The True Cost of Buying a Handgun

By Rob Aught

Sticker shock. Anyone who has ever shopped for a car knows what it is. I was somewhat surprised to find out it applies to firearm purchases as well. Fortunately, when I went to buy my first firearm someone was kind enough to warn me that just buying a gun is not the end of what you need. Buying a firearm by itself is like buying a computer without a keyboard, monitor, and mouse. Yes, you now have a computer, but it’s worthless for anything more than an expensive paperweight . . .

Now, if you’re an experienced shooter, this article may not be for you. You may have all the whizbangs and doo-dads you need and going into a store to buy a new firearm is all you have to do. This is largely for people who are new to guns and I’m going to provide a template for planning your purchase and give a specific example. I am going to focus on handguns because this is the most common weapon purchased for home defense and by far the most common firearm purchased for concealed carry. There is an ongoing and lively debate over whether a handgun, rifle, or shotgun makes for the “best” home defense weapon. This article is not advocating a stance. I am simply using a handgun as an example because it is the weapon most new shooters will buy.

Here come the disclaimers. State law can vary greatly and I am not looking at any additional costs for your area, including additional licensing, permits, or special taxes on firearms and ammunition. I live in Texas where the cost of a firearm is all you have to pay unless you’re looking at getting a concealed handgun license. Please check your local laws and regulations before you make any purchases. Also, any shipping costs or FFL transfer fees are not included. If you’re buying online it’s best to be aware of these costs upfront. For this example, due to variance by area, I am also assuming a 7% sales tax. This may be more or less than what you would actually pay, but I don’t want to leave it out of the discussion entirely since it can add a significant cost to the end total. Also not included are any fees for going to a gun range or joining a gun club to practice shooting. Too much variance for me to calculate. Furthermore, in all the following
examples I will be presenting a range and then landing somewhere in the middle. Cost variances can occur and may be more or less than even the range I am presenting. The idea is to prepare you for a general idea of what you will need to spend. More than one person has set out to spend $500 on a handgun and suddenly found themselves out $100 to $200 more than they expected.

Here are the absolute essentials you will need when you make your first firearm purchase –

  • The firearm itself – Self explanatory
  • A spare magazine – You should have a ready to go reload on hand whether you intend this for home defense or concealed carry.
  • 200 rounds of practice ammunition – You need to put enough rounds through your new firearm to get comfortable and learn it’s ins and outs
  • A gun lock – Assuming you don’t already have a safe, you need some kind of lock to secure the weapon.
  • A full load and one reload of self defense ammunition – I am going to recommend JHP’s, Jacketed Hollow Points, for any kind of defensive use
  • Eye Protection – This is for practice. 99% of the time you don’t need it, but if you’ve ever caught hot brass in the face you’ll be glad you have it.
  • Hearing Protection – Guns are loud! Like permanent hearing loss loud!
  • Cleaning Solvent, Gun Oil, Cleaning Patches, and a Cleaning Kit – For standard maintenance

I’ll break this down for you using a specific example, the Glock 19. I’m not a Glock lover, in fact I don’t care for them personally. However, I do have experience with them and they are solid handguns. There is a good reason the Glock 19 is one of the best selling handguns in the United States. The Glock 19 is a double action only, autoloading, 9mm Luger handgun with a standard capacity of 15 rounds. With a reputation for reliability, it is also accurate, and is generally not picky about what kind of ammunition it will shoot.

Here’s the breakdown:
Glock 19 Handgun – $500 to $550
For our purposes we’re going to say its $525. I can find them all day long at that price at a number of retailers. There are both cheaper and more expensive handguns, but as a default option the Glock 19 is essentially the Toyota Camry of handguns.

Spare Magazine – $0
The Glock 19 comes with a spare magazine and a magazine loader. Depending on your particular gun it could be anywhere from $15 to $40 for spare magazines, maybe even more. However, most common handgun brands, certainly any brand I would recommend for home defense, already comes with a spare magazine.

