The pair have now won a sex discrimination case and could gain thousands of pounds in lost overtime pay and compensation for injured feelings.
Victoria Wheatley, 39, and her colleague Rachael Giles, 31, are members of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, a special armed police force guarding nuclear power stations and radioactive material.
To perform their duties they are required to train as authorised firearms officers.
But they have such “small hands” they could not reach the trigger of the Glock 17 pistols they were asked to fire to pass an annual check. They also complained that protective helmets and kneepads were too large and a wooden barricade they had to use for resting firearms on was unnecessarily high.
Both women asked several times for more appropriate kit, but it was not provided.
A tribunal has now found the Civil Nuclear Constabulary guilty of discrimination against both women.
Ms Wheatley is part of the armed unit protecting the Sellafield atomic complex in Cumbria while Ms Giles was based at the now defunct Chapelcross nuclear plant in Dumfries. Though both women are still serving they cannot be deployed as firearms officers.
Civil Nuclear Constabulary chiefs plan to appeal.
But a spokesman admitted it was possible to get hold of Glock pistols and grips in different sizes.
He said the force was committed to equal opportunities.
The women’s solicitor, Binder Bansel, said both had passed the firearms test at one stage and not all women would fail it – just that it was “statistically more likely”.
He added: “This is about creating a level playing field.”
Robert Oxley, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It seems absurd that this case will result in a taxpayer funded pay-out.
“Ultimately though, if you are responsible for defending key nuclear installations then the expectation that you can shoot with the standard issue firearms is reasonable.”