First Time Gun Buyer Catalysts
More and more, citizens of this great country are finding reasons to become a first time gun buyer. It could be the realization of the craziness that comes from a major weather event, say, a tragedy like Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana (well, the entire gulf states region). It could be a terrorist threat like the heartbreaking and tragic September 11th attacks or the worry that comes from media air play of news items from around the world. It seems like America has a target on it, and Americans are responding by looking at ways to be more self sufficient. As we see our second Amendment rights eroding away before our own eyes, it becomes more important to explore the idea of gun ownership if you haven’t before.
Simply put: as a non gun owner becoming a first time gun buyer, the transition doesn’t have to be a difficult proceeding. The more you know and the more you try to find out, the better off you will be. It’s a fact, that many people shun the projects and endeavors which they know they must work on, because it is too intimidating and difficult to understand. For instance, I don’t work on my basketball “skills” because even if I put in a good effort, I will still be made to look a fool at a pick-up game at the local park. Knowing theory and hearing about experiences is what teaches us best for the undertaking, until we can gather up the focus and courage to explore the thing we fear. Maybe basketball isn’t the best example. Guns, however are an appropriate example. Americans know they have the right to bear arms, but bearing arms never seemed to make sense to a lot of them until now. In a world of degrading principals and morals, strife and war, economic concerns and starving families, even if it doesn’t directly affect us, it wears on us. Knowing the basics will help to inspire proficiency with firearms, and put you on a path to being a responsible and capable gun owner. Who knows, you might actually like it (bearing arms and associated benefits thereof).
In the aftermath of major events like those listed above, a mob mentality and a cruel sense of selfishness erupts at the lowest levels of society, all the while, people are coming together outside of the epicenter to ensure that people can be saved and are taking care of. It’s a strange dichotomy: in a time of such selflessness outside of the center of the event by fellow Americans (and others), there is looting and murdering and recklessness beneath the surface. Take Katrina’s aftermath for example: Food, shelter and water were virtually impossible to find, law enforcement was stretched far beyond its limitations, and thugs patrolled the streets taking things by force with guns they had stolen, or which were, many times illegally owned. Citizens, unprepared to deal with such an event, were now not only fighting against nature and the complexities the Hurricane had caused, but also against thieves, killers and morally challenged gang bangers and vigilantes that had cropped up to take advantage of the situation. Sure, food and water and other preparations were the most important thing to have, but almost as important was the cultivation of the mindset of situational awareness, psychological preparedness and protective measures.
Many innocent people lost their lives in the lawless streets, and many more suffered at the hands of the ruthless and overpowered “law enforcement” personnel, often times willing to shoot first and thereafter, take names.
The scene was disturbing, and it was one which had many unintended consequences. Those who survived had seen firsthand the depths to which society could sink.
Having a gun is a form of insurance that underwrites your personal safety in times of unexpected consequences and unintended fallout. It helps you to have peace of mind, and allows you to secure your preparations and your family. But without the real knowledge of how firearms work, you could be putting yourself in harms way rather than protecting yourself from harm. You must know the basics, so you can avoid the problems that arise when you throw other individuals into the mix.
Tips for the first time gun buyer
Some things you should know as a first time gun buyer:
- Training is crucial. Understanding your weapon is also crucial. You should know the ins and outs of the specific weapon you decide upon, and be able to deploy it in an effective and comfortable manner. Practice also makes perfect. Having a gun isn’t going to guarantee your safety, you must train with it, use it, and know it.
- Psychology plays a bigger role in using a firearm than one might think from the outside looking in. You must know what you will and will not do in the case of a stressful firearm related incident. In a hostile environment, will you be willing to draw and use a weapon quickly, lethally, and without hesitation?
- Guns are inherently safe (despite what some anti-gun people would have you think), but improper use or a lack of respect for the firearm, could lead to unsafe or deadly situations.
- Gun ownership is one piece to the puzzle of safety in major situations. Other efforts should be made to ensure your safety and that of your family. Having preparations to outlast a major occurrence can help you to remain safe and secure. The better prepared you are, the less you will have to come in contact with others who can cause you harm.
- Guns aren’t the “be all end all” of self protection. Your attitude and your forward thinking are going to be key to resolving a hostile or stressful encounter.
