buying a gun
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Buying a gun, especially a handgun for concealed carry, can be intimidating for new gun owners but it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is ask yourself a few key questions to take the guesswork and stress out of selecting and carrying your new handgun.

Here are five critical questions that will make buying and carrying the right handgun stress-free . . .

Does it fit my hand?

This is an easy one; you don’t fit the gun, the gun needs to fit you. If you can’t get into the range to shoot a gun before you buy it (which I highly recommend!), you at least need to get a hold of it and handle the grip to make sure it fits your hand and feels good in your shooting grip.

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Without a good grip, your gun is no good to you. Between the SIG P365, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus, GLOCK 43, Walther PPQ, Ruger LCR, etc., there’s no shortage of great options on the market and one of them will definitely fit your grip a la Goldilocks: just right.

This is essential, so make sure it fits you.

woman purse off-body gun carry

How will I carry it?

When mentoring new gun owners, my number one tip used to be ‘Always on your person, never in your purse,’ but I know that some women (and men) prefer to or need to carry off the body. I’ve come to terms with the fact that if this is the only way someone will carry a gun for protection, then I want to make sure they do it safely.

In any case, you need to ask yourself how you’ll be carrying your new handgun to make sure it works with that method. Whether it’s in a Purse Defender, on a Pac Mat, secured with a belly band, or in a traditional holster, you need to make sure it fits – whether that means having a low profile for appendix carry or ensuring your carry method protects the trigger if you choose a gun without an external safety.

That being said, prepare to buy several options because oftentimes, that’s exactly what you’ll need.


What other gear will I need?

It’s not just the gun, it’s the accessories that will make or break you. I may have gotten my first handgun, a Smith & Wesson 9mm Shield, at a great price but I definitely didn’t budget in all the accessories I needed to go with her!!

You’ll need ammo, both for practice and self-defense, a place to safely store your guneye and ear protection, practical tools to protect and educate your children about firearms if you’re a parent, at least one effective way to carry it (if not more), a membership to a local gun range and/or a MantisX system to practice at home, and even tools for your range bag to make loading magazines easier like the Maglula Loader.

Money well spent if you ask me, but you also need to make sure you don’t buy the gun and lose the right to carry it. Consider donating to a Pro-Second Amendment Organization and purchasing self-defense insurance to protect your rights! These go hand-in-hand with gun ownership.

second amendment tax holiday

What do I need to do before I start to carry?

No matter which state you live in, you need to make sure you’re following local and federal laws and are a capable shooter equipped to carry before you start. That means knowing the law, being comfortable drawing and shooting your firearm, and feeling confident in your ability to effectively defend yourself or protect those around you should anyone threaten your lives.

Taking a concealed carry course is smart, even if it isn’t required by the state because trainers have real world experience in your area and are able to share practical advice of their own and from former students.

Books are good, training is better, a combination of the two is best, and multiplying them with practice practice practice is ideal.

guns save life training
John Boch for TTAG

What can I do to ensure I continue my training?

With national groups like A Girl and A Gun and the Pink Pistols in addition to the hundreds of long-standing sportsman’s clubs across America and no shortage of training available from coast to coast, it’s easier than ever for all gun owners to continue training and practice with their firearms.

Get started, plug in, meet new friends, and continue advancing your skills – it’s easy and it’s fun.

So there it is: your answers to these questions will make buying a new or your next handgun and carrying it easy. Carry on and carry often – an armed society is a polite society and our society could certainly benefit from a few more good guys and gals with a gun!


This post originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission.

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  1. This is obviously aimed at the 84% of people who live in or near cities and their suburbs. Thank you for reminding me to stay away from those areas and Blue States generally.

    • So like 60-70% of the population and a larger percentage of potential new gun owners. Work with them on this topic if you can. Now for conservation, land use, and water rights yes urbanites can fuck right off (and I fit the demographic)

  2. Question number six:
    Are those shiny chrome pistols with uselessly tiny sights a good choice for carry?

  3. Law Enforcement doesn’t consider anyone with a gunm a good guy or gal.
    To them We are all liers, gypsies, tramps and theives.

    • On the final day of my (tortuously long) Los Angeles County CCW application process, I was surprised to hear the issuing Deputy tell me she was glad to have the additional presence of gun holders to help take care of matters when LE cannot be at the scene during a violent crime in progress.

      The LEOs higher up on the food chain who interact with politicians, however (such as the Sheriff schmoozing with the Mayor and/or Board), seem to share their anti-freedom stance out of personal career preservation.

  4. Well Jenn left out some of the most important questions


    In reality striker fired guns that have no manual safety cause more accidents and deaths than any other design because THEY ARE NOT SAFE TO CARRY OR HANDLE.

    “What people cannot see does not frighten them”.

    If you handed a loaded revolver to someone with the hammer cocked back and told them to stick it in their waistband without a holster or underneath their pillow or in their purse they would tell you that you had lost your mind because they can see the danger of the hammer cocked back and they know that a slight accidental snag of the trigger will cause an accidental discharge. Yet these same Morons carry striker fired handguns that have no manual safety but internally are cocked and ready to fire. Again “What the Moron cannot see he does not fear”. This is also exactly why so many hillbillies never got vaccinated and then later died.

