So you’ve made the important decision to purchase a handgun; now what? From this point forward, everyone has their own opinions on how to select and purchase their favorite handgun. However, the key is selecting and purchasing the right handgun for you and your needs. The following are some simple tips to get you started.
Identify your needs. Depending how you answer the following questions, you can learn a lot about the physical size of the gun best for you, the caliber, and the fit: What do you primarily intent to use it for? (hunting, hiking, home defense, concealed carry, competition); How often do you plan to shoot it? (hopefully never, yearly at the range, monthly at the range); What is your competency with handguns and your ability to manage recoil? (never picked up a handgun, shot one many years ago, shoot handguns regularly)Who will use it? (you, your spouse, you and your spouse)
Identify your budget. You can spend anywhere from $200 for “off-brand” handguns or you can spend well over $2,000. Somewhere in the middle is still probably more money than the average person cares to spend on a handgun. Many of today’s most popular brands with out-of-the-box reliability depend on (including law enforcement) have prices between $450-$600. For a novice, average user, or professional shooter, many handguns priced in this range will offer a lifetime of use if properly cared for and maintained.
Research! Start with manufacturer websites for information on specs, dimensions, calibers, etc. Then look for unbiased gun reviews online or in reputable magazines. Although, use caution when reading blogs/forums where writers can’t say anything negative or positive about a particular firearm. Speak with people you know who may own a firearm you are interested in purchasing.
Go to a gun counter and hold a variety of handguns. If additional people will be authorized users of the firearm, they should be included in this part of the process as well. If the firearm does not fit the hand, it is not a wise purchase. Accuracy will most likely be lacking, and competency and confidence with the firearm will be limited as well. Different manufacturers are supplying grip inserts to fit a variety of hands, but they still do not provide a “one size fits all” answer.
Shop around for prices. Big name outdoor stores may vary by as much as $50 or more for the same handgun. Saving $50 on the firearm itself may allow you to purchase a holster to use with the new firearm. If you have a store preference, ask if they price match competitors if you find a lower price across town.
At the gun counter, leave if you are pressured by a salesman to buy something you don’t want to buy. I tell my friends, “If a salesman walks you down the counter and immediately picks up his favorite handgun within seconds of your conversation starting, don’t bother sticking around to ask questions!” Purchasing a handgun for you is your decision to make, not a salesman’s.
While these 6 steps are not all-encompassing for buying a handgun, they should be viewed as a starting point to help give you some considerations as you begin your search. In my mind, purchasing a firearm is an investment. It should not be done on a whim or without some thinking and serious consideration.