Guest Writer: Kenzie Fitzpatrick
If you’re looking for the best handgun for small hands, there’s a pistol market full of options to choose from. Just like trying on clothes in different sizes, one pistol isn’t going to be a one size fits all solution. Before making a pistol purchase you may regret, spend time researching your options. Get your hands on and grip as many as possible. Then, spend some time at the range with different models if you can.
When it comes to comparing pistols, there are a few considerations I recommend researching before making a decision. The first is the reputation of the gun’s manufacturer. I explore their warranty policies and see how long it would take for them to repair something if the pistol broke. Look up the availability of parts, how long the manufacturer has been in the firearms industry, and if they are still producing the pistol you’re interested in.
What About Ammo?
The second consideration is the availability of the ammunition – whether that’s practice rounds or hollow points. Not all calibers are easy to find ammunition for. The most popular ammo types like 9mm, .380, 45 ACP are what drive manufacturers to make guns to shoot these rounds. Companies that sell ammunition are going to carry the most popular products because they can move products more quickly. When looking at handgun options, research what ammunition the manufacturer recommends using so you know which ammunition will reliably fire from the gun. Expect to shoot your concealed carry pistol every time you visit a shooting range (and if that isn’t often, expect to increase your visits).
The last consideration is your ability to use and carry the best handgun for small hands. Will the sights need to be switched out/adjusted? What holster options are available and will the pistol work for your clothing/concealed carry location? Is the trigger pull too heavy? Once you explore these questions and research pistols, start comparing them to each other to see what will work best for you.
Best Handgun For Small Hands
1. Glock 43/42
Glocks are known to be extremely reliable pistols. When tested against extreme conditions, they have been known to still function. The Glock 43 chambered in 9mm and Glock 42 chambered in .380 are two of the best handguns for small hands. I’d recommend trying these two pistols with a regular magazine and with a magazine extension or pinky extender. The gun will come with a magazine or two, but won’t always have the magazine/pinky extension. These are aftermarket additions you can purchase and put on the bottom of the magazine to give it that extension. Depending on your hand size, you might not need the extension. My hand slips off the gun without the pinky extender, which adds the perfect amount of extra length needed.
Glocks check all the boxes mentioned above, but is it the best handgun for small hands? It’s very close. I do recommend switching out the sights to night sights to add low light/night visibility. If you are able to live fire test both firearms, get a feel for the difference in caliber and how the recoil feels in both. The slimline frame is easy to conceal and very easy to grip.
The only drawback to this pistol is it is lower in capacity compared to other concealed carry options. Depending on your level of comfort with concealed carry, I recommend a sidecar holster or magazine pouch to carry a spare magazine on your person.
2. Walther PPK
If you’ve seen any James Bond movie, you’re probably familiar with this pistol. The Walther PPK is one of the best handguns for small hands. It is chambered in .380 and has a decocking mechanism. The decocking mechanism on the PPK doubles as an external safety. When you first insert the magazine into the gun and chamber a round, that brings the external hammer backwards or “cocks it”. (If you pull the trigger when the hammer is cocked, the gun fires in single action mode where the only action the trigger does is fire a round.)
Using the decocker, push the lever towards the red dot meaning “fire” and watch as the hammer moves forward. Then push the decocker back to the original position so it is once again in the “fire” mode with the red dot visible. (If you pull the trigger now when the hammer is forward, the gun fires in double action mode where the action the trigger is performing is moving the hammer backwards and forward to fire a round. You’ll notice the trigger pull is a lot harder when it’s in double action mode).
The history behind this pistol is fascinating. If you shop for a PPK, be sure to look at which manufacturer produced it to understand when it was made. The earlier PPKs before 2002 were made by Interarms. Then, up until the early 2010s, Smith and Wesson manufactured them. Today, Walther makes the newer PPKs. While not much has changed between them, the grip and beavertail shape vary slightly on the different models.
This is an extremely small pistol to carry concealed. Just like the Glock, I recommend trying to grip the PPK with a regular magazine and with a picky extension magazine.
The trigger pull on this pistol is 13 pounds when you run it as a double action. It’s 6 pounds if you shoot it as a single action. The action on this pistol uses blow-back autoloading. This means the gas from the fired cartridge pushes the slide back to eject the spent brass. This is also the reason the slide is a lot harder to rack. So, if you have small, but strong hands, this pistol is still easy to operate and use.
