Selecting A Handgun

Much like anything else in life worthy of investing time, a handgun choice is deeply personal and should be something that fits your individual needs. Far too often people allow themselves to be guided by the experience of others regarding handguns. However, much like purchasing a car or home, a bit of research and understanding goes a long way in the handgun purchasing process. With Summer in July around the corner here are some guidelines and relevant questions you can ask your Stock & Barrel associate to help you find what will fit your needs.

Why Would You Want a Handgun?

Let’s first help you decide on purchasing a handgun and why you should, or even should not. The people who are not likely candidates for a firearm purchase are those who are overly enthusiastic about a violent force encounter. Remember, the tool in your hands can be a force for good or worse, all depending on the person wielding it. If someone comes in who seems excited to the point where a reasonable person questions their motivations then a firearm might not be a good solution. It is important to consider your motivations when purchasing a handgun or any firearm for that matter. If personal defense, a new experience with target shooting, and maybe even some competition are your goals, then you’re on the right path.

The biggest defensive advantages of a handgun are found in both its portability and maneuverability. In tight confines like those of a home or car, a handgun is eminently more practical for the average user. The manipulations and malfunction clearances are simpler and easier to practice. On the whole, a pistol is a much better choice for most users. Ammunition and accessories are often cheaper, training is more available to civilians, they are legal in more states and handguns are a safer option legally when driving. The biggest advantage of a handgun over a rifle though is when it comes to concealment. Though some might argue different points, on the whole, it is widely accepted that concealing and carrying a rifle isn’t a practical option.

Handguns provide solutions to many challenges we face as civilians in the modern world and are a wonderful choice as a starting point for all the reasons laid out and more.

The Selection Process

Again, going back to the analogy of purchasing a car, purchasing a handgun should be a process. Going into the store one day and just relying on what the person behind the counter tells you would be similar to going into a dealership and letting the salesperson choose the car for you. For anyone who’s experienced that process of purchasing a car, it’s often challenging without giving up complete control of the outcome. With that in mind, giving some internal thought about the purpose of a handgun in your life is a critical first step. Will you have it just in the home and not be carrying it? If it’s at home, how do you plan on accessing it quickly? Are you going to have it in a car? Do you have young children who you’re concerned about getting a hold of it? These are all great questions to consider yourself and to have your S&B associate help you answer.

Next, much like purchasing a vehicle, it has to fit you individually. How do the seats feel in a car? Do you like the look of it aesthetically? How does your body fit in the driver’s seat? Is there enough space inside for your needs? When you drive it, do you like the feel? All of these questions can directly translate to a handgun purchase process. How does the grip fit in your hand? Do you like the way it looks? If you’re going to carry it, does it fit your body or bag? Is the magazine capacity what you’d like? When you shoot it, does the target mirror the results you want in terms of accuracy, speed, etc.? All of these are fundamental considerations that a bit of prior thought will help answer.

After years of experience, the biggest mistake people make and where a place like S&B is a great resource is they purchase a handgun based only on the recommendations of people in their lives who might know what they’re doing and based on the feel of the handgun in their hands. Once again like the vehicle process, taking it for a test drive is a fundamental necessity. You will have a far better experience in the long run if you take advantage of a handgun rental to try before you buy! Sometimes what feels great in the hands doesn’t mirror accuracy or speed. This is also where a qualified associate can help you make an informed, objective, decision.


To answer the questions regarding accessories we will once again go back to the concept of usage. The accessories that are appropriate for a handgun dedicated to home defense may not be the same as those for concealing and carrying. Broadly, however, here are the constants that must be included with any purchase.

What some might call, “eyes and ears” or ballistically rated eye protection and a level of hearing protection (preferably electronic that modulates sound based on decibels so you can hear a conversation but the sound of gunfire won’t harm your ears) are mandatory. A method of handgun transportation to and from the range such as a bag or case is a good idea but not necessary. Often the plastic case or box it comes in is acceptable. If you’re going to conceal and carry a holster is mandatory and if it’s going to be anywhere in the house a safe of some sort is also mandatory. Also, be aware of your state laws regarding transportation in a vehicle. You might be required by law to transport your handgun in a locked case. Extra magazines are often a good idea just to make your life simpler. Lastly, when it comes to ammunition there are two types. What’s often known as practice ammunition also known as range or ball ammunition is needed. A good guide is at least 200 rounds of this practice ammunition. Then defensive ammunition also known as hollow points isn’t for regular practice and carries a noticeably higher price tag. You should purchase enough of this for two magazines, 40 rounds is a good number.

This is a basic guide to handgun purchasing and touches on a macro level on the salient points of the process. With that in mind, utilize the experience feedback of your S&B staff during Christmas in July. An objective third party with a solid background can make all the difference. Handgun ownership is a responsibility, however, it is also a deeply gratifying and fun experience.

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