    2. The reliability record of the handgun model.

    Contrary to ignorant Hillbilly beliefs not all handguns are 100% reliable either because of shoddy cheap parts like MIM cast parts or due to defects in the design of the pistol. Cracked frames and slides, broken firing pins, steep feed ramps (read that the 1911 pistol) will often get a person killed in a gunfight especially if the ammunition is not compatible with the design, especially some of the older designed model guns when attempting to use expanding ammo in them. I saw even some modern guns fail to function with expanding ammo when I took my concealed carry class.

    3. Will you be carrying the gun in hot weather.

    Guns that are large in size are also heavier and more uncomfortable and less concealable especially in hot weather. A gun left under the seat in the car because its uncomfortable to carry or too large to conceal does you no good at all when you are out on the street.

    4. Bullet diameter.

    People do not shoot large caliber, heavy recoiling handguns well nor do the larger calibers hold as many rounds either. A hit with a smaller caliber is much better than a miss with a cannon. Witness 3 grown men in the Present Reagan Assassination. They all hit the ground like they had been struck by lighting and the caliber was nothing more than a .22 rimfire.

    5. The Caliber myth.

    It has been known since smokeless power was invented in the late 1800’s that caliber is often irrelevant to killing power rather it is bullet placement and penetration. Some of the biggest, most dangerous animals on earth were killed by the hundreds of thousands with small caliber rifles such as the 6.5mm and 7mm not with a 600 Nitro Express.

    During WWII Mao Zedong’s forces when forced to storm over a bridge wiped out numerous machine gun nests with nothing more than their .30 cal Mauser Broomhandle pistols.

    On the other hand carrying a .25 acp .32 auto or .380 auto may not be the best choice either as often those calibers lack sufficient penetration due to bullet weight coupled with lower velocity than other calibers like the 9mm. I might add blowback models often found in .380 caliber often give more recoil than many locked breech 9mm handguns coupled with a shorter sighting radius which makes hitting anything with them less reliable than with larger handguns that have a longer sighting radius and less sudden sharp recoil.

    6. Only idiots practice with their carry gun.

    A handgun is a machine and again contrary to ignorant Hilljack beliefs handguns wear out and break just like automobiles do. Your carry gun should never be fired after it is broken in when new. Practice with another gun and ideally with a duplicate gun reserved for practice. Break or wear out that gun not your carry gun. This is only common sense.

    7. Failure to maintain your weapon.

    Carrying a gun everyday often results in the very least of lint and other contaminants entering the mechanism. This can cause a jam at the worst possible moment .

    Over lubing a carry handgun can cause attraction of dirt a debris as well as sluggish slide movement in freezing temperatures. Contamination of the ammo will also result. Only the slightest trace of a good low temperature lubricant is needed such as Break Free CLP. Yes I know its supposed to be a cleaner but used very sparingly it has never rendered any of my ammo inert. Again use only the slightest trace of it.

    Old ammo in a gun, especially a round left for along time in the chamber can corrode, become sodden, or get contaminated with too much oil left in the chamber. Contrary to popular belief the factory water and oil proofing of many handgun ammunition often leaves a lot to be desired. I put a slight trace of polyurethane varnish around the juncture of the bullet and case mouth as well a drop of polyurethane on the primer to oil proof and waterproof the ammo as this is just added insurance besides the factory water and oil proofing.

    8. Following the latest handgun craze.

    Its become popular to add everything but the kitchen sink on to your carry gun. Using lasers, red dot sights, flash lights, telescopic sights, range finders or an mp3 player that plays patriotic music which often results in a handgun weighing more and not very concealable and can often hang up with using a quick draw in an emergency. Most handgun fights take place at ranges so close they are not much farther than shooting across the barroom table.

    I have used red dots at the range and yes they make hitting something way more easier but when carrying a gun they are more trouble than they are worth, not to mention the fact that anything with a battery and circuits in them can and will eventually fail and usually at the worst possible time. I have had experience in heavy industry that proved how unreliable electronics and computers can often be.

    The use of luminous tritium sights is also a total waste of money. They have a half life of only 5 years and are expensive to replace and they are totally worthless in a gun fight as the muzzle flash blinds one after the 1st shot and they are only visible when your target is in deep extreme darkness making it impossible to even identify who the hell you are shooting at. It may just be your wife or husband or child that got up to go to the bathroom. There have been many tragic shooting incidents with people using tritium sights on a handgun.

      • dacian,
        it has been brought to my attention that you have been utilizing an Artificial -Nonintelligence computer program to have your responses written and sent to the enemy. Therefore, your check has been cancelled and your services will no longer be of service to us.

      • Either fake Dacian writing a master piece troll or actual Dacian confirming why no one takes him seriously.

    • This is literally the dumbest shit I have ever read. This is either Doctorate level trolling or you are the epitome of Weapons-Grade Autism.

