Guns for Girls

Allison Loudermilk

Daniela Del Din competes in the women's Trap final during XVI Mediterranean Games at the Manoppello shooting range on June 27, 2009, in Pescara, Italy. (Photo by Getty Images)

I'm knee-deep in firearms this week editing an article on the 5 most popular guns. Yep, firearms fall under the science umbrella here at HowStuffWorks.com, but until this week, I really had no idea how little I knew about them. It got me thinking, maybe I should try one out (on a shooting range, of course). This, in turn, got me wondering, are there guns designed specifically for women? There have to be, right? Especially once you figure that America has between 11 million and 17 million female gun owners, according to Caitlin Kelly in her book "Blown Away: American Women and Guns."

If companies like Packing in Pink have gone to the trouble of manufacturing pink trigger locks, pink ear muffs and yoga pants (?), then some enterprising company surely has to have marked guns just for the ladies. After all, female sharpshooters have been around for a long time -- long before Phoebe Ann Moses, nee Annie Oakley, was shooting the wicks out of burning candles. I didn't see any gender-specific gun recommendations on Second Amendment Sisters or similar organizations. Trolling the NRA site turned up numerous women's programs on improving personal safety, learning to shoot, acquiring marksmanship skills and going hunting with the women of the NRA, but still no "women's guns."

So I turned to Jason Spradling, a press relations specialist at the Freedom Group Family of Companies, a big-time manufacturer of firearms and ammo, to see what he had to say. Here's what I learned. Yes, gun makers definitely attempt to entice women shooters, particularly new women shooters, with various pink-accented guns. Not surprisingly, he says that this strategy alienates some women, who feel that companies are playing to a stereotype. Oppositely, pink product lines can serve as a sort of personalization/customization for new female shooters. He added that said pink guns aren't dumbed-down or cheap but rather high-performance firearms with a softer edge.

But it's not all about color. I've only fired a gun once -- aiming at one of those clay things in a Vermont field. The experience lasted maybe a minute, but the recoil bruise to my shoulder lasted for days. To that end, gun companies may offer new shooters, not just women, ammunition that cuts down on recoil, says Spradling. In the same vein, some guns may allow you to adjust the length of pull or offer shorter barrels and stocks, all good things for inexperienced, smaller-statured people like me.

If I ever actually hit the shooting range, I think I'm going to want one of these weapons.

Set your sights on HowStuffWorks.com for more. And keep an eye out for the 5 most popular guns article. It should be live in a day or so. And school me on guns, if you're so inclined, below.

What's the world's smallest gun? How Guns Work How Shotguns Work How Flamethrowers Work (just in case you're not into guns)