200 rounds of 9mm Luger – $13 to $15 for a box of 50 rounds
In general you can probably expect to spend right at $14 for a box of 50 rounds. This is the cost for using brass ammunition. This means the bullet casing is made out of brass. There is steel cased ammunition that is cheaper, but generally is dirtier and some handguns have issues with it. I recommend using brass cased bullets for new shooters simply so you don’t have to worry about the idiosyncrasies of steel casings. Once you get used to your weapon’s function and maintenance it may be worth looking at steel cased ammunition for shooting “on the cheap”. Other than that, anything that is FMJ (Full metal jacket) is fine for range use.

40 rounds of 9mm Luger self defense ammunition – $21 to $24 for a box of 20 rounds
This will hurt a little because of the Glock 19’s capacity. You’ll need to buy two boxes so you can fully load both magazines. Don’t just keep the extra 10 rounds, I would recommend shooting them at the range just to make sure the rounds you’ve purchased work without issue. The Glock will likely function just fine with any self defense ammunition but it’s always worthwhile to fire a few rounds to make sure. Self defense ammunition is usually easy to identify in the store and there are many manufacturers, but what you’re looking for is JHP (Jacketed hollow-point). These bullets are designed to expand when they hit a target, doing more internal damage, while also being less likely to penetrate the inner walls of your home should you miss your target. For the end total I’m going to assume about $23 a box.

Gun Lock – $0
Most handguns sold in the US come with a gun lock. For the most part you won’t use it, but it’s a good thing to have around. There may be situations where you need to secure your weapon and if you don’t have a gun safe a gun lock is your next best option. While it won’t prevent a theft it will at least prevent a negligent discharge. I don’t recommend storing your weapon with the lock on as it will be difficult to deploy when you need it. However, there may be specific circumstances where it’s better to lock it down. Just don’t make that your default.

Eye Protection – $10 to $20
I’m going to go with $10 even though it’s the low end, simply because I can find decent shooting glasses at that price without a problem. There are some very pricey shooting glasses out there, but just for newbie shooters don’t go crazy. However, do invest in some. I literally have been hit right between the eyes with hot brass. Not a common occurrence but had I been wearing eye protection it would have been no big deal.

Hearing Protection – $15 to $20 for earmuff style hearing protection
There are cheaper options like in-ear protection, but earmuffs are easy to use, difficult to put on incorrectly, and generally work just fine if you spring for something that is at least $15. I have seen earmuff style protection for north of $100, but for a new shooter a basic set will do just fine. For our purposes let’s assume $20.

Cleaning Solvent – $3
Buy some purpose made solvent for cleaning firearms. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy but it should be designed to dissolve common residue and fouling that occurs when discharging a firearm. For $3 you should be all set.

Gun Oil – $2 to $5
There is an average price of about $3. I am thinking specifically of gun oil that has a squeeze applicator similar to a standard bottle of glue instead of the spray on kind. Having an applicator allows easier clean-up and purposeful lubrication of factory recommended lubrication points.

Cleaning Patches – $4
Yes, buy cleaning patches. They’re cheap and useful not only for cleaning the bore (barrel) of your weapon but general clean-up of any excess solvent or gun oil. Even if your cleaning kit comes with patches, buy more.

Cleaning Kit – $0
Although not common for all firearms, the Glock 19 at least comes with a bore brush and cleaning rod. In general, to buy a separate cleaning kit you would expect to spend about $10 per caliber and various kits may come with solvent and gun oil. However, if the Glock 19 is your first and only gun there is no need to buy a 9mm handgun cleaning kit.

So what is our grand total?

$525 – Glock 19 Handgun, extra magazine, gun lock, cleaning kit
$56 – 200 rounds of 9mm brass FMJ practice ammunition
$46 – 40 rounds of 9mm JHP self defense ammunition
$10 – Eye protection
$20 – Hearing protection
$10 – Cleaning supplies (Patches, oil, and solvent)

Subtotal – $667
7% Sales Tax – $47
Grand Total – $714

As always, your mileage may vary. You may choose a cheaper handgun, or a more expensive one. There are plenty of other options and accessories that I am not covering, mostly because they are not essential to the initial purchase but might be good to have later, such as a holster if you’re going to carry concealed or a range bag. The best thing to do is walk through this exercise before you buy, do some research, and be prepared. Yes, that first purchase can be expensive but once you’ve got all the basics you can add the rest a little at a time as your budget allows.


