First-Time Gun Buyer’s Guide, Fall 2020 Edition: NOW What Should I Buy?

SHTF AR-15 rifle

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Rumor has it that “may you live in interesting times” is an old Chinese curse, and these are definitely interesting times. Between the civil unrest currently happening in various parts of the United States, the pandemic-inspired economic problems, and political polarization he likes we have never seen in this country, there’s more reason than ever to make sure that your are able to protect yourself and your family.

That’s why more than five million people have become first-time gun owners. I have lost count of the number of people who have reached out to me recently asking about buying their first firearm, and rather than copy and pasting the same thing over and over again I figured this might be a useful guide for those who are still in the market.

First and foremost…

You Are a Little Late to the Game

Let’s acknowledge something up front: if you are looking to buy a firearm right now, you probably aren’t going to be able to get exactly what you want. Or pay a reasonable amount of money to get it.

gun store pistol handgun counter

Shutterstock

I was talking with TTAG alum Tyler Kee this week, and we were marveling that this is the second or third time in our lives we’ve gone through a massive panic buying spree followed by widespread shortages. And as such, I think we have a pretty good idea of what’s happening and how things are going to play out in the short term in terms of firearms.

In a normal world any one of the number of crises that have happened this year would have disrupted the firearms market, but it seems like, in 2020, they just keep coming, one after another, compounding an already dire situation.

When the pandemic kicked off in earnest back in late February, things had been generally OK. Being an election year there was already a naturally increased level of firearms purchasing going on, but we didn’t really expect that to peak until later in the year.

When nationwide lockdowns were announced and the true extent of the pandemic was realized, there was a small run on ammunition and firearms that started to empty out the distribution channels that feed the gun stores in the country.

It was about that time that I placed my final few orders that I had been holding off on to finish off my “SHTF rifle” that is the lead image in this article. I checked my ammunition stocks, made sure I was comfortable not needing to buy more ammo through the end of the election season, and settled in to hunker down and hold on to what I have.

And then the George Floyd protests started, and quickly turned violent in some parts of the country. The already strained distribution channels were completely emptied thanks to panic buying associated with the violence Americans were seeing. I remember walking into a rather large gun range here in Austin back in June. The shelves were already bare, not a single AR-15 was to be found, and there was hardly any 5.56 ammunition to feed them.

Things haven’t gotten much better since then. Pretty much every week some new crisis comes along that pushes more people towards the decision to buy a gun, and as a result literally the second new stock becomes available it is pretty much instantly snatched up by extremely motivated buyers.

The problem is there’s no slack in the system right now. Gun companies are months behind in orders which have already bought and paid for. Buying a gun is no longer a selection process. In many cases, you are jumping on the first thing that you can find that kind of meets your requirements. The “right time” to buy a gun was January. It’s now too late for rational pricing and you need to come to terms with the financial impact that will have on what you buy.

What Gun Do You Need?

Let’s skip past the “do you really need a gun?” question. If you are reading this, you have already made that decision. The question now is what kind of gun you need.

I’ve seen a number of recommendations that a pump action shotgun is rally what you need. Heck, even ol’ Joe Biden is on board that train. But there’s a problem.

At one time I was a nationally ranked 3-gun competitor, a sport that uses multiple kinds of firearms in high stress environments. Just about everyone will tell you that the shotgun sections of those competitions are the hardest parts. The challenge there isn’t necessarily hitting the target, it’s keeping the gun loaded.

Remington 870 DM Magpul

Remington 870 DM Magpul (courtesy Dan Abraham)

Shotguns have a notoriously low capacity for ammunition. Even the bigger guns with extended magazines can only load 8 to 10 rounds at a time, meaning that an engagement of any reasonable length will require some reloading.

Typically you have only five rounds on hand at a time. That might be OK if you need to dissuade a single home invader, but can quickly become insufficient for looters or in other civil unrest situations. And reloading that firearm under stress is a real challenge for a newer firearm owner.

Beyond that factor, just using them effectively can be a challenge. Pump action shotguns are usually the first recommendation you hear, which makes sense as they’re cheap and plentiful. But they require some skill to use practically.

