Nine Gun Buying Tips for the New Shooter

Follow these tips to achieve eternal firearms bliss! Or at least end up with fewer regrets...

For me, one of the great joys of being a firearms hobbyist is introducing someone new to the community. I have never been a professional instructor, but I consider it a public service to give my time to a new shooter to help them safely and accurately use the weapons they own or may soon own. Besides safety and marksmanship, though, there’s also helping a new shooter to economically and successfully purchase the weapons they want and need, so they can enjoy the sport with as little regret as possible. To that end, I’ve come up with a few tips for the new gun buyer on how to get the most bang for their buck when buying new guns. It should be noted that Alex C. created a similar list at the end of last year, but his was explicitly geared towards the collector, whereas mine will target a broader audience of new gun owners. I will attempt to create as little overlap between the two as possible, and my readers should definitely click that link and take a look at Alex’s excellent advice for collecting. With that out of the way, let’s begin.


(1) Be honest about your needs, and your wants

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a $2,500 racegun AR-15, or that Westinghouse M1891 Mosin rifle you’ve always wanted, but make sure you are honest with yourself about what your needs really are, and what guns you just want. If you live in a 2-story apartment, you likely do not need to own an M4-style AR-15 carbine for protection, where a much cheaper and more appropriate handgun would do, but you have every right to want one. Divide your wish list into “wants” and “needs”, based on your lifestyle and your angle on the shooting hobby. For example, let’s say I wanted to get into NRA High Power competition, and wanted to make sure my family was protected. I might have a list that looked like so:


  • Swedish m/96 Mauser
  • S&W 686 pre-lock
  • Uberti Winchester 1866
  • Colt 6920 AR-15


  • A compact handgun
  • A full-size handgun
  • NRA High Power match rifle

The guns in the first section are weapons that might be nice to have, but that aren’t strictly necessary for my hypothetical slice of the shooting pie. Being honest with yourself and dividing your wish list in this way gives you a clearer roadmap for creating a safe full of guns you actually want to have, and helps you avoid more superfluous or disappointing purchases. Also note that the needs are left more generic, like “a compact handgun” versus “a Glock 43”. This helps you get the best value for the buck by not excluding options that you otherwise might not have considered, and helps avoid the impulse to buy a gun based on its appearance or features. Leave that kind of thinking for the “wants” pile.


(2) Prioritize your needs, and put your wants on ice

When you decide which guns you want, and which you need, it’s time to figure out in what order you should make your purchases. Unless you are incredibly rich, this is a process that may take years to complete, depending on the length of your list, and if you’re like me, during that time the list itself will grow. What’s important is to prioritize needs ahead of less necessary wants. This isn’t because the wants are less justifiable, but because you want to weed out impulse buys that will likely result in you spending more money than you have to, or getting an inferior product, and to help cover your bases in a more timely fashion.


(3) Buy the gun you want, but have an exit strategy

Once you’ve decided that the time has come to thaw out one of the items on your list, and pull the trigger on buying it, try to do so in such a way that the decision is reversible if you end up not liking your purchase. Buy a gun from a reputable manufacturer whose products don’t tend to depreciate, and plan to shoot it enough to get a better idea of how you feel about it before you make any major modifications that could hurt the value. Don’t buy large numbers of accessories that will instantly depreciate right off the bat after purchasing a new gun, this leads into number 4…


By buying a 1911 from Colt, the biggest name in the 1911 market, I made sure I had a firearm I could sell for most if not all of its original value if I decided I wanted to do something different.


(4) Don’t buy someone else’s project gun

One of the worst decisions you can make is to buy a gun that someone else modified to their own tastes. Even if you’re sure those modifications are what you want, you may find after a while that one or more of them, or even the base firearm, aren’t really what you were looking for, and that can result in a costly mistake as modified firearms are much harder to sell than factory condition weapons. Further, you don’t know the person who made these modifications, and often a rifle that looks very slick in pictures arrives and is covered in dings, dremel marks, and other “Bubba signs”.


