A firearm is a substantial investment of your funds, and in purchasing one you shouldn’t act with haste. Caution should be had, especially when the market is over-saturated. So as a person who has purchased many firearms, and regretted a few of those purchases, allow me to share my top four considerations when choosing a new firearm.
1. Does it Fit?
I have experienced this problem twice — with my own purchases and once for my wife. A gun needs to fit the user, and this is more than simply how it fits in your hand.
My main mistake was when I purchased a SCCY pistol. The pistol in general was a great weapon, easy to handle, small enough to conceal and quite accurate. My main problem was the weapon’s safety. You see, I got a great deal on the model with a safety, and I usually prefer a safety-less pistol. The problem was it was a little pistol, and I have big hands. Every three or four rounds, my hand would engage the safety. So this became a consideration for further purchases.
The same goes for my favorite pistols: the CZ 75 and CZ P09. I love these pistols and I can run them without issue. However, they have very tiny slides, very low to the frame and for some reason they are difficult to grip and use under stress.
Pistols are all different. Some have grip safeties, like the XD and 1911 models. This may not work well with some people’s hands. These are all major considerations. When you are in the gun store, trying guns on so to speak, if it feels uncomfortable, or you’re not sure, follow your gut. If you are 50/50 on the decision, rent or borrow the gun and take it for a test drive.
2. What Purpose Does it Have?
This is another major consideration since there really isn’t any do-it-all weapon. Weapons all have one purpose or another, and should be purchased as such. For example, a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard in 38 Special is a great concealed carry gun, but is it a great hunting weapon? Or is it the best home defense weapon?
You see, the weapon needs a purpose and the weapon needs to fit the owner. This means when choosing a home defense weapon, you may think everyone uses a shotgun, so that’s a good choice. Shotguns are a great choice, if you can handle one. You may be too small for the weapon, so perhaps you should consider a full-sized handgun or maybe a rifle.
Even some of the same categories of weapons will not fit the same purpose. A bolt-action rifle is a close-range home defense rifle, and a 9mm semi-automatic rifle is probably a poor choice for hunting. Sure, each weapon could be used for both purposes in a pinch, but it’s not optimum. Even Mossberg 500s can be built for different purposes. One with a 28-inch barrel probably isn’t the best home defense weapon, whereas one with an 18-inch barrel is perfect. Same guns, but with seemingly minor differences, their purpose changes.
So identify the purpose, and choose a weapon to fill that purpose.
3. Can you handle it safely and effectively?
Being able to handle the weapon is relative to its purpose. For example, a 44 Magnum revolver is a bit too powerful and recoil-heavy for a combat weapon, but it makes an excellent hunting revolver. However, not everyone could handle the pistol for even a slow fire, non-combat hunting event.
Now, if you are looking at a semi-automatic pistol, you should consider if you are capable of actually racking it. For example, my wife has some difficulty with certain pistols, but has no problem with others. So if you just barely rack the pistol in the relative calm of a gun store or your home, then it’s probably not a good combat pistol for you. Perhaps the pull on a double-action revolver is too much for you and you’ll need something with a very light trigger.
Another factor is going to be ammunition selection and how it affects recoil. Now, some people may opt for something recoilless like a 22, but I’d have to advise against that. Rimfire rounds are simply nowhere near as reliable as centerfire rounds, plus defensive ammo is not really available for it. However, if there is nothing else you can possibly handle, then use what you have. I also advise in knowing your limits when it comes to a larger caliber, with more recoil. If you can’t handle a 357 or a 40, then don’t buy a 357 or a 40 simply because you think it’s inherently better. Buy what you can handle and what you can shoot.
4. Can you accessorize?
I’m not talking about matching your finish to your holster, I’m talking about the availability of necessary accessories for the weapon. Different weapons need and can use a variety of accessories to help increase their effectiveness. These accessories vary from weapon to weapon, and can be needs, or wants depending.
When it comes to buying handguns and semi-automatic rifles, one thing you want to be sure of is you can find and afford magazines to keep it fed. This is more important with rifles than it is with handguns, because a rifle is a main battle implement. Hard-to-find and expensive magazines can be a real downer, especially when you really find a weapon you really like. (The CZ P09 I have and love has mags for $45 dollars.)
Other considerations for handguns are holsters — important for comfortable carry. You’ll also want to make sure your long guns can accept a sling without major modifications. Optics could be another consideration you have for particular weapons.
Prior to purchasing a weapon, use all of the sources of information you have available to you. This could include the advice of experienced gun owners or of experts from gun stores, ranges that let you rent guns, and of course the Internet. Check out gun bloggers, who tend to be more honest in their reviews. And watch YouTube videos where you can see the weapons operate.
Always make an informed decision, and remember that certain considerations can all make the difference when it comes to buying a firearm that is right for you. People are different, firearms are different, but there is almost always a match for everyone.
What advice would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below: