NRA Basic Pistol or Hunter’s Safety: Which To Take For Concealed Carry Training?

There are a lot of different courses to take that will satisfy requirements for a concealed carry permit, the two most popular and therefore easily found and taken are NRA Basic Pistol and the typical hunter’s safety course. Most states that require training accept accredited hunter’s safety courses, after all.

Which to take?

Well, that sort of depends. Most people will find NRA Basic Pistol suits their needs very well and others may find hunter’s safety is the better option. It really comes down to the person in question. Each, however, does have benefits.

Hunter’s Safety Is Great…If You’re Going To Hunt

The reason why hunter’s safety courses satisfy requirements for a CCW permit and carrying a gun in a concealed carry holster is rather simple. These courses include a range day and basic safety instruction for firearms. Millions of people have taken hunter’s safety courses and learned the basics of both hunting and outdoor safety as well as the basics of firearm’s safety.

After all, the principles generally stay the same. The 4 laws of gun safety don’t make exceptions for long guns, after all, so the principles apply no matter what kind of gun you’re holding.

So, if you’re the outdoorsy sort, hunter’s safety is actually a good course to take. That opens up the possibility of hunting should you choose to do so and satisfies requirements in many states for getting a concealed pistol license, making it – in a sense – a bit more useful than a basic pistol course.

However, there are a few drawbacks. First is that it usually takes a couple weekends to complete if you’re taking the classroom version. Second is that hunter’s safety courses taught by instructors can be a bit more expensive depending on economy of scale (Your area, whether you take the in-class version or an online course with a range day, etc.) and that’s something to consider for the person on a budget.

Also, if the chances you’ll ever hit the field, forest, mountain or blind in search of edible critters is remote at best…then it’s probably not the better option.

NRA Basic Pistol Is Great For Everyone Else

The beauty of NRA Basic Pistol, which just like hunter’s safety satisfies a great many states’ requirements for CCW training prior to getting your permit, is how ubiquitous it is. The course is offered in every state; you can even find instructors in your area on the NRA’s website.

It’s also fairly cheap (often enough you can find it offered for about $100, sometimes less and sometimes more depending) and very brief, as it’s an 8-hour course. There’s a range portion, and you don’t even need to bring a gun or ammunition.

That said, unlike hunter’s safety, the NRA Basic Pistol course only gives a person instruction in handguns. That includes their function, safe handling and operation and so on – which hunter’s safety doesn’t always cover. Actually handling a handgun on a range is part of Basic Pistol courses, which is also not something every hunter’s safety course will offer.

Which Is Better For Concealed Carry Training Requirements?

It depends on the person, as both satisfy most states’ concealed carry training requirements.

Since handgun instruction is not always covered during the range portion of hunter’s safety, a person that isn’t familiar with guns already (to some degree) is better served with a pistol course. This gives them some basic instruction with the firearm that they are going to be carrying, instead of the general firearm safety that’s more the focus of hunter’s safety courses.

Basic Pistol requires a lesser commitment in terms of time and expense, which is certainly a consideration. If you aren’t very “outdoorsy” and don’t envision hunting at all, then the pistol course is the better bet.

However, hunter’s safety may be more readily accessible in some locations as Basic Pistol requires a certified NRA instructor and some areas aren’t exactly crawling with them.

So really, it comes down to what suits your situation best. If you could see donning blaze and camo at some point and you’re already somewhat familiar with firearm safety, taking Hunter’s Safety will let you do that as well as qualify for a CPL. However, if all you care about is carrying for protection…take Basic Pistol.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for Alien Gear Holsters, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. He also contributes a bi-weekly column for Daily Caller. In his free time, Sam enjoys camping, hunting and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.
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nazia rida

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Fred Miller

A CCW course is what to take for a CCW license, not a hunter safety course. There is a huge difference between the two. Most carry courses not only cover safe handling and operation of a handgun, they cover things like where you can and CANNOT carry in your area, the penalties involved for potential usage, and will most likely touch on the legal ramifications should a CC ever use their weapon with regard to deadly force. Most areas have instructors who are trained, but not involved directly with the NRA. Costs are typically less than $100. In NYS, the NRA and individuals hold classes for their applicant’s own state, as well as courses for multiple states (ie, NH, Fl and UT).


I get it. You take a CCW Course, so you can get a CCW License and wear a CCW Badge. It makes perfect sheepdog sense.

Fred Miller