Top 3 Basic Handgun Considerations


If you are new to firearms, walking into a gun store with hundreds of makes and models in one store can be overwhelming. Lacking knowledge and experience with handguns can make any shopping experience stressful.  There are some basic considerations when looking for a concealed carry gun, once you understand them, you can feel more confident shopping.

Many first time gun buyers don’t intend to conceal carry. You can’t really predict your future; when you become comfortable with your gun, your attitude may change and you may desire to conceal carry. Handguns are excellent for home defense and you can conceal carry them outside of your home. There are two types to choose from, revolvers and pistols. To develop your preferences, try out each at the range.


Revolvers are easily recognized by their cylinder that swings out from the frame. Revolvers typically have six chambers in the cylinder, which hold the ammunition. The cylinder rotates when the trigger is pulled, the ammo cases stay in the cylinder and must be removed manually during the reload process. Revolvers are old technology, but they are reliable. Some people choose revolvers because their physical appearance is appealing and they like the simplicity of operation. The downside of a revolver is the limited ammo capacity and the slow speed of reloading.

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Pistols use magazines to hold the ammunition and are inserted into the bottom of the frame. Pistols are modern and have advancements over revolvers. For example they can hold more ammunition, typically 10 to 17 rounds and can be reloaded faster. The ammo cases eject after firing and automatically load the next round from the magazine into the chamber. Pistols have more things to learn about their operation. Pistols are what the police and military use due to their speed and high capacity. Most concealed carriers choose pistols because that is what the professionals use. Handgun training classes include elements that are unique to pistols such as magazine changes and failure to fire drills. The higher ammunition capacity and ease of magazine changes translates into more fun on the shooting range and less time reloading.

The caliber your gun is chambered in is a top consideration. The caliber indicates the size of the bullets. There are only a handful of common calibers that are suitable for defense, 9mm (nine millimeter), .40 (forty caliber), and .45 (forty five caliber). Most guns will be made in each of these calibers, they are kind of like small, medium, and large. Police and military agencies use those calibers all over the world. Find the caliber that feels right for you, which you can control. The 9mm is a great choice, offering lesser recoil, lower weight, and the ability to carry more rounds and less expensive per cartridge.

The smallest common caliber is the .22LR (twenty-two long rifle). This caliber is not reliable enough for self defense, meaning it does not go bang everytime and is prone to jamming. Pistols chambered in .22 are less expensive than other calibers, have the cheapest ammo and almost non-existent recoil, but it is not acceptable for defense. This is a great caliber to learn on, especially for people who are sensitive to recoil.

Size and Weight
The smaller and lighter the gun, the more likely you will be to carry it. If the gun is large and heavy, you will have problems concealing it and will not carry it. However, don’t go too small, those guns can be uncomfortable to shoot and your hand will be cramped and sore after shooting, not fun! Even if you don’t plan to carry, consider the possibility that you will become comfortable enough with your gun in the future and may consider concealed carry.

What’s the best handgun?
The handgun that is best for you is the one that not only feels comfortable in your hand, but does not cause discomfort after a shooting session on the range. This is important so you can enjoy range practice and training. Test fire several different rental guns and go out with friends and family and shoot their guns to see what you like.

Final Thoughts
Finding a concealed carry gun can be daunting, but is manageable when you use the process of elimination. First determine whether you want a revolver or a pistol. Next decide what caliber you are comfortable shooting. Third think about size and weight, then see which gun is most comfortable for you and purchase it. You have to like what you are buying, a handgun is a personal choice! What works for other people may not work for you. Don’t forget to learn about firearm safety. The final step is to enjoy your new gun by practicing at the range!

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