Whether or not handguns meant for self-defense should be customized is a topic that pops up on social media with regularity. And in the world of women who shoot, it’s about more than slide plates and triggers. It’s about guns in shades of pink, purple and blue (among others). I recently spent some time polling people on social media and talking to friends within the gun industry about colored guns. The research resulted in an interesting — but not shocking — conclusion: It seems the more hardcore, seasoned shooters tend to fall on the side of “no pink guns,” while the more casual shooters and newer gun owners are all for color. So who’s right?
Quality of Colored Guns
It isn’t really a matter of who is “right” or “wrong” so much as it is a matter of considering the facts. Firearms instructor Marcie Thiessen of Armed Citizen Resources made a solid point. “I really do not care what someone’s gun is colored. But I really hate [some] colored guns because they are trying to sell crap gun[s] to low-level shooters,” she said. “Some women … will buy anything that is ‘pretty’ over quality and reliability. Those are the same people who have little to no experience shooting and are less likely to seek out instructors who know better.”
It’s condescending marketing. Unfortunately, effective. — David C. Reed, retired LEO, military veteran and outdoor writer
It’s true too. A ridiculous number of guns being sold out of the box with what the manufacturer considers a feminine color are lower-quality. Attention is paid to color, not functionality. That is not how it should be. Second Amendment advocate Sarah Cade agreed. “When gun manufacturers try to market to me with pink, I abhor it. If the most attractive thing about your product is the color, you are messing up,” Cade said.
Then there are the legalities. Firearms instructor and competitive shooter Jennie Van Tuyl feels “concealed carry guns should look as stock as possible.” She noted that if one should end up in court for self-defense, colored guns will bring more questions about modifications. “Yes, I know changing grips or having a frame coated a pretty color should not make any difference, but an aggressive prosecutor could try to make a big deal out of it and cost you more money to get an expert witness to testify on your behalf.”
For safety reasons, I was always taught a gun should look like a gun. — Jenna Larkin
You know who would agree with her? Massad Ayoob, who has repeatedly stated that although they won’t necessarily cost you the case, customizations may well add a zero to the check you make out to the lawyer defending you.
Are Colored Guns Taken Seriously?
Whether or not women with brightly colored guns are taken seriously is another question often debated. Active Self Protection Executive Officer Stephannie Johnson Weidner says she “[doesn’t] particularly care if the dude at the range or in class takes me less seriously. I do care if the guy I am trying to stop from hurting me takes me less seriously. Might not come into play … but it might.”
I do feel that pink, purple, Tiffany Blue and other super-feminine colors make people take us less seriously. — Kat Malik, outdoor writer
On the flip side of the equation, there’s the need to attract new shooters. Kahr Firearms Group Marketing Director Jodi DePorter stated, “If color or customization makes someone buy it, great. If [he or she] like[s] it enough to learn to shoot, even better.” It’s true that colored guns might grab the eye of someone who might not otherwise pick that gun up and learn. The key here being he or she needs to learn.
In the End
It comes down to fit, functionality and legalities. If a pistol is being used as your everyday carry, it might be wise not to have it brightly colored. Most top trainers and experts recommend sticking as close to factory-everything as possible. That is not to say there is anything wrong with colored guns — there’s not! — it’s just that using one as your EDC may lead to padding your lawyer’s pocket someday. And if you do get a colored gun, keep in mind that a great many guns that ship from the factory colored pink or purple, among other colors, are often of lower quality than flat-black or silver models. Fit and function should always be your top priority. After all, you can always Cerakote it later.
Whatever you buy, though, learn to run it and run it well. Guns are not accessories; they are tools and should be trained with and wielded accordingly.
What Are People Saying About Colored Guns?
I worry that in a world where there was pressure to stop producing realistic toy guns to better protect police and kids, we then started making toy-colored guns. David C. Reed — retired LEO, military veteran, outdoor writer
I am not a fan for several reasons: They tend to be more expensive; I build for fit and functionality, not overall appearance; and the drastic colors I have seen tend to make the weapon appear like a toy (and the two should never be confused). S.W. Waltman — long-time gun owner and serious AR builder
I don’t believe in having any bright colors that might draw attention to a concealed weapon. Jerry Luciano — public relations at Riton Optics
If color helps a person who’s maybe less comfortable just because [he or she is] fearful of a handgun become more confident, then that’s good. I prefer comfort and customization after the purchase. I think it’s a win-win for many reasons. Traci Rhodes — long-time gun owner and taxidermist
It should not be assumed that I need things to be all frilly, feminine and fancy [just because I’m a woman]. I find that insulting. I know I’m a woman and I don’t need a different color [to keep me from] forgetting. Theresa Schick — firearms aficionado and teacher
If anyone gives me [crap] about my Tiffany Blue Walther, I just say, ‘Color doesn’t matter, what does matter is that I just outshot you and your basic black pistol.’ Jenn Jacques — marketing at CrossBreed Holsters
When it’s for self-defense, I would imagine all you see on the other side is the muzzle. As long as it goes bang, I’d be afraid of it. That said, I only carried black pistols as an instructor because it did make a difference teaching men. Lynne Finch
I bought a Tiffany Blue [gun] with the intent that an aggressor might not take me seriously and give me an advantage. JoDee Rudd Ferrell
I think colored guns are badass and beautiful. Shauna Mahoney
Are men questioned because their guns are desert tan or have engraved wood grip plates? We need to start changing the stigma around women and firearms — and that includes the stigma around ‘froofy-colored guns.’ Erin Chronister
About Kat Ainsworth
Outdoor writer Kat Ainsworth has been carrying concealed for 15 years and hunting for more than 20 years. She writes for a variety of industry publications, covering hunting, ballistics and self-defense, though she has a background in K9 Search-and-Rescue and emergency veterinary medicine. Kat enjoys traveling as part of her gun-related lifestyle. She has yet to find a firearm she didn’t want to fire.
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