The Top Four Factors In Handgun Selection

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This past year and a half has seen an enormous number of people buying guns for the first time, many of whom were previously anti-gun. So, there is a need for advice on equipment selection. If you’re considering buying your first gun, it can be very confusing. It has driven me to create this list of the top four considerations for selecting a handgun.

How Do You Choose Which One To Get?

1. The most crucial factor is how the gun fits in your hand. You must be able to establish a proper grip and operate the controls efficiently. Proper fit is somewhat subjective, so I recommend trying many guns to find what is most comfortable in your hands. My wife loves my Beretta 96 and can shoot it well, but it is too big for her smaller hands, and she has to fumble to operate all of the controls. My M&P Shield fits her hands better, and she can handle it more efficiently. This is what you want.


Can you establish a proper grip and operate the controls efficiently?

Try many guns to find what is most comfortable in your hands.

Caliber Selection

2. The next factor is how the gun points. When raising the gun to the firing position, do the sights line up naturally, or do you have to adjust your grip or hand angle after you’re in position? You want one that points naturally for you. Granted, you can learn to adjust your hands to compensate, but it’s better to have one that is right. I can shoot a GLOCK handgun well, but the grip angle is not natural, so I must work harder to be accurate. In contrast, I can pick up a 1911 and bring it on target effortlessly. Get one that points well for you.

3. The next item to look at is caliber selection. Should you choose a large caliber like a .45 ACP? Perhaps you would shoot better with a 9mm. If you get the first two factors right, caliber selection is less of a problem. Being able to hold the gun properly will allow you to control any of the commonly used calibers. Most people want the largest caliber they can handle. It’s a nice thought, but the critical factor in caliber selection is knowing which one gives you the control and ability to hit the target more often. The U.S. Army selected the 9mm after finding most soldiers hit the target more often with it than with a .45. They decided it was better to get more hits on target. They concluded while a .45 might do more damage when it hits, if your hit percentage is 30% lower, it’s not as effective as a 9mm. Choose a caliber that doesn’t require a struggle to shoot accurately.

4. The last main factor is affordability. It’s the old “Buy Once, Cry Once” argument. Is it better to purchase a less expensive gun until you can afford the best one for you? Or is it better to wait and get the best and only cry once? To me, it’s not so much a matter of price as it is a matter of value. My general advice is to buy the best handgun you can afford (that meets your needs) and stick with it.


Become proficient with your gun before buying extra accessories and fancy equipment.

Become Proficient With It

Once you pick a handgun using these four factors, the next step is to buy enough ammunition to become proficient with it. Don’t waste money on accessories until you’ve

mastered the gun. The only two possible exceptions might be to buy a quality holster if you intend to carry the weapon and to get some training from a quality instructor. Other than that, your primary focus should be on proficiency. This only comes through consistent, quality practice.

Bruce Lee said, “I don’t fear the man who knows a thousand kicks; I fear the man who knows only one kick but has practiced it a thousand times.” So, while everyone else is purchasing new sights, red dots, fancy barrels, or even sending their gun off for unique slide cuts and finishes, you should be shooting.

It’s very tempting to have the latest gear. Trust me; I’ve been there. But if you ask anyone who has been shooting for years, they will tell you they are more impressed by how well you shoot than any fancy equipment you might have for your gun. Accessories are not the four main factors. Becoming proficient first will allow more intelligent decisions on what equipment you need, thus eliminating wasted money on useless ones purchased in ignorance.