How To Buy Your First Gun
What Firearm Should I Buy
Firearms, usually, have specific purposes. Generally, a great target gun is not necessarily a great carry gun, which is not a great home-defense gun, which is not a great gun for hunting! Some guns cross-over here and there, but the first question to ask is, "What is the PRIMARY purpose of the firearm I want to buy?" Then check out the general categories below.
Whether you enjoy Olympic Style .22 handgun target shooting or reaching out 1,000+ yards with a high-powered center-fire rifle, target shooting is a fun and rewarding sport and hobby. Firearms made specifically for this are many and varied! Some....
CONCEALED CARRY Guns
While it is an unfortunate fact that the odds of getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon in L.A. County is like a bet on a three legged horse in the KY Derby, it is also a fact that other counties can and do issue permits. And they are valid then.....
The thought of a home invasion is frightening. A determined thug who has come through your every other form of defense, from locks to dogs, is a serious threat to you and your loved ones. Once your other defenses have been breached, there.....
Hunting is an American tradition. In spite of being politically incorrect in our increasingly odd society, it is still a popular and wide-spread sport with wide-ranging facets. Big game is plentiful in CA, and small game are everywhere! Firearms are.....
The "Prepper" movement - once widely ridiculed - is growing by leaps and bounds. Far from being a movement based on fear, it is quite the opposite. The objective of the movement is freedom from fear. With Korean nukes, Islamic Terror, a U.S.....
Most firearms fit particular niches very well. Others are quite versatile! Here we discuss the latter - guns that crossover from one to two or more of the usual categories. While it's true that one COULD use a .22 target pistol for home defense, it is.....
Whether you enjoy Olympic Style .22 handgun target shooting or reaching out 1,000+ yards with a high-powered center-fire rifle, target shooting is a fun and rewarding sport and hobby. Firearms made specifically for this are many and varied! Some are really accurate and relatively inexpensive. Others are insanely accurate - and cost quite a bit more. But the fact of the matter is that almost any target firearm, handgun or long gun, is more inherently accurate than the average shooter.
Of all the categories of firearms, target guns are probably the most mission-specific. As a rule, they are bigger, heavier, and less rugged than most others. But they can often put multiple rounds through a single hole in the target and a smile of satisfaction on the shooter's face. Here are a few of our favorites:
In a budget pistol, it's hard to beat the Browning Buckmark. Not only is it reasonably priced, it shoots the amazing .22lr, which is the least expensive ammunition out there! With dwindling choices in CA, the Browning Buckmark nearly stands alone. Of course, it makes little holes. For a larger caliber pistol (and a LOT more money) you could try an Ed Brown Executive Target 1911 in .45acp. These beautiful bench-made guns have a level of accuracy that is only matched by the artistry of their custom work. They come with match-grade barrels, adjustable target sights, and gold-bar bragging rights.
It's much the same story with revolvers. A good 6" barrelled .22 from S&W or Ruger is relatively inexpensive and, again, cheap to feed. But for bragging rights, consumers often turn to S&W's Performance Center revolvers. These near-custom revolvers in .38/357 are hand-tuned - and define revolver accuracy.
These are a few examples of the field - there are many MANY more choices out there that will connect you to your target like a Zen Master.
Much the same applies to TARGET rifles, except here optics come into play in the form of telescopic sights ("scopes"). Most target rifles will be fitted with these - and they can often cost as much as the rifle itself, if not several times as much! In the budget target rifle, it's hard to beat a heavy barrelled Ruger 10/22. Relatively inexpensive to purchase and shoot, and paired with even a lesser expensive scope, these are little tack drivers! Due to the relatively weak .22lr ammunition, they are limited, however, in range. On the other end of the spectrum, a high-grade target rifle in .308, such as a Remington SPS Tactical or the magnificent Sako TRG can, with the right optics, reach out to 1,000 yards and more.
