First Time Gun Buyer Guide: Home Defense & Personal Carry Weapons
It might happen when you turn 21. It might cross your mind long after retirement as you realize you’re not as spry as you once were. It may be once you have a child and understand that you’re responsible for the baby’s safety. Perhaps it will be after your job transfer places you in a rough neighborhood. Regardless of when, at some point many people decide to get a firearm for the primary purpose of self-defense. A firearm comes with many strings attached; are you prepared to include a gun in your plan to be safe?
Personal firearms can range from the smallest pocket pistols to large-in-every-way cannons. The choice is yours to make, but an educated choice is best. Determine when or how you would imagine ever using the firearm to help narrow down your field of options. Do you want to keep it at home or also use it as a weapon to carry on your person?
For home defense, a shotgun may be the best option. Choices include semi-automatic, pump style, or even single shot, all with both long and shorter-barreled options for the guns. You can mount lights or laser pointers (or both) on shotguns and they are reliable, effective, and fairly easy to use. They also come in several ammunition sizes. You can even get a pistol styled shotgun in the .410 gauge size. Of course, you also have the option of getting a rifle or pistol as well.
A firearm that can be carried either concealed or in the open, can also be used for home defense. Depending on how you want to carry the weapon, along with the way you dress and even your physical size, may help determine what kind of firearm to get. Generally, a firearm that you will carry as a self-defense weapon is going to be a pistol.
Which Pistol and What Ammo?
A revolver offers simple and reliable use with a trade-off for the number of rounds you can carry. A semi-auto provides more bullets in the gun, but includes more working parts and a greater chance of having a malfunction (a jam) that would require additional knowledge and skill.
Most people will never need a firearm for self-protection. Chances are that if someone ever does, a five or six round revolver would be sufficient. However, if you have the option and ability to have 30 rounds immediately available in a gunfight as opposed to six, most people would choose the larger number.
Caliber is the next question that would need to be answered. I generally suggest the best size is the largest caliber you can get for the type of pistol you want, the recoil that you’re comfortable with, and the physical resistance of the weapon’s internal workings that you can handle. A well-aimed .22 caliber bullet is much better than no bullet at all.
No one is born with the knowledge and skills of a good marksman. Whether you use a bazooka or a midnight special, you must be successfully trained and educated on all aspects of using and owning a firearm. Chances are that the store where you purchase the firearm, or the local police department will be able to recommend a certified and safe gun safety course instructor. Most gun clubs and ranges offer several levels of gun safety courses.
Owning a firearm, especially for the purposes of self-defense, requires some serious responsibility. You need to be responsible for your training so that you can safely and effectively operate the firearm under any circumstances. You are responsible for the safe storage and maintenance of the firearm. You must also determine if you are emotionally responsible enough to actually use the firearm in a violent encounter with a criminal who is threatening your life or the life of someone you are protecting. While you may never really know the answer to that question until it happens, training and self-evaluation will prepare you for such an encounter