If you’re new to the shooting range starting with a handgun is a good idea. Here’s a how to find the best handgun for beginners will be comfortable with.
The Second Amendment is just as relevant now as ever. Owning a firearm is a great way to protect against potential crime and is a fun hobby to boot.
But a lot has changed since the days of flintlock rifles. If you’re thinking about jumping into the gun game, you should start small and learn the basics. After all, responsibility and safety are the most important aspects of gun ownership.
That’s why a handgun is a great jumping off point. Handguns are a wonderful entry point for firearms due to their small size, relative ease of use, and wide accessibility. But not all handguns are created equal.
When you’re just starting out, you want to get the best handgun for beginners. We’re going to detail some of the best guns to get started on below, but before that, we need to define and discuss a few key firearm principles. Let’s dive in!
Key Terms and Principles
If you’re just starting out with firearms, you might hear a lot of terms that sound like gibberish. Here’s what you need to know.
The caliber is the type of bullet your gun fires. Typically, these are named by size, which is often measured by diameter. Cartridge is another term for the type of ammunition in your gun.
For training and self-defense purposes, a 9mm cartridge is your best bet. It produces adequate stopping power for self-defense, but it also doesn’t produce too much recoil, which makes it ideal for beginners.
We’ll talk about recoil below.
Recoil is the kick you get upon firing a gun. The force of propelling the bullet forward also drives the gun back towards the user.
Some calibers like .22 produce close to no recoil. While this seems attractive, it also produces very little stopping power and won’t familiarize you with handling a higher caliber round, so you shouldn’t train with a .22 caliber weapon.
To some extent, a gun’s design also plays into the amount of recoil you’ll experience.
When it comes to handguns, size matters in a few ways. Your gun will either be full size, compact, or sub-compact.
The advantage of full-size pistols is that they provide more grip and are easier to shoot. That said, they’re also heavier and harder to conceal.
Compacts are a nice balance because they offer concealability and a lighter build while still being easy to handle.
Sub-compacts are ultra small, very easy to conceal, and lightweight. Think of them as the small dogs of the gun world. That said, they’re also harder to shoot accurately due to the very small grip area.
For a beginner, a compact is a very good middle ground.
Action is sort of complicated. There are single-action (SA), double-action (DA), guns that do both (DA/SA), and striker-fired. What this refers to is the number of actions a trigger pull performs.
In SA guns, pulling the trigger only drops the hammer and fires the weapon, hence it only performs a single action. That means you have to manually cock it before firing.
In a semi-automatic weapon, firing the gun will reset the process on each trigger pull, meaning you don’t have to manually cock it each time. This keeps your trigger pull shorter, which is great for accuracy and quick firing.
DA guns have a trigger which performs two actions: cocking the hammer and firing. This means you have to apply more pressure to pull the trigger and makes the trigger pull longer. Many handguns are DA/SA, which means they can be used in either mode.
Finally, striker-fired guns are neither DA or SA (depending on who you ask). These firearms have no hammer at all. Instead, there’s a striker contained in the pistol. That striker applies some pressure after your weapon is loaded and racked, meaning you don’t have to apply as much pressure as with a DA weapon and have a shorter trigger pull.
Striker-fired weapons are advantageous because they are essentially load-and-shoot systems. This means they don’t have mechanical safety features, but that can be a good thing. It makes it easier to use in a self-defense situation, but it also means you need to be extra mindful when carrying your weapon.
Sights are simple. These are just the mechanism used to help you aim. Good sights are a must, but they’re also highly subjective.
The best thing you can do is try out various types of sights and see which you prefer. Luckily, you can add custom sights to most guns, so you’ll be able to switch out the stock ones if you don’t love them.
Capacity refers to the number of rounds your firearm can hold at one time. Generally speaking, higher capacity is good, but when dealing with smaller weapons, you’ll often have to sacrifice capacity for concealability.
What’s the Best Handgun for Beginners?