3. Smith & Wesson 38 Special
Revolvers are also known to be extremely reliable pistols. However, just like semi-automatics, they do require the same amount of proper maintenance and cleaning. If kept in great condition, revolvers are not susceptible to the feeding issues that semi-autos have. Is a revolver the best handgun for small hands? Let’s take a look and find out.
This revolver is easily concealable and is more favorable over a semi-auto to those that carry in purses or coat and jacket pockets. If you were to fire multiple rounds with a semi-auto through a purse or pocket, it would most likely catch or snag due to the slide moving. The revolver doesn’t run into this issue since the only thing moving is the cylinder rotating.
There are advantages and disadvantages of carrying a revolver. One advantage? You don’t need magazines or have to worry about any failures with them. A big disadvantage? Reloading. You won’t have a magazine to reload faster, if needed.
The grip you use on a revolver is slightly different than that of a semi-automatic. Without knowledge and practice shooting a revolver, this is not a recommended pistol for a new shooter.
If you are considering a revolver and you have smaller hands, consider the reach to get to the trigger as well as the weight of the trigger pull. If the trigger pull is heavy meaning you have to pull extremely hard, consider using your first knuckle on your trigger finger.
4. Sig Sauer P238
Sig Sauer produces some popular carry pistols, especially the new 365, but for smaller hands, the P238 makes a great carry pistol. It is an all-metal pistol and is chambered in .380. If you’re familiar with the 1911 platform, this pistol has an external thumb safety and a single-action trigger which should feel right at home with the location of the magazine release and slide stop lever.
The grip on this pistol is very thin and short. Even with small hands, this pistol may cause you to lose your grip when shooting multiple rounds quickly. If you’re able to test out a grip or even rent and shoot it, give it a try for yourself!
5. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield and Shield EZ
The Smith and Wesson Shield was the first pistol I ever carried concealed. Is it the best handgun for small hands? Again, it’s a very close call. The Shield EZ was just recently released and focuses on an easy to rack slide and load assist tabs on their magazines for easy loading. Both pistols feature a thin, texturized grip and external safety. While these two compact pistols have several key differences, those with smaller hands will find both options comfortable to shoot and easy to conceal.
Comparing the two models, the Shield EZ comes with a much better trigger in my opinion. It also features the Picatinny rail. A Picatinny rail is a mounting system that allows you to mount accessories such as lights, lasers, and grips onto the gun. This rail is common on many guns making it easy to take a light off of one gun and put it on another. If you do decide to mount a light on your handgun for example, be sure to order a holster that fits with the light on the gun. The original Shield has a shorter barrel and overall length. The external safeties also vary so in the end, it comes down to personal preference when choosing between the two. Both pistols are part of the best handgun for small hands.
6. Walther CCP (Concealed Carry Pistol)
Walther invented the CCP 9mm pistol with the sole purpose of concealed carry, hence the name. The main attraction about this pistol is the Softcoil gas technology. It helps reduce the recoil you feel makes the slide easier to rack.
So what makes the CCP a good handgun for people with small hands?
The grip on this pistol is texturized and includes slight finger groove. It’s very comfortable and easy to grip. The pistol has a reversible magazine release, an external safety, and a Picatinny rail to attach a light to making this pistol one of my favorite concealed carry options.
If you’re not able to get a feel for this pistol in a gun shop or at a range that rents pistols, Walther offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all new PPQ and PPS M2 series handguns. Check their policy before purchasing and enjoy 30 days of trying it out!
Conceal Carry: Options For Small Hands
Before purchasing any concealed carry option, always try and see if you can try or look before you buy. Some shooting ranges will have pistol rentals where you can shoot their guns at their range for a small fee. Ask friends and family if they or someone they know has the pistol you’re most interested in and go to the range with them. Even if you can’t live fire a pistol, go to your local gun store and grip as many as possible to find out what is most comfortable for your hands.
After you’ve selected the best handgun for small hands to conceal carry, you’ll need ammo. Don’t forget to only carry with hollow points and practice shooting with hollow points as well to understand the difference they make in your pistol. Shoot as many rounds as possible when you’re at the range to get comfortable and familiar with your concealed carry pistol. Practice drawing from concealment both with an empty pistol and once you’re ready, with a loaded pistol. Most importantly, stay safe and stay vigilant!