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Women’s Self-Defense Options Outside Your Home: Evaluating Concealed Carry Firearms



Which of these weapons would you rather have in the event someone tried to attack you?

  1. Hatpin
  2. Kubaton
  3. Stun gun
  4. Pocketknife
  5. Pepper spray 
  6. Concealed carry firearm

These are all things that have been recommended for women to carry with them to defend themselves in the event of an attack.


Digging Deeper

Let’s discuss the positives and drawbacks of each one.

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Hatpin – This may be the least squeamish option on the list. A hatpin is about 20 centimeters long. It’s sharp but thin. In 1908, laws were passed in the U.S. that limited the length of them so that suffragettes would be less likely to use them as weapons. Nevertheless, poking a perpetrator with a hatpin is going to hurt slightly, but it’s more likely to just make him angrier…and more determined to hurt you.  

Kubaton – This 14-centimeter hard plastic tube is often attached to women’s key chains to thwart off attackers. The problem is, this weapon only works well when you know the specific sensitive areas to apply it to. But if you don’t know what you’re doing (and don’t practice), it’s as useless as a key fob that reads, “World’s Greatest Mom.”

Stun gun – These electroshock devices will send a current of electricity through the perpetrator’s body that will have him thinking twice about attacking you.  There are problems though. You have to be close enough to make contact with the attacker – and the jolt is very temporary. So you’d better have some other form of backup defense at the ready. Also, there is clothing that can be worn that protects the wearer from feeling the shock.

Pocketknife – Knives can be very effective self-defense weapons. The problem is, again you’re going to need to be very close to inflict any damage. You need to be able to be lightning quick in getting your blade ready for action. And, depending on his size and determination, don’t be surprised if he wrestles the knife away, and uses it on YOU.

Pepper spray – This chemical agent is often used by police for riot control. It causes immediate inflammation of the eyes so the perp can’t see well or act easily. So why shouldn’t you use it to defend yourself? One reason is that if there’s any wind at all, you’re going to feel the same effects as the person attacking you.

Salt Supply Pepper Spray Gun Self Defense Kit Medium
  • ALL IN ONE KIT - Each SALT self defense kit includes 1 pepper spray gun, 10 pepper spray rounds, 10 practice rounds, 1 magazine (7-round), 1 lockable case (lock not included), 1 easy to follow user manual. (12 gram, non-threaded CO2 not included)
  • LONG DISTANCE FOR YOUR PROTECTION - 150+ feet and 21 shots of proven range vs. 6-10 feet for normal pepper spray.
  • MILITARY STRENGTH - Proven safe and effective by agencies including the U.S. Military, State police and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Even if there isn’t any wind, pepper spray floats on air and drifts indiscriminately, so you still might be affected by the fumes. Plus, many people planning to do harm to others train themselves to be resistant to the effects. I have a policeman friend who is fond of saying, “If you want to get raped by a man with a runny nose, itchy eyes, and a really bad attitude, by all means, carry mace or pepper spray.

Concealed carry firearm – This is the only option that has the proven ability to STOP the attack, dead in its tracks if you’ll pardon the pun. It can be used at a distance – you don’t even need to get close enough to touch the attacker if you have one. Still, a firearm requires training to be used effectively (even though you don’t need the in-depth martial arts training a Kubaton requires).

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Plus, it’s its own alarm. In other words, it’s loud. And even if you miss, it sends bad guys running while alerting others to your situation. When the first Colt pistol was released, the marketing mantra was, “Fear no man, no matter his size. Call on me. I will equalize.” Still today, the best “equalizer” is the personal firearm.

So let’s say you’re convinced to forgo the hatpin, the Kubaton, the stun gun, the pocketknife, and the pepper spray for self-protection outside of your home.

Instead, you’ve decided on a  concealed carry firearm. Good choice!

Let’s talk about how to choose the concealed carry gun that’s right for you.


Choosing to Carry a Concealed Gun

A lot of areas in the United States have easy access to a permit to carry a concealed firearm. In some states, you don’t need a permit at all. These are states and localities that believe the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land, specifically, the Second Amendment. They call this act “Constitutional Carry.” Know the laws of your state.

Now I live in the Los Angeles, California area.

And the odds of getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon in L.A. County is like making a bet on a three-legged horse in the Kentucky Derby.

However, other surrounding counties can and do issue permits. And if you manage to get a concealed carry permit outside of Los Angeles, it’s valid statewide – including in Los Angeles!

It's also true that in California, you don’t need a permit to carry concealed on your own private property or place of business. So there are most likely more guns out there under more jackets than you might think!

IMPORTANT: Once again, the suggestions you’re going to read about assume you’re living in a Free State or that you’re legally permitted to carry under a restrictive state. In no way should this article imply that you should carry a gun in violation of any laws. The idea here is to protect you – not to get you in trouble with the law.

Every gun isn’t the right gun for every situation. Guns tend to be mission-specific. 

So, it’s possible for some larger folks to effectively conceal their larger home-defense handgun. But given the average-sized person or most females, it's not as likely.

