Learning how to buy a gun for the first time? Purchasing firearms is a monumental feat you shouldn't take lightly. You need to consider multiple factors to ensure you secure a gun that addresses your needs and matches your lifestyle.
5 Crucial Things Beginners Should Know on How to Buy Gun
1. Determine the Purpose for Buying a Gun
The first thing aspiring shooters need to consider is why they want to purchase a gun. In most cases, gun dealerships won't sell firearms to buyers who do not disclose the nature of their purchase.
Gun ownership is a great responsibility. Unless you're serious about owning firearms and learning to use them responsibly, don't even consider walking into a gun dealership.
Some of the most common reasons why civilians might want to buy guns include:
Using firearms for self-defense is very common. Statistics show that there are around 500,000 to 3,000,000 recorded annual cases where civilians were forced to use their concealed carry to defend themselves, their home, or their family.
When choosing a gun to use for self-defense, you need one that matches your lifestyle. Don't blindly go with whatever weapon your fellow shooters use for protection.
For example, if you plan to carry the weapon around at all times, you need a concealed carry handgun that's light and portable. Meanwhile, those who are focused on home defense can opt for a rifle or shotgun.
- Competitive Shooting
Are you willing to put your gun accuracy to the test? Pit against other sharpshooters in competitive shooting. The National Rifle Association (NRA) funds more than 50 national competitions per year, so there's definitely plenty of chances for beginners to get into the sport.
Contests are categorized by the shooter's weapon of choice. You can enter using a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. Experienced shooters also have the choice of entering mixed divisions, where contestants have to use a variety of firearms.
Hunting is a popular outdoor sport for shooters in America. Going on hunting trips exercises your cardiovascular endurance, forces you to rely on your animalistic senses for tracking, and drastically improves shooting skills.
If you're looking for a hunting gun, we suggest going with a rifle or shotgun. You need firearms powerful enough to take down prey in one shot—assuming you hit the proper shot placement, of course.
Handguns are good too. They're light to carry around and the recoil on a pistol is easier to manage. However, they might not be the best option for first-time hunters.
You'd have to be a great shot to achieve instant kills using a handgun. Even small animals like squirrels and rabbits can survive getting shot if you fail to hit the correct shot placement—between the heart and lungs or between the eyes.
2. Read Up on U.S.-Specific Gun Buying Laws
As compared to other countries, buying a gun in the U.S. is relatively easy. Most civilians with no criminal record can procure their first gun from a licensed firearms dealer in just a few minutes.
Plus, statistics show that there are around 54,000 licensed federal firearms dealers in the country. No matter what state you're in, there's bound to be a licensed gun dealer near your neighborhood.
However, this isn't to say that anyone can actually purchase a gun. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act requires shoppers to undergo a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for recorded criminal activity, unresolved warrants, juvenile delinquency, and mental health instability.
The background check is very quick. However, if you fail at even one of the aforementioned factors, you won't be able to purchase a licensed gun.
3. Assess Shooting Experience
First-time shooters with little to zero training or experience shouldn't attempt to fire a gun—unless they're in an extreme emergency situation.
The best approach here is to take shooting classes before firearm shopping. Go for a test drive to see what it feels like to hold, carry, and shoot a gun.
Here are some things to take note of:
- Accuracy: Rifles are generally more stable than handguns so they're easier to aim. However, handguns are far smaller and more portable than rifles, which makes them the better choice when it comes to concealed carry applications.
- Recoil: Don't take recoil lightly. If you don't hold the gun properly, the recoil or kickback can push against your hands and damage your shoulders.
- Weight: Newbies might get surprised the first time they actually hold a gun up since they're not as light as they appear. Even a small handgun weighs around one to two pounds.
4. Set a Realistic Budget
How much are you willing to spend on your weapon? If you're planning on using your gun for self-defense or concealed carry applications, it might be best to keep the costs to a minimum. Look for something cost-efficient that offers great price value.
Meanwhile, those who are planning to take up hunting or competitive shooting should look at pricier, higher-grade options that showcase multiple features. You need a durable weapon that can withstand regular use and abuse.
5. Explore Your Options
Don't be afraid to explore your options! There are literally hundreds of different firearm models on the market, there's no reason for you to stick to the top one or two most popular guns.
Do more research about guns online, test how different guns stack up against each other, and objectively assess which weapon best matches your lifestyle.
Want more tips on how to buy a gun? Check out this video by Brownells, Inc. where they share the different factors first-time shooters need to consider when purchasing firearms:
Whether you're buying a gun for self-defense or recreational purposes, what's important is to acquire your firearms legally and undergo the necessary inspection. Either way, getting a gun in the U.S. is quite easy. In fact, background checks take less than few minutes so you'll be walking out of the gun store with a brand-new weapon in under an hour.
Also, don't forget your civil and moral duty once you get your gun. Being a gun owner is a lifetime commitment. Always maintain a cool head when wielding your weapon, don't point the muzzle at something or someone you're not ready to shoot, and never use the weapon for anything illegal.
Do you have any more questions on how to buy a gun? Reach out for help and clarifications in the comments section below!
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on March 26, 2021, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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