If you're thinking about buying a gun and you're not currently a gun owner, here are a few things that will make your buying experience more enjoyable and will keep you from buying something you'll only come to regret.
Try before you buy
Find some friends or relatives who own firearms, ask them to take you shooting. Don’t commit to buying a brand or model based off an internet review or an ad video. See how it feels in your hands, see if you like it. If you have access to a range with rentals, go there and rent some different guns.
Don’t rely on Uncle Carl, who was in Nam, for firearms instruction. Take an NRA basic class and follow it up with a protection in the home class. The NRA safety courses are second to none. The quality of the instructors varies quite a bit, so ask around and find out which instructors are good and which ones are not so great. If you’re going to a class as a couple, don’t do it. Take separate classes. You’ll stay focused on the class and not have a significant other to worry about.
Don’t listen to the guy at the gun store counter
Big box gun stores are horrible places to buy a gun. The guys at the counter are just retail workers who are pushed to sell makes/models based on commission or margin. They often steer female shooters towards .38 revolvers. Why? Why not steer a new female shooter to a Glock 19? Somehow these counter jockeys think a semi-auto is too complicated for a woman. Bullshit. 5 rounds versus 16 rounds. I’d rather see the new shooter with 16 rounds. Over time you’ll find a no nonsense FFL you trust who won’t sell you the wrong things. These same guys will also push a new shooter into a .45, because, you know the stopping power of the .45….
Get out and shoot
Your gun is only as good as your ability to shoot it. You don’t need to shoot 10k rounds a year to be proficient. You can be proficient with just a few hundred rounds each year. Shoot indoors, shoot outdoors, shoot at night if you can, find where you can shoot moving targets. High quality practice yields high quality results. If you can find an indoor bowling pin or steel plate league, give it a try. It’s something different and it will make you a better shooter.
Get your CCW
A Gun is like an umbrella, you have to have it with you for it to work. Each state has different laws on transportation of a firearm. Failing to follow the letter of the law when you’re going to and from a shooting facility could land you in hot legal water. If you live in a state where you can get a CCW permit, get it - even if you don’t plan on carrying the firearm. The option to carry is always there and you have less legal issues when you leave your property with a firearm.
Don’t go cheap
If you’re buying your first gun, don’t cheap out. There’s no good reason to buy a Hi-Point, Jennings, Bryco, or other sub $200 gun. A, new, good quality handgun costs about $400. This price range puts you buying a proven reliable gun from a company that’s been around more than a year. Likewise, don’t cheap out on a holster. Don’t buy a generic one size fits all wonder holster. A decent strong side inside or outside the pants holster costs about 10% of the cost of your gun. A quality fitted holster is more secure, more comfortable, and will last longer than something that’s made to fit a few dozen guns.