Mossberg 930 Tactical shotgun

Chris Dumm for TTAG

The shooter needs to manually pump the shotgun after every round to chamber a new one, and there’s a legitimate risk of “short-stroking” the shotgun. That’s when the shooter doesn’t completely cycle the pump and a live round won’t be loaded.

I consider myself a reasonably competent shooter (see: previous article where I wiped the floor with every other journalist on the scene) and I’ve short-stroked pump shotguns from time to time. If I can’t do it right every time, a new shooter in a high stress environment is probably going to have trouble.

Finally, let’s talk about accuracy really quickly. Buckshot is the typical recommendation for personal defense. That gives you multiple projectiles that are roughly the equivalent of a handful of 9mm rounds. Assuming you hit your target square-on and every round strikes the target, that will cause a devastating amount of damage instantly.

But what if you miss? Or what if not all of your pellets hit the target? That’s a lot of lead that is now flying around toward potential unintended targets; family members, bystanders, you name it. And remember, walls don’t necessarily stop bullets or OO buck. They can travel for quite some distance, putting even your neighbors at risk.

So, shotguns are off the table. Next up on the list is usually a handgun of some sort.

This is less of a bad idea. Handguns are concealable and powerful (enough), meaning that they are super useful in close quarters environments or situations where you don’t necessarily want to advertise that you’re armed. But while they are definitely formidable weapons, they take some skill to use, too.

Springfield Armory 1911 TRP 10mm

Dan Thurs for TTAG

Hours on the range and more hours of dry fire practice are required to be accurate with a handgun. That’s not something that is easy (or still legal in some jurisdictions, depending on COVID-19 restrictions) to accomplish in the middle of a pandemic. Especially with the current lack of handgun ammunition for people to practice with.

Which leaves us with rifles.

Bottom Line: Get an AR-15

There’s a damn good reason why the AR-15 is the most popular firearm in the United States. Endlessly configurable, easy to maintain, reliable, and accurate, it’s the perfect modern weapon. And even if you can’t get your hands on the “perfect” AR-15, you can always start with whatever is available and upgrade it, piece by piece, as things come back in stock. Which they are nearly guaranteed to do — with so many of these guns in public hands, there’s no doubt that people will be cranking out compatible parts for decades to come.

Brace Built Modern Carbine MC6 AR-15 rifle

JWT for TTAG

In terms of usability, it also provides the perfect balance. An AR is enough that you can comfortably wield it with two hands (making it naturally more accurate), but short enough to be somewhat concealable and nimble. It’s powerful enough to stop most threats while having a light enough recoil that even new shooters can easily control it.

And with a large enough magazine (your mileage may vary depending on your jurisdiction) that you can potentially engage multiple targets if needed.

There are two other reasons why this makes the most sense, and both have to do with availability. But in very different contexts.

First, because there are so many ARs out there, it’s reasonable to think that you can find at least one available for sale, new or used. And once you have one, keeping it maintained will be much easier than if you buy a more niche firearm. Standard parts and cleaning kits, which are widely available, make this much easier.

Ammunition is a challenge, but should be relatively easier to find. Most AR-15 rifles use .223 Remington, 5.56 NATO or some compatible variant thereof. That stuff is cranked out in such astounding numbers every year that you can probably expect to find some at some point in the future. Keep your eye open online. You will have to pay more now, but it is available.

That’s the best case scenario, and we aren’t in a best case scenario. Things are trending somewhat downward these days, and the AR-15 provides some opportunities there as well.

Having a firearm that’s part of such a widely-owned platform means that you’ll be able to share parts, ammo, expertise between a small group of like-minded individuals. From magazines to ammunition, parts and accessories, if you standardize on one platform (one that happens to be the most popular platform in the United States) there’s a better chance of being able to help each other out.

Even if you are on your own, then it’s much more likely that if the S really H’s the F then you’ll be more likely to scavenge and scrounge things that fit your weapon platform. Most police forces in the United States, as well as the military, use AR-15 compatible weapons. To Sergeant Major Basil Plumley’s point in the movie We Were Soldiers, if things get bad there will be plenty of them lying around to use.

