Buying a first gun can seem like a Herculean task to those who are new to concealed carry. There are several steps involved in how to buy a gun. They include research, testing and price comparisons. Which caliber is best? Semi-auto or revolver? The variables are endless. Purchase options include retail sales, online sales, gun shows or a private purchase from some wayward soul who, for some reason, wants to sell a gun. You might also need to locate someone with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to legally make the transfer in your jurisdiction.

Educate Yourself Before You Buy

Before diving into the world of firearms, take the time to educate yourself. Understanding the different types of guns, ammunition and their purposes is crucial. A well-informed decision not only empowers you as a gun owner but also promotes responsible gun ownership.

A good place to start this research is by asking your friends and family what they carry. Granted, they may all present differing, even conflicting, opinions. But their information will give you a good foundation of potential pros and cons, and they may answer questions you never even thought to ask. Most would probably even be willing to let you hold their handguns. If you’re extra lucky, maybe you can plan a fun outing to the gun range. Live-fire is the best way to determine whether or not a gun is right for you.

For a comprehensive understanding of firearm basics, consider enrolling in a reputable firearms training course.

Choosing the best caliber to start with is important. The 9mm Luger is a good baseline for personal defense. The 9mm offers superior wound potential compared to smaller calibers and recoils less than larger calibers. Compact 9mm handguns are useful. And high-capacity is fine if your hand fits the grip frame well. 

The Best First Gun To Buy

There is no easy answer for “best.” Identify your needs and intended use. Are you looking for a firearm for personal defense, home protection or recreational shooting? Different firearms cater to distinct purposes, and choosing the right one depends on your specific requirements.

Consider factors such as size, weight and ease of use. For home defense, a reliable handgun or home-defense shotgun may be ideal. If you’re interested in recreational shooting, a versatile and easy-to-handle handgun might be the best fit.

Before making a purchase, reflect on why you are purchasing a firearm, if you are willing and able to train with your firearm and whether you are prepared for all of the responsibilities associated with owning a firearm. These questions will guide you in making a well-thought-out decision.

Consider How Your Gun Will Fit Your Physiology and Lifestyle

Think about your physical attributes. Larger people will likely have an easier time concealing larger guns but may have trouble maintaining a comfortable grip on smaller-frame firearms (among other considerations). Figure out what will work best for your personal situation.

Also, consider any physical limitations. A slender pistol may be easy to conceal, but shooters with limited hand strength might have trouble getting a good enough grip to rack the slide. Those with impaired eyesight might have a hard time obtaining a good sight picture (mainly picking up the front sight) on very short-barreled guns without prominent sights.

Likewise, take your lifestyle and surroundings into account. Does your job require you to dress a certain way every day (if your employer even allows concealed carry)? Do you live somewhere with weather extremes? Do you do a lot of driving? How you need to carry and conceal your gun should influence what sort of firearm you purchase.

Budget For Your First Gun

Firearms can vary widely in price, so it’s essential to establish a realistic budget before shopping. Price cannot be the overriding factor, but it obviously matters. We all have obligations to meet, and the handgun must be weighed against these obligations. The most expensive gun isn’t necessarily going to be better, but don’t go for the cheapest one either. The Taurus G3 or Glock 19 is a good starting point. Glocks are a baseline for price comparison. They are affordable and reliable. If you pay less, ask what corners have been cut. If you pay more, ask what the advantage is. 

Beginner Handgun Comparisons

                                    Glock 19                      Taurus G3                   S&W M&P9 EZ
23.63 ounces               24.83 ounces                23.2 ounces
5.04 inches                  5.2 inches                    5.05 inches
Barrel Length:            
4.02 inches                  4 inches                       3.675 inches
9mm                            9mm                           9mm
15 (standard)                 10                                8+1
$499                            $345                            $479

Remember, investing in a quality firearm is not just an investment in your safety but also a consideration in the overall cost to carry concealed. It’s better to save a bit longer to purchase a reliable and durable firearm that will serve you well in the long run. Factor in not only the initial cost of the firearm but also additional expenses such as ammunition, cleaning supplies and, if necessary, a secure storage solution.

Seek Expert Advice

Don’t hesitate to seek advice from experienced gun owners or visit a reputable gun store. Knowledgeable professionals can provide valuable insights, recommend suitable options, and address any concerns you may have. You can also ask the USCCA Community for assistance!

Remember, buying a gun is not just about the firearm itself but also about embracing the responsibility that comes with ownership. By taking the time to educate yourself, assess your needs, set a budget, ask the right questions, and seek expert advice, you’ll be well on your way to making an informed and responsible decision when buying your first gun.

This article is a compilation of previous blog posts authored by Ed Combs, Kevin Michalowski, Bob Campbell, Scott W. Wagner and Jason Brauncowski.