If you've spent any time reading female shooters online, every single one has their own war stories about dealing with jerks at the range and gun store. What is the most common complaint? A female is shoved towards revolvers and only revolvers when she enters her local Merchant of Death looking for a firearm for self defense. The sales staff doesn't bother making any inquiry as to her abilities and comfort level. Some salesmen have even be patronizing and condescending when she asks to look at the semi-autos. "That's too complicated for ya little lady." There is quite a bit of justified anger promoting a rabid backlash by the residents of the gun boards to insist that a revolver for a first time shooter is wrong. End of discussion.
As a 5'3" female shooter, I need to state that there is NOTHING wrong with a revolver for a first time gun owner, male or female, as long as you are educated about your choices and why you're making this purchase. Yes, there are tons of women who are comfortable with a semi-auto for their first firearm purchase or for their first gun for self-defense.
I was not one of them.
I had experienced malfunctions with multiple semi-autos when learning to shoot and I still lacked the strength and technique to rack a slide. The thought of trying to clear a gun while being attacked wasn't something I wanted to think about and I needed a gun yesterday. Now, I can handle clearing a gun quickly and without much thought to it but 3 years ago right after my house was broken into, that wasn't an additional stress I wanted or needed to deal with. I also insisted that we get a range membership and shoot EVERY week. What point is there to having a gun if you're too afraid to use it? Now, we shoot every week because I like it and it often is the highlight of my week, not because I need to stop closing my eyes when I pull the trigger.
I carry a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum with but with .38+P personal defense ammo. It has Crimson Trace grips because I found them more comfortable than the factory grips. It took me about a month of practice to learn to stage the 12 lb trigger. I don't need my sights or the laser to shoot this gun at self defense distances as we have spent a lot of quality time together. I mainly carry in my GUN TOTE'N MAMAS™ Raven Pouch or Urban Shoulder Bag but am moving to on-body carry. Hopefully on Saturday, my new Remora holsters will be here for me to try out. I am also considering getting an LCR though so I can start carrying on my person with a Flashbang holster. I'm sure I will find a semi-auto I want to carry but so far, it hasn't happened yet. Maybe the Sig P938.
There is no "one" magical ladies gun. No amount of pink paint and glitter is going to change that. It really depends on what feels good in her hand and that taste may change with time. Different guns have different purposes too. My primary range gun is my buckmark because ammo is cheap. I know that I improve my skills shooting it and I see a difference in my ability when I do pick up my other guns. I swear I heard angels sing the first time I picked up my SP101 after trying out a bunch of different .38 and .357 revolvers that day. I have an unnatural love for my RIA Tactical 1911 and just taking it out of its case at the range makes me smile and feel content. Its primary purpose in life is to make me happy. It is also my open carry gun and additional nightstand gun when my husband is out of town.
After about 500 hours at the range in the past 3 years, there aren't too many guns that I won't shoot yet I still carry my SP101 for self defense. It is reliable, accurate, and I am confident in my abilities to shoot it which is exactly what I want in a gun for self defense.