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  #1  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:06 AM
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Default Best Cheap Handgun for Home Defense?

My girlfiend's townhouse was broken into and ransacked last week. They took thousands of dollars worth of tvs and stuff, and tore the place up. To prevent it from happening again she had an alarm system installed and put extra locks on the doors, but she still doesn't feel safe - and I don't blame her.

She wants to buy a cheap gun for HD and maybe an occasional trip to the range. I looked through the CA roster and researched different guns online, but couldn't find too many options for under $300. Right now, I'm leaning towards a Bersa 380.

I'm going to take her to the range this weekend to try some different guns, but was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on a cheap, reliable, easy-to-use, low-recoil home defense weapon. She's only 5,4" and 118 lbs, so I'm looking for something that doesn't kick too much but would still get the job done.

Any thoughts? Thanks...

Last edited by MrMarco; 11-08-2010 at 9:20 AM..
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMarco View Post
Okay, so my girlfiend's townhouse was broken into and ransacked last week. To prevent it from happening again she had an alarm system installed and put extra locks on the doors, but she still doesn't feel safe. She wants to buy a cheap gun for HD and maybe an occasional trip to the range. I'm going to take her to the range this weekend to try some different guns, but was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on a cheap, reliable, easy-to-use, low-recoil home defense weapon. She's only 5,4" and 118 lbs, so I'm looking for something that doesn't kick too much but would still get the job done.

I looked through the CA roster and researched different guns online, but couldn't find too many options for under $300. Right now, I'm leaning towards a Bersa 380. Any thoughts?
Bersa is not "cheap". It is inexpensive, well made and reliable.

My suggestion is take her to a firing range and rent a few handguns (semiauto and revolver) and let her try to see which one she feels the most comfortable shooting and shooting very well.

You don't make the choice for her. Let her choose as she'll be the user in the end.
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  #3  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:18 AM
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for reliable and easy to use, I'll get a GLock.

I would not get anything under $300.....if my life depends on it....

remember.....you get what you pay for.......
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  #4  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:23 AM
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I heard good things about the bersa from women.
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  #5  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:28 AM
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Bersa is a good choice. I own one myself and have nothing but good to say about them.
.380 is not the best caliber, 9mm is a little better. If you choose .380, look at Cor-bon ammo.
Take a look at Ruger and S&W semi-autos. Both have entryy level models at just over $300 plus tax and fees at Turners. The website is www.turners.com.
I always recommend revolvers for novices. Unfortunately, they are all getting pricey. If you can, look for .38/.357 mag in a full size frame with a 4" barrel.
Stay safe.
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Old 11-08-2010, 9:38 AM
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Why not get a Hi Point? They are inexpensive but have a good reputation among those who don't mind having an ugly gun. You'd still have $100 left over for some very good ammo!
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Old 11-08-2010, 9:38 AM
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Default Try to find a good revolver in

.38 caliber. Used. Something that fits her hand. You can shoot different ammo from WadCutters to Plus P hollow points. Simple and goes bang everytime. While I love auto pistols just the ritual to rack the slide; loading and unloading, checking the chamber, etc is too much to do for non-gun people. Especially a women at 2:45 AM when she thinks she heard something.
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Old 11-08-2010, 9:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFord150 View Post
I always recommend revolvers for novices. Unfortunately, they are all getting pricey. If you can, look for .38/.357 mag in a full size frame with a 4" barrel.
Stay safe.
I like the idea of a full size revolver for a novice shooter. Simple, reliable and you don't have to worry about her being able to rack the slide. I would start her out on some light wadcutter loads first. I wouldn't recommend using full power .357 mag as a HD round. They are a bit too loud and she might blind herself after the first shot.

$300 is going to make it tough for anything you'd want to keep for life. If you pitch in a 100. She could pick up a slightly used XD/3rd gen S&W/Ruger revolver/etc. Her best bet might be a 20ga shotgun though. That is within her price range and would have the stopping power you want. Disregard if she only wants a handgun.
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  #9  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:42 AM
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since the Bersa is being discussed... a new one is in the ballpark of your stated budget.

Bersa owners tend to be loyal to these handguns and have good things to say about them.

use the search button for talks on the forum regarding HD handguns; this subject has been discussed many times and may be helpful to you.
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Old 11-08-2010, 9:47 AM
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Unfortunately there is no way to really answer that question. Take her to the range and try a bunch of guns in different calibers and see what works best for her.