OK, an AR-15…But How?

I started off saying that people looking to buy a new firearm are late to the party, and that’s not wrong. Options are limited. But there are still options out there.

Gun stores are probably going to be your least likely place to actually find any guns, especially in large urban areas. The distribution channels are completely dry, and since gun stores are the last link in that chain, new stock will only come in dribs and drabs. Most guns are spoken for before they arrive at most retailers.

If you really want a bolt action hunting rifle in an obscure caliber now is the time, but otherwise you are probably out of luck.

That said, there are some online retailers that still have complete rifles in stock. I’m not going to play any favorites in this article, but I’m sure that there will be plenty of suggestions in the comments. They come and they go in terms of availability, so keeping an eye out and checking back regularly will make sure that you are able to find one when it becomes available.

spartan arms

Empty shelves after the gun rush at Spartan Arms in Las Vegas (courtesy Spartan Arms)

Keep in mind that buying guns online means that you will need to have it shipped to a local gun store for the requisite paperwork and background check, so be aware of that requirement and scout out a friendly local gun shop before you order. You will need to pay them for the background check as well.

For complete firearms, your last resort should be online auction sites and local trade/swap sites. I’ve seen some horrendously overpriced rusted out pipes for sale on these sites recently, with decent AR-15 rifles going for thee times the pre-panic rate.

You will be gouged, you will get into a bidding war, and you may be frustrated with the process. If you get to the point where you are considering that course of action, you might want to try one thing first.

Last Option: Build Your Own

While complete rifles have mostly been sold out for months, parts kits are still somewhat available (though again, you’re going to have to spend some time looking). I’ve seen them at reasonable prices. Complete kits are available for as little as $500 online.

The AR-15 rifle is somewhat unique in that it can be assembled from parts with a couple of simple tools in your garage, provided that you have a lower receiver available. The “lower receiver” is the serialized part of the firearm, which is the part that actually needs to be transferred by a gun store.

Everything else can be shipped straight to your door. There are some good tutorials online for how to do that, and if you are concerned you can probably phone a friend to help you finish it out.

That said, even AR-15 lower receivers are in short supply and sometimes go for absurd prices. I’ve seen lowers that once retailed for $70 being advertised for $200 recently. But all in, you are still talking about an investment of $700 for a functioning rifle instead of potentially spending $1,500 on a piece of junk that barely works.

What Did My Friends Do?

I mentioned up top that I’ve had people asking me for help in this area. And in every single case we discussed their situation, their specific concern, and what course of action makes sense for them.

In some cases they lucked out and found an AR-15 that met their needs. In other cases they were able to get their hands on the parts. In some cases I had some parts available to help them out, and we were able to get together and build a rifle to match their needs. But every single one eventually purchased or built an AR-15.

I’m guessing that, despite their history to the contrary, none of them will be big supporters of gun control in the future.

You Aren’t Finished Yet

You now have an AR-15 rifle. Great! But a gunfight isn’t a “pay to win” game. Plenty of insurgents with little more than a cheap AK-47 have held their ground against incredibly well provisioned forces. Having the most expensive guns and gear on the battlefield or the city block doesn’t guarantee success.

BARE MINIMUM you need to actually get out to the range. Zero your optic, understand how your firearm works, and ensure that it functions properly. You can’t just buy a firearm and treat it like a magic insurance policy. You need to actually practice with it. If at all possible, get out into a shooting bay instead of just a traditional rifle line and practice how to safely move and shoot with your firearm.

Something that can be a little more challenging these days is attending a firearm course. Getting together in larger groups isn’t necessarily the most COVID-friendly thing to do, so that might be out of the question right now. But there is a plethora of good training videos available, whether online or on DVDs. While they aren’t a replacement for real, in-person training, they are far better than nothing.

Last, but certainly not least, have a plan. Know the local laws in your area for the use of deadly force, and specifically when it is legally permitted. If things get significantly hairy, that might not be a major concern, and the old adage “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6” applies here, but in the meantime knowing the law is important if you want to keep yourself out of jail.

