CC Pistols

The Best Concealed Carry Handguns for Women as Chosen by Women

1. Springfield Armory Hellcat RD
2. S & W Shield EZ .380
3. Ruger MAX .380
4. Sig P365 XL
5. S&W Shield Plus
6. Ruger Max-9


Editor's Note:This article was written by Dick Jones and appeared in the 2022 CCW special issue of Gun Digest Magazine. It contains the most up-to-date list of recommended concealed carry handguns for women from an expert. It is a follow up article to one that was published in 2019. Dick is the proprietor of Lewis Creek Shooting School in High Point, NC. He has trained National Champions, law enforcement officers, and snipers. He will teach you the most up to date methods for handling your weapon. You can contact Dick at (336) 687-3312 or at

Additions to this article were made by John Mitchell, owner of the website All the recommended purses included in this article are made of full grain leather and come supplied with a holster in the concealed compartment. Each concealed compartment is constructed with lining that prevents the imprinting of the concealed pistol . Some of our purses have steel reinforcement cables in the straps to prevent purse snatching.  To see more detail or to purchase a purse just click on the name of a purse.

The guy drove a big diesel pickup, jacked up with huge tires, and walked into the gun shop with a swagger, dressed like he was headed for a rodeo.

I want to buy a couple of guns for my wife and her girlfriend,” he said. “I want to get them something really special.” He then walked to a display case filled with 1911s and started looking at .45s. Eventually, he chose two identical full-sized 1911s in .45 ACP. He talked to the gunsmith and asked if they could be Cerakoted in pink, and he chose two sets of fake ivory grips.

Over the years, I’ve learned that telling a guy he’s making a bad choice rarely ends well, so I stood by and watched as he paid for the guns and made arrangements to pick them up after the work was done. I smiled, wishing I could see how his choice worked out.

Sometime later, two women showed up for a concealed carry certification class with those two ungodly .45s. Neither of them could operate the slide, and they used my loaner guns for the qualification.

Somewhere out there are two pink 1911s with fake ivory grips, very likely unfired.

Women often have different needs in a concealed carry handgun. While men’s clothes fit and wear in the same different pattern, whether it’s for work, casual or more formal attire, women wear a wide variety of styles from form-fitting stretch pants to loose tunics or dresses. Many have relatively low hand strength and are sensitive to recoil. I’m glad to admit there are women who can outshoot me with any gun I have, but they’re the exception.

A few years ago, I wrote an article for Gun Digest pointing out some of the best guns for women. As the result of the shooting industry keeping an ear out for what people really need, things have changed for the better. Only two of the original guns in that article are in this test, and they were the first and second place entries. The development of defensive concealed pistols is in a period of unprecedented growth and development, and the result is that what was the best gun is still a great gun, but new models are always pushing the envelope.

Women need guns that are light, small, easy to operate and easy to shoot well. All the guns chosen are capable of concealed carry use, and all weigh in at about 20 ounces or less. All (but one) have a magazine capacity of 10 or more and have good, usable sights. The guns were tested by 10 women of various ages—from college to retirement—and skill levels. None were sport shooters, and their need was for concealed carry. All were women who have taken instruction in my classes, all related to defensive shooting skills.

The guns were rated on a scale of one to five, with five being great and one being a no-starter. Criteria included size, weight, grip, operation, sights, trigger, recoil, accuracy and looks. Several women said looks weren’t important in a defensive pistol, and I tend to agree. No ones were scored, but there were a lot of fives. One shooter in the group gave the Hellcat RDP fives in all but two categories.