As a side note, don't get fixated on a handgun, a 12 or 20 gauge pump shotgun is easy to use, cheap and very effective. Plus being a shoulder weapon the recoil is easier to manage
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Old 11-08-2010, 9:49 AM
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maybe check out the rock island/ armscor revolvers. i remember the .38s selling for a little over $200. the rock island 1911s are pretty solid if that is any indication since not to familiar with the revolvers. although, from what i hear, finish isn't up to a smith & wesson quality but function is what really matters when looking for a cheap but reliable firearm i would think...
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  #12  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:50 AM
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I've owned a Bersa .380 An excellent pocket pistol indeed. But since its her life we're talkin about here why cheap out? At least spend maybe $100 more and get a used Glock or Ruger.
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  #13  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:55 AM
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As others have suggested, take her to the range rent a couple of different guns and try it out. You may also seek out an instructor that could go over some safety items with her and also see if that instructor can bring different types (semiauto or revolver) that she could try out while he/she gives her instruction. That's what I did with my wife. I had an awesome instructor and he brought out various guns for her to try during the instruction session. It turned out that she had better ability with a different handgun than me.
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  #14  
Old 11-08-2010, 9:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evidens83 View Post
I've owned a Bersa .380 An excellent pocket pistol indeed. But since its her life we're talkin about here why cheap out? At least spend maybe $100 more and get a used Glock or Ruger.
+1 on that.

Try a Ruger Sr9c, a lot like a glock but a little slimmer.
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  #15  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:08 AM
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+1 on going to the range.

From my wife's perspective. She loves her Sig P230 (.380) and it goes BANG everytime. It's by far her favorite range guns. Then the Ruger SR9. I recently got a S&W642 that I think will be a great back up gun but the snub nose probably won't be for the ladies. If you'd like the reliability of a revolver, then take a look at the Ruger SP's as they can be found fairly inexspensive.

But all that being said....take her to the range!
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  #16  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:08 AM
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You can get a good shotgun for that price....Honestly, there are levels to home defense.....Get some good motion sensor lights for the outside, a well trained dog, a shotgun, and a handgun are all great.

Not to mention keeping the landscaping well groomed and not providing a lot of places where one can conceal themselves.
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Old 11-08-2010, 10:12 AM
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Oceanbob's post is right on the money.
My wife is not mechanically inclined or into guns at all.
She won't even pick up an auto (or shotgun), but a revolver is just fine and she even likes shooting one from time to time.
A used 4" barreled Smith K frame or Ruger Security Six in .38 / .357 would be my suggestion for something good enough to bet your / her life on.

The Bersa's get great reviews from everyone, I have not shot one but they sound awfully good to me.

ETA: Makorovs are inexpensive and super reliable...another auto-loader option.
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Old 11-08-2010, 10:20 AM
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My home defense gun is a Taurus 85 38 spl. snubbie. It's reliable, cost me $350, and my wife, who doesn't shoot much, knows how to use a revolver. Also, it's not one of my prized possessions, so if I end up having to use it I won't freak out when it becomes police evidence.

The Bersa is a nice gun, but I'd rather be shooting .38 +P ammo for self-defense than .380.
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  #19  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:24 AM
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Great comments! Thanks to everyone for all the feedback. I fully intend to take her to the range and let her choose what feels best for her - I'm just looking for a starting point so I can narrow down the search. Having said that, I think the comments about revolvers and shotguns are spot-on so I'm going to explore those options too...
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Old 11-08-2010, 10:29 AM
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Taurus 85, used, will be in your price range, maybe with a lil leftover. Although a big semi auto fan, I use this at home. Will handle +P, but practice with reloads.
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  #21  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
.380 is not the best caliber, 9mm is a little better.
About twice as "better", energywise.
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  #22  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:48 AM
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Newbie's usually do better with revolvers. They're less intimidating because there's less moving parts and less complexity. But it depends on the woman. Some women LIKE the complexity (or the look), some women don't.

