Category Archives: beginning shooting

So you wanna buy a gun…

… but you have no idea what to get. 

Luckily for you, I went through the same conundrum a year ago as I was anxiously awaiting 2+ months permission from the state to buy said firearm.  I’m by no means a firearms expert but I have read dozens upon dozens of articles written by experts, bought a couple guns, and shot 2500ish rounds/shells over the past year.  I feel qualified to at least share my opinion on the process. 

First thing’s first.  Before you even think about what firearm you want to buy, you need to check your state/county/city’s laws on owning a firearm.  These laws can vary wildly.  For example anyone in IL has to submit an application and wait a couple months while the state police check to see if they’re a felon or mental and mail them out a Firearm Owners Identification Card.  However, there are a great many states where you can just walk in to a gun store, run a background check and you’re good to go.  (Must be nice.)  A few states and some cities will limit  magazine capacity to 10 rounds or make it illegal to have a detachable magazine.  As much as you might disagree with the law, you still have to follow it.

Although it doesn’t factor at all into gun selection, I would be remiss to not advise an aspiring gun owner to learn the 4 rules.  If you have done much research into the world of firearms, you’ll find these are universally preached. (And for good reason.)  They consist of:

  1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.  Don’t be “that guy”.  You know, the one who shoots himself in the junk by stuffing a gun “he could’ve swore” was unloaded into his waistband. 
  2. Never point a gun at something unless you  to destroy it.  Goes hand in hand with #1.  If you assume it’s loaded, you should always be cognizant of what direction the gun is.  If you failed to treat the gun as if it were loaded, following this rule will put a hole in the wall or floor instead of your TV or cat.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and ready to shoot.  No matter which gun you choose, as long as it was made in the past 20 years, it was made to only go off when you pull the trigger.  If you failed to follow rules 1&2 and you’re pointing your loaded gun at your cat while cleaning it, it won’t go off unless you pull the trigger.  (In most cases, even if you drop it!)  So don’t touch it dammit!
  4. Identify your target and what is behind it.  So you’ve successfully bought a gun and cleaned it without killing the cat.  You and buddy go to a family member’s field a mile out of town, toss some cans on the ground and go to town right?  Not so much.  You have to be sure your bullets are going to go into the dirt when they go thru that can or you miss.  You are responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun.  Depending on the bullet, it can travel up to 5-6 miles and still mess someone up.  Make sure every bullet goes into the dirt.

I know none of that makes a difference in what gun you choose, but these are all unspoken rules as far as firearms.  If you walk into a gun store, ask to see a gun, and then point it at the employee with your finger on the trigger he’s gonna think you’re a tool and not take you seriously.  Plus I don’t want you to go to all the trouble of buying a gun and then accidentally kill yourself.  Be careful.

Ok, now that we got all of that out of the way, what do you want a gun for?  For me, it breaks down into 3 categories:

  • Home defense 
  • Hunting
  • Because this is America, I’m an American and I can.  (This would include zombie preparedness, OMG the sky is falling, I need a gun for when the Chinese come collect their debt, and other theoretical scenarios.)

Unless you’re in an area that allows you to use rifles to hunt (IL doesn’t for the most part), my reccommendation for self defense is the same as my reccomendation for hunting:  a 12 gauge pump shotgun.  One of the most versatile guns out there, with it you can hunt everything from squirrels and doves with birdshot to whitetails with slugs.  Put five shells of 00 (double ought) buckshot in it and you have one of the most formidible home defense guns available.  (It even comes with the built in “SHIK-SHIK!!!” noise that universally says GET THE F*** OUT!!!.)  For roughly $225 (new), you have a hunting gun and something to put under the bed in case something goes bump in the night.

If your state allows you to hunt with a rifle, I wouldn’t say that I reccommend going out and buying that rifle right away, first thing.  I would recommend a .22 in a similar configuration to what you see yourself hunting with. 

For example, if you plan on hunting with a Remington 700 bolt action in .308 someday, get a Savage Accutrigger or Ruger 77/22. 

Savage .22, alot of fun to shoot.  My gun nut uncle has one.

Why would I suggest such a thing?  Well, because you have to do your part to be a successful marksman.  You have to learn how to squeeeeeze the trigger, where you need to weld our cheek to a stock, etc.  Practice makes perfect.  Practice requires ammo.  A box of 20 rounds of .308 will run you $15.  A box of 500 rounds of .22 will run you $15 dollars. Plus a quality .22 bolt action is less than half the cost of a similar quality .308 rifle.   While you will need to practice some when you move up in caliber, you can spend alot less learning the basics and getting some experience with your preferred hunting system.

Ah finally, the OMFG, when SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan), its TEOTWAKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), Zombpocalypse gun.  Or if you prefer, just a gun for fun.  Get whatever the hell you want.  I will say that you shouldn’t listen to internet hype.  There are fanboys for every system out there.  Just like any other piece of equipment, there are fanboys and they will trash a product just for being different.  Don’t let the AR vs. AK, Polymer vs. Metal, Battle-tested vs. New Hotness, 1911 vs. Glock, 5.56 vs. .308 arguments sway you.  Pick a gun that you like and go with it.

In fact, take my word for what it is, just my opinion.  If you feel like getting a super accessorized AR10 as your first gun to protect your home (and your neighbor house 800 yards away), go for it.  It’s your money. I will say that it’s probably a good idea to look for something in a similar configuration in .22 for the same reason as the hunting rifle, cheap practice.  For example, when I got my first gun, I knew I’d want a centerfire rifle of some kind but I had no idea what.  So my first gun was a Ruger 10/22. It was only $200.  Firing 2250+ rounds thru it and taking it completely apart a couple times has gotten me familiar with how semiautos work.

With any gun that you’re thinking about buying, try to find a few honest reviews (preferably from somebody who as put several hundred to a couple thousand rounds thru the gun in question. I’ve found to be a pretty legit site.  They tell it how it is.).  It’s important to know that something you’re going to spend your money on and possibly stake your life on is reliable and worth the money.

With everything laid out, I suppose my suggestion for a first gun would be a 12ga shotgun.  Perfect for home defense, adequate for most hunting situations, if you never bought another gun you’d be pretty well off.

Jack of all trades.

What about you?  What is your suggestion for a good first gun?  What WAS your first gun?  Feel free to ask any questions.  Like I said, I’m no expert but I’m happy to give an opinion or find out the correct answer for you if I don’t know.