Soon to be handgun owner. I need advice!


New member
Hello this is my first post on here. I am turning 21 next month so I will legally be able to buy and own a handgun. he only problem is that I have no idea what to buy due to how broad the market is. I have shot a couple of my friends handguns just to get a feel for them and see what I like most, but I feel like this may be my best by coming here where there are so many experts in the field. I have shot a Ruger LC9 and a Barretta nano and just to give some info on myself I am 5'9" around 145 pounds, but workout regularly so I don't consider trigger pull to be too much of a problem although I'd still like to keep it somewhat light just for easy of use and accuracy. My price range is set to a max of $700 as well. Any help, info, and advice is very appreciated and I look forward to being a contributing member of this forum.



New member
That's one of my problems. There's only one range in my area that rents guns and they are strictly rifles.


New member
Welcome from East Texas!!

Your question is too broad. What is your primary purpose for the handgun? There are handguns geared for plinking at the range, others for competition, some just to have (collect) and then the ones your life may depend upon. Even that last category can be broken into "home use" and "everyday carry". Even with your everyday carry (EDC) gun, we need to know if you plan to carry inside the waistband (IWB) or open carry (OP). Do you want a semi-auto or a revolver? External safety or no external safety?

Do you know what caliber you want? This question will really spice up this thread. :lol:

Believe me, when asking for opinions...these answers are necessary or you will get biased responses based on what each person's preferences may be. Come back and give some details or ask more questions in order to answer mine and we'll be more than happy to help.

But, no matter what...handle and actually shoot the gun you decide on before purchasing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By the way...where are you from?


New member
LukeHink, also understand that most everyone is loyal to something. Just as you may favor a Dodge truck over a Ford or Chevy, gun owners are just as loyal to a brand or design. You have to figure out what works for YOU! With the right information we can help but just realize that just because someone may say, "I hate Glocks, go with a Kimber 1911 in .45 ACP" doesn't mean that is what is right for your or your situation.


New member
That's one of my problems. There's only one range in my area that rents guns and they are strictly rifles.
Greetings, welcome! I can't encourage you strongly enough to find a place where you can try out a few different types of handguns before you buy. It would be well worth a good drive to find a shop/range that will allow you to do that. You stated you have a $700 budget. You don't want to spend that and shortly after regret your choice. I'm not going to recommend anything specific for you without knowing more about you or what your goals are...a firearm is a tool, and I don't know what sort of "work" you wish to do with it (competition, target shooting/plinking, hunting, self-defense at home, self-defense outside the home, etc.). Good luck and let us know how it goes!


New member
I completely understand personal loyalties so I'm not looking to get an exact answer out of a forum, but I'd like to narrow my search down to a few so I can work on finding those somewhere that I would be able to try them out. To answer some questions: I am from Missouri so I now have the option to open carry although I would almost always carry inside the waistband due to personal reasons. I want a gun that I can use for target practice/messing around at the farm, but also one that I will be able to use efficiently if I come into contact with a dangerous situation. I would also like it to be a semi auto with an external safety. Although, on the caliber I am completely open to whatever. If someone would like to elaborate on which caliber they feel would most fit my needs I am more than pleased to hear it's.
To add to my original post; the ruger wasmy favorite of the two but just didn't feel like it had the kick I am looking for. The nano just didn't feel like my type of gun, I'm not sure why, it just didn't feel right in my hands.


New member
Thanks for elaborating a bit more.

Regarding say you want to target practice/mess around at the farm and use for self defense. 9mm would be the most reasonable caliber for that since the ammo is cheaper and usually easy to find. You have to research the 9mm vs. .38, .40 S&W or .45 ACP for it's ability to stop the threat. You may find that you want a larger caliber but with that comes a higher cost to target practice with. Gfrlaser said above that for $700 you can buy two guns. Many have one for the range and one as a self defense tool for that reason. Also, consider that 9mm magazines will hold more rounds than the larger calibers which is good since the knockdown power is less you might need the extra rounds. I carry .40 S&W as I see that as a happy medium between the 9mm and the .45 ACP.

