Buying that first pistol
In almost every entry level firearm course I teach, the same question often arises, “What kind of pistol should I get?” Unfortunately there is no easy answer; many factors play into what is the best pistol for that individual. One of the signature features of our basic course is that we expose students to as many different models and styles of pistols that we can. The question often comes after this part of the course where students are taken by surprise at how many different variations the industry offers. When asked this question, I guide students to find their own answer based on a few considerations.
What will it be used for?
When purchasing that first pistol, first determine what you will be using the pistol for. Will it be used for self-defense as a daily carry or strictly for sporting use on the range? I often recommend a used small caliber pistol for a first time shooter such as a 9mm, .380 or even a .22. Learning the basics and developing marksmanship skills at this stage is key. A smaller caliber pistol will enable the shooter to conduct live fire training without breaking the bank or facing the intimidation of a large caliber round. A pistol which will be carried daily for protection should be small in size as well, making concealment under clothing much easier. A pistol intended for sporting use or on the range can be of any size, as long as it fits you.
Does this one fit me?
Pistols come in all sizes, shapes and the right one is out there for every shooter. To find the right fitting pistol, a new shooter should be looking at two key elements. Does this pistol fit comfortably in my hand? And can I effectively reach all the controls? Many of today’s modern pistols come with changeable grips to help achieve the perfect fit. The pistols should feel comfortable in your hand; you should be able to achieve a good hold on the pistol’s grips without overstretching your hands or any awkward feelings. If it feels nice like that perfect pair of jeans, then you could say it fits in that regard. Next the user should be able to reach all the controls of the pistol effectively. Can you with one hand press the magazine release, draw the hammer back and send the slide forward using the slide release all with one hand? If so, and the pistol feels comfortable then I would say this pistol is a good size fit for you.
It cost how much?
As a new shooter make sure your first purchase doesn’t break the bank. If this is your first step into the firearms community you are going to have many follow-on purchases to support that new pistol such as a holster, ear protection, eye protection, targets, range fee’s and a whole lot of ammunition. Choose a pistol that fits within your budget and will allow you to purchase all those additional items you are going to need. Firearm prices are affected by many factors such as brand name, popularity, material and availability. Some of these factors drive the quality and overall value a firearm, while others just drive the price. For Example, in Massachusetts, the ban on Glock firearms (except for law enforcement and those grandfathered in prior to 1998) has driven the price for many used Glocks to surpass that of new firearms which are MA compliant. In this case, Glock makes a great firearm but the availability is driving the price up not the actual value. Buying a quality used pistol is also a great way to save some money but still get a quality firearm.
Purchasing your first firearm can be a daunting and intimating process, but it doesn’t have to be. If you choose to make the purchase from a private party consider the points mentioned above before you finalize the transaction. Also, shopping at a reputable dealer and knowing what to look for can help ease the process. Let the salesperson know that you are new to the sport and this will be your first purchase, any good shop will be more than happy to help you locate that first pistol and all the accessories that fit your needs and your price point.
Please do not hesitate to send us your questions or comments.