What Should I Buy for My First Handgun?

Photo credit: AP News

by Samuel Brooks

Well, it depends on what your budget is and how the handgun (i.e. pistol or revolver) feels in your hands. Speak to a knowledgeable salesperson – preferably at a mom-and-pop gun shop instead of a big box store based on my experience – rather than relying only on friends and family. Also, what’s your purpose of buying a handgun (i.e. home defense, concealed carry, protection from predators while hiking or hunting, spending your free time at the range, or a mixture)?

As a sales associate at a Lansing-based gun store, I’m going to sell differently to men as I would towards women. With men, I’ll try to show them every handgun caliber that we carry; on the other hand, for women, I typically stick with 22LR, 22 WMR, 380 and 9mm. 22LR is going to be your least expensive and least felt recoil option compared to the other calibers which makes it great for starting out and going to the range so you can practice your fundamentals. One key thing to keep in mind is during ammo shortages, 380 is the first to go out and the last one to come back. The reason being is that it gets shipped over to Europe because it’s their law enforcement’s version of 9mm (essentially, 380 is a “9mm short”). Manufacturers have to fulfill government contracts before civilians, so if you decide to go with a 380, be sure to stock up on ammunition (mixture of FMJ and hollow points) so that you have enough ammunition for when another ammo shortage happens (furthermore, don’t forget about supply and demand even when there’s no pandemic, riots, etc occuring). Also, it’s important to know that handguns with shorter barrels will have more felt recoil than those with longer barrels, as well as to never use FMJ for self-defense as it’s got the potential to over-penetrate your target compared to hollow points which are designed to expand and “mushroom” open so that it’s not to over penetrate (depending where they hit).

It’s also important to mention that – depending on the handgun’s make and model – not all 9mm, 22LR, 380, etc feeds the same as the handgun can be picky when it comes to the grain amount and brand (i.e. Federal, Magtech, CCI, etc). Similar to keeping your partner happy, whatever they like is what you should stick with once you figure it out. There are, however, plenty of makes and models that aren’t picky and will shoot through just about any brand and grain amount. Furthermore, I don’t recommend remanufacturing / self-reloading your ammunition unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

I hope that I’ve given you some things to think about. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

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