Ending up with a gun that someone else wants you to have

The more I’m involved with the firearms training community, I’m learning a lot of things about society and people in general that I never expected to learn.  One of those is an interesting phenomenon that people end up owning a gun that someone else wanted them to own.  Here’s part 1 of this same question.

I’m looking at you, pink revolver people.

One thing I enjoy doing in class is asking people why they decided to buy their handgun.  It helps me understand where everyone is coming from, as well as some very basic things about what kind of a person they are.  I’ve heard some great answers to that question, some of which are truly inspiring and thought-provoking.  But one that seems to come up in nearly every class is “my husband bought me this” (or father or neighbor or son who is in the Air Force).

And just to be clear, this happens with guys, too – we’re highly influenced by other guys’ gun choices, just as much as women are.  Case-in-point: I have a friend who owns a classic Walther PPK, made in Germany before Smith & Wesson started screwing them up.  Good little guns – not too small, not too huge; solid grips, decent trigger.  Overall, there isn’t much to dislike.  But does he own it because he did his research and bought the perfect gun?  HECK NO!!!  He owns it because if he ever has to wear a tux or get stuck on a life raft with two beautiful women, he has the perfect accessory!!

And is it strange that the world’s most famous fictional spy famously carried a German handgun?  And how many of you just learned that there is an entire website dedicated to the lifestyle of James Bond?

Everyone knows Connery was the best Bond. But On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of my favorite Bond films.

That’s such an amazing study on human behavior all by itself… but it starts out with such great intentions from everyone involved.  There’s a woman who wants to start protecting herself (clearly a good thing), a guy who wants to help her do that (also a good thing), it’s always nice to bring a friend along when you venture into uncharted territory, yada yada yada.  All good things.  But there’s a hidden undercurrent at play: one person is pretending to know what’s best for the other person… and the “victim” is very willing to let that happen.

Stereo-typically speaking, it’s been the man’s responsibility to be the gun expert.  So many of us guys do a half-ass job of learning about something, then we do what we do best: we cover our tracks by selling our 5 minutes of internet research as the “absolute truth.”

Here’s how this usually plays out: we know that woman in our life, usually a relative or spouse, who we think may be open to owning a gun.  We hear a marketing tag-line like “softest shooting .40 S&W on the market,” and that’s all it takes.  We drag our special someone to the gun store and the whole car ride there is spent with stories like “I’ve done a ton of research.  The 40-caliber is the best self-defense caliber there is and this new fancy Beretta is exactly what you need.  It’s lightweight, easy to shoot, and it’ll kill anyone who comes in your door.”

Guys: how many of you have NOT had this exact conversation about 412,000 times in your life?  How in heaven’s name do you think I got a new lawn mower a couple years ago?  Was it because I happen to know a lot about lawn mowers and I could speak intelligently about the differences in the 145 different mowers in Home Depot?  Please.  It’s what we do, and we’re “professionals” at it.

But here’s the difference: now we’re convincing someone ELSE that we know what’s best for THEM.  So guys, we shoulder 51% of the blame in this phenomenon.  Be a man enough to know what you DON’T KNOW.  Even if you do know guns inside-and-out, here’s a news flash: she may not like the same exact thing that we like.  Give her the information, or refer her to someone who actually knows this stuff, then support her decision.  That’s it.  (well, then take her shooting later)

Ladies: you’re not off the hook either.  I know that research is hard.  And I know that you don’t trust many people, so when someone you DO trust starts giving you advice, it’s easy to take it and then move on with your life.  But come on now!!  Seriously, if your guy came home with these and said “I did a ton of research and I found you the perfect pair of shoes,” how long would it take you to slap him?

They’ll look great with your new Beretta.

So there it is: you don’t take a guy’s advice on nearly anything… yet when it comes to guns, why do so many women get home with a pink revolver that they can’t even pull the trigger on or a semi-auto that has grips WAAYY to wide to hold well?

And yes, this happened at a range class over the weekend: an intelligent, distinguished woman ended up with a Beretta PX4 Compact, in .40 S&W, a gun that I personally love and want to own, but it was clearly not the gun for her.  The gun is very wide and it took a lot of work changing her shooting grip to get her to the point where she could even shoot the thing without her left hand flying off of it after every shot… like she was some kind of Annie Oakley bull rider or something.  Awesome little gun, but she had allowed someone to talk her into it recently.  Shame on her for allowing that to happen (she knew it didn’t fit her even before she had fired the first shot) and shame on whoever that person was who talked her into it in the first place.

