The first-time gun owner can EASILY be overwhelmed by the plethora of options on the market to choose from. It seems that if you talk to 10 friends about “what to buy”, you get 12 opinions … each different and ABSOLUTELY THE ONLY CHOICE in the mind of the one giving the advice.
My best advice for folks in this situation is that “I can’t make that choice for you”. The person purchasing the firearm NEEDS to be the one to make that decision for themselves … but we CAN guide them in that decision. Some of the questions that need to be answered are, “what is the primary purpose of the firearm that you are shopping for?”, “Do you intend to carry the firearm for self-protection or will it remain in your home for defense?”, “Do you have any experience with firearms, and if so, which types have you used in the past … did you like them?”. The list goes on, but they are all important questions.
The basics that need to be established are:
a) Is the buyer comfortable with the workings of the particular gun that they are looking at? Do they understand … absolutely … how the safety systems work, do they understand how the action works (especially at which point the gun is “empty” and “Loaded”) In the case of my wife, she was much more comfortable with a revolver for her first gun. She knew that there were no external safeties and that she needed to simply squeeze the trigger for the gun to work. Simply the fact that the magazine could be removed from my Glock, but there was still a round in the chamber gave her concern. And that’s okay.
b) Does the gun fit their particular hand? I would have LOVED it if my wife wanted to buy a big, bad manly pistol, but the fact is, my Glock20C barely fits in BOTH her hands. It has a HUGE grip and she has small hands … but that’s okay, because there are plenty of guns that DO fit her hands. She simply needs to find that “right fit”. In her case it was the Smith & Wesson 642 with crimson trace grips. Great little handgun.
c) Will the gun chosen serve the purpose needed? If the purpose is to provide a good carry gun for a 110 pound college student … that nice stainless 12 gauge tactical shotgun might not be the right choice … although they ARE cool!
A fantastic way to answer these questions is to use the resources that are available to you. Where I live (near Spokane WA) we have a fabulous resource in Sharp Shooting Indoor Range. I can take folks that are looking for a gun, look at different types of guns in the ‘pro shop’ (Gun Store), explain differences in the actions, safeties and operation of the different models, see what is comfortable in their hands …. And then use the “rental program” to take the different guns out on the range and actually test drive several choices. Even though a gun may fit the hands, look great and fit ALL of the criteria … sometime a particular person will simply shoot tighter groups with a particular model.
There is no absolute way to select the “perfect” gun on the first purchase. There is also no “perfect” gun for all situations …. This folks, is why the invented REALLY LARGE gun safes. It also provides my personal excuse of “well THAT one isn’t perfect, so I guess I need another handgun”!