“What gun should I get?” I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard that question. There is no right answer. Sure enough, whichever one you get, you’re probably going to want a different one after that.
Gun shopping is difficult. There are so many choices – make, model, caliber, design, but we’re fortunate to have so many choices at the same time.
When I took my first CCW class, I took the Kimber Solo that I had bought. It was beautiful, sleek, had a good reputation and concealed very nicely. But I shot it poorly. It was very finicky with the ammo that it could take, and it really didn’t fit me well. I thought it did while I was at the gun shop, but guns aren’t like shoes. You generally can’t try them on and walk around for a while before buying.
Bellying up to the cases at the gun shop can be a fairly intimidating outing for a new shooter, as it was for me. When you’re new to guns, you don’t have much experience with them to know all the brands, specs, how each operates and so on. And, when you’re new to this, like anything else, you don’t always know what questions to ask. . So many choices, so little time, and a budget. And the guys behind the counter either ignore you or stare at you like “are you going to choose something, Miss?” Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact……. Deep breath… “yes, I’d like to see this one please. Now to figure out if it’s the right one.
Back to my CCW class – luckily I had taken my full-sized gun along. I asked the instructor if I could get my other gun. “Of course,” he said. This was the Ruger SR9. The first gun I had purchased for home defense – it just felt right, and I shot it well. Sure enough, I was doing much better right away. MUCH better – so much so, the instructor said,
“You need to be able to carry that gun, or find the same one in the smaller version. You have just found your wife.”
He went on to say, looking at all the guns that were present, “you can have many girlfriends, but you only have one wife,” meaning THE gun for you. ‘Til this day, I still use that analogy with my students, because it makes sense, and at the same time, it’s silly and the ladies laugh at it, but they get it.
When looking for the gun best for you (your wife), first and foremost look for reliability and consistency. It doesn’t matter how nicely it fits, or looks if it’s not a reliable gun. When something bad happens, you want to be certain that the gun is going to function properly and correctly every single round. Reading independent reviews is super useful for this, and not necessarily information on the manufacturer’s website, because that will always look favorable.
Secondly, search for a good fit – making sure the gun is the correct size for your hand. I have made this mistake. Twice. To size up the gun, get a proper grip on it (unloaded and unchambered please) and place your trigger finger onto the trigger correctly. Now look at the amount of space between the frame of your gun and your index finger. If there’s little to no space seen, that gun is most likely too big for you. If there’s a big gap between the frame and your index finger, that gun is most likely too small for you. Look for Goldilocks – just the right amount of space. This assures a nice, even-pressure press rearward.
So you researched reliable guns, tried one on and it seems to fit well. Is it comfortable? Do the grip panels feel good, or are they digging into your palms? Do you like the finger grooves on the front strap, or would you prefer a flat front strap? Is the gun too heavy for you to hold for a while? Or is it manageable? Press the trigger. Is it too heavy? When you answer all those favorably for yourself, try it on. Yep, right there in the store. Ask for a holster and tuck it in. How well is it concealed for where you prefer to carry?
Is it going to break your bank? Cost is a considerable factor. We all have a budget within which to stay. I wouldn’t suggest trying on the champagne guns when you have a beer budget. But I ask you, what is your life worth? I had a student who offered that she bought a Starbucks coffee every day for $6. Well, 2-3 months of coffees will buy her a really nice, reliable gun. When you make the decision to become a responsibly armed citizen, it does come with a price, but a price worth paying.
Only you can answer these questions, not the man behind the counter, not your husband, not your BFF, not me. You and only you. And when you do answer all these questions, you will have answered your first question, “what gun should I get?”
As I have likened this many times over to finding the right bra – your gun needs to fit right, be comfortable, you need to be able to wear it all day and it has to be able to do its job. You might not hit it right the first time, but there’s always a second time. Most places will take trade-ins. Or you might just want another one. And another one. And another one! I’ve been known to say guns are like pairs of black shoes, you can’t have just one!