Whether you’re completely new to the shooting sports, or an ardent enthusiast finally ready to make a purchase, buying your first gun can be overwhelming. With the wide array of choices, we, as consumers, sometimes do not know where to begin in the gun selection process. With a little bit of preparation and research, however, you can have the information you need to choose the right gun for you. Here are a few tips, in no particular order, to help you along your journey to buy your first gun, with a focus on choosing a handgun.

Disclaimer: This beginner’s guide is only a recommendation—a starting point for your research. The Arms Guide heartily recommends personal research, first hand experience, and, if possible, professional training as you learn more about your firearms and the shooting sports world. This how-to is meant to be a guide to help you get started, not a set-in-stone rule book. As with all new endeavors into the gun world, you’ll have to find what works best for you, but, hopefully this will get you pointed in the right direction.

Know your gun’s purpose. 

Before taking a trip to your local gun store, make sure you know for what purpose you will be using your first gun. If you’ve never fired a gun and are just starting out, you may want to look into a range gun. A range gun generally will have a longer barrel than a smaller, conceal carry gun. Usually, range guns are quite comfortable to shoot. In general, they are larger and heavier than their smaller, concealed carry, counterparts which results in less perceived recoil. At the very least, a range gun will help you to learn the basics of shooting, enabling you to become more comfortable handling firearms. As the name suggests, it’s ideal to use it at the range for target practice.