Don’t Panic-Buy Your First Gun, Make a Prepared Purchase. Here’s What You Need to Know

Man holds handgun in gun shop

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Here is some critical information to make sure you get the right gun and gear during this unprecedented event.

Gun shops nationwide are seeing a huge demand and record sales, particularly from first-time gun buyers as Americans prepare for the worst amid the coronavirus pandemic. The NSSF confirmed that on Monday, NICS staff experienced an over 300% increase compared to this same time period last year and Ammo.com says they saw a 276% increase in ammunition sales.

With states actively releasing inmates from correctional institutions and law enforcement departments announcing they will not be responding to service calls to limit physical contact with the public, it’s not hard to understand why we’re seeing people flocking to gun stores and panic buying guns, ammo, and gear.

But with so many options and a rush to fill a growing demand for self-defense tools, how are people determining what they need?

Buying your first gun and making sure you have the right accessories, especially during an unprecedented event like this, can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few key things to consider that will the guesswork and stress out of the process so you can focus on other things, like how to deal with long lines at the pharmacy.

Let’s start with the basics:

Learn the Rules of Gun Safety

Before you ever pick up a firearm, commit the following four rules to memory:

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The Four Rules of Gun Safety are essential to becoming responsibly armed. (image: Jenn Jacques/CrossBreed Holsters)

Following 100% of these rules 100% of the time will keep you and those around you safe. It’s also important to teach your family members, especially children, that firearms are not ever to be played with. Gun Safety programs like Project ChildSafe and Eddie Eagle are great resources for gun owners with children in the home.

These rules were drilled into me as a child and I have instilled them into my own children, as millions of other gun owners have done as well, and we cannot stress their importance enough. Please always follow these basic rules of gun safety.

How do I Know Which Gun is Right For Me?

When it comes to buying the right gun, remember: you don’t fit the gun, the gun needs to fit you. If you can’t get into a range to shoot a gun before you buy it (which I strongly recommend), you at least need to take physical hold of it to assess the grip. It’s essential that the firearm fits your hand and feels good in a strong shooting grip.

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Jenn Jacques shines a light on the proper grip during a low light/no light training session with USCCA

Handguns can be difficult to shoot accurately and the best way to combat recoil and ensure swift sight alignment is a proper grip. The grip used by most professional and serious shooters is referred to as “thumbs forward.”

The web of your primary hand should be high on the back of the gun and fit snugly under the back strap. A high, tight placement paired with a firm hold around the grip with your primary hand is then supported by wrapping your non-dominant (support) hand around it with your pointer finger up tight against the trigger guard.

As you grip the gun with your strong hand, your thumb should be pointing down the slide. Your support hand will have an equally firm grip which allows the large muscle of your thumb to settle up against the gun. This, in turn, will create a full 360-degree grip with no weak spots or openings which is essential not only accurate shooting but to fast follow-up shots as well.

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Jenn Jacques/CrossBreed Holsters

There are so many great choices for concealed carry guns on the market today – SIG SAUER P365, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, GLOCK 43, Walther PPQ, Springfield Hellcat, to name a few – it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your grip a’la Goldilocks: just right.

Okay, You Have a New Gun – Now What?

No matter which state you live in, you need to make sure you’re following local and federal laws. That means knowing the law, being comfortable drawing and shooting your firearm, and becoming confident in your ability to effectively defend yourself or protect those around you.

Taking a basic pistol or concealed carry course is smart, even if it isn’t required by the state, particularly since trainers have real-world experience in your community and can share practical advice of their own and from former students.

That being said, we also understand that right now, you may not be able to take a concealed carry class much less a basic pistol course. Most gun stores will walk you through at least a basic understanding of your firearm before you leave the store if you ask them to. You can also ask them to recommend a reputable, certified trainer in your area and reach out to them directly – they may have options available or be willing to work with you to get you trained.

Since outings to the gun range may soon be restricted, you may be able to practice target shooting at your home if you live in an area that will allow it. Those who live inside city limits can invest in a MantisX system to practice your shot, perfect your grip, and improve your trigger pull from home. This smart training system attaches to the rail of your handgun and connects to an app on your phone where shooters complete basic marksmanship drills to gain feedback on how to become a better shooter!

Jenn Jacques at Gunsite Academy

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

How Do I Carry My New Gun?

You’ll need to think about how you plan to carry your new handgun to make sure you get the correct holster. Carrying inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband (OWB) is often determined by your plans, but be sure that you remain compliant with the law and policies of the places you plan to go while carrying. Having one holster that can convert from IWB to OWB and vice-versa like The Reckoning Holster is a great, economical solution to real-world restrictions.

Whether you’re open carrying around the house or carry concealed to run errands, you need to make sure your method of carry functions safely. The most important thing to look for in a holster is that it protects the trigger with a hard cover. You don’t want to carry in any way that would allow the trigger to be passively engaged by any means.

