Choosing a first gun may seem a simple task on the surface, but there is quite a bit to it. In many cases it starts as not much more than a beauty contest; people are drawn to a “good looking” gun. Of course, beauty is only skin deep, or possibly metal deep. And pure beauty isn’t always the best choice, particularly in regard to firearms.
First, folks need to determine whether they want to buy a handgun, a shotgun or a rifle. Each category of firearm has its purposes, but over the past few years handgun sales have risen greatly for many reasons. As such, the handgun market is flush with options of every size, from micro pocket pistols to Dirty Harry hand cannons.
Striker-fired guns, such as the Glock 17, are exceptionally reliable and easy to use. Many consider this 9mm blaster to be durable, reliable and budget friendly. However, revolvers are still popular with many shooters. These folks consider the Smith & Wesson 686 one of the best concealed guns for personal protection. Another good choice is the Kimber DASA revolver, chambered in .357 mag, which can also fire .38 Special ammo to reduce recoil in both training and self-defense.
And no one can forget the classic 1911. These guns have been around since, well 1911. Primarily chambered in .45 ACP, these classics are still considered the gold standard in accuracy and trigger pull. A good value in a reliable 1911 is the Ruger SR1911. One of the best is the Nighthawk Counselor. Considered to be the Ferrari of the 1911 world, the Nighthawk is as beautiful as it is functional. However, it is also priced as such.
Each of these guns can serve in multiple roles. First and foremost, they are great for concealed carry. They are also a good choice for home defense. Lastly, they are simply great for the range. Each of these guns is easy to use and enjoyable to shoot.
Next comes shotguns. Scatterguns have come a long way from the double-barrels of old, and like handguns there are numerous versions available. First are traditional pump shotguns. These are simple to use and extremely reliable, such as the Mossberg 590A1. It is a hearty shotgun that will serve a variety of needs.
The second option are semi-automatic guns. These operate on an inertia system or gas blow back and can be fired very quickly. One of the best in this category is the Benelli M4. It is sleek and fast and is the go-to gun for millions of shooters.
The last category are over/under shotguns. These sporting guns literally have one barrel on top of the other. One of the best parts of shotguns is that they can shoot a variety of ammunition, making these guns multi-purpose. Shotguns can fire bird shot, buckshot as well as slugs. They are good for personal defense situations, as well as hunting and the range. One that is both functional and beautiful is the Browning Citori. Of course, while an over/under gun can be used for self-defense in a pinch, it would be better to use a shotgun designed for home defense and vice versa.
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Few things are as American as rifles, whether used for sporting, fun or even self-defense. Americans love rifles, with one particular having the ability to call itself America’s rifle. Shooters hold an estimated 25 million AR-15s, making it one of the most popular rifles in the country. While available in a variety of chamberings, 5.56x45mm (.223 Rem) holds the most popular title. In this caliber the AR-15 offers light recoil, making it enjoyable to shoot. It is also highly customizable, which only increases its popularity. One of the best is the Sig Sauer M400 Tread. This mid-priced rifle has many high-end features.
Second rifle up is the bolt gun. Most shooters consider the bolt action rifle to be in the hunting and long-range realms. It is also become extremely popular in competitions. A good first gun option to consider is the Tikka TX3 Lite. This multi-purpose bolt-actin rifle won’t break the bank.
Another well-known American classic is the lever gun. While commonly associated with the Old West, shooters across the country still love these rifles. This is mostly because lever-action rifles are accurate and really fun to shoot. These guns have an old vibe, but benefit from modern manufacturing. Even better, these guns come available in a variety of caliber, such as 30-30 and .357. One of the most popular is the Winchester model 94. It is easy to use and extremely reliable.
While most guns have specific purposes, almost all of them across the spectrum of applications. Shooters can use the AR-15 can easily be used for hunting, as well as personal defense. Bolt rifles are typical found in the hunting world, but competition shooters love them for the long-range accuracy provided. Hunters have probably taken more game with lever-actions than any other type of rifle, but these rifles also “won the West.”
Choosing a first firearm is an exciting moment, even though wading through countless options can be overwhelming. Taking a few minutes to consider what is needed and desired can make the process a little easier.