There is a first time for everything, at least if you put your mind to it. The first times are always the most memorable ones, regardless of how they go. You will definitely remember your first handgun and your first day at a shooting range, for those are experiences that are quite hard to forget.
How to make sure those memories are joyful? Come prepared and with good company. We can’t help you with the latter aspect, but it is in our power to provide you with knowledge on how to choose the best handguns for beginners. Many a beginner was led astray by ambitious firearm consultants who wanted to sell a gun that would bring them more money, neglecting a customer’s needs.
Deceived customers ended up with a handgun they were uncomfortable with and would likely lose all enthusiasm after the first unfortunate try. But owning and shooting a handgun is an unparalleled experience that can bring you great joy, and we can’t let some money-grabbers extinguish the sparks of enthusiasm in beginners. That is the goal of our gun store and the very reason we’ve compiled this article. We can’t be there to teach you how to hold a gun, but we can certainly help you choose your first gun ever.
The reason why it’s such a challenge to choose a handgun lies in the abundance of options. There are so many pistols and revolvers out there some people can even bring themselves to begin choosing. Having an undisputed leader bearing the title “The Best Handgun 2022” would have made things much easier, but no such competition is held. The truth is every handgun is designed with a certain purpose in mind, and such a competition would need to include several nominations like Best Handgun For Self-Defense or Best Handgun For Beginners. Due to the lack of such competition, we must resort to our expertise. Here are some aspects you need to consider if you want to choose a good first gun.
Define Your Needs
The reasons you might want to get a handgun abound, even though they are not as numerous as your firearm options. People often start paying attention to handguns when they are in the market for self-defense firearms. It is indeed hard to find a more fitting candidate for the position of your guardian. All handguns are very compact if compared to their larger kin – rifles, and shotguns, and can be carried discreetly in a concealed carry holster.
If self-defense is why you want to acquire a handgun, we recommend lightweight polymer pistols. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of weight when concealed carry is involved. The handgun is going to be on your person the whole day, and you definitely don’t want to be beset by the excessive weight. The two most common materials for handgun frames are metal and polymer, and as you can imagine, metal-framed pistols are not the best choice for concealed carry. They are still viable; it’s just that they are heavier than polymer-framed ones.
Another possible reason is leisure, range shooting in our case. Since you don’t need to carry your handgun the whole day, weight ceases to be an issue. It’s somewhat difficult to advise choosing a pistol for range shooting because it all adds to personal preference. The most important thing about range shooting is enjoying the process; you can do so with any gun.
However, if we single out another purpose, recommendations might be easier to give. A shooting range is also a place for skill honing, allowing shooters to improve their accuracy. Like any other skill, precision is gained through months and months of practice. It happens that you need loads of ammo to practice, which will eventually cost a pretty penny.
What you can do is delay the moment the sum spent on ammo reaches the 5-digit mark. Rimfire handguns are hands down the best firearms for training: the ammo is literally the cheapest on the market, and the recoil is the least tangible of all calibers. It makes for an excellent starting point for everyone who’s just begun discovering the world of shooting.
Such handguns are also great for plinking so that you can continue training even when outside of a shooting range. It probably won’t surprise you that handguns chambered in rimfire calibers are not the best choice for self-defense or any other scenario where you need to inflict sufficient damage. If it’s leisure shooting you plan to pursue, they are a solid choice.
The home defense ranks among the top reasons for getting a firearm as you never recognize the troubled times until they come knocking on your door. Even though people often get rifles and shotguns for these purposes, handguns are not uncommon in the role of home guardian.
The principles of choosing a concealed carry handgun are a bit different. You don’t need to worry about the weight since the pistol will be lying in a drawer most of the time, and compactness is no longer a priority either. What you are looking for is the balance between the power of a round and the recoil it produces.
There is also a mythical concept of “stopping power,” which is supposed to describe how good a firearm is at ending a self-defense situation, but it’s not universally agreed upon, and you won’t find such a graph in a ballistic table. Metal framed pistols weigh more, but they also absorb more recoil from a shot. The 9mm cartridge combines features like high muzzle energy, low ammo price, and high magazine capacity. You get a handgun optimal for protecting your household by balancing out these characteristics.
