Owning a handgun is your right as an American: 30 percent of Americans own guns and 72 percent of us have shot a gun at some point in our lives. It's deeply ingrained into our culture. Yet if you've not got much experience with handguns, buying a handgun can be difficult.Walk into a gun store and you can get overwhelmed by the selection of guns on offer. Buzzwords get thrown at you and statistics are everywhere. In this handgun buying guide, we want to demystify the process and help you choose the best handgun for your needs.
Handguns are the perfect self-defense solution: they're compact, pack lethal force, and are legal to carry across the vast majority of the United States. Whether you've shot a handgun before or not, you need to choose the right handgun. If the caliber is too high or it doesn't feel good in your hands, it's not going to be useful.
Ready to learn everything you ever wanted to know about pistols and get the best self-defense option you can? Then keep reading!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT HANDGUN FOR BEGINNERS: CALIBER
How do you find the right handgun for your level of experience and your specific requirements? It's easy to assume that all handguns are the same. Yet this could not be further from the truth: there's a world of difference between a Colt Python and a Glock 19 yet both are handguns.
One of the most important decisions to make when considering beginner handguns is the gun's caliber. This is the size of the round, measured in inches or millimeters, for instance: .45 or 9mm.
We've all seen Dirty Harry and know how cool the .44 Magnum S&W Model 29 looks. Yet if you're a beginner, this would be a terrible choice for a handgun. You want to look for something that's in a more manageable caliber such as:
- 9mm Parabellum
- .38 Special
- .22 LR
Caliber doesn't only affect accuracy either. It, combined with the round's velocity, gives it more penetrative power. A round passing through a target and out again can cause more deadly injuries (though rounds that tumble or flatten are deadlier), yet it also has problems.
Consider a home defense situation where someone has broken into your home and you take a shot. If the round passes through them or misses them and tears through drywall behind them, the round could hit someone else. It could even kill a loved one.
The best home defense handguns aren't necessarily the most powerful ones.
This is why rounds without too much penetrative power are better for defending your home in general and why using a rifle inside your home is generally a bad idea.
Caliber is only one variable to consider when looking for the best handgun to buy, otherwise, this would be a very short handgun buying guide. How the gun feels in your hand and how comfortable you feel holding it are vital. Here are some other tips for finding the right handgun for you.
Self-defense scenarios are fast. Someone runs at you with a knife or is threatening you with deadly force, you need to respond quickly. Point shooting is also known as instinctive aiming and is where you draw your gun and shoot without using the sights.
You can practice this at a gun range with a range of handguns. At five yards from your target, close your eyes and bring your unloaded handgun up to the target. Open your eyes and see where the gun is pointing.
The sights should line up with the target. If it's too high, you could benefit from owning a heavier handgun. If they're too low, something lighter could be better.
Is bigger always better? Not necessarily. More compact handguns like the Sig Sauer P320 make for great concealed carry weapons but larger weapons have their advantages too.
For newer shooters, heavier and larger handguns can be more accurate thanks to the weight of the gun compensating for recoil. Their longer sight planes also make shooting more accurate.
If you're stronger consider one of these types of handguns, called combat pistols: they could be a better investment for newer, less accurate shooters. If you're all about concealed carry though, this handgun buying guide recommends something more compact and a great deal of time at the range.
FINDING YOUR FIT
At this point, you should have a rough idea of what kind of gun you're looking for. You should know what caliber and what size of gun you're in the market for. Now it's time to find the right fit for you.
What do we mean by gun fit? Put simply, it's how a gun feels in your hands and how it matches up with your physical characteristics. No handgun will work for everyone: like King Arthur and Excalibur, there will be guns that you'll pick up that will feel just right.
HOLDING THE FIREARM
When you hold the gun does it sit well in your hands? It should feel like an extension of your body. Draw the gun up on a target (while obeying gun safety rules) and see how natural it feels to draw.
It's also worth operating the slide. Pull it back and cycle it again and again. Does it feel good or does it need too much or too little force?
How easy is it for you to hit the magazine release? Can you easily operate the safety? None of these should feel like a stretch.
LOOK DOWN THE SIGHTS
Can you draw a bead on a target with the iron sights? If you're hoping to use this gun for accurate shooting, you'll need to be familiar with the sights. If they don't work for you, the gun isn't for you.
SHOOTING THE HANDGUN
Take the gun into a range and shoot it. How is the recoil? Can you control it when firing?
Throw double taps and Mozambique drills into the mix and ensure that the gun enables accurate firing. If the gun is hard to control, try a different one. You will find one that feels natural and easy to shoot.
HANDGUN BUYING GUIDE: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BUYING FOR MEN AND WOMEN
While most gun owners are men, women would be well-advised to buy firearms too. Women are often targets of violence and may be perceived as weaker than their male counterparts. As such, a firearm can be a lifesaver for women who live alone.
There are certain issues with women buying guns. While men can buy pretty much any gun that they want to and have it work for them, this is not the case for women. Handguns for men are still far more common than handguns designed with women in mind, yet look closely at handguns for sale and you'll find some perfect guns for female shooters.
For women, we would recommend that they buy a smaller handgun. There are two reasons for this. One, it is easier to carry in a concealed fashion and is less likely to stand out on woman's clothing and it is also more likely to fit in a woman's hands.
Larger handguns like the Colt M1911 are designed with men's hands in mind. Women's hands, usually being smaller, can have a hard time operating the slide, safety, and magazine release can be difficult.
The only issue with smaller handguns, as we've mentioned, is the generally weaker accuracy when compared to combat pistols. Yet this shouldn't be too much of an issue if you put the time in at the range.
It's also worth noting that if you're a man or a woman with particularly large hands, small handguns may not be comfortable to use. There's not too much you can do about this: consider looking at combat pistols only if you've got larger hands.
WHAT YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR IN A BEGINNER'S HANDGUN
So, let's summarize. When you're looking for a handgun as a beginner, these are the key things to consider:
- Caliber: too high a caliber and you may find the gun hard to control, too low and it may not have the stopping power you're looking for
- Size: a larger handgun can be easier to control and more accurate but you may find it too bulky to carry comfortably
- Ease of use and fit: how does the handgun fit in your hand? Is it easy to use or not?
WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HANDGUNS?
Our store features a great range of handguns from Sig Sauer which could be the perfect fit for your needs. If you've enjoyed this handgun buying guide and would like to learn more about handguns, keep an eye on our site and read more blog entries as they're posted.
If you'd like to find a great deal on guns or gear, check out our clearance section. If you've got a specific question for us, please don't hesitate to get in contact with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!