After getting your permit, it’s time to purchase your first firearm. Gun selection is an important decision—one that takes diligence. While waiting for your permit, you should rent and try out different handguns at your local range. Or go with friends who will let you try their guns. Gun periodicals, online reviews and forums, and YouTube videos are also very helpful. Here are a number of things to consider when making your decision:
- Personal defense—home and/or carry
- Recreation—plinking, target shooting, competition
Caliber selection is based not only on purpose, but also on controllability. A gun won’t serve its purpose well if its caliber makes shooting unruly for you.
Make sure the gun fits your hand and you can reach the trigger properly. Many new models now have interchangeable back straps to fit different hand sizes.
Are you left handed or right handed? Left handed shooters want a gun with ambidextrous mag release and safeties, or one capable of changing over from right to left.
For automatics, especially if you are a woman, can you rack the slide to chamber a round?
Reliability & Support
Check reviews to make sure the gun is reliable. Does it have feeding/jamming problems? Is it picky about the brands of ammo it will shoot? How easy is it to field strip and clean? What kind of warranty does it have? Check online for customer service experiences. Some companies treat customers like royalty and make repairs fast and at no charge. Others are quick to assign blame and generally treat customers with contempt.
Features & Accessories
Do you want adjustable sights or fixed combat sights? What accessories are available for the gun?
The upfront cost of the gun is an obvious concern when deciding which one to get, but over the long run, the cost of ammo is more significant. This will most likely factor into your choice of caliber. Check prices for boxes of ammunition in catalogs and online.
Ultimately, you should get what feels good and what you can shoot well for your desired task. Don’t make a quick decision based only on limited experience with a friend or instructor’s gun. There is a vast selection from which to choose. Choose wisely and have fun.