PICK YOUR PISTOL
American Survival Guide|January 2021
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE SELECTING A HANDGUN
DANA BENNER
There’s a great deal of responsibility to owning any firearm, especially a handgun. So, before you run out and purchase one, ask yourself, “Why?” If you can’t honestly answer this question sensibly, I hope this article helps you figure it out.The purchase of any firearm should never be an impulse buy, and it shouldn’t be bought because it’s the “cool” thing to do. Firearms are not toys or pieces of jewelry to be flashed around; firearms are tools—dangerous tools that need to be treated with the utmost respect.

BEFORE YOU BUY

Do your homework. Know what you’re looking for, how much you’re willing to pay and what your main purpose is for purchasing a handgun. This will help you know whether you want a semi-automatic or a revolver (see the sidebar on page 76). Stick to your plan, and don’t let the person behind the counter sway you one way or the other. If you don’t, you’re likely to walk out with a handgun that isn’t exactly what you want and for which you paid more than you intended to spend. There’s nothing to say you have to make the purchase right then and there. Shop around.

You should also learn about the legal rights and responsibilities that come with handgun ownership and usage. Laws vary by jurisdiction, so be sure to include areas in which you expect to carry your gun in your research.

I recently purchased a Heritage .22LR single-action revolver. The handgun is one I’ll use to teach my daughter and granddaughters how to shoot and properly handle a firearm. I did my research and knew exactly what I wanted before I bought it. The salesperson tried to sell me a double-action revolver (which costs much more money). Once he knew I was serious about what I wanted, he backed off, and I actually purchased the handgun I wanted for less than I’d planned to pay.

WHAT WILL YOU USE IT FOR?

What are your main intentions for the handgun? Do you plan to hunt with it? Is it mainly for self-defense? Do you just intend to shoot targets at the range? How you answer these questions will help determine which handgun is the best for you.

There are many different handguns out there. There are revolvers and semi-automatics; short barrels and long; and way too many calibers to list. Each one has its place and purpose. You just need to narrow them down until you find what’s right for you.

Target Shooting. If your main intention is simply to have a handgun to take to the range and shoot targets, you can’t go wrong with either a revolver or semi-automatic chambered for .22LR. These are also great firearms for teaching people how to shoot and to practice firearms safety. These handguns come in a variety of sizes, although for target shooting, I’ve found that a 4- or 6-inch barrel is perfect.

Personal Protection. Here, the choices increase and are something you should really investigate. I recommend going to a place that’ll allow you to try different firearms and different calibers. The range I go to (New Hampshire’s Manchester Firing Line) allows you to rent different handguns and shoot them. This step is important, because you don’t want a gun that’s more than you can handle or less than you need.

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