    • Is this the dumbest comment I’ve ever read on the internet? Quiet possibly yes.

    • It’s tough to.pick the stupidest and most ignorant piece of advice. My vote is don’t practice with your carry gun. Even cheap guns will last for tens of thousands of rounds, and maybe some minor parts, like recoil springs, need replacement after a few thousand rounds. If you ever get to the point where it becomes unreliable, you can get another. If you don’t use your carry gun, you’ll have poorer marksmanship with it, you won’t know if it is developing issues (like building up a nice mix of oil and lint). If you have a separate practice gun, it will wear and break in more than the carry gun, so what works in one won’t necessarily work in the other. Imagine somebody who gave you advice that you should leave your car parked in the garage and never drive it so that it will be ready in an emergency. If you did need it, the battery is probably dead, the tires are flat, the gas spoiled and full of water; rust is on the interior parts, hoses and filters are clogged, seals abd rubber pieces are rotted, etc.

      The old ammo advice is silly too. You should be firing and replacing your carry ammo every 6 months because heating/cooling cycles and vibration can crack powder granules and scrape off the coatings. It also makes sure that you’re not carrying dud ammo and that it feeds properly in the gun you are carrying.

      • Yea this is by far the icing on the cake for the entire time he’s been posting here. Next level stupid. If I was to post this on r/liberalgunowners, even they would rip him to shreds lmfao.

  5. Now Possum, you know that’s not always true. Sometimes when I was out on a traffic stop the driver would give me their CCW with their DL. The conversation usually went something like this:
    Me, “I didn’t ask for this”. As I gave back the CCW.
    Driver, “My instructor told us to always give LEO our CCW so you would know we’re a good guy”.
    Me, “Never give us anything, or volunteer information, we didn’t ask for. Since you did, what are you carrying”?
    This usually led to an extended conversation about firearms. No citation. No citizen legally carrying ever got a citation from me, I might need their help one day, but I would drop a ton of bricks on a real bad guy’s head.

  6. To survive jumping out of a plane your chute must open. Just as serious when cornered by a perp you want yourself and your firearm, mags, ammo to be 110%. If a link fails it could be very embarrassing, etc.

      • Enough to stress the importance of a parachute opening and not to give a damn if someone has jumped out of airplanes or not unless the point they were making doesn’t fly.

  7. TTAG how about a multi brand test/review of firearms simulators?

    Due to a vast amount of advertising, Mantis is well known. All that means is, a purchasing is paying for vast amounts of advertising. Generally, the item advertised is junk with sales driven by hype not performance (such as Generac being a case in point. If not for their vast advertising budget, they wouldn’t sell diddly squat of their POS consumer gensets).

  8. The Truth About Deez Nutz
    For real though. This entire article can be disregarded, as it was written by a Fudd with zero real world experience. TTAG should pull it, because it’s honestly embarrassing.

  9. Sorry, I think the, “Does it fit your hand?” question is absolutely useless for novice shooters. If you need to be told to get something that fits your hand, then you’re too inexperienced to know what a good grip feels like. Yes, you should take the time to verify you can comfortably operate all the controls, but beyond that, you’ll need to learn to shoot before you can start having educated preferences regarding grip angle, shape, thickness, texture, etc. My advice is get something inexpensive, learn to shoot it, and then buy something better when you really know what you want.

    • I respectfully disagree. If the gun is not comfortable in your hand, you can learn to shoot it well, but the learning curve is much greater. I consider myself fairly experienced with firearms and can shoot my M&P well, but it took a lot of practice to get that good. It still does not ‘fit’ my hand. I can shoot lights out with my Gen 3 Glocks and 1911’s and haven’t had to practice near bout as much. They ‘fit’ my hand.

  10. And the Number 1 thing every firearm instructer/gun store owner/sales person recommending a concealed carry pistol to a woman screws up is not recommending a Walther CCP or similar. So after they walk out of the gun store with their handy dandy Glock/Smith or whatever gun is the salesperson favorite gun, take it home and realize they don’t have the strength and dexterity to chamber a round because the recoil spring is too heavy. I get the call and sell another Walther CCP. The grip fits their hand and the slide is easy to manipulate. Because if they can’t chamber a round it’s just a worthless paperweight. So grip is no1 important but a close no2 is can they manipulate the slide.

  11. To me, the most important aspect of buying and carrying a firearm for protection is something that a person has to decide BEFORE buying. They must be willing to actually use it against another person. A person has to make up their mind beforehand that, if the circumstances require it, they would and could kill another human being. Having a firearm to protect yourself and your family is useless unless you are willing to pull the trigger. Even some police officers are hesitant to shoot someone because of legal, civil or moral issues. If and when that time ever comes to fire your firearm at another person, hesitation can get you, your family or friends killed. That personal decision has to be made BEFORE you ever pick up a gun.

  12. Asking for some carrying and holstering advice from the gun shop would really help me for sure. The last thing I want to do is carry something like that in the open and scare people, as I just want it to have a way to protect my family. I’ll definitely ask for this kind of advice when I go to a local gun shop.

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