Semiauto is a good choice for your use. Just one thought...having an external safety on a self defense tool can be a detriment. By that I mean that in a pressure situation you may pull out the weapon and forget to turn off the safety. Happens to LEO all the time. I have decided that since my self defense tool is only coming out of the holster when I need to use it to stop a threat, I don't want an external safety...therefore I carry a Glock that has a trigger safety and won't discharge if dropped. But I carry a Glock also since it fits my hand and I can shoot it well which is most important. I use the model 23 which is the compact version in .40 S&W.

Another tool I like is the Beretta PX4 Storm. Sweet little gun. Check it out! Hope this helps!!


New member
For home use and defense, go with a 9mm, the M&P Shield is a great gun, easy to handle and great for CC. I have two M&P's a 9 and a 40. As I am a 1911 guy, the M&P feels great in the hand, while my CC is a Ruger LCP 380, small and great for the car. For $700 you can acquire several guns, first try what feels best, talk to range people not salesmen. You can even purchase great use guns and new ones for half the price on many of the arms sites out there.


Like the other posts, I would recommend 9mm to start with. It is a reasonable caliber for self defense and target ammo is cheaper.

Considering your $700 budget, I would not recommend buying two guns. Instead buy one good quality gun and train with it regularly.

Also, there are other costs to consider. In addition to sales tax and background check fee, you will need some target and some self-defense ammo. You want to make sure to break the gun in with at least 200 rounds of target ammo. You also want to make sure that your self-defense ammo cycles reliably (from a full magazine and with one in the pipe). I usually run at least 50 rounds of my selected brand of self-defense ammo through it. A good holster and a decent belt are also recommended. Also, think about how you will store the gun, including when you are not at home but your gun is. Loaded in a quick access safe would be best. Fees for using a range need to be considered as well.

As for specific handguns, it takes time to understand what you need and what you are actually comfortable with. Single-stack 9mm options include: Beretta Nano, Springfield Armory XD(S) 3.3 or 4.0, Ruger LC9, and Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9. Double-stack 9mm options include: Glock 26, Smith & Wesson M&P 9c, Ruger SR9c, Springfield Armory XD(M) 3.8 Compact, and Glock 19. There are also good options from SIG SAUER and Walther.

I highly recommend reading gun reviews, such as Gun Reviews - The Truth About Guns.


New member
I highly recommend you look at the Ruger SR series. I've taken several newer shooters to the range and all have liked my SR9c. Very comfortable and reliable, the trigger is short and crisp. 9mm is a great choice for self defense as well as range time. To me a self defense weapon is the one I'm going to trust and have the most experience with. Lots of rounds down range. In the $400 range, you'd have money left over for ammo, holster, etc.


New member

I get asked this question more times than any other question from students who attend my classes and who have no or little experience with firearms. It’s a fairly simple question but one that requires careful consideration of several key factors before rendering a decision.

Before we delve into the meat and potatoes there’s one basic question that must be asked. Do you want a handgun for home protection only?

If so, then my advice would be to consider a long gun, such as a shotgun or an AR15. To explain, cops and those of us who carry concealed handguns for protection do so because handguns are both securable and concealable. The drawback is handgun ammunition does not have the same level of energy displacement as rifle or slug ammunition. Every soldier and cop will tell you that as a corollary tactical principle, no law enforcement officer or armed civilian should ever plan to meet an expected attack armed only with a handgun.

If you want a handgun so you can carry it concealed or to open carry I ask that you consider buying a long gun for home protection.

Now, let’s assume you’ve decided to buy a handgun so you can carry it concealed or if you prefer, open carry to protect yourself and those you love for harm and you enter your first gun store. The first time visit to most gun stores by first time gun buyers can be somewhat overwhelming. Some gun stores display several hundred guns of various sizes, styles, calibers and colors which can be somewhat intimidating for the novice buyer.

Having the knowledge of what may be best for you can be acquired by answering a few basic questions.

1) How will you carry it? (concealed in a waistband carry, belly band carry, shoulder hostler, pressure shirt with built in holster, etc or open carry)

Answering this question will greatly reduce the number of firearms you will see on the wall or from any gun magazine you may gave perused. If you’re purchasing a handgun to conceal it on your body you must ensure that when it’s concealed the outline of the handgun is not printed on your clothing, If it’s printed then it’s not concealed.

