Letter Re: Advice on Handgun Selection

Hello there!
I stumbled upon your writing on the Internet, and would like to ask for your advice.
I am looking for a handgun for my girlfriend. Primarily for self defense. She wants one, but has never fired a weapon. My main concern is recoil. I was infantry in the Army for six years and have hunted for most of my life, so I have quite a bit of experience with weapons. I do admit that I am not that familiar with civilian models, so if you could recommend some or have any suggestions it would be appreciated. 
Thank you for your time, and I hope you have a good day. – J.P.R.

JWR Replies: See SurvivalBlog’s archives. They are fully searchable.  For example, you can search on “handgun and selection” in the search box.

In my opinion, the best thing to do is first teach her the firearms safety rules and gently instruct her with with a .22 autopistol. Once she has mastered the basics like sight picture and trigger control, then take your girlfriend to an indoor range that rents handguns and have her try out several models. See what feels comfortable to her.  Get the most powerful caliber that she can handle in rapid, aimed fire. Depending on her tolerance for recoil and her upper body strength, that will likely be a 9mm, a .40 S&W or a .45 ACP. Buy the gun of her choice, and then get her lots of training.

The newer “SF” (small frame) Glocks are quite comfortable.  (The grips are less bulky that on the pre-SF models.) The .40 S&W Glock Model 22-SF or Model 23-SF are a good compromise for those who are too recoil shy to enjoy shooting .45 ACP. The Springfield Armory XD40 would be a comparable choice.