I was asked to submit three items on snub skills for a handgun text due out next year. My submissions included; the snub as primary weapon, the snub as back-up gun, and the snub as a women’s weapon. The section on women and snubs is listed below.
Snubs for Women
Offering “women specific” shooting advice is viewed as either foolhardy or sexist depending on how charitable the receiver wishes to be to the supplier of the information. A good friend and a great self defense instructor Yelena Pawela of Y-Training once offered that unless a male trainer wears high heels, pantyhose and carries a purse then he should refrain from offering “girl” advice. I would be the last man alive to disregard Yelana’s advice (except when I am about to) but in my defense I probably see more snub shooters of both sexes that most firearms trainers and I have picked up a few training observations courtesy of the women shooters. On the off chance that some of it may be of value I offer it here:
J-frame guns fit Women
Men and women come in all imaginable sizes and we all know of women who are larger, taller and stronger than some men. None the less the majority of women remain slightly smaller than the majority of men. In many field – including firearms – this is not necessarily a handicap. Snub revolvers tend to be small guns and common sense tells us that smaller sized weapons fit and shoot in smaller hands better than will larger sized weapons. The average woman’s hand is about one distal joint smaller than a man’s hand. When a woman seizes a small frame revolver with the backstrap sitting square to the center line of the wrist and forearm the crease of her trigger finger’s first distal joint falls naturally across the face of the trigger. This is the optimal location for maximum mechanical leverage against the trigger. In other words the small frame snub and a woman’s hand size is a natural fit.
Fine motor control favors women – loading and reloading
One of the training elements I note on the range is that if you take two shooters, one male and one female, each with moderate prior shooting experience and set them to reloading against the timer and in an artificially stressed situation often the woman shooter will finish the reload first. This should come as no surprise to students of stress. When properly trained on the correct response skill sets women often out perform the men. Is this because men can’t handle stress? Clearly the answer is no. The reason for better performance by women is that under stress – fright, flight or fight levels of stress – women retain greater control over fine motor skills than do men. For men there is no shame in this. When men evolved (no pun) survival required greater gross motor control. Fine motor control in the face of stress was not a priority. With the advent of fine motor control dependent weapons our evolutionary advances were turned on their head. Reloading the revolver is a much more fine motor control dependent skill than is reloading a pistol. Try to match up five or six rounds with five or six exactingly matching charge holes under pressure and against the clock and you can appreciate why the women shooters often succeed before the men.
Curves of women and the shape of the snub
One of the hardest elements for a male instructor to discuss intelligently is concealment carry options for women. Women not only have a distinctive shape but also face practical and personal fashion constrains that are distinct from those of men. Fortunately many of the women shooters who come to the snub classes have made notable choices regarding carry methods and concealment options. When shooters call with equipment questions for the class I regularity push them to avoid bringing “range gear” and instead urge them to bring the gear they actual carry. Better to discover the strengths and limitation of their self defense tools in a controlled environment than to discover them in an uncontrolled environment. As a result several concealment options continue to show up with regularity.
While many women shooters report to me that they own a purse holster – generally received “as a gift” – few admit (to me) that they carry it with any regularity and none to date have ever brought one the snub class. Alternatively holsters that are disguised as daily planners do show up regularly and the women with them generally display a high degree of proficiency with them.
A surprisingly large number of our women shooters show up with their snub revolvers in shoulder holsters. While most men have only enough arm reach to get their fingertip around the chest to the point below their armpit most women can get their fingers to reach around nearly to their shoulder blade. This substantial reach advantage makes the shoulder a better choice for women than for men.
Fanny packs are another common carry system; something that I think is a viable option for any shooter. Nylon bags are decidedly more common than leather ones. Several of the women take great pride in pointing out the iron-on appliqués they apply to the bags in order to better disguise the bag’s actual function.
Small of the back (SOB) holsters also make a regular showing although I cringe whenever I think for the spine damage these women risk if they were ever thrown to or slipped on the ground. I do note that the with SOB holsters the women shooters seem to posses draw stroke and reholstering skills to a far greater degree than do the men.
One additional carry method divergence worth noting. A number of men students carry the snub tucked into their waist band sans holster. When they do they are generally using a Barami Hip-Grip with a Tyler T grip adaptor. This carry method is uncommon with our women shooters though not completely unknown. The women who chose to carry without a holster tend to prefer (by a large margin) the Skyline Clip-Draw clip over the Barami Hip-Grip. Whenever question they generally report that the Clip-Draw is markedly more comfortable. It is so common a response that I suspect this is “shape” dependent concession.
Women, Children and Men Behaving Badly
There is an element in the subject of snub as women’s gun that most men never consider when recommending the “best gun for the job.” Women (wives) tend to function around our children several thousands times more per year than men (husbands) do. Men can disregard the issue of hot brass ejecting towards or onto our children because we are proportionally less often around them. We ignore the question of how to juggle a bag of groceries, a child on the hip, opening a car door and maintaining situational awareness because we don’t generally juggle children and groceries simultaneously. Consider the stand-off value a laser equipped snub possesses in your wife’s left hand has as she opens the car door with her right hand. We don’t worry about trying to swing a long barreled handgun inside a car with children strapped in behind us in their car seats because our cars generally don’t carry the car seats. We tend to disregard the value of muzzle contact shooting because we are unaware that when a man attacks a woman he will do so with less ego investment. Having nothing to “prove” an attacker will come up fast and from behind a woman, a situation where muzzle contact response training would well serve women shooters. Men forget that a bad guy will generally believe that a man will shoot him when you draw a gun on him but that his disdain for “women with authority” will motivate him to attempt a handgun disarm. And a woman trying to retain control over her handgun is better served with a short barreled weapon with curved surfaces. Perhaps she will also do better with a weapon that she can fire into his hand that won’t be pushed out of battery in the struggle. Is the snub a woman’s weapon? Well being partial to the snub I would suggest that it posses several features that might well suit a women well.