how to buy your first gun

I had some limited experience with firearms at the time, having begun with BB guns as a youngster, graduating to small .22 caliber plinking rifles, and receiving some basic training with larger caliber arms in the military.
Informed responses should take your special characteristics into account: for example; whether you have any firearms experience at all; your body stature and hand size; whether the gun is principally intended for concealed carry and/or for home defense; and how likely it is that you will engage in recreational and defensive practice.
The same thing can be said about times when defense guns are minutes away…such as locked up in places which can’t be instantly accessed… for example, when you need to fumble with a keyed or combination-lock safe under urgent conditions, or when bullets to render it useful have to be hurriedly located and loaded in the dark.

How to Buy Your First Handgun 101 – Your Guide To Buying Your First Pistol.
For a limited time we are taking our full length DVD and making it available for free to show you how you can make sure to get the best handgun for your needs.
How to buy your first handgun 101 was created to help you pick your first handgun.
Discover how to buy the perfect first handgun for you.
Choosing your first handgun.
To fully load a semi-automatic the operator has to insert cartridges one at a time into a magazine (one action per cartridge), and then load the magazine into the pistol (one more action), plus the final action of racking the slide to chamber a cartridge.
In order to manipulate a revolver, one only has to operate the trigger and the cylinder release, whereas a semi-automatic pistol generally has a trigger, a magazine release, a slide lock, and usually at least one safety lever.
A modern semi-automatic pistol holds its rounds in a single device called a magazine (it is possible to offend some hard-line gun enthusiasts by calling a magazine a clip).
It is due to the amount of rounds easily carried upon ones person in magazines, and the amount of rounds in the pistol that caused the semi-automatic to replace the revolver in the arming of most of our nation’s police forces.
Advantages to a semiautomatic are: they fit your hand nicely, they often hold a lot of ammunition – or at least more than revolvers, and they come in a variety of different power levels.
There is a wide variety of ammunition available for a .38 – so you start out with a lower power practice load and guard the homestead with a stronger round.
Yes, there are stronger guns but if you are a new shooter a .38 will be easy to shoot and ammunition is readily available.
None the less, what prompted me to write the article in the first place was due to the fact that over the last few years, I have seen many first time buyers at the gun shops buying a weapon that was not well suited to them or their purpose.
The majority of these people giving the advice come to the consensus that the first weapon you should own is something you’re comfortable firing.
Some are completely new to the gun and ammo world and are feeling lost about what gun to buy, what ammo to buy, how much ammo do I need, and how much money should I spend? It’s completely understandable; a lot of gun rights supporters grew up in homes with guns, and therefore have always been around them, so these questions may fall on deaf ears.
So my answer to this is not to go into buying a weapon with the mentality of simply being comfortable with your gun, but balancing the need for comfort with the needs of firepower and price.
Address the shortcomings of your weapons before spending the money to tacticalize them, and you’ll be well on your way to a good first weapon.
One word of caution: some handguns do not feed hollow points well, so you should run a few mags of your chosen self-defense ammo through it to ensure it won’t fail in a time of need.
You can throw a ton of sexy gear on your AR, but have you ever thought about a better charging handle like the Bravo Gun Fighter series? It’s hardly noticeable and not too sexy, but it actually improves a vital part of the weapon.
And when they need clean water, elite soldiers are choosing the Paratroopers Water Purifier — the smallest, lightest, and most durable water purifier on earth! It’s so small and lightweight you can easily carry it in your pocket or purse, backpack or glove box.
The most comfortable weapon I’ve ever fired is a tie between a Kimber Ultra Carry 2 in .45 ACP and a Ruger 10/22.
Secondly, if it is going to be their only weapon as many first time buyers have told me, I hate to see that person short themselves on utility.
Slings are for modern people who realize that in bad situations you may have to take your hands off the weapon to do things like treat the wounded, use a radio, read a map and compass, climb a ladder… and the list goes on and on.
My opinion is no better than the next guys but I do have some extensive knowledge on this subject and it pains me to see someone spending their hard earned money on a firearm when I know they can make a better choice for a less expensive weapon.
The weapon can dictate a sling choice as well, as a full-size M1A is not going to work well with a one point unless you’re about 8 foot tall.
So I can’t afford the Kimber and I don’t want to risk my life with a Ruger 10/22—so what do I do? I get a weapon that’s a little uncomfortable for me and I deal with it.
