03 May Choosing a Gun for Personal Protection
If you’re a first-time gun buyer looking to purchase a firearm for personal defense, one of the first things you might notice is the vast number of options that exist out on the market. Handguns come in many differents sizes, calibers, actions, etc., and the wealth of choice can, for someone new to firearms, seem overwhelming. With that in mind, we’ve assembled the following guide to help lead you through the initial steps of narrowing down your options, and helping ensure you get the proper training you need once you’ve made your final decision.
What Kind of Personal Protection Are We Talking About?
You may not realize it initially, but the gun you choose, like any tool, will depend on the situation you’re intending to use it in. If you’re thinking this new handgun is one you’ll be concealed carrying, you might want to opt for something smaller, lighter, and with a shorter barrel. A home-use handgun, on the other hand, might be one that is a bit larger and heavier. There are also a few handguns that can straddle the line, and might be suitable for both applications. Determining how you want to use your gun beforehand, though, will help you tremendously in narrowing down your options.
Semi-Auto or Revolver?
It’s an age old question when it comes to purchasing a handgun, and one whose answer largely comes down to personal preferences as both have their individual pros and cons.
Take semi-automatic pistols, for example. These are generally more common than revolvers, and use the energy of each fired cartridge to cycle their action and get the next cartridge in position for firing. By-and-large, they also carry more rounds than a typical revolver (anywhere from 6 to 20). Additionally, you can often load semi-automatic pistol faster, and they are thinner, making them more apt for concealment.
Semi-automatic pistols carry their drawbacks, though. They are often more complex in their operation than revolvers (such as operating the slide), and might require more practice in order to use them effectively. Then there’s the issue of malfunctions. While both semi-automatics and revolvers can experience malfunctions, they might present more of an issue for owners of semi-automatic pistols (owing to their cylinders, another pull of the trigger of a revolver will bring around the next round for firing).
Furthermore, you can often fire revolvers through clothing and fabric with reduced risk of the gun becoming ensnared or jamming, and revolvers are often more accepting to different loads with varying power levels, unlike their semi-automatic counterparts that typically function best with very specific types of ammunition. All that being said, though, you’ll benefit from trying both styles of handguns and seeing which fits your personal preferences the best.
Let’s Talk Caliber
The caliber of a projectile is a reference to its diameter, and different handguns are designed to fire different sized cartridges. This isn’t a detail to overlook, because the caliber of the handgun you select will determine how much recoil it produces and how effective it will be in a defensive situation.
Gun recoil, if you weren’t aware, is the backward momentum of a handgun after firing, the result of the firearm creating forward momentum for whatever projectile it is firing. Higher caliber cartridges will often produce greater recoil, something you’ll have to compensate for when you’re firing.
While larger rounds often make for greater potency in a defensive situation, the recoil they produce might make a particular gun inoperable for you personally. That being said, handguns with greater mass can help ease the recoil of larger projectiles, and all these factors come together when you are attempting to select which caliber handgun is appropriate for you. Doing your homework, and test firing different guns to learn how they feel will help you make an informed decision.
Don’t Overlook Quality
You’ll likely have a budget when it comes to your firearm purchase, and you should expect to pay anywhere from $350 to $800 or more for a well-produced handgun. When making your decision on which gun to purchase, don’t forget to factor quality into your equation. A well-made handgun is less likely to malfunction, meaning it is more likely to operate correctly when you need it the most.
You’ll Want to Try Before You Buy
Now that you have a grasp of some of the intricacies involved with selecting a handgun, you’ll want to start narrowing down your options, and test-firing different guns to see how well you can handle them. While the option to test-fire a specific gun may not be something that’s available to you at every gun store or dealer you encounter, taking a handgun course is a good way to gain experience with different types of firearms, and learn what works best for you.
While you’re firing different guns, you’ll want to take note of several characteristics that may affect your decisions. Is the gun ergonomic, meaning, does it fit your hand well and feel comfortable to point and shoot? Can you operate the gun’s various controls easily? Can you control the recoil? What about loading and unloading the weapon? If you plan on carrying the gun on your person, does it conceal well? Can you draw it without issue? These are all factors to consider when arriving at your final conclusion on which handgun you should purchase.
Making Your Choice
Once you’ve identified a few suitable options and had an opportunity to test-fire different models, you can get to making your final choice. Again, there are many options out there that may fit the bill, and ultimately, there’s a large amount of personal preference that will be relevant in your choice for personal protection. Be sure to consider all of the information we’ve laid out for you today as you select which handgun will fit you best.
Don’t Forget to Practice
Finally, regardless of which handgun you decide to purchase, it’ll be less effective if you don’t take the opportunity to train with it extensively. Be sure to learn your firearm well, schedule some time at the target range, and be serious about gun ownership and exercising your Second Amendment rights properly.