Are you a first-time gun owner? A new shooter? Did you just buy a new (or new to you) handgun? Here’s some helpful information for anyone who just bought new firearm. What I will cover can be applied to handguns, rifles, and shotguns.
Whether the gun is intended for self-defense, home defense, concealed carry, or a shooting range, here are some good initial steps to take.
The first thing you should do when you buy a new gun is read the owner’s manual. There are three primary things you should be looking for:
- First, how to operate the firearm. Learn about how your new gun works and where the key components are like the safeties, the takedown lever/button, slide stop, etc.
- Second, learn how to field strip it. Field stripping is (usually) basic tool-less disassembly, such as separating the slide from the frame and removing the barrel and recoil spring on a GLOCK, Smith & Wesson or other similar semi-automatic pistol.
- Third, recommended maintenance and lubrication (both type and location).
YouTube can be helpful here, too.
The next thing you should do is clean your gun. This isn’t critical in my opinion…I’m honestly not sure if I’ve cleaned any of my guns straight from the box. Most come already clean and lubricated, but that’s not always the case. Check yours to make sure.
On that note, none of mine have come with excessive or even noticeable amounts of packing grease, but some new (and some used) guns do. A good cleaning and a fresh coat of a good gun oil will made them run smoothly.
Packing grease/oil is there to prevent corrosion, not facilitate smooth operation, so if you do notice grease on your gun, clean it off. This packing grease or storage oil can impede the proper function of a new gun causing malfunctions.
Cleaning it off is a good way to ensure it isn’t the culprit if something goes wrong. This DEFINITELY applies to older guns that can come caked in cosmoline. Clean that off. Cleaning your new gun also increases your familiarity with the new firearm and perfectly sets up the next and most important step.
Then apply some oil. Make sure you apply some good gun lube. This applies primarily to semi-automatic firearms although any gun with moving parts can benefit from proper lubrication.
Lubrication is the key to making any semi-auto gun run smoothly and some guns come from the factory under-lubricated.
A dry gun is the number one culprit for most malfunctions. Don’t shoot a semi-auto gun dry. Manually operated firearms like bolt action rifles or pump shotguns will feel smoother and be easier to operate with proper lubrication.
Another great thing to do if you are a new shooter is to take a class. Unfortunately, there are some hacks out there, so do a little research and find a good one.
A good introductory firearms class is definitely worth the money. A good course for new shooters SHOULD cover everything I addressed above plus some shooting instruction and range time.
The last thing I recommend doing with a new gun is practice. You can do a lot of that without even going to a shooting range.
Buy some snap caps or dummy ammo, then practice manipulating and handling the firearm and dry firing. You should get comfortable with your gun before you take it to the range and put live ammo through it.
I want to emphasize proper safety here. If you do anything with dummy ammo, make sure there is ZERO live ammo anywhere near you. Ideally, remove it from the entire room. This creates a safe space and eliminates any possibility of you making a mistake.
This is a good spot to bring up the four firearm safety rules: 1 – Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. 2 – Never point a gun at something you aren’t willing to destroy. 3 – Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 4 – Know your target and what is beyond it.
The wording may change slightly here and there, but those are the four pillars of gun safety. Know them and follow them.
There is plenty more to do and learn from here, but that’s mostly on you and where you want to take your shooting.