The Kimber cost a grand though, and the Ruger 10/22 is a great weapon, but not the best for self-defense.
The gun was my Dad’s and it was the excellent Ruger Mark II .22LR. The first centerfire handgun I shot, also my Dads and also 1984 or so, was a Ruger Blackhawk in .357. I absolutely loved shooting and constantly pestered my Dad to take me to the range or to the woods.
My first handgun was an early model 3 screw Ruger Blckhawk I brought from a friend I met at Boot Camp the first week after we got back home after graduation and that was about 40 pistols ago! Whatever you decide to buy the most important thing is Buy It Now (while you still have the freedom to do so).
The first handgun that I ever shot was my father’s Smith & Wesson model 27 in .357 magnum.
Both my first handgun shooting experience and my first handgun purchase were pure joy.
In case anyone was wondering whatever happened to my Police Positive, nothing! Despite owning handguns that hold more rounds, are more powerful and are a heck of a lot more modern, the old Colt is still the one that rests in a biometric handgun safe next to my bed and I don’t see any real chance of another gun unseating it as my family’s protector any time soon.
It would be great if your first handgun didn’t train you to become recoil sensitive (to flinch).
They think that they will be able to find one handgun that will fill all possible areas of want and need–past, present, and future (kind of a “one gun to rule them all” type thing).
My first handgun was a Ruger Bearcat, a 22 reduced colt 1873 clone.
It does mean that a small, light, large caliber handgun probably isn’t your best first handgun.
Purchasing your first handgun can be amazing, but there are a few land mines that I’d like to guide you around.
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I’m contemplating my first carry pistol, leaning toward a CZ with a de-cocker (very similar to a lot of Sigs), or even a surplus CZ-82, since if I don’t like it, I’m not out much, and it’s sort of a cool collectible.
DA/SA designs handicap the user by adding additional, unnecessary skills to the manual of arms (two trigger pulls, decocker) and make getting a fast, accurate first shot harder, for no benefit other than comforting an illogical fear that’s unsupported by real world data.
At a gun show a few weeks ago, there were a number of women looking at little revolvers and pistols, and one seller had a bunch of mousy Rugers and S&Ws – LCRs, LCPs, etc., and he was telling one woman, who didn’t seem very knowledgeable, “Go with the one that feels good in your hand!” She then put down an LCR and picked up an LC9 – “Does it feel good in your hand? That’s the one for you!” This kind of irresponsible dealer is not helping.
I’d hate to see the number of people buying a judge or governor as their first handgun.
I bought a ruger lc9 strIker fired semi-auto for my first gun and carry it “hot” with the safety off.
Many people carry XDs, Glocks, and other striker fired guns every day, but in the back of my mind, I still think that all of the built in safeties are only mechanical and mechanical things can fail (Yes, I know that I am being a bit of a wuss here, but there it is).
I’ve put hundreds (thousands?) of rounds through it now, and although I’ve shot quite a few other guns in the past year, both rentals and friends’ guns, coming back to mine always puts a smile on my face.
Great story! I’ll still get a revolver for my first though, I have my eyes on a 4″ Colt Trooper.
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First time handgun purchasers that are buying a gun for home defense and want to also use it for sporting purposes like shooting at the range now and again, often do well with a 9mm.
In sharp contrast to the restrictive gun laws being proposed around the country, at gun stores, customers have been arriving in droves to purchase their first handgun and register for beginner pistol classes.
Why, too many times their lack of an external safety means if the trigger catches on your shirt as you get into the car and you have one in the chamber….boom, glock leg.
She looked and acted like she didn’t belong there, but she had her permit (NJ required) ready to go and she was there to buy something – well maybe, she thought so, actually she wasn’t so sure… As I tried to draw out what she was looking for by asking some questions and chatting with her, she opened up a bit and I eventually helped her narrow down her choices to a Glock which seemed to fit her needs and her hand the best.
Unless someone has a physical limitation, or if they are going to eventually purchase several guns in different calibers, a .22 is not usually necessary for a first handgun, especially one that will be used for home defense.
Customers are coming in with a varied range of firearms knowledge but mainly they are looking to the sales person to guide them in the purchase of their first handgun.
My suggestion would be something like a Bersa Thunder in .380. It is easy to shoot with nice sights, low felt recoil, hammer drop safety, magazine pull safety, and a great trigger pull.
