There is one thing we women know how to do with certainty—and that is shopping! However, if you are anything like me, shopping for an item you don’t know much about, like cars or electronics (in my case), can be daunting and exhausting. I’m skeptical of salespeople and mechanics pulling the wool over my eyes, selling me something overpriced or that I don’t need. If you are new to the gun world, you might not know exactly where to start when shopping for a gun. To make things a little easier, let us look at shopping for guns like shopping for clothes or shoes—by occasion, size, price, and looks.
I love to shop just for fun or when I want something new. However, there are plenty of times I hit the mall for a special occasion. What you buy for a bachelorette party will not be the same outfit you pick out for your niece’s graduation. Guns are the same way. While many guns serve more than one purpose, designers usually have one specific task in mind.
Semi-Auto Pistols and Revolvers
To narrow your choices, first figure out the primary reason you want to purchase a gun. If it is for self-defense in the home, you will want to start narrowing your choices by calibers suited for protection. This means you need a gun that shoots a bullet powerful enough to stop a threat. Experts and self-proclaimed experts—including salespeople at the gun store—do not 100 percent agree on which caliber is best for self-defense. Most agree, though, the .380 ACP is the absolutely smallest round adequate for self-defense. Other calibers to try are .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.
If you plan to carry the gun, whether open or concealed, the size of the gun will matter. Fortunately, there are plenty of thin, smaller handguns on the market that are easy and comfortable to carry and conceal.
Many swear by shotguns for home defense. A 12-gauge or 20-gauge pump-action shotgun is easy to use and has the knock down power to stop a threat. If you are interested in expanding your shooting to include hunting, shotguns serve a dual purpose.
The AR-15, chambered in .223 Remington, is becoming increasingly popular for home defense. Further, the AR-15 is good for competition, target shooting and hunting. Typically, other rifles, such as a bolt-action or lever-action in traditional rifle calibers such as .308 Winchester or .243 Winchester are not used, nor recommended for home defense.
The way the gun fits and feels in your hand, along with the placement of the controls on the gun, will affect how well you shoot. Just like that blister-inducing pair of patent leather purple stilettos you bought for your cousin’s wedding, if your gun doesn’t feel good, you aren’t going to want to use it. Training with your gun is one of the most important aspects of gun ownership—especially if you are buying a gun for self-defense. The gun you buy needs to be pleasant to shoot.
When you grip the gun in your hand, it should feel secure. Further, the safety and magazine or cylinder release should be reachable without having to maneuver the gun much. It shouldn’t take two hands to have to manipulate any of the controls. Much like shoes, you will have to try quite a few different guns to find the perfect fit.
My mom shops for cars with one thing in mind—is it red? As long as the car is reliable, safe and within budget, I find nothing wrong with narrowing down the choices by looks. Personally, I think its okay to turn down a gun because you think it is ugly. Gun designers not only think about functionality but aesthetics as well when designing new firearms. Do you like angular lines like the SIG P239 or the Beretta PX4 Storm with its unique robust bubbly roundness? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We all have our own individual tastes. Just because the guy at the gun counter thinks you should like the look of a pink gun, doesn’t mean you do. If you like how the Glock looks, then pick the Glock.
You can switch out stocks and furniture on long guns. After-market accessories come in a wide variety of different colors, like pink, camo, neon green, and skull patterns. So if you find a gun that you like, but don’t like the black, you can change out the stock for something different. Grips on many pistols and revolvers are also interchangeable.
Decide how much you can spend on the gun of your choice. Having a budget will narrow your choices further. Guns range in price from several hundred dollars to thousands.
Another thing to consider is the price of keeping the particular firearm you choose in good functioning order. Will it have to go to the gunsmith for repairs or upgrades? Does it require cleaning after every range trip to function properly? Have you ever purchased a cute shirt at full price just to get it home and find out it is dry clean only? Annoying isn’t it?
You will need to feed your gun ammo. If you are buying the gun to plink or join a shooting league, then .22 Long Rifle is cheap and easy to find. However, depending on market fluctuations, for example currently and in the past, certain calibers can be expensive or difficult to find.
When I have to purchase something, like a new bag or a new dress, that is considerably more than I normally spend on clothes or shoes, I like to justify my purchase by breaking down the cost per wear. If I spend $350 on a new Coach purse that I will carry for over a year, it is less than a dollar a day. For a top-quality accessory, the price is worth it. Think about your gun the same way. You aren’t going to skimp on your wedding dress or engagement ring. Your gun is the same. Invest in a high-quality gun, because what you put in to it will be worth it in the end.
What kind of roadblocks have you hit in shopping for a new gun and how did you overcome them? Do you have any shopping advice for newcomers? Tell me about it in the comment section.
For more information about purchasing your first gun read the following blogs:
- Questions for the First Time Gun Buyer
- Considerations for Concealed Carry Handguns
- Gun Store Etiquette