When choosing a first gun, you are not required to abide by the conventional wisdom. The same is true if you are asked to help someone choose a first gun for defensive purposes.

Don’t just reach for a revolver and say, “Here. This gun is simple and will never jam.” Both of those claims are false to some degree, but more importantly, the first gun should be one that is comfortable to carry and shoot.

Start by looking for a gun that fits your hand. It should feel good in your hand. You should be able to reach the trigger easily without changing your grip. While you can build strength after you buy the gun, the trigger pull and the effort needed to retract the slide should not be oppressively difficult.

The gun should also be small enough to carry every day but not so small that the combination of the gun’s light weight and a powerful defensive cartridge causes uncomfortable recoil. There are many pocket-sized .380 pistols that are just a pain to shoot because they are so light that even the .380 ammo causes enough recoil to be a pain.

Keeping It Simple

Do not assume that an autoloading pistol is too complicated. Any person can learn to fire any pistol. All it takes is good training and plenty of practice, so do not be pigeonholed by old thinking. Be open and flexible when helping people select a gun for self-defense.