But even beyond the strict legal definitions, have a personal plan of action. Think through some likely scenarios and what the tipping point is in those instances for you specifically to use deadly force. Know your personal “red line” before things start to pop off or else you’ll be trying to figure it out in the heat of the moment and you might not like the results. Think things through in the calm, cold light of day instead of the heat of the moment.

And good luck.

comments

  1. avatar former water walker says:

    Good luck 1st time gun owners. You’ll need it…I got everything I have gun related cheap. Oh I accidentally joined a FB group trading guns locally😃 Let’s meet at the range😏😏😏😏

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      Pffffftt.
      PSA has oodles of AR15 kits maybe $100-150 over the bottom point pre-COVID.
      Even free shipping.

      The gun newbie just has to call up a gun buddy to make it happen.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Um, not so sure. I’m fortunate that I built my PSA ARs a couple of years ago when kits were plentiful and cheap, but every time I check their site nowadays, 80% of the kits are sold out and the rest aren’t even close to what I’d want.

        I was holding off on buying an Anderson Arms .50 Beowulf upper for my remaining finished receiver as a fun gun, but even those are now sold out for the first time:

        https://www.primaryarms.com/alexander-arms-50-beowulf-ar15-upper-receiver-kit-16

        But I’m content. I stacked up plenty and am now prepared with what I have.

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          Ooo…I just found this site for Beowulf.

          https://pro2a-tactical.com/ar-15-upper-kits/12-7×42-50-beowulf.html

  2. avatar enuf says:

    Easy to agree that the Armalite Rifle (short or long action) is a remarkably adaptable and configurable firearm to any need that a longarm can fill. Owning one is a good idea.

    There remain many other types. Some are far better looking and better suited to specific uses.

    Being an old guy I still prefer the idea of beginning shooters using slower guns. Bolt actions for example. A .22 to learn on.

    But hey, move with the times and all that. If you really want to start with centerfile the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO is a very reasonable option. More options than you can count for that matter.

    With handguns, still like people to start with the good old .22 rimfire but if you are a stickler on the matter, well, .38 Special in a revolver and 9mm in an semiauto.

    But after you get your centerfire satisfaction, come back to the rimfire stuff. The bad craziness panic buying and hoarding cannot last forever and rimfire will always be a fun time plinking.

    Your mileage will not vary on this point. But hey, sport shooting is kinda’ like fishing. You can tell all the tall tales and misdemeanors you like!

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Shame Ruger stopped production of the 5.56 Scout. Light and handy. Has iron sights. Can take a scope (1″ rings included in the box), and not as militaristic as other guns. A good alternative to the AR.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Any true Scout Rifle is at least .308 Winchester.

        1. avatar Southern Cross says:

          I bought it as a starting center fire for my son. 10 round magazine means no fumbling with reloads during a match. Except for 1 stage in the year, our courses max out at 10 rounds.

          I’ve been having some fun with it too.

  3. avatar biofire says:

    Did someone edit out the section on lever action rifles? I’m sure that’s the case because of course you see their defensive value, so this must have been some kind of editorial error.

    1. avatar Serpent_Vision says:

      While I love my 30 year old Marlin .357 lever action, it’s much slower to load than an MSR.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        So is a repeating shotgun…..and the ratchet gun allows far more precision than a shotgun…is flat and handy….and shoots 357 magnum……

        I figure 9 will do until I get my pistol out……YMMV

      2. avatar M1Lou says:

        If I had a choice between a bolt gun and a lever gun for social work, I think I would go for the lever gun. Most modern bolt guns are not fast to reload and carry half or less than half of the rounds a lever gun in a smaller cartridge will hold. Of course you could go with certain milsurps to give you an edge, and attach a bayonet for some stabby action. With some practice, a lever gun would work well.

    2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      bio, bully for you! I love a 30-30 leaver actions for defense. It will fuck up a bad guy to the nth degree. Something about a bad guy’s buddy with his heart hanging out his back and about 3″ of spine blown out that disuades said friend from continued aggression.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        😀
        I’m a .30-30 fan, too. Nothing beats a levergun for fun and practicality combined.

