortable with competent females, same way I’ve been comfortable will competent just-about-anyone. *shrugs* Packing a “Little Lady” attitude in my mind is very similar to packing a racist attitude. It’s artificially creating divisions where none really need exist.

    When I was a physicist, I worked with people with chesticles, not testicles. They were great. Bright, agile-minded, good mathematicians and thorough workers. When I quit physics, I worked with a lot of broadcast and animation types who were Double-X Chromosome. Again, same. I still do. And they’re friends with me because whilst I adore and admire the difference in gender, it’s their prowess which is most important. Because when you address prowess first, and as the most important thing, then you have established a basic platform of respect.

    I honestly do not think in the 21st century it is right to treat with anyone where there is not respect first.

    By the Linear Accelerator, or by the edit decks, or at the firing line, the bar, the living room, or just in the street, there must be respect. To automatically assume that *anyone* is in some way lesser to you – or greater than you – is to start your association from a skewed predicate. And that’s just silly.

  35. “…and some cretin asks the guy I’m with how much he’s asking for the gun I’m carrying.”

    Heh. That happened at the last gun show I took my lovely wife to. The shotgun she had slung over her should got a few questions, but more often than not they were directed at me… or the also-common, “how did you convince her to carry your gun around for you?” A few of them almost learned what the butt of a 110-year-old shotgun tasted like.

    This whole debate is kinda funny IMHO. Sure, you need to be sensitive to an individual woman’s (or man’s) feelings when you put a gun in their hand for the first time. But, like many minorities, women in shooting sports tend to (rightly) be very defensive about their right to be part of the “boy’s club”. I try to be as laid-back as possible about it. I don’t care who or what you are as long as you have a good time. However, if you insinuate my wife doesn’t know what she’s doing because she doesn’t have a pair… you are in for a fight that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. A fight you’re going to lose, I might add.

    Now, for the guy taking his girlfriend to the range for the first time… that’s a different story. Any first-timer needs to be handed a .22 rifle. Male or Female. Period. Some graduate to more powerful arms. Some don’t. My wife’s first time out she went straight for the 12ga and never looked back. I guess the important thing to consider is that people are individuals. Sure, some women may be (due to social, physiological, or whatever reasons… who cares?) less inclined to enjoy “big” guns than men. But that’s just a generalization that is in no way connected to what a woman (or man) is actually capable of.

  36. […] gender’s got nothing to do with it. Please recommend a conceal handgun for a man Men and home defense Why to choose a gun before choosing a man Slim […] […]

  37. Roberta X says:

    …When I was young and cute, I used to get the talked-down-to from men who knew a lot less about the machinery than I did; if they annoyed me enough, I was known to occasionally add a starting phrase when reading aloud from the manual or giving instructions, “Using the penis as a lever….”

    But, srsly, on the condescending jerks thing? Shrug. I don’t care. I have a gun and I can probably shoot better than they can. Them bein’ ijits doesn’t change that, it just gives me more to snicker at.

    This isn’t grade school. Every last form of the ol’ “shamey-shamey, you’re not playing right, I’m gonna tellll” crap is just crap — smells bad and sticks to your boot no matter what critter produced it. Got better things to do with my time than play in it.

  38. Kristopher says:

    Mausergirl: Ermmm … you own a Berretta 93? Cool … it does have a lever on it … a full auto lever.

    How are you going to get a form 5320 for NY state?

    Your husband is a lucky man … I wish my wife had a better agglomeration of firearms than mine ( although she did finally buy her own damned gun safe ).

  39. Borepatch says:

    The lovely and increasingly shooty Mrs. Borepatch is developing strong opinions on what she likes to shoot and what she doesn’t. Much of this is a complete surprise, like the way she took to the SMLE with gusto.

    She likes different things than I do. What a surprise.

    So a lot of the time, I just shut my piehole and enjoy the fact that she’s at the range with me.

  40. staghounds says:

    I see it happen, but this sort of thinking is just beyond my comprehension. It demonstrates the most profound stupidity on the part of the talker down.

    There hasn’t been a moment in my life that I didn’t know at least one woman who was better at me at any given skill or task. If not at all of them.

    (Except that pointer/setter thing. And I can’t have babies, OR make milk. So all women are ahead of me there.)

    I was poorly raised and didn’t have the advantage of seeing only incompetent, stupid, or failed women as I grew up.