(5) Be smart when doing your research

Try to learn as much as possible about a gun before you buy – this is an obvious first step in today’s world of online articles and star reviews. Is that S&W 686 a pre-lock or post-lock gun? What dash is it? Barrel length? What is the going rate for that particular version? Beyond that, understand which sources of information are reliable and which aren’t. Many gun magazines will paint a positive picture regardless of the reviewer’s actual experiences with the gun in question, especially if it’s from a major brand. Their articles can still be informative, but the opinions of their writers can often be unreliable. On the other hand, the experiences of gun gurus like Massad Ayoob and Grant Cunningham are priceless. Gun forums are another good place to get information, but they too have a lot of noise to cut through. Knowing which forums have a good reputation, and which members are most well-respected. Unfortunately, there’s no real shortcut to learning which sources of information are good and which aren’t, but asking a more experienced shooter for direction can help with this.


(6) Recognize inflated brands

There’s nothing wrong with a SIG P220, or an LWRC M6, but both of these firearms are examples of how some weapons come with a higher price tag than their competitors based on their brand alone. In those cases, a CZ 75B or Colt 6920 may fill their respective niches just as well while costing hundreds of dollars less. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to buy a SIG or LWRC firearm, but for most people their higher cost should be a sign that these purchases really belong in the “wants” category, not the “needs”.


(7) BOCO: Buy Once, Cry Once

Conversely, don’t think that just because a firearm is cheaper and looks similar, that it will be just as good. Brands like Taurus may offer weapons visually similar to higher dollar brands like S&W, but their products have a history of poor quality control and recalls, and are riskier buys. Buy a high quality gun from a maker with a good reputation, even if you have to spend a little more on it, and you’ll save more money in the long run by avoiding costly resales of guns that didn’t work out.


(8) Support local gun stores, but don’t bend over backwards for them

Local gun stores are a great way to get your hands on a firearm before you buy it, or to be exposed to different kinds of guns you never knew existed. Therefore, you should support them with your patronage, but it’s unwise to spend hundreds of dollars more just to get a firearm on the same day over the counter. Spending a little extra on guns, ammunition, and accessories to keep Bob’s Fine Shooting Irons in business is a good thing to do, but too often brick-and-mortar stores suffer from limited selection and highly inflated prices. Shop around to find a good deal, and strike a balance between patronage and frugality. In my case, I try to buy smaller items like ammunition on a more regular basis from my local stores, to keep them in business and happy to see me, and I always keep an eye on their racks for guns that are a good deal both for them and me.


(9) Understand which of your firearms are assets, and which are workhorses

A gun will be worth less and less the more it’s been shot and the harder it’s been treated. Despite its durable materials and finish, that Glock you’ve put 3,000 rounds through and rarely cleaned isn’t worth quite as much as a new one, but it’s every bit as valuable to you as it was on the day you bought it. On the other hand, that 90% condition Westinghouse Mosin is a collector’s item, and if kept in good shape will still be worth as much as or more than what you paid for it. Having a good estimate of the value of your firearms will help you to know which ones you should sell to finance a new purchase, and which ones are workhorses or collectibles that you should keep around until your estate passes to the next generation.


Treating a gun like this doesn’t do good things to its value, but that’s just the reality for some working firearms…



…On the other hand, a nearly century-old rare pocket .32 that survived almost unscathed should be a safe queen that gets passed on to the next generation.


Your rules for shooting may differ, but I’ve developed these over the years I’ve been an enthusiast in the shooting sports. Most importantly, though, get out there and shoot!

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • USMC03Vet

    You forgot the most important rule, shoot the model before you buy it.

    I know it should be self explanatory, but damn, a lot of people don’t do this then end up with something they don’t like. If you’re at a gun shop that has a range, but has a very selective selection of range rentals that aren’t representative to what they sell that’s a bad sign.

    • Yep, not a bad piece of advice at all. I highly recommend folks do that before they commit.

      • Bob

        I count myself very lucky in that I didn’t get to shoot most of my firearms prior to purchase, but although I’ve had some I don’t really love much and others have needed a little TLC put into them, I don’t overly much feel like I want to get rid of any of them.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      “Lets give that FNC select fire a test drive, sir”

      • Paul White

        “Jee, I’m thinking of buying that S&W .500, can I buy 2 rounds to try?”

