PREFACE: My wife and I recently found out she’s pregnant with our first child. She’s three months along and we don’t know the sex yet, however, I’m convinced it’s a girl. The other day I sat down and wrote a letter to my unborn daughter about one of the most important topics a father could share with his daughter: How to buy her first handgun. I wanted to pass this along to every woman who’s wondered about how to buy her first handgun.
You’re probably wondering why I started this letter calling you “S.” The reason is because other people may see this and your mother tells me some women are “catty” and will steal your name so I have to call you S for now.
Anyway, the reason I’m writing this letter is because I just had the brilliant idea that I needed to write to you about choosing your first gun. Hopefully, this brilliant idea will go a little better than when I decided to clean the shotgun on moms couch and got oil all over it.
By the way, when you’re married and your husband does something stupid and afterwards you ask him “what were you thinking?” The truth is, he probably wasn’t thinking very much. So save yourself the time, because you will be disappointed in the answer.
But let’s get back to the topic at hand:
Since you’re about three months along in your mom’s belly, you and I have never met, so let me quickly tell you about your old man. I spent a short amount of time with a local police department in Virginia, then spent several years with the C.I.A., and I now run a firearms training company. I also enjoy writing and write for a few gun magazines such as Concealed Carry, Personal and Home Defense, and Combat Handguns.
I tell you this because I want you to know that your old man is a firearms and personal protection expert… But also because, as you’ll see later on, I don’t have expertise in much else.
Hopefully, being raised by me you’ll realize the importance of getting a gun to protect yourself and you’ll be just as excited as I am to get you your first gun. I want you to know that I’ll hopefully be around to protect you as often as I can, but I won’t always be there, so you need to learn how to protect yourself.
You see, although your mother knows that if someone breaks into our house at night I will handle it, there are many times I am out of town training people and I am thankful she knows how to use a gun and take care of herself.
In other words, you cannot solely rely on others for your safety, such as the man in your life. You need to take personal responsibility for yourself. Especially, because by the time you read this, maybe 10 or 15 or 20 years from now, who knows what the world will be like.
So when it comes to buying your first gun, I’m going to pretend like you’re doing this all by yourself or with your husband. Why? Well, hopefully I’ll be around but you never know what life has in store. So I want to make sure that if I have to leave this earth a little earlier than I anticipated, you’ll know the right way to buy a gun on your own.
First off, be very careful who you trust when buying your first gun.
You want to talk to a REAL firearms expert. Unfortunately, far too many people think they’re experts when it comes to guns. What I mean is, if you’re buying a gun with a boyfriend or a husband (who is not a gun expert) I would ignore pretty much everything he has to say.
You see honey, men like to pretend we are experts about everything. The other day your mom wanted to know why our hot water heater was making a strange noise and I told her it was no big deal and was just a valve. The fact is, I don’t know anything at all about hot water heaters. I don’t even know if they have valves.
But for some reason when a woman asks her husband about something he just spouts out a bunch of nonsense because he thinks he’s supposed to know the answer. I do the same thing when your mom asks me why the car is making a weird noise. I don’t know anything about cars, except how to change the oil, but my answer to everything is “it’s just the radiator, no big deal.”
So if you can’t trust your husband or boyfriend, who can you trust?
Well, that’s the problem. You don’t know a crooked mechanic unless you’re a mechanic yourself. After all, when I take the car to the service station I have no idea if the guy is telling me the truth until I call up your grandpa who actually knows about cars. So, what I want you to do is ask your mom to get a hold of some of my old Agency buddies. She’ll know how to contact them and they’ll take care of you.
But if for some reason you must go about this alone, the first thing you want to do is go to a gun range and rent several guns to see which one you like best. When you get to the gun range and the guy behind the counter finds out you’re in search of a new gun, do not listen to a word he says. He is even worse than your husband or boyfriend.
And if you bring your husband or boyfriend along you’ve just multiplied the stupidity. It’s like a bunch of guys staring at the engine of a car with the hood up. One guy will say it’s the fan belt and the rest of them will be like “yep,” “yep,” and “yep.”