        If there ever is a need to repel invaders from the homestead, I’ll probably be using the AR, but that’s just because I’ve got it ready to roll and I’m the only one in the house really familiar with it. The wife and kids love our Marlin .30-30 (we call her Mama Bear), and I pity the fool that crosses their sights if it comes to that.

  4. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    New and old gun owners need to take training classes. Most local classes cost around $150.00. For the weekend. Most are less than one day long.
    If you can afford $1100 plus for a class at Gun Site, or Thunder Ranch, etc. Then go for it. Those classes last 5 or more days long. 6 to 8 hours a day.

  5. avatar Mark N. says:

    Umm, if you are looking now, you are too late to the party. Many stores are out of handguns, small stores are out of shotguns, and ammo is scarcer than hen’s teeth.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      A good time to invest in reloading, especially for practice ammo.

      1. avatar Dan says:

        I always chuckle when I see this type of comment. Sure you can reuse brass and even cast your own bullets. But no matter what, you have to buy primers and powder. And while the ammunition manufacturers are still running around the clock to produce more ammunition, all the primers and powder are being used for producing loaded rounds. This is because reloaders are a very small segment of the market and selling components has lower margins. Also, anyone can use loaded ammunition but only reloaders can use components. Why limit your potential market? Sure you could always buy massive stocks of components, but then why not just stock completed ammo?

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Good point….unless you the ingredients, getting into reloading now would be frustrating.

          Up until lately, loaded 9mm ball was very slightly higher than the cost of reloading.

          The last 1000 round case of federal I bought was 160 dollars.

          Now that its 25-30 bucks for 50, I am breaking out my reloading components. They will hard to replace for a while. Mainly primers…bullets are out there but at elevated prices.

        2. avatar Southern Cross says:

          Not a problem if you have the setup and stockpiles of primers, powder, and projectiles.

          Once the primers have been decided, buy them by the thousand. Powder in bulk lots (we have the option of 4kg bottles). And projectiles by the thousands, and keep looking for bulk deals online. Finally for .22, buy by the brick and not individual packets.

          My stockpiles have allowed me the weather several shortages.

        3. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          Bullets are the hardest thing to find. You save your brass, buy primers by the thousand (good luck finding small pistol and small rifle primers now if you didn’t buy them by the thousands), but if you weren’t setup to cast, bullets are more scarce than commercial ammo right now.

          On the article itself, I have to disagree with the author. Most people who do not have any guns and have decided that now they need A gun should get a handgun in a common defensive caliber. Either semi automatic or revolver at this point and anything between .380 and .45 ACP. The more common the design and caliber the better.

          New people need a gun to fit and fill as many different roles as possible. You cannot carry an AR concealed while grocery shopping, or dining at a restaurant, or at work. In PA, and many other states, a loaded AR rifle in your vehicle is illegal. A handgun that can be carried on their person is the best first choice for new first time gun buyers right now who are getting into the market to be able to protect themselves.

      2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        If you had checked retail inventories of reloading equipment and components, you would realize that now is a BAD time to invest in reloading.

  6. avatar BLAMMO!! says:

    Built my first AR. And every one since. Just never saw the point of over-paying for something that was only close to exactly what I wanted, only to spend more to customize it.

    1. avatar Bake says:

      They are amazingly easy to build. Online videos help a lot.

  7. avatar Optimistic Engineer says:

    1st time buyers, this is a tough time Yes, an AR is good, but a shotgun or pistol does the job. Good luck.

  8. avatar Chris says:

    Honestly I don’t give a sh*t about first time buyers unless they just turned of buying age. No excuses for not owning a firearm until a fake pandemic and rioting leftist terrorists begin burning down our country. F them. Just like those wanting security over freedom, they deserve neither. That’s just how I feel. A firearm in the hands of a leftist may make ownership numbers rise and it’s every Americans right but I’d rather have less guns in leftists hands thank you. To all you true pro 2A folks just starting out I wish these were better times.

