Handguns have been around for centuries, and there are several reasons why you might find yourself looking to buy one.
Perhaps you live in a dangerous neighborhood and want to own a gun for self-defense purposes. Statistics show that majority of gun owners who buy handguns for this purpose don’t ever fire a gu, but simply buy them for the sense of safety.
On the other hand, maybe you just want to give recreational or competitive shooting a chance. After all, studies have shown measurable mental and physical benefits of target shooting, among which are increased confidence, self-discipline and reduced stress levels.
Ultimately, you might be shopping for your first handgun because you’re looking into hunting for sports, or you may simply be interested in antique guns and considering becoming a collector.
No matter the reason, with so much information out there, you’re probably confused as to where to start, and we don’t blame you.
Here are the few helpful things we’ve gathered for you to consider before making your first pistol purchase:
Buying a handgun for the right reason and purpose
If you’re buying a handgun for self-defense, you’ll want to talk with experienced personal defense firearms instructors or law enforcement officers first.
Having used a variety of guns and holsters, they’ll be able to advise you what handgun would fit your ability to control the gun well, feel good in your hand, as well shoot correctly whenever used.
Choosing a handgun for this purpose will mean focusing more on reliability and concealability when buying while buying a pistol for recreational purposes will favor the size of the barrel and lesser recoil over design matters.
Although handgun hunting sounds counterintuitive, even the largest of animals can be killed with pistols specialized for this purpose. Usually, they have built-in optical aiming devices and longer barrels than guns which are used for recreational purposes.
In other words, the reason why you’re buying a handgun will determine the specifications you’re looking for in a gun.
You should take design, ease of carrying, type of pistol, size of caliber and barrel, safety, price and many more factors into consideration.
Compliance with the law(s)
US firearm regulation exists on multiple levels. Besides the federal statutes, all state and some local governments have their gun laws which may at times overlap, or might contradict one another.
So which laws should you follow when in doubt? You’ve probably guessed it – stricter ones!
Although each state has its regulations, there are certain “ground rules” which are universal for all. For example, the federal minimum for buying and owning a handgun in the US is being at least 21 years old.
There are also certain restrictions in place for people who had certain prior felony convictions, were in unlawful possession of illegal substances within the past year, aren’t citizens of the US and so on.
In fact, dealers of handguns who have a Federal Firearms License to sell must conduct a background check on a person to whom they’re selling.
Usually, state regulations will differ on the matters such as whether you need a state permit to make a purchase (and whether it relates to long guns or handguns), whether you need to register your firearm, get a permit for carrying, go through a certification process, have a license of ownership, rules in regards to magazine capacity restrictions and others.
Type of pistol
Single-shot handguns require reloading after each firing, unlike revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, which are considered to be self-loading.
If you have smaller hands or trouble with handling the heavier pull, you might consider buying a single-action handgun first.
Handguns are perfect for a light and smooth experience without exerting too much force through your hand. Moreover, they are great for target shooting and practicing your accuracy.
On the other hand, if you’re considering hunting or buying for self-defense, revolvers are timeless. In comparison to semi-automatic handguns, they are nearly impossible to jam and are less likely to malfunction, although semi-automatics are easier to reload and have a bigger magazine capacity.
Size of caliber
Ammunition of .50 caliber and below is considered to be a small caliber. Small caliber handguns are less expensive, have a gentler recoil and are therefore easier for a new shooter to master. Not to mention, they are more compact and easier to conceal.
If you’re buying a handgun to protect yourself, you’re not looking to murder another person but simply to prevent them from hurting you.
For that reason, you may want to buy a smaller caliber handgun because the injuries it inflicts are usually minor and not fatal. In fact, a 9mm round cartridge is the most popular handgun caliber.
For hunting, medium and large calibers are a much better fit. The type of hunting cartridge you’ll choose will also depend on the size of the animal you’re hunting. If you’re unsure about the caliber of your first pistol, talking to your local gunsmith is usually a solid first step.
Importance of safety training and trying-before-buying
Annually, around 430 unintentional firearm fatalities occur in the US. For that reason, it is incredibly important that you consider taking NRA firearm training. Apart from that, look for an in-house range to practice your shooting at.
Training classes will allow you to test a variety of guns for things like ease of use and to determine which size and weight fit your grip the best. You’ll also want to pay attention to things like reliability and stopping the power of the gun you’re buying.
If you take your time to research a handgun market and physically prepare for your first purchase, not only will you feel more comfortable and confident when handling a pistol, but you’ll also know what is the best, long-term value for your money and avoid unnecessary overspending.
In the end, you don’t want to buy a gun just because someone you know has recommended it to you. Instead, you want to buy the right fit for you and your personal needs specifically.
Besides a handgun, you’ll need to consider what additional purchases you might need to make.
For example, to prevent unintentional discharge, you’ll want to buy a holster. Maintenance-wise, you’ll also need a hard pistol case to protect your new gun from abrasion and rust and a cleaning kit involving things like a cleaning rod, lubricant, cotton patches and others.
If you’re concerned that someone may be invading your home at night, having a mounted weapon light to uncover a potential suspect might also be helpful.
Finally, the second most important purchase of all will be your purchase of handgun ammunition. Choosing the right handgun ammo might be challenging if you’re a newbie, so you might consider relying on experienced ammunition suppliers for advice tailored to your needs.