Imagine the thousands of questions that I or any other firearms instructor gets asked over the course of a single year. Everything from "Which stance will work best for my body type?" to "Are you married, I'd love for you to meet my granddaughter?"
But the number one question crossing all boundaries, body types and matchmaking efforts? Yep, you read it in the title-- "Which gun do I buy?"
It's the question that every instructor, gun store owner, and sometimes gun owner must address with ever increasing frequency. In actuality, the question is NOT "Which gun do I buy?", but "Which gun is right for me?". Unfortunately, if the answer was as simple as the question then we would all have the same gun, shooting the same ammo (not that some of our "representatives" wouldn't just love that) and we could all step in line like good little Amerisheep. But thankfully, that is not the case and a multitude of variation and decision lies before the question, much to the chagrin of the new shooter.
Here are the few recommendations I make to students and potential students of the gun who ponder the issues of why, which and when:
- Why? Why do you want the gun? Home defense? Plinking fun? Shooting sports? Hunting? Personal defense? The question of why will be the broadest answer because literally half of the people I have instructed to date had no idea what their ultimate goal was for the purchase of a gun. They want it for all of the above and none of the above. They just want it to be the right one for them and that's okay.
- Which? The question of which can be narrowed with a somewhat or very definitive answer from "why?" above, but it does not have to be. The good thing about this question is the fact that a new gun purchaser will sometimes have the opportunity to shoot an instructors gun or a friends gun to get some feel for what works for them. More importantly, the answer of what they DON'T like can be much more telling that what they do like. Considering factors here should be the feel in the hand (eg; a double-stack pistol has a much more robust grip than a single stack and might feel awkward or clumsy in a smaller hand and vice versa.) as well as the weight of the firearm, if they can handle the recoil (not always possible until fired) and which they can get the best sight picture with (eg; the Beretta 92fs is a notorious low-shooter for me, despite lining up those sights perfectly). Price will also be a consideration, but I often tell new gun owners to keep in mind that you do get what you pay for (mostly) and that a little more expenditure for quality can ensure not only long term reliability, but longer term resale value should they decide that the gun is in fact, not for them. Women and youth shooters should check with local ranges for events such as Women On Target and Youth Shooter Days to take advantage of trying LOTS of different firearms for little more than a donation. You usually also get lunch.
- When? When to purchase the gun is probably the easiest of the three difficult questions of new gun purchases. Buy before you receive training or after? Buy after trying out one or two guns or several (if available)? As most gun owners will tell newer shooters, it can be hard to avoid the impulse buy if you've got cash and a permit in hand (for those of us who need permits), but restraint should be encouraged especially in that first purchase to at least do a little homework and get as close as possible to the perfect buy.
Sometimes the first gun buy is a hit right on the head of the nail, sometimes a woeful miss and a bruised thumb, but most of the time the result is a pretty good match. Not always perfect, but then again, a new shooter's skill-set is going to change dramatically in that first year of ownership and an almost match becomes a perfect match when the shooter becomes able to shoot as well as the gun itself does.
Go to gun shops, go to ranges, hold lots of guns, shoot as many as you can and listen to the advice of a professional. Avoid anyone who says things like; "You should DEFINATELY buy this one." There are no definates.
This Jew Shoots Guns... Which gun do you buy? One of mine, because I now shoot better that it does and I want a new one.