A .22 isn’t the best gun for home defense although first time customers sometimes think they need to start with a .22 because they won’t be able to handle anything larger.
My muzzle control was ingrained into me starting at 8 years of age, and I cannot stand being at the counter of a gun shop and watch what happens on a regular basis of sweeping others with a “cleared” gun, safety or not.
I went to a gun range and practiced with a .22lr revolver before I bought a handgun.Than I bought a S&W 686 plus,7 shot, 4 inch barrel,SS,SB conversion,hogue monogrip.I was happy but had to sell it.
Walking with a loaded shotgun without a safety was considered dangerous, and all of us were equally competent in operating the safety to get the shot off in a time critical manor.
If you follow the rules of safe shooting then you know the most effective safety and the only one you can rely on all the time is the one between your ears.
It’s not known as ‘external safety leg’ its called Glock Leg.
My first hunting experience was upland game hunting, and a safety was not only expected but required.
Many first time gun buyers have never held a gun in their hand and the case full of guns can be intimidating.
I encourage people to remember this even if they insist on a gun with an external safety.
    No matter what you plan to do you will never go wrong or waste your money buying a 22 caliber handgun.  A new basic semi-automatic can sell for $225 to $350.  These guns will be accurate enough for informal ‘plinking’, target practice and beginning competitions.  Most will shoot within 1 (+.5/-.2) inch at 25 yards so they should hold for the .9 inch center target at 50 feet that you will normally be shooting at.  Ammunition will effect accuracy so it will pay for you to try several brands to find out what shoots the best at the price that you want to pay.  (You might find a used gun cheaper but have it checked by a gunsmith or buy it from someone who will be willing to fix it or take it back if something is wrong.)  New design and manufacturing methods allow many of these cheaper handguns to be almost as accurate as handguns costing over twice as much.  However, balance, feel and trigger pull will not be quite as good.  The main reason to own a 22 cal.
    Changes in the weight of your gun, caliber, size and other variables have a marked effect on how a gun shoots and handles.  I once shot a very small single action 22 caliber magnum revolver.  Even though the bullet was only a 22 caliber, because of the light weight and very small grip, the gun almost flew out of my hand every time I fired it.  Besides not being able to hold on to it, I could not keep the bullets inside a 6 inch ring at 10 feet.  The gun was unusual, but I would rather have it than nothing if I needed something for defense.  Another time I shot a very large and heavy big caliber single action handgun using very powerful  hand loaded ammunition.  It took me more than a few seconds to recover from the recoil and the gun was so heavy that it was hard for me to aim and hold it steady on the target.  If I had a way to rest the gun and really needed to shoot at something with a very heavy and large bullet and I only wanted to fire a few rounds, (as in hunting,) the gun would have been fine.
    Learning BULLSEYE SHOOTING will help you in all types of pistol shooting.  It focuses on the basics, sight picture, trigger control, etc.  This page has a lot of the information that you will want to read to get off to a good start.  Bullseye Pistol Shooting is a popular and easy competition and many of the local clubs have Bullseye Pistol Matches and the ORANGE COUNTY PISTOL LEAGUE holds inter club matches at the MASTER CLASS Range in Monroe.  Many local clubs and MASTER CLASS Range also have Pistol Leagues that are open to anyone, no matter how new of a shooter you are.  You will need a 22 cal.
    If you only want to have a handgun for the home, do not want to spend much money and do not plan to practice often then many would suggest a 4 inch quality used revolver in 357 Magnum or 38 special.  (You can shoot a 38 special in a 357 Magnum but not the reverse.  The bullets are the same size but the 357 case is slightly longer and more powerful and therefore slightly harder to shoot because of the additional recoil.)  If you are a hunter and want to use your new handgun for hunting then you might want to get a single shot handgun in a hunting caliber with a 10 inch barrel and a scope.  If you know that you really want to do some action shooting you might want to spend a few thousands and buy a semi-automatic race gun in 38 super, 45 Cal.
    It is really impossible for me to tell you everything that you might want to know to buy your first gun and to learn how to shoot.  No "one best gun" exists, and there are hundreds of different ones to choose from.  Do not get hung up on just one point – like how many rounds one gun holds over another or how much power one caliber has.  The most important thing is that the gun fits your hand and you are able to use it accurately and safely.  A small weak person might not be able to hold and aim a large, full size 44 magnum but would have no problem with a Beretta .32 caliber with a tip up barrel.
