Last Updated on March 17, 2016
Editor’s Note: This post has been generously contributed by Andrew H.
Sometimes, having such a wide array of gun choices can be more of a curse than a blessing. Of course, it’s great that gun technology and manufacturing have evolved to such a point, but if you’re a beginner you simply don’t know which way to go with your first handgun purchase. But it might not be the best choice to turn to just anyone who carries, because all of their responses will be personal ones; just like your choice of a handgun should be. You will need to decide for yourself what is best for your needs. So here are some major tips for buying your first handgun you should consider and answer for yourself before heading out to make a purchase.
#1. Consider the purpose of the gun
This is a simple question – why are you buying this handgun? Do you simply want to have some fun shooting at the range? Will you use it for personal defense at home or personal defense in general, and will need to carry it around with you all the time? Answering these questions now and establishing a clear purpose for your gun will help you determine later which type it will be, because its size, caliber and barrel will be a factor.
#2. Revolver or semi-automatic
Learn the difference between a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol because it will help you choose. They differ greatly when it comes to the firearm’s size, its cartridge capacity, its reliability, how capable you are of reloading a gun under stress, its grip strength, and the list could go on.
#3. Don’t think of your first gun as your last one
Many first time shooters and/or buyers make the mistake of getting way too attached to their first gun. However, most experienced gun owners will tell you that you quickly outgrow it, for various reasons. There’s no way anybody can convince you of that, of course, so you just need to take their word for it. Don’t look at it like it’s going to be under your belt forever.
#4. Start with a low-caliber
A low caliber means a .22. And this is a piece of advice you will receive from both experienced shooters and professional shooting instructors. The main reason is that it will help you learn better, but it’s also because it has less recoil. So it will be a lot more fun to start with that, not to mention it’s going to be cheaper as well. Cheap is important when it comes to your first gun. Why? See point #3 again.
Read More: What is the best gun for home defense?
#5. Find a gun with a good grip
This is not an easy task to accomplish at all, because no two people or two shooters for that matter have the same hands, obviously. You’ll need to test as many guns as you can, until your find the one that feels most comfortable in your hand. You need to be able to move your hands and fingers across and around it with as much ease as possible, and not awkwardly and clumsily.
#6. Research is key
If you’re reading this article, you’re on the right path, but it won’t be enough. Read as many as you can. Then after you’ve decided on a few guns, read all you can about those as well. Find out their technical properties, what they can do and what purpose they serve. Do the same not just for your gun per se, but also for all the accessories you’re planning on buying for it. For instance, if you’re looking to purchase a rifle scope you’ll need to read reviews on what the best one is to suit your needs.
Reading reviews is a great way to find out which way to go.
#7. Practice, practice, practice
This particular piece of advice goes hand in hand with not hurrying into buying. So, after you’ve gone through all the previous steps and finally decided on a small list of guns you would like to own, it’s time to go down to the shop. You don’t have to buy right away, but you can examine the guns and ask all the questions you want. Another good thing about this is the fact that, while you inspect your selected guns, the salesperson might suggest some other guns they have, similar to your choices. That’s a good thing, and you should certainly take advantage of the help.
Think about the ethics involved in owning a gun, especially if you’re buying it for personal or home defense. Owning a gun is a big step in anyone’s life and most shooters say it has changed them. Apart from that, reflect on what it will actually mean to shoot someone. Granted, it will be in self-defense and you will be protecting yourself or your family, but it is not for the faint of heart and it will have serious repercussions on you and your life. Consider these things well before proceeding down this path.
#9. Go to the range
You may not find all the guns on your list to try out before the purchase, but you’ll find some of them. It’s important to visit your closest firing range and shoot your guns a few times to get a feel for it. Ideally, we should be able to test the merchandise we buy, especially something as important as your first handgun, and you actually have the chance to do it. One thing you need to know though, is that when going shooting at a range you will have to buy your own ammunition. This can be quite expensive. But remember, it’s better to spend some money on testing than on buying impulsively and then regretting your purchase.
Never buy a gun just because it’s cheap. Guns are not an area where you want to skimp. A cheap gun might mean it’s poorly manufactured or that it has some problems the seller won’t tell you about. You should know from the start that guns aren’t cheap. So if you’re in this for the long haul, you should be prepared to spend on them, their ammunition and their accessories. The best solution is to buy from trusted and famous brands.
#11. Buying the gun
It’s always advisable to buy your guns at professional and reputable shops. They are more trustworthy and you will feel better and safer when it comes to your purchase. This will also show that you are serious shooter. And that, though you are a beginner, you’ve already invested time, money, energy and research into starting this new sport. Congratulations!
After you become a well-trained and experienced shooter and another beginner asks for advice about buying his or her first gun, remember all the pointers above. Or, better yet, reference them back to this guide.