Far too many gun stores and “gun guys” talk women into buying something that clearly is not in their best interest.  Stop telling women that they won’t ever be able to rack the slide on a semi-auto.  Stop telling women that revolvers are more reliable.  Stop telling women that you did a ton of research and that you know what’s best for them.  Stop telling them that something is perfect for them.  And please, don’t ever give them advice on buying shoes.

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6 comments on “Ending up with a gun that someone else wants you to have

  1. Kalaryn says:

    I think if one of my female friends wanted to buy a gun, I would refer them to Kathy Jackson’s section in her book about choosing a gun. I would have them read the few pages and hit the stores.

    Too many times while standing at the gun counter I watch guys go up with their GF’s and have guns presented, the woman is like a deer in headlights, won’t even touch any of them. Then I watch the sales clerks try to talk them into holding it, as well as the BF. The girl still refuses and both end up walking away.

    I might behoove sales clerks to learn a little too maybe speak to the emotional side (since women are more emotional based) and maybe offer up suggestions, help them out and not push.

    Fortunately, I’ve never been pushed towards anything, I had an idea of what I wanted, asked to see the ones that met my criteria.

    I guess it wouldn’t just be reading KJ’s section but maybe guys who do want to get a gun for a girl should talk in depth with what they want.

    I know the gun I buy next will be mine but for my sister’s use but I plan on just over seeing the process and paying for it. I have questions set up to ask her when she does find one of interest, the questions are set to help her think about if its right.

    • Kalaryn – Kathy does an amazing job, doesn’t she?

      Yeah, I too have seen that exact scenario unfold more than a few times. It’s a story that’s filled with people who think they’re doing the right thing… but then it ends with the woman bringing home something she’s terrified of, can’t shoot, or just outright hates.

      Good luck with your sister! Just beware that you’re in danger of ending up as the “guy” in that story lol. I’m telling you, it’s tough being on either side.

      One approach would be starting the process long before the trip to the gun store by asking open-ended questions: What do you plan on doing with the gun? Which guns have you considered? Why are you leaning toward a semi-auto (or a revolver)? Can you get a holster for it? Is that a gun you’d be willing to use in a 2-day firearms class? (often the thought of using it for several hours straight can put things into perspective – if you don’t REALLY want to shoot it, is that really the right gun?) Just a thought.

      So back to the couple in the gun store in your example – how can we help that scenario end up with a happy ending?

  2. Lisa says:

    I would recommend anyone, especially a woman, to rent a few first. My gun shop has ladies day where rentals are free with purchase range time and ammo. I have shot so many more guns this way than I ever would have just borrowing from friends. I found out that I don’t like Glocks, they hurt my hands. I really don’t care for revolvers, I want my gun to let me know when its empty. You can find a semi-auto that anyone can rack. Do some looking around for a gun shop too, you might find one that won’t treat you like ‘the little woman’. It might take some time, but its an important purchase and you don’t want to make a mistake just because its what someone wants you to buy.

    • Great point! Renting a gun is an awesome way to learn, for sure. Is there a way to convince more people to take this more seriously (the buying process, I’m talking about – particularly the new shooters/gun owners)? That’s the part I struggle with…

      Thanks for the tip!

  3. Jeff,

    Great article, I spent quite a bit of time with my wife explaining the differences that weight, barrel length, revolver vs automatic make to the shooting experience and what the good qualities were for each use case. That didn’t stop my wife from buying the Ruger SP101 because it was ‘sexy’ when the dealer put it in front of her – first time either one of us saw it. The second gun she bought she wouldn’t buy until she could rent (Sig Sauer P238). She’d been shooting for a few years and liked my Beretta 92 and my Walther PP but not the size of the 92 or the Walther Bite, so she knew what she wanted by that point and wanted to make sure the P238 had it.

    I guess there’s some advice I’d throw in, don’t think you’ll only buy one gun ever. It takes some time to gain the experience to know what you want. Of course as you gain experience what you want will change as well. Guns resell well so there isn’t a big loss if you decide later it isn’t right for you. Most importantly don’t count out sexy, I love the mystique of the Walther and my wife won’t give up her Ruger. That little bit of emotion is what makes us willing to work them into our lives.

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