Pink firearms and knives are marketing tools whose most practical use is gnawing out a discussion about gender in the sporting goods department. I’ll save that for another day and let writer bud Laura Roberts explain how she settled on a handgun for her female detective character, Venus Delmar. Roberts took the time to research the perfect Glock – and it sure in the red hell ain’t pink.
You can read all about Delmar’s saucy adventures in Roberts’ serial novel, The Case of the Cunning Linguist. I highly recommend subscribing to each installment of the novel on Jukepop. It’s a fun way to read the story one chapter at a time. I’m a fan of Roberts’ work anyway, and the new chapters of Linguist are a highlight of my week.
The Best Handgun for Female Detective Characters Isn’t Pink
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no expert on matching weapons with characters. In fact, I asked Ben for some advice on the subject when I was brainstorming ideas for my latest work, The Case of the Cunning Linguist.
My main character is Venus Delmar, a stripper-turned-sleuth who lives in Paris. She’s not an ex-cop, like many PIs, just a woman who knows her way around some sleazy dives and shady dealers.
In short, she’s a woman who wants to be taken seriously in a man’s world. What kind of gun would work best for such a situation?
James Bond’s .25 Beretta: A “Lady’s Gun”
At first I was tempted by a .25 Beretta. I had read a great letter to Ian Fleming on Letters of Note, where the infamous author was chastised for arming James Bond with a “lady’s gun, and not a really nice lady at that.” I liked the idea of swiping Bond’s original gun for Venus — a woman who most would probably consider a “not really nice lady,” given her stripper past and propensity to stash her handgun in a garter.
Of course, given the fact that the letter writer helped Fleming choose a more suitable weapon for 007, and in the rest of his outings Bond carries a Walther PPK, the Beretta connection is lost. A bit of a dead end for my lady PI.
And, really, why should James Bond have all the fun of choosing weapons? Venus still needed to find a gun to fit her lifestyle and personality.
I began Googling images of the Walther, to see what the gun actually looked like. Having never set foot in a gun shop, much less taken a day at a shooting range, my knowledge of guns is strictly limited to the fictional realm. I wanted to get a good visual of Bond’s gun to keep on brainstorming ideas for Venus.
Start with Size First
As Ben suggests, part of the process of choosing a gun for your character involves checking out the size of the weapon. I imagine Venus has relatively small hands, so the original Beretta idea made sense for her. She’s also more likely to need a gun for stealth than cop-like bluster, so she wouldn’t want anything too flashy. But what do cops carry, anyway?
I headed to the Glock website to check out some of the company’s offerings. They had a few suggested specifically for women, but I liked the idea of bucking their system and checking out the rest of the merchandise instead. Venus would surely sneer at being steered towards the “lady’s guns,” in any shop. What next, a pink pistol?
The Pick: Glock 36
After much browsing, I finally settled on the Glock 36. The matte black finish looked great for a user concerned with stealth, and the gun is small enough for a woman’s hands without being cute. In fact, the G36 is billed as “easy-to-use, hard to see, and tough to face” — perfect for a woman looking to be taken seriously whenever she points the weapon at your skull.
Though I don’t anticipate Venus needing to blow anyone’s head off in my novel (which is, after all, set mainly in a Gothic cathedral in France), I like the idea of sending a strong message with her weapon of choice. She’s a lady who doesn’t mess around, and her gun should be, too. All the better if she need not fire a single round to get her point across.
Get the Book
The Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books) comes with everything but the ammo. Pick up a print or digital copy from these fine retailers:
9 thoughts on “The Best Handgun for Female Detective Characters is Not Pink”
I suppose the only ‘benefit’ to a pink gun is that the villain might think it was fake. That might be kinda fun…
I hadn’t thought of that, that’s a good point. Some of the training pistols are plastic and come in bold, solid colors.
First of all: Thanks, Ben & Laura, for sharing it freely! It is appreciated. Though I can harshly hold back on adding: ‘Of course the gun is NOT supposed to be pink, the holster is!’
And my own answer for a female who wants a small handgun without losing ‘da bang’ is:
LikeLiked by 1 person
Sorry, I was sloppy on the link-copying:
https://us.glock.com/products/model/g33gen4 was meant, as it is the modern version.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks, Andre. The Model 33 is another great pick, as it’s basically Laura’s Model 36 but in .357. The tiebreaker depends on caliber preference for the story, along with the character’s attributes. That’s a lot of bark for a subcompact pistol, and a hot load might be too much to handle for anyone, male or female.
Thank you once more, Ben! Just among authors: With nearly the same size, why does your chosen Glock 36 have only 6 bullets, when my Glock 33 or 33 Gen4 comes with 9 bullets? The size difference between .45 and .357 is not THAT large, or is it? Rhetorical Question, I check it myself, too.
To clarify one more aspect: As a German, and outside the USA, big bang is not just ego. Small caliber bullets seem a bad choice, when one considers combat-doggy-stopping effect (not just man-stopping). The in-character worry made me consider a Taurus Judge revolver, capable of loading .45 bullets and .12 gauge shotgun-alike, a fitting emergency side-arm for the defensive investigator.
It has to do with how the ammunition sits inside the magazine, and how those cartridges feed through the action. Some designs are better at stacking than others.
One more apology. I cannot edit, nor delete, posted comments here. It is not your but display-by-you Glock 36, of course! Feel free to delete some of my comments, I did not mean to spam-around here!
There is a famous American lady detective who most would not think would carry a gun: NANCY DREW.
Sure, she was a teen, but back in the 1930’s, she carried a gun in two books. The Hidden Staircase and Secret At Shadow Ranch.
In the later, there is a picture of the gun as Nancy shoots a Wildcat; it’s a S&W Schofield .45. Wonder what Major Boothrod would think of that?
In the former book, we are not told or shown what the “shiny revolver” is, but since the story takes place in the late 1920’s (From dialog in the series) and she her father carry it in their pockets, we can make some educated guesses.
Two popular “pocket revolvers” in that era were the Colt Pocket Positive and Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector, both in .32 caliber. However, Nancy says that she’s not a very good shot (The Shadow Ranch adventure says otherwise) So it MIGHT have been another popular revolver: the S&W Safety “lemon squeezer” which some people carried into the 1950’s. Since this pistol could only be fired double-action, (And Nancy might have thought too much about the grip safety) it would have affected her aim as opposed to the single-action only Schofield.
Another gun for Nancy Drew was mentioned in Password To Larkspur Lane. In this book a character asks Miss. Drew if she would like “…a pearl handled machinegun to ward off desperados.”. After some research on submachine guns that could have pearl grips mounted, I’ve decided that Nancy Drew (In 1933 when you could own such things) would be the proud owned of a Mauser M712 machine pistol.
But what would a “girl detective” of the early 1930’s really carry? In a fan-fiction I wrote, I thought about arming her with a Savage M1907 with it’s large capacity, but settled on a Colt Hammerless .380. The slim profile and compact size of the Colt would conceal under Nancy’s fashionable clothing and the eight round capacity (Plus a spare magazine) would get her out of most situations. For “every day” and “just in case” carry, my version of Nancy Drew would use Remington derringer; although I’ve /considered replacing it with the small version of an Ortgies automatic which holds 7+1 .25acp shots.
I’ve fired all of the guns I armed Nancy with and can recommend/ them to any fictional detective of the era
LikeLiked by 1 person