With the thousands of firearms that we have available in our store, it can be a fairly overwhelming process for the beginner to know what is best for them. In fact, I can still remember going through this same process many years ago. We’ve developed this “not too long, not too short” guide as a way to present the facts so that you may have a better idea as to the direction you want to go when purchasing your first few firearm(s).
Three Categories: Pistols, Rifles, and Shotguns
To begin with, firearms can be split into three main categories; pistols, rifles and shotguns. These categories can then be broken down into dozens upon dozens of subcategories; however, to save your time and my potential carpal tunnel, we’ll keep our focus on just a few of the major talking points.
First, let’s take a look at pistols, or “handguns” if you want to sound a bit more suave. Pistols are broken into two main subcategories, semi-automatic and revolver and are then broken further down by sizes such as full-size, compact, and sub-compact. It can go without saying, but the more compact the handgun is, the easier it becomes to conceal. Sounds great, but there’s a catch; the smaller the gun is in size, the fewer rounds it holds, at least in the case of semi-automatic handguns. So what is a semi-automatic? Well, semi-automatics have a detachable magazine that holds the firearm’s ammunition, this magazine feeds the firearm with the ammunition necessary for operation. With a semi-automatic pistol, every time the trigger is pulled it will fire one round, that is until there is no more ammunition in the magazine and the firearm is clear.
A few examples of great semi-automatic pistols would be the Glock 19, Beretta APX, Taurus G2C and Canik TP9. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of others that could be named but the aforementioned are some of our best sellers. Revolvers, on the other hand, do not use a magazine to feed ammunition into the firearm but instead utilize a cylinder that spins a new round behind the barrel, with every trigger pull. Different than a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver almost always has six total rounds and thus some revolvers may be easier to conceal but at the disadvantage of a stagnant round capacity. Some examples of great revolvers would be the Heritage Rough Rider, Taurus Model 66, Taurus Judge and Ruger LCR. If a pistol is the direction you’d like to go, we would almost always recommend a semi-automatic magazine fed pistol as opposed to a revolver. Simply put, semi-automatics have a larger round capacity, more safety features, and are generally cheaper to shoot and train with. Without diving too much deeper into the handgun world, calibers can vary widely. Some of the most common are 9mm, 45 ACP, 10mm, .380 Auto, .357, .44 magnum and 22 LR. The 9mm is my preferred caliber as it lends itself to great magazine capacity, cheap ammunition, and has been proven to be excellent in self-defense. In fact, the current military issued firearm is based on the Sig Sauer P320 which shoots a 9mm round.
Rifles, the second main category of firearms can once again be broken into many subcategories. Some of the more common subcategories being semi-automatic, lever-action, bolt-action, and single shot. Of these variants the semi-automatic option is by far the most popular, covering modern sporting rifles such as the AR and AK platforms. Semi-automatic rifles operate in the same general fashion as previously defined in the above paragraph discussing semi-automatic handguns. These rifles, such as the AR15, are excellent choices for home defense, hunting, or simply just plinking around. In most cases ARs are chambered in .223 or 5.56x45mm but can also be chambered in various other calibers such as .300 BLK, .308 Win, 350 Legend, .458 Socom or a gamut of pistol calibers including 9mm and .45 ACP. Most of the semi-automatic rifles in today’s market allow for customization options ranging from new trigger assemblies to infrared night hunting scopes. Rifles become a great option when the customer wants to completely customize his or her shooting experience. Aside from NFA items (National Firearms Act), which become a topic upon itself, semi-automatic rifles are also one of the best ways to exercise your Second Amendment right. Some great examples of these rifles include Radical Firearms M4, Rock River Arms RRAGE and the Springfield Saint.
Shotguns are the third and final firearm category that we will cover; they are most generally used for hunting but can be great for home defense. The shotgun is what started my brother and I’s passion and love of firearms. Listening to whistling wings of migratory puddle ducks as they quickly pass over your head and the sun just breaks the horizon. Man, gives me chills just thinking about it. Shotguns are an integral part in taking some of nature’s greatest treasures and fueling your mind, body, and soul with the most organic calories available to mankind. This type of firearm can utilize a wide array of ammunition. Everything from bird-shot to slugs, the ammunition options are so broad that when paired correctly you can utilize one shotgun to hunt dove, harvest a deer, and protect your home. Shotguns, as rifles and pistols, can come in various action types, the two most common being semi-automatic and pump-action. Generally, shotguns are magazine-tube fed, with a few such as the Mossberg 590M or the Kalashnikov KS-12 that have a detachable magazine. 12 gauge and 20 gauge are the most common shotgun calibers, there’s a few others but it tends to get a bit too specialized and less practical when you venture outside of the aforementioned calibers. Shotguns are an excellent choice if you desire to venture into the field and bird hunt as well as protect you and your family at home. Although they are a very versatile option, shotguns will almost certainly lack any type of concealability, as is the same with most rifles. It should be noted that of all the firearms mentioned in this article, a shotgun will generally have the most recoil. A 12 gauge is actually a larger diameter bore than a 20 gauge and would not be recommended for smaller framed or younger shooters, a 20 gauge may be better suited for these individuals.
This article would not be complete without also talking briefly about ammunition. For going out to the range I will frequently use the cheapest stuff that I can find, whether that is brass-cased or steel-cased ammo. Your goal at the range is to get super familiar and accurate with your firearm, this obviously requires many rounds down range. Some people can afford to pay a bit more for cleaner ammunition while others would find it better to budget on the range ammo to ensure they are getting enough rounds through their firearm, while remaining economic. Price should be an afterthought when it actually comes down to ammunition for self-defense. Higher grade ammo is going to be more reliable and have much more favorable expansion characteristics than the cheaper ammunition one would use at the range. Side note, you would want to run at minimum a magazine or two of defense ammunition before utilizing it to protect your life, it only makes sense to ensure it’s reliability in your particular firearm. Keep in mind that ammo prices do fluctuate with the ever-changing political climate and other world events. When ammo prices are low it is sometimes best to load up while the gettin’ is still good.
In closing, there are thousands upon thousands of different firearms in the civilian market. Do your research before purchasing a firearm, first to ensure that it is legal to own where you reside and second to ensure the firearm you are purchasing satisfies the application you wish to use it for. YouTube has a wealth of information on different firearms and I’m sure you can find actual video reviews of what it is you’re shopping for. If you’re having a hard time deciding what it is you want don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask questions and if we, for some reason, can’t answer your question we will try to get you in contact with someone who can.
Thanks for your time in reading this and happy shooting,