So you have decided to buy a handgun? For whatever reason you are now dedicated to lawfully purchasing your first handgun. It is time to trade some paper for steel and smoke. An empty spot in you wallet will now be replaced by a handheld projectile launching explosive gadget. Congratulations and welcome to the addiction.
Seaching for "Best first gun" on the internet turns up some interesting articles that all seem to taper off into a wash of random information. Honestly this article originally started to do the same thing. Seemingly our advertisement culture is filled with telling you what to do and why.
"Knowing what you do not want is half way to knowing what you do."
1. Closed for business...
Most of the manufacturers that are no longer viable are in that condition for a reason. These types of handguns are great for collecting and maybe the occasional "function check" on the range. Avoid these if you are serious about building your handgun skills, contrary to what the firearms industry portrays for sales. Building your handgun skills is nothing different than building any other skill. Practice is what makes your better.
2. Cheap Guns
I can promise you, as a gunsmith you are not going to be cheap in the long run. I have had many customers complain about the cost of repair for there broken $150.00 handgun. Most of the time I get to hear them complain about it more than once. The problem with "cheap guns" is that they usually end up being more expensive to repair and make reliable than what the good firearms cost. Save the "cheap charlie" mentality for something else and buy a quality firearm.
3. "Hey I know a guy....."
A "good deal handgun" is usually something someone is trying to off because it does not work, or they think you do not know any better. Your first handgun should be from a reputable business. A place that will help you if you have questions or issues. Not someone trying to pay the late water bill.
4. Little Pistols
"Cute" pistols can be attractive to the new gun buyer. They are less intimidating and gun "newbs" typically think that the smaller the gun the less recoil they will have. Unfortunately, in most cases mass of the weapon and recoil usually are inversely related. Find a gun that you can learn proper fundamentals with. We recommend something with a barrel length of 4 inches or longer and north of 19 oz. Something smaller than that will increase the likelyhood of you stalling your skill progression. Small pistols exaggerate unrefined movement and can also can be uncomfortably violent in sound and recoil which WILL deter a new shooter from practicing. It takes solid handgun fundamentals to shoot a "subcompact" or smaller pistol. Good fundamentals come from shooting thousands of round down the barrel of a quality gun that can handle it with proper training.
5. My caliber is bigger than yours!
Larger "man stopper" calibers are attractive to new buyers. Seriously, why wouldn't they be? Without starting the "Caliber Debate" I will simply say shoot what you can honestly handle. If you can not see yourself shooting 100 rounds of it then drop down to a smaller chunk of lead and copper. Buying too much caliber, you will run into recoil issues which in the stage of building your fundamental skills will only aid in creating bad habits. Learn how to shoot first, then throw a bigger rock. Firearms and Ego do not mix well.
6. "Evolutionary game changers"
Ever heard the ole saying "Never buy the first year of a vehicle design."? Well, the same thing goes with the firearms industry. It is hard not to become victim to aggressive advertising. There are only a handful of firearms manufacturers that can put out a new design handgun the first time and get it right. Typically its just a tweaked version of a previous design. Manufacturers research and development can only account to so much in any mass produced product. These days with modern manufacturing methods and of course the "bottom line" it is not a good idea be the first one to buy it. Buy something that is proven.
Handguns we recommend.
- Glock 19/17/23/22
- Smith and Wesson M&P Full size/compact
- Springfield Armory XD/XDM
- FN FNS/FNX/FNP
- CZ 75 series
Please note that this article is written to the buyer who is looking to improve there knowledge and skill with a handgun buy purchasing the right "first gun". This does not include the "collector" of handguns as that is for another article.