If you elect to open carry then handgun size is not that much of a factor other than comfort ability. The open carry of a handgun should require thought of what type of holster will you utilize?

IMO, if you elect to open carry you should at least consider selecting at a level II security holster or a level IIl security holster to thwart unexpected gun grabs. This could greatly reduce the chance of allowing a bad guy to walk up behind you and removing your handgun before you can react. Plus, you should also consider incorporating gun take away drills into your firearms training program.

2) How much have you budgeted for this firearm?

3) How much have you budgeted for concealed carry clothing or holsters etc?

Answering these two questions could further reduce the number of firearms you see displayed.

Note: If you prefer a semiautomatic to a revolver then you should consider the following. Semiautomatics are known to suffer from malfunctions or stoppages. The overwhelming majority of this malfunctions or stoppages are shooter induced, more so by breaking the wrist via an improper grip.

In other words, the person firing the semi-automatic has done something that interrupted the handguns Cycle of Function and has reduced the amount of energy the handgun requires in order to remove and eject the spent casing then seating a new round from the magazine. Hence, you’ just suffered a malfunction / stoppage. The Tap and Rack is a proven method to clear 99% of malfunctions or stoppages and must be incorporated into any firearms training program.

Regardless of whether you choose a semiautomatic or revolver you should be able to function check or manipulate the action (opening the revolver cylinder or pulling back and locking the slide of a semi automatic) of both handguns with your strong hand and weak hand. You should consider the possibility that in a fight for your life one of your hands, arms or both becomes injured. Can you fire your weapon from your strong side only and then from your weak side only?

Now, can you reload the handgun using only your strong hand or weak hand only?

Now that you’ve considered these questions all you need to do now is find a gun store that carries a large variety of handguns. Pick several handguns of varying calibers that meet your criteria and hold them, grip them and ask the salesperson to show you how to work the action (to lock the slide open or to open the cylinder). Some gun stores will even allow you to fire the handgun before you buy it. If that’s the case then pick your top four or five and fire them to see which one fits your hands and needs the best. Don’t get caught up in the caliber trap. Chose the largest caliber you can effectively shoot and hit the target with time after time. A hit with a .22 is infinitely better than a miss with a .45. However, IMO you should not carry anything under a .380 for personal protection.

Now that you’ve narrowed down your selection there’s one more thing I’d like to mention. Consider spending a little more for a stainless steel version of your chosen handgun. If you carry the handgun concealed upon your person more than likely you’re like most of us and sweat in the summer months. If you elect to buy a blue steel handgun for conceal and carry you will need to maintain it weekly with oil to prevent it from rusting. A stainless steel gun will never rust.

I’ve had countless students come to my classes with handguns they either recently purchased or with handguns passed down to them from relatives. Many of these students have found that they have bought or acquired handguns that were not the best choice because they lacked the knowledge of what is contained in this article.

Once you have the knowledge of what may be best for you buying a handgun is no longer a daunting task.

Good luck and stay safe out there.

Sherman C. Graves Sr.

About the author:

I retired from law enforcement after 21 years as a Sergeant. During my career I acquired an extensive background in firearms training, serving as a firearms instructor, range master, rifle instructor, armorer, less than lethal instructor and on a SWAT team for 5 years. I’m currently employed as a Corporate Security Advisor for a worldwide corporation where I serve as a member this corporation’s Emergency Response Unit and as their department armorer.

I’m the owner of Concealed Advantage St. Louis LLC and I teach the 8-hour Missouri Firearms Safety Course throughout the eastern portion of Missouri.

I’m also the Eastern Missouri Training Director for Concealed Advantage Firearms Training Company and a member of the Missouri Association of Law Enforcement CCW Instructors. - Home

You can read additional articles like this in our on-line magazine, Concealed Advantage at Link Removed where I’m a contributing author. I can also be reached at [email protected].


