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Narrowing Your Handgun Choices When Buying New

Narrowing Your Handgun Choices When Buying NewReviewed by Jim Golden on May 4Rating: 4.5When buying a handgun narrowing the field to one or two can be a real challenge…When buying a handgun narrowing the field to one or two can be a real challenge for anyone, but especially for the new, or casual firearms enthusiast…

By Jim Golden

Glock G19 Pistol
Glock G19 Pistol
Inside the X Ring
Inside the X Ring

USA –  -( It’s mid-2016, a critical election year for the U.S., and if you’re considering your first handgun purchase ahead of an unknown election outcome, you might be overwhelmed by the current array of choices.

Narrowing the field to one or two can be a real challenge for anyone, but especially for the new, or casual firearms enthusiast.

One of the first, most fundamental decisions you need to make is whether you want a revolver, or a semi-auto pistol.

Once that simple decision is made, assuming you choose the auto, and assuming the gun will be used primarily for home defense, personal protection and recreational / target shooting…

You still need to consider a host of other things, such as:

  • Full-size, compact, subcompact, or a pocket pistol? Each has a place, but as with all things in life, there are trade offs. Not all are good choices for the new or casual shooter. To a point, larger guns, while still being quite concealable, are easier to shoot accurately, which increases confidence and fun. It doesn’t necessarily work the other way around, the old saying bigger is better runs true.
  • Decide on the manual of arms, which defines how you interact with, and operate the gun: grip, safety, trigger, action, magazine release, etc. Do you prefer Double Action Only, Single Action Only, or a combination of the two, commonly referred to as DA/SA or double / single. How do you feel about external controls like an external hammer, a manually operated safety, and/or a de-cocker, and a slide-stop?
  • What caliber will you choose? Most popular handgun models are offered in your choice of 9 x 19mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. While there may be some who still believe it’s not a real gun unless it’s chambered for something that starts with a “4”, some very impressive, extremely knowledgeable organizations, like the FBI, may disagree.
  • Are you partial to any one particular firearms manufacturer? Believe it or not there are actually somewhere over 60 handgun / pistol manufactures in the U.S. alone. (Can you name more than 10?)
  • Finally, you should give some thought to accessories and colors. Having the capability to perfectly fit the gun to your hand, through interchangeable grip panels, back-straps, front- straps, or even complete grip frames, is very important. Likewise, the ability to mount a weapon-light, laser sight or an optic is certainly a tactical advantage for any handgun slated for defensive use. And while it may not do anything for how the gun performs, more than ever before, there may be color choices to make. Pimping your Gun has been a HOT trend for a few years now. Beyond traditional black or stainless, many of today’s popular handguns can be had in the extremely popular FDE (Flat Dark Earth), ODG (Olive Drab Green), two- tone combination, and even pink, which is quite popular with the ladies.

And it seems whenever you talk guns, everyone has an opinion, and is all to happy to share it, whether you want it or not, and regardless of whether or not they own a gun themselves, or have ever actually even fired one. You’ll hear everything from, “Why do you need a gun?”, to, “Oh, you NEED to get a this, or a that… [insert brand and model of choice.]”

Some may suggest asking a Police Officer for recommendations, but not all Police Officers are gun guys and gals. You’ll certainly get a wealth of information if you find an Officer that is a true Firearms enthusiast – the department’s armorer is usually a solid bet – but if they don’t know much about guns, and don’t want to admit it, you may simply get a recommendation for whatever’s in the holster at the time.

So, yeah, while seasoned experts may take these considerations for granted, it quickly gets daunting for the new shooter.

This is especially true while nervously standing at the gun counter, sensitive to other customers, interacting with a potentially grumpy know-it-all salesman, and probably at least a little distracted by all those powerful, awesome looking, bright shiny objects in the counter.

To help you cut through the vast array of available choices further, read my article “My Top Two Handgun Recommendations” that narrows down the field to two excellent recommendations, along with what I think makes them such great choices.

Please check it out and let me know what you think!

SIG SAUER P320 Polymer-Frame Service Pistol
SIG SAUER P320 Polymer-Frame Service Pistol

About Jim Golden:
Jim is an NRA Certified Instructor who was introduced to firearms safety and shooting sports at 5 years old by his Dad, a NJ State Trooper. Since then, Jim has safely enjoyed shooting sports for over 35 years. He loves to educate new shooters, and enjoys generating interest in the sport. His primary goal is to promote safe handling and use of firearms for ALL LEGAL PURPOSES.  Be Aware. Be Prepared. Be Safe. Visit:

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