    • Evan

      I once bought a S&W Sigma because it was cheap, and didn’t fire it or know anything about the model beforehand. That was the worst gun I’ve ever had. The trigger was atrocious. I don’t have it anymore, but I learned my lesson there.

    • Paul White

      Its just not always at all possible. There’s not a store within 300 miles of me that would let you test fire a rifle or shotgun. There’s one in town that’ll let you test fire a pistol, but they kind of suck.

      • gunsandrockets

        Some stores won’t even allow proper handling of firearm before purchase, let alone test firing.

        About half a decade ago I bought a Mossberg 500A riotgun that was on sale at Big 5 Sporting goods. At the time I wanted a reliable 12 gauge with an 8 shot magazine.

        But Big 5 has a policy of not allowing dry fire, heck they won’t even take off the trigger lock before purchase. So when I finally got home with my new Mossberg after the terrible California 10 day waiting period, I discovered this shotgun had an awful heavy trigger. Something around 9 to 11 pounds!

        • Geoff

          Yeah, the trigger lock and no dry fire thing makes it very difficult for new buyers to properly assess their options.
          It’d be like not letting a car buyer even get into the seat of the car before buying it.
          If you have no friends that already have guns, it’s hard. It’s specifically made this way to discourage new gun owners. The nobility doesn’t want peasants to have arms.

        • Mikial

          Sorry, my friend. but you need to move out of California. A ten day waiting period for a shotgun? The NICS takes a couple of hours at most, what’s the waiting period for?

    • Billy Jack

      Palmetto State Armory (the well known AR guys) will let you (or used to) test a model for 30 minutes and I forget how many rounds for $10 or $15 bucks or something. They give you free range time if you buy a firearm from them too. I thought that was cool.

      • USMC03Vet

        It is. My first handgun I bought the store had a range and I got to shoot that model before I bought one, and they waved the range fees from the price. More places should do that, but sadly don’t.

    • TC

      Test shoot one if you can. An internet search of reviews for the model you are looking at will give you a lot of information, read a few of them to get a consensus. I was interested in the SW Shield, read up on it and went to the local gun shop to look at one. As soon as I picked it up and handled it, I was sold, felt perfect for a CC sized pistol. They allow dry fire, so I was able to try out the trigger. If you do bring a firearm home and have buyer’s remorse for one reason or another, shoot it at least a half a dozen times, you may come to appreciate it. Despite all the gun club stories of how guys tripled their investment on a firearm, it seems like I usually lose about 30% when I sell or trade in.

    • HR Pufnstuf

      I’d also advise learning how to take it down and put it back together. My 1950 Ruger .22 is a pain, but the recently purchased Ruger MKIII .22/45, similar design, is an absolute nightmare! Might not have bought it if I knew all the times I had to put the magazine in, point it up, pull the magazine out, point it down, push this, pull that, put the magazine in again, push the hammer forward, remove the magazine, etc. Jeeze Louise!

  • Wolfgar

    You forgot to relay the most important warning of all, it is very highly addictive purchasing firearms. I have heard rumors some people are not prone to gun addiction but I have never verified it excluding wives and girl friends.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    I agree with this list; especially with the bit about prioritizing your purchases. I am a relatively new gun owner (about 3 years) and there are a couple purchases I now regret making. Most were just due to me being unfamiliar with the gun world.

    For instance I have a S&W Shield in .40 that I regret buying. Its a great gun that I would suggest to anyone, but for some reason I dont shoot it very well. I guess it just doesnt fit my hands. When I bought it I didnt really know my options for subcompact handguns and I heard good things about the Shield and the price was very good so I bought one. Looking back I would have done much better with a Sig 938, but I didnt even know what they were at the time.

    I also regret buying my Marlin 336. I would still love to own one in the future, but there are a few guns on my list that I would definitely prefer to have over the Marlin so I guess I dont necessarily regret buying it altogether; I just regret buying it so soon. It was an impulse buy because my friend was selling it for a good price and it was on my list.

    • Mikial

      Don’t feel too bad about your Marlin 336; it is a proven model that has a lot of versatility. Yeah, it only holds 5 rounds (usually), doesn’t have a detachable mag you should consider its strong points.

