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Choosing a Firearm | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Choosing a Firearm

Choosing FirearmA common question people ask me when they are first getting into firearms is “But, what gun do I choose? Which one is the best?” This is one of the easiest – and hardest – questions to answer. It is easy because I can tell you how you go about picking the right gun, what guns I like, and how to become proficient at using whatever gun you choose. It is hard because I cannot tell you what gun to buy. I can’t even tell you a brand or what type; pistol, rifle, or shotgun. So I’m gonna lay it out. How do you choose a firearm?

First thing’s first… you have to decide what type of gun you want. This is broken down into three main categories:

  • Pistols are great because they are compact, allowing them to be taken just about anywhere while wearing just about anything. But they have problems. They are less accurate than a rifle, have less knock-down power than both rifles and shotguns, and take a bit longer to get really good at using than a rifle or shotgun would.
  • Shotguns on the other hand are too bulky to take everywhere you go. They are basically good at the house and out in the field while hiking. There are good things about them though. They are better for hunting than a pistol and can hunt more sizes of animals than a single rifle could. By being able to change the type of ammunition easily with shotguns, you have much more versatility from one gun, and the knock-down power at close to medium range is amazing.
  • Rifles give you the ability to hit targets at great distances and have little to great knock-down power, depending on the caliber it is chambered in. Like shotguns though, they are bulky and cannot be easily taken from home or out of the field.

So, if you are looking for an everyday, at-home-and-away-from-home defensive weapon, then you would want a pistol. If you can only get one gun and are more concerned with home defense, hunting, and surviving a prolonged emergency, then a shotgun with several types of ammunition would be a good bet. If your goal is long range targets or increased accuracy in general, then the rifle gives the most bang for the buck.

Choosing a Gun: Budget
Now that we know which type of gun we want, we have to come to grips with the reality than there is a very, very big price range that guns are sold under, and the average wallet is only so deep. So we have to come up with a price range. Nothing special here to write about. Just figure out how much money you can commit to a gun, remembering that ammunition, cleaning supplies, training, holsters/slings, etc… are all needed things that cost money as well.

Choosing a Gun: Caliber
Now that we have the type of gun, and the amount we can spend, we now look at caliber or gauge. Do your research to determine what you are willing to carry and/or bet your life on. Choosing round types and size is an issue for an entire article and is hotly debated, but I always suggest going with a common caliber that you can afford to feed your gun. The round of choice should have enough power to stop a fight, yet be mild enough for you to control the weapon. Some recommended calibers would be any that police or military use, such as 9mm, .40 caliber, and .45 caliber. These rounds are easy to find, low in cost, and are capable of achieving a good stop against a threat.

In addition to size, type of round should be considered. It is possible for a round to pass through an intended target and continue down range and hit another object or person, which is known as over penetration. To limit this, and increase stopping power, move away from full metal jacket (FMJ) type rounds and start looking at hollow points (HP), critical defense, and other such rounds.

Weapon type, price range, and caliber are chosen now? Good. Now, more research. Look up as many guns as you can that fit your established criteria. Check out the reviews, watch videos from the companies and from people testing their products. This should narrow things down a bit.

Choosing a Gun: Test Fire
Find a range that rents guns out and has as many of the ones on your list as possible. Shoot them. At least two magazines through each one. Which one feels the most comfortable? Which one are you most accurate with? If you are new to shooting and you are not that accurate with any of them, that is okay. Which one had the most rounds in a two inch group? It doesn’t matter where that group is on the target, it just matters that the grouping of shots is as tight as possible. Which one is the easiest for you to use? The one that tops this list is the best gun to own.

As time goes on and you get better with that type of gun, learn more about guns, etc… you may choose to get something different. But for now, you found the best gun you can have. And remember, the best gun to have when it comes to self-defense isn’t that new, cool, fancy looking thing you read about and everyone who is anyone has run out to buy. It is the one in your hand that goes bang when you squeeze the trigger. Every time.