Either way if she's a small woman, pick a smaller weapon so it'll fit her small hands better. The Bersa .380 is good. The problem with some of the compact revolvers is the small grip where a finger or two will be hanging off the bottom of the grip with nothing to grab onto. But if you move to a larger frame revolver the grip might be too big for small hands. If her hands are fine on a medium frame revolver that would be a good choice for a .38 with a 4" barrel from Rossi or Taurus. You could get her a .357 but use .38's in it to get her used to the weapon. I wouldn't go with one of the lightweight revolvers because they'll kick more and she might not like that. A 2" or 3" barreled revolver may make it harder for her to aim well without experience. In semi-autos, 9mm packs a better punch than .380 for self-defense.

As others have mentioned, try a revolver and a semi-auto at the range and see which she likes better. You probably won't be able to shoot a weapon in the exact model and price range you're looking for, but it'll give you an idea of which she prefers. Once you've narrowed down the decision between a revolver and a semi-auto, take her to different stores to hold different weapons in that category to see which feels best in her hands.

The Bersa is good. Same with the S&W Sigma in 9mm. The Ruger P95 would be great but it may be too big. Try something like the Taurus model 65B4, 66B4, or 24/7 too. The Rossi R97104 or the R85104 would work. I would recommend Hi Point, but I just can't. They're just plain too ugly IMHO.

With the exception of the Bersa in .380, most of these guns run in the $300 to $350 range. So they may be a little outside the budget. I think a Kel-Tec PF-9 runs in the $260 range. So that's another option and it comes in 9mm which is preferable to the .380. But it's very lightweight so she might not like the kick.

Good luck.
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  #23  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:59 AM
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newbies generally shoot revolvers better in my experience. a 4 inch .357 shooting +p .38 special is a very unintimidating yet effective firearm.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:01 AM
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No offense but i dont think Cheap and Home Defense should be used together like that. Skipping out on something that could save your life doesnt seem like a good idea. If you want cheap and HD maybe you should consider a shotgun

oh well maybe the Mosin revolver lol
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:04 AM
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Get a Glock/XD/M&P, they are inexpensive, reliable and easy to use and take care of.

Or find a used Ruger/S&W revolver.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:06 AM
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Default Pistols are to fight your way to the long gun.

Personally, I would try and talk her into a short barrel 20ga pump with buckshot. Being an apartment, maybe down to number 3 or 4 buck (actually there are more choices 2/3/4 buckshot in 20 ga than 00 anyway)

If you are set on a handgun, if it is for HD it doesn't have to be really small (like a Bersa). In addition, I don't think .380 makes sense. .380 might be OK as a back up CCW, I just never got it as a primary weapon, even primary CCW.

I know I will get a lot of flak for this, but when it comes to a real gun fight, I believe handguns are not for amateurs.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:10 AM
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3-4 inch 357 revolver loaded with 38 spl.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:11 AM
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More good and economical guns for home defense:

Ken Hackathorn suggested the Makarovs back when the supply of cheap LEO-turn-in revolvers dried up.
The CZ82 is even better. 1911ish controls , 12 shots , cocked & locked or double action like a Czech 75. The ramp might ( maybe ) need a little polish to feed HP's. Use cheap Russian ammo for practice and good US HP's for HD.
Mossberg 20 Ga Bantum pump gun loaded with #3 buck . Use Walmart birdshot for beginner practice and work up from there.
Remington 1100 Light 20. Same ammo. Clean the gas system very carefully and replace the rubber gaskets.
M1 Carbine ( usually too pricey , but you might get lucky ) with SP or HP if the gun & mag's feed HP . Most M1 Carbine ammo penetrates more than 5.56 75 gn OTM -- not ideal in an apartment or condo.
Hope that helps.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:17 AM
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Hi Point C9. If you hear anything bad about them, it'll be coming from people who don't own them. Great gun, very simple, verry accurate, easy to use, reliable.

I'd definitely recommend the Bersa though. VERY good gun! People always say the .380 is not a good defensive round, but they are usually the ones struggling to keep their groupings all on the paper. Shot placement is key, and most common criminals just looking to steal a TV aren't going to stick around because "it's only a .380 being shot"...

revolvers are good too but make sure she tries them out at the range. Alot of noobs pull too hard and end up off target with DA revolvers.

if she's cool with the idea of a shotgun, have her try a 20ga and 12ga.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:21 AM
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I alway agree that a novice or someone that doesn't shoot should get a 6 shooter but the benefits of a semi auto and the fun of it at the range it worth it. I keep my glock here at the house, shot gun in the back room. 300 bucks should be a starting point. Anything less than that I question.