      1. It’s quick to handle in a fight . . not too long, and the level action is much faster to work than a bolt and you can work it easily without lowering it from your eye.
      2. The 30-30 is a good all around round for game or varmints (4 or 2 legged).
      3. It is quick to load, and you can shove rounds in without taking it out of action . . much like a pump shotgun, so you can keep it topped off.
      4. Since it doesn’t have a detachable magazine, isn’t a semi-auto, and only holds 5 rounds it’s pretty unlikely it will be outlawed as an “assault rifle” (I hate that term), so even if the government gets to that point it should still be legal.
      5. If it’s tapped for a scope mount, it’s no big trick to mount a rail on it for optics, many of which now include a built-in light.

      I have one and a thousand rounds of ammo put away for a rainy day.

      • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

        You make some good points. I still enjoy owning and shooting mine; I guess its just that I really want to get my AR lower built but need more funds.

        • Mikial

          I understand. I have three ARs and I love them all.

  • Nashvone

    On the few occasions that a new shooter has asked me what they should buy, I’ve always told them to get what feels comfortable to them. That always seems to surprise them. Then I take them to a brick and mortar store/range here so they can shoot several different guns. It’s interesting to see their reaction when the sales staff doesn’t push them toward a particular model. My usual comment is “They want you to come back and buy that one later.”

    Being the proud owner of a Walther CCP, the only recommendation I would add to the list is DON’T BUY A NEW MODEL IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS THAT IT’S ON THE MARKET!

    • Billy Jack

      That last point goes for anything. New cars, smartphones, operating systems – anything that new you will be testing for the people who made it.

  • Jim_Macklin

    For a “new shooter” my advice has always been simple. Buy a .22 LR rifle, handgun a 20 gauge shotgun.
    Even when you own 100s of guns, you will NEED a .22 LR. I recommend the 20 gauge because ammo is available that is effective for hunting or for low recoil for training the new shooter. The .410 is expensive to shoot and hard to shoot well beyond 20-30 yards.
    I’m going to recommend Ruger as the best value and best utility.
    Ruger 10/22 comes in many variations. The Ruger American .22 bolt action is excellent.
    The Ruger .22 MK pistols, new or used or the .22/45 can be the ideal pistol. Or the Single-Six or other revolver.
    For a shotgun, the best value is probably a single barrel gun such as the H&R Topper.
    Once you have mastered the shooting skills of breath control, trigger and sighting and begun to develop some recoil tolerance, move up to a centerfire handgun such as a 9mm or a 38.
    A centerfire rifle such as a Ruger AR556 is a good value and will be something that is suitable for almost every task needed.
    If you win the lottery, these guns will still be guns you can keep and not regret.

    • I definitely thought you wrote “Ruger AC556” at first and I was extremely confused, hahah.

    • Oddly enough, I followed this nearly to a T.

    • Nicks87

      Excellent advice.

  • CommonSense23

    Going to argue your first point. Its far better for someone who is living in a 2 story apartment to be rocking a AR with the appropriate round than a pistol, especially if they don’t shoot much.

    • Harder to dial 911 or hold a flashlight while holding an AR on target than a pistol. That’s my theory, anyway. YMMV.

      • CommonSense23

        Going to disagree with that. Get a sling. Get a weaponslight. It’s pretty easy shooting a AR accurately one handed under stress. Most people suck with a pistol on a good day. Much less one handed under stress. You have a weapon with far superior terminal ballistics. Requires far less tranining to become profecient. Requires far less training to remain profecient. And with the right ammo, going to have less overpenetration in a urban setting than the comparable self defense pistol ammo.

        • Slings don’t help old ladies and IT guys hold ten pounds out straight with one arm while they punch numbers on a keypad, and while I am all for shining a light everywhere you point a gun, I think for most people having an independent light they can shine without pointing their firearm is much safer for those around them.

          Rifles are great tools for the reasons you outline, but they’ve got a whole whopper of a list of disadvantages for most people in a typical home defense scenario, not even most of which I’ve outlined here. Now, I came to that conclusion myself, but if anyone doesn’t want to take my word for it, they can ask Mas Ayoob who’s said similar things over the years.