When choosing a firearm for self protection: it’s a good tip to look at your style in handling daily occurrences. How does your personality play into the things, and what does it say about you and your beliefs. Your personality can be a good indicator for the type of gun you may be most comfortable with. Do you place a high value on aesthetics? Is function always before form? Are you a “sit back and wait to see what happens” type of person or are you a proactive go getter? Do you always want freedom of choice, or do you like to be proficient at one specific thing? Is versatility the driving factor in your daily choices? All of these things can have an impact in helping you choose a weapon.
Remember these things as you look through weapons, and take notes on which pictures or attributes seem impressive or necessary to you.
Some would be fine with a break open shotgun or a revolver for home defense. Others may require more capacity to feel confident, or may want to employ multiple guns in defense of one’s family.
Regulations on guns and ammunition have steadily increased, and there are less and less individual freedoms associated with gun ownership. Similarly, the amount of choices have dwindled in lockstep with tighter laws about purchasing and owning firearms. Costs have shot through the roof on ammunition as a result of an uneasiness surrounding potential regulation or tracking, and demand by fearful gun owners and protectionists. Raw materials have also increased substantially, contributing to more organic cost increases (for example copper has gone up in price, and therefore, so has brass which requires copper and zinc to be made.) The brass that holds the cartridge together is much more expensive today than it was a couple of years or even months ago.
Using the economic indicators mentioned above may help you make a responsible choice when buying a firearm which will require training and practice and storage of an adequate supply of ammunition and add-ons to provide optimal performance in a time of need.
A basic explanation of the types of guns:
A long gun with a reputation as the most lethal mainstream gun. It uses shell type cartridges which hold two distinct component parts: the powder (the propellant) and the wad (the projectiles) which combine to send out a multitude of projectiles at once, instead of a singular projectile. It has a very versatile design and can be used for home defense, hunting of various small animals (and large as well, if using the proper ammunition and where it is legal), and as a means to destruction of close range objects like door hinges or other materials. It offers a lot of firepower for times when distance is not a factor, like close quarter combat, or where you need to spread a large amount of displacement across a larger area. It works especially well as a multipurpose firearm, because it does many things well. A normal effective range is usually out to about 50 feet with small shot and up to about 125 feet for larger shot sizing.
They are natural feeling, easy to conceal and can be used with only one hand, leaving the other free for different tasks. Effective range in practice may only be about 25-75 feet for most shooters, though many proficient shooters can easily match the normal effective ranges of shotguns (50-125+ feet). Handguns are an ideal weapon for inside a building, as they allow full freedom of motion and a small size, as well as good stopping power in distances covered while indoors. They are easy to store, and can be less expensive to outfit and shoot than some other styles of firearms, but they are not as practical for hunting as a rifle or shotgun (though some hunters can and do use exclusively handguns).
The easiest and most intuitive weapon, this type is specifically made for hunting or for sporting purposes, and offers high lethality combined with good accuracy, in an easy to use package. Rifles are longer and heavier than pistols and do not make as good of a weapon for indoors as do pistols. They are easy to understand, but do require some training and practice to be able to expect the best accuracy and the easiest implementation.
This is an excellent choice of a firearm for self defense and when looking for maximum versatility, as it provides a shorter, more tactically oriented weapon, with the lethality of a hunting rifle in a higher capacity setup, which allows more projectiles to be held in immediate access to the action of the firearm. Some weapons in this category offer modularity and easy to customize features so you can build a very specific weapon to meet your needs, without having to buy many weapons.
Other styles exist, but may not be well suited to normal defensive situations. Older weapons which use black powder instead of modern smokeless powders, as well as one off chambered weapons which utilize hard to find cartridges or have very specific firing protocols or lengthy ignition systems may not be well suited.
Other considerations for the first time gun buyer
As stated above, adequate supplies of ammunition should be kept with the weapon to ensure that you can use them effectively and without concerns.
As a general rule of thumb for those people in need of a defense only firearm where they will not be expecting to use it for hunting and where major disasters or terrorist threats do not occur with frequency or have a high likelihood for occurrence:
- Shotgun owners should buy general ammunition in a mid-range load in a quantity of about 200-300 shell cartridges, with an additional box of each of the following 00 or 000 Buck shot; Rifled slugs; and (where chambers will allow it) Magnum loads.
