Handguns for First Time Gun Buyers

By CTD Rob published on in Consumer Information

Buying your first gun can be a bit intimidating. If you have never owned a gun before, just walking into a gun store to have a look around can raise more questions than it answers. There are row after row of similar looking firearms, all with different calibers and specifications. You may find that most gun stores will not take the time to explain the intricacies of every gun with all their customers. If you are new to the shooting world, and have decided to take that step into buying your first gun, consider a few conclusions from the experts at Cheaper Than Dirt. We should also mention that these guns aren’t necessarily the least expensive choices, but we feel they are the best, and we will explain why.

Cheaper Than Dirt Guns

It is Your Right to Protect Your Home and Your Family

Assuming you are buying your gun for home and personal defense, there are several options you should keep in mind. First, consider the cost of ammunition. If you are going to practice regularly, shooting a gun with expensive, loud, hard-hitting ammunition may not be ideal. However, what if you could shoot a nearly identical gun configured the same way, but using inexpensive, relatively quiet low-recoil ammunition? Many popular, large-caliber firearms have versions chambered in .22 LR. This light and cheap caliber is by far the most used ammunition in the world. Several factors contribute to the success of this cartridge. The .22 is affordable, available everywhere, useful for hunting small game, expends little noise, and the shooter feels almost no recoil. This makes the .22 LR perfect for practicing at the range, whether you are a novice, or advanced shooter. The strategy of practicing with a .22 version of another firearm is an outstanding way to shoot far more often, and it will save you money in the end.

Comparison 9 mm versus .22 LR

Comparison, 9 mm versus .22 LR

Next, there are several handgun options for the novice shooter. Smith & Wesson, the largest manufacturer of handguns in the United States, produces a line of pistols called the M&P line, which is short for Military and Police. They produce a full range of handguns, all with similar feel and controls, from .22 LR, all the way up to .45 ACP. This range of availability means you can practice with an inexpensive M&P22, and carry an M&P9 chambered in the more powerful 9mm cartridge. The ergonomics, look, feel, and reliability of the M&P line are why our experts chose these pistols. The Smith & Wesson guns have an outstanding reputation in the shooting world, and they are popular among law enforcement and military personnel worldwide.

Just to give out more options, SIG Sauer, a firearms manufacturer from Europe, produces a line of pistols that can shoot either full-size pistol calibers, or .22 LR cartridges. All you have to do is purchase a .22 LR version of the pistol, then swap out the slide and barrel with its big brother, which you can purchase separately. This option allows you to own one gun, and shoot two different types of rounds. The SIG Sauer P229 is a trusted handgun with a proven track record. The conversion kit is available separately to enable firing .22 LR cartridges. Shooters know SIG Sauer for producing pistols with tight tolerances and unparalleled performance. The United States Secret Service carries SIG pistols, as well as some British SAS and Navy SEALS.

Another excellent choice to keep in mind comes from an unlikely source. A company in the Czech Republic called CZ makes an outstanding line of handguns known as the CZ 75. More governments, militaries, police, and security agencies use the CZ 75 B than any other pistol in the world. They also produce the CZ Kadet, which has the same ergonomics as the full sized 75, but fires the wallet friendly .22 LR cartridge. The balance, weight, and general feel of the CZ have helped the 75 maintain its popularity for decades. Out of the box, it is one of the most accurate pistols ever mass-produced. In addition, their durability and reliability is immeasurable.

Therefore, if this is your first gun, and you feel it is time to take the steps necessary to become a gun owner, these firearms will fill the role nicely. At Cheaper Than Dirt, we are always available to answer any specific questions you have about any of our products, guns or otherwise. Comment below and let us know what we can do to help you protect yourself, and your family.

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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 (10)

  • Caleb

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    If you have never owned a gun before, looking at firearms and holding one can be a little overwhelming. Once you realize the capabilities then you start to understand that firearm safety and understanding how to use one is very important. If you are interested in owning a firearm, talk to an expert so they can help you with what you need and what you can handle. The best thing to do is to go to a gun range and also take a firearms course. Once you learn how to handle one safely and correctly you will lose the fear of using a firearm.

    Reply

  • Chuck

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    So you are in favor of recommending .22LR for home defense vs. a more powerful caliber? I am going to soon be a first time gun buyer for home/family protection. I love all the characteristics of the .22LR but feel it’s a mouse gun and a little hesitant on purchasing to protect my home/family. Thanks in advance!

    Reply

  • Ronnie J

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    Kris,
    Price it out both ways. Normally buying the full sized gun (I’m talking Sig here) then adding on a 22 conversion kit is fairly expensive. Going the reverse often saves you a LOT of cash, although you end up with much fewer options (and availability).
    Make sure you figure out the availability of whichever route you choose (for instance it’s getting harder to get a P229 Classic 22LR, and I’m not sure you even CAN get them with the E2 grips). I purchased an enhanced elite style P226 (e2 grips plus beavertail) in 22LR then added the 9mm kit. Total price ended up being around $850. It’s a bit harder to go the other way and approximate that price, but then there are plenty of other options available (stainless, equinox, elite, etc…) that aren’t available as a 22LR classic model.

    Reply

  • Kris Zahrobsky

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    Don, thanks for your response and advice! (And sorry for posting the orignial question twice.) I definitely am going to go that direction. I know the article discusses purchasing the .22 version of the full-sized gun and upgrading from there. But, I also noticed that (with Sig for example) you can by the higher-caliber and convert down. I am going to guess it would be wiser to by the .22 version, but I wanted to ask your advice on that. Basically, small or big or big to small?

    (And thanks for your patience!)

    Reply

  • Don

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    Kris, IMHO, the Beretta U22 is perfect if you want to get really good at shooting a Beretta U22. The same goes for the Mosquito. The idea behind the other .22s in the article is that they have the same weight, feel, trigger, and ergonomics of their big brothers. It is a cheaper way to practice and become proficient. The upfront cost for the guns in higher, but with the rising cost of ammo you may find yourself saving money, and being a better shot with your main handgun. It’s a win win.

    Reply

  • Kris Zahrobsky

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    Some long-time handgun shooters near me have suggested that first-time buyer should go with a Beretta U22. Thoughts? Also, what are your thoughts on the Sig Mosquito?

    Reply

  • Kris Zahrobsky

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    Some long-time handgun shooters near me have suggested that first-time buyer should go with a Beretta U22. Thoughts? Also, what are your thoughts on the Sig Mosqito?

    Reply

  • Lokidude

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    I’ve long advocated the S&W K frame revolver for beginning shooters. The trigger in double action is smooth and controllable, and the single action trigger is excellent. .38 Spl is an easy round to shoot for new shooters, but has a long track record of putting people in the ground when the need arises.

    Reply

  • Ronnie J

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    Not to mention that you can purchase the P229 classic 22 FIRST (full P229 frame, but using the 22 slide, barrel, magazine) for around $575 and then get the 2-step to convert it to a 40 S&W for another $312 (from CTD). Now you’ve spent $840 and have both a full P229 in 40 and 22. Only annoyance is that you’d end up with only 1 40 cal magazine.

    Reply

  • Rusty Shackleford

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    Another good option is any mid size glock like the 19 or 23 as a primary pistol and an ISSC M22 as a training pistol. Works very well for me and helps me save money as well as my ammo. Word of warning, if you can find spare mags for the M22 buy as many as you can afford they are apparently very rare.

    Reply

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