Handguns for beginners

What Is The Best Handgun For Beginners?


Out of the thousands of questions that I’ve seen on Concealed Nation, this is up there in the top 5 without a doubt. So many new faces are coming over to gun ownership and concealed carry and are looking for direction in many different ways. It truly is a great time for concealed carry and firearms in general.

One of those directions they seek: What is the best handgun for beginners?

While the answer is not a specific firearm, there are some questions that anyone can ask themselves, and then apply the answers to a future purchase. This is definitely not a catch-all, but it’s a start.

Here are four questions to ask yourself:

Question 1: What Is My Experience With Firearms

Your lifetime experience with firearms will play a large role in a beginner handgun. If your experience is very limited, such as never even firing a gun, it’s best to start out with a smaller caliber. Never be afraid or ashamed to pick up a nice .22 caliber handgun. In fact, I recommend it as a first purchase for anyone who is new to firearms. It’s a great way to get a feel for firearms, they’re cheap to shoot, and so much fun.


If you have a little experience and are familiar and have shot numerous calibers, it’s recommended to start off with one of the following: .22, .380, 9mm.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to get proficient with a smaller caliber until moving up to a larger one. For example, if you pick up a nice new 9mm Glock and can’t hit the paper, it’s best to set that one aside for the time being and get yourself a .22 or .380 until you become proficient with that (preferably a .22).

Question 2: What Am I Going To Do With The Handgun I Purchase

I’m going to break this down into two categories: Range Gun or Carry Gun.

Range Gun
If it’s a range gun that you’re looking for, it’s really up to you with what you choose. Remember, we’re still keeping the answer to question #1 in mind. If however, you’re looking for a carry gun, read on.

Carry Gun
A beginner that’s looking for a carry gun has to take a few other things into consideration before making a purchase. Is the firearm that you’re looking at easily concealable? Is it suitable for concealed carry? What are the reviews like? Also, you don’t want to be carrying a firearm around that you haven’t demonstrated proficiency with. Range time and practice are extremely important, and don’t ever forget that.

Question 3: What Is My Budget

Oh boy, the budget question. If this is your first firearm purchase, it’s likely not to be your last. Shooting is an expensive hobby, and concealed carry is a serious thing. What’s my point? Whether you’re just looking to hit the range or you’re looking to be a serious concealed carrier, be prepared to spend some money.

Especially with concealed carry, you’ll want to purchase a firearm that has a great reputation and one that you can trust with your life. With so many great firearms to choose from, it’s not… necessarily necessary… to spend a ton of money on a carry firearm. However, it’s best to stay away from the lower-end firearms out there.

Not to get off track, but budget is an important part of firearm ownership. Just as you’ll be spending money on firearms, you’ll also be spending money on food for those firearms; Ammunition and cleaning supplies. Practicing is always an important thing and if you’re practicing on a regular basis, you’ll be purchasing ammunition on a regular basis as well.

The bottom line here is this: Don’t be afraid to spend a little more on a quality firearm. If taken care of, it will provide you with a lifetime of service and will still be around to hand down to your kids.

Question 4: How Does It Feel

The feel of a firearm in your hand is an important thing. Many times, if you’re checking a few out at the gun shop, you’ll know –as soon as you pick it up– if it’s going to be a good fit for you. There’s just something about wrapping your hands around the grip of a fantastic-feeling firearm.


With these questions and a trip (or two or ten) to the gun shop, you’ll find the perfect firearm in no time. Don’t rush the purchase, and be sure to do your research. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few serious contenders, check them out as much as you can. If you’re able, try them out at a range. It’s the best way to fall in love quickly.

Categories: Beginners Guide, General
About Brandon Curtis | View all posts by Brandon Curtis

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady…

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense rounds, and rides comfortably in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 holster.

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  • JohnGaltKS

    Like a lot of people, I’ve read a lot, studied this issue a lot, talked to friends and realize there is no single answer to this question. I’ve been lucky enough to have access to a few of the top handguns and with a “new”, or first year shooter, there are some common experiences. I’ve let a lot of first shooters go try out 4 to 8 guns at one shooting. Shooting them is a key to properly evaluating them. The recoil, control positions, sites, and accuracy achieved will be big drivers of which gun they want to own. Many beginners want a range and home defense weapon. Sometimes called a nightstand gun. This eliminates all the small, conceal carry options. Too much recoil, short-handed grip to make them concealable, and they are much harder to shoot accurately with their short sight-radius and poor sights. A full size gun has these great things going for it. Lots of ammo capacity, longer handle, better recoil control built-in, better sights, better sight radius produce a more accurate, comfortable and great first experience. Every first year shooter I worked with, found their accuracy was much better, and more repeatable with a full size gun. Most fell in love with the Full-size XDM or Cannik after they evaluate their targets. My experience with S&W was bad when I bought the low-end Sigma model, but people swear to love their more traditional priced M&P guns, or their Shield models.

    First year shooters may find small guns can be very hard to handle the perceived recoil. Especially a small, light-weight revolver, most women never take a second shot with one of the small, super-light-weight revolvers like the LCR. Too much hand pain.

    If budget is a consideration, always go with 9mm to save on ammo costs for practice. Lots of great choices from Ruger, Glock, S&W and my favorite Springfield Armory. Sigs, Kahr, Berettas, CZs, Walther and Kimbers are great guns but cost more in most cases. Best bargain guns are Kel-Tec for a small 9mm gun and Cannik TP9 or TP9SA for a full size 9mm gun, with 18 round mags and with a holster included. I have introduced many experienced shooters to Cannik 9mm guns and soon they show up at the range with one of their own, costing under $350. Great trigger, great value for the money, especially the TP9SA.

    Most of my personal favorite guns are Springfield-Armory. I carry the XD9mod2 daily, and have the XDM Compact 3.8 in 9mm and 45acp. The mod 2 starts with 13 rounds in the short mag and 19 rounds in my pocket reload mag. Very accurate for 3.3 inch barrel. I like the XDS and have it in 9mm and 45acp. Both have limited rounds, but are accurate and well-built. XDS is a great pocket guns if you have a larger pocket, like suit pants or khakis. Any gun you can fit in a jeans, pocket is a pretty small gun, with poor sights and very limited accurate range.

    Bottom line, don’t buy any gun until you get to shoot the same exact model. Many gun ranges offer rentals and I strongly suggest renting the gun for a box of ammo before you commit to own it. Some guns just do not feel right at the range. I always include the Glock as a test choice for new, first year shooters, but most do not like the grip angle, and many have trouble dropping the mag when they take a good, two-handed grip. The exception is the 26, which is a great gun choice. Good gun brands will last for generations, so pick one you really enjoy owning and shooting, even if it costs a little more.

  • jimks

    I had shot a lot guns by 12 yrs old in terms of rifles and shotguns. So, my Uncle and father, started me initially shooting a .44 mag revolver, and an Army 1911 .45 cal. Yes, they were being humorous, but after seeing how I shot with them, that’s what I kept shooting. Everything seemed rather easy after that.