  9. avatar Anymouse says:

    Step 1: What ammo does the store have in stock?
    Step 2: What gun does the store have that uses that ammo?
    Step 3: Buy the matching gun and ammo. Skip it if it’s a .460 or .500, unless you’re worried about being mugged by a moose.
    Step 4: Wait 18-24 months and you might be able to buy the gun and ammo you actually want.

  10. avatar strych9 says:

    It depends on where you are. Driving back from Tennesee yesterday I can say that Shoot Point Blank in Memphis is well stocked on just about everything except .30-30 because I bought what they had.

    Carter Shooting Supply in Chattanooga was well supplied on guns but some ammo was spotty. Depended on what you wanted. .40 Gold Dots no problem. Mostly FMJ in 9mm and no .300Blk or .243 Valk. But they did have 6.5 CreedMOAR.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      *Tennessee. Jesus, 26 hours in a car and my brain is fucking fried.

      1. avatar Rusty - Always Carry - Chains says:

        You only missed as s…even people who live there screw up Chattanooga. When I lived there I got to see a lot of very imaginative spelling of my home town every time I opened my mailbox.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          Having been there to do business in a holler/valley/whatever outside of Tellico Plains… I can’t say your statement here surprises me.

          That area was a trip.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          If it only has one way in and out it’s a ‘holler’.

  11. avatar kahlil says:

    was window shopping at several LGS this weekend to see if anything caught my attention (there was a nice looking Ruger No 1 in .375 H&H and a CZ 550 in .458 Win Mag, the latter was a beast that I wanted but know I can’t afford to feed). When I turned to the ammo section all that was available for handguns were many calibers that normally aren’t for sale in the area, such as .400 cor-bon, .429 desert eagle, and a few other oddities I can’t remember off hand. The .460, .454, and .500 ammo was in good stock also. no more .25 and .32 acp available and the rimfire ammo was mostly in .17 caliber. a couple weeks ago I was in another town and Field and Stream was selling some off/no name brand of 9mm for almost $40 per 50 rounds. I’m just trying to top off and add more to the cache when I can find some affordable ammo but that’s getting harder and harder. Interestingly I think I am seeing a trend where some of the larger bore/less common rifle rounds are a little cheaper, .45-70 is actually cheaper in some areas than pistol ammo. I believe i was overseas last time the ammo drought hit so this is a new one for me.

  12. avatar Jimmy James says:

    If you are a first time gun buyer and find your back to the wall and up to your neck in Zombies or some other equally disgusting adversary, spray and pray or fire and maneuver. Doesnt matter. You are going to die.

  13. avatar John Paul says:

    Right now what should you buy?

    What’s available. You waited too long to get in the game.

    1. avatar kahlil says:

      yeah, I was thinking the same thing the other day. Even if I found something snazzy while window shopping in a new caliber there’s no ammo on the shelf you can buy to spend some quality time with it at the range. I love the fact the stores are selling to new customers and staying busy but what good is a new firearm if you have no ammo?

  14. avatar RGP says:

    PVC pipe and a sack of potatoes.

    1. avatar kahlil says:

      you forgot the white rain…

      1. avatar James Campbell says:

        … or Aqua Net…
        Fun times.

  15. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    You may want to add ammunition to your “What’s Next List” and make that a lo.

  16. avatar Ralph says:

    Wait — Nick Leghorn and Tyler Kee in the same article? I must have slipped into a time warp and emerged in 2015.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      I got to meet Tyler and the rest when I went down for a shooting class. I did not get to meet Nick. Kinda bummed about that.

      What a great bunch of people.

      Oh, and what the hell? When I try to embiggen the top rifle photo, everything switches to the kimber pistol.
      Stop the voodoo! 😡

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Thanks Nick. That’s a sweet looking rifle.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Tom, not sure if you’ll see this post as this is yesterday’s article. It’s also of subject, but I thought you would find it interesting. Spoke to Ray a few minutes ago. He pulled two gator tags this year. Saturday morning he used one 11’1″, 400+ lbs. out of the big pond on the farm.

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Wow!
          That’s a good sized gator! That’s a freezer filler.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        tom, 100 lbs of boned out meat. Hides the taxidermist now. One more in the pond bigger than him. Several 6 ft +.

