A Letter to My (Unborn) Daughter About Buying Her First Handgun

Buying First Handgun
A Letter to My (Unborn) Daughter About Buying Her First Gun
Buying First Handgun
A Letter to My (Unborn) Daughter About Buying Her First Gun

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.

Dear S.,

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.

Gun in the center of your hand
Gun in the center of your hand

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…

Thumbs forward with the semi-automatic
Thumbs forward with the semi-automatic

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.

Thumbs curled with the revolver
Thumbs curled with the revolver


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.

No Code Needed
CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 124gr FMJ Ammunition 50rds

CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 124gr FMJ Ammunition 50rds

CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 124gr FMJ Ammunition 50rds for $15.50

$159.99 (Reg. $259.99)
No Code Needed
SCCY CPX-1 9mm Black & Stainless Pistol w/ Safety, (1 Magazine)

SCCY CPX-1 9mm Black & Stainless Pistol w/ Safety, (1 Magazine)

Looking for a cheap 9mm? You can grab a SCCY CPX-1 9mm Black & Stainless Pistol w/ Safety, (1 Magazine) for $159.99 right now at Palmetto State Armory

25% OFF!
Vertx 25% Off

Vertx 25% OFF Coupon Code

I've partnered up with Vertx to get you 25% off everything from their site. They make high-quality tactical clothing and gear. Just use the coupon code: usacarry

Previous articleWhat to Expect from SHOT Show Day 1!
Next articleSHOT Show Media Day Products from KRISS, Trijicon and EOTech!
Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

good reading!

Mountain Mama

that was perfect – and exactly how I – some else’s daughter 🙂 – found my first gun….S&W M&P 40c!!!

Tony Ford

Long way to say (although it was accurate) that the best gun for anyone is one that feels right to the user.  Every time some poor sap asks what kind of gun he should buy his wife, he can get one of the following answers, generally:

1.  The favorite gun of the person answering the question or
2.  A Glock.

People are enamored of semiautos in general because (I believe) they like all the rounds you can carry in the magazine.  Glocks, for some reason, have a rabid following (I am not one of those, having a problem with plastic sights on a handgun).

I grew up with revolvers, with my grandfather’s California Fish and Game revolver from his days there being in my collection now (S&W Model of 1917 Hand Ejector).  My concealed carry weapon is a Browning Hi-Power, not because I prefer it, but because of the slim profile and its tried-and-true function.  However, if not worrying about concealed carry, my handgun of choice, which I have used for about thirty years, is a S&W Model 29 with a 6 1/2 ” barrel.

I’m a big believer in one shot, one kill.  No one outside of Hollywood gets into a “Lethal Weapon” style firefight, and I have always figured that if you need all thirteen (or whatever your semi holds) rounds to hit the bad guy you probably should use some different method, like — running like hell.

My wife can shoot, but she hates most of my handguns, never liked a 4-inch Model 66 that I figured might work for her, because she doesn’t like the kick of a .357 (or a .38 Special, for that matter) in a short barrel.  In short, I may love my .44 magnum to death, but it ain’t gonna work for most people.  I love revolvers because I don’t have to worry about safeties or stovepipes, and sure would hate to have to worry about those things with some guy running across a darkened room at me from about fifteen feet away.

The ONLY way for someone to find out what works for them is not to force your choice on them, because purchasing a handgun for your protection is one of the most personal choices anyone will ever make.  So whether or not you like Glocks, or big honkin’ revolvers, that does not mean that the person asking for your opinion MUST own your favorite handgun.  They need to own THEIR favorite handgun.

By the way — my wife likes my grandfather’s revolver — with a longer barrel and a slow .45ACP round coming out of it it will knock anyone down and not kick all that much.  That’s the one she keeps by her side when I am out of the house.  Go figure, lol.

Joe Sobotka

Great article,,, for anyone considering buying a firearm.

Token Gimp

I like it. My daughter got a pistol for her 21st b-day. Long before that any guy she dated received a warning “Just so you know my dad has a lot of guns and has taught me how to use them”. There was never a complaint about being mistreated by anyone she dated and eventually married a good man.


“I want you to know that your old man is a firearms and personal protection expert…”

X = the mathematical quantum for an unknown
spurt = drip under pressure

X-spurt = unknown drip under pressure

“Specialist” is a much better word.  An expert is someone who knows everything about the subject at hand.  Nobody is that knowledgeable.


Actually, the legal definition of expert (as in expert witness), is someone who knows more than the “common person” about a certain subject or specialty.