My first pistol was a Stevens single shot, my next one was a top break Hopkins and Allen five shot 32 short caliber, my next revolver was a Colt single action six shot solid frame fixed cylinder that had to be loaded and unloaded on chamber at a time, my next revolver was a Smith& Wesson 32.20 and my first swing out cylinder style of six shots.
What are you going to do? Are you going to rush out and buy one? And will you buy some ammo when you get the gun? Are you just going to head out to the range and start shooting? Figure it out as you go? Buying a firearm is a huge decision, and one that can have far-ranging implications.
The pistol is a repeating firearm that has one chamber and barrel, and fires each time the trigger is pulled, and the next cartridge is loaded by a mechanism powered by the previous shot.
I realize there have been articles on buying a specific firearm, and much good advice from individuals like River, Jarhead, JP, Hawkeye, OP, Harold, and Cos.
Most cases where people are not proficient are due to confidence and self-esteem issues, and practicing and learning to shoot a firearm well usually solves the problem.
Firearms are also routinely advertised in most newspapers, and private sales are allowed, but again, check local laws and take the same precautions you would when buying at a gun show.
I have had auto loaders from a five round magazine all the way to the Browning Hi Power so pistols can come many ways and it is handy for one who has no firearms knowledge to know the difference lest they wind up with an old French eight mm pinfire LeMat revolver at a bargain since no ammunition is available.
My father taught me to shoot as a child, and he taught me the basic safety rules one must follow with a firearm.
Wal-Mart, Gander Mountain, Cabelas, Academy and other national chains sell firearms as well, though there is something to be said for purchasing at a gun shop from people who are willing to go the extra mile for you after your purchase.
Most firearms accidents I’ve seen or heard of are from people who shoot before identifying the target, or who shoot themselves or others through improper gun handling.
Also, since I was not given the chance to learn as a youngster first-hand, I’ve been making sure my children get safety training and age appropriate hands-on practice at a local club and with a very experienced prepper friend along with his children.
Most gun shops have a list of firearm instructors, most NRA Certified, who teach the safe handling and shooting of firearms.
Always assume that every firearm is loaded, always point the barrel in a safe direction, never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire, and never fire at anything you can’t identify.
The full sized models for home defense and duty hold a lot more ammunition and the trigger on a semi-automatic is usually lighter than a revolver.
While not exactly practical for concealed carry, a shotgun makes an outstanding home defense weapon.
Keep in mind that shotguns that are loaded with defensive ammo fire a wad of lead or steel balls out of the barrel, and the wad does not open instantly—so you still have to aim.
Like the shotgun, it isn’t exactly practical for concealment, but it makes one heck of a home defense platform.
Furthermore, many home defense shotguns only hold five to six rounds, so you could be empty before you know it.
If you are first time gun owner, I recommend taking a class and becoming proficient with your firearm.
The concealable models hold more ammunition than a comparable sized revolver, and they usually weigh less due to polymer construction.
Taking advantage of your Second Amendment right is an important part of not only your personal safety, but also who we are as Americans.
What this means is that you can load a .357 Magnum revolver with cheaper, milder-recoiling .38 Special cartridges for practice shooting.
When you load the .357 Magnum revolver for self-defense, you can use either .38 Special cartridges or high-powered .357 Magnum cartridges.
Because of this fact, you can shoot the shorter .38 Special cartridges in a .357 magnum revolver.
This expansion serves two important purposes in a self-defense gun: it causes more energy transfer and more damage to the attacker (which helps to stop him quickly) and it keeps the bullet from passing through the attacker and hitting an innocent person (which has happened many times with other types of bullets).
A .38 Special revolver is not so large that it’s hard to carry or shoot, and not so small that it’s ineffective at stopping attackers.
Jacketed hollowpoints of .357 Magnum or .38 Special caliber are generally heavy enough, strong enough, and fast enough to penetrate leather, thick clothing, minor obstacles, or a substantial layer of body fat and still do their job.
Fortunately, inexpensive jacketed .38 Special cartridges suitable for practice shooting are easy to find.
Revolvers in a large caliber like the .44 Magnum are undeniably intimidating and effective enough for use in home defense, but are too bulky for most personal defense applications where discreet possession of the handgun is preferred.