      3. avatar Ralph says:

        “I got to meet Tyler and the rest when I went down for a shooting class. I did not get to meet Nick.”

        Tom, I haven’t met either of them — then again, I haven’t met you 🙂 — but I have corresponded with Tyler and think he’s a class act.

  17. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

    I’m still sticking with recommendation of cheap pump shotgun for new owners. Fedarms has some (2) Turkish trash 7+1 in stock for $199 since you won’t be able to find a maverick 88 20” security 7+1 except >400 gunbroker.

    Shotgun ammo is easier to find, birdshot is widely available in central KY Walmart and rural King for $21-25 per hundred so you can actually practice while picking up 00 for defense. If missing the target with some or all of the pellets is going to be an issue, it’s going to be an issue with any other type as firearm as well.

    I do see short stroking as a problem, but once people become comfortable it’s less of an issue. Nearly everyone new to firearms is timid with action regardless of the type. Easing the charging handle forward gently on an AR15 because the noise is scary is a great way to have a malfunction. Not inserting a magazine properly is another issue with new AR shooters.

    Too much to go wrong with a semi auto rifle for inexperienced shooters until they get some round counts and understand what is going on when the rifle doesn’t function and how to clear the ham or malfunction under stress. There are still issues of malfunctions in pump shotguns, but they are less likely and intuitively pumping again will typically fix most malfunctions.

    But it’s a free country, do what you want.

    1. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

      I forgot to add not to worry if you aren’t able to find a pump action shotgun for sale.

      Simply buy a readily available Browning Citori and I will be happy to trade any of my mossbergs, I’ll even throw in some 00. I’m sure this deal can be negotiated with many other pump action owners.

  18. avatar Dan says:

    What is that rifle in the second photo down? I’ve seen that shutterstock photo before, but I can’t figure out what rifle that is. It’s a bolt action with a double stack magazine which should narrow it down quite a bit.

  19. avatar Elmer Fudd says:

    I certainly can not disagree with your recommendation. While the much maligned pump action shotgun and lever guns can be effective defensive weapons (google “deputy ann jackson”), a semiautomatic rifle is preferable. Any 12 gauge shotgun is a bad choice for novices because of your recoil. Those of us who live out in the country and are blessed with a defensive perimeter half a mile deep might prefer .308 or even .50 BMG if the fan gets super shitty. However; it is impossible to argue against rifles chambered in 5.56mm or . 223. The recoil is almost noon existent. This translates into more practice and more accuracy. Your arguments for buying an AR-15 are unassailable. However; if you can’t find an AR, don’t overlook a Hecklar and Koch HK-93. Alternatively; there is the much maligned Ruger Mini-14. If you can get it in stainless steel, you avoid a lot of maintaince issues. Someone now manufactures a reproduction of the original Ruger folding stock. The newer Mini-14s easily accept optics. Don’t forget to buy some cigars to smoke while you are shooting it.

    As for all of the leftists who have suddenly discovered the right to keep and bear arms, I expect that conservative gun owners will soon be hunting down and exterminating them.

  20. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I just bought a Glock 26 Gen 5. Trying to decide if I like it as much as my 43 and and 48.

    So…..ammo and components are what I need to begin replacing.

  21. avatar David Bradford says:

    You completely skipped over Pistol Caliber Carbines which fall neatly between accuracy challenging pistols and VERY loud and fast rifle rounds (that may pass unintended through several barriers ). I personally have a JR Carbine take-down chambered right now in .45 ACP, but also have the conversion kit for 9mm (conversion can be done in under 5 minute without tools other than an Allen wrench) with sufficient ammo and magazines for either chambering. Kits (Do NOT ship to Canada.) also available in .40 S&W . But there are plenty of other PCC options out there… Well, if you can find any left.

  22. avatar Kendahl says:

    If you are pessimistic that (1) the Democrats will win the Presidency and control of both houses of Congress and (2) that they will engage in an orgy of gun control and confiscation, I’d avoid anything semiautomatic with a detachable magazine capacity over 10 rounds. That reduces rifles to bolt and lever actions, shotguns to singles, double and pumps, and handguns to revolvers and, maybe, semiautos with small magazines.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      By all means, prepare yourself to knuckle under to tyrants. Or you could go with a different strategy….