          • CommonSense23

            Drop the phone if you need to make shots and use both hands. And you can shine a flashlight at the ground and light up a room. Having people try and use a pistol one handed is a recipe for failure. Has it been done successfully, yeah, but it doesn’t have a good track record.
            No offense to Mas Ayoob, but how many gunfights has that guy been in. One of his statements regarding his preference for a pistol over a rifle was that he was worried about sending a round into his kids room. Which goes against everything that terminal ballistics in barriers teaches. Go ask the FBI HRT why they switched from the MP5 platforms to the AR. Over penetration was a major reason.
            Their is a reason why you see far more trainers who have gone overseas and shot and killed people recommending the carbine over the pistol. They are far easier to use.
            Here is a experiment for you to run. Go take a guy who has never shot a gun before. Give him a hundred rounds of pistol to train with, and 50 rounds of rifle. Then don’t let him shoot for a year and see which gun he shoots better. Cause I can tell you from personal experience from back when I had the crappy job of training people in the regular military. Pistols require far more skill.

          • Hey, Common, I didn’t say anything to disagree with the “easier to shoot” and “over-penetration” arguments. In fact, I said:

            “Rifles are great tools for the reasons you outline,”

            If you want to use a rifle for home defense, that’s A-OK. Hell, I do (I use both). I think the pistol is a better tool for the reasons outlined above, but not everyone has to think that way. As I’m sure is obvious by now, I’m not exactly coy with my opinions, so it’s nothing to get hung up on. 🙂

          • CommonSense23

            This is one area I got to completely disagree with you. Pistols are just horrible weapons period. This is a area that is a pet peeve of mind. From teaching CQD in the states, to going overseas and conducting training. From shooters who have never touched a weapon, to guys who are shooting a 1000 rounds a weeks. The rifle is the better choice. People like to bring up moving around in their house as a reason why they like pistol better than rifle. I can tell you from experience being the redman, whose job it was to take the gun from the trainee. Unless you got training, it doesn’t matter. And if you got training, the rifle is going to be superior.

          • John

            “Pistols are just horrible weapons”…..unless you have a CCW…then…shoving an AR down your pants….not so much.

          • CommonSense23

            People carry pistols they are concealable, and easily portable. Doesn’t change the fact they suck.

          • Mikial

            So, you’re advocating people carry a rifle as their EDC concealed weapon? Pretty hard to conceal an AR, AK, M1A, etc. going into the neighborhood supermarket.

        • Nicks87

          In close quarters a rifle can get taken from the average person pretty easily, especially one with a 16″ barrel. Plus, they still require a certain level of proficiency. A pistol, with proper/regular training, is just going to work better for MOST people.

          • CommonSense23

            The level of proficiency needed to be capable with a rifle is far less than a pistol. Their is a reason the M1 Carbine/the PDW concept. If you have someone who is minimally trained, they do better with a rifle/smg/pwd/shotgun than they do with a pistol. Its the same for someone who has a lot of training. The rifle is a better choice. Want to talk about CQB, and which one performs better. Its going to be the rifle for either the amateur or the professional.

          • John

            I am not going to disagree that a rifle will do better in the hands of a new shooter. However, if the rifle has a problem e.g. it jams or hits a door running through the house or is dropped trying to escape through a window or has the magazine fall out or has someone try to grab it or…whatever, it’s more problematic.

            Also what about a nice high quality pistol safe discreetly in the night stand vs. a full size gun safe sitting next to the bed.

            Bottom line, people should shoot BEFORE they buy and make their decision based on a number of factors. Luckily, there are millions of us gun lovers to give them lots of conflicting advice!

          • CommonSense23

            I am curious what your background is when it comes to clearing rooms/ building. How much instruction have you received/done.

          • John

            I’ll have you know that I almost finished level 17 of Doom 3, and that was with the laser rifle!

            Actually, I am curious how experience in battle makes you a good soldier/police officer? Are there ANY bad soldiers/police who improperly follow procedure and make up their own rules as they go along? Just because I have cleared a room does that mean I am qualified to teach everyone else my methods?

