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Guide For Purchasing Your First Handgun

With all the craziness going on here lately: Terrorism, Crime, etc, I have noticed an increase in handgun sales. People wanting to defend themselves and exercise their 2nd Amendment Right, which I am a huge supporter of! So I’m going to go over some information to the readers who are looking to purchase their first handgun and some information to the readers who are thinking of purchasing a handgun for their significant other.

***First off, a little disclaimer: I live in North Carolina, and I’m going off of our current laws. Some states will differ and some laws will vary when it comes to buying a pistol, so check your local and state laws on how to acquire a pistol.***

So after you have gone to your local Sheriff Office or visited their online website and applied for your pistol purchase permit, you’ve picked up the permit, now you are ready to go to the gun store to pick out that right pistol. Some items you’ll need to bring to the store to buy that handgun include: Driver License (current address), Pistol Purchase Permit (that matches your Driver’s License), and money. Remember, cash is king and you can always haggle with the price if you have cash, unless it’s a corporate store/chain retailer, even then you can try and have them price match each other. Most local gun stores have a cash price and credit price (3% above cash price usually).

When going to a gun store, here are some things to look for on the gun store’s end: Vibe, Courtesy, Safety, and Knowledge. To me, it is all about the vibe. If you are greeted with respect, courtesy, and the salesperson seems nice (asks for your name and introduces themselves), it’ll more than likely be a good store. There are local gun stores around in my area that are not so friendly, and will give the vibe that you are there to steal from them or it’s an inconvenience for them to help you. Some are rude, and demeaning. Also, I have been in some local gun shops that do not check to make sure the pistol is “clear” or not loaded. This is a good practice in gun safety (always treat every gun as if it were loaded) and it lets you know that this stores top priority is the customers safety. Watch out for the “fanboy” clerks who only point you to one name brand pistol or type of pistol ie: Glock, revolvers, etc. There are plenty of handgun options out there that will fit you and your needs.


Here is a list of things that you, the customer, needs to have in mind when purchasing your handgun:

  • Figure out how much money you are willing to spend on a handgun: There are a lot of different makes and models of handguns ranging from $100 to the Thousands! By selecting a price range, it will narrow the choices down. Most good, reliable, quality pistols range from $300-$600. Also, something to think about, if you like a pistol that is a little bit more in price than you intended (like $100 more), save up for it! Don’t settle for the lesser one just because.
  • How will you be carrying the pistol? Will you be carrying on your hip, in your purse, on your ankle, or just to keep at the house for protection? Knowing this will also help determine which pistol is good for you. Also, the way you carry varies if you have a concealed carry permit or not.
  • Size of the pistol: There are different sizes in pistols: pocket-pistols, subcompact, compact, full-size. Just because it is small and easy to carry, doesn’t mean it is the right pistol for you. Pick up the pistol and see which one feels the best in your hands. The grip is going to be the most important thing. Also, the smaller the pistol necessarily doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy it, so keep that in mind. Most people do not like to take a small pistol to the range and practice because it is loud, “snappy”, and not that accurate, which in turn causes frustration. If you get frustrated, you will lose interest in shooting the pistol, which defeats the purpose of buying it.
  • Know the calibers: .22lr, .380, 9mm, 38 special, 40 S&W, 45ACP are the most common calibers for handguns. For beginners and kids, .22lr is really good to train on. It will get you comfortable with shooting and learning the dynamics of a semi-auto or revolver without breaking the bank for ammo. Know how far you are planning to shoot. Most life or death situations may have you drawing your pistol around 1-9yrds. Pistols are built with accuracy in mind and can handle those ranges with ease and can be pushed out to 25-50yrds with practice. All of these calibers are readily available at your local sporting goods store/sections and are relatively inexpensive.
  • Pistol Dynamics: Once you find a pistol that you like and feels good in your in your hand, go through the motions of loading and unloading the gun ie: learn the dynamics of the pistol. If you are having problems racking the slide back and releasing it, don’t get frustrated, especially if you are new to handguns. There are tricks to the trade, and if the salesperson is good, they will take the time to work with you and show you how to operate the pistol. It’s all about feeling comfortable with your pistol. If you aren’t comfortable with operating it, again, you are less likely to shoot it and enjoy it. Also, if you find a pistol you like, you will start to second guess yourself. You’ll pick up other pistols and start to compare that one to the one that felt best. It’s a sign, that you really like the one that feels the best, so get that one. Don’t second guess yourself. I understand that a pistol can be a lot of money and for some, this is an investment. But just like vehicles, you can always trade and upgrade, so keep that in mind as well.
  • Trigger Pull: Once you’ve figured out how to operate the pistol, try the trigger. It is safe to “dry fire” most pistols. Ask your salesperson if you can “dry fire” the pistol. Point the pistol in a safe direction and pull the trigger. Some pistols have “longer trigger pulls” and others have very short. Most triggers are set at 5.5-7lbs. If you are selecting a pistol that shoots single action and double action, try both and see which one you like. In single action, the trigger will be lighter, than the double. Also, a good salesperson will help you in how to grip the pistol properly. Semi-auto pistols are held differently than revolvers.
  • Best Deal Possible? Now it’s time for purchasing the pistol. We are in an economy where you want to get the best deal possible, and I want that as well. Most retailers like Cabela’s, Field and Stream, and Dicks sell their guns close to or at MSRP and that can be expensive. Most local “Ma and Pa” shops will be the cheapest. Most of the time, gun stores only put $50-$100 on top of cost, which keeps the prices down for you, the customer. Yes, you can shop around and look online, and yes sometimes they will be cheaper. But when you buy online, remember you’ll have to pay for shipping and have to pay the gun shop a transfer fee of usually $15-$30. So are you really saving money? Just some food for thought. Also, don’t be afraid to purchase a used pistol. Most manufacturer’s today offer a Lifetime Warranty on their products and most Local Gun Shops will stand behind the products being sold, and they will take care of you. Remember, the Local Gun Shops want to have a reputation of taking care of customers, so they will take care of you if there is a problem.
  • Train! Train! TRAIN! After you bought the pistol you liked the best, this one is an easy step, go out and shoot! Ask your salesperson where a good place to shoot is at. The salesperson should be able to tell you where to go, especially if they are avid shooters. Also, if you don’t have a license to carry concealed, take the concealed carry class. This class is great because it will go into further detail on laws and regulations of carrying a pistol on you or in your car. Also, you will shoot your pistol during the class and it makes you even more comfortable shooting (In NC, you’ll have to shoot your pistol while taking the Concealed Carry Class. It may differ in each state).

Now, I said I would talk about buying a pistol for your significant other…DON’T DO IT WITHOUT THEM KNOWING! Buying a gun for them is a nice gesture, but please bring your significant other with you to the gun store and let them go through the process I just spoke of. It will save you time, headache, and frustration, especially if they do not like it. Most of the time, you’ll pick a pistol that you like, and they necessarily may not like it. Plus, you want to get them involved with shooting, so get them involved! In the end, you’ll be much happier! Remember, a couple that shoots together, stays together!

I hope this has helped some folks out. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I’ll help ya out the best I can. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try and find out for ya. At the end of the day: Go out and shoot!

As always, ya’ll be good and be safe.



Categories: Pistol,Shooting