I know there are a lot of experienced handgunners on here, but we also get a lot of people that are completely new to handguns, or firearms period - to those people, at times the choice of a first handgun can be an overwhelming experience. I put this together for those people.
I wrote this over the weekend, and will be putting it on the counter at work (I work at a small town gun shop - 2 or 3 of us behind the counter, lots of customers). Right now it seems that there are a lot of people that are purchasing firearms of all kinds for the very first time in their life - mostly for defensive purposes (many claim house gun, but are very interested about concealed carry and do not want to admit it openly at first for some odd reason). I also get a lot of people who are coming in to purchase a handgun as a gift for their loved ones (without their significant other there).
First off - the person who is going to be shooting the gun should be the one picking it out and hand feeling it, getting an idea of it's operational style and, if it is to be used for defensive purposes, the specific quarks about that gun when it comes to clearing jams and other misc. topics.
On Friday I spent about 40 minutes each with 4 different customers, 2 couples, 2 individuals, who wanted to purchase firearms but did not understand the difference between semi autos, different calibers, etc., so I went home and decided to put together a packet that will be laid out on the counter for them to read if we are busy with other customers, or to take home for further reference and reflection.
I know this does not address caliber, or new vs. used, or how things can be carried - that was the intent. I do NOT want somebody making a purchase decision based on caliber - I want them making that decision based on how they like the platform, as odds are we'll be able to get it in a caliber of their choice, or at least recommend a good caliber for their given use. I also did not address new vs. used - I personally prefer used guns, not only for the money savings, but they also tend to already be broken in when I get them.
Without further ado, here is my 1st timer handgun buyer's guide.
First time handgun buyer’s guide
Arms + Accessories
3400 Harrison Ave
513 - 481 - 4444
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because this is your first time purchasing a handgun. It can be a very confusing path to follow, but is also very rewarding once you realize that your purchase fits you well. At Arms and Accessories we are here to individually answer all of your questions and direct you towards the best firearm within your budget. This is meant as a quick guide to become familiar with the basics of handguns, the different reasons why many people own handguns, and the pros/cons of different firearms.
Things that should be considered in a handgun is who is going to be using the handgun, physical capabilities of the shooter, as well as the handgun’s usage. Example uses are:
• recreation /training firearm
• home defense firearm
• hunting firearm
• personal defense firearm
The followings are broad generalizations.
Ultimately only you can determine if a handgun is right for you
Dedicated recreational/training handguns traditionally have the following traits:
• highly visible sights
• cheap, low caliber ammunition
• low recoil
Dedicated home defense handguns usually are:
• .38 special or 9mm caliber or larger
• larger ammunition capacity
• easy to shoot accurately and quickly
Dedicated self-defense handguns vary greatly, but these traits are fairly common:
• fit the shooter’s hand well
• easy to acquire sights and shoot quickly and accurately
• function well with hollow point ammunition
• easy to maintain/clean
• highly reliable
Hunting handguns are much more open, but the following standards are set by the State of Ohio:
• 5 inch minimum length barrel
• straight walled (no bottle neck) ammunition
• .357 caliber or larger
Excluding “cowboy style” revolvers, almost no revolver requires the hammer to be manually cocked before every shot. There are also many revolvers that have hammers that are not exposed and can NOT be manually cocked.
• Not ammunition sensitive
• Easy to clean and maintain
• Extremely reliable
• Does not require a lot of hand strength to operate properly
• Is not susceptible to jamming induced from improper shooting technique
• Capable of great accuracy
• Very intuitive to operate
• Lower ammunition capacity than most semi automatics
• Slower to reload than semi automatics
• Wider than semi automatics, a factor if the gun will be concealed
• Improper grip can cause increased recoil and muzzle flip
• Typically small and compact
• Some can easily change calibers
• Fairly cheap
• Must be manually cocked before each shot
• Only holds two rounds
• Difficult to fire quickly and accurately
• Very slow reloading procedure
• Difficult to get a good shooting grip on
The semi automatic
• Offers highest ammunition capacities
• Fast reloading procedure
• Easy to shoot quickly with proper shooting techniques
• Reliable with proper maintenance
• Can be very thin and easy to conceal
• Variety of different methods of operation – can suite many different people’s requirements
• Improper shooting technique can cause malfunctions, increased recoil and muzzle flip
• Some can be picky on ammunition selection
• Cheap magazines can cause many problems
• Worn springs can cause malfunctions
• More complex than revolvers or derringers