There are many, many such rifles on the market today. And optics as well, from Bushnell scopes under $100.00 to Schmidt & Bender telescopic sights (you can't refer to perfection with a slang term like "scope") which will set you back thousands of dollars before your first shot is fired. No matter what your choice, your satisfaction and relaxation factors will go off the chart the first time you sit at a benchrest and calmly and deliberately punch cloverleaf holes in the X ring.
HOME DEFENSE GUNS:
The thought of a home invasion is frightening. A determined thug who has come through your every other form of defense, from locks to dogs, is a serious threat to you and your loved ones. Once your other defenses have been breached, there is no one else to count on but yourself. It's a truism that, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. Having a solid plan - and the tools to implement that plan, are essentials. The right tool is a firearm.
The most widely accepted types of guns for this purpose fall into one of two categories - shotguns and handguns. Which one is best for you is dependent on many factors, including the size of your home, its surroundings, and your level of competence. These also factor into the choice of ammunition once the choice of forearm is made. Let's apply some assumptions and make conclusions based on those.
If you live in an average or larger sized free-standing home, and are of average or better health and strength, the preferred weapon for defense would be a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with either 00 or #4 buckshot. This weapon is easy to wield in open spaces, affords a slight advantage in accuracy, and is a proven manstopper. This "slight advantage" in accuracy is a source of many myths, however. The idea that the spread of pellets from a shotgun means that you don't even have to aim is utter and complete nonsense. Maximum spread, even in distances afforded by a larger home, is a few inches at best. So yes - you have to aim! The good news is that, once you learn to effectively employ this tool, it is extraordinarily effective. Nothing in life is 100% perfect. But the home-defense shotgun comes close. Several factors can be altered depending on conditions. A smaller person, or a person with below average upper body strength, might want to downgrade to the slightly less powerful 20 gauge. In a situation where others are nearby - a home with children or an apartment, ammunition choice must be reconsidered and slightly less effective but less penetrative ammo such as birdshot be given consideration.
If your quarters are more cramped, like in an average apartment or home with smaller rooms and hallways, you may be better off with a handgun. Once you really get into shooting, you may also find that indoor shooting ranges allow you to practice more with the handgun than the shotgun, and consequently, you trust your handgun skills more. While terminal effectiveness of the handgun is substantially less than with a shotgun, they can and do provide an excellent tool for defending your home and family.
A home-defense handgun is a specific, mission-specific tool. Of course one could use a typical target gun or their concealed carry gun - which are better than no gun at all. But the fact is that the target gun is likely under powered and a bit unwieldy, as well as not the 100% reliably functioning tool required as a home defense gun. Likewise, your concealed carry gun would probably suffice - but it is probably going to be smaller and lighter and hold less rounds than the proper home defense firearm. The compromises made for effective concealed carry are not necessary in the home and, truthfully, for this application they are counterproductive. The smaller gun, lighter in weight and round count, is going to recoil more and have more muzzle flash, making its fewer rounds more difficult to shoot.
Typically, a home defense gun is a full-sized and powerful piece that holds as close as possible to the CA maximum of 10 rounds. These days this is even accomplished with a revolver, like a S&W 627, which holds 8 rounds of .357 Magnum! Other great choices, out of the many, many available, are any one of the full-sized wonder-nines like a GLOCK 17, Springfield XD, Sig Sauer P226, etc. This is also a made-to-order role for the venerable 1911 in .45 ACP. - though it is highly recommended to utilize this fine tool only after extensive training and practice. This is an expert's tool. There are reasons that the LAPD SWAT Team uses 1911s - but not the rank and file street officers!
These are just a few suggestions. There are a plethora of good handguns out there for home defense. Find one that suits you, then get good lessons, then practice, practice, practice!
