Purchase Guide For The Best Handgun First Time Owner

By Shari Spivack

Best Handgun First Time Owner
Max Venom Turbo Glock 17
Shari Spivack
Shari Spivack – ZeroINstyle

New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)- If empty shelves at gun stores are any indication, there has been a huge surge in gun purchases and interest in the last few weeks, but the trend began many months ago.

Feeling lost in your decision to buy a handgun? Maybe you need a purchase guide of the best handgun first time owner.

In sharp contrast to the restrictive gun laws being proposed around the country, at gun stores, customers have been arriving in droves to purchase their first handgun and register for beginner pistol classes. Customers are coming in with a varied range of firearms knowledge but mainly they are looking to the sales person to guide them in the purchase of their first handgun.

When I work with a customer, I try to assess and engage them from whatever position they are currently in. Many first time gun buyers have never held a gun in their hand and the case full of guns can be intimidating. Maybe it’s my social work background where a successful way to engage a client is by understanding and meeting them at their present perspective of a situation. So I start by asking the customer if they have any experience with guns. Knowing a customer’s background with guns provides a great deal of information to help the sale go more smoothly on both sides. While no one likes to be talked “down” to, there are customers that don’t know the difference between a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver and why they would want one over the other. In this case, more guidance is necessary. Vocabulary as well as basic gun operation will have to be explained.

People also enjoy talking about their guns and their gun experiences. I know I do. For salespeople it can often be the same story all day long, but for the customer it’s exciting – it’s their trip to the gun shop and they deserve to enjoy it.

The next question I usually ask is why the customer is buying the gun is what the gun will be mainly used for. In NJ very few people are looking to buy a carry gun so I can usually cross this need off the list. Usually people are looking either for a target or home defense gun but most often they want a gun to do both jobs. When a customer says the gun will sit in a nightstand drawer they aren’t always interested in the same features as someone who is going to take their gun to the range on a regular basis or use it in pistol courses.

Although I do encourage customers that buy a gun for home defense not to leave it in a drawer and forget about it. It’s your gun and you should feel comfortable with it; that means taking it out to the range at least occasionally to run some ammunition through it and be familiar with its operation.

Once purpose is determined, the next hurdle is choosing caliber. Customers often do research before they come in which can be either a good and bad thing. An educated buyer is always a plus. However when an elderly woman who wanted a specific .38 realized that that meant a revolver which was far too heavy for her to hold and pull the trigger on, she became disappointed. The gun would also be shared with her husband who wanted the higher round capacity and the longer barrel. It became clear they would have to go with another caliber for this gun. She had done a great deal of research on the “best” first gun for home defense and she took her pages, printed from the internet and crumpled them up at the counter.

So much for research she said. No, I told her. Her research was good and it helped her and her husband be comfortable with the gun they eventually chose.

First time handgun purchasers that are buying a gun for home defense and want to also use it for sporting purposes like shooting at the range now and again, often do well with a 9mm.

A .22 isn’t the best gun for home defense although first time customers sometimes think they need to start with a .22 because they won’t be able to handle anything larger. Unless someone has a physical limitation, or if they are going to eventually purchase several guns in different calibers, a .22 is not usually necessary for a first handgun, especially one that will be used for home defense. It can be equally difficult to convince a customer who doesn’t think a 9mm will get the job done and insists on a 40 S&W because that is “what the police use” to consider a 9mm.

A 9mm WILL get the job done. I encourage them to practice or take a class because shot placement is your best friend when using a handgun for home defense. And home defense rounds can be purchased that will make the 9mm a good choice as well.

If a customer insists on a larger caliber gun I would rather see them buy a .45 ACP then a 40 S&W. The .45 is a less snappy round which will likely be easier and more enjoyable to shoot especially for a first time gun owner. However if the customer expects to do a lot of target shooting then the 9mm is going to be the more cost effective option as well.

The next step is simply to start putting guns that fit their criteria in their hands while also trying not to overwhelm them with too many choices. Once the viable choices have been laid out on the counter we slowly start eliminating the ones that:

  • a. “Don’t feel right”,
  • b. Cost more than they wanted to spend,
  • c. Have a safety vs. don’t have an external safety etc.

This usually narrows down the choices to one or two and if a choice has to be made for example on aesthetics I believe you have to like your gun too. It’s a big purchase and I want to open my safe and be happy with what’s inside. If a customer keeps turning his eyes back towards a stainless steel model over a black matte model then in my opinion it’s worth it.

External Safeties 
A word on external safeties – some people just insist on having them. They refuse to buy a gun without one. If you follow the rules of safe shooting then you know the most effective safety and the only one you can rely on all the time is the one between your ears. I encourage people to remember this even if they insist on a gun with an external safety.

Those who know me joke that if I had my way everyone would walk out of the store with a Glock. I don’t know that is true, however a Glock can fit many of the needs of first time gun owners. That doesn’t mean it’s the right gun for everyone who walks through the door. If a customer allows the salesperson to help guide them towards the right gun then it is the salesperson’s responsibility to listen to what they are asking for. And that can be challenging especially if customer has never seen let alone held a gun in their hands before.

For example, last week a young lady came in and she would barely even touch the glass case. She looked and acted like she didn’t belong there, but she had her permit (NJ required) ready to go and she was there to buy something – well maybe, she thought so, actually she wasn’t so sure… As I tried to draw out what she was looking for by asking some questions and chatting with her, she opened up a bit and I eventually helped her narrow down her choices to a Glock which seemed to fit her needs and her hand the best. At the point when she was basically sold on the Glock I added, “And it’s also easy to clean.”

Suddenly she looked panic stricken and said “What? I have to clean it.” Oh boy. “Yes, you have to clean it.” “Can’t I pay someone to do that for me?” she asked. I had to make a moral decision here…do I take this innocent person’s money to do a job she can and should do herself? Nope.

“Listen, if you are going to buy a gun you have to know how to clean it. I’m going to give you the name of an instructor who teaches with Glocks, take a class and come back and see us for your gun.”

Relieved she took the card and signed up for a first step pistol class. I could have sold her the gun right then, and maybe I should have. Some people can take the gun and the referral on the same day. But she will be back and I will feel better selling her the gun when she is really ready.


Turbo Glock Image: http://www.maxvenom.com/turbo_glock

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Amanda Drew

Thanks for letting me know that a 9mm gun will usually work well for both recreation and home defense. My ex-boyfriend introduced me to how much fun it is to go to a range and shot targets for fun. Now that I don’t have access to his guns, I thought that it was time I got a firearm so that I could continue to practice and have fun. Your article will really help me find the right gun to buy. http://bigtoppromos.com/


I too am a first timer. The safety is a concern. Not to sound so green but I always wonder about the gun going off by accident. However if you’re in a situation and have 2 seconds and the trigger’s on your’re in trouble. So smarts trumps triggers. But, what about having a trigger and leaving it off say at night but using it “as needed?” Lastly, i’m really excited now and anxious, I can’t find a friend to go to the range with me (busy scheds) as the range won’t rent unless you have someone with you. I feel… Read more »


I am buying numero uno. No one has metioned the gun I am narrowing in on. Are there any issues with the Beretta 92FS Brigadier that I should know about??

Don in Arkansas

My wife was uncomfortable around handguns. Not afraid of them, just uncomfortable. She took a NRA defensive handgun class at The Gun Cave in Hot Springs, Ar, taught by Jan Morgan (The First Lady of the Second Amendment). She shot several handguns during the 9 hour training course and decided on a Sig P938. After shooting the 9mm she purchased a P238 in 380 as well and she now carries both, depending on her wardrobe for the day. The best first gun is the one you’ll practice with and become proficient. Caliber is optional, accuracy is not. Now she’s the… Read more »


the sccy was my first gun, great gun, but after shooting other guns with better triggers sold it….also owned pt111 nice gun, nice trigger, just didn’t feel good I’m my hand, mostly because of sandpaper like grips,,bought the pt140 g2 absolutely love it same grips but just a little wider doesn’t rub my hand the same way…Taurus quality has gotten much better over the years….my pastor bought the pt111 he absolutely loves it,,,,,also own Taurus 605 revolver very nice gun….hope this helps…


Thinking of purchasing my first gun, for home protection and carry on. I don’t want to spend a lot of money and would feel better having one with an external safety. Any suggestions, I have look at the Taurus millennium pt111 G2(mixed reviews) and also the sccy cps-2.