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Jenn Jacques/CrossBreed Holsters

Your holster should also be molded to fit your gun snuggly. Hybrid holsters like the ST2 and MT2 provide a comfortable leather backer to spread the weight of the firearm across your body while the curve of your body pushes the gun into the Kydex pocket which also has adjustable retention.

Regardless of whether you’re carrying IWB or OWB, starting with a quality gun belt is also essential to the security of your gun and successfully drawing from your holster. Make sure you invest in one made specifically designed to be used as a gun belt to ensure you have a solid everyday carry (EDC) setup.

Modular options like a Belly Band, Pac Mat, and Purse Defender are also available for anyone who may not be able to carry on body with a traditional holster.

What Accessories Do I Need?

During this unprecedented event, don’t focus on everything you might need to go with your new gun, just make sure you have the essentials. Things like a quality belt and holster, self-defense ammunition (and training ammo, if you’re able to shoot it) in the correct pistol caliber, safe storage for your firearm, eye and ear protection, and a small cleaning kit are really all you need to start out.

Putting Everything in Action

Owning and carrying a firearm is a responsibility no one should take lightly. In times of uncertainty, it’s understandable that people are looking for ways to protect themselves and their families, but keeping a level head and staying committed to being responsibly armed and getting properly trained is exceptionally important.

Ask gun owners for referrals, look into online resources, find a reputable instructor in your area, join a shooting club or gun range and, if classes are not currently being held, ask if they have alternate training options available. Personally, I can’t imagine any gun owner who wouldn’t help if asked for advice, so don’t be afraid to ask.

I encourage everyone to take the necessary steps to ensure their safety and protect their families and hope that you do it safely and responsibly.

Sound Off

Is there anything else you think new gun owners should know or have to start out? What advice would you give them if training courses and gun ranges are not available to them?

Please share your advice in the comments below, I’m sure they’ll appreciate your input!

Jenn Jacques is a fierce defender of the Second Amendment, concealed carry advocate, fishing enthusiast, avid hiker, hunter, and an all-around great gal with a gun. As a former Private Detective, Jenn put those skills to good use, fighting for gun rights in her home state of Wisconsin before becoming the first female editor of a 2A/Gun News site and moving on to become a publication writer, popular multi-media guest, and respected news expert.

Jacques has hundreds of hours of firearms training under her gun belt including USCCA’s Street Encounters and Low Light/No Light Training, she is a graduate of the Gunsite Academy, and was named a S.A.F.E. Summer Local Champion of Firearm Safety by the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe. A staple in the firearms industry since 2009, Jenn is the proud mama of three!

You can find her on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or shooting at any number of gun ranges across this great country.

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comments

  1. avatar Randy Jones says:

    Jenn,
    Well written. Too many people are buying whatever they can find, but they won’t practice, learn to clean it and it will not fit them well. The good news is when this all blows over (Corona-gedden) there will be lots of almost new guns hitting the market.

    1. avatar Rad Man says:

      Can’t wait! I’ll be looking for mid to upper tier 1911s at prices too low to print/mention!

    2. avatar Jenn Jacques says:

      Thanks, Randy!! GREAT point on the future almost-new gun sales – better start saving my pennies 😉

  2. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    The only thing you need to know. Jennings. Nine.

    I may not be serious at this point in the game.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I would hope not.

  3. avatar M1Lou says:

    Just left a gun store. The inky handguns left were expensive 1911s. Ed Brown $3500 level expensive. Oh and a Ruger .22 revolver. That was $250. A few ARs on the shelf new and used. I was just there to fill out NFA paperwork.

  4. avatar possum says:

    I would think for an inexperienced first time buyer a double action revolver in caliber .38 would be a good choice.

    1. avatar onestab says:

      The only way to go for a first timer.

    2. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      +1

    3. avatar Rad Man says:

      Ruger LCRs are nice, I’d avoid the Smith airweights as they’re punishing to shoot if you’re inexperienced. A perfect rig would be the Smith Model 60 stainless steel J frame 357. Load that with 38s, practice a lot, move up to full power loads when you’re ready.

    4. avatar Wheel gun guy says:

      Possum says:” I would think for an inexperienced first time buyer a double action revolver in caliber .38 would be a good choice”. Myself I love my wheel guns, I carry one daily. But if a new gun owner buys a revolver and would like to keep their thumbs intact- DO NOT USE THE THUMBS FORWORD GRIP. That sort of grip on a revolver can take the tip off of your off (support) hand.

  5. avatar L Payne says:

    You are about 2 weeks late with this article. Great info but late.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Good information like this never goes out of style, and can be repeated over and over.

      1. avatar Darkstar says:

        Yes. Exactly.

    2. avatar John D says:

      This article was right on time for me as I just got one yesterday. But yeah it would have been even better as the hysteria started, before supplies started disappearing

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        John D.,

        I am happy to hear that you were able to acquire your firearm yesterday. I did not think that anyone had any inventory left for sale.

