Firearms For Beginners: How To Choose Your First Handgun

Updated: Mar 6

So you’ve decided you want to buy your first pistol and you take a trip to your local gun store.

The second you walk through the door and see hundreds of pistols you realize a couple things:

  • First, it's good to live in America!

  • Second, this whole gun buying thing might be a little more complicated than you thought.

If the store has a good sales staff they can help answer your questions objectively and help point you in the right direction without pushing a sale too hard. In the age of Google you most likely did some research before going to the gun shop. But, as we all know, you need to be careful about the source of information when it comes to the internet.

The Most Important Question To Get Asked When Purchasing A Firearm

Let’s talk about the most important question your firearm dealer should ask, “what is your reason for buying a pistol and what is it’s intended use?” Maybe you want it for recreational target shooting, or maybe you want it for concealed carry. Each one of these applications is going to have it’s own set of requirements. The same gun I would leave in a nightstand is different than the one I would concealed carry every day.

The larger the pistol is, the easier it will be to shoot comfortably and shoot accurately. For a situation where the gun will be sitting at your home most of the time, size and weight are not a concern. However, if you intend to carry the gun on your belt or in a purse every day, then you will likely want to have a smaller and lighter pistol. When you decide to carry a firearm you will need to make some compromises and it is a matter of making the right compromises in order to find the best fit.

The Most Important Factor In Gun Selection

The way the gun feels in your hand when you pick it up is one of the most important factors in selection. Everyone could say that brand “X” makes the best pistols in the world, but if you pick up a brand “X” pistol and it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right for you.

Your user interface is hugely important to your level of confidence and comfort in shooting a pistol. I promise that you will shoot the pistol that you are comfortable with better than the one you are not comfortable with. That comfort will also lead you to practice more because shooting is a more enjoyable experience. I think we are all familiar with the saying “practice makes perfect.”

Smaller Pistols Have More Recoil

It is a common mistake that a smaller pistol is easier to shoot and has less recoil, when in fact the opposite is true. We have seen many customers come to the shooting range in Phoenix to train with their “pocket sized” pistol and complain about how bad the recoil is. This leads to flinching and anticipation, which turns into poor accuracy. We always bring some different sized pistols for those customers to try and we always see an improvement in accuracy and confidence when moving to a larger sized pistol. Of course this is if the caliber is the same across the board. We stick with 9mm handguns to keep it a level playing field. The only time we will encourage moving to a smaller size pistol is when the customer will be using it for concealed carry.

In summary, first, look at your desired end use for your pistol and let that be the driving factor for your decisions. Second, try to handle a few different options and brands to see what feels the most natural in YOUR hand. Third, remember larger framed pistols are easier to shoot and have less felt recoil. There is a reason you don’t see competitive shooter, police, or military shooting pocket sized pistols. The only time to compromise on size is when you plan on carrying it concealed. Your pistol needs to be something you can reasonably carry day in and day out if that is your intended use.

Train For The Unknown,


Reserve A Lane Rental At Range Time For Your Firearm Training To Help You Find The Right Handgun For You!

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