- Handgun owners should buy 250-350 (5-7 50 round boxes) of high quality full metal jacket ammunition, with an additional 35-75 rounds of hollow point ammunition for storage. This is in addition to two magazines (or 20-35 rounds) worth of hollow point ammunition for the gun to begin with. Revolver or pistol, these numbers should be minimums.
- Rifle owners should have on hand 6-10 fmj (full metal jacket) style cartridges, or about 120-200 rounds of ammunition, as well as 20-40 rounds of high quality expanding point or specialty defensive or hunting rounds on hand.
- Assault weapon owners should have on hand approximately 250-600 rounds, or about 1 case of ammunition depending on caliber.
Using the above basic numbers for a minimum quantity on hand, you can adjust up for the following and in the following manners for personality differences and specific scenarios:
If you want to have a more proactive approach rather than to be reactive you can double your ammunition storage and also increase your reloading or ammunition holding products like magazines or moon clips/stripper clips. You may also consider some add-on products or specialty gunsmithing work to compliment your firearm of choice to enhance its ability to perform the specific tasks you anticipate.
If the opposite is true, consider holding the same base level of ammunition, but working more on defense procedures, protocols and protective construction or shelter specific actions.
If you are a homesteader, survivalist or someone who anticipates being unable to reach outside resources for quite some time after an event, or if you live in a very rural area, you may consider tripling or quadrupling your storage and considering more than one firearm. You may also want to buy some component parts, and research the more frequently failing or replaced parts for your weapons, as well as basic servicing procedures and tools necessary to fix common problems on your weapons.
If you have multiple properties, or a large family to protect you may also want to increase supply by a factor of five and purchasing a couple more firearms, as well as holding regular trainings and refreshers for those in your group. The same goes for those with important resources or large assets or important or desirable stores of food, fuel, or other items.
The amount of firearms you purchase and use should be a direct reflection on your best estimate of the need for the firepower, and on your specific personality and your comfort levels. Owning an entire Arsenal may give you a greater peace of mind but exercise restraint or moderation to match your ammunition supplies and your training to the arsenal you are building. Having a bunch of guns may not be very helpful in a stressful or hostile situation if you don’t have the ammunition to support them, the defensive mindset to keep them in your possession, or the training and understanding to use the effectively.
A Good Example
The author has a bug-out bag (rather a bug-in bag) for situations which may require it, which is purpose built for that scenario and that scenario only (a major weather event or terrorist attack).
- An AR style rifle chambered in .223/5.56 with a trijicon ACOG sight and 5 30 round magazines with milspec ammunition in them. Extra Bolt/Carrier, gas tube mag springs and about 600 rounds of ammo.
- A Glock 23 with 3 magazines and 350 rounds of ammo.
- A Remington 870 shotgun with a mag tube extension and 225 rounds of specialty ammunition
- A Ruger 10-22 with a decent scope and about 3000 rounds of ammo.
Specifically the AR rifle serves as a mid-range defense weapon and a hunting weapon; the pistol is quick to deploy and offers good CQB (close quarters battle) capabilities; the shotgun is small game hunting gun as well as a good defense weapon and offers an intimidating presence. The .22LR is an excellent small game hunting rifle and is a good firearm for newcomers and also provides a good last ditch weapon. The thinking is this: if I am in a situation where I need to sustain my family for some time, these are all multipurpose weapons; the four weapons allows me to distribute them across my family members, and there is adequate ammunition to provide safe defense for multiple threats, and to use for food (hunting).
The idea behind preparedness for a major event is so that you are not at risk of becoming a casualty, and so that your quality of life is not diminished further by outside influences.
Such a mindset does not require extensive purchasing of weapons, and one could easily inspire confidence, or make an excellent defense of one’s home through the PROPER implementation of a single firearm. It is all about what you expect, and how you are willing to handle the threat of risk.
Need a first time gun buyer guide?
A first time gun buyer might find the following setup (or a similar one) very effective.
- An AR-15 (a relatively inexpensive assault style rifle) with a short range scope and a few extra large capacity magazines and about 500 rounds of ammunition
- An easy to use handgun in a moderately sized caliber with extra magazines or cylinder re-loaders, with about 300-400 rounds of ammunition
Such a setup gives long and short range effectiveness, both against human and animal targets, and allows you to more or less customize the weapon to the activity, which improves functionality during a specific task.