I think the author points out the best way to go. Determine your specific needs/wants and talk to a qualified salesperson. My first pistol was a Springfiled XD in 9mm. Personally I don’t think you can go wrong with the 9mm in a decent sized gun…but I’m no expert.


I’m completely new with this.
Just got my Firearm ID / Purchase Application.
I am strictly interested in home self defense. I live on 2nd floor in very small apartment.
I plan on doing quite a bit of target practice.
I think I want a long barrel pistol.
Can anyone guide me through the choosing of such firearm?
Thank you.


CZ 75, Glock 34, Sig 226 (if you have the $$), Springfield XD. You cannot go wrong with any one of these. All are 9mm and have barrel lengths of 4″ or more.


I will have to agree with the author on this one. The best safety is in your head. I always thought I wanted a external safety on my hand gun. I use to hate Glocks because of the no external safety, and everybody seemed to have one. I found a baby Glock 27 in O/D green at the local pawn and had to have it. The more I shot this gun the more I loved it. That being said it is very important you become familiar with your gun external safety or not. If you carry use a holster that… Read more »


Since the focus of this piece is on “first handgun,” I really think the no-safety gun-hipster thing is misplaced. If someone is terrified of shooting themselves or a loved one by accident, they’ll never load the thing or transport it to a range. My suggestion would be something like a Bersa Thunder in .380. It is easy to shoot with nice sights, low felt recoil, hammer drop safety, magazine pull safety, and a great trigger pull. A newbie can feel safe with the weapon in “Israel Carry” (magazine loaded, no round chambered, hammer down). Then they can become familiar, move… Read more »

Michael L

I think it is time in this country to hold our elected officials accountable. Each and every one swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution Of The United States against all enemy’s both foreign and domestic. They are not!

It is time we demand that do what they swore to or get out of office. If they do not, it is up to us to impeach every last one of them.

If their word is no good, then neither are they!


thanks for your political commentary?
don’t turn something political if it doesn’t have to. you come across flippant and
annoying frankly.


I like an external safety on a pocket gun or a nightstand gun but if you really think you need that street protection you are best served without one. That is what most of the police carry. After all, the revolvers never had them. If you carry with a safety on, you best practice with it so much that it is second nature to disengage it under duress


My first handgun was a Colt snub nose .38 bought in 1972. I have all kinds of handguns now but that Colt is still really special to me.HBH

Johnny Nightrider

I went to a gun range and practiced with a .22lr revolver before I bought a handgun.Than I bought a S&W 686 plus,7 shot, 4 inch barrel,SS,SB conversion,hogue monogrip.I was happy but had to sell it. So I bought a Ruger Sp101 .357 magnum SS 3 inch barrel revolver.Nice thing was you can fire .38 special and plus P rounds through a .357 magnum revolver.Than I bought a Browning buckmark standard pistol in 22Lr. sold that.bought a Sig Sauer reverse two tone mosquito 22lr. sold that.Than I bought a Glock 19 9mm.Great pistol.Than I bought a S&W M&P .45 auto… Read more »

Richard P

I understand the reasoning behind the Glock no safety paradigm, however, personally I do not need it. My first hunting experience was upland game hunting, and a safety was not only expected but required. Walking with a loaded shotgun without a safety was considered dangerous, and all of us were equally competent in operating the safety to get the shot off in a time critical manor. The same extended to my 0.22 cal rifle for rabbit and squirrel hunting. A safety on a gun is as natural to me as turning a key to unlock a door. So obviously I… Read more »

Bill Baker

It’s not known as ‘external safety leg’ its called Glock Leg. Why, too many times their lack of an external safety means if the trigger catches on your shirt as you get into the car and you have one in the chamber….boom, glock leg.