CONCEALED CARRY GUNS
While it is an unfortunate fact that the odds of getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon in L.A. County is like a bet on a three legged horse in the KY Derby, it is also a fact that other counties can and do issue permits, and they are valid then statewide! It's also true that no permit is required to carry concealed on one's private property or place of business...so there are more guns out there under more jackets than one thinks! As we've mentioned before, guns tend to be mission-specific. It is possible for some larger folks to effectively conceal their home-defense handgun, but given the average sized person dressed for typical SoCal weather, it's not likely. Here you'll want something small enough to conceal, light enough to carry for hours on end, and powerful enough to get the job done should you ever need to deploy it. A difficult combination! But there are some good ones out there, regardless of your size and manner of dress. The most important thing is to get a gun you WILL carry regularly. The very best carry gun is useless if you decide it's a pain and leave it at home! Almost of equal importance to the gun is the holster or rig you will utilize to carry it. Honestly, so-called pocket guns fit in very few pockets. A good holster can make the whole proposition of carrying concealed easier and more secure. But we're discussing GUNS here - so let's break them down into two categories:
These are the smallest and lightest handguns of adequate caliber for people of smaller stature, or those for whom concealment is of paramount importance. These guns are, generally, not very pleasant to shoot, but can be carried all day long with little or no discomfort. They are usually in a lighter caliber like .38 Special or .380 Auto, and we cannot recommend anything less. For almost a century, Smith and Wesson has dominated this class of handguns, and they still do! The S&W J-Frame revolvers are still king of the hill, especially the "Airweight" models like the 442, the 642, and the newer, even lighter models like the Model 360. They only hold five shots. They are difficult to shoot well. But you can forget you are even carrying one due to it's diminutive size and feather-light weight.
There are a few semi-auto choices in this class as well, like the incredible Sig Sauer P238. It's a light, stainless, night-sighted, semi-auto .380 that is made to Sig's superior standards. Just slightly larger is the S&W M&P Shield in 9mm or .40S&W - a full power pistol that is small enough and light enough for easy every day carry.
These guns are a little bigger and a little heavier. They are closer to home defense sized guns and, in fact, in many cases, are just compact versions of their full sized counterparts. If shootability is more important than concealment, these guns are outstanding. While the deep concealment guns can be concealed by the average person under little more than a t-shirt, these casual concealment guns require better holsters and probably at least a light jacket of some kind. Many popular home defense handguns have a compact version and, for the fact that they utilize the same manual of arms and controls, etc, they can be a fine choice. Learning one system and sticking with it has definite advantages. The Sig Sauer P226 has a compact cousin - the P229, the Beretta 92FS has the Compact 92FS, the insanely popular Glock 17 has the slightly smaller Glock 19 or the much smaller Glock 26, and the list goes on and on.
So, whether you are a CCW holder or plan to just carry in your place of business, there are a plethora of choices. As always, get one that feels good in your hand, get good lessons, and practice, practice, practice!
Hunting is an American tradition. In spite of being politically incorrect in our increasingly odd society, it is still a popular and wide-spread sport with a number of wide-ranging facets. Big game is plentiful in CA, and small game are everywhere! Firearms are the preferred weapon - though there are seasons and licenses for bow hunting as well. The myriad of weapons, game, seasons, licensing and overall REGULATIONS are really just too much to go into here. But we can offer a few generalities.
The vast majority of game is taken in CA with a scoped rifle of medium caliber. These are usually lighter in weight and more "weather-proof" than the typical target rifle. Also quite popular for small game such as rabbits and squirrels - and a must-have for birds - is a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun. These are sometimes pump-action or semi-auto, though the most popular is a "double" in either over\under or side-by-side configuration. Handgun hunting is becoming increasingly popular as well, especially for wild boar! An up-close-and-personal pig hunt with a handgun is a true adrenaline rush! But BRING ENOUGH GUN is a common-sense mantra. Wild game, in general, is a tougher target than your home-defense 9mm was made for. The efficacy of your firearm is really the only thing keeping you at the top of the food chain out there in the wild!
Ammunition is also a major consideration, regardless of the firearm. In CA, ONLY LEAD-FREE AMMUNITION may be used in the field. Fines for violations of hunting regulations such as this one are steep and handed out with great regularity.
