How to Choose Your First Handgun

Choosing your first handgun can be challenging, especially with so many guns to choose from. Let us help you narrow your search.

When choosing a handgun for first-time gun owners, it's important to consider factors such as comfort, ease of use, and intended purpose. If you are a first time gun owner, there are several reasons you may be purchasing your first handgun. You may be looking for a handgun to defend yourself and your family at home, a gun to carry concealed each day, or looking for simply a fun handgun to take to the range. There are many options on the market to fill each of these roles and some that cover them all, but each new gun owner's needs are unique, and may need a specific pistol to meet them properly.

Let's start with the self-defense-style handgun. This is for the new gun owner who has seen the uncertainty of our world and wants a pistol to keep at home in the event of a worst-case scenario. The ideal handgun for this person is most likely going to be a full-size or compact handgun with the ability to mount accessories such as a light or laser. In a home defense pistol, concealability usually isn't a must and a larger handgun with more capacity is going to fit the bill much better. Along with the capacity advantage of a larger pistol comes an even more important factor, shootability. It is much easier to make accurate hits and follow-up shots with a full-size handgun than with a subcompact or pocket pistol. If this type of pistol is what you are looking for, you might consider pistols like the Ruger Security 9, Glock 17, Springfield Echelon, and the Smith & Wesson M&P Full Size.

Now that we've covered the home defense scenario, let's cover the more personal protection or concealed carry style of handguns. Naturally, a smaller pistol is going to be easier to conceal than a full size. Still, many options on the market today keep many of the most desirable features of full-size guns and pack them neatly into a micro-compact platform. The Sig Sauer P365, Smith & Wesson Shield, Springfield Hellcat, Ruger MAX-9, Taurus GX4, Canik MC9, Glock 43X, Shadow Systems CR920, and many others fall into this category. These pistols are all easy to conceal and shoot well without sacrificing too much capacity. There are many holster options on the market for each of these allowing them to be carried in virtually any configuration. These pistols are right at home carried in an IWB holster, but can also serve well as a home defense gun if needed.

Some new gun owners may be looking for more of a multi-function pistol. They would like a gun that could be carried concealed, and then serve as a home defender. Any of the Concealed Carry style pistols listed above could fill this role, however, a slightly larger but still "compact" pistol might be more in their wheelhouse. Something like the Glock 19, Sig Sauer P320, Smith & Wesson Model 60, HK VP9, FN 509M, or the Walther PDP 4" are perfect for this role. They are larger than a micro compact which generally means they are easier to control while shooting yet still are effectively concealed.

A great place for someone entirely unfamiliar with firearms to start is always a rimfire handgun. This could be a semi-automatic pistol or a revolver. A Heritage Rough Rider, Taurus TX22, Ruger Mark IV, Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory, Browning Buckmark, and many others fall into this category. These pistols are tons of fun to shoot and are quite affordable to shoot often. They are an excellent option for building fundamental shooting skills without breaking the bank. If you find yourself struggling with improper shooting technique, a range day with a rimfire handgun is a great way to fine-tune your skills and work out the bad habits.

No matter what your situation, the two most important things to consider as a new gun owner are safety and training. Safety can never be stressed enough, and the same can be said for training. Get some training from a professional and learn how to use your new firearm effectively. Spending time on the range shooting your new handgun is going to be the best way to become proficient. Most importantly of all, read the 4 Rules of Firearm Safety and commit them to memory.

1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded:

Always assume that a firearm is loaded, even if you believe it to be unloaded. This mindset helps prevent accidents by promoting careful and responsible handling at all times.

2. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy:

Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. This ensures that if an accidental discharge were to occur, no one would be harmed. Be aware of where the muzzle is pointing at all times.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target

Keep your trigger finger along the side of the firearm, outside the trigger guard, until you are ready to shoot. This helps prevent unintentional discharges and promotes a deliberate and controlled use of the trigger.

4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it:

Before firing, be certain of your target and what lies beyond it. Consider the surroundings and potential backstops to ensure that the bullet will not unintentionally harm people or property.

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, it gives a great starting point for the new gun owner who may be new and/or unfamiliar with the firearms and shooting sports industry. It's crucial to prioritize safety and receive proper training on handling and using firearms. Finding a local firearms instructor can be a great way to learn to use a new firearm effectively while skipping some of the initial learning curve. Also, local laws and regulations may influence your choice, so it's essential to research and comply with them. If you have specific requirements or concerns, consider consulting with a knowledgeable firearms instructor or a local gun store for personalized advice.

Image courtesy of Ruger