    Even battle- which is a story in itself.

  41. Tim says:

    I suspect you mean sex rather than gender.
    sorry-pet peeve

  42. Lorimor says:

    Keep up the good fight!

  43. Brad says:

    Well said.

  44. georgeh says:

    Age and condition matter far more than sex. I’ve had to switch from a double stack Para P-10 to the singles stack Para Carry Gap in .45 GAP due to arthritis. I need a smaller grip to get a fast reliable grip for carry. Meanwhile, my lady has the humongous Bill Jordan grips on her 686.

  45. Lawyer says:

    Great post! Thankfully, there are several ladies employed at the range/gun shop where I go, each with .45ACP 1911’s on their hips, so it gives a great frame of reference.

    The first time I took my wife shooting there, she asked me to rent a .22LR revolver for her to try. She shot a few rounds and didn’t really like it. She, in her words, then “got up the nerve” to shoot my Luger P08 in 9mm. I spent the rest of the visit shooting the .22 because she never gave me the Luger back until the ammo was finished.

  46. Kim du Toit says:

    I’ve personally taught scores of women about shooting (including my wife, who is hardly a teeny, at 6’1″). Here’s what I’ve learned.

    1.) Carry: most men wear belts around their hips, most women wear belts around the waist; furthermore, women’s waists are much narrower than their hips than men’s are for theirs. If you think that the above doesn’t have implications on carrying, think again. Try to make an IWB holster work for the average woman. (Tip: it doesn’t.)

    2.) Slim-gripped autos: I have small hands for a man, but almost all women I’ve taught have still-smaller hands than mine. Grip size and thickness are far more critical for women than for men.

    3.) Caliber: yes, I’m aware that there are women out there who shoot .45s without a problem. Good for them. I also know a lady (tiny, pint-sized) who loves to shoot .44 Mags to the exclusion of all others. However, like David killing Goliath, that’s not the way to bet, especially with most new lady shooters. The Mrs. (once again, no shrinking violet) absolutely will not shoot a .45, because her wrist hurts after less than a dozen rounds. She is quite capable, however, of popping off more than 50 rounds of 9mm without a qualm. And she is the rule, not the exception.

    4.) Basic physiology: women have smaller bones than men do, and the concussion of recoil can actually be painful to their upper bodies (chest, clavicle and so on). Yes, I know: many women shoot competitive 12ga. NOT ONE woman I’ve ever taught to shoot can handle a 12ga shotgun’s recoil with heavy buckshot loads. Many can’t even handle 20ga, unless fired from a recoil-soaking semi-auto.

    5.) Strength: a lot of women can’t pull back a slide on a heavy pistol. Even my well-worn Springer 1911 causes some trouble for a lot of women, as does the Browning HP and the Kahr PM series. Just as many women I’ve taught can’t even work the slide on a pump shotgun. FFS, most women keep special tools (or men, some overlap) to open jars in the kitchen: why should we think that slides would be any easier for them to work?

    So while I’ll cop to the MCP thing, a little, what experience (i.e. observed fact) has taught me is that women shooters in general need to be addressed with a slightly different approach than men. All the feminist bullshit aside, women ARE physiologically different to men, and when it comes to machinery of just about any kind, that difference needs to be recognized.

    But, as any of my lady students will attest, I have NEVER talked down to them, or spoken condescendingly in any way. LOL one student came back at me, when I mentioned that men have an easier time working machinery by hand: “Yeah, but women don’t need lots of strength to have multiples…”

    Now THAT stung.

  47. Caleb says:

    Strength: a lot of women can’t pull back a slide on a heavy pistol. Even my well-worn Springer 1911 causes some trouble for a lot of women, as does the Browning HP and the Kahr PM series. Just as many women I’ve taught can’t even work the slide on a pump shotgun. FFS, most women keep special tools (or men, some overlap) to open jars in the kitchen: why should we think that slides would be any easier for them to work?

    So I guess my teeny wife that weighs a scrap over 100 pounds, and can rack the slide on my godawfuloversprungforfuckingbowlingpins gun is the statistical outlier, and your (self-confessed) large wife is the norm?

  48. pax says:

    Kim ~

    Your entire list tells me there’s a problem with your teaching techniques.

  49. Caleb says:

    Pax, what do you think, should I call Julie Goloski and tell her that she’s probably not strong enough to rack the slide on a 1911?