So, in closing, we highly recommend a careful consideration of the game and terrain you intend to hunt in, and then a selection of weapon that best matches those criterion. Pictured below is a representative battery of HUNTING guns that would server the average shooter well in just about any hunting scenario.
The "Prepper" movement - once widely ridiculed - is growing by leaps and bounds. Far from being a movement based on fear, it is quite the opposite. The objective of the movement is freedom from fear. With Korean nukes, Islamic Terror, a U.S. Government that seems to care more about its own power than the people's liberty, and...well....Zombies...the old Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared, is being taken to some extraordinary lengths. Many people joking about the coming Zombie Apocalypse are using this fanciful nickname for any number of very real possibilities. These are otherwise referred to as SHTF scenarios, (SHTF being an anacronym for when the feces impacts the air recirculation unit). Generally, they refer to a breakdown in societal protections - whether it be for a day or two after a major earthquake, or for longer periods of time after a nuclear emergency or governmental collapse. It is felt that, in these circumstances, being prepared to defend yourself, either alone or in a small, commonly prepared community, will be of vital importance. In such a scenario, not only would quality weapons and ammunition be at a premium for defense, they would also be very valuable trade goods. One thousand rounds of 9mm ammo is valuable today. It might well be worth its weight in gold in an apocalyptic situation. Some see this as paranoid or crazy. Given how quickly things break down these days after a simple power outage or flood, we see it as a common-sense preparation.
So what guns would be applicable here? By far the most commonly thought of "Prepper" guns are the AR series of rifles. These amazing weapons have a million applications. They can put food on the table in a rural setting, and they can fend off hoards of bad guys if one is trapped in a city in chaos. They have little-to-no recoil and thus can be operated by nearly anyone, regardless of size or strength. They are accurate, fast shooting and powerful. They are perfect Prepper rifles. Store lots of ammunition and spare magazines with them, and you are well on your way to preparedness.
Other possibilities are more specific to where you are most likely to be if and when disaster strikes. If you live in downtown LA, a pistol and a good riot shogun might serve you well. If you live in the rural high desert surrounds, both a more powerful, longer distance rifle for defense and a smaller caliber weapon that can put rabbits and such in the pot for dinner would be invaluable. Think it through! A bit of planning today could mean a world of difference for you and your family and friends should the unthinkable become reality.
Most firearms fit particular niches very well. Others are quite versatile! Here we discuss the latter - guns that crossover from one to two or more of the usual categories. While it's true that one COULD use a .22 target pistol for home defense, it is far from an ideal choice. Similarly, one could use an M!A .308 rifle to hunt rabbits - but there'd be little meat left to eat! So which guns fit well into more than one category?
The first that comes to mind is a good pump-action 12 gauge shotgun - probably the most versatile weapon ever invented! The variety of barrels and loads make this an ideal choice in just about every category! With an 18" barrel and some good 00 buck, it is ideal for home defense. With a long vented-rib barrel and birdshot, it can be used for target shooting (Sporting Clays) and hunting small game on the ground or in the air. With a rifled slug barrel and good slugs, it's a great gun for medium sized game like deer. Simply put, every firearms enthusiast either owns a 12 gauge shotgun - or there's one on their short list!
The AR rifle is another which excels in multiple fields. As a SHTF prepper gun, with it's adequate power, low recoil and light weight, it is tops. Add a bipod and good optics and it also makes an outstanding target rifle. It is also the number one rifle for "Three-Gun" Competitions.
Another gun in every arsenal is some form of a .22lr. Whether it's a pistol or a rifle, it is enormously versatile. For target shooting, small game hunting, or just "plinking" around, it is cheap and easy to shoot! The .22 is also the number one choice for teaching the sport of shooting.
So, if you're on a limited budget and have several different firearms needs, you might consider one of these "crossover" guns. They can get you started and fill multiple roles...at least until your budget allows for more guns to fill your specific desires.