By Abigail and Jeff Helsdon
Some people say a gun is a gun. You can have an adult gun or a youth gun, and many gun-store salespeople say you should be able to fit into one or the other, regardless of age.
When buying a gun, there are many elements to consider. You want to look at caliber, brand, style, weight, fit and many other aspects of suitability. Women now have something else to consider. It’s the question of whether they’d’ want a gun that is specifically designed to provide the best fit for women.
If you answered yes to the question above, then I encourage you to continue reading.
Women are one of the fastest-growing demographics in hunting and sports shooting today. To cater to the comfort and needs of women, some brands have considered the ergonomics of women’s bodies when designing new guns. Some of these brands include Beretta, Franchi, Weatherby and Fausti. To be clear, women are not having to carry around pink-colored versions for these to be considered “women’s guns. These guns are beautifully crafted from wood and other materials, and they are made for everything you would expect to put them through in hunting and sports shooting.
Some early women’s guns did feature designs of pink camo or just pink. Companies are moving away from this concept, though, and are making women’s guns more useful for all to use. It is much more practical to just use your gun when hunting without added worry about being seen.
Some of the many differences in women’s guns include a shorter stock, length of pull, drop at heel, pitch and cast. To put these into understandable terms for the unfamiliar, “length of pull” means the distance from the trigger to the back of the stock. “Drop at heel” is the distance from the top of the rib to the top of the butt plate (or back of the stock). The “drop at the comb” is comprised of the distance from the top of the rib to the comb at the front of the flat part of the gun stock. For reference, a standard gun usually has a length of pull of 14¼ to 14¾ inches, drop at the heel of 2½, and drop at comb of 1½.
Other differences vary by company. These include a slimmed-down pistol grip and fore-end (a reduction in the distance from pistol grip to fore-end). Shotgun dimensions are often different from those used for rifles.
The reason for these differences is simply that most women are built differently than men. Women’s cheekbones generally sit higher in the face than men’s do. Usually, women often have shorter arms. The way a gun sits in a woman’s shoulder is somewhat different from the way that fits a man.
One of the most interestingly named guns for women currently is Weatherby’s “Camilla.” The company advertises this as a gun that is “designed by women and built by Weatherby.”
The company says it used a personal consultation process to ask women what they would want to make a gun fit better and be more comfortable when shooting. It was determined that a lighter-weight gun featuring a higher cheek swell for comfort was one item. It also seemed that I made it easier to see down the sight with less adjustment. The company found that a stock that is shortened and has a distance that is shorter from the trigger to the grip also makes it more comfortable.
The dimensions of the Weatherby Vanguard Camilla are 13 inches for the length of pull, .875 inches drop at comb, and 2.25 inches drop at heel. This gun is great for the range, field or woods, and wherever you want to take it, it will suit you. The name pays tribute to the first lady of Weatherby—Camilla, the wife of company founder Roy Weatherby.
Franchi makes two models of its women’s Catalyst line: the “Affinity,” a semi-automatic, and the “Instinct” over-and-under. Franchi says its Catalyst guns are not a renamed youth model, but a gun designed with a woman’s stature in mind.
The comb is raised to achieve better alignment with higher cheekbones. There are adjustments to the cast, which is angled between the stock and the midline of the barrels to fit better. Dimensions on the Affinity Catalyst are: Length of pull, 13⅞ inches; drop at heel, 1½ inches; and drop at comb, 1¼ inches.
I shot the Affinity Catalyst and could notice the difference as soon as I pulled it up.
There was no need for adjustments on my shoulder because I could see perfectly down the sight. I also did not feel like I was reaching for anything when holding the gun. When shooting it, I noticed that there was no recoil and I thought it was the easiest and most comfortable gun I have ever shot. I had no fear when shooting it, and to boot, I had the best score in five-stand I have ever had. Personally, I will be recommending this gun to every person I talk to, and I will be purchasing one of my own in the near future. That’s because I noticed such a significant difference with the designs being geared more toward women.
Savage introduced its “Lady Hunter” in 2012. The company says that at one time, this was the only lady-specific gun on the market. This wood-stocked gun has similar features as the other guns already mentioned in addition to having a lighter weight.
Savage is now offering AccuFit on its Model 110 rifles, which gives provides the ability to adjust certain parts of the gun to fit your specific measurements. For example, you can change the comb height and length of pull with the included inserts. This is not a lady-specific model, but it does provide the ability to tailor the fit to the shooter. It has a synthetic stock.
The new “Lupo” rifle also has an adjustable length of pull. An adjustable comb can be purchased as an after-market accessory. This is not a ladies-specific gun, but instead, it is made to fit anyone. Its adjustable parts make it convenient, because not every gun is one-size-fits-all.
This division of Fabarm only makes guns for ladies, so they could be considered a reliable source for accessing women’s guns that are specifically designed to fit women’s statures. The models are similar to Fabarm’s other guns, so they also have doubles and semi-automatics. This is the only company so far that makes waterfowl guns specifically for women.
The “Vittoria” line of over-and-under is based on the 690. It was developed with input from champion shooters and was launched in 2017.
Mossberg doesn’t have a ladies-specific gun (although my pink camouflage .22 is a Mossberg). The company doesn’t offer that stock color anymore, but its “Flex” line in the Model 500 pump allows customization to offer the best fit for anyone.
Fausti is an amazing company that is owned by three sisters. This company was started by their father, but his daughters have assumed operations. They make women’s guns, and also make men’s guns. Considering that the owners are women, we might consider this group as experts on what women look for in guns and given likely first-hand experience, how they should fit women.
Heavy, uncomfortable guns that don’t fit are a thing of the past for women hunters. There are now many new options in women’s guns and a wider range of customizable guns on the scene.
I can personally attest that if you try one of these guns, you may never go back to your old guns.