We've been getting a lot of request to put together a buyers guide for new handgun owners. If you already own a firearm then you know there are a lot of things you wish you knew before you bought that first firearm. With the rise in new gun owners we put together a few things you will want to consider when shopping for your first gun and also a few recommendations about what I use for daily carry. There are also a few must haves we included to prevent you from making multiple return trips.
1. Buyer's Guide | Caliber:
Practice and familiarity will be critical components of purchasing your new firearm. This is why I recommend new gun owners to purchase something that they can take to the range and shoot regularly. Consider things like standard issue, availability, and pricing. I can not emphasize enough the importance of getting ammo that is readily available. In my mind, 9mm ammo, is a great start. For a new gun owner, you will need a lot of ammo. This is because you will be spending a lot of time practicing on the range to become both familiar and comfortable with your new firearm purchase.
9mm is a very popular caliber for gun owners in general. This wide demand makes ammo more available wherever you live. That popularity also makes it cheap enough that you can get more training shots in during your range time. It also a ton of good defensive ammo options. Anything less than 9mm, like .380, .32acp, and .22LR is great for the range, or extreme close up, but not ideal for self-defense. This is what makes the 9mm a good caliber for new gun owners and why I make it a personal recommendation when working with first time buyers.
2. Buyer's Guide | Size:
If I had to have only ONE pistol, it would be a service weapon size pistol with a minimum barrel length of 4". The reason being, it's still manageable to carry; the key here is getting an excellent holster AND belt. I recommend a pistol like the Glock 19. Other good alternate is the Sig Sauer P320, or the CZ P10 compact.
A common misconception is to match the gun size, with the person. I often see boyfriends/husbands buying their wife/GF a pocket pistol, aka a subcompact/compact pistol. Although it will get cute points, it does them a colossal disservice because smaller guns require more grip strength to control and shoot. Its other major downfall is its lack of firepower, as most only allow 6-7 rounds.
It is to me, more of a "get off me" gun. Or if/when that person is within 7 yards. A large gun is not only softer to shoot, but also easier to manipulate under duress. It doesn't give me the confidence to keeping the threat at a distance. The long slide with a full-frame allows me to be more accurate at 15 yards or further. The key, combined with this, is to spot the threat before it gets inside of your 7 yards.
Sub compacts are what I consider, better than nothing, and requires more training. I have it as my last-ditch gun, not my primary go-to. Carry for defensive purposes should be comforting, not comfortable.
3. Buyer's Guide | Pistol Types:
For a single gun, I would go with a semi-automatic over a revolver for a general- purpose, new shooter. Semi-autos have a more gradual learning curve and also have better firepower. Service guns typically have a capacity of 15 rounds or more. Between SEMI Autos, there are multiple hammer types. There is Single action only like 1911's, SA/DA, and Striker fired pistols.
For the sake of keeping it as simple as possible, I recommend a striker-fired gun with passive safety. The simpler, the better so the new shooter can focus on the finer points of marksmanship. Trigger press, breathing & sight picture.
New Gun Owner Upgrades:
Upgrades to your carry gun are not always necessary. I would recommend not getting a lot and going overboard at first. However, there are a few bare essentials that I do recommend for new gun owners:
- The best accessory for any gun is range time and training. Every weapon requires a certain amount of reps before you can feel comfortable with it. Train often and correctly, and you will be ready rather than trying to "get ready" when that time comes.
- USE DEFENSIVE AMMO! This is a big one, especially for folks with neighbors and live with family members. Most of you are going to get sticker shock when you see how much defensive ammo is, it is MONEY WELL SPENT. Do not only buy enough to load a magazine but buy an extra 50 rounds to fire and train with at the range.
- Typical defensive ammo is designed with a hollow point bullet that is designed to expand as quickly as possible so that it not only creates bigger holes to it's intended target but also to minimize pass-through of walls, that could possibly hit another family member or the neighbor across the street.
New Gun Owner Must Haves:
- Night Sights: I use Night Fision Glow Domes. They're not only well priced but excellent build quality, so it's something I have on a number of my carry guns. Night sights are a great idea, not only to find your sights in low light conditions but also to locate your gun at night. Most attacks occur either early morning or later at night. They never happen when it's the most ideal.
- Carry Holster: Choose comfort first. A prevalent and popular option is IWB (In the waistband) holsters, as well as AIWB for "Appendix carry," which is my preferred method. I use the Last Line of Defense Appendix as well as a holster by TXC. They are a lot like shoes; you have to try a few types to find what works for you.
- Carry Belt: You need good carry belt. Two main options are 1.5", and 1.75". For everyday carry, the 1.5" is just fine. The 1.75" is ideal if you are also carrying additional items on your belt like a spare magazine, flashlight, etc. I use 1.75" for my training belts. For more versatility in a single belt look for something like the Paladin that is built with channels in the mil-spec webbing for modular pouches.
- Magazines: Additional magazines are always a good idea. I keep a minimum of 6 magazines per gun. Not only for range use, but also in general so you can have spares in your bedroom or automobile.
I hope this helps if you have any questions, please feel free to post down below!