Shooting 101: Finding the Perfect Gun for YOU


I often ponder how many actual models of pistols there are on the market? The number must be insane when you think of all these different manufacturers and how in today’s market each line of pistol that is released ends up having 10 or more variations after the original. Using Glock as an example, Glock itself produces over 50 different models between all the generations and caliber options. With that being said, there is pretty much an endless number of pistols on the market. So, which is the perfect pistol for a first-time buyer? This is one of the single most asked questions to me as a firearms instructor. Well, if you have that same exact question then you are in luck because I am about to reveal the secret sauce for finding the perfect gun for you

Finding the Perfect Gun for YOU

The most important thing to remember is that the gun must fit you as a shooter. The size must be right. It is like the classic story of Goldilocks and the three guns. The first gun she picked up was too big, but the guy behind the counter of the gun shop insisted that the only gun to carry is a .45. She could barely wrap her hands around the grip, and it was chambered in way too big of a round for her to manage, the 45 ACP. It took all of her might to raise the gun up to be able to shoot it at the range.

Her first squeeze of the trigger sent the big, heavy round into the ground in front of her as the gun sprung back from the recoil and lack of grip that Goldilocks had on the bulky frame. The gun smacked her square between the eyes, knocking her out cold and leaving her with a broken nose and two black eyes, her golden hair stained with blood. After three attempts at rhinoplasty and some counseling she headed back to the range to try to overcome her new fear of guns. 

Her friend told her that she needed to try this little, tiny .380 instead. She picked up the tiny gun and thought that .45 was way too big, so this tiny gun would be perfect, and it is just so damn cute too. Plus, it comes in ten different colors, and it will be so adorable in my Instagram posts if I am carrying a hot pink gun. She loaded up the six small rounds of .380 and took to the range.

Little Hands & Snappy Recoil

Her first shot almost broke her wrist as the round flung out of the short little barrel, producing an even bigger fireball than that large-framed .45 that she shot first. She quickly recovered and tightened her grip to shoot a second shot. Unfortunately, when she tightened her grip, she did not pay attention to her finger placement and failed to realize her non-dominated hand’s index finger was in front of the barrel. Goldilocks squeezed the trigger, sending the second round down range along with the tip of that unfortunate index finger. She quickly dropped the little gun and clutched her hand as she watched her fingertip, still smoking, fall to the floor. Thanks to her friends’ recommendations and some gun shop employee’s manliness, Goldilocks was now uglier and was missing half of a digit. 

Most people likely give up on guns at this point. But our Goldilocks remained determined to protect herself from some disgusting bears living down the road from her. They tried to attack her once before already; so, she wanted to exercise her 2nd Amendment rights. This time she proved determined to do it right and figure out the perfect gun for her first pistol purchase.

A well-fit good should be controllable and accurate.

Back in the Game

So, Goldilocks upped her insurance policies, grabbed her emergency contact card, and headed off to take a class with a very reputable instructor in her area. During class she learned proper grip, stance, and how to shoot properly. She felt much more confident after the class and headed back to the gun shop to try finding the perfect gun again. The first one was too big, and the second one she tried was way too small. So this one needed to be just right. She picked up a bunch of different pistols, but none of them really felt great until she grabbed one that felt perfect. Instantly she saw sun rays shining down from the heavens and angelic music started playing in her head. That could have been the permanent ringing in her ears from her first range incident, but she just knew, this was the one.

She headed into the range, loading up twelve rounds of 9mm because that happened to be the caliber that the perfect gun was chambered in, and started shooting. She controlled her first shot, hitting dead center on the target. It exhibited limited recoil, no big fireballs, and her face and fingers all remained unbroken and intact. Her excitement evident, she unloaded the remaining 11 rounds, shooting a 1-inch group at 20 feet–her first time shooting the pistol!

Proper firearm instruction is essential when buying your first gun.

Moral of the Story – the Gun Picks YOU

I know, the story was supposed to be about bears and some soup or something, but I write about guns, and I hunt bears, so my version made more sense. With this all being said, here is the moment you have all been waiting for. What gun should you purchase for your first one? Well, you will be happy to know that the absolute perfect gun for a first timer is the one that works best for the shooter.

You see, no one gun is perfect for everyone. We all have different size hands, different strengths and weaknesses, and different needs. So just because a gun works great for a friend or me as a writer even, doesn’t mean that gun is perfect for you. I highly recommend trying out several guns in several calibers before making a decision. Read reviews, watch videos, talk to friends, but most importantly purchase the gun that is best for you and your wants and needs. If the gun you pick is not enjoyable to shoot you probably are not going to shoot it. This may sound corny, but when finding the perfect gun, the gun needs to pick you. You do not pick the gun.

For more info on taking your first shots, check out NSSF’s listings of ranges near you.

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