Buying A Gun
What is my advice on purchasing a gun?
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This Page Last Updated 10/30/2013
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The decision to purchase a gun is not a choice that should be taken lightly. Many, many things must be considered first.
As an American citizen you have a constitutional right to own the firearm of your choice, as long as you have not broken the law in your past. Convicted felons, drug addicts and mentally incompetent people do not have that right under federal law.
Some states however believe that the Second Amendment does not mean what it says. Some states and localities have put such restrictions upon firearm purchases that even the most well behaved among us cannot purchase the firearm of their choice.
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What a decision!!!
Bringing a firearm into the home is a decision that should never be taken lightly and without deliberative thought. There are many things you should be thinking about. Some of these things are proper storage, how often you'll practice, children in the home, whether or not you'd use the firearm for self defense and many other things. You should also determine how you are going to store ammo as well.
Remember that a gun is simply a device that you can use which stores, aids in aiming and fires ammunition. A firearm won't do anything else except launch a bullet.
Of course a firearm used by an armed homeowner can scare the pants off a burglar, but other than that, all a firearm does in fire a bullet in a relatively straight line.
Can a firearm play a role in a larger overall plan of home defense, yes, of course it can.
Should I buy a gun for concealed carry?
Many states in the United States have recently relaxed concealed carry laws for honest, law-abiding gun owners. Is it a coincidence that violent crime committed against citizens has dropped in those states? I THINK NOT.
As of this writing, 48 states have laws that permit private citizens to carry concealed firearms in public, only 39 of these are "Shall Issue" states that will issue a permit to any qualified law abiding citizen. This leaves only the two states of Wisconsin and Illinois that have no provisions at all for carrying a firearm concealed in a public place.
While states have relaxed these laws, violent crime committed with firearms is falling and is at a thirty year low. One of the lowest states in acts of violent crime per capita does not even require a concealed carry permit. What idiot would rob someone who is probably carrying a firearm? How many police officers do you know have been robbed of their wallet at gun point? I'm sure you get my point...
Concealed carry of a firearm in public is a very personal choice. The decision to carry a firearm in public, should be weighed very carefully and thoughtfully.
Ask yourself these questions while deciding whether or not to carry a concealed firearm in public.
Whether you are buying your very first gun or just adding to a large collection, there are many things to consider. The MOST important thing to consider before I get into everything else, is that the firearm fits your hands and body. Hands that are too small for a particular handgun or hands that are too large for a smaller handgun will likely require the readjustment of your grip in between rounds, which is unacceptable. Fingers that are too short to reach the trigger or too long, beyond the trigger will pull the barrel's direction one way or the other during the trigger squeeze. Rifles, shotguns or some larger handguns that are too heavy or hard to use will likely shorten your practice sessions etc.. So, first you must purchase a gun that fits your physical characteristics.
1. Is the gun just for recreational target practice? If so, I recommend a .22 Long Rifle caliber in a handgun or rifle. Go with a popular and longstanding manufacturer such as Sturm-Ruger, Winchester, Marlin or Remington. The Sturm-Ruger 10-.22 rifle is a perfect choice.
2. Is the gun for home defense? I recommend a 12 gauge shotgun with a 20" barrel, or a .38 Special revolver. Semi-automatics should be considered for defense after you have become proficient with a firearm. I personally have both. I own a Mossberg 590 A1 with their marine-coat finish. It's a nine-shot 12 gauge shotgun with just a twenty inch barrel. In addition, both my wife and I have a Ruger GP-100 .357 magnum revolver and a Ruger SP-101 also in .357 magnum.
I don't usually recommend semi-autos for "first-timers". For a home defense shotgun, I recommend models from Mossberg, Winchester and Remington. For a revolver, I recommend models from Sturm-Ruger, Dan Wesson and Taurus International. Semi-autos are okay for first time shooters, IF you are going to take the time to know the pistol inside AND out and practice with it regularly to the point where operating it is instinctive.
I recommend that you use the "pistol grip only" shotguns just for "showing off" at the club and not for serious home defense. I recommend full shoulder stocked shotguns for home defense with a barrel not longer than 20".
Guns used for defensive purposes should be able to reliably cycle at least 500 cartridges without a single malfunction. Your life may well depend upon it.
