Newbie Asks about First Gun Purchase

Recently, a friend of the family was talking about wanting to buy a handgun and asked my thoughts on it. To throughly review the options and information needed to make the right buy, I asked a few questions. I’m letting you all in on the thinking here in light of the previously mentioned posts and in continuance of my ardent exercise and defense of the 2nd Amendment.

Please keep in mind that these are not necessarily the right answers, they’re just my answers. With that, we begin….

To my friend EIMG, feel free to jump in or comment below your thoughts.

First, the young man whose name will call Steven (name changed for security purposes) indicated he was in the market for a new gun, a hand gun. My first question is why do you want this gun? Is it for hunting? (yes, there are folks who hunt with handguns) Is it for personal defense/carry? Is it a “truck gun?” Is it a “gun safe queen” that is amazingly fun to shoot but you’ll never carry? Is it for target shooting? Is it for home defense?

I ask because the answer to that question significantly narrows down the field of guns to choose from. No Steven, I will not recommend a .454 casull Revolver for defense carry or target practice. Likewise, I will not recommend you to keep a .22 in your truck or carry one for defense. There’s a right tool for the right job.

Steven indicated he wants the gun for personal defense/carry. Good, that narrows it down quite a bit.

My second question for Steven was how familiar he was with handguns? How avidly does he shoot/does he want to shoot? Steven said he knows his share about guns, and shoots whenever he gets the chance. I’ll take that to mean fairly avid. I say fairly avid meaning more than twice a year. If you shoot about 4 times a year, thats almost double most trained Military and Law Enforcement. If your ass is at the range every weekend, you’re most likely a highly avid advanced shooter with advanced or expert marksmanship. If you aint shot shit since your brother was 12 with a BB gun, we’ll call you a novice.

Based on those two questions alone, we can begin to narrow down the vast gun industry’s market selection to just a few choices.

Steven likes to shoot a lot. I also know that Steven will be traveling out of town from time to time on business. Thus, Steven is going to need a caliber round of ammo that’s plentiful and easy to find. Not to mention won’t break the bank to buy a box of rounds to shoot. So our calibers are now narrowed down to .380, 9mm, .38, .357, .40, .44, & .45. All common and easy to find.

Because Steven is new to the carry-world, he’ll most likely look at a generic manufactured gun. Also, Steven says he wants to carry every day, but hasn’t carried up to now. This means most likely I would recommend a polymer semi-auto gun over steel frame semi (1911). Sorry fanboys, the 1911 is a great gun, but y’all have to admit the weight takes some getting used to. It also eliminates “saturday night specials” or any gun with more than a 4 inch barrel. Long barreled revolvers and 5 in. govt models are completely out of the picture.

I’ll get this right out there now, just to piss off all the old schoolers. I’m probably not going to recommend a revolver for Steven. He described himself as reasonably familiar with guns, and fairly avid. There are two types of people that carry revolvers; Those that don’t know shit about guns, and those that are basically experts using a firearm. There are none in between. Why? Revolvers are often times the first gun ladies are trained to use because they are incredibly simple in design and function, don’t misfeed, don’t jam, don’t fail to fire, don’t fail to eject. They just work. For novice shooters they are the building blocks of handguns. If you can’t safely work a revolver and shoot it correctly, with all the things in your favor of a steel frame absorbing recoil, none of the issues above mentioned and in a controlled environment, how the fuck do you plan on reloading mags under pressure, shooting off hand or one hand, clearing jams or stovepipes, understanding what made it jam or what a stovepipe is, how to quickly field strip the gun and re-assemble it, and safely engage a target with a gun that’s off balance due to being half plastic? Steven says he already knows how to do these things, so this may not be a good fit for where he is at.

I also said though, that the only other types of people that carry revolvers are folks that I would consider experts in using firearms. Why? You tell me any other group of people that would limit themselves to 6 shots  in a firefight? People that are deadly accurate and know their weapon well enough to reload a weapon quickly that isn’t inherently designed to be loaded quickly. You got balls to walk around with a revolver and a speed loader or speed strip and are confident enough to engage multiple targets? You’ve got my respect. (BTW, before you old schoolers jump my ass, I regularly carry a .357 mag snub as well. As always, weather and environment dependent)

This means that in a short amount of time we’ve taken out .38, .357 mag, and .44. We’ve also taken out revolvers and steel frame semi-autos. That narrows it down to our friendly polymer semi-auto pistol.

Now, Steven wants to carry this gun daily and God forbid, may need to use it defensively. This means that that eliminates all hard-to-find guns or those with sentimental value. No grandpa WW2 pearl handled Colts here. Also eliminates any gun with a retail value of more than $750 bucks. Although I can’t imagine many polymers exceeding that, it takes many Sig Sauer’s, and H&K’s out of the running.

Lastly, He’ll want to buy from a gun with a reputation for quality and dependability. Sorry Kel-Tec, you’re out. Taurus, you make great revolvers, but your Semi’s are shit. You’re out. Hi-point, you’re a joke and look like starship troopers, you’re out.

That leaves Ruger, S&W, Glock, and Springfield. A few others out there like Kahr, (hard to get parts for) and Beretta (yeah fuckin right, hell no) and FN (Bring FuckiN money, hard to find parts too). But ask anyone in the gun community and for your first carry gun you’ll want one of those 4 brands. Time trusted and proven. Any of those 4 are dependable.

For personal defense/carry, any of the remaining calibers will work, with some argument. A .380 is a good back up gun, or deep concealment. I wouldn’t want it as my primary. I recommend to him avoiding .40 cal as it is too damn jumpy and can’t figure out if it wants to be 9 or .45. The whole “in the middle” argument doesn’t work. The remaining calibers I would recommend choosing are either 9mm or .45 cal.

Of those, out of the 4, its really going to come down to fit (ergonomics in your hand), style (accessories), feel (.45 kicks more than 9mm) as well as function. You need to make for yourself the decision of whether a safety on the weapon is important or not. You may also want to evaluate capacity of both.

Out of those 4 and those 2 caliber choices, you really can’t go wrong. I’d find folks that have that gun and try to shoot it. even better if they have 2 of them and can let you compare. If you ask around and no one has one you’re looking for, take that as a sign.

Well I hope this helps. I also hope that if you stumbled across this post and are thinking of buying a gun, that this may help you make your purchase. Remember to think about holster choices and the different uses you’ll carry yours for. Perhaps a full size duty model wouldn’t be as concealable as the compact and sub-compact versions. What ever you choose to buy, the best gun is only the one you’ll carry everyday. Period.


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