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First-Time Gun Owner: The Definitive Guide

Definitive guide to your first gun

As a new gun owner, finding the right firearm education is crucial to how effectively and safely you use your first weapon. Guns serve a number of defensive and recreational purposes. Getting to know basic firearm anatomy and best maintenance practices can give you a better overall experience.

Man firing gun at gun range

Get Familiar With the Parts

Knowing the basic parts of a firearm is a critical element of gun education for choosing your first firearm. Firearms vary in size, caliber, and function, but each features a few primary parts: the action, the barrel, the stock, the frame, and the clips or cylinder.

Basic Gun Parts

A firearm’s action encompasses all parts involved in the firing mechanism. Two of the most popular actions for defensive purposes are the semi-automatic and revolving action handguns. A gun’s barrel refers to the firearm’s shooting cylinder. Barrel lengths vary by firearm type.

A stock is the handle of the firearm. The clips or cylinder of your handgun stores your ammunition. The frame of your firearm houses all internal components that make your gun shoot effectively.

A trigger is a mechanism responsible for actuating the firing sequence. A gunsight is an optical device used to aim better. An accessories rail is the component used to carry all your add-ons such as flashlights.

Safety features such as the trigger guard prevent firing on accident. A safety button or lock is a mechanism that can be switched to the “safe” position. This prevents any accidental discharge.

Ammunition

Ammunition consists of a case, primer, and gunpowder. The combination of these elements provides the perfect fuse. Bullets vary in size, shape, and weight. When choosing ammunition, consider your firearm activity. Not all bullets are created equal.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning a firearm is an often overlooked aspect of firearm maintenance. Over time, gunpowder, dirt, and other debris can creep into the barrel and receiver of your firearm. Fouling, also known as the residue leftover after firing, can accumulate in critical areas of your weapon and cause a malfunction or life-threatening situation.

Safety

Gun cleaning can be done at home, as long as you have the right tools and work area. Most importantly, you need to ensure your weapon is unloaded and keep ammunition away from your working space. Always follow your owner’s manual to ensure you are properly disassembling and reassembling your weapon.

Cleaning

For cleaning and maintaining your new firearm, you can use a range of brushes, patches, and cleaning rods can clear the fouling inside the bore of your gun. Special chemical solvents applied with a cleaning rod loosens the excess fouling. For all other parts of your firearm, you can use a soft cloth or a used toothbrush and a gun cleaner to keep your firearm spotless.

Lubrication

Lubricating the inside and outside of your handgun with a light coat of gun oil can keep your gun parts in working order. Too much oil, however, can make dirt and fouling stick to parts that can increase the risk of a malfunction. For all other handgun maintenance issues, trust a professional gunsmith to perform your repairs.

Selecting Your Firearm

Handgun with gold bullets

Choosing your first handgun is one of the most exciting parts of the gun buying journey. Apart from the style and price of your gun, you should consider your primary purpose for getting a gun. How you plan to use your gun determines what gun you need.

Budget

After considering your intended use, come up with a budget for your first gun. For first time gun buyers, we recommend setting aside between $350 and $800 for a reliable handgun with an ironclad warranty. Consider your personal protection as an investment.

Type of Gun

Semi-automatic and revolvers are the most popular handgun types for self-defense. Semi-automatic guns offer you quick-firing capabilities, a large cartridge capacity, and a thin profile for concealment. These can also be hard to use for first time gun buyers and malfunction in critical moments.

Pistols can protect you outside the home. Revolvers are a fitting choice for first time gun owners who value reliability and ease of use. Shotguns are a good option if you’re buying a gun strictly for home defense.

Caliber

Caliber refers to the measurement of a bullet’s diameter. Choose the proper caliber for your firearm chamber. For defense, choose ammunition chambered in .380 calibers or higher. Ultimately, your shooting ability is more important than the power of your cartridge.

Caliber size determines the recoil and size of your handgun. If you don’t plan on carrying your gun everywhere, a full-sized, high-capacity handgun can meet your needs. For gun owners with a carry permit, choose a compact or lightweight option.

New or Used?

A new gun can be too costly for some first time buyers. A used handgun that’s been properly maintained can be the best first choice for budget shoppers. Ensure your seller is reputable and has all the required licensing. Consider the warranty of your handgun when buying new or pre-owned.

Go Shopping

Once you’ve narrowed down your favorite type and caliber of your first handgun, you can go out and try out different makes and models. Consider the ergonomics, safety features, and concealment factor of your handgun. Will it meet your primary needs?

First time gun owners can consider renting out different models at their local range or from a course instructor. Friends and family may also let you try out their firearm. Make sure you truly get a feel for the gun. Shoot at least a few dozen rounds of ammunition for each option before deciding on your first choice.

Activities

Smoke coming from shotgun

After choosing your first firearm, you can enjoy a range of popular shooting-related activities with friends. As long as you have the right holster, you’re safe and able to go out on a long trek, ride your motorcycle, and travel freely while feeling protected. Holsters options include shoulder, chest, inside the waistband, outside the waistband, pocket, and ankle holsters.

Practice

If you don’t have the luxury of being able to shoot in your backyard, join a shooting range nearby. Your local gun range is the perfect place to fine-tune your shooting skills and meet new friends. Whether you choose an indoor or outdoor facility, always follow its basic rules.

Biking

Whether you’re riding your chopper on the highway or single-speed bike down the bike lane, it’s always better to be prepared. Ride the rugged terrain on your mountain bike with your handgun safely concealed. A shoulder holster can keep it on your person without any accidents through the bumpy or slick road.

Hiking

Safety-conscious backpackers and hikers may choose to bring along a small and compact handgun for protection in the remote wilderness, especially if you’re hiking alone. With the right carry permit, gun owners can remain safe from animal and human predators.

Hunting

Hunting is one of the most popular things to do with a gun. Just make sure to research your state regulations for where, when, and what you can hunt. Hunting can be a fun and safe way to obtain free-range meat for your family.

Plinking

Plinking is essentially informal target shooting. Whether it’s at the range or on your farm, plinking is loads of fun. You can shoot cans, bottles, or any other small target. Plinking can be a great way to pass the time and refine your hunting skills.

As you can see, owning a handgun for the first time is quite a big responsibility. If you take the proper handgun training, clean your gun regularly, and practice your shooting, you can lower your risk of injury. Over time, you can become more familiar with your gun and pass on your tools and interest to the next generation.

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