  1. avatar Jody sheldon says:

    good article Dan. I would like to just say that yes it is an up front cost, but when your thinking of $$$, make sure you think hard about what is your life worth and the persons you are protecting.

  2. avatar The Original Brad says:

    No mention of a holster?!? Did I miss that in there somewhere? How about targets and shooting range costs? Those can be significant depending on where you are. In most cities, you can just go out to your backyard and shoot.

    How about lessons? Assuming this is for a noob, CCL and other classes can run up the cost.

    How about liability insurance?

    1. avatar Chris says:

      My normal homeowners covers me for negligence and accidents involving guns with no rider. No insurance covers you for intentional use.

      1. avatar Mad Max says:

        Second Call Defense provides insurance for self-defense firearms use along with support services.

      2. avatar Erik says:

        No insurance can cover you for criminal charges unless acquitted.

        however an umbrella policy will protect you if you are not charged and are civilally sued in a wrongful death action

        1. avatar Laron says:

          @Erik – USCCA does give you re-imbersement for bail money and covers you in case you are arrested. It is great insurance and DOES carry you if you are criminally charged. Look into it! It gives you “peace of mind” unless you are an agressor. For “self-defense” I wouldn’t be without it.

    2. avatar Rob Aught says:

      Holster can come later, and is mentioned. If you plan on carrying, obviously you will need it sooner than later but it is hardly “essential” to get started.

      Don’t fret though. I am firmly in the camp that if you carry, a holster is not optional.

      1. avatar Marcus Aurelius says:

        Personally,I consider a holster to be an external safety. If the pistol had no safety switch, then I make it a rule to have it in a holster even if it is going to be a “nightstand gun.” I just dislike the idea of a striker fired hand gun with nothing isolating the trigger. But for that purpose the cheapest holster will do.

        1. avatar pastubbs says:

          I second that I have no kids or any thing but I normally keep my “safety free” M&P in the holster on the nightstand.

    3. avatar Gordon Ramsey says:

      Who pays for shooting ranges? The school lets you in for free.

  3. avatar RUDOLF OGG says:

    I hear what you are saying however all one really needs is a gun extra magazine and ammo. And as far as ammo is concerned you hit someone with a standard FMJ even a cheap one they’ll die all the same

    1. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

      FMJ is the least preferred. JHP will dump a lot more energy and leave a much larger wound. Either way, better than not having a gun.

      1. avatar CW3 Crusty says:

        And remember in a home defense situation you must be concerned with your shots entering your neighbors home. Hollow Point is the way to go.

  4. avatar Rev. Maurice Pompitous says:

    and then there’s the second and third and so on gun you will want.

    1. avatar Chris says:

      YES! I wish I had read this article before buying my first gun. The only addendum would be that once you get into it, you’ll find 3 or 4 almost immediately that you want. Make sure your first gun purchase is the gun you want or the wife will be getting LOTS of new clothing over the next year.

      1. avatar BillF says:

        Whaddya mean “3 or 4 more you’ll want”? Don’t you mean “3 or for more you’ll need”? If you buy an automatic, you”ll then “need” a revolver. If your auto is a sub compact, you’ll then “need” a full size. If your revolver is a snubby, you’ll then “need” a K frame. And so on. 🙂

  5. avatar Lucas D. says:

    Nah, once you’ve wet it up good with powder solvent, don’t bother using patches to clean it. Just go buy a $4 can of non-chlorinated brake parts cleaner (PROtip: it’s the same stuff they put into the $15 can of gun scrubber) and blast out all the nooks and crannies real good with that. The stuff evaporates with no residue, in my own experience it does no damage to blued, tannerite, parkerized or melonite finishes, and it leaves your gat squeaky clean and ready to oil.

    1. avatar RLC2 says:

      thanks for that tip- I googled it up and found some good discussions on places like THR, Smith and Wesson. A caution- read the MSDS, and wear gloves and consider a mask. Apparently even the non-chlorinated will damage some synthetics.

      The chlorinated stuff, and carb cleaner is bad for you, will damage skin and liver.

