So…. Where

To Start???

When faced with the challenge of choosing their very first firearm, new shooters are often overwhelmed by the numerous choices and decisions they have to make. There is however a little step by step process you can follow to select the right firearm for your needs. These steps will also give you an idea of some of the pitfalls and errors that novices tend to encounter when looking for their first firearm.

Step One: Evaluate Intended Use

The first step in any purchase is determining if you are wanting to find a handgun or would your intended uses for the firearm be better served with a rifle or shotgun.  Many first time buyers are looking for a gun to simply use for target shooting & hunting locally.  If you are looking at basic hunting firearms, I advise everyone to look at purchasing a single or dual action shotgun or modern sporting rifle.  These firearms provide a great bang for your buck (pardon the pun) and require a lower level of training to become proficient at typical hunting medium distances.  Keep in mind, due to their size, rifles may prove to be a litte more difficult to store, and secure around the home, so be sure to find out the storage requirements and ensure you have sufficient space & equipment to legally store and maintain the firearm.

Step Two: Set a Budget

So you’ve determined that you need a handgun or rifle and your intended use is for shooting on the range and/or hunting.  The next biggest decision you have to make is deciding on a budget.  There are currently handguns on the market to accommodate all income levels, from inexpensive handguns and small bore rifles from around $250, to custom rifles and competition pistols costing several thousand dollars.  You’re the only person who can determine what your budget is, however we have all heard the axiom that “you get what you pay for,” and that is as true with firearms as it is with anything else in life.  You will find that you can purchase a very good rifle or handgun in and around the $500 to $1000 range if your finances allow.  If you decide to purchase within this price range, you will find it quite easy to find a fantastic firearm with proven reliability, that is ergonomically well designed, and that has an excellent warranty from a well-known manufacturer.

Step Three: New or Used?

The next consideration is whether to purchase a new or used handgun.  This is almost entirely a personal decision and will be dictated by your usual buying habits.  However, you will be able to greatly extend your budget by shopping the used handgun market vs. purchasing the same firearm new.  Queensland Training Centre can source firearms, provide permits to acquire and act as your firearm broker (Read more about purchase steps here).  If you have ever purchased a used car you may be thinking that buying a used firearm could be a bad idea.  While it is true that there is the possibility of purchasing a problematic used firearm, it’s important to remember that if you stay within the pricing guideline (mentioned above) you’ll be getting a firearm from a reliable manufacturer.  Most major firearms manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the firearms sold, and the warranty is usually on the firearm itself, not the purchaser, so it can usually be transferred to anyone purchasing the firearm.

Steps Four & Five: Size & Calibre

Now you need to decide which calibre to shoot, and what size firearm you want to shoot.  These two options will be determined by your intended use for the firearm.  For the purposes of this article, we will assume you are purchasing a pistol for target range purposes/recreational use.  When it comes to ease of shooting, while ergonomics can play a part, the two biggest factors are gun size and calibre.  A full size duty style gun chambered in a lower powered calibre will be a very enjoyable and easy to shoot firearm, while a compact pistol chambered in a large calibre will be unpleasant to fire for any length of time.  So at one end of the scale is comfortable to hold and easy to shoot and at the other end is more compact but more powerful pistol.  Being that you would not intend to carry your firearm on your person, and is purely used for short distance target shooting, you would be best served by a medium to larger sized 22. caliber or 9mm pistol.  This will normally be a comfortable pistol to shoot for a beginner.

Choosing the right calibre is probably one of the most debated topics in the firearms field, going back to when we talked about handgun size and perceived recoil, the same holds true when we talk about calibre.  When comparing two handguns of similar size and weight, the one chambered in the larger calibre will have more felt recoil than one chambered for a smaller, lighter calibre.  In addition, the handgun chambered in the larger calibre will normally have a lower capacity than the one chambered in a smaller calibre.  In conclusion:

  1. Handguns chambered in larger calibres produce more power than ones chambered in lighter calibres, but are slower shooting due to higher felt recoil, and have a reduced capacity for possible follow up shots.
  2. Handguns chambered in smaller calibres allow for fast multiple shots, provide a higher capacity for those multiple shots.

New shooters need every advantage they can get, which means they should be looking for low recoil, high capacity, easy shooting firearms.  As you train and improve your skill level, you can look to shooting larger calibre firearms.

Step Six: How Does it Feel?

Now that we have covered: Usage, Budget, New vs. Used, Size, and Calibre.  All of these are very important considerations, but probably the most important one is Feel.  How does the firearm feel in your hands?  There’s no right or wrong answer to this, and there’s really no advice that can be given to you to figure this part out.

If you’re still not sure, have a chat to the QTC Instructor about the use of pistol club owned firearms to determine the right firearm for you.  Aside from the above considerations, find something that sits comfortably in your hand and provides for a natural point of aim when shooting.

So there you have it.  Six basic things to consider when purchasing your first firearm.  If you follow these basic steps, you are very likely to wind up with a firearm that you enjoy shooting and will give you many years of recreational use.

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