First time gun purchase

I work as a range instructor with a CCW class in OH, and one consistent theme I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of women who come to the class with a pistol their friend told them to buy–a .38 special snub nose.
Almost without fail, they are supremely dissatisfied with the revolver, and after many misses, flinches, and growing frustration, we encourage them to try the .22 LR semiautomatics we have for the beginners, and then something amazing happens.
They hit the target. They don’t flinch. They build confidence and success. They start enjoying it. They wonder aloud why they were encouraged to get that revolver.
Now, I don’t want to debate the .38 special, or the snub nose revolver. I do want to call into debate the futility of starting a new shooter out on this gun.
Will if ever jam? Unlikely. Will it ever consistently hit a target in the hands of a novice shooter? Also unlikely.
People, when you are asked for advice about handgun selection, here’s an idea that really works.
Take the time with the person to go to a range, start them on a .22 pistol so they can build confidence in their ability to hit the target. Then, encourage them to try out as many different pistols and calibers as they can get their hands on. There is a ‘sampler pack’ we use at the class–for a modest price, the people are allowed to shoot 3-4 different pistols for CC in .380, .38, 9mm, .40, and .45. They carry a card and make notes on the different weapons. It’s a total of about 20 guns.
Truthfully, I don’t know why more places don’t offer a similar package. It just makes a ton of sense, and it offers a novice a much needed easy inroad to a new world for them.
So please–let’s take the time to mentor these people, and get them started on the right foot.


I would never suggest any revolver to a new shooter.
.22LR in my opinion doesn’t work… ok, maybe in all cases I’ve been introducing people into shooting business :slight_smile:
I’m skipping .22LR and go directly to

“build confidence in their ability to hit the target.”

using 9mm.

“Then, encourage them to try out as many different pistols”


“as they can get their hands on”

My “students” never failed… They’ve been shooting since then.

@Aaron25 is definitely right. New shooters have to enjoy the tool during first shots, otherwise he / she won’t visit the range anymore…


Really best to shoot a few and see what “fits” you. Same thing happened to my Mom years ago. She took a self defense class, and was told to get a S&W snub .38 Special. She hates it. Can shoot a Glock great!


I started my wife with 38’s, in a full size revolver. Less recoil than a .22 pistol. Then, moved her up to some “light” .357 mag loads. Then a 9mm Glock 19, and finally up to my 45. She still prefers a revolver to a pistol.


Spent a lot of years in gun shops where the sales folks pandered to women. Never quite sat right with me especially after meeting a 5’-0" waif of a woman with (ahem) “large concealment attributes” that had a penchant for 2" S&W Model 29 .44 Magnums in shoulder rigs on both sides which she could shoot both faster and more accurately than me and my 1911.

As a rule I “like” to start off with .22’s for first time shooters (male or female) and still only give them one round, revolver or pistol for that first shot. Then we go from there.

Guns are a very personal thing unless you are “required” to use XYZ type (military, LEO, security etc.)

At the cost of an average persons weekly paycheck one would be remiss to go into that investment without full disclosure and dare I say some experience.




None women I know prefer revolver over semi auto…


When I took her to a gun show, she still gravitated to wheel guns. When she gets comfortable with the idea of a carry gun for her, I’ll take her to a local range that’s rents guns. They have 3 or 4 different revolvers. Unless I have already acquired one she likes. Then, she can have it.


Lots of bad advice is given to new shooters, and I too have seen the .38 snub touted as “perfect” for a new female shooter. I called the sales clerk on it as the snubbie is basically an expert’s pistol ( few newbies can hit a barn door with one at 10 yards). A full size revolver is a completely different matter. I too start newbies with a .22 and let them work up. Several ladies I’ve taught to shoot have ended up with the little Bersa .380’s, and one with an EZ. A couple have went with Glock 19’s, and at least two with model 10 S&W’s with 4 or 6” tubes. In every case I started then with a .22 and let them work up as they got comfortable.