3. Is the gun for concealed carry? I recommend revolvers or semi-automatics with a 4.5" barrel or less. Most barrels of longer length are harder to conceal. For concealed carry, I could recommend hundreds of models of quality firearms. However, if I was to settle on a single caliber and model, it would be one of the Sig Sauer semi-automatics in .40 S&W caliber, perhaps the Sig Sauer P 226.
4. Which gun is right for my body? People of slight build should not consider the most powerful firearms in each category. Large shotguns and rifles might have to be cut down to properly fit those of small stature or small hands.
5. Will the gun be diligently cared for? Stainless steel will not corrode and oxidize as readily as "blued" steel. You should make sure that you keep your firearms in top condition. Do not allow them to corrode and degrade to the point where their reliability may be in question. Plus, it is EMBARRASSING to take out a firearm to show to an interested dinner guest and have it be all dusty, filthy or rusty. :-)
6. How much are you prepared to spend? An inexpensive bargain firearm may not function properly and reliably. You usually get what you pay for when it comes to a gun purchase. Be prepared to spend between $300 and $1200 for a quality firearm. If you spend under $100.00 for a small .25 ACP, you may be compromising too much!!!
How you answer these questions, will determine the direction your purchase should go.
Rifle, shotgun or handgun? Do you know which type of firearm you want? As a first gun for a child, I always recommend a single shot .22 cal rimfire rifle. A single shot .22 bolt-action rimfire is easy to learn and will not be too overpowering for a child. The child should be made completely aware of all the safety rules and loading/unloading procedures.
Make sure the child knows the manual for his/her new gun and
keeps it in good condition. He/she should also be taught to keep the
firearm and ammo locked up and secure until it is time to head out to the
I have published the single largest and most comprehensive page of gun safety rules and tips found anywhere in the world. I have come up with more than fifty gun safety rules and tips and my "Safety Rules" page has garnered top search engine rankings in the world for years for the search terms of "gun safety rules" and "gun safety rules for kids".
Is the purchase going to be a centerfire rifle for hunting purposes? If so, then what game do you foresee taking with the rifle? A good all around caliber for most North American game is the .30-06 Springfield. I always advise to go with a well-known manufacturer. Some of the major firearm manufacturers have been in business for much more than a century and their firearms are going to be quality pieces of machinery.
My choice for a centerfire rifle is a Winchester Model 70 in 30-'06 Springfield.
Is the rifle comfortable? Go to a reputable dealer and ask to see many different makers and models. How do they feel? Can you comfortably reach the trigger without stretching?
Try this. Place the butt of the rifle in the joint between your forearm and your upper arm, if your index finger cannot comfortably reach the trigger, then you might have to have the gun's stock cut down. If your index finger goes all the way to the front of the trigger guard, the rifle may be too small, or you may need to add a butt stock pad.
Do you foresee going after large and possibly dangerous game? If so, please consult an experienced hunter. The proper caliber and bullet weight is a very important consideration in this arena.
Will you go with a scope or regular iron sights? Generally high-powered centerfire rifles should have a telescopic sight. Most rimfire rifles used for recreational plinking do not need a scope on them, but some people enjoy plinking at cans at one hundred yards. And a can is awfully small at a hundred yards.
If your purchase is a first rifle for a child, I would recommend a single shot bolt action .22 Long Rifle from a well known manufacturer. If you're comfortable getting a child a semi-automatic rifle, you can't do any better than a Ruger 10-.22.
What kind of shotgun should I use? There are many different gauges of shotguns. What does shotgun gauge mean? Is it the same as caliber?
The most commonly available shotgun gauges are:
10 Gauge- The ten gauge is the largest of the commonly available shotgun gauges.
12 Gauge- The twelve gauge is the most popular shotgun gauge and can be found in a large number of configurations.
16 Gauge- A general purpose gauge between the 12 gauge and the 20 gauge.
20 Gauge- This is a good gauge for a first shotgun or one for most women.
28 Gauge- Mainly for small birds and rabbits.
.410 Gauge/Caliber- The .410 is the smallest caliber shotgun. It is mainly used for pest control and some small game.
The twelve (12) gauge comes highly recommended as a good gauge for home defense use. However, most experts recommend a much shorter barrel for this purpose. A shorter barrel is recommended to make the shotgun more easily maneuverable in tight spaces. The choice of ammunition for a home defense shotgun is a hotly debated issue, however, I will go out on a limb and recommend the number 4 buckshot.
