Firearms for Beginners: How to Purchase a Handgun

Jessica Manuell // April 18

Gun sales are surging and many people are interested in purchasing a handgun for the first time.  If you haven’t purchased a handgun before and are unsure where to start, you'll want to do a lot of research before you make your first purchase. If you put the question out on social media, be prepared for many opinions, which are likely to confuse you more! 

purchase a handgun

One of my biggest pet peeves is to see friends post: “I’m ready to purchase a handgun, what should I buy?” Followed by, “And it can’t break the bank.”  No one on social media knows what your budget is. Everyone is going to have their own opinion based on their personal experience.

Things to consider when purchasing a handgun:

What are you going to use the handgun for?

Is this firearm going to be used for personal protection, home protection, speed shooting, range nights, weekend fun, etc?

Have you shot before?

If you have never fired a pistol before, it is better that you do so under the watchful instruction of a Range Safety Officer at a gun range where you can rent and shoot several pistols until you find the one you like or are comfortable with.

Where are you going to carry this firearm?

Will this firearm be in your pocket, holster, what type of holster, purse, glove box, nightstand, range bag, etc? Or will you simply store it in your safe at home?

Do you know the difference between a hammer and striker fire or a revolver?

Understanding the different types of firearms will help you decide if it is the right choice for you and the appropriate holster to purchase given how and where you will carry a specific pistol.

Do you need training?

Does your state require training or a concealed carry license in order for you to purchase a firearm? Research and understand your state's gun laws.

Who will be shooting this firearm?

Are you going to be the only person in your household who will shoot this firearm? If not, does the firearm have all the safety features you’d like it to have if let’s say, you let your children shoot it under your supervision?

Why are you buying a firearm?

Do you know the laws in your state regarding any of the above questions? These are not simple questions and the purchase of a firearm should be taken very seriously. It is an incredible responsibility to own a firearm.  

There are cheap handguns but things seem to go wrong with them and most people hate them very very soon after they buy them. It’s like they purchased a used car on the corner of an intersection in an abandoned parking lot from a guy with slicked-back hair and wonder why the car caught on fire and burnt to the ground before they even made it home because it was such a good deal.

Bonus tip: don’t purchase a used firearm unless you know the person personally. Make sure to have the firearm inspected by a professional who knows what they are doing.

Check out our post: Firearms for Beginners: Guns, Scopes, Ammo and Ranges and Gun Safety: What You MUST Know Before Handling Any Gun

Reading reviews online only gives you a slight picture of how the firearm operates and handles. Everyone has a different opinion. A friend recently purchased a firearm and loves it. There was so much hype surrounding the little item that everyone wanted one before it even came out.

I was working the gun counter at Sportsman’s Warehouse when we finally got the same one in stock. It felt like absolute garbage in my hands and I really hated showing it to people. These customers came in with their minds made up. I could have put a different firearm in their hands which would have fit their hands like gloves.

A year of hype around a pistol that pinches your hand is what they bought without trying one out.

That is my personal experience which may be completely different from yours. It is more important that it is comfortable for you to shoot.

Where to buy a handgun legally

You can purchase a handgun legally at a licensed firearms dealer, also known as a gun store. These stores are required to follow federal and state laws regarding the sale of firearms, including conducting background checks on buyers. You can also purchase a handgun through a private sale, but it is important to ensure that the seller is legally allowed to sell firearms and that the transaction follows all applicable laws.

Take time to go to a shooting range and to practice shooting different makes and models to choose what fits your hand and feels comfortable.

Read: Protecting Your Firearms from Theft:: Firearms Security Alliance

This post may contain affiliate links. Miss Pursuit may earn a small commission for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support our work in bringing you real information about hunting and the outdoors.

About the Author

Jessica Manuell

Jessica is a hunter from Northern Arizona and currently writes for and promotes ReelCamo Girl, Great American Wildlife, Miss Pursuit, Safari Club International, Prois Hunting gear, and her own blog Outdoors Lady. She volunteers her time teaching others as a Hunter Education Instructor in Arizona and she is acting chair of the National Wild Turkey Federation Women In The Outdoors Northern Arizona Chapter. Besides hunting big game, both archery and rifle and upland birds with their German Shorthairs, Jessica enjoys hiking and outdoor photography. Jessica graduated with a Master's Degree in Crop Science from Oregon State University and currently works as the Operations Manager for Canyon Coolers.