First Time Gun Buyer Guide 

At some point, many people decide to purchase a firearm for home and personal protection. It might happen when you turn 21. It might cross your mind long after retirement when 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 transfers you to a rough neighborhood.

No matter when you decide to become a first-time gun buyer, it’s important to know the fundamentals and have a plan in place. A firearm comes with many strings attached. Here are important tips and suggestions for first-time handgun buyers.

Choosing Your First Gun

Personal firearms can range from the smallest pocket pistols and handguns to shotguns, rifles, and even cannons. Determine when and how you would use the firearm to help narrow down your field of options and keep common sense in mind. Do you plan to keep it in your home safe or use it as a weapon to carry on your person?

Guns for Home Defense

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. For first-time gun buyers, a small rifle or handgun would be a good alternative.

It’s important to properly store your home defense gun to keep it out of the hands of potential thieves and small children. A gun safe is the best option for securing your shotgun. Choose a gun safe that is fire rated and, if possible, includes anti-drill protection and pry-prevention.

Handguns for Personal Carry

When carrying your firearm, you have the option for open or concealed carry. Typically, open carry is not as common as concealed carry so it’s important to know the options you have in your state. Depending on how you want to carry your gun, along with the way you dress and even your physical size, certain factors 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 or handgun.

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

Personal Firearm Fundamentals

Gun Training

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 in gun usage and safety. Chances are the local police department or the store where you purchase the firearm will be able to recommend a certified gun safety course. Most gun clubs and ranges offer several levels of gun safety courses.

Firearm Responsibility

Owning a firearm, especially for the purposes of self-defense, requires some serious responsibility. For first-time gun buyers and seasoned veterans, you need responsible training so that you can safely and effectively operate the firearm under any circumstances. You are responsible for the safe gun storage and maintenance of the firearm.

You must also determine if you are emotionally responsible enough to 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 arm you with the skills you need to stay safe.

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