  50. LabRat says:

    Between the list and Pax’s response, I need a new monitor…

  51. Tam says:

    Tell me about it. I rofl’ed.

  52. Kim du Toit says:

    Yeah, right. Never mind the facts, just insult the messenger.


    I didn’t say ALL women are unable to work slides or pumps — I just said that all the ones I’ve taught have had some difficulty. Some were never able to get on top of the issue, some managed it after a while, and quite a few went on to buy 1911s and Kahrs. All, however, wished that it was easier, regardless.

    And remind me of one of the reasons why the U.S. Armed Forces moved from the .45 ACP to the 9mm? Oh yeah… was it because the average G.I. Jane couldn’t handle the recoil? Couldn’t be. In our Brave Post-Feminist New World, women can do anything men can do.

    Sure they can. Amazons, all of them.

  53. Caleb says:

    And here I thought they moved to the 9mm because it was the standard NATO cartridge. Man, everything they taught me when I was actually in the US military was wrong!

  54. pax says:

    Kim ~

    I’m sorry you found it insulting.

    Think it through, though: An instructor who has NEVER been able to teach a woman how to efficiently manage the recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun, and who GENERALLY fails to teach one-half of his students how to easily rack the slide of a full-sized singlestack pistol has two choices: he can blame something about his students for the failure. Or he can blame something about his own teaching techniques. That’s about it.

    Given that firearms instructors all around the country manage both tasks every single day with very little fanfare and considerably less difficulty, it’s probably safe to go out on a limb and observe that the guy is probably doing something wrong as an instructor.

  55. […] excellent post about the female side of the shooting sports is enlightening and should give people something to […]

  56. LabRat says:

    What Pax said, in a nutshell. I’m 5’3″, fine bones. Had some issues racking the slide on a full-size single-stack pistol until I… got the hang of it with a combination of practice and pointers. (It’s not a matter of sheer GRRR GORILLA STRENGTH- like a lot of physical things, it’s more about the how than the how much.) Never had a problem with the recoil on a 12 ga shotgun- or, for that matter, with my elk rifle- which is chambered in 7mm remington magnum. Yeah, it thumps and I feel it, but if I keep the thing tucked tight into my shoulder, I don’t need a chiropractor or a fainting couch. I’m not an Amazon, I was taught good stance- as was every other woman in the same class I took the shotgun clinic with. Not a single one had a problem with the recoil. Mayhap have had something to do with the instructors not making a huge deal about recoil other than “it exists, don’t be surprised by it, here’s how to minimize it”.

    Women aren’t as strong as men, but they’re not weak or fragile either. You’re right about small hands and IWB carry, but you’re flat wrong about what female physiology means for their ability to rack a slide or use a long gun with more kick to it than a squirrel rifle. Snide jokes about G.I. Janes don’t change that- and by the way, given that you’re the only person I’ve ever heard that from as a reason stated for the change despite reams of ink spilled on the subject (and given that they’re switching back, are they not teaching military women to shoot anymore?), you might like to provide a bit of backup on that.

  57. Kim du Toit says:


    I looked through my records after my last comment, and found that in the last five years that I’ve been keeping records, I’ve personally coached a total of 57 women how to shoot, excluding family members. (I cannot count how many women I’ve counseled on gun purchases, via email: it’s easily in the hundreds.)

    My observations were based on that sample. If it’s too small, well, too bad. That’s all I have to go on.

    All of them (that I’m aware of) went out and bought themselves at least one gun (most more than one), because my goal is not to teach women how to shoot the biggest, meanest gun they can lift, but how to shoot a gun where they won’t mind pulling the trigger a hundred-odd times per range session, and how to pick a gun that isn’t too much hassle to carry when they nip over to the supermarket.

    The goals for my students (male and female), therefore: practice lots, and carry always. All the other stuff is of little interest to me. If a woman shies away from a 9mm Para, I get her to try a .380, if that’s the most she’s comfortable with; if she can’t work a pump shotgun, I get her to use a semi-auto, if she wants to stay with a shotgun. I have no sacred cows, when it comes to this kind of thing.

    In other words, my main goal has always been to arm more women, regardless of gun choice or anything else.

    Two women have written to me to tell me that their guns saved their lives, since I helped them through the process (both cases were abusive ex-husband/boyfriend scenarios). Another one now shoots competitive IPSC, and one more does the NRA three-gun competition thing.

