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How to Choose Your First Handgun

Greetings, future marksman. Let’s find your first handgun.

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge into the world of handguns. Whether it’s your first step into firearm ownership or a new addition to your collection, choosing the right handgun requires careful consideration. As a savvy gun owner with extensive knowledge, you understand the importance of making an informed decision.

In this article, we’ll take a pragmatic and practical approach to guide you through the factors to consider when selecting your first handgun. From the purpose and intended use to caliber choice, ergonomics, and legal considerations, we’ll cover it all. Plus, we’ll provide specific examples of handguns, highlighting their positive and negative features to help you make an educated choice.

Welcome to the journey of finding the perfect handgun for your needs – let’s CarryHard together.

1. Purpose and Intended Use

Your intended use profoundly influences the type of handgun that best suits you. Are you looking for a handgun for self-defense, concealed carry, target shooting, or home protection? Your answer to this question is your starting point.

Home Defense

For home defense, you’ll want a handgun that combines accuracy, stopping power, and capacity. Full-sized handguns are often preferred for this purpose. The Glock 17 and the Smith & Wesson M&P9 are prime examples. These handguns offer excellent accuracy, a generous magazine capacity, and reliability – essential qualities for protecting your home and loved ones.

Concealed Carry

Concealed carry demands a different set of priorities. Compact or subcompact handguns are the go-to choices here due to their ease of concealability. The Glock 19 and the Smith & Wesson Shield are popular options. Keep in mind that concealed carry often requires a balance between firepower and comfort. A handgun that’s too large or heavy may be cumbersome to carry on a daily basis.

2. Caliber

Caliber choice is pivotal because it affects recoil, stopping power, and ammunition cost. Let’s delve deeper into the common handgun calibers for beginners.


The 9mm caliber is often recommended for first-time handgun owners. It’s known for its manageable recoil, ample stopping power, and affordability. Many seasoned gun owners also favor 9mm for its versatility. The CZ P-10C and the Sig Sauer P320 are excellent examples of 9mm handguns. Both offer reliable performance and a wide range of applications.

.40 S&W

Stepping up in caliber, we have the .40 S&W. This option provides more stopping power than 9mm but comes with increased recoil. The Smith & Wesson M&P40 and the Glock 23 are solid choices for those who opt for this caliber. Keep in mind that .40 S&W ammunition can be more expensive than 9mm, so cost considerations should also be factored in.

.45 ACP

If you’re looking for larger, slower bullets with substantial stopping power, .45 ACP is a classic choice. This caliber, however, comes with more recoil and typically fewer rounds in the magazine. The 1911 and the Glock 21 are notable representatives of .45 ACP handguns. These firearms are known for their reliability and historic significance.

3. Ergonomics and Comfort

Regardless of the purpose, your handgun should feel comfortable in your hand. Ergonomics play a crucial role in accuracy and shooting confidence. The grip should fit your hand comfortably, and the controls should be easily accessible without strain.

For example, the Walther PPQ is renowned for its excellent ergonomics, offering a grip that many find comfortable and natural. Similarly, the Springfield XD series provides an excellent balance of ergonomics and features, including a grip safety for added security.

4. Durability and Reliability

When it comes to firearms, durability and reliability are paramount. You want a handgun that can stand the test of time and fire reliably every time you pull the trigger. In this regard, Glock has earned a reputation for simplicity and rugged dependability. The Glock 19, in particular, is a classic choice for its balance of size, reliability, and ease of maintenance.

5. Price

Budget considerations are essential. While you don’t want to compromise on quality, there are affordable options that offer reliable performance. The Smith & Wesson SD9VE and the Ruger Security-9, for example, provide dependable handguns without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that you may also need to allocate a portion of your budget for ammunition, training, and accessories.

6. Concealability

If concealed carry is your goal, size and weight matter significantly. Compact and subcompact handguns are designed for easy concealment, but there’s a trade-off between concealability and firepower. The Springfield Armory XD-S, Ruger LCP, and Glock 43 are compact and lightweight options ideal for discreet carry. Experiment with different holsters and clothing options to find what works best for your concealed carry needs.

7. Accessories and Aftermarket Support

Consider the availability of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for your chosen handgun. Popular models like the Glock series and Smith & Wesson M&P offer a wide range of customization options. You may want to add night sights, change the trigger, or install a laser or flashlight. The ability to personalize your firearm to fit your needs is a significant advantage of these well-known models.

8. Recoil Management

Recoil can be intimidating, especially for beginners. While 9mm is generally manageable, larger calibers can produce substantial recoil. Opt for a handgun with a design that mitigates recoil, or consider starting with a .22 LR handgun to build confidence and refine your shooting skills before moving up to larger calibers. The Ruger Mark IV and the Smith & Wesson M&P22 are excellent choices for .22 LR practice handguns.

9. Capacity

The number of rounds your handgun can hold is another crucial factor, especially for self-defense. Higher capacity means fewer reloads, which can be vital in high-stress situations. Consider your needs and preferences, striking a balance between capacity and comfort. Full-sized handguns generally have higher magazine capacities than compact or subcompact models.

10. Legal Considerations

Before finalizing your handgun purchase, it’s crucial to be well-versed in your local and state laws regarding handgun ownership, carrying, and storage. Complying with these laws is a fundamental responsibility of every gun owner. Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse, so do your research and seek guidance from local authorities or legal experts if needed.

In Conclusion

Choosing your first handgun is a significant step in your journey as a responsible gun owner. It’s essential to consider your purpose, caliber preference, ergonomics, durability, budget, concealability, accessories, recoil, capacity, and legal requirements. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s all about finding the right balance that suits your needs and preferences.

Welcome to the world of gun ownership, where knowledge and responsibility go hand in hand. Take your time, do your research, and if possible, test-fire different handguns to see which one feels the most comfortable and natural in your hands.

CarryHard is here to support your journey, so stay safe and make your choice wisely. The right handgun will not only serve as a reliable tool but also become an extension of your responsible and educated approach to gun ownership.

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