Buying a handgun is a veritable minefield! There are literally hundreds of pistols and revolvers from which to choose, not to mention the differing calibers, new and used.
However, here are some considerations:
- What is your purpose in buying a handgun?
- Do you want a semi-auto pistol or a revolver?
- What caliber do you want?
- Do you want a standard frame gun or a lightweight gun?
- Do you want a stainless steel gun?
These are just a few things to consider. Let’s discuss these.
Never buy a handgun without trying it out first. Our basic course includes sampling both pistols and revolvers with us supplying some sample ammo for each. You will get to fire .22, .38SPL, 9MM, and .45ACP. Firing these guns provides an idea as to what is right for you, and what you can handle safely and effectively. DON’T go buy a handgun just because it feels comfortable in your hand!
You should have a purpose for buying a handgun. There can be several reasons such as home defense, or target shooting, or both. If you don’t know why you are buying a gun, don’t do it! Otherwise it will just sit in a drawer or the closet, and you will not be effective if you have to use it. Further, if you decide morally that you could never shoot an adversary, DON’T BUY A GUN! They will take it from you and most likely SHOOT YOU! You can use Wasp Spray to ward off an attack.
Should you buy a semi-auto pistol or a revolver?
During my 40 years of instructing I have discovered that more than 90% of women wind up with a revolver. The reason is obvious – it is very simple and doesn’t require much thought as to how to use it in your home at 3:00AM! No safeties or magazines to deal with – just point and pull the trigger! If you decide to buy a revolver, DON’T BUY A HAMMERLESS one! These are very dangerous because they are double-action only – you can’t cock the hammer. A bad person can easily disable your gun by just grabbing it by the cylinder. If the cylinder doesn’t turn, you can't fire the gun!
If you are a woman, DON’T BUY A LIGHTWEIGHT SNUBNOSE revolver! Once you fire one you’ll understand why. It impacts your wrist and is very inaccurate beyond 20 feet because the barrel is so short. Also, don’t buy a revolver in any caliber other than .22, .38SPL, or .357, in which you can use .38SPL ammo. There are many oddball revolvers for sale cheap chambered for oddball ammo that is hard to find and very expensive. Stick with these standard calibers. I also do NOT recommend the .40S&W caliber. It’s too difficult to control and it is being replaced in law enforcement by the 9mm. The best revolver to buy is a Colt, Smith & Wesson, or Ruger, with a 4-inch long barrel, and an adjustable rear sight. This way you can use it for home defense as well as at the range accurately.
One advantage of a revolver, verses a semi-auto is; you can load a revolver and keep it in your closet or drawer for years without touching it. In a year or two or more when you do take it out it will work just fine. Since it usually only holds 6 rounds, make sure you buy at least two Speedloaders to reload quickly.
That is not the case with a semi-automatic. After a year or more in your drawer, try to fire that thing and it may jam. The springs in it would have been compressed far too long. The gun oil will have turned to gum. This gives the revolver the upper hand on shelf life. Add the combination of reliability, and the revolver wins.
However the drawback is the number of rounds you can load at one time and the speed of reloading. That goes to the semi-auto hands down.
That being said, if you do buy a handgun for self-defense, it should NEVER sit in a drawer or safe for long periods. In order to use a handgun for self-defense you need to practice with it on a regular basis. Handling a handgun is a PERISHABLE SKILL! Without practice the SKILL you need for self-defense will NOT be there when and if you should need it!