So you’re going to exercise your Second Amendment rights? Good for you! You’re joining a huge list of Americans who choose to empower themselves with the best tools available. However, one problem you might be having right now is trying to decide which gun to buy. There are literally millions of different types of firearms available. You may feel like it would take a lifetime of study to understand all the intricacies of the firearms industry, which would make an informed buying decision almost impossible. Lucky for you, it really isn’t that hard to narrow your search. We’ll try to clear up a few pitfalls and highlight some of the questions you should ask yourself before buying any firearm.
What is the gun for?
This is by far the most important question you can ask. This will help define what caliber the gun will be, as well as the size and construction. If you just say home defense, it may not narrow the field as much as you think. You can use just about any firearm for home defense, although some work better than others. Pump action 12-gauge shotguns are a popular choice. They’re effective, easy to operate and inexpensive. However, don’t believe the myths that you don’t have to aim. Shotguns don’t pattern as wide as most people think—especially at close range.
A large-caliber handgun, such as a .40 is also a perfectly valid choice. They’re easy to maneuver down narrow hallways and they get the job done. A semi-automatic carbine is also a solid choice. They’re light, easy to operate and hold a large amount of ammo while firing powerful projectiles. Unfortunately, some of them can be very expensive and there are magazine restrictions in some states. For home defense, stay away from bolt actions, single shots or double-barreled shotguns. Rate of fire and capacity is usually too low. As with any gun, make sure you know what you’re shooting at, as well as what’s behind your target. Even small-caliber firearms can shoot straight through several layers of sheetrock.
Do I have a place to store it?
Always store your firearms in a safe place—ideally, in a gun safe. I keep all my firearms in a quality safe I inherited. It’s bolted to the frame of the house and it isn’t going anywhere. Given enough time and effort, crooks can move anything, but I like to make it as hard as possible. Next to the bed, I have a quick release safe that opens to a simple code. Make sure punching in that code is second nature. Your dexterity will be non-existent in a high-stress situation. The quick release safe won’t stop a determined burglar, but it will keep tiny unwanted hands away, which is far more important to me than having it stolen.
What is my budget?
Unfortunately, guns are not free or inexpensive. A basic handgun starts around $400 and goes way up from there. You have the option to buy used, and it usually isn’t a bad choice. However, buying a used gun is like buying anything else second-hand, you never know how the previous owner treated it. Quality guns tend to hold their value. A used GLOCK or Smith & Wesson M&P will fetch a price fairly close to the MSRP. You may get lucky and find a seller who is trying to pay his rent. In cases like these, you can get amazing deals on some real gems. However, you’re buying your first firearm and I highly recommend buying a new-in-the-box name-brand gun. There are plenty of junky, unreliable firearms floating around the used market and you don’t want to waste your money.
You didn’t think you were just going to buy a gun and throw it in storage did you? Practice makes perfect, and you should practice often. In doing so, your new fancy gun is going to get filthy. Get a basic cleaning kit. A gummed up firearm could jam when you need it most, and that isn’t going to do anybody any good. While you at it, grab some eye and ear protection. Gun ranges won’t allow you to shoot without them, so you’re going to need them anyway. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself after the first time you hear a handgun at an indoor range.
I hope we’ve taken away some of the mystery of gun shopping. However, do yourself a favor and do your own research. There are tons of amazing firearms out there. Hopefully you’ll be the proud owner of more than one of them.
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