I think it is important to note at this point a common misconception about the shotgun for home defense. The common misconception is that the spreading shotgun pellets will make the violent criminal intruder easier to hit.
Common distances at which a self-defense shooting occurs inside a home are usually just outside of arm's length. Self defense shootings occur most often inside of twelve (12) feet.
At this distance, the shotgun pellets or buckshot load will not open very much at all and will more than likely result in one large wound channel. The violent aggressor will not be covered head to toe in lead by any stretch of the imagination. Another myth dispelled!!!
The shotgun barrel must be at least 18 inches long as required by the National Firearms Act of 1934. A good barrel length for a self defense shotgun is 20 inches. A twenty inch barrel is a good compromise between lost power and maneuverability.
So, you think you want to purchase a handgun? The term "handgun" was first used in 1388. It has been around for quite a while now. The first semi-automatic handgun was made in 1895. Now more than 105 years later, they work pretty much the same as they did then.
There are basically three different types of handguns. The three basic types are revolver, semi-automatic (sometimes called an automatic) and derringer.
A revolver is easier to use, easier to clean and more simple to learn. The semi-automatic is a bit more complicated to clean, learn and use. The derringer is a single shot pistol, sometimes found with two to four separate barrels. The derringer is usually easier to conceal and is mainly used for that purpose. I don't know of many serious derringer target shooters.
I almost always suggest a revolver as a first handgun, because they are easy to operate, easy to care for and it's easy to see if they are loaded or not.
If you foresee using the revolver only for plinking and recreational use, get a .22 caliber long rifle rimfire revolver from a manufacturer that has a good reputation. If you foresee using the revolver as a concealed carry firearm, you should go with a minimum of .38 Special for the caliber, better yet, go with a .357 Magnum revolver and use .38 Special ammunition in it until you feel comfortable with a higher power load.
I might mention now, that the 125 grain jacketed hollow point in .357 Magnum, at an average factory velocity of 1250 ft/sec is the top self-defense round for "one shot stops" from a handgun.
How about a home-defense gun for a woman? I would recommend a .38 Special revolver from a maker like Sturm-Ruger. Their sturdy and reliable SP-101 in .38 Special or .357 magnum is nearly a perfect choice.
Smith & Wesson carries an entire line of firearms made specifically for women. Be aware of .38 caliber or above firearms that are too light. Very lightweight firearms may at first seem like a great idea, until you shoot it. The recoil is terrible on very lightweight guns.
There are a series of steps that you should consider when choosing what handgun to purchase. There are many things to consider. What will you use the gun for?
What is the purpose for your handgun purchase? If it's for recreational target shooting, you'll probably want something in .22 Long Rifle caliber. Check out the Ruger Mark II semi-automatic pistols. If you're more comfortable with a revolver, that's fine too. For a .22 Long Rifle revolver, I'd check out the Ruger SP-101 revolver series. Yes, you can plainly see, I'm taken with Ruger Firearms. They're quality firearms at a reasonable price.
.22 Long Rifle- Best for a first gun and plinking.
.32 H&R Magnum
.32 Smith and Wesson
.38 Special- Great gun for a lady.
.357 Magnum- My choice.
.44 Magnum- Anything .44 magnum and above are fun to shoot, but can be too overpowering for strategic self-defense use.
.460 S&W Magnum
.500 S&W Magnum
There are many more, but you're likely not going to find all of them at your local ammunition supplier.
A semi-automatic handgun is for an experienced firearm user who is comfortable with the operation procedures involved. A revolver is much less complicated to use. A semi-automatic handgun requires a bit more practice to use quickly and efficiently.
A semi-automatic is fed ammunition from a spring-loaded magazine.
.22 Long Rifle
.25 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)
.380 ACP- About the least I can recommend for defensive use.
9mm- The most popular choice.
.40 S&W-My choice.
10mm- The choice of a U.S. Marine friend of mine.
.45 ACP- Many world experts swear by this caliber. After all, it helped America stay a free country by being the sidearm of choice of the American Armed Forces for many wars in which we were involved. First invented in 1905.
.50 Action Express
There are many more, but you're likely not going to find all of them at your local ammunition supplier.
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