The Women’s Market From An Expert Perspective

To get a better handle on selling handguns to women, Shooting Industry went to top women firearm experts.
Gila Hayes has won state championship pistol and shotgun matches against men.

“Women have long struggled with gear that was sized to fit people who are usually 20- to 25-percent taller, heavier and proportionately stronger,” Hayes said. “If you’re stocking a store to attract women shooters, look for 12-inch length-of-pull stocks, pistols with short backstrap-to-trigger dimensions, and grip circumferences around which women can close their shorter-fingered hands. And provide equipment in realistic defense calibers, not .32 or .380!”

Hayes offers advice on store layout.

“Don’t be in a hurry to set up a corner of the gun cabinet for ‘women’s guns,’” Hayes said. “I don’t believe firearms can be successfully categorized by customer gender. It will only annoy the serious female self-defense gun buyer, and blind new gun owners to the hundreds of different types, calibers and varieties of guns made. No good can come of it.”
Hayes’ advice to dealers also touches on accessory sales.

“A lot of women have smaller, narrower faces than men,” she said. “Safety glasses made for wider (male) faces fit horribly. If customers are shotgunners, carry the PAST Hidden Comfort Recoil Shield for women. It attaches beneath clothing, and works great for a multi-day shotgunning class. It is discreet, fits women’s dimensions, and is a lot more comfortable than the traditional strap on recoil shields sold to men. Also, unless you’re selling a .454 Casull, a woman doesn’t need shooting gloves, and generally they will only hinder her in learning to operate her handgun. Ditto for slip-on grip sleeves or oversized rubbery grips. They only make it harder for small-handed shooters to reach the trigger.”
Kathy Jackson’s book, “The Cornered Cat,” ( devotes a chapter, titled “Gun Store Miss Adventures,” to gun shops from a woman customer’s point of view. Jackson sums up nicely the retailer’s bottom line perspective, quoting one of her readers, Cassandra.

“Like each of the other women I talked to when writing this chapter, Cassandra says she has had both good and bad experiences in gun stores, but she prefers to emphasize the good. ‘Some gun stores just go out of their way to support women shooters. We should really reward that kind of good behavior.’ And on that, I think we can all agree!” Jackson writes.

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