Seth Belt

Seth grew up in Southern Arizona before joining the U.S. Navy. While serving in the Navy, Seth was an anti-narcotics operator and an anti-submarine operator for 5 years. He was lucky enough to travel to many of the Central and South American countries, as well as visiting many South East Asian nations and islands. One of Seth’s greatest joys from his time in the Navy was teaching new Sailors firearms education and safety. After leaving the Navy in 2010, Seth returned to Arizona and had a rough time learning how to be a civilian again, often working jobs that could barely pay the bills. After going to school, Seth became an Emergency Medical Technician in the Phoenix Valley, where he now lives with his wife and son.His areas of knowledge cover military, firearms, and emergency medicine.
Seth Belt
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6 thoughts on “Choosing a Firearm

  1. A good starter article but you can get this info in any “good” NRA Basic Pistol Course. “Good” being the operative word there. You need to contact any potential NRA Instructor and ask them what specifically will be covered during their course which is usually 8 hours long. As far as caliber (i.e. 9mm, 40 S&W, etc) this matters greatly. The smaller calibers are generally more user friendly because their is less recoil to handle. As you gain practice, the larger calibers can be handled better. I have years of experience and still prefer 9mm for carry but 45 for home defense. One last point – Pistols and revolvers are not harder to to fire accurately than rifles. Pistols or revolvers would generally be used at fairly close distances in self defense (5-25 feet). If you watch women fire shotguns (remember Joe Biden’s dumb suggestion?) on youtube, the recoil knocks them down often times and men end up with bruised cheek bones sometimes. Shotgun takes training to be used correctly! These are my “opinions” and I think different people will have different opinions. In the end, you will develop your own favorite choices that will work for you IF you train for them properly.

    1. I’m a bit disappointed not to see 10mm mentioned (I’m a fairly big fan, but admit it isn’t remotely cost-effective and can be hard to find in many areas right now). David, I am curious, why do you continue to carry a 9mm? I’ve been using a .40 (Glock 27) as my daily carry for a decade+ now, and recently have begun to consider changing to the Glock 29, which is a 10mm. In some ways I was thrown in the deep end, when I was taught to shoot, the .40 was the smallest handgun caliber I ever touched. It wasn’t until years later someone handed me a 9mm (and smaller ones), but by then I was used to and preferred larger calibers. The .40 suits me well and I can conceal the 27, and I have 10mm’s for home defense as well. The only reason I don’t have a .45 is because I’ve been building my long gun collection lately, but I would like to get one. Just a bit curious as to your choosing to carry a 9mm, is it out of habit?

      One thing I have to add…FMJ/TMJ/MC and so on are target rounds, cheaper to train with. HP’s and all their relatives (JSP, JHP, FTX, SP…) are defense rounds. But I will say I think it’s important to do some training drills with whatever defense round you choose to conceal carry/defend your home with because they’re more powerful than target rounds and the last thing you need is to be startled or unable to recover fast enough from the greater recoil. I know most everyone here knows that, but any newbies who read the article for advice might be a little confused.

      Nice informative article for gun newbies, thanks!

      1. Katherine Ainsworth, you are awsome! Your choice of Glock 27 is definitely a good one. I actually carried that myself for awhile. It is easy to wear (IWB), shoots well and packs a good punch. It is a great combo of firepower and capacity. I decided to switch to 9mm because I wanted a softer recoil to handle followup shots better. But that’s just because I couldn’t practice often enough to get better with it. I often second guess my decision to switch however. I will also carry my Glock 36 which is great for concealing – that too has a bit of snappiness to it but the comfort of 45 caliber offsets that aspect. The only problem I have now with the G19 (or a G26 for that matter) is that I am limited to 10 rounds in the magazine here in Connecticut (my status as military allows me to own, but not carry, 15 rounders. Considering the round count limitation, a G27/23 is starting to sound better to me again.

  2. Connecticut is rife with restrictive laws, it is enough to keep me out, frankly. I recently moved and the gun laws were definitely a factor, although I was already in a great state for carry laws, overall, this one is better in some ways. I can see why you’d want to be sure of your follow ups with the 9mm, shot placement is king (although with your .45, you possess some major knockdown power with just FMJ’s, let alone HP’s, I’ve got to get one). I could go on endlessly about caliber, bullet types, and firearms. Nice to “meet” another Glock fan, I love mine, and have many military friends who dislike them, preferring Beretta (you can guess which branch) or HK (again, you can probably guess). Everyone has their personal preferences but it always makes me smile to find a fellow Glock lover. The mag limits you have would make me a bit crazy; was it NY or a different state that brought in similar limits and forgot to include a clause allowing LEO’s the larger-cap mags?

  3. Catherine; if you like the Glock 27, you might like the Glock 30S (45 ACP). The G30S is very similar in size to the G27.The G30S is a Glock 30 but it has a shorter grip length (front to back) which is good for small to medium hand size and a slide as slim as the Glock 36. I have yet to inspect one in person but it is something I have been wanting to check out. NY State put in the draconian gun restrictions and forgot to exempt the police. I believe they passed a fixer to that. CT allows police and military an exemption for AR15 and higher capacity mags but you must still meet the 10rd limit for carry off duty. I bought new sneakers and a faster car to compensate.

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