New member
Hello this is my first post on here. I am turning 21 next month so I will legally be able to buy and own a handgun. he only problem is that I have no idea what to buy due to how broad the market is. I have shot a couple of my friends handguns just to get a feel for them and see what I like most, but I feel like this may be my best by coming here where there are so many experts in the field. I have shot a Ruger LC9 and a Barretta nano and just to give some info on myself I am 5'9" around 145 pounds, but workout regularly so I don't consider trigger pull to be too much of a problem although I'd still like to keep it somewhat light just for easy of use and accuracy. My price range is set to a max of $700 as well. Any help, info, and advice is very appreciated and I look forward to being a contributing member of this forum.



Have owned a gun for 60 years (the first was a Daisy BB gun when I was 5 years old) to geive you an idea about my knowledge base. The best advice has been given--try to find a range that rents or allows the trying out of handguns, shoot different makes and models and calibers, and buy the one you like best. If you have two or three finalists, go with your gut.

The biggest thing for me at 5'7" and 185 lbs is the grip configuration. Would like to have a Glock but the grip is just too big from front to back. Beretta 92FS fits perfectly and the Italian made ones with 2 15-round mags are between $550 and $600 for the blue model NIB (new in box). As to caliber, I am impartial as I use veverything from a Ruger 22 LR/22 WMR, to .500 S&W in revolvers and 9mm to 10mm in pistols (semi-automatics). Prefer to carry the Beretta (made in Italy--sorry but have had two from there and two made in the US and for whatever reason, the two Italians were great and the US makes, not so much bu you may have a different experience).

One last caveat, please ignore the "experts" who insist that there is only one caliber, one make, one model, etc. as it has been my experience that most of these folks are like Monday Morning Quarterbacks.

Hope this helps and if you're in the St. Louis area, there are several ranges west of the city proper that could fill your requirements for testing handguns. Ultimate Defense is one such range but there are several others around, too.

Good Shooting and Be Safe


New member
Get a used g19 and advantage arms 22lr conversion kit. That way you can practice fundamentals of draw, presentation and trigger squeeze on your primary carry more affordably.

You mentioned wanting an external safety but I think it's a non-issue if you carry in a suitable holster that covers the trigger and don't fudge with the trigger pull weight.


You have left several items out of your question that you need to be much more explicit in detail.

1) Target, CCW, both.
2) Cailber: 9mm, .38/.357, .45 are most common for the average firearm.
3) State you reside in.

Firearm ownership is a responsibility that one takes on under the Right of the Second Amendment. It should not be "just because I want one" as the reason for doing so. Shooting can be a very relaxing time, alone, with friends, competition. CCW is yet another level of responsibility to be taken extremely seriously. You may encounter those who give it a gloss over, do not mistake why this forum and others exist. Take the responsibility to be armed seriously.

I carry depending on the situation, .38 Super Combat Commander, .45 1911 frame, .357 Colt Revolver. I practice marksmanship and stress firing.

Take care and be safe


New member
My two cents, if you are looking at a handgun for carry, its your first handgun ever, as a instructor I must recommend a J frame revolver in a ultra light 38 spl +p . Keep In mind this is your first gun, not your last. I still carry a J frame in my pocket to this day. Also, reliability and shoot ability are the two most important things in a carry gun, brand means nothing, keep in mind, if you use it you loose it.... in most states.


New member
I would highly suggest looking for a FNS-9mm. The gun will hold 17+1, and comes new in the box with 3 clips and interchangeable back straps for a more custom fit for your hand. For a little more money you can get the Trijicon night sights on this gun which work great! This gun also has an external safety along with a trigger safety and internal safeties as well. I bought mine in Montana for $600 and that is about the average price I've seen them going for brand new.

I would also recommend a glock 17 or 19 (Both 9mm). Even though they are butt ugly, they are reliable. The only downfall is no external safety. But don't take that the wrong way, they are still a very safe gun. The best safety is the one between your ears.

Good luck! Let's us know what you decide on getting!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
1) Take everyone's advice- shoot before you buy
2) Here's some of my favs. 9x19
Beretta M9
Walther P99
Browning Hi-Power (perhaps you can find a used one.... new is over $1k)

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