Congratulations on finding that specialized definition. It still makes you sound like a jerk, while the rest of your article doesn’t. “Expert” must be used in the third person (and even then only serves to indicate that the person using it doesn’t have a clue about the topic). You need to go with “specialist.”


I kinda think you are mixing uses here. I carry guns that I don’t “like” to shoot. But they are great carry guns. (LC9, P64) If you came up to me on the range and asked me if I liked shooting them I’d say “hell no”. But I CAN carry, draw and shoot them reasonably accurately so they are my carry guns. When at the range “enjoying myself” I will be shooting a 1911 or J-frame revolver. But these aren’t as practical for carry. Try not to go overboard on making fun of men. (I have daughters, you’ll understand later)


Great Letter….


Very nice, great article.


As a former DEA agent I have to say, this was a very touching letter to your unborn daughter, it even made me cry, a little. *LOL*  Your advice was sage and to the point.  I loved the enhanced parts about allowing the gun guy husband to buy as many guns as he likes, even if they all look alike. *LOL*

Dean M. Rodgers

What if she ends up with a wife/girlfriend instead of a husband/boyfriend?



White Doberman



Really sweet article from a protective father. Congratulations!
I also am considering buying my first gun soon and feel super lucky that I have a firearms expert, errr….specialist?, to help me out.

G 4 F

Reading the title of this letter, I thought something bad happened to your wife while she was pregnant with your daughter…God forbid!!…We all know those things happen…So when I started and finished  reading it, it brought a smile to my face and also some nostalgia, because it reminded me when my kids came to visit me to Texas just last Christmas….My son(12) loves guns and everything about them, but living in the “politically correct anti-gun hellhole” Los Angeles, CA, where shooting a gun, talking about it or even thinking about it is strictly prohibited and punishable by spending the rest of your life in a “dog house” is not a “correct option”….So when he and my daughter (10) arrived, our first thing on “To do list” was shooting some guns.(my son..:”Forget about all the preparation for Christmas and all those gifts” and my daughter “Let’s try it”)..It was his first time ever holding a gun, not to mention shooting it, loading it on his own and just feeling it….Of course that was my good chance to remind him words like responsibility, learning and listening…Even my daughter wanted to try it and in not so many tries, she was able to do the same thing-loading, aiming and shooting, eventually hitting the target…I was very proud of her!!   And my son, too!…Even if he plays with some airsoft and nerfguns, the feeling of shooting a real gun is incomparable….So on the way  to the airport, we’re talking about our best Christmas ever and all those fun stuff we did together and the gun experience was the most memorable for them (of course after spending Christmas with their daddy (sweet little liars, aren’t they??!!)…


Excellent.  Don’t forget to leave some self defense ammo as a stocking stuffer for Christmas….!!!


Enjoyed your article, but I think you got the cart before the horse. The first thing your child needs to learn – a process that will take about 12 years if you are diligent – is self ownership and responsibility. After THAT, then he or she will be ready to follow the rest of your advice about choosing a gun for self defense. And I’m going to assume that you’re not going to wait that long to begin teaching that child about guns and giving them every opportunity to shoot.

The best gun for anyone is the one they can reliably and
consistently control, and will actually train with. I am a certified
instructor for firearms and self defense, specializing in teaching women
and novices. Your advice about ignoring well intentioned “experts” is
excellent, but the assistance of a known and respected instructor will help a lot. Let him or her choose that help as well.

I own my life and body, and I am the ONLY one who is responsible for them. That’s why I carry a gun.


The “PS” to this letter is Gospel!


give your unborn something that can not be taken from her/him……an education.  your interest is guns, but college is expensive…….better start saving NOW.  you will need every penny!


Congrats on you any your wife’s baby-in-the-making. Cherish every moment because they grow up so fast.


Hmmm.  Looking at dad’s firearms/self defense resume, I would think that he already owns a suitable handgun that he could give to his daughter when the time comes.  Something else to consider: she may not want anything to do with firearms as an adult.  Then, dad will need to help out with selection of defense weapons such as a Taser or OC spray, and weaponless defensive tactics.


Always nice to hear someone say what I tell my girlfriend and mother, you need to find a gun that fits you!! Hit a range rent some guns find what works, deal is when my mom finds one that fits her i’ll but it for her!!



Matt Stanfield

Well said. I took my daughter to the range for her birthday last year, at HER request. She’s 7 and I’ve been slowly teaching her about firearms for a while. I wanted her to shoot when she was ready.