When you’re evaluating a concealed carry gun, you'll want something small enough to conceal, light enough to carry for hours on end, and powerful enough to get the job done should you ever need to use it.  Now that’s a tricky combination!

Still, there are some good choices out there. The most important thing is to get a gun you will carry regularly.

The very best carry gun is useless if you decide it's a pain, and leave it at home!

Almost of equal importance to the gun is the holster (or rig) you’ll use to carry it.

Honestly, so-called “pocket guns” actually fit in very few pockets. A good holster can make the whole proposition of carrying concealed easier and more secure. But right now, we're discussing GUNS – so let's break them down into two categories – deep concealment and casual concealment.

Deep Concealment

When we’re talking about “deep concealment,” we’re referring to the smallest and lightest handguns of adequate caliber for people of smaller stature, like most women. Deep concealment is also necessary for people who need to be extra stealthy when it comes to concealing a firearm. (Think of your favorite James Bond movie here.)

To be honest, these guns generally aren’t very pleasant to shoot because they have a lot of kick But you can carry it all day long with little to no discomfort. 

Deep concealment guns are also usually in a lighter caliber like .38 Special or .380 Auto. These lighter calibers aren’t going to do as effective a job of defending you.

A little side note about “minimum caliber”…Just about any handgun can stop an attacker. If an elderly person has a problem with their hand strength or some other restriction to using a more powerful caliber, a revolver in .22LR can often get the job done. The lesser calibers are not as reliably effective, but remember, the best gun for you is the one you can handle the most effectively. A hit with a .22 is infinitely better than a miss with a .45.

For almost a century, Smith and Wesson have dominated this class of handguns, although there are a few others that are equally good that have come along in recent years. Still, I like to stick with the proven classic.

The S&W J-Frame revolvers are still king of the hill, (like the S&W 640) – especially the “Airweight” models like the 442, the 642, and the newer, even lighter models like the Model 360.

Their strength is their ease of carrying. But they have their drawbacks too. For example, they hold only five shots. They recoil violently. They’re difficult to shoot accurately.

But the good news is you can forget you’re even carrying one due to its diminutive size and feather-light weight.

One step up in effectiveness (but with a bit more weight to be considered) are the new snub-nosed revolvers from Kimber.

Much like an S&W 640, Kimbers come in stainless steel.

And both S&W 640s and Kimbers have internal hammers to make them less like to snag on clothing or a purse when being drawn – a real plus for most women, depending on how you choose to carry!

Also, these slightly larger revolvers hold one more round (6). Having that extra shot in a self-defense scenario can be the difference between stopping, and NOT stopping, an attack! Plus, they’re exceptionally well-made handguns.

There are a few semi-auto choices that qualify for the deep concealment class as well, like the incredible Sig Sauer P238.

The Sig P238 is a light, stainless, Tritium night-sighted, semi-auto .380 ammo that’s manufactured to Sig's superior standards. It comes with an alloy frame for lightness, or with a solid stainless steel frame that weighs a few ounces more.

The biggest drawback of the Sig P238 though is the caliber – using just a .380 ACP. This is an absolute minimum caliber for truly effective self-defense.

Just slightly larger than the Sig P238 is the S&W M&P Shield. Its caliber selection of either 9mm or .40S&W makes it a full power pistol that’s small and light enough for easy everyday carry.

FACT – the absolute best handgun for self-defense is the one you have on you when you need it. That very effective .45 you left in your drawer won’t serve you nearly as well as the .22 you have in your handbag holster.

Casual Concealment


Casual concealment is when you plan to carry, but you aren’t as concerned with other people recognizing that you’re carrying. If shootability is more important than concealment, you’re a candidate for casual concealment.

While the deep concealment guns can be hidden by the average person under little more than a t-shirt, casual concealment guns require better holsters and probably some extra clothing covering them, like a jacket.

Now, these deep concealment guns tend to be a little bigger and a little heavier than your casual concealment guns.  In general, they’re closer in size to home defense sized guns. In fact, in many cases, they’re just compact versions of their full-sized counterparts. 

And many of these compact versions use the same manual of arms and controls as their full-sized cousins. So buying one firearm for home defense, and buying the compact version (by the same manufacturer) for concealed carry is a smart way to go. Learning one system and sticking with it has definite advantages.

So, whether you are a CCW holder, or plan to just carry in your place of business, there are a plethora of choices. You just have to make the decision on the concealed carry firearm that’s best for you. And then be sure to CARRY it!

As always, get a gun where the grip feels comfortable and secure in your hand.

Examine your lifestyle, and find the most stable and effective method for carrying your concealed carry gun.

Determine what the laws concerning self-defense are in your area. Protect yourself within the legal limits.

Make sure you take the time to handle and familiarize yourself with your concealed carry gun and holster BEFORE you need it.

Contact a shooting professionally and arrange to get several firearm lessons under different conditions – calm and stressful. A good professional should be able to show you how to draw from cover, present your weapon efficiently, and hit with good combat accuracy.

Once you’ve done all that, congratulations. You have chosen to not be another victim in a long line of crime statistics.

Keep reading in part two here

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