So if the gun guy behind the counter tells you that you need a new “Super Duper .45 semi-auto” your husband will probably nod in agreement because he wants to pretend he knows as much as the gun store guy, who in reality, probably doesn’t know much at all.
So, when you’re at the gun range, just start renting one gun at a time and tune out the advice of your husband and gun store employee. I would rent guns made by Glock, Smith and Wesson, Sig Sauer, and Ruger, to name a few.
I would also try renting both semi-autos and revolvers.
Both semi-autos and revolvers are excellent for personal protection. Yes, semi-autos hold more rounds, but revolvers are simpler to use and you don’t have to worry about malfunctions. Either way, you can’t go wrong, so find what you like best.
However, if I were you, I would not get a caliber lower than 9mm in a semi-auto and .38 Special in a revolver. In fact, the handguns your old man uses for concealed carry right now are a Glock 19, which is a 9mm semi-auto, and the revolver I use is a Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight, which is a .38 Special.
The important thing I want you to remember is that the gun should feel comfortable in your hand and your finger should easily reach the trigger. But in order to know if the gun is comfortable in your hand you need to know how to properly grip it. So let me show you how to do that right now.
Whether you’re shooting a semi-auto or revolver, you want to place the gun in the center of the web of your hand. (I included some pictures at the end to help you out.) Then, you want to grip high on the tang of the gun. This means you want to grip as high up on the gun as possible, just beneath the slide if you’re shooting a semi-auto. (The slide is the metal piece which recoils back after you shoot the gun.) This high grip makes recoil easier to manage and gives you better control over the gun.
Next, you need to add your support hand…
To do this, simply point the thumb of your support hand at an imaginary target in front of you. By pointing your thumb straight at the target your fingers should be pointed down at a 45 degree angle. You then bring the two hands together and create the “thumbs forward” shooting position (Again, see the pictures honey.) You want to make sure that you have a lot of flesh on the gun and that the palm of your support hand is firmly pressed against side of the gun.
However, the “thumbs forward” position is only for semi-automatic handguns. When shooting a revolver you want to grip high on the gun, but your thumbs will curl down on top of each other as you grip the gun.
By the way, some concealed carry guns you might be interested in (if they’re still around) are the Glock 26, Ruger SR9, and Smith and Wesson M&P compact. And in regards to a revolver, you should check out the Smith & Wesson Model 10. You can buy them used right now (the year 2012) for under $300.
But here’s the thing: If you don’t like any of those guns and they don’t feel right to you, then don’t buy one. Take as long as you need to until you find a gun that you feel comfortable shooting. In fact, even though I would get guns chambered in 9mm or .38 Special that doesn’t mean you have to, if you can’t stand shooting them. Although I wouldn’t recommend it, if the only gun you’ll carry is a .22 revolver, then it’s better than no gun at all.
Please have patience with this process.
To make it easy on you, you could go to your local shooting range every Saturday and rent two guns until you find one that’s right for you. It may take you a month or two, but your life is worth it to find the right gun you’re willing to carry.
I want to remind you again, that you will be the one carrying this gun. Not your husband or the gun store guy. So forget about what they think and do not let them intimidate you. All that matters is that you are comfortable with the gun and that it’s a good fit for your hand.
Because if you forget this part, you will end up like far too many women I see at my pistol courses. I see these poor women who are shooting a snub-nosed .357 and they tell me that they hate shooting. I then ask why in the world they are using that gun and they tell me their husband got it for them and I think to myself, “no wonder you hate shooting, that’s a terrible gun for you.”
Well, that’s enough for now honey. I love you, even though I haven’t met you yet. I really look forward to helping you buy your first gun. But if I’m not there, please re-read this before you go gun shopping. Because it may save your life one day since you’ll be carrying a gun you like, instead of having a gun sitting at home that you hate, which your husband talked you into buying.
P.S. If you marry a guy who’s into guns – and why wouldn’t you, most of them are perfect – you should encourage him to buy as many guns as he wants, and should never complain that he already owns 10 guns that look exactly like the one he just bought.