Updated: Aug 24, 2019
Selecting your first firearm can be an overwhelming process. There is so much information to wade through in deciding what is right for you. What is single action? What is double action? What is striker fired? What is hammer fired? What is trigger reset, and what does it mean? I spend a tremendous amount of time shooting and reviewing firearms, and I do my best to put things in terms that an individual, new to firearms, can understand. These are the things that you need to consider in your selection process:
1. Seek training and educate yourself.
When you make the decision that you want to purchase a firearm, education is paramount. Seek out information and training. Understand firearm safety. Be your own education advocate and use all of the resources available to you. Your local gun stores and ranges generally offer introductory classes.
2. What purpose is the firearm going to serve?
The purpose of the firearm makes a difference. Are you looking for something that you can conceal carry? Are you looking for something for home defense? These are important factors in selecting your first firearm. You need to understand the purpose that the firearm is going to serve for you.
3. What caliber do you need?
To you answer this question, it is important to know the purpose. If you are looking for a concealed carry compact firearm you may want to consider .380 or 9MM. They will give you more capacity, and you’ll have better recoil control and less muzzle flip. A higher caliber, in a concealed carry compact firearm, is going to give you less capacity and result in greater recoil. If you are looking for home defense or to open carry, a larger duty sized firearm will give you a lot more capacity and better recoil control. Larger calibers are going to perform better in a duty sized firearm. Understanding the purpose will also help you select the caliber that is right for you.
4. Revolver or Magazine Fed?
In deciding if you want a revolver or magazine fed handgun you need to consider any physical limitations you might have. For example, I have met people with arthritis and other physical limitations that could not rack the slide on a magazine fed handgun. If you can’t operate the firearm and put it into battery it is useless to you. You also need to consider the capacity limitations. A magazine fed handgun will typically have a greater capacity. If you believe in accuracy by volume, a magazine fed firearm is the way to go.
5. Single Action or Double Action
A single action trigger performs one action. It releases the hammer or striker causing the discharge of the chambered round. A single action pull generally has a lower pull weight, meaning it takes less pressure to engage the trigger. A double action trigger performs two actions, it both cocks and releases the hammer causing the discharge of the chambered round. A double action has a greater pull weight requiring more pressure to engage the trigger. This, ultimately, comes down to personal preference. You will find detractors and advocates for both.
Before you make the decision to purchase any firearm, shoot it. Go to your local range and rent a revolver and a magazine fed firearm. See which one feels right to you. The grip angles and ergonomics are not the same from firearm to firearm. Try multiple firearms from multiple manufactures. You are going to hear good and bad for every brand, but you will find one that feels right for you. If you don’t like the gun, you won’t practice with it. Get the gun that you enjoyed shooting.
The age old adage “You get what you pay for” most certainly applies to firearms. However, having said that, you can absolutely find a budget firearm that will meet your needs. I have firearms that were less than $200 dollars MSRP that have been nothing but reliable and dependable. They suit the purpose that were purchased for. Don’t turn your nose up at that budget firearm, give it a shot. You might find that it is the right firearm at the right price for you.