Sage Advice


Small semi-auto pistols such as these for cartridges in .22LR, .32 ACP and .380 ACP were often suggested for women.

It was a glorious spring day at the Lewis & Clark Rifle & Pistol Club, and the Senior Member was in his usual spot. The rifle range was far enough away the shots were only a pleasant accompaniment to his two favorite activities, reading a book and drinking coffee. He glanced up to see young Rodney Patmore headed his way, carrying the coffee pot accompanied by an attractive young woman. Patmore had many traits the old man admired, most notably respect for his elders.

“Let me top off your coffee,” said Rodney. “I’d like you to meet my partner, Patricia Kelly. Call her Pat.” The old man got to his feet and made a courtly bow. “A great honor to meet you. Please, both of you, be seated.” The Sage had not adapted to the times. In his vocabulary, a partner meant a business partner.

The young woman seemed nonplussed, as indeed she was. No one had ever bowed to her before. “Pleased to meet you too,” she said. “Rod speaks highly of you. He says you’ve given him good advice. We were hoping you might have some advice for me.”
“Of course, Miss Kelly, whatever I can do to help.”

“Just a bit of background, Old One,” Rod interjected. “Pat’s taken a firearm safety course, concealed weapon course and has her carry permit. She read my copy of Massad Ayoob’s book In the Gravest Extreme. I’ve suggested a .380 semiauto as her defense weapon and thought to ask what model you recommend.”

“Thank you, young Patmore, though I am sure she is perfectly capable of speaking for herself. Tell me, Miss Kelly, what would be your purpose in carrying a defensive firearm?” She looked astonished again, apparently at being addressed as “Miss Kelly.”
“What? Well … to defend against imminent and unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm from an attack by stopping the attacker.”

“Very good. What sort of attackers do you anticipate?”

“I guess muggers, street robbers, rapists, home invaders, terrorists, violent nutters….”

Today, we have the option of small semi-auto pistols
firing full-power 9mm cartridges, such as this S&W Shield.

Gunmakers have responded to the need for shooters with smaller hands.
This full-size Walther 99 has interchangeable backstrap inserts to adapt.

“As I recall, Rodney, those are the same concerns you mentioned a couple of years ago, except for the rapists. The PDW you chose was a GLOCK 19, which I assume is what I detect under your jacket since you insist on wearing a bulky belt holster instead of an inside waistband holster.”

“My holster conceals well enough, and IWB is too slow … what the … ?” The Sage had made a movement smooth as oil on water and was holding a pistol; muzzle pointed straight up. Rodney spoke more respectfully, “Is that your old favorite Nighthawk Commander .45? You’re pretty fast for an old man.”

“I’m pretty fast, period.”

“That’s what I meant.”

“Yes, this is the Nighthawk. My point is you and I carry 9mm Luger and .45 ACP pistols. Why would you suggest a .380 for Miss Kelly? Are those who might attack her smaller, feebler, more susceptible, more easily stopped?”

“Of course not,” Rodney said a bit indignantly. “I just think it is important to shoot accurately with a gun you can control. Most women don’t have the strength to handle recoil; what do you say to that?”

“Lisa Munson, Kay Clark Miculek, Lena Miculek, Julie Golob, Jessie Harrison, Randi Rogers, Tori Nonaka, Maggie Reese …”
“Okay, I get your point. I’ll concede women can shoot a full-power pistol. But they still need a small gun they can carry comfortably.”

Pat Kelly spoke up. “You know what Clint Smith says, the purpose of a pistol is to be comforting, not comfortable.”

The Sage’s eyes widened almost imperceptibly, which for him was the equivalent of leaping to his feet and applauding. In a span of two minutes, this young woman had accurately and cogently quoted both Ayoob and Smith. “Well spoken, Miss Kelly. And there are plenty of compact Nines, even .45s. We should talk about holster options.”

“With deepest respect, Wise One, I think I’ll do some online research. Only another woman understands the many issues women face with daily firearm carry. I’d still want your invaluable guidance in so many other aspects of shooting. Such as, how did you get the Nighthawk out so quickly and effortlessly?”

“By doing it many times over till it is done perfectly — for it is worth doing.”

“Ah, Kim”! she said. “One of my favorite books. Of what use is a gun unfed?”

At this, the Sage’s eyes opened wide. For a moment, he was speechless. Then he turned to Patmore. “Young Rodney, if you don’t lock this down, you’re a darn fool.”

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner July/August 2023 Issue Now!