What is the Best First Gun?

Choosing a first firearm can be a daunting proposition, especially for those without a lot of firearms experience in general. Let’s take a look at choosing a first gun, with a special analysis of the pros and cons of each gun type.

☉ Handguns

  • Handguns are an extremely popular choice for a first gun and are the most popular type of firearm in the US. They’re a great option for personal and home defense, which is a large part of what drives their popularity, but they’re good for more than just defensive use.

  • If you are thinking about something for personal protection and this is your first gun, we generally recommend you start with a compact 9mm handgun or .380 ACP. These rounds will provide more than enough stopping power in a defensive situation, without overwhelming a new shooter with recoil.

  • A compact or micro-compact will also be easy to grip, even with particularly large or small hands, making this a good size for a first gun. They’re also very concealable, making them a great option for someone who is looking to obtain a carry permit.

☉ Pistols vs Revolvers

  • One of the biggest decisions when choosing a handgun is whether you want a pistol or a revolver. Some people use the term “pistol” to mean any handgun, but technically it refers only to handguns that have a chamber integrated with the barrel.

  • Basically, revolvers aren’t technically pistols and are worth considering separately.

  • Most folks these days tend to carry a pistol because of their (generally) greater capacity and greater ease of reloading, but revolvers still have their place. Revolvers are particularly good for folks who still have good manual dexterity, but not a lot of hand strength. This is because there’s no slide to rack.

  • All revolvers can also be used at true point-blank when the barrel is pressed against the target, whereas a pistol will generally be pushed out of battery and be unable to fire if you do that.

  • Revolvers can also be chambered in some big-game calibers that you can’t really get in a pistol format. For that reason, we generally recommend pistols for self-defense against two-legged threats, and revolvers for hunting or protection against dangerous game or large predators like bears.

  • For home defense, it’s a bit more of a tossup, but a pistol is going to offer a faster reload, higher capacity, and probably give you an easier time of mounting a light as well, all of which are fairly vital when it comes to a home defense gun.

  • Pistols are typically better for carrying as they’re slimmer and have a higher capacity. They are also usually easier to get a two-handed grip on and often have a longer sight radius (at least compared to CCW revolvers) which makes placing accurate shots a little bit easier.

  • If you’re coming to see us to test handguns, we recommend a classic Glock 19 for a first pistol. This is one of the most popular carry options and is more or less the industry standard for handguns these days. Even if you don’t like it, it will be a good starting point to guide other trial options.

☉ Rifles

  • Rifles are another great option for a first gun, especially for younger shooters who are learning or for those who are looking to hunt. A modern sporting rifle like an AR-15 can also be a good choice as they have become a standard in the firearms world, and they are easy to use and maintain.

  • If you’re primarily looking to hunt, then a bolt-action rifle is a great first choice. They’re simple, reliable, and generally inexpensive if you’re looking for an entry-level hunting version.

  • Of course, there are high-end precision models meant for tactical shooting and competition and lightweight space-age models meant for trekking long distances with, but a simple hunting rifle doesn’t need to be too complex or expensive.

  • You can also go with something even more simple like a .22LR bolt-action, or an affordable semi-auto like a Ruger 10/22. These are very economical options that will allow a shooter to learn the fundamentals of marksmanship without dealing with a lot of recoil or having to purchase expensive ammo.

  • The fact that you can shoot hundreds of rounds for just $30 or so makes this a great way to go for anyone who is looking to learn about firearms and is actually our #1 recommendation overall for a first firearm. A simple .22 LR rifle will teach you the basics of marksmanship without breaking the bank.

  • There are also several great .22 LR competition leagues out there like NRL22 and others, so you can get involved with a fun community that will help you learn and grow as a shooter while having some great times at the range.

  • Lastly, if you want to go with something like an AR-15, building one can be a great option. It’s a fun project and will teach you a lot about your rifle. That said, it can be a bit intimidating and involves buying or borrowing a few tools.

  • So, if you’re dead-set on an AR-15 for a first gun, we recommend going with an established manufacturer and getting something like a Smith & Wesson M&P-15 so you have something that is ready to go right out of the box.

  • These guns are incredibly versatile, and you can set them up to do all sorts of things, from hunting to target practice to competition. The AR-15 truly is one of the most versatile guns around and is one of the most popular guns on the planet for a very good reason.

☉ Shotguns

  • Shotguns are some of the most traditionally versatile firearms around. They can be used to hunt most types of game, used for home defense, and used for various types of competition as well.

  • For hunting, you can go with a 12-gauge loaded with buckshot or slugs for large game, or switch to birdshot for going after various fowl species. This gives you the ability to hunt basically anything in North America in one way or another.

  • Shotguns also excel at home defense, and there are many tactical variants available out there that are great for defending hearth and home. These are generally more expensive than your average 12-gauge, though you can get some very affordable defensive shotguns as well.

  • We recommend a pump-action if cost is an issue and you’re looking to defend yourself with a shotgun. These are cheap and incredibly reliable. There are some Turkish versions of American classics that are 90% as good for about 60% of the expense, for example.

  • For competition, we generally don’t recommend starting with a shotgun unless you’re shooting skeet or trap, but otherwise check with the rules or regulations of the competition you’re thinking about. For skeet and trap, a simple double barrel will do just fine to get you started.

☉ Air Guns

  • Lastly, air guns are an amazing option for a first gun, especially for younger shooters or for those who don’t have the space or the budget to do a lot of training. Air guns are legal in most jurisdictions, and you can get them very affordably almost anywhere in the world.

  • Air guns are simple to operate, and less dangerous than a traditional firearm, though they can still cause severe injury or death if you don’t follow basic gun safety rules when using them. Still, new shooters are more prone to accidents, and air guns are much more forgiving in this respect.

  • Air guns are a great way to learn and can teach you all the same basic marksmanship and safety habits as a firearm, without some of the risk and most of the expense.

☉ Try Before You Buy at Texas Gun Experience

  • One of the most important things you can do to ensure you get a gun that works well for you is to try it out at a rental shooting range before you buy. You won’t know if a gun is the best gun for you unless you try it! At Texas Gun Experience, we are very proud of our large collection of well-maintained rental guns that are available with ammunition to buy.

  • We have fully automatic machine guns for fun, unique experiences like our WWII experience, but we also have common options for new shooters to try as well, in a safe and controlled environment. For new shooters, experienced gun enthusiasts, and everything in between, come check out our selection and shoot some of the finest firearms available in our spacious modern facility.

  • Once you shop at our gun store and become a gun owner, it is important to know how to properly shoot and practice gun safety. At Texas Gun Experience, we offer a variety of training courses for target shooting, firearm care and safety, and other unique training courses. Whether you want a License to Carry class to prepare for a concealed carry handgun or Handgun classes to practice shooting your 9mm pistol, we have you covered.

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