      1. avatar Lucas D. says:

        I should say that I can only vouch for the finishes I listed because so far I’ve used the cleaner on an Auto-Ord 1911A1 GI model, a Glock 23, a Bersa Thunder 9 UC and a Springfield XDs and it did no harm to the finish or the synthetic furniture on any of them. For wood, older plastics and nickel finishes, you may want to check on other forums to get the lowdown from someone who’s tried it already.

        And yeah, you obviously don’t want to be using this stuff in a poorly-ventilated area. Safety, people.

    2. avatar Pascal says:

      Pro-tip or not, there are so many less toxic options available including biodegradable options I see no reason to use brake cleaner. I will choose my health over a cheap solution.

      1. avatar Lucas D. says:

        Okay then, how about sharing a few of them? Put up or shut up, dillweed.

  6. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    You forgot the cost of the 2nd gun, 3rd gun, 4th gun….
    These things are additive you know…

    Oooppppssss. I see someone beat me to the punch. And here I thought I was being soooo clever.

  7. Good list, and good info for the new shooter. I would suggest to the new shooter some initial self defense training and a minimum range time to become relatively proficient.

  8. avatar Robert Seddon says:

    Most newbies I have seen can get into the whole picture one step at a time, but do tend to go overboard in the first week. That new toy is just too enamoring to leave it alone for more than a few hours, and all those magazine articles and internet warnings about being ready for the zombie apocalypse .. along with ads for every useless piece of tactical (Tactical BACON?? come on..) crap that costs more than a weeks grocery bill…. My FIRST advice to ANY NEWBIE is to go look for that firearm with a seasoned firearm professional in tow. This can keep you from wasting your money on that 50 cal BMG hand howitzer and point you at a useable handgun and tell them WHY that is a good choice. Then urge them to TAKE LESSONS. That way they can AVOID blowing their ba**z off with that super plastic self locking appendix holster and think about it and get some good advice before going off half cocked. How many gun aficionados do you know with less than 6 to 8 holsters in their drawer that just didn’t quite fit perfectly? $750.00 should get them a good starter kit to START learning about handling a handgun and a box or two of bullets and a cheap Hoppes cleaning kit. Maybe also Ayoobs book on the art of self defense and accurate shooting skills? (Should actually be given to them free of charge by the gun dealer who sold it to them in the first place.)
    Robert Seddon
    Robert Seddon

    1. avatar RLC2 says:

      +100. Invest first in a decent handgun safety class, with instructor time at the range- where they have a range of rentals to try out. YOu can waste a LOT of time and money finding out the gun you bought doesn’t work with your hands, or your carry needs. Ayoob’s books are bit dated but very good, coming from his long experience teaching to think about legal aspects of self-defense first.

      Have fun shooting but most important- after a couple months- get some more good instruction- amazing what an hour or two in qualified instruction can do to build good habits and solve bad ones, before you spend many times that $100 or so, instead in ammo and range fees building them…

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        I wonder what it is like to have an instructor. Might be interesting. I’ve been shooting for a decade, self taught, lots of book learning. I hit what I am aiming for, and that’s the point, I think. Is an instructor going to teach me something other than that?

        1. avatar SpeleoFool says:

          Basic classes will teach gun safety rules, stance, trigger discipline, etc. A class might help to reinforce things you’ve taught yourself or give you new ideas on how to introduce newbies to the sport of shooting.

          I took an intro to handguns class with my wife (who was a new shooter) even though I already owned a few and had plenty of experience with them. I did learn a couple things about revolvers, which I hadn’t spent any real time with, but mostly it was a recap of stuff I knew and a fun thing to do together. It was also nice to let someone else do the teaching. 🙂

          Classes are also a good opportunity to ask questions & trade info and opinions with people who spend a whole lot of time around firearms.

        2. avatar Pascal says:

          Don’t assume everyone learns the same way. Instructor lead courses can get you started and up to speed faster. Good instructors can help prevent bad habits as well. If you take my courses you get to try different guns for free and find what fits your hands. Nothing trumps experience and range time. The question is if you are making effective use of your range time? A good instructor can help you get into a training regiment both on and off the range. Having taken several Larry Vickers classes, I have always learned something new each time including how to do something faster or more efficient. YMMV

        3. avatar rlc2 says:

          Not if you know it all….

