I get asked for gun recommendations all the time. The only correct answer I can give is – “All of them!” But seriously – buying a gun is best compared to buying a car, and there are several steps and options to matching the right gun to each individual.
It would be irresponsible for an untrained driver just to go buy a car and have it parked in their driveway for when they might need it. They need to have that training and feel comfortable with that vehicle before they need it, or they very well might put themselves and others in danger. It’s the same with purchasing a gun. You shouldn’t just buy one, stuff it in a sock drawer, and expect to use it “if the need arises.” You need to get training, then once you are comfortable with shooting, and then pick the gun that best suits your needs.
There are several different types of cars, just like there are several different types of guns. I wouldn’t recommend a sporty race car for a person who only drives to the grocery store twice a week. The same is with guns – are you hunting? Are you sport shooting? Are you looking at competition? Do you simply enjoy plinking? Is this for protection? Most folks who ask about first gun purchases are in the self defense category, so we can go from there.
After you get training you need to find a gun that best suits you. If it is for self defense you will have to further decide if you are going to carry this with your state’s Concealed Handgun Permit, or if it’s simply to keep at home or in your vehicle. Most folks I talk to want to have it for home protection. Honestly – if it’s going to stay at home I’d actually recommend something like a lightweight carbine, but again, most folks are looking for a pistol. Proper handgun fit will help dramatically in how well you can use it. With fit you want something that feels good in your hand so you can control the recoil best and where you can reach all the pistol’s controls. There are several manufactures that cater to this with adjustable back/side straps that seem to almost mold to your palm. For instance -the best fit I’ve ever found is the HK P30 - it felt like someone had molded the grips to my hand fit. But I couldn’t fork down the $850 they wanted so I settled with my Walther P99AS that felt almost as good. Unfortunately gun shop clerks frequently try to sell small framed women small framed lightweight revolvers. I disagree with this because those pistols are hard to shoot accurately due to more recoil and the trigger pull. Physics still apply, and the less mass that a pistol has, the more felt recoil you will experience. Smaller guns may also look cuter and carry better, but they are also more difficult to shoot. For instance I can fire a full size 40 or 45 all day long, but put a tiny 380 in my palm and after two magazines I need a break! Find something that fits and feels good, and then settle on the cosmetics.
The Heckler and Kock P30 with adjustable grip inserts – both side and backstrap