Now that you know what to look for in your first handgun, let’s take a look at a few of the best firearms for beginners. In no particular order, of course.
The XD is Springfield’s flagship handgun line, and for good reason. As a first pistol, these are a great option.
This is a striker fired handgun, which makes it a great self-defense handgun. Its polymer build also makes it lightweight.
They’re available in 9mm, .40, .45, and even .357 caliber models. The range of options is a huge bonus if you want to switch it up down the line, though 9mm is the best place to start.
Since it’s striker fired, you won’t need to deal with a manual safety or a hammer. This makes it easy to draw and fire without having to worry about forgetting to switch off the safety or having the hammer get snagged on something.
You can also get them in various sizes, so you’ll be able to choose an option that best fits your preference. Last but not least, they’re incredibly easy to strip and clean.
Smith & Wesson M&P
Ever since Smith & Wesson premiered the M&P line back in 2005, it’s become a favorite among gun enthusiasts. Although initially targeted at law enforcement, it’s now one of the most popular commercially available handguns.
Like the XD, this is a striker fired, polymer framed handgun. Naturally, it comes with all the same advantages those features afford the XD.
S&W also makes models with and without the thumb safety feature. Though we recommend going without, it’s nice to have the option there for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable without it.
Even if you’re not well-versed in guns, you’ve probably heard of Glock. Of all their models, the 19 is the best for beginners.
It’s chambered in 9mm, which you already know is our suggestion. The polymer frame also makes it lightweight and is designed to help with recoil.
Like the other two guns on this list so far, it’s striker fired. If you’re noticing a trend in this department, it’s not by accident.
While Glock’s are well-known for their lack of a thumb safety option, they do use a trigger safety to ensure that no accidental discharges occur. On top of that, Glock is one of the most trusted and reliable handgun manufacturers in the world, so you can’t go wrong there.
The Walther CCP is an interesting gun. If you recognize the name Walther, it might be due to the fact that James Bond famously carries a Walther PPK.
This innovative British design is unique in a couple of ways. It sports Walther’s patented Softcoil system. The system is a gas-delayed blowback system, which is supposed to reduce recoil. It also makes the slide easier to pull back.
Walther included grooved grips that make holding this gun a breeze for beginners and vets alike. Overall, they did everything they could to make this gun accessible and easy to use for people of all skill levels.
If you’re looking for customization, the CCP has that too. It sports Picatinny rails, which makes mounting an option laser a piece of cake.
If you’re unfamiliar, Picatinny rails are the type of mounting rails featured on weapons like the AR-15, but you can do a whole lot more than mount a laser on that puppy. Check out Aero Precision is you want to see some awesome AR-15 mods.
But back to the point. CCP literally stands for “Concealed Carry Pistol,” so you know this is easy to stash away for your everyday carrying needs. For a newbie, this is a phenomenal option.
This last entry may seem antiquated, but don’t be fooled—this ain’t your grandaddy’s revolver. In reality, the LCR represents the best of modern revolver tech.
The LCR is a double-action-only pistol, which means there’s no hammer. This makes it ultra safe since you have to really mean it when you pull the trigger. Accidental discharges won’t be a concern.
It also comes in a variety of calibers, including the infamous .357 Magnum. But you’ll want to save that for when you get better.
For our money, the version chambered in 9mm is a good bet. Revolvers like this are great beginner guns because they’re no-nonsense, point and shoot weapons. Their simplicity of use makes them great for someone starting out.
So, Which One Do I Choose?
When it comes to determining the best handgun for beginners, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Different guns will suit some people better than others. But what’s certain is that all of the guns on this list are excellent starting points that will offer reliability and ease of use for anyone who is just getting started in the gun world.
At the end of the day, gun the right to gun ownership is a uniquely American phenomenon, and it’s one we should respect and honor. In fact, there are many things that you can’t get anywhere else, including wonders of nature. Check out these awesome adventure spots in the USA