    So yeah: when I’m told that I’m a bad teacher, I take offense.

    Sorry to go off on a rant, Marko: I expected better from your website readers, I guess. Mea culpa.

    See ya.

  58. pax says:


    I didn’t cricitize the number of your students, or even imply that you hadn’t seen what you said you’d seen. Rather, I took you at your word: many of your students struggle with learning basic skills under your tutelage.

    And if I’m supposed to be awed by the size of your sample, I’m not. Mine’s bigger than yours. 😉

  59. Anonymous says:

    I think I’ve discovered the portrait of one of the more, ah, vocal commenters. Go on. Guess which one. Just scratch out “admins” and replace with “menfolks.”

  60. hecate says:

    I’m a 5’4″ female with small hands, and I have no trouble at all racking the slide on my Commander-size .45 ACP 1911, even with its 22 lb. recoil spring.

    My very first gun was a 12ga pump shotgun. I still have it. No trouble handling full power 00 buck and slugs, not “managed recoil,” either.

    Guess I must be some kind of mutant.

    Or maybe proper technique is the key to the whole thing?

  61. Eric says:

    Idea for a new bar game machine: The Slide Racker. Instead of measuring grip strength or how good a lover you are, we can all adjourn to the nearest watering hole and truly show off our slide racking prowess.

  62. Sara says:

    I’ve shot trap with a 12 gauge for a while now.
    (To qualify: I do use a recoil pad, and I’m considering using a recoil reduction device inside the stock, because I use my brain in addition to my tiny bones.)

  63. […] advice given to women This article sums up some of the weird behavior I see whenever a woman wants information or advice about […]

  64. […] warning against misogyny, even the well-meant kind, in the gunnie […]

  65. Sailorcurt says:

    It must be very frustrating for Kim these days now that he’s leaving comments on other’s blogs rather than on his own.

    He can’t threaten to ban anyone who disagrees with him here, so he has to make due with claiming he’s been insulted at the first sign of criticism.

    When I was an instructor in the Navy we did a lot of trend analysis to evaluate our courses and our performance as instructors.

    There would always be a few failures in each class because the material was challenging and some students just weren’t up to the task…but when the failures were consistent there were only two possibilities: either the information being presented was faulty, or the way it was being presented was faulty.

    If Kim is experiencing a near 100% failure rate, then either he’s teaching the wrong stuff, or teaching it the wrong way.

    The fact that other instructors are able to teach women how to effectively use 12 Gauge shotguns and large frame automatics, it appears there’s nothing wrong with the material being presented, so there’s only one other alternative…

    If Kim finds that insulting, I’d say it says more about him than it does about the critics.

  66. Jennifer says:

    Wow! I didn’t know I was an Amazon! Cool. Do I get bracelets and an invisible plane?

  67. eli says:

    I agree, gender does not have anything to do with it.

    Words have gender, people are one of two sexes, mostly.

    • Marko Kloos says:

      “Gender” refers to the psychological and sociological aspects of being male or female. “Sex” refers to physical and biological characteristics. In this case, I’m pretty sure I used the proper word for the context.

      • eli says:

        as your post pokes a stick at feminine versus masculine generalizations, I thought it incongruous to use a 20th century definition of the word “gender”. A definition that came into being because the word “sex” causes discomfort to some people. In other words, lets call a spade a spade (substituting “man” for “woman” in your examples).

  68. So, some of the men (let alone the women) that I have introduced to guns have trouble racking the slide on the 1911 at first. I have found that it all boils down to two main causes (that I can see):

    Intimidation: Yes, for the un-initiated, guns are intimidating, especially the “big” ones.

    Technique: Until they figure out just how to hold it and where and how to apply pressure, it is hard to do. The main issue with this is that people see the gun as a solid object (the frame) with a moveable slide and that makes them want to hold the gun still by the grip with their “strong” hand and move the slide with their “weak” hand. The men don’t tend to look for an alternate because they are manly and think that sheer strength should do. Once they understand that it is better to use the strength of BOTH arms, pushing forward with their right hand while pulling back with their left, everyone but the weakest are usually able to successfully do it.

    It supprises me how many people I know still strugle with this, some of them long time shooters.


    • Tam says:

      One other thing is that folks have a tendency to just grip the slide gingerly with their fingertips, like they’re afraid they’re going to hurt it.

      Grab it with your whole hand and squeeze. It’s steel; you’re not gonna break it.

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