Particularly in this past year, gun purchases for self-defense and sport have steadily increased. Perhaps it’s due to the rise in women wanting a conceal carry weapon, or maybe citizens are feeling especially motivated to exercise their right to bear arms. However, many potential gun owners don’t have the right access to information or know other gun owners that they can speak to. Below is a list of questions to ask yourself and advice on where to start when choosing your first gun. When making a choice, try to consider your purpose for choosing a gun, what types of guns you’re comfortable with and what your price range is.
What am I Looking for in a Handgun?
It’s important to reflect on your reasoning for needing a handgun. What is it that you need to own a gun for? If you’re considering self-defense for the home, there a large selection of guns that a gun store owner can guide you through. If you want a gun for concealed carry, you want to look for a smaller and lighter gun to purchase. Try to decide what is the most important function you want your gun to have. Do you want to be able to shoot a single target in one shot? Do you want to also be able to take your gun out for hunting game? Choose the most important purpose, and begin there for selecting a handgun.
Should I use a Semi-Automatic Gun or a Revolver?
Semi-automatics and revolvers are two of the most popular styles of handguns available, especially for self-defense.
- Semi-automatics, also called self-loaders, use gas to generate pressure into the gun’s loading mechanism every time the gun is fired. A slide moves backwards to eject an empty bullet case. Then, it slides forward to cock the firing piece. At the same time, a fresh bullet cartridge is pulled from the gun’s magazine into the gun’s chamber. Depending on which type of gun your purchase, your magazine can hold anywhere from six to twenty bullet rounds. Many first-time gun owners choose a semi-automatic over a revolver because they are easier to conceal. Semi-automatics also reload faster and can hold a greater amount of bullets. Using a semi-automatic, however, take patience and time to master. New gun owners need to practice their grip and handling with this type of gun because the recoil and loading actions may lessen the stability of the shooter.
- Revolvers can generally be considered more reliable than semi-automatic guns, but they require more skill and knowledge. A revolver can hand a varying type of bullet load, so the gun owners can decide how powerful they really want their shooting to be. To load a revolver, pull the cylindrical chamber out from the side of the gun (it will have five or six compartments to load). Rotate the cylinder as you load bullets into each chamber. When shooting a revolver, you can either fire a single shot with a light trigger pull, or you can fire a double-action mode shot with a heavy trigger pull. If you’re purchasing a revolver for self-defense, you will always want to use the double-action mode.
What is a Gun Caliber, and Which Caliber Should I Choose?
The gun caliber is the type of cartridge your gun is designed to fire. The type of caliber you choose will determine your fire power as well as the recoil you’ll experience when shooting. It’s easy enough to gain a basic understanding of caliber: the higher the caliber, the more powerful the gun.
The caliber will also imply how large the gun is, following the same ratio with the caliber number. The 9mm Para pistol is a good, basic choice for a small and light handgun. Next up for starter handguns is the .40 S&W and then the .45 ACP. Each gun works with a selection of bullets, that vary in weight and velocities. It will be important for you, as a new gun owner, to determine what balance between bullet weight and velocity is best for you. Again, this requires you to think of your main needs for purchasing a gun. For your first gun, most experts suggest you choose a small caliber gun that will be light to carry and quick to shoot. This will also mean you won’t experience as much recoil as you would with higher-caliber guns. Aside from the 9mm Para, the .380 Automatic and .38 Special revolver are also good choices for beginners. Test out which ever guns you’re interested in, and pick what is best for you. It may turn out that a small caliber gun isn’t suited for your needs or ability, and you can move on to guns with higher calibers with a variety of barrel lengths and grips.
How do I Find Out Which Gun Works Best for Me?
There’s an easy answer to this question: start shooting. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should pick up a gun and start firing away! After you’ve done some research and reading, find a store or sporting location that will allow you to test-fire the types of guns you’re interested in. Start by picking a type of gun instead of a brand, then, try the different factory-styles of that gun type to learn what brand caters most to your needs. First, find out if you have a friend or relative with gun experience (and a permit) that can offer advice or even show you how to shoot a gun. If you don’t have access to someone with experience with guns, there are a couple of other options for hands-on gun testing:
- Find a gun store with a shooting range attached. Most gun stores do have this as part of their business, so it’s just a matter of finding your local shop. Firing at a shooting range is a great way to test basic starter gun models, and many shops even offer rentals and classes. A store clerk will be a great expert to go to with any questions, and they’ll likely have great advice after watching how you hold and shoot your gun.
- Sign up for an NRA shooting course. The NRA provides many class options, whether you’re interested in learning how to use and care for a specific type of gun or you’re learning how to shoot for the very first time. In fact, we highly recommended and encouraged that any new gun owner sign their self up for a beginner’s class.
There are a lot of features on a gun to consider when you’re test-firing. Shooting a gun for the first time may be exciting, but always make sure that you have gone through a check list in your head before pulling the trigger. Just like taking your driver’s license test, safety comes first, and you need to make sure everything is as it should be before you take off. Make sure your hands are properly placed on the gun, and any necessary mechanisms are easy to access with your fingers. If you can’t touch the areas needed with your fingers, then the gun you’re holding is too big or too small for you. Make sure to check you’ve unlocked the safety before shooting, and put the safety lock back in place before setting the gun down.
A good starter tip is to test every gun you’re interested in purchasing with at least fifty bullet rounds. This allows ample time to test your gun’s firing speed, accuracy, ejection and, for semi-automatics: the magazine load. It’s also important to scrutinize how the gun feels in your hand. Do your hands adhere properly to the gun? How is the recoil? Do you have palm swell from the grip? Are you pulling the trigger properly? These are all important questions to ask yourself as you’re firing the gun.
You will also need to determine if you can conceal your gun well, if you’re considering a gun for concealed carry. Are you planning to conceal your weapon in a purse, pocket or holster? Can you locate and grab your firearm quickly and smoothly? Is the gun you’re holding too heavy for concealment? Again, ask yourselves these questions before purchasing.
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a gun. This article hit the major components of gun-buying, but you’ll also want to consider smaller details at the gun shop. Once you chose a suitable gun you can move on to customization and what type of accessories you’ll want to invest in in the future. Cost is also an important detail: Guns range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Make sure you’re investing wisely and even on a budget, going for the cheapest options is usually no the best idea. Take your time and make sure you get the perfect gun for your needs.