Guns for Beginners: Choosing a Firearm

By CTD Blogger published on in How To

In light of recent global events, more people than ever are considering arming themselves for self-defense. From 2011 to 2013, the CDC reports that 3,380 Americans died from terrorists attacks on U.S. soil. That number is obviously higher today.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has the numbers to prove it…

On Friday, November 27, 2015, NICS processed nearly 200,000 background checks—the highest number on record for a single day. This does not tell us how many previous or new firearms owners purchased guns, but it is a sign that more guns are in the hands of Americans—some of them have to be first. Firearm retailers and dealers are also seeing an increase in firearms sales as well as a rush in ammo purchases.

For those who are considering their first firearm, the Shooter’s Log has plenty of articles geared to help you make the first move—choosing to become a gun owner. From picking the right gun to training, safety, gear, shooting for the first time and even the basics in concealed carry, there are plenty of articles to guide you through the process.

This new series titled “Guns for Beginners,” will answer all of your questions and then some as a new shooter and for those considering becoming a gun owner for the first time.

We’ll start with how to choose the right firearm for you:

First-Time Gun Buyer Questions

Gun choices

There are so many different types of firearms. How do you narrow it down?

The first step: This article asks the initial questions you should consider before purchasing a firearm. It will help narrow your search between pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns, as well as addressing budget concerns and storage.

On the Fence About Buying Your First Gun?

This article goes into more detail about the types of firearms available, what they are best used for, safety and storage concerns. After reading these first two basic articles, you should be well on you way to making an informed decision.

I Want a Gun – Where Do I Start

So, you have it narrowed down to which type of firearm you want to buy. The next step is deciding caliber. This article is a great introduction to the different self-defense calibers in handguns.

Choosing a Handgun Caliber

After the basics of handgun calibers, learn more about the ones that sound appealing to you. This article discusses finding the most comfortable and affordable gun in the caliber that suits you best.

Armscor Family of Ammo

Some calibers are better than others for self-defense. Learn the difference to ensure you are making the right choice for your needs and skill set.

Handguns for First Time Gun Buyers

You now should have a basic understanding of the types of firearms and calibers available. That’s all well and great. However, even after narrowing that down, there is a wide variety—we’re talking hundreds if not thousands—of choices in certain calibers. This article discusses some tried and true firearms that have proven themselves reliable for years.

Gun Store Etiquette

Just like the Golden Rules of safe handling for firearm, there are a few unspoken “golden rules” when shopping for a gun in a gun store. Take this advice from real gun store clerks, workers and owners before heading out to your local gun shop to try out the guns that interest you. The ultimate goal for you and the shop is safety and a happy customer!

How to Shop for a Gun

Written by a woman for women, this article helps you narrow down the field before setting out for the gun store or Cheaper Than Dirt! To speed up the process, make it less intimidating and confusing, this article helps you decide where to concentrate your efforts—be it a handgun, shotgun, or rifle.

Buying a Gun: The Process

This article tells you what to expect after finding the gun you want to buy when you are purchasing from a Federal Firearms License dealer (FFL). Further, some states require an application, waiting period and even a license to purchase. Review the laws in your state in this article.

The Best Gun for a New Shooter: Semiautomatics vs. Revolvers

Many who have never fired a gun or only shot grandpa’s 12-gauge shotgun when they were younger are drawn to the revolver—especially women. The revolver is classic, ultra-reliable and easy to use. However, there are drawbacks to many of the smaller, lightweight revolvers. Before deciding a firearm based on aesthetics or something you think might be ‘easier,’ read the pros and cons of both a semiautomatic handgun and revolver in this post.

The Best of the Best: AR-15 for Beginners

Picture shows a woman holding a black AR-15 chambered for .458 SOCOM in front of steel target.

Don’t rule out the AR-15 if you are a beginner.

Most of the articles on this list are geared toward handgun ownership, however there is one gun that is more popular than most—the semiautomatic AR-15 rifle. This article highlights 10 of the best AR-15 articles written for the beginner to the AR platform, from functionality and maintenance to shooting it well.

New Year, New Gun: Handgun Owner Basics

Now that you have your gun, you will need to take care of it, clean it and shoot it. This article tells you what to do once you have taken your new gun home.

Come back to the Shooter’s Log every week to read more articles for the beginner shooter. Next week, we will talk about visiting the gun range and shooting your new gun for the first time. We will discuss your first time at the shooting range—including what to expect and what gear you’ll need to take with you.

Are you a new shooter? What questions do you have about picking out, cleaning, storing, and shooting a gun? Leave them in the comment section.

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (28)

  • Ellen Hughes


    It did catch my attention when you said that revolvers are easy to use and ultra-reliable, so women are drawn in using it. My daughter said that she wanted to buy a firearm and learn to use it. It’s her first time owning a gun, so it’s important for her to find a gun that’s user-friendly. Thanks for sharing this.


  • Jay Jorgenson


    I agree, with the increasing violence in America, I think more and more people are wanting to learn how to protect themselves, including me. My wife and I are looking to get a fire are but are not sure where to start.


  • The Complete Resource Guide to Shooting (August 2017)


    […] Guns for Beginners: Choosing a Firearm- If you want to choose the right firearm for personal or competitive shooting, then this resource will help you get started and end up with the right gun. […]


  • How to Order a Firearm Online – Archer And Arms


    […] a first-time buyer, there is so much information that helped me decide on a firearm. The Shooter’s Log has some great information on budget, types of guns and caliber. The Well Armed Woman also has […]


  • Jay


    I have submitted my application for a permit, I don’t know what I wanna get for my 1st Handgun.

    Smith & Wesson M&P 9MM (full sized), Glock 17/19, or HK VP9


  • gunsafe


    i want to buy gun for hunting, before this i never bought any gun so please recommend me

    thank you


    • Dave Dolbee


      What do you want to hunt? Different calibers or configurations are more suitable for particular game. For instance, a .22 lr or .410 would be great for rabbits, but not for deer or bear. A .30-06 would be a great choice for just about any North American big game animal, but far too much gun for small game such as rabbits.


  • James Fierro


    Glad to hear some views about California.
    Would you know if it would be legal to drive to Arizona to purchase a Ruger SR-9 in .22 ? Not legal here in Cali.


  • DaveW


    Checked the list this morning and they are not on the approved list. Also went to the Ruger and the only handguns they list as CA approved are all revolvers. Gun shops have told me they can not get them because they are not approved. The only ones permitted are those already in the state.

    If you can cite something official which contradicts this, I would appreciate you passing it along.


  • DaveW


    Unfortunately, Rugers, like the Mark series, which is what I wanted, are banned in California. In the end, I settled for a .22 cal conversion for my .45 (and for my AR).


    • Mikial


      You need to move, Dude. Get out of there before they throw you in jail for simply wanting to be able to defend yourself form all the welfare gang bangers they support.


    • Secundius


      @ DaveW.

      Are you Sure? According to other sites, ALL Ruger Mk. III’s were dropped from the “California’s Do Not Sell List” in 20 August 2014…


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