Confessions of a Newbie: Tips for buying your first firearm

I remembered the overwhelming amount of information I consumed when I was looking for my first firearm. And that was after I had already shot a few and narrowed my search down to just Sig Sauer firearms.

Here are some suggestions from Jason Braun on how to go about buying your first firearm:

What are you considering purchasing for your first firearm? If you already have a gun or two, what was your first firearm?

My first was a S&W 686 4". My tips would be to rent many. Buy the one you shoot the best and trust the most.


When I first read

I read it as Jason Borne

  • does it fit my hand and my wallet (in this particular order),
  • can it be easily operated left and right hand,
  • can it be used for range, EDC and home defense

Two guns, first -> Walther PPQ M1 (it has fulfilled all my requirements).:+1:

My first was a Ruger GP100 6 inch. I wasn’t thinking about concealed carry then. Home defense and hunting. Cost was a factor for ammo, but, .38 isn’t that expensive. I still have that gun, and always will.

Honestly I find a lot wrong with his suggestions.

The “hive mind” is often driven by add campaigns rather than anything objective.

“Online Reviews” are much the same.

If you’re going to seek advice the first thing to do is seek it from respected, qualified sources.

My advice remains pretty constant. First, identify a few quality manufacturers with excellent records for reliability in their firearms.

Second, based on your needs try several different makes and models out to find what fits your hand best and which you can shoot the most accurately.

What are the most important criteria for a defensive handgun?

A Reliability, it has to go bang every time you pull the trigger.

B Accuracy, you have to be able to hit what you’re aiming at. That is a combination of proper fit and ergonomics.

C Forget the rest, stick with A & B and you’ll have exactly what you need.


I researched the whole thing to death. Read articles and reviews and talked to people at my local range. I ended up with a 92fs and a Mark III target pistol. I loved the Mark 3 right away. It was like cheating always being able to get a small grouping at nearly any distance. 92 took some getting used to but I love it now and own a few of them. The third one was a px 4 subcompact which was great for training and learning. I eventually sold it as it was a pita to shoot!

It looks like you may have missed his explanation of what he meant by Hive Mind, @WildRose
Jason suggested:

Your suggestions are actually covered by Jason’s article as well:

How are you going to know if the gun is going to go bang every time you pull the trigger? Read reviews with a grain of salt and talk to people you know who have the guns you like.

And see if you can talk those people into taking you to the range so you can try their guns without the extra cost of the rental. I would suggest at least offering to pay for ammo and even cleaning their gun afterward with them to see how difficult it is to clean the firearm. And they will be more likely to take you to the range more often if you’re being so helpful! :slight_smile:

I read it. The average friend or family member is not a qualified expert or authority on the subject, they likely bought whatever they are carrying based on what they picked up on some internet chat site populated by people with no real experience or expertise of their own.

The value of an opinion is the weight, experience, and expertise behind it.

The average gun owner won’t ever run enough rounds through one to even know how reliable it is, probably doesn’t know how to tell if a gun actually fits your hand, or even have an understanding of proper grip and recoil control.

Call me crazy but I think seeking the aid of respected authorities and professionals is likely to provide much better results than just searching the internet and getting advice from random strangers or family members with no real training, experience and who likely have never handled more than a couple of different handguns if that.

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For me, it was a Smith and Wesson Model 3000 12ga shotgun with a folding metal stock. Then I discovered I couldn’t conceal it, but that was in California so…

After that, I met another gun dealer who had lots of pretties. The one that seemed reasonable and ‘enough’ without being too much to pocket carry (at home) was a Walther PPK/S in 380 auto. This little monster taught me a lot about grip, limp wrist, and railroad tracks on the web of my hand. It was also quite feisty with a snappy mouth. One could say accurate… enough… and willing to share copious amounts of gunshot residue over a session at the range.

The point is; I was clueless and as far as pistols went, playing with the money I’d have better used for rentals. Learning what made one gun different from another. It wasn’t until I’d WORKED for the store for 4 months that someone presented me with a gun that really did do most of the things I wanted, and, because it was California I didn’t have to worry about concealed carry anyway. I could carry it anywhere I wanted openly on my gun belt! (So long as it was holstered, wasn’t loaded, and I didn’t have a magazine loaded in my possession.) That gun was an S&W 4506. Sadly, I later traded that first-year production, LEO purchased, sold to me - because I was working in THEIR gun shop - needing a serious defensive arm just in case I was to help protect the house. ( I’m a big guy and that’ gun is still a handgrip full.)

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I don’t believe I have ever seen a Smith shotgun. Another learning day.

My first was right after I turned 21 a looooong time ago. I got a Colt Officer’s Model .380. It was pretty but rarely carried. Concealed carry was not a thing back then.