Flying back from Vegas, I found myself sitting next to someone who doesn’t own a handgun but wants to. Again. Seriously, this happens to me all the time. These newbies think that buying a gun is like finding Nemo. I mean Neo. There is The One. If they know something about guns, they fully expect GLOCK to be The One Gun To Rule Them All. Which it is, sometimes. Here’s my two-step process to guiding people to their first handgun . . .
1. What do you want the gun for?
A) Concealed carry
B) Home defense
C) Target practice/range fun
If the first time buyer wants a gun for concealed carry, I recommend they pocket-carry a hammerless revolver: a Smith & Wesson 642, Ruger LCR or Taurus CIA Model 650. If they say they want a gun for concealed carry and home defense, I point out that the best home defense gun is one they carry in their front pocket: a Smith & Wesson 642, Ruger LCR or Taurus CIA Model 650.
If they say they want a gun for carry and home defense and range time, I say nope. You can’t do that. A small gun is not a fun gun. If the newbie wants a gun for home defense and/or range time, I go on to question 2.
2. Starter gun or one and done?
A) Starter gun is for people who think they’ll be shooting more than once a month. Prospective owners who might want to get their concealed handgun permit after they master their marksmanship skills. People who can imagine themselves cleaning a firearm. I like full-size metal guns (with night sights) for that kind of buyer. Less felt recoil, more accuracy, more fun. I recommend a Ruger SP101, Smith & Wesson 686 or SIG SAUER P226 (for the semi-automatic crowd).
[NB: I know the SIG’s an expensive choice, especially if you equip it with night sights. But we’re talking about protecting life’s most precious assets and decades of shooting pleasure. SIG has a Certified Pre-Owned program, and the guns can be purchased without it for even less. A separate post on “why you shouldn’t buy a cheap gun” coming soon.]
B) One and done guns are for newbies who are not going to buy another gun for a long, long time. If ever. Nor are they going to give this, their first gun, love or attention (i.e. cleaning). For them I recommend a polymer pistol with night sights: GLOCK 19, Smith & Wesson M&P or Springfield XD(m). Their choice, depending on how the gun feels in the hand and how much money they have to spend (always mentioning the possibility of buying a used firearm).
See how easy that was? How do you do guide newbies to their first gun? What guns do you recommend?