  6. avatar William says:

    Remember gun oil doesn’t support any virus.

  7. avatar Charles O. Slavens says:

    It is most important that things are too complicated; there should only have to be one action – pull the trigger. Also, it should be incapable of jamming. There is only one – an S&W Snubby…. it never fails.

    1. avatar TSorce says:

      I agree with Charlie…however I use the “snubby” to get to the 12 gauge.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      I love my j frame. But for a first time gun owner? No. Just no.

  8. avatar tsorce says:

    I recommend everyone, including experienced gun owners, get training and consider doing some competitive shooting. The more consistently you practice, the better it is for your operating under pressure.

    1. avatar Alan says:

      To true.

  9. avatar Mike says:

    I would advise the new gun owners to completely forget all gun-related nonsense they used to see in the movies.

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      +1000

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Except for John Wick. JW’s the new Chuck Norris.

        1. avatar John R says:

          Dude trained hard for the John Wick films. Some Hollywood hype got sure, but realist all the same. BTW, Halle Berry canB can train my dogs anytime.

        2. avatar John R says:

          Dude trained hard for the John Wick films. Some Hollywood hype got sure, but realist all the same. BTW, Halle Berry can train my dogs anytime.

        3. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          Yup. I think that extended Keanu-Berry-dogs fight scene was the best of JW3, and arguably in the top three of the entire trilogy.

          She sure did land on the genetic jackpot, to say the least…

    2. avatar Alan says:

      They probably still see the same Hollywood baloney, which should most definitely be disregarded.

    3. avatar Rad Man says:

      I’ve seen Resident Evil that’s why I pack two Desert Eagles as my EDC. I have hip replacement surgery scheduled next month.

    4. avatar Southern Cross says:

      When I run training classes my first statement, after introductions, is to say “think of everything you see in movies and forget it”.

  10. avatar Alan says:

    Could be that my heart is cold, my head is hard. Be that as it may, the following comes to mind. Isn’t it strange how at least some of yesterday’s Do Away With Guns, Ban Guns, Nobody But The Police and The Military Should Have Them types have suddenly discovered the “virtues” of gun ownership, of having one, perhaps more than one handy. I say put these lately awakened types at the very end of a long line, where they might ponder the “wisdom” of there oh so recently abandoned convictions.

    I personally would not presume to push the virtues of gun ownership on those disinclined. To each their own. Isn’t it strange however to note that generosity of thought is or seems a rather rare virtue?

    1. avatar Possum says:

      They thought what they was thinking a good thought at the time, now after looking at empty gunm racks and long lines they think they shouldn’t have thought that. I’m guessing

  11. avatar N Texas says:

    First time buyer , think about , holster , safe , weapon insurance , like USCCA.com , or other local program , courts will get involved
    IF , ( god forbid you use it in self defense , hope in pray never have to ) stay safe , stay alert
    God Bless America

  12. avatar Jimmy james says:

    Do first time gun buyers visit this site?

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      I would bet money on it. Look at the site numbers for reviews. Especially for cheap handguns. Every once in a while Dan will post the years most visited posts. Sccy, Hi-point etc… End up in the top 10.

  13. avatar PMinFl says:

    I have a pistol that is too large for my hands (comfortably), I will probably be stuck holding it for a while and now expect a lot of low use guns will be on sale in a few months. I guess I should have thought this out last year. I’ll bet I’m not alone.

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      As long as it is not way too large, it is almost certainly way better than nothing. Count your blessings. However, if possible maybe avoid ammo that is powerful enough to challenge the hold you do get.

  14. avatar conrad says:

    People are lining up for the S&W Model 38 air weight in .38 special. It is old school but will be worth more in the long run. I saw one in Lynnwood.

  15. avatar Stuck in my ways says:

    I have never taken a gun safty class. At the age of 6 I received my first .22, and taught by my US marine father gun safty and how to shoot . At 18 I received my first handgun, and was taught again gun safty and how to shoot it by my US marine older brother. At 19 the marine corps 4f’d my ass for medical reasons. After 50 years of handling, shooting ,and building guns I’m in no hurry to take that safty course. But I would recommend that class for any new shooter who did not grow up as lucky as I did.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      I grew up with them, too, and spent my entire adult life with them. However, I see the legal benefit of training courses, as an overzealous D.A. will certainly be poring over the details of a defensive shooting. I’ll be able to present multiple certifications to prove I’ve been trained to OODA with the gun(s) I use, so that I can’t be painted as someone who shot in haste.

  16. avatar GS650G says:

    Look inside yourself and see if you could really pop someone. If you have reservations you may not act when you need to.

    That’s what I said to someone who asked me if they should tool up.

  17. avatar S says:

    >>Make a Prepared Purchase<<

    A little late with this article, ya think? Where I live there no more guns on the shelves of stores, except for expensive 911s.

  18. avatar David Scott says:

    Panic buying is unneccesary..

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