Article Written By; Steve Adcock,
Congratulations on deciding that protecting yourself, and your family, sometimes requires the use of a firearm. Although gun owners never want, or plan, to use their weapon in a self-defense situation, the reality of our world includes this possibility. If you have never owned a firearm before, or do not yet know a lot about them, this article is for you. This is not an exhaustive and detailed guide, but it does include some tips that I picked up along the way that you might not find through more thorough guides.
It was not long ago that I went through this same process, and it seemed daunting at the time. The sheer number of firearms available in different calibers is mind-boggling. To keep things simple for your first weapon, remember one thing: this will not be the last weapon that you ever buy. This means that even if you make a mistake and purchase a weapon that you are not completely comfortable with, it is not the end of the world. Sell it and try another one. Especially in this market, selling used firearms are extremely easy, and you probably will not lose much money on the sale.
Selecting your first weapon
If you have never owned before, I’m assuming that you probably don’t have a lot of experience shooting a weapon either. You may have shot your friend’s gun a few times, but aiming and pulling the trigger is about all that you know how to do. This was me just a few short months ago. I put my ego aside and started with a small caliber handgun.
Consider a 22-caliber gun to start with. These guns are often the cheapest, have almost no recoil, and offer newer shooters an opportunity to learn the basics of owning a gun, cleaning it, loading magazines and proper gun operation. In my case, I started with a Smith and Wesson M&P 22, which I still own, shoot and love. To me, this gun is very comfortable to hold and offers newer shooters a reliable way to learn how to use a deadly weapon.
Before you buy, try. Find a local gun range in your home town that rents firearms. Many will, and this is the best way to figure out what gun is right for you, regardless of caliber. Shoot as many guns as you can and pay attention to how the gun feels to you. A few things to keep in mind:
- How does the grip feel? Is it comfortable to hold and shoot?
- After you fire a round, is the recoil manageable?
- Can you quickly re-address the target and shoot again accurately?
- Is the gun prone to misfires or other failures?
- Is the gun easy to disassemble and clean?
All these factors play an important role in choosing the right weapon for you, so take these under consideration. Do not hesitate to talk to a sales person if the range has a retail store and ask them to show you basic disassembly. Some guns are easier to take apart and clean than others, and knowing this before you buy will help you make the right choice.
Regarding recoil – the higher the caliber, the greater the recoil. This means that a 45 caliber gun will have greater recoil than a 40, which will have greater recoil than a 9mm, which will have greater recoil than a 22. With enough practice, any caliber can be mastered, but for a first weapon for the novice shooter, it is far easier to learn using a caliber that is cheap and minimizes recoil. The rounds for a 22-caliber gun are dirt cheap, somewhere in the range of $.06 to $0.15 cents for the cheaper rounds. 9mm, 40 and 45 caliber rounds range from around $0.40 cents to a couple dollars a round, depending on the type.
Watch YouTube and observe operation
YouTube is quickly becoming a perfectly valid source to find good, reliable information – and choosing your first gun is no exception. While you can search for videos describing this weapons selection process, try searching for specific guns as well and observe the gun being used. I like watching videos fromHickok, Military Arms Channel and Brandon401401 for reliable information, but there is a wide array of good videos posted by knowledgeable gun users.
At the very least, it will get you used to thinking about guns and watching their operation. You will generally find videos on how to clean specific guns as well – I found plenty of videos that show and describe the process of cleaning all of my guns, like the M&P 22, Taurus PT111 9mm, Springfield XDM 9mm and the Springfield XD-45. For example, try running a search on YouTube for “Cleaning M&P 22” and enjoy.
Where to find your first weapon
This was one of the more interesting parts of choosing my first weapon – finding a place in town that had a large enough stock. You may have the same problem in your town, but usually the aggregation of ALL the gun stores in your city will be enough to give you the information that you need to choose your first weapon.
There are, however, a couple other options available for firearm purchases:
- BackPage.com – This is like the Craigslist for guns and sporting equipment; look here for primarily used guns (and some interesting political rants too)
- GunBroker.com – This is like the eBay for gun and ammunition sales; both individuals and gun stores from around the country will use GunBroker.com to sell guns and ammunition
- Any sporting good store’s online web site might offer gun sales; check the web site for availability
Keep in mind that if you purchase firearms online, they will generally need to be shipped from a Federal Firearm License (FFL) holder to FFL. This means you can’t legally purchase a gun from a person or store and have it shipped directly to your house. To ship firearms, contact a local FFL holder in your city (any gun store will hold an FFL) and have them setup the shipping and handling for you. This usually involves a fee.
Don’t fret over the choice
As I alluded to earlier, although selecting your first weapon seems incredibly daunting, and you naturally want to make the right choice, keep in mind that this is only your first weapon – it probably will not be your last. If you are torn over two guns, pick one and start using it. In the grand scheme of gun ownership, smaller caliber weapons like the 22 caliber are cheap enough where mistakes are not the end of the world, and the current gun market will easily allow you to sell that gun in used condition and recoup the large majority of what you paid for it.
Good luck, and have fun.
To see the original article, go to http://www.theshootingchannel.com/how-to-choose-your-first-firearm/