In selecting a Pistol there are a number of different considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost is being aware of the laws concerning the purchase, ownership, possession, use and transport of a firearm in your community or state. The laws can vary greatly from state to state and in some instances from community to community within the state. It is up to YOU to know and obey these laws. As the old saying goes, “Ignorance of the law is not a defense.” Violations of the laws regarding firearms can be severe, so first put some time and effort into knowing what the laws are in your community.
Once you are aware of the laws regarding firearms the next step is to determine what type of pistol is right for you. Just as you would consider the intended use for any tool that you purchase, so you should think about this in selection a firearm. Just what do you intend to use this handgun for? Is it for a sport such as target shooting? Maybe you are looking to use the handgun for hunting as many hunters do. Quite possibly you are looking for personal protection for your home or family. Whatever the purpose, keep this in mind when you are making your selection. Besides its intended use, you must consider the type of ammunition used and whether it is readily available, the amount of recoil produced when the pistol is fired, the ease of operation and of course, the cost.
All things considered, for new shooters learning the fundamentals of shooting a handgun, a .22 caliber target pistol with a 4-6 inch barrel is going to be your best choice. The ammunition is very inexpensive so cost is not prohibitive to practice shooting. The recoil is very slight compared to other, larger calibers, and they are highly accurate pistols. The .22 caliber handgun is available in both revolver and semi-automatic versions and can be used for a variety of tasks from target shooting to just plain old plinking. Some say a .22 caliber is not adequate for home protection. Granted, a larger caliber would be more advantageous in certain circumstances, but a .22 can still be a lethal round. There is an old saying that a hit with a .22 beats a miss with a .44 every time. Walk before you run. If you are a beginning shooter, start with a .22 and after you become proficient then trade up to a larger caliber that may be better suited for specific tasks such as hunting or personal protection.
Revolvers vs. Semi-automatics
In choosing between a revolver and semi-automatic pistol here is something to keep in mind. Revolvers have fewer moving parts and can be serviced (to a degree) in the field easier. Semi automatics (sometimes known as auto-loaders) are better suited for competitions that involve rapid fire or timed fire stages of competitions such as IDPA matches. While they do generally have a greater capacity for ammunition, they are more complicated to operate especially in tense situations. Again, keep the intended use in mind.
My opinion is that revolvers are better for purse, jacket pocket or backpacking. In case you can’t get the firearm out quickly in time of need, you could potentially fire through your purse, bag or jacket. If there is a need to fire multiple rounds one does not have to worry about the slide getting caught up and preventing additional shots, as can occur with a semi-automatic.
What ever you do, investigate your options thoroughly as there are many choices in firearms. Ask the advice of people who are knowledgeable. Talk to several reputable gun dealers and instructors before deciding what’s better suited for your application.
Handgun Selection Checklist
Here is a checklist mostly taken from the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Handbook:
- Decide what you are going to be using the pistol for.
- Is it going to have more than one job to do for you?
- Do you need fixed or adjustable sights?
- Unless you are very rough on your handguns or a competition shooter, fixed sights are fine.
- What is the best caliber or barrel length for the intended use?
- Is the ammunition readily available from your local gun shop or sporting goods store, or will you have to go to a specialized store that may or may not have it in stock (I can shoot my .22 caliber for pennies a round while the ammunition for a .32-20 is closer to a dollar a round and much more difficult to find).
- Speaking of money, just how much money are you willing to spend? Whatever you do, never sacrifice quality for economy. Look around and purchase the best quality you can find for the money.
- Consider the simplicity of operation and the ease of cleaning. If it is going to take you 10 minutes to take the handgun apart for cleaning using special tools then you should probably consider something else.
- The fit of the pistol to your hand is something that is often overlooked by novice handgun buyers. Think about your correct grip and how your index finger reaches and then touches the trigger.
- Is the manufacturer readily known and do they offer a warranty? Most good manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on their handguns. They should have service centers in this country.
- Consider the firearm’s reputation among other shooters. I don’t mean that you should rush out and buy an H&K, Kimber, FNH, or an Ed Brown (which are all excellent firearms manufacturers) just because they are supposed to be “one of the best”. They may be the best for some people in some applications but they may not be the best for YOU.
- Find a range or an instructor that has a lot of different rental pistols and shoot as many as you can.
- Purchase your handgun from a reputable dealer. Someone who will take good care of you if there are problems or if you need simple advice.
There you have it. Do some research and take your time and you will have a good pistol that’s just right for you.