Worried about the right gun? Not sure if you like the gun you have?
For a comprehensive look at how to buy a gun and get the right gun read on!!
The guidelines below are a compilation of information from sources such as the Dept of Justice, the AT&F, NRA and many long time shooters.
First - Before you buy that pretty 9mm Glock like your brother-in-law, lets find out what your needs are. What do you want the pistol for? Target practice, or self-defense? Or both? Do you plan to make shooting sports a regular hobby? Possibly plan to compete in shooting sports? Will you need the firearm to perform multiple tasks?
Think about all the needs you have for a pistol. Once you have identified what you need the gun for then you can narrow down what will work best for those needs. Buying a .22 pistol may be cheap, and can certainly do damage but is NOT an ideal firearm for self-defense.
Second – How familiar are you with firearms? Have you ever had any actual training? How often do you plan to use the gun? Are you willing to practice and get familiar with it? If you plan to use your firearm for self-defense are you really prepared to use it? Are you prepared psychologically to take a human life? In a life-and-death confrontation, you can’t afford to conduct a debate on whether to pull the trigger or not.
You will also need to spend the time to get well acquainted with your gun and be comfortable in its use, cleaning and maintenance, not just loading it and firing it. This includes ammunition as well. Will the caliber of ammunition be easy to obtain in your location? Will it be expensive. Can you get wad-cutters for target shooting in that caliber? Or glazer rounds? You need to take all of this into consideration before you buy.
Third – Do you know the law? Are you willing to take the time to read and learn the laws in your state regarding firearms? In most states they are rather lengthy and can be tricky to understand. It is important that you know the State and local laws, and abide by them. California requires a Handgun Permit at the very least. Other laws may apply. Most states require purchasing a gun lock and/or a gun safe. Per Federal law you are required to keep the gun “safe” at all times. That means you are liable for the firearm and it’s use by anyone (even a thief) so you had better be prepared to have a safe secure storage system BEFORE you buy. More on gun laws for your state.
Fourth – Go to a local range or enroll in training that allows you to try lots of different guns. It is not all about caliber, though that is important. You want a gun that fits properly in your hand, has sights you can easily align with and recoil you can handle. Typically for self-defense you want the largest caliber you can COMFORTABLY handle. Keep in mind also, if you will being using the pistol as a carry weapon, can you holster it easily? Don’t just decide one one caliber either. Keep in mind that not all pistols of the same caliber or even manufacturer are the same. You may love that Beretta, then find a cheaper version and buy it, only to realize that is has a very different feel.
A gun is something that you shouldn’t compromise on. It could save your life or that of someone you love. You want a quality firearm that will last, isn’t prone to jamming and will work for your specific purpose(s). You want a gun you can handle, one you can learn to “dance” with, not fight with or be frightened of. Get it right the first time, and you will be much happier in the long run.
The right way to buy- As an example, lets say Jane Doe wanted a pistol for self defense for her home. Jane starts by identifying her needs as stated above.
She knows she will need to practice, so she would need to go to a local range. She finds the local range and sees what they have that she can practice with. Next she decides she does not want to spend a lot of money on the gun or ammunition. While Jane has some prior experience with rifles and shotguns, she recognizes that a pistol is a different animal. Jane will not being carrying it on her person and will keep it in a “quick open” safe in her home to avoid theft or misuse by anyone else, including her children.
Next Jane decides she wants a gun that will take down an intruder with one shot, but does not want that shot to carry through the walls of her home into another room or neighbors house and may will need glazer rounds. She also wants a gun that is easy for her to handle without too much recoil and one she can clean and maintain herself.
Once she has identified her specific needs, and reads up on the local laws so she is aware of what is legal, then looks at the cost of the gun safe, training classes and on to the local gun store to see what they have both new and used that would meet her needs.
Holding a gun in your hand and firing it are NOT the same thing. Jane picks out few at the store and reads on line about some others she thinks are a good fit. To make her choice she narrows it down to a specific few that will meet her needs. Once she has narrowed down her choices, she then tries those on a live fire range. Jane’s choices include a .380 semi-auto, a .357 revolver, a 9mm semi-auto and a .45 revolver. Both semi-auto and revolvers have their good points. A revolver is less likely to jamb, and typically easy to clean and maintain. A semi-auto can carry more rounds, are faster to reload and sleeker in its overall size.
Jane notices that although the .45 is the larger gun, it has less recoil due to its weight. On the other hand, the 9mm is a decent fit in her hand and the rounds are cheaper to buy as is the gun. While the .357 would allow Jane to use .38 rounds for target practice, it only holds 6 shots before needing to be reloaded. The .380 is small, light and compact. It fits her hand well, but us harder for her to aim due to the shorter barrel and tends to jump in her grip.
All of the guns have decent stopping power, and are “user friendly” weapons. In the end Jane decides that she really enjoys shooting and feel the most confident with are the revolvers. Out of the two she feels more comfortable for her needs with the larger caliber decides on the .357. She then looks into local gun shows, gun stores and on line to find the one she wants at a good price. Jane studies for her HSC, goes to a local shop to take the HSC test. She finds the .357 pistol she wants at a local dealer! Before finalizing the sale, Jane inspects the gun to make sure it has no flaws or damage and that it is what she wants. Once the paperwork and background check are completed, Jane performs her demo test, reads the manual and cleans the pistol before trying it out at the range.
The most valuable thing that Jane did was to identify her needs, then evaluate her options and only then, taking all of those things into consideration, made her choice.
There are many places you can go to get advice on what gun to buy, and to some extent most shooters have a favorite caliber or manufacturer they prefer. While all this advice is valuable, don’t let someone else influence you into buy something you are not 100% comfortable with.
A great place to start is to take a training class. MFI gun training classes give you a chance to try various firearms in various calibers on the range and in a classroom setting. MFI can assist you with finding and buying the right gun for your needs!