Remember these basics as a first time gun buyer
As a rule of thumb when choosing a firearm, you should:
- Try not to cut corners or save money where you know you can buy quality over junk. A good quality item will provide value for much longer and in much more adverse conditions than a lesser quality item.
- Use quality ammunition, and do not under-buy in quantity, as it will inevitably be the most important component of your firearm use.
- Purchase extra parts, cleaning supplies, springs and tools to work on your weapons.
- Know how to service your firearms and how to safely conduct specific tasks.
- Know ow to use the weapon properly for maximum accuracy, functionality and safety.
- Buy protective and safekeeping products to ensure safety and to prevent theft.
DO NOT RELY ON A WEBSITE OR A ONE OFF OPINION FOR YOUR ENTIRE PLAN OF ACTION. UTILIZE SEVERAL SOURCES, FIND OUT INFORMATION AND ASK QUESTIONS OF THOSE WHO KNOW THE ANSWERS. DO NOT RELY ON INTERNET ARTICLES FOR WEAPONS TRAINING AND FOR THE ENTIRE PROCESS OF FIREARM OWNERSHIP. NO ARTICLE OR FORUM IS A PROPER SUBSTITUTE FOR REAL LIFE AND SPECIFIC SAFETY TRAINING OR TACTICAL TRAINING. SEEK OUT PROFESSIONAL SERVICE PROVIDERS WHO CAN DIRECT YOU IN THE PROPER TECHNIQUES AND USAGE OF YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARMS FOR YOUR SPECIFIC NEEDS.
Use this first time gun buyer guide to help you decide
Some high quality weapons and their approximate prices are listed below to help encourage you on your quest for gathering information. After you have narrowed the search down to a few choices, talk with people who own them, and if possible borrow, or rent similar or specific firearms to ensure your choices are a good fit for you. As a first time gun buyer: comfort and efficiency are two big parts of the equation of self defense with a firearm.
(These guns have hyperlinks to specific titles and text on our own website: hover over the names of each of the guns listed below, and click on the link to get the specific article dealing with them)
Glock 17/19 or 22/23 (approximate price is $500)
1911 single action .45 (approximate basic price for mainstream manufacturers is $$550-1200)
HK USP ($650-850)
Smith and Wesson .357/.38 Model 629 (approximate price is $675-850)
Remington 870 Pump Shotgun (approximate price is $400-550)
Mossberg 500 or 590 Pump Shotgun (approximate price is $275-450)
Benelli M1 Auto Shotgun (approximate price is $900-1200)
Stoeger Double Defense Break open Over/Under (approximate price is $400-500)
Major brand AR-15 compete from manufacturer (approximate price $550-900)
FN-FAL: A custom built milspec rifle from a parts kit and a new receiver (approximate price is $650-1200)
Remington 700 (approximate price is $550)
Springfield Armory M1A (approximate price is $1000-1900)
You can expect to spend between 150-1000 for a decent scope for long guns, and the price should be factored in if you plan on taking shots past 100 yards or so with high accuracy.
The weapons listed above are mainstream items and information should be able to be found readily on them, in magazines, o the internet, or in mainstream gun media.
It’s a good rule of thumb to be able to understand the general workings and component parts of each type of firearm, as well as know how to handle each type, in case you need to one day use them, to allow for familiarity and enhanced functionality.
This text is a primer for those who know what guns are, but little else. It is the my intent to help you determine if you have the mindset, tolerance and need for a gun, before you buy one and feel like you made a mistake. If you weren’t reading this we could assume you didn’t have an interest in firearms, but since you are, and you may be looking for advice and guidance on the topic, please look for future articles to help you understand the basics of the different facets of firearm ownership. The entire Series of beginners articles will be entitled “BASICS” so you can be sure the information is at a level and a progression that suits a new potential gun owner searching for a first purchase. Please comment to help me improve the offerings to those who are new to guns, or need to learn about them prior to a purchase. This is an area of the firearms industry that is of extreme importance to me and I want to help every way I can to bring responsible and self reliant firearms owners and proponents into the fold.