I grew up shooting guns and spending the entire fall hunting season with a firearm of some kind in my hand, so continuing to own them into my adulthood was never actually a question. Even when kids came along and the household became busier and more crowded, we never considered getting rid of them, instead we made double sure that everything was properly secured and that accidents wouldn’t happen. We also made a point of working with the girls so they knew the deadly consequences of mishandling weapons. I didn’t expect them to become true enthusiast but I didn’t want them to be deathly afraid of something that’s incapable of harming anyone or anything without human manipulation.
So how does someone decide to purchase a gun for the first time? Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to get a gun, whether it’s hunting, protection, target shooting, competition, or just starting a collection for the sake of collecting. Whatever the reason, eventually they head off to the dealer to make their first purchase. They walk right up to the counter with a pocket full of money and proudly proclaim to the salesperson “I want to buy a gun!” Obviously at this point, the salesperson is going to ask “What kind of gun would you like?” To which the answer (in a disturbing number of cases) is “I don’t know, I just want a gun!” This person may end up with the right weapon for their needs or they may take home a .300 Win Mag Remington Model 700 with a 14x scope that just isn’t the right weapon for defending a two bedroom/one bath apartment….
If the gun is going to be used for personal defense, consider the following questions:
- Home defense or in public personal defense?
- Rifle (Auto-loading, pump, lever, bolt action)?
- Shotgun (Auto-loading, pump, double/single barrel)?
- Handgun (Auto-loading pistol, revolver)?
- Accuracy at real world distances?
- Stopping power?
- Difficulty of operation?
- Who’s the primary user?
- State Laws/Limitations
You’ll notice that I didn’t include caliber as one of the primary criteria to be considered during the selection process. That because you’ll decide on the caliber when other factors like recoil/controllability, stopping power, weight, and identifying the primary user are taken into account. Take the .45 ACP for example. It has a great deal of stopping power because of its bullet weight and velocity, but it produces substantial recoil in certain handguns which makes controllability and second shot accuracy difficult for some shooters. While at the same time, a .22 Magnum has a smaller bullet delivering less energy on target, but because of its lower recoil and better controllability, it allows more rapid follow-on shots and potentially more rounds on target in a short period of time. It’s all a tradeoff.
My wife also added “Is it pretty?” to the equation, hence the reason she ended up with a two-tone Kimber Aegis Ultra in 9mm. It fits her perfectly and she’s quite happy with the gun while on the range and while carrying it for protection should she ever need it. I’ve carried a .40 caliber S&W Shield ever since they first came out on the market and although it may not be pretty, it sure is functional, reliable, and concealable. We just picked up a S&W Model 642 in .38 Special so I could see how much I liked a wheel gun, and so far it’s turned into a great purchase. Now I just need to pick a holster for it.
There are a lot of different choices available to the consumer willing to spend a bit of time researching the market. Evaluate each of the criteria and decide which one is most important to you then you’ll surely make the right choice. Just be sure to spend money like your life depends on it…. Because it might.
Brian “Beastman” Eastman