            Yes, it is more likely if you have seen combat and are still alive you did something right but that doesn’t automatically make you an expert. I have been trained by numerous instructors, some of whom contradicted the others. Who should you believe?

            Lot’s of people have survived in battle because of skill…but some survived because they protected themselves at the expense of others, does that make them good soldiers or good survivors?

            …but I digress…

            ….and by no means take away any credit from anyone willing to put their life at risk to protect others.

          • Nicks87

            That’s not the point of this discussion. Most people have no experience with clearing buildings but they still have the right to defend their homes and their lives with a firearm of their choice.

          • CommonSense23

            It is the point of this discussion. My background has included training guys who shoot once or twice a year. Going overseas training other country’s SOF forces. Working as the redman in CQD running sim fights. People perform better with rifles/carbines/shotguns. So if you are talking about a pure home defense weapon, pistols are horrible, unless you have some medical condition which prevents you from using a long gun.

          • Nicks87

            I’m not talking about ex military or people who have been trained on a specific weapon. I’m talking about the average person. You do realize that less than 20% of our population is fit for military service? If you aren’t able to meet the requirements to join the military (mentally or physically), then an AR15 may not be the best choice for home defense, or hunting or even plinking at the range. People should buy a gun that fits their lifestyle and their abilities even if it may not be the pinnacle of small arms development. Plus, you can say that a rifle requires less training or a handgun requires more training but all weapons used for any kind of self defense require some level of training. Sorry but shooting grandaddys shotgun out on the farm a few times or shooting your brand new M&P on some deserted gravel road a couple times a year isn’t enough. And no, I’m not talking about CQB I’m talking about home defense for the average person.

    • John

      For someone who’s been shooting rifles for 20 years, yes, an AR is great. For a NEW shooter, trying to swing a 16″ barrel around tight corners and having the sound of a .223 deafen you immediately and the muzzle flash blind you immediately….not so much. Clear a complex jam on an AR? No problem….for an experienced shooter, but almost impossible for a scared nube. Clear a jam on a revolver? …..what jam?

      The key is, does the weapon work for the person buying it? This article is for NEW shooters, not operators.


      • Evan

        New shooters tend to suck with a pistol. Hell, I STILL suck with a pistol (not as bad as some, but I’m not winning any matches anytime soon), and I’ve been shooting for like 15 years. For a new shooter, I’d say something completely intuitive and user-friendly like an AR is a far better choice than a pistol or revolver of any type. Put a weapon light and an EOTech, and you’re set. You miss, you got 27-29 more shots on tap.

        • John

          Sure, I want a NEW shooter to spray 30 rounds around their apartment hoping to hit something! With 5 to 15 shots you have to be a little more discerning with your shots.

          • Evan

            Please, at home defense range with an AR? Spraying at random is a lot less likely to happen that it would be with a pistol. And more ammo is always better in literally every conceivable situation – especially in the case of multiple intruders, or one shot not stopping the threat for whatever reason. A pistol is a backup, not a primary weapon.

          • John

            OK, we’ll disagree. An 890 Square foot apartment is not the place for a 30″ battle rifle but that’s just my opinion.

          • Evan

            A pistol is never an adequate weapon is mine. Contact distance? Yeah, then you want a pistol. Anything further than that, and a pistol is what you use when your rifle runs out of ammo or breaks.

            Concealed carry is obviously different, because it isn’t socially acceptable most places to walk around about your daily business with an AR slung across your chest, but if you have a pistol for your home defense weapon, you’re doing it wrong.

      • CommonSense23

        The fact you just asked “what jam” on a revolver tells me all I need to know about your experience. Revolvers jam, jam a lot actually. And they are a absolute pain to clear when they jam, typically requiring tools a considerable amount of time.
        As for new shooters, yeah they are going to shoot a rifle or shotgun far better than any pistol. And while muzzle blast is going to be bad, most people are going target focused, so while they may wreck their ears more, they are more likely to make hits.

        • For the “revolvers never jam crowd”:

          Go to your local gun store, preferably one you don’t like to much, because they may not want you back after this.