People should try several different styles of handguns. You are certainly right about people needing a good non judgmental class. I prefer wheel guns for a lot of reasons.

You have to use what you are comfortable with and works for you. One lady that needed a home defense gun for her ex. As usual the police are always a day late and a dollar short in situations like this. She used a 12 gauge side by side with bean bags. It still almost killed him. She would not use anything else.

My local range has an introduction to firearms class. It is not that expensive and shows people wheel guns and semi’s. They have a similar class with long guns.


I think that is whole reason this site exists quite frankly. We should all try to be realistic and listen more than talk to new shooters. Renting a few handguns at a range is my preferred method of bringing a new shooter into the folds, man or woman. I rely heavily on the S&W EZ .380 for new shooters just to get familiar with the workings of a semi automatic pistol. It is very easy to rack and easy to teach someone how do failure reaction on. They have now come out with a 9MM. I purchased one last week and will give it a go at the range this weekend. If you are encouraging a new shooter, please listen and evaluate the whole person and let them guide you to what they feel comfortable in and evaluate how they shoot each suggestion. Ultimately it will lead to a satisfied new shooter that will perpetuate our journey down the path of ownership and self defense protection. Just my 3 Cents worth (kind of long, sorry).



I always encourage “try before you buy” and at my range, they have a large number of rentals available. My membership allows free rentals so we can grab one try it then switch out for another. The only catch is you have to buy the ammo for rentals from the range so the price is slightly higher.
I only recommend a revolver if the person tries it and likes it. Otherwise, I have them look at .380 and 9 mm to start their journey.


This is the new 9mm M&P EZ. I am taking to the range today to run it through it’s paces. image


Don’t forget post your impressions. If you are gonna to field strip after the range, let us know how easy (or not) is to clean this guy !


OK. So I put about 600 rounds through the EZ 9MM pistol from M&P. I loved the smooth action of the pistol. It fired on target well from 7 yards out to 25 yards. I had 2 Failure to Feeds on the first 2 magazines of ammo, but ZERO FTF after that through the whole session.

The action of the pistol is very easy. The easy rack and action of the pistol will come in handy for individuals who have issues with hand strength. I will say that the little tabs they put on the magazine to “assist” loading are pretty much worthless. Use your Uplula and you will be fine. I would give this weapon 4 stars out of 5. The only thing that would make it a bit better is to improve the magazine. It is a bit funky going in. I think the angle of the mag is a bit weird but maybe just me.

I purchased the model with a manual safety, but a model is available without one.

The recoil is very manageable but a bit snappy up front. Take down and cleaning was super easy, no problem there. Overall I would recommend and I think it will be a weapon of choice for many people. As I age a bit I can see a product like this very helpful. We cannot fool ourselves that as we age we lose some strength and this product is viable for that.

Hope that helps for my 3 cents worth. Sorry so long.



@Raymond, :+1: :clap:
That was great feedback. Long enough, no bs, just info we needed to hear. :ok_hand:
Thx .


It is definitely a nice weapon to have in my training arsenal for people with hand issues. The .380 was a hit in EZ but I kept getting the question “Do they make it in 9MM?” Now I can say yes and let them use it to. Maybe a .45 caliber is in the works??? Who knows but I would be a buyer if it is.



That “sampler pack” is a great idea. I give simple advice for the first gun purchase. 1) get a 9mm. I want you to practice a lot and it has the cheapest* ammo. 2) It has to fit you. Feel comfortable in the hand.


That is an excellent idea! I like the concept of note cards for jotting down impressions!
People should carry the biggest caliber that they can control. Whether it be a .22 or a 454. Bottom line is, no one likes to get perforated.


@Raymond–there is a performance center .45 shield with a compensated barrel and night sights that has become my EDC. Awesome gun.

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Hmm–I’d cut off at 10 mm, given the point of this is concealed carry. I’m not familiar with a concealable .454, nor am I familiar with ammo for that round that wouldn’t overpenetrate.