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Handgun recommendations for new shooters

Chris has a look at the issue. Obviously, it’s dependent on what the new shooter wants the gun for. If they want a plinker, one for defense, hunting etc. But I tell everyone who is new to guns and wants a handgun for self defense the same thing. Get a Glock. In 9mm. The G17 or G19 are both fine. The 17 being the big one and the 19 hitting the sweet spot for carry. If you’re limited to ten rounds by state law, then the 26 is fine, though not optimal.

Get a Glock. In 9mm.

If you don’t like its non standard grip angle and want better stock sights, get S&W M&P. In 9mm. I prefer the M&P’s grip angle. I have both.

20 Responses to “Handgun recommendations for new shooters”

  1. BenC Says:

    So if as you seem to believe the M&P is the better gun why not recommend them first?

  2. Flight-ER-Doc Says:


    And once they can reliably and efficiently shoot the Glock, then they can start thinking about optimizing their selections – a different gun, different sights, trigger, etc.

    Until they know how to use one, such discussions are folly.

  3. Old NFO Says:

    Yep, Glock. Reliable, simple and easy to learn. And I can’t shoot an M&P for anything. That grip throws me high/right.

  4. SayUncle Says:

    why not recommend them first?

    Because grip angle is subjective. And, also subjective, most people shoot Glocks just fine. I, unlike Old NFO, am not one of those people. And the Glock is 30 something years old. Plenty of accessories and after market stuff for them.

  5. Fred Says:

    I tell them three words. Rent, rent, rent. Then decide what is the best for you.

  6. W. Fleetwood Says:

    What Fred said.

  7. JTC Says:

    “Get a Glock.”

    Dude, were you not listening to Uncle Joe?

    Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun…

    One of the funniest things ever recorded right there.

    And he said today he’s running for potus in 2020. Awesome.

  8. The Neon Madman Says:

    I have always been in favor of starting a new shooter out with .22 . A good amount of time spent practicing with .22 goes a long way towards developing good form, the safety habits, etc. Regardless what the final gun will be, starting out this way will make the transition to a larger caliber much more successful.

    And yes, rent or borrow a few different guns to find the one you like.

  9. Huck Says:

    My recommendation for a starter handgun is a double action wheelgun in .38 Special. When it comes to operation and maintaining, no handguns come any simpler than those.

    Personally, I find the grip angle on the Glock to be very un-natural. I have to angle my hand down at the wrist in order to line up the sights. I prefer handguns with a more natural grip angle, which is most Revolvers and the M1911.

  10. KM Says:

    For those that want to tweak the Glock grip angle:
    Grip Force Adapters:

    Adds a little bit of volume to the *top* of the grip making the angle feel less acute and provides a slight beavertail to let you get a VERY high grip w/o slide rubs. (if you have big hands like me, this is a thing)
    I have them on all my Glocks because I LOVE ‘EM!

  11. beatbox Says:

    What Fred said. Rent, rent, rent. I’ve got a store with unlimited rentals for a reasonable price. Pic a cal. and have fun.

    Renting is a teaching tool for a new shooter as well. You need to experience first hand the counter-intuitive fact that a smaller gun does not mean it is easier to shoot.

  12. Gerry Says:

    +1 Fred. Or find a friend with a bag full of pistols and revolvers and try the bunch.

    If I look at my GSSF scores and IDPA match results, I shoot the 26 better than my 19 or 17. I do add the +2 adapter to all the magazines.

  13. beatbox Says:

    After renting, I think the first gun should be whatever is easy and fun to shoot.

  14. poobie Says:

    Huck, the counter argument to that is that if a wheelgun does malfunction, fixing it on the fly is going to be beyond the capabilities of most folks. Additionally, I find revolvers very difficult to shoot accurately, even when I’m in practice.

    Right now, of course, I’m shooting so infrequently that Tam would mercilessly mock my groups (actually, they look more like a shotgun pattern than anything else right now.)

    If it weren’t for the aftermarket support caveat, I’d be hard pressed to recommend against the Sig P320, personally. The grip angle is fantastic, the trigger is great, and it seems to be pretty reliable. it’s certainly been fun to shoot.

  15. John Says:

    How about a 1911, it’s like a Glock, but for men.

  16. Hoth Says:

    The Last thing I’d recommend is a semi-auto without a safety.

  17. Allen Says:

    John, Amen

  18. Will Says:


    The people I’ve checked find that if they lock their wrist at the limit of forward tilt while grasping a Glock, the sights are lined up when brought to eye level. Makes me wonder if this was deliberately chosen by Glock. I suspect it helps with “limp wrist syndrome” to some degree.

  19. Huck Says:

    “Huck, the counter argument to that is that if a wheelgun does malfunction, fixing it on the fly is going to be beyond the capabilities of most folks. Additionally, I find revolvers very difficult to shoot accurately, even when Iím in practice.”

    Poobie, fixing ANY gun on the fly when it malfunctions is difficult. Now with a Wheelgun, I’ve never had a round fail to feed, hang up at the chamber, or stovepipe, things that do happen in Autos.

    I’m not saying that Revolvers are perfect, they aint. Nothing designed or made by people ever is. I just consider Revolvers to be easier to use than Autos, especially to beginners.

    Poobie, do you shoot Revolvers using only the double-action trigger? If you do try thumbing the hammer back and firing single action. It’s a major difference. If the DA trigger pull is too heavy see about getting it lightened up. My 2 S&W Revolvers (Model 10 and Model 25-5) have a nice moderate DA trigger and I do good using that with those guns. I’ve noticed that Ruger Revolvers generally have a strong DA trigger.

  20. poobie Says:

    Huck, it’s a grip thing. Just can’t get comfortable with them. Obviously, shooting SA is easier than DA, but I still suck with them compared to my autos.

    I guess what I was trying to say is that most common autoloader malfs can be cured with “tap rack bang;” in my admittedly limited experience with wheelguns, when they malf, it’s a trip to the smith.