          Pick up a Taurus revolver, any one you like.

          Now, imagine you suddenly have the fingers and dexterity of a gorilla.

          Handle that Taurus like you don’t really know how it works.

          When it inevitably locks up and won’t budge, set it on the counter and leave quickly.

          You have now been educated. 😉

          I’m kidding about trying this, but the basic chain of events is something that actually happened to me once.

          • Nicks87

            “revolvers never jam” I wouldn’t use the word “never” in that statement. “Less likely” probably fits better.

          • John

            I have owned two Taurus pistols in the 80’s. Yes they jammed, but so will a $400 AR. Don’t buy junk and you won’t have a jamming problem. I stated clearly that you should not cheap-out on a firearm. Taurus are too unreliable but if you want to compare serious issues, what about the Taurus semi-auto the fires when you shake it! Try THAT with a revolver!

          • Like I said, I was kidding. 🙂

        • Kjk

          I wouldn’t say “revolvers jam a lot actually.”

        • John

          Compare revolver jams to semi-auto jams and then talk to me. If you buy a Rossi for $50 you deserve a revolver that jams. If you buy a $600 Smith and Wesson and learn the basics it will NOT jam. I would happily put 1000 rounds through a GP100 against the semi-auto of your choice and see who jams OR malfunctions first.

          • GP100 vs Glock, and it could go either way, honestly.

          • Nicks87

            I beat the hell out of my GP-100 and put over a thousand rnds of .357 and .38 through it and it never missed a beat. It was my truck gun and when I sold it I still got $500 out of it.

          • CommonSense23

            Considering I have shot more than a 1000 rounds thru my issued Sig in a day without malfunction or cleaning. Would gladly take that bet.

          • Nicks87

            My duty weapon is a Sig P229. They work fine as long as you follow the recommended maintenance on them but go over 4000 rnds on the recoil springs and they start to malfunction. I have glocks with over 10K put through them without replacing any parts and they still work just fine.

          • CommonSense23

            While I can’t speak to the maintenance cycle for a 229, I have kept some accurate round counts for my 226 and 224 and have well exceeded 4000 rounds without cleaning or malfunction on multiple occasions with different 226s, and my personal 224 hit 8000 rounds before I replaced the recoil spring.

    • Mikial

      One thing to consider in terms of a new shooter buying an AR or AK for home defense rather than a pistol is opportunities to practice. If you live in the country, or have a friend who does, you can usually find somewhere to shoot a rifle for practice. But if you live in an urban or even suburban area, it’s a lot hard to find a place to shoot a rifle, but you can usually find an indoor range to shoot pistols at.

      It doesn’t matter what kind of gun you have, if you don’t train with it you’re not going to be very effective in a high stress life or death situation.

      Having said all that, I admit that even though I have a G21 with a light on it next to the bed, it’s just the back up to the Saiga 12 with a mounted light and a 12 round magazine of 00 resting in one of those nifty racks that holds it horizontal to the side of my mattress. But I don’t have to worry about anyone else in the house but my wife and I and there’s no other house that would be in the line of fire.

  • Don Ward

    The Number One rule of gun ownership is forming a realistic assessment of your own financial limitations. You probably shouldn’t be buying that third or fourth $1,000 or $2,000 semi-automatic wonder rifle if you’re living in the mobile home park and are behind on your car payments.

    And this is difficult since the majority of firearms featured in magazines, websites and videos are not only prohibitively expensive but completely impractical for the average shooter.

    • Paul White

      amen. I see a lot of that on reddit; people post a 1500 dollar gun they bought on a credit card. Yikes.

      • Billy Jack

        Nothing wrong with that especially when your card will provide 90 day theft insurance or double your warranty. Use of credit does not necessitate abuse of credit.

        • Paul White

          A lot of it’s more like “Can’t really afford this but thank god for Visa.”

          • Billy Jack

            Pretty sure “Thank God For Credit” is written in Latin on all of our money.

  • John

    My advice for the new gun buyer, don’t let ego direct your purchase. Sure the AR looks cool on the big screen as does the .44 magnum and your friends may tell you that a Barret .50 can stop a car, however a simple (spend a little more for a good name brand) semi-auto pistol or revolver is an easier item to learn and use under pressure. The object is not to look awesome with your new gun, the object is to be proficient at protecting your life and the lives of your loved ones.