We would not recommend handguns for hunting purposes because it is a mockery of a hunting weapon. However, suppose you live in an area where wild animal attacks are not unheard of but don’t feel particularly enthusiastic about carrying a rifle each time you leave a house. In that case, you can opt for a Magnum-cartridge revolver. Some Magnum cartridges, like .500 S&W Magnum or .460 S&W, can seriously injure big game animals. The recoil is going to be unimaginable, but everything goes when it’s shoot or die.
As you can see, the reason for getting a handgun is one of the determining factors that should inform your decision. Handguns that are perfect for training make for poor self-defense weapons, and guns for concealed carry will be of little help when trying to fend off a wild animal. There is little solace in acknowledging that it was a poorly chosen handgun that was to blame, not you. Better safe than sorry, and knowing what exactly you need a gun for can keep all worries at bay.
Decide On The Configuration
At the very start, the Handgun road you are about to follow splits in two ways. Pistols and revolvers are both handgun subtypes enjoyed by millions of people. Some people ask themselves whether the best beginner handgun is a pistol or a revolver. While those two are pretty different both in looks and working principles, they are equally capable of doing their work well.
Revolvers conjure the images of Wild West, cowboys, train heists, and showdowns at high noon. Being a vital element of the American frontier history, revolvers are low-capacity repeating firearms capable of shooting ammunition of wide impact range, beginning with rimfire to the renowned Magnum cartridges.
Depending on the caliber, an average revolver shot will have more power and impact on the target than a pistol one, so if precision is your middle name (whether figuratively or literally), you will enjoy everything a revolver has to give. We recommend getting your first revolver chambered in .22 LR, for it is the most beginner-friendly caliber out there. This low-recoil caliber utilizes the cheapest ammo on the market and makes for an excellent guide for those who are just at the beginning of their shooting path.
Pistols are the second and the most commonly used type of handgun. They are the current sidearms of law enforcement agencies, police departments, and armies all over the world. In many aspects, they are the opposites of their cylinder-based siblings: pistols feature a higher round capacity and rate of fire but have a more intricate filling that is more prone to malfunctioning (which doesn’t mean it will inevitably do so.)
If we were to assign titles, a pistol would definitely take the crown with a Mainstream inscription on it, but take it as a good mainstream, not a bad one. Pistols are more popular than revolvers, and there are several reasons for that, but don’t be tricked into thinking it’s because they are better. They just cater to the needs of more people. Talking calibers, even though pistols are also available in .22LR, our advice is to start with a 9mm pistol. It’s estimated as a full-fledged self-defense caliber with a low recoil output. You can both train with it and carry it for self-defense, a win-win situation.
Know Your Limits
Demand creates supply, and the firearm market is a bright example of this rule. You can find anything if you put your mind to it, but there are two questions you need to answer: can you afford it, and will you be comfortable shooting it? Don’t forget that you are not buying a firearm alone – you also sign to buy ammo. Decide on how much you are willing to (or can) spend on ammo every month, take a look at average prices per round and take it from there.
Money is not the only factor you need to consider. Handguns and peoples’ hands come in many sizes, and you need to match them for the most comfortable shooting experience. A handgun shouldn’t be too big or heavy, nor should it be too small and light. Our physics are different, and we can experience the same handgun differently. Fortunately, all listings contain information about the handgun’s dimensions and weight, so you can assess it even without holding it.
The same goes for recoil: even though the kickback you’ll experience also depends on the cartridge’s load, there is a tendency to trace. The rimfire calibers can boast the lowest recoil and ammo prices paired with the lowest impact. If we choose from centerfire calibers suitable for self-defense, the 9mm is an obvious favorite, followed by .45 ACP and .40 S&W.
Armed with these three ideas, you can safely enter any gun shop, be it brick-and-mortar or online, without fearing choosing something you won’t need or can’t shoot. However, if shooting finds its place in your heart, your firearm collection will very likely extend beyond one handgun. But, as we mentioned, we always remember our first times, and we hope our pieces of advice will help you choose a handgun you will recall with pleasure even after years of shooting.