So, you decided to purchase a firearm. That’s great! There are a ton of options out there. So how do you know the right one to choose?
First off, consider yourself lucky that you get a choice. When I was 26 yrs. old and in law school I made the decision to pursue a career in federal law enforcement. At 29 I was in the United States Secret Service Academy navigating my way around the FIRST firearm ever put into my hands. A Sig Sauer P229 .357. Keep in mind, when I teach someone who has never fired a pistol I start them with a .22. So here I am with my very first pistol 5 TIMES more powerful than the 22 cal. I didn’t have a choice, and rightfully so. For my job as an agent, my Sig was my duty weapon. I had it with me everywhere I went.
So, unless you’re in law enforcement you are probably wondering how your process should start? Here are a few considerations.
What is the main purpose?
Do you want to use it only for home protection? Do you want to conceal carry? Do you want to open carry? (both applicable by the law in your state). There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to a gun so these questions are important. For instance, you probably would not want to try and conceal carry a full-sized firearm like the Springfield XD 9mm or 45cal. But for home protection, it might be perfect for you.
For those of you who choose to conceal carry, size and comfort matter. The semi-automatic Sig Sauer P238 is very popular with women. It’s a .380 and with an extended magazine it holds 7 rounds. It fits easily in a concealed carry handbag or purse or holstered inside the waist band. Guys might consider it a pocket pistol, literally concealing it in the pocket of their jeans or pants (I don’t recommend carrying a pistol this way). But for someone who has large hands, this pistol may be too small. The Sig Sauer P938 is generally what they end up with. Depending on the caliber and construction of the pistol (polymer vs. all metal frame) it ultimately is all up to how it feels when you pull the trigger.
Let me say that if your spouse has ever bought you a gun, it’s because they care. Most of the women I work with however, have been given, or gifted the wrong gun for them. Too much kick, too hard to pull the trigger, too small, etc. The MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is that your gun is an extension of YOU. What fits in your hand may not fit into mine. What is not comfortable for you to shoot may feel great to me. And don’t even get me started on the optics (sights) on your gun…
Can You Handle it Safely & Effectively?
While a full-sized firearm might be great for home protection, is it just too big for you? I might not recommend a 44 Magnum revolver for most people for home protection because it’s heavy and has a lot of recoil. But a semi-automatic, full-sized Glock 17 9x19 which has a magazine capacity of 17 rounds (unless you live in California) might be just what you need. But maybe you’re a smaller person with smaller hands, perhaps a single stack 9mm might fit your grip better. Whichever you choose, you will need to know how to “work the slide” or “rack it.” There is no exception. If you are not able to work the slide then find a handgun which enables you to. It’s VITAL if you choose to own a semi-automatic pistol.
There are also different ways that make it easier to “rack” the slide. I’ve taught many a person with major arthritis in their hands to successfully navigate several full-sized pistols. They mistakenly thought that a revolver would be better until they tried to pull the trigger multiple times. By the time we shot 10 rounds their hand was too fatigued to continue.
Shoot it Before You Buy
In all cases with all handguns. If you’re considering it, try it out first. Most indoor ranges offer gun rentals. There’s nothing worse than investing several hundred dollars in a handgun that you thought you’d like only to get it to the range and hate it. Trust me, you’ll never pick it up again.
I hope these tips will assist you in purchasing your next handgun. I’d love your comments and any additions that you think should be added to this list. If you are in the DFW area check us out www.shecanshootdfw.com