For most United States citizens, purchasing a handgun is as simple as going to your local gun store, choosing a particular gun to buy, showing photo I.D., filling out the background check form, and then paying for the gun upon approval from NICS (usually instantaneous, but may take as long as three days).
As with revolvers, I would recommend that most first-time buyers avoid SA semi-automatics simply because the learning curve is slightly steeper and the time required to bring the weapon into action is longer since the hammer must be manually cocked prior to the first shot.
To check your state’s particular rules, simply ask a local gun dealer or refer to Each state’s rules vary, so I won’t cover them here, but some states restrict not only who may purchase and possess a handgun, but what particular models are permitted for such possession within that state.
Regardless of the quarry, a hunting handgun is almost always a bulky sort of implement, either because the gun is chambered in a large caliber that requires a heavy frame and barrel, because optics are mounted, or both.
Many states permit deer hunters to hunt with pistols and revolvers above a certain caliber, usually .40. The .44 Magnum cartridge is well known for its ability to take down even large, dangerous game like bear, and it may be found employed by all manner of medium and large game hunters.
While they are all superior to a pocketknife for self-defense, I think it is worth the slight extra recoil to move up to a more effective "major" caliber, including 9mm (although this round’s effectiveness is sometimes questioned too), .38 Special (also criticized as impotent), .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, and .45 ACP, among others.
When you pull the trigger to fire, the hammer strikes the firing pin, discharges the cartridge, and uses the force of the fired cartridge to cycle the action of the gun, reloading the chamber with a fresh round from the magazine.
I can neatly avoid providing any useful information on this point because anyone who plans to spend cash on a "race gun" or high-performance target handgun is likely already familiar enough with weapons to have no need for my advice.
My short list of quality handgun makers would include: Sig-Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Ruger, Glock, Smith & Wesson (revolvers), Colt, Kimber, Para-Ordnance, Kel-Tec, Walther, Springfield, Beretta, Browning, and Taurus.
During my time as an instructor I have often been asked by students, "Which gun should I buy?" or… "What’s a good gun?" While attempting to answer those questions and reflecting on my own experiences, I realized that I had not come across any specific method or easy-step process on how to do so.
Step 5: Now that you have a pretty good feel for what you want, or at least you should by this point, go find a good price (if that is possible).
No offense, but I find that "Glock" guys are pretty hard core, and too many times I have seen a "newbie" choose a Glock simply because the salesperson "said so" only to find that they didn’t shoot as well, but had more comfort and shot better with a different gun entirely.
There is no rush to buy a gun, but let the salesperson know that you are only looking and want to feel all of the different kinds of guns; take your time and get to where you know what feels good consistently.
Researching from those who know more than I do, and hearing "gun buying experiences" from many others, I then organized a 5 step process that anyone can use to purchase the correct gun for them, the very first time.
Step 2: What caliber are you going to want? You don’t have to land on just one caliber either, perhaps you should decide on at least two, until you get a better feel of exactly what you want.
The down side is this; It will cost you $20 to $30 to rent what you want to shoot, plus the ammo you are going to shoot, which is probably 50 rounds or more of each caliber.
Now that does not mean I am going to carry a .22 just because it won’t kick at all on a good day, but perhaps carrying a 9mm instead of a .40 cal may give you more accuracy, more comfort, less recoil, quicker response etc.
This means that while carrying a larger caliber, you may shoot slower and your accuracy may be worse as well as your comfort level during a heightened situation.
Some books say that one should carry the largest caliber they can reasonably handle, however I find that may depend on some other points of use as well.

Federal does not require you to undergo a background check when purchasing a gun from an individual, nor does it require individuals to notify them of a private gun sale.
If you are buying a gun from a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer (FFL), they will collect the necessary paperwork from you and run the required background check.
Not only will there be plenty of knowledgeable staff on hand to answer questions, you may also be able to try out the gun on the range before buying it.

As you become more experienced at gun collecting and more familiar with the laws surrounding the sale of weapons, you will then be able to make a knowledgeable and legal purchase from an individual.
Many people prefer to purchase their guns in person, rather than online.
Because there are so many guns available for purchase from so many different outlets, your choices can feel overwhelming.
Your shopping choices will include gun auction sites, distributors who specialize in collectible weapons, and military surplus sales.