        4. avatar Blue says:

          This instructor taught his students to always safety check firearms even if “they know” it is empty.

  9. avatar VSN says:

    I use the basic shop goggles from Ace. Not all that slick looking, but only set me back 3 or 4 bucks.

  10. avatar Jay1987 says:

    You could also go the used route for your first gun like I did.

    1. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

      The trouble I had and still have with buying used is my level of ignorance about assessing the condition of the gun. Are you getting a good deal or getting screwed by buying a piece of junk that might fail you in your moment of need?

      1. avatar Jay1987 says:

        Simple look at the bore and muzzle any knicks or rust put it down and walk away. Also if your LGS gunsmith is anything like me the gun has been cleaned within an inch of its life and inspected for safety, function, and broken/missing parts. If it hasn’t most gun smiths will inspect it for around 20 bucks.

        1. avatar Jay1987 says:

          Also don’t worry about rust on the outside. you can always gently sand it off and dura coat or reblue the gun. and if its a semi auto always buy a new recoil spring. Might not need it immediately but it will come in handy later.

    2. avatar Rob Aught says:

      Like I said, the above is just a template. There are too many choices, but you could plug pretty much any gun into the above equation and come within $20 or so of your final cost.

  11. avatar jirdesteva says:

    If your new to any firearms go to a rent a gun range. Take a couple of training courses if you don’t know someone who has experience in firearms. ABOVE ALL ELSE REMEMBER THIS:

    1. avatar S.CROCK says:

      is the .22 the largest caliber rifle? i just asked a stupid question.

      but i agree, ask A LOT of questions. i always hated, and still do hate asking questions (especially about firearms).

  12. avatar David Trest says:

    “There are both cheaper and more expensive handguns, but as a default option the Glock 19 is essentially the Toyota Camry of handguns.”
    Man, don’t go insulting the Toyota Camry like that. Comparing it to a Glock, sheesh.

    1. avatar Leadbelly says:

      The car that Glocks remind me of are the old purpose-built Checkers.

      1. avatar Lucas D. says:

        It puts me more in mind of an old Autocar diesel; big, bulky and certainly not much of a looker, but it can haul some pretty wide loads and keep right on a’going.

        …and I just realized that description works equally well for Rosie O’Donnell.


    2. avatar Anonymous says:

      Glocks remind me of Scion xB’s. Because they are both shaped like simple boxes, overrated, overpriced, and mostly made out of plastic.

      1. avatar Jon says:

        Yeah just plain old reliable, easy to operate/disassemble and parts are EVERYWHERE kinda gun.

  13. avatar SD3 says:

    “A” spare magazine? Try 12. Or 20. Maybe a lot more.

  14. avatar Chad says:

    How is a G19 DAO? I thought it was a striker fired pistol.

    1. avatar RegicidalManiac says:

      When you rack the slide on a Glock, the striker is partially cocked – pulling the trigger cocks the striker the rest of the way and releases it, so it is technically DAO, if not in the traditional fashion.

  15. avatar Independent George says:

    I’ll echo the recommendation on a gun safety class before even thinking about purchasing a pistol. NRA First Steps or NRA Basic pistol covers a lot of material for $150-$175 where I live (including range fees and 50 rounds of ammo).

    Most instructors I’ve met recommend a .22 semi-auto as a first gun (not that I followed this very good advice myself). New ones typically cost $350 or less, ammo (when available) is 1/4 the cost of 9mm, and the light recoil makes it easier to develop good mechanics/muscle memory before moving on to the larger rounds.

    For guns which don’t come with a loader, I’d strongly recommend spending another $30 on the Maglula magazine loader. Shooting is much more fun when you don’t break your fingers loading a magazine.

    1. avatar RLC2 says:

      Good advice.

      If you want to start out on a heavier caliber for home defense, you can also buy conversion kits for some semi’s to shoot 22LR.

      I have an Advantage Arms for my Glock 23 – a bit spendy up front but ammo savings pays for it over the course of a couple years, at $.05/bullet for .22 vs $0.40 for .40S&W. Helps cure/avoid flinch, good for teaching the kids, too.