  23. avatar John in FL says:

    Sold a lot of my factory ammo, used the profits to bolster my reloading gear.
    You reckon 450BM will do? 255gr soft cast fnrp?
    Zulu Style!

    Several people have gotten with me to assemble their build kits, I’ve got it down under 10 mins LOL.

    You know what I’m tired of hearing? Shotguns bad.
    Just because Sleepy Joe likes something, does not make it bad!
    Shotguns bad-ass!

    I like pumps.
    We used to shoot a lot of old paper hull ammo at game, and some of the stuck cases were indescribable.
    Good luck digging those out of an auto anything, the pump could just be “mortared” on a log.
    Anyone who says .223 beats 00Buck, has not tried them both at 10ft.
    Brutal.

  24. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Ok. Shit’s scarce. But not unavailable. I was in a local gun shop a couple of weeks ago picking up a pistol they had received for me. They didn’t have any ARs, (No great loss) but they did have two HK91s at about $3000 each. Yeah, more expensive than most ARs but way better rifles. Been seriously considering going back and buying one. I already have one, but anything worth having is worth having two of.

  25. avatar possum says:

    While I like having lots of ammunition, I really can’t see where having just one hundred rounds would not be all one needs.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      So you don’t plan to practice.

  26. Good guide but I recommend getting shotgun as a first gun. It is simple and versatile tool.

  27. avatar GunnyGene says:

    Pretty sure Santa will be swamped with letters requesting guns, ammo, accessories, and reloading components this year. 🙂

  28. avatar Greg says:

    Don’t forget a cleaning kit.🙂

  29. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    I seen the drought coming in March. I stocked up on some 20 guage bird shot and ordered some bulk .22 online. In August I found a chain store with a tiny ammo section that had not been touched (some shotgun, .22 and common deer rifle rounds .270, 30-30, 30-06) This store didn’t have any limits, I bought every bulk box of .22lr. It’s cheap and nasty but it goes bang in the revolver and lever gun just fine. I’m limiting all my “for fun” shooting to .22lr. Until things are available. I don’t have enough of the larger stuff to be happy, but probably still have more than I can use in a year or two.

    If someone is really hurting for a firearm and they are desperate. A family armed w/ single shot shotguns is better than no guns at all.

  30. avatar sound awake says:

    buy or build something in a caliber that will reliably punch through the homemade shields and other improvised body armor that the blm and antifa thugs in your front yard are likely to be sporting when theyre trying to burn your house down
    i dont mean the girls with the plastic garbage can lids
    im talking about the large males with the full size full body length shields of unknown construction combined with whatever is on their person
    pro tip: if youre going to be shelling out 1000 plus on a weapon platform and youre going to be spending at least 50 cents a round anyway on the ammo feeding it you may as well pick up an ar or ak platform in the 10.5 or 16.5 variety or something in between in some type of intermediate or even larger rifle cartridge
    im just really glad i built that 10.5 ar pattern in 7.62×39 this past february while the components were still cheap and available
    im at 750 all in on that one with sights holosun 2 moa red dot 500 lumen streamlight sling and 6 mags
    the best part: just checked on ammoseek…7.62×39 still 33 cents a round

  31. avatar Ralph says:

    Many of my customers are newbies, and they buy a shotgun for home defense after they buy a personal defense pistol as their first firearm.

    ARs are considered radioactive here in Massivetwoshits, so my sample is skewed.

  32. avatar EpsteinDidNOTKillHimself says:

    Another BUY A AR15! article . . . snore.

    I have an Expert rating with the M16A2 service rifle, via the USMC.
    I would never own a AR15.

    Sure. It might be popular. And it is cheap.
    So is the Honda Civic, or the Toyota Camry.
    Does not make them the best either.

    Sorry, I cannot say I have any rifles of any kind, as I was on a fishing trip 12NM off the NY state shoreline seven years ago, when we had a tragic accident and all my firearms fell overboard.
    Dang shame.

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