In this multi-part series, I will go into great detail about what I think a woman should know before, during, and after buying her first firearm. Over the next several weeks, I will share with you my tips and advice.
Of course, the unspoken tip is to wear lipstick, if you want to wear lipstick.
It can seem intimidating to walk into a gun store, particularly if it is your first time. The good news is, there are ways you can prepare. Here are some of my suggestions. Ladies (and the men who love them) please sound off in the comments if you have other ideas on how to make the gun buying experience as pleasurable as trying on jeans at Macy’s. Ok. Maybe that was a bad analogy.
Tip 2: Research what type of firearm you want and why you want it
This is your first one. What do you want to accomplish. I am not speaking of a specific model here, but rather a general type. Do you want to just learn to shoot? Are you looking for home defense? Do you want to put it in your purse or carry it on your person?
If your goal is to get a leg up on basic marksmanship, learn the ropes, and you aren’t terribly concerned with having something works for home defense, I recommend a .22 rifle. Easy to shoot, virtually no recoil, cheap and readily available ammunition, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, the .22 rifle can be a great introduction to shooting. Bonus is they are also great for teaching kids when they are ready.
You might be thinking “why would I want that, Erin? I need to defend myself. A rifle won’t fit in my purse!” You are likely looking for a pistol. That’s awesome. I love pistols! But knowing you want one is just the beginning. Do you want a semi-automatic pistol or a revolver? Once you’ve decided that, you’ll need to choose a caliber.
While I definitely recommend .22lr for your first rifle as a shooter, I don’t necessarily think it is the slam dunk choice for your first pistol. Most women seem to prefer .380 Auto or 9mm Luger for a semi-automatic pistol. Some people do like 22lr and there is no shame in that game. It all depends on what you’d like to do with your pistol. Is it for home defense? Bullseye competition? Tactical competition? I’m going to hone in on the two mentioned above because, as a women who shoots, I think they are the best choice for beginners to tackle several use cases — especially with all of the choices in ammunition on the market today. The photo below shows common pistol calibers side by side. If you are interested and want to see a detailed blog on calibers and their differences, let me know.
If you decide you want a revolver, you’ll likely want 9mm Luger or .38 Special/.357 Magnum.
I hope nobody comes after me with torches and pitchforks here but I’m not sure I’d go this route for my first firearm. I recognize Joe Biden said that’s a all women needs to protect herself. And when you close your eyes and think about home defense, you might picture yourself hefting a double barrel or hearing that chick-chick noise of a pump action.
But I respectfully disagree.
Unless your goal for purchasing a firearm is to shoot clays (in which case, I don’t blame you…this is one of my favorite things to do) I wouldn’t make this my first purchase. Shotguns are heavy, most of them have more recoil than you probably want when learning, and unless you want to have your first experiences be handling a firearm to involve the “boom” of home-defense loads (which pack a wallop, both to your ears and shoulder), I’d avoid a shotgun.
But if you DO want a shotgun, you’ll need to consider if you want .410, 20, or 12 gauge. I’m a 20 gauge fan myself but I can handle a 12 gauge without issue and there are several good .410 gauge home defense loads that are relatively light.
A Bonus Choice:
If you can’t decide between a shot gun and a rifle, you can also look at .410/.22 over-unders. They are double barreled with one barrel dedicated to .22LR and one to .410 gauge shotgun shells. Caution however, as these are much harder to find than the above options.
Once you have your sights set on a type of firearm, you’ll need to research, research, research!