How to Choose Your First Handgun


How to Choose Your First Handgun


Choosing Your First Handgun

There are several factors to consider when deciding what will be your first handgun. Most likely you are looking at a $400-600 purchase, so it’s worth doing some research on. You have to do get your hands on several different guns before you go into the store. Think of it like buying a car. You don’t just pick one off the lot and hope for the best. Here’s some things you need to consider before you spend your money.


The gun should fit you. If the gun is too large or small for your hands, chances are you won’t enjoy shooting it. Some models are made entirely from metal and therefor are heavier to hold than their polymer counterparts. If you pick up a gun and immediately think, “Wow, this gun is uncomfortable” then you should move on and find a different one.

Most of the time though, simply holding a gun won’t give a good enough idea of the fit.

Take the time to do the following:

  • Practice a solid two-handed grip with the gun. Do your fingers fall naturally on the grip? Do your thumbs align naturally along the frame or slide? Do you feel any rubbing or binding underneath the trigger guard?
  • In a safe direction, practice presenting the gun towards a target. Does the gun align naturally with the target? Can you achieve a good sight picture? Is the bore axis too high?
  • Place your finger on the trigger. Does it fall naturally on to the trigger? Can you manipulate the trigger without adding additional movement in to the gun?
  • Does your grip have the potential to cause a stoppage? Check to see if your grip and thumb position are potentially capable of causing a stoppage by activating the slide stop.


This one’s simple. In Massachusetts, we have a 10-round magazine limit. Don’t get hung up on that though. Simply carry more magazines if you aren’t satisfied with 10 rounds.

Yes, you can get pre-ban magazines for many of the handguns that are available on the Massachusetts commercial market. BUT… even though the burden of proof is on the state to demonstrate that you were in violation of the magazine restrictions of the Assault Weapons Ban, it is good practice to stick with MA compliant magazines for your concealed carry firearm.


This is where we start to see people start to compromise. Most new buyers believe they must get a subcompact gun, like the M&P Shield, because it’s small and easy to conceal. It is, but smaller guns are typically harder to shoot well.

Carrying concealed is a lifestyle change, so you will have to adjust your wardrobe to fit your carry gun. If that means a larger pant size and a belt, so be it. You should carry the gun you shoot best, and conceal around it.

Not the other way around. Try to avoid carrying too little gun for the sake of concealment, but also avoid carrying too much gun if you will not carry because of it.


This is the most important thing to consider when purchasing a handgun. Shootability basically means your ability to shoot the handgun well. Whatever gun you decide to purchase and carry, you must be able to shoot it well. If you buy a gun, but find that you hate it, you won’t train with it. And if you don’t train with it then you won’t carry it.

What handgun to purchase is a tough decision. It’s a decent amount of money to invest in something, especially if you don’t have much experience. The best advice is to seek out training with people who can put different guns in your hands so that you can try a bunch before you go to buy. Spend a little upfront to avoid having to sell a gun you purchased, then hated.



Check Out our Intro to Handguns Course

Try up to TEN different handguns to see what works best for you!
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There is a lot that goes in to picking your first handgun and hopefully we were able to provide some guidance to aid in your decision making progress.

Already have your favorite? Leave us a comment below with what sold you on the purchase and why you chose that particular make and model!


Jeff Riopel

Jeff is an NRA and MA State Police certified instructor. He is also a certified Range Safety Officer. He loves to work with both new and experienced shooters and share knowledge and tips. He's also the friendly voice on our customer service line.

  • Cameron Bennett
    Posted at 13:08h, 18 December Reply

    I like that you mention that smaller guns can be harder to shoot. It’s important to look at all the aspects of a gun before buying one to ensure that you buy the best one for you. It’s good to not compromise on size or quality, so it’s worth taking the time to do your research before buying one.

  • ibrahim acar
    Posted at 10:04h, 24 April Reply

    very nice useful article
    Thank you

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