  16. avatar Charles5 says:

    “The Glock 19 is a double action only, autoloading, 9mm Luger handgun with a standard capacity of 15 rounds.”

    Um, no. Glocks are striker fired, and lack second strike capability. Yes, the trigger pull does draw the striker back a little bit further before release, but the striker is already at a half cock. So, if anything, Glocks are “Single and a half” action, if that is even a thing.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      The ATF considers the Glock DAO, no?

  17. avatar BigUnit says:

    You never can have too much ammo.

    Your spending $700+ for this rig. Get a good holster and a few extra boxes of HOT ammo. If things go BAD, you and your family have a chance at living. Anybody remember Katrina?

    Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.

  18. avatar Bob says:

    The start up costs aren’t that bad…though I was surprised how quick that first 200 rounds went. I used to think people at work who had 1k rounds on hand as crazy prepper types.

    After my first handgun it all went down hill once I found action pistol shooting. Then an even steeper slope once i found 2 gun and then 3 gun. Then you really start to acquire stuff and shoot a lot, especially in the name of practice.

    I personally think more people should compete, especially new owners. You really learn good range procedures and good gun handling. Our local club has a fun shoot every month which is a basically a lite 1, 2, or 3 gun match. Meant to be a low stress match with a focus on safety and introduction to match practices. Pretty much a run what you brung sort of structured plinking. We attract a lot of new shooters that way.

  19. avatar ChainsawWieldingManiac says:

    No quick action gun safe for safe storage at night?

  20. avatar Mark N. says:

    Then there are transfer fees for the required 4473. In California, the standard fee is $25, but if the dealer is not selling the gun (private sale or gun show transfer), those fees can be $65 or more. We are fairly lucky–the only other fee charged is $25 for a handgun safety certificate (test required but its easy). The northeast states like to charge you an arm and a leg for the permit to buy, and make you wait months to get it.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      My HSC is good for 5 years. I don’t know how this new law brown just signed that requires a certificate for long guns is going to effect that. Wonder if it will just be one cert for all?

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        Your HSC will stay good, but it is not clear, until regulations are established, whether you will have to get tow certs or one for all, with only a safe handling demo on purchase of a firearm, whether long or short. I think the questions on the test may change a bit, but it is pretty generic as it is. Maybe they’ll just expand the pamphlet to include safeing a rifle.

    2. avatar JeffR says:

      I bought a new pistol today and forgot that Crook County, Illinois had imposed a new $25 firearms tax. When I got the bill, I was floored by the sales tax plus the firearms tax. Added almost $80 to the purchase. (I can’t wait to move to Indiana. But I love having a new CZ.)

  21. avatar DNA says:

    I just recently purchased my first handgun for home defense/target shooting. I just had a question: I want to store it for home defense but I only have two magazines (it’s an xdm 40 with 11 and 16 round mags). Should I load the 11 round mag with JHP and then remove the rounds to load it with FMJ when I take it to the range? (I want to be able to practice with both the full and compact grips)

    Also I’m already very familiar with this firearm having shot 200+ rounds through my dad’s.

    1. avatar jirdesteva says:

      I bought extra magazines for my pistol and have some for the range and the home defense stay at home. Every couple of range sessions I’ll swap the HD mags for the more used. Every once in a while I’ll buy a new one.

    2. avatar MD says:

      DNA, yes I would do exactly as you have said. I keep my pistols loaded with home defense rounds at home, and then change the rounds out when I go to the range. It would be less hassle to buy some additional magazines to avoid having to do this often, but if two magazines is what you have then that’s fine for now.

      Some will advise “rotating” your personal defense stock of JHPs by shooting them at the range and then buying replacement ammo later. Two reasons often used for doing this are to have “fresh” (newer) ammo ready at home when you need it, and also to ensure your self defense rounds function in your pistol without malfunction. However, with ammo prices these days, this process can get expensive especially if you shoot regularly. Ammunition can be kept for years before needing to be changed out, so I rarely shoot personal defense rounds just to “keep them fresh”. We’re not talking about a half gallon of milk with an expiration date in two weeks. $25 for 20 rounds of JHP type ammo…yeah I’m going to keep those around for a while before I use them.

