Thank you for offering specific advice. I have been frustrated with friends telling me just get her something comfortable. They do not seem to understand that hand guns scare her even though she would like one. Do you think a revolver or auto would be better
Start with a pistol that is easy to learn on, a .22 is a good start, but I found a .38 special is a good alternative. A revolver is a great entry level because of ease of use. Front sight trigger control! Finger off the trigger until ready to fire, and squeeze the trigger when on target. The trick is safety first on a range and ease them into proper use.
Just had a flashback from the movie Police Academy where the "gun nut" & his girlfriend spent an hour taking all their guns off before completely undressing. Mad Max didn't have that many when he turned his in entering Thunderdome.
I would suggest a lot of dry fire practice with the handgun before you load it with real ammo. I would look at the Ruger SR 22 or if you go with a revolver the Ruger LCR in .22lr. Explain to her that it fires the same cartridge as the Marlin 60 and have her shoot that before the handgun. I'll bet by the time she's done with the first magazine she'll love it and it won't be very long before she's ready to move up to a centerfire handgun. My wife was terrified of guns when we first met now she's got her own Sig P232 in .380. A .22lr is the starter gun of choice, ammo is cheap, there is no recoil to speak of and the noise is tolerable. My suggestion is to take her to the gun store and let her handle every gun there and pick out the one that feels best to her.
Don't buy anything untill she handles it. Don't decide what is best for her - let her do that.
The three scary things about hand guns is the muzzle blast, recoil and the fact that they can be too big on one end and too small on the other.
there are guns that "feel" good in my hands and others thar are too barrel heavy or light or the grip is too big or too small.
A hand gun has to fit the person or they will not use it. Once she decides what feels good then rent that type of gun at a local indor range and let her shoot it.
If she likes it you will know and so will she. Do Not buy the gun untill she is happy with it. You will never get her to get used to a gun that she is not happy with.
Revolvers are easier to clear and more tollerent of different gripping styles. They carry fewer rounds but you can "down" load handloads to keep recoil and muzzle blast to a minimum.
Semi-autos carry more rounds but are heavier. They tend to be thinner for easier concealability. You must have a firm grip for some of them to function. They are more complex and have parts that can cause injury if a thumb or finger are out of the proper position.
I have known small women who liked big guns and large women who thought a 38 had too much recoil and made too much noise. Have her shoot as many guns as possible before she buys one. Help her to buy the gun SHE wants and then take her to shoot it often. If you use paper targets she can see where she is hitting and will get better. Start at a range that will allow her to shoot good groups and as she improves extend the range a little at a time. After she is good with it switch to "action" targets. Swinging gongs and knock down targets give instant gratification but don't tend to improve accuracy skills.
Or another idea may be to find another woman that is comfortable shooting pistols and have her go along to shoot. My wife and 20 something daughters love to shoot together but the wife not s much just with me. Hope this helps
Im gonna throw this out there because I dont see to much talk about the keltec PMR30. The keltec PMR30 is small, little kick, and holds 30 rounds of 22mag. If she does not like that one you can take it from her and keep it your self. I know that the ruger sr22 and the ruger mark 3 are not picky with ammo types so they dont "jam" and are much less money than the keltec PMR30. The ruger mark 3 is the most accurate of the three.