EPWorrell wrote: ↑
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:33 am
Never owned or used a gun before but thinking about purchasing one. After a little research I am thinking a 9mm might be the best handgun for a beginner like me. Can anyone recommend a particular brand/model?
First off, welcome to the Boglehead Forums!
Secondly, I'll echo what others already said:
Training Options for Beginners
- We need some more information.
- Do you intend to carry this on your person for day-to-day protection? If so, then buying something compact or subcompact is more ideal than something full size, as I've found many [but not all] people who start carrying something full size will stop carrying consistently due to concerns about comfort, weight, and compatibility with clothing and weather/season. If you only want to purchase one handgun to start, getting a compact or subcompact handgun can serve a dual purpose: both personal protection at home and out in public.
- If this is only intended for home defense and perhaps training classes but you do NOT intend to carry it, then get the full size handgun. It is more comfortable to shoot due to less perceived recoil compared to smaller, lighter handguns.
- If this is only for fun, plinking, and practice and NOT self-defense, then get a handgun chambered in .22lr. Popular brands include Ruger, Browning, and Smith & Wesson.
- Agree with taking a basic safety and marksmanship course first before purchasing anything. I'll get more specific below.
I'm a huge
proponent of safety, responsibility, and continuing education and training and practice. Marksmanship and the usage of a firearm are perishable skills that require continued practice and training. You'd be surprised
at how many people only take one class such as their state's 2, 4, or 10 hour concealed carry course and never take another class. Their skills are very limited, and they develop really poor habits, violate safety rules (which can get innocent people hurt or killed), and have not maximized their chances of survival if a life-threatening situation were to occur.
From a consumer perspective, what worked for me and what offers good bang-for-the-buck is to take the NRA Basic Pistol course from a reputable instructor in your area. This often overlaps many states' concealed carry curricula, but I recommend taking the Basic Pistol course separately because:
- It's fairly cheap compared to many other courses from random gun ranges and private academies. $100-150 or so. I'm absolutely not poo-poo-ing other courses, but I recommend the NRA Basic Pistol Course's 8-10 hour course.
- The course content is a standardized curriculum from an organization that has been in the education and training business since the 1800s.
- The certificate of course completion does not expire and often meets many state legislatures' proof of pistol/handgun competence. In other words, besides the basic safety and marksmanship knowledge gained, you can often use the certificate to get your concealed carry permit/license from MANY states in the USA.
Direct link to search by zip code: NRA Training
Look for "Basics of Pistol Shooting." Blended = Some of the course/lecture is done online on the computer. Instructor-led = The whole course/lecture is done in the instructor's classroom.
Communicate with your prospective instructor (many have websites, phone numbers, e-mails listed), and explain that you are a new/beginner shooter who does not yet own a handgun. Most instructors provide handguns for their basic courses. You may or may not need to provide your own ammunition. Same with eye protection (Z87+ safety glasses) and hearing protection (earplugs and/or earmuffs with preferably 32 dB or higher Noise Reduction Ratings).
After you complete the NRA Basic Pistol course, you should have the knowledge and confidence to go to local gun ranges that offer pistol rentals to try out many different makes and models.
Purchase Options for Beginners
There are many
correct answers as to which make and model to purchase, since it's a very personal decision based on how it feels in your hands, features, price, etc. After taking a basic safety and marksmanship course, you'll be equipped to rent many different handguns at a shooting range [that offers rentals] and take notes on what you like. Rent everything under the sun, from Glock to Smith & Wesson to Beretta, CZ, Springfield Armory, Sig Sauer, Colt, Hechler and Koch to Kahr to FN.
There are several brands, however, that are considered "Saturday Night Specials" and should be avoided due to cheap quality and reliability: Jennings, Bryco, Lorcin, Jimenez, Raven, and some others. These are poor consumer options. In my opinion, also avoid Hi-Point, but they're slightly higher quality than the usual suspects, and many people love their cheapo Hi-Point pistols.
Additional Training and Continuing Education After You Purchase
The basic course only covers safety rules and basic marksmanship, but if you have any intent on using your pistol for home defense or self-defense out and about in public, you absolutely owe it to yourself to seek out additional training, since there are many more skills to learn and master that have nothing to do with standing still at a square range with no stress and perfect lighting and posture.
From a consumer perspective, what worked for me a decade ago was to take NRA Personal Protection in the Home (typically a 1-day, 9 hour course), then NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home (typically a 2-day class on a weekend). I recommend these because they are fairly affordable ($150, $200, $250 range or so) and are welcoming to beginners without the machismo and pressure and stress that comes with more advanced classes and private schools.
recommend seeking out intermediate and advanced courses from reputable local, regional, and national schools, but these can cost $1000 or more per course + travel expenses. This is for another thread.
Edited to Add
- Take a reputable beginner's course first that covers safety rules, safe storage, basic anatomy and function of the pistol, and basic marksmanship skills such as posture, stance, grip, sight picture, and firing. This will build good, safe habits and fundamental skills.
- Seek out a shooting range that offers firearm rentals. And/or find friends who are pistol owners who can let you borrow/shoot their pistols at the range for free!
- Make the purchase decision for your first handgun based on your personal preference. Avoid the uber-cheap, unreliable brands.
- Continue practicing and training and reinforcing fundamentals and good habits.
- Some consumer things I didn't know at first:
- Renting firearms and range fees can quickly add up. Many public ranges -- if you are not a member -- will charge by the day or by the hour. If you wish to rent firearms, that's an additional fee. Some ranges it's a flat fee per hour for unlimited pistols (you can go back and forth and change guns); at other ranges it could be $10/rental, so trying out 3 pistols = $30. Often times ranges will require that you purchase a box of 50 or 100 rounds of ammunition from them if using in their rentals. 2-3 hours at the range as a non-member while renting firearms + buying ammunition can easily be $100-200. But worth it if you use your time wisely and go in having completed a basic course.
- Most all firearm and ammunition purchases from retail firearms dealers are non-refundable, so it's wise to research your purchase decision in-depth before buying.