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        The only issue with not “rotating” your HD ammo is that the bullet may be forced back into the casing when rechambering it multiple times, a condition that can lead to a dangerous overpressure. Be sure to check that none of your cartridges are shorter than the others. I don’t know about 9mm, but with .45s you can buy high quality HD ammo that has a pressed ring on the casing to prevent this condition.

  22. avatar DJStuCrew says:

    If you’re a first-time buyer, you’re also going to need a safe of some kind. Someone above mentioned a quick action safe, but assuming you live alone, and no children or roommates are present, you’re going to want to have some way to leave your gun unattended and reasonably safe from theft. This is essential if you eventually buy other guns. (And if children ARE present, even moreso!) Safes can run anywhere from a $30 single handgun lock box to a $3K bank vault lookin’ thing with humidity controls and a carousel.

  23. avatar CJ says:

    I would think 100 rounds would be a bare minimum to feed test defensive ammo. 10 rounds is sorely inadequate IMO.

  24. avatar Roger says:

    I own two handguns, a .40 semi auto and a .357 revolver, and never thought much about long term ownership costs until I wanted to get a 1911, rifle and a shotgun. We have kids and live in a neighborhood “in transition” so a safe is necessary. I wanted a good safe which runs +$600 to store everything. Plus the cost of remodeling the master bedroom closet where it needs to go. My wife was quick to point out the per-round cost of ammo which is something I never really thought about, the first time I took her shooting (she is a math teacher).
    I practice a lot, especially lately since I want to get some NRA instructor certifications. That means I hoard ammo too. Needless to say the new toys are still on hold.
    For what it’s worth, unscented baby wipes are great for cleaning all the gunk and residue off. And diaper changing mats make great gun cleaning mats once you are out of the diaper phase.

  25. avatar MD says:

    Dan, great article. I think you hit all the high points, except one…training. I would highly recommend a new shooter get some form of rudimentary instruction on how to safely and effectively use a firearm, especially a firearm to be primarily used for concealed carry or home defense. Let’s face it, the concealed handgun license training in some states is laughable. I’ve been to a few classes where the legalities and liabilities are covered, but hardly any actual training in how to use the pistol was covered.

    If you’re a new shooter, please spend an additional $100 to $150 above Dan’s estimate and get a class in basic handgun marksmanship, safety and scenario-based home defense situations. Most ranges offer some type of class or know of an instructor who is NRA certified to give such a class. Typically group classes are less expensive than individual instruction, but you may have to choose from the class dates and schedules offered. Be sure to call or meet the instructor before hand if possible. I would even advocate interviewing him or her to determine if this is someone you feel you can learn from. For ladies, I would recommend seeking out a female instructor if you’re more comfortable.

  26. avatar JimD says:

    Personally, I’d spend more than $10 on eyepro. You never know what’s going to come flying at you, or how fast it’s going to be moving.

    1. avatar S.CROCK says:

      i have $4 eye protection and it could stop a brick. (for indoor ranges)

      when I’m shooting at an outdoor range, i wear sunglasses. do you think that is bad/ unsafe?

  27. avatar PavePusher says:

    One extra magazine? One?! I generally have one in the gun, and two in a mag holder on the opposite hip. And a 4th in the center console of whatever vehicle I’m in. And 2-6 more for range use….

    Which brings up the mag holder…..

    Or, for revolvers, speed loaders/strips and pouches….

    A good carry belt…

    Maybe some new pants to fit the belt (larger belt loops) and to accommodate concealed carry, if you go that way…

    Trust me, every gun I’ve ever bought probably cost me double the list price due to accessories and initial ammo load-out…..

  28. avatar ropingdown says:

    Buy a .22LR pistol. There’s no ammunition available so you needn’t feel guilty failing to practice. Use it as a hammer. Move to a better neighborhood.

    I think the little .45ACP Glocks look just fine, the G36 and the G30S. Not blocky. Drop the thing in your coat pocket behind a small-print US Constitution to prevent printing. Load the magazine with at least two rounds, as there might be two perps. It’s a .45.