    And for God’s sake, save a little extra buy a decent pistol safe. Leaving your new gun in the nightstand while at work is a recipe for disaster.


    • CommonSense23

      Where are you getting this insane idea that a semi auto pistol or revolver is easier to use under stress than a rifle is?

      • Jwedel1231

        I believe he was referring the to 44 mag. Also, buying an AR when you need a ccw pistol is foolish.

  • Paul White

    It sucks as a newbie in any hobby, trying to find the sweet spot on the price/performance curve. A new shooter doesn’t remotely “need” a nightforce scope or an STI 1911 (though they won’t hurt), but man, there’s some *really* crappy choices out there for them too.

  • TC

    Something I’ve learned the hard way is that two cheaper guns do not make up for the one more expensive gun you really wanted. Spend the extra money to begin with, and buy the one you want. Sig, for instance. There’s an old saying that “The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten” And stick to the major brands, or you might have a lot of trouble finding spare magazines and accessories, not to mention repair parts.

    • John

      I have never owed a Sig I did not love, but maybe that’s just me.

    • gunsandrockets

      Pennywise, pound foolish!

      It was a hard habit to break, a habit I developed when I was damned poor.

  • Order of my purchases before traumatic boating accident:
    Ruger .22/45 Lite
    Ruger 10/22 (threaded barrel)
    Kel Tec PF9
    Mossberg Maverick 88 20ga.
    Bersa Thunder .380
    $60 Hi-point 995 in ATI stock.
    Built an Ar-15 from parts on sale.
    Mossberg Maverick 88 12ga 7+1
    Charter Arms Pitbull 9mm 6-shot, 5″ barrel

    2 firearms per year. 🙁

  • Edeco

    (10) Think with your phallus (metaphorical if need-be). Look, short of 44 Magnum in handguns, and 300 Magnum in rifles all these things are more or less tractable no questions asked. You’re going to gravitate toward the thing that makes you feel like a satan-fueled rock-star on PCP. Is there a gun in a book or movie you like? Perhaps that is the gun for you.

  • Billy Jack

    “By buying a 1911 from Colt, the biggest name in the 1911 market, I made sure I had a firearm I could sell for most if not all of its original value if I decided I wanted to do something different.”

    That’s the idea I had when buying my first AR. I purchased a Colt LE6920 in case I had buyer’s remorse for some reason. I waited and got a good deal online. I could have built one and still may but at the time I liked having an exit that didn’t burn my wallet as bad.

    Pistol wise is where I screwed up. Sometimes you can only learn by hands on experience. Full size Glocks have been great for me. I purchased a Springfield XD 9 full size service 4in. Thought it was pretty nice. About half the time I try to grab it fast in a drill I don’t engage the grip safety due to hand size and some nerve damage in my thumb. Glock 19’s have shown me they aren’t for me. I have large hands and the finger groove ridges always are under my fingers. A tight grip puts the recoil through my bones. A lighter grip = limp wrist = stovepipe. Full size Glocks don’t give me issues but with that thumb issue I have I know I can’t clear a stovepipe/FTE fast in an emergency because of the mag release button. So now I only use Walther or HK pistols because of the mag release. I may try a custom modjob on a Glock 19 grip since they aren’t expensive but not being able to service a common problem on a weapon bothers me and I haven’t seen any reliable way to make the mag release button do what I need. I’m not a collector. My firearms are for hunting or security.

    TL;DR – Be prepared to learn that your needs and wants will change. Like anything – cars, golf or whatever your choice of gear will vary over time.

  • Mikial

    We (my wife and I) bought a Walther PPX at a gun show once because it felt so good in our hands. And it did, I’ve never had a gun fit my hand so well. But . . . and it’s a big butt . . . it was the pickiest, most malfunction prone gun either of us ever owned no matter what ammo and with new factory mags . . and that includes Hi Points.

    Lesson learned . . impulse buying at gun shows is bad. Sold the darn thing for a loss just to get rid of it.