Stag bersa and about 12 others have revolvers for 3 to 400. They will go boom every time. Glocks are gonna be more like 500 or more but are well worth the price.

I worry about a 380 bec I have seen people get shot multiple times and keep coming. Take in consideration that the first sound of a gun there gonna run and yr prob not gonna hit them in the heat of things. In theory a 22 will work fine.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:26 AM
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Help her be a responsible gun owner and let her take a class.

And get her a Glock.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:36 AM
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Does it had to be a hand gun?
For home defense I would get a shotgun, Pick your Gauge, but whatever it is make sure she puts in the time to use it, only thing worse then not having a gun when you need it is being afraid to.

My sister in law is about the same size, she doesn't have a gun(yet) she has a Rot-willer, He's almost as big as her, but if her husband isn't home, she won't even open the door unless she's holding his collar. The other week, guy came to her door twice in one morning wanting her to buy Used CD's, she found out later that guy robber another lady at home alone later that morning.
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  #33  
Old 11-08-2010, 11:42 AM
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Whatever she decides to get, don't just let her go to the range once or twice and have her think she is then proficient enough with it. If it's a home defense gun, I would personally like to be going at LEAST once a week with the gun, keeping up with my skills and perhaps progressing.

I would definitely not feel safe around somebody who picked up a gun, fired it once or twice and then kept it around as a defensive weapon without ever bringing it to the range to practice.

On that note, you might want to go over your budget, as I don't think home defense guns, or any gun that your life could possibly depend on, should be cheap. Perhaps you may want to wait a little bit and look into purchasing a full sized pistol that might cost a couple hundred more, but will definitely be reliable when you need it to be. Like the poster above me said as well, it doesn't necessarily have to be a handgun. A shotgun makes a great HD tool, but again, she needs to be proficient with it.

Look for some used Glocks or XD's in the MP of CGN and I'm sure you can find a reasonably priced handgun to get her started. I've seen them go for around $400 for the 9mm models, so keep in mind that buying used is perfectly reasonable.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:54 AM
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Hi point 9mm for $150
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:56 AM
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Ruger seems like a good deal I personally though think you should go with the M&P 1st Glock 2nd and a CZ 3rd the M&P has far superior ergos and a better trigger than the Glock and have proven to be just as reliable unless you plan to shoot 300K rounds that has yet to be seen. I don't have any personal experience with any CZ except friends that seem to love them and there in about the same price bracket there kind of like a poor mans Sig not in a bad way kind of like a Chevy vs Cadillac.
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:21 PM
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I would also say a 20 ga shotgun would be best. I have one for the wife.
I bought a Taurus 85 revolver for 300 bucks and it works great. My wife and daughter have both shot it and love it.

I would recommend both.
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fennecfrank View Post
for reliable and easy to use, I'll get a GLock.

I would not get anything under $300.....if my life depends on it....

remember.....you get what you pay for.......
Not really.
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  #38  
Old 11-08-2010, 12:27 PM
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AndrewMendez AndrewMendez is offline
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Op, get her a nice 18.5 Inch Remington 870 Pump Shotgun. You can get a new one for 300 ish. Reliable, easy to hold, take her to the range and have her put 100 rounds thru it, then get her some low recoil 00 buck shots. It holds 7 IIRC, and she will sleep great.
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  #39  
Old 11-08-2010, 12:31 PM
MrMarco MrMarco is offline
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More good feedback - thanks, everyone! I am going to see if she's up for looking at a 20 guage pump as an option. Let me just clarify something though... The $300 limit is her limit and it's pretty firm. She can't afford to spend more right now because she just bought her condo and she spent most of her savings on the downpayment, moving, etc. I'd kick in some money to help her out for sure, but I was laid off over a year ago... Anyway, I appreciate all the helpful feedback.
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:36 PM
11Z50 11Z50 is offline
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I'd go with a Ruger P-series in 9mm, the SW Sigma in 9mm or a Glock 19. The deciding factor is what fits her hand. A shotgun is good as well, but the portability of a handgun means that it will be easier for her to keep it nearby.
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