    To economize on ammunition with your G19, just load one, and do a Zim. What until the guy’s on top of you so you can’t miss. Or better yet, buy a very bright little flashlight so you can see him a bit sooner. Save your nose and a trial.

    As Ayoob said, or would have said if he was a bit more candid, line up not only an attorney but someone competent in treating New Gun Addiction. Or budget for a marriage counselor.

  29. avatar ropingdown says:

    Seems like a very sensible estimate of the minimum cost of acquiring a handgun. At most ranges I’ve been to you can borrow ‘ears and eyes’ if needed. Having watched acquaintances buy their first gun, I think people should ask themselves if the item is purely for basic defense, or whether they are leaning toward acquiring a hobby. There’s a difference. Defending successfully is about social and legal knowledge, and a willingness to always have the basic reliable pistol with you when possible, not about a fancy gun. People defend their lives successfully and win competitions with some very plain guns, like from-the-box Glocks or S&W revolvers. Think through how you would actually carry a pistol before buying ‘starter holsters.’ Ask a friend if you can borrow his whole box full of holsters that weren’t perfect. Many people have such a box.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Agreed. Even if you do not plan on carrying but desire a home defense weapon, your first gun should have a reputation for utter reliability. Fancy guns can come later. Second, buy the gun that you shoot best and feels good in your hand. Preferably buy a full size gun or a gun with a 4″ barrel, as the small pocket pistols can be difficult to shoot accurately until you have experience, and in particular, experience with handling recoil. Avoid “high power” ammo, like +P or +P+ until you have experience with regular loads–again, it is harder to maintain accuracy with hot loads.

      Second, when you do “pull the trigger” and buy that first gun, the very first thing you MUST do is read the manual from front to back, learn all of the safety features, and learn how to tear it down for cleaning. Many guns need to be cleaned before you can shoot them (Taurus guns are well known for coming packed full of grease, e.g.). If the manual seems a bit obscure, there are undoubtedly YouTube videos for your particular firearm that demonstrate the process. Kahr even has the vids on is main web site. It won’t cost you anything, but may save you a bundle later.

  30. avatar Jay says:

    Great article. I do not consider myself to be in the target audience but I do want to pass this along. If I may add to that total a cost for training. It can be anything from a “here’s how not to shoot yourself and your loved ones in the ass” all the way to something more elaborate.

  31. avatar Blue says:

    My local LGS’ don’t charge a transfer fee if you are buying from them. They just charget the $5 FDLE fee for the NICS. If you happen to be buying more than one piece, it is just 1 charge for how ever many fit on that form.

  32. avatar TheSleeperHasAwakened says:

    To all Gun Noobs…the cost of purchasing one firearm is indeed more than people think. However, gun purchasing/collecting scales quite nicely, especially when purchasing firearms in the same caliber 🙂

  33. avatar custom7 says:

    If you practice with your handgun, expect much more than to run 200 rounds through it a year. As a rule of thumb double the cost of firearm over the lifetime of the gun when accounting for ammunition (and that’s being conservative on estimates).

  34. avatar Benji40 says:

    Snap caps, so you can dry fire to your heart’s content. It is a great way to get used to your new gun with the assurance that you are not hurting it. Put a 3×5 index card on the opposite wall, load your snap caps, work on sight picture, pull trigger a few hundred times. Repeat every time you are bored.

  35. avatar Justin says:

    I agree on everything but the glock koolaid at the end, the accessory spiel, and the HP ammo focus. Grab a Lightly Used Beretta 92fs, full steel, not plastic KB-prone pieces of over engineered atrophy. 450 out the door. If you know what you are doing, doohickeys and bells and whistles can be left in the dust, save for a 70-100 dollar nightsight upgrade. Also I recommend a magazine of steel core (can you still get that?) or at least FMJ at the ready for targets behind concealment/cover. Like someone shooting out the top slit of a window while driving by or someone using light over while offering fire in your direction. Your gonna want the round to penetrate instead of flattening on impact in that situation.

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  37. avatar Kenny Beard says:

    I love it! Excellent article. I think it could also be useful for everyone to know how and where to fill a form online. By the way, if anyone is facing a problem of filling TX TREC No. 38-4, I’ve found a template here

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