<!doctype html public "-//w3c//dtd html 4.0 transitional//en">*How to buy a Handgun*
By Rhino

I want to share some information with those of you looking to buy a handgun.  If you are a first time buyer or an experienced buyer you will hopefully find something here that helps.  This is obviously a large topic and I am going to cover some broad points that in my opinion will help you in your search.

One thing you will notice in this article is my lack of talk about caliber or “stopping power”.  I purposefully do not talk about “stopping power” because I believe that no handgun possesses the “power” to stop another human being.  There are many arguments for and against certain calibers, but I will only say that I believe that a .380 is the smallest cartridge I would recommend for a self-defense round.  Now, I will tell you that there are times when I carry a .32 Kel-Tec due to its extreme size and weight (6.6 ozs) because the best gun in a gunfight is the one you have with you and sometimes your dress will limit your ability to properly conceal a larger handgun.

The broad points we will cover are…Some questions to ask yourself, Research, and The act of buying.

Some questions to ask yourself….

Why do I want a handgun?

The answer to this question can help you immensely.  If you want something to keep you safe at home than perhaps a shotgun would be a better choice than a handgun.  Here are some reasons why…a shotgun is more intimidating (the sound of a shotgun racking a shell into a chamber is enough to send most burglars fleeing), a shotgun doesn’t require near the amount of accuracy that a handgun does, and a shotgun is easier to use and store safely than a handgun. 

If, on the hand, you have decided that a handgun is what you want and you want to use it for target practice and/or             self-defense, than go on to the next question.

Where will I store it / carry it?

This question will help you decide on the type of handgun you want…. revolver or semi-auto, full-size or compact, double action or single action, the list goes on.   I will deal with two of these below…


Revolver or Semi-auto

If you are looking for something to keep in a dresser drawer that you are going to practice with once and put it away “just in case!” than I recommend a revolver.  The revolver is easy to use and requires few fine motor skills to operate.   The key here is practice and ease of use.  A typical scenario looks like this, it’s 3am and you here footsteps coming up your steps when no one is supposed to be walking up your steps.  You wipe the sleep from your eyes and pick up your…

A)      revolver.   In the moonlight you flip the cylinder open so that you can see the brass shells, you know that all you have to do is pull the trigger and the gun goes bang.   And in the case of a malfunction, all you have to do is pull the trigger again and the cylinder will revolve past the malfunction.  That’s it…end of story.


B)       semi-auto.  In the moonlight you fumble for the magazine release to see if the magazine is loaded.  You now rack the slide to put a round in the chamber.  You reach for the safety to make sure the little lever is in the “right” position.  You squeeze the trigger and the gun goes “click”.  WHAT’S WRONG!  You now go into your tap/rack routine…What! You don’t know what a tap rack routine is?  You haven’t practiced this hundreds of time so that it is second nature?

Obviously, I have used a little dramatic license to illustrate what practice can mean during a stressful situation.  But hopefully, you understand the point.  If you are not going to practice with a handgun than by all means purchase something that is easy to use in the case of an emergency.    I have found some individuals lack the strength (weakness or disease) to pull the slide of a semi-auto back and therefore a revolver was a good choice for them.  Others have found that a semi-auto was the right choice for them.  Remember these are guidelines not rules.


Full-size or Compact

Now this decision can help you narrow down the type of gun you choose.  For target shooting a full-size gun is the only way to go.  If you want to conceal the gun than compact is the answer.  If only it was that simple.   Some people, due to hand size, may feel more comfortable with a compact gun for target practice while others, once again due to hand size, choose a full size gun and choose to conceal it.  Whatever works for you!

How much do I want to spend?

I put this question next to last because you can find reasonable deals on handguns if you are willing to look and ask around.  But, this can be a major consideration for some and has to be dealt with.  (See my article…How to buy used guns)

How does it feel in my hand?  Is it comfortable?

This last question can be the determining factor in choosing a gun.  You can answer all the questions above and pick a gun that fits the parameters you set and you not like the gun at all!  Fortunately, there are many choices in each of the categories above, so if one doesn’t work try something else.

So now you know you are looking for a full-size revolver or a compact semi-auto…what’s next?  Once you have answered these questions it is time to do some research.  Some examples of the types of guns talked about and some quality gun manufacturers follow…

.357 Revolvers

Smith & Wesson 66, 686, 686 Plus

Ruger SP101, GP100

Taurus 66, 627, 617

9mm, .40 & .45 Full-size Semi-auto

Beretta 92, 96

Glock 17, 22, 21

CZ 75

Heckler & Koch USP

Ruger P89, 94, 95

Sig Sauer 226, 229

.380, 9mm & .40 Compact Semi-autos

Kahr MK9, MK40, K9, K40, P9, P40

Glock 19, 26, 23, 27

H & K USP Compact

Taurus Millennium

Sig Sauer 239

Walther PPK

Bersa Thunder

.45 ACP Single Action Semi-autos



Para Ordnance




If you are reading this more than likely you are using the Internet right now.  Well, the Internet can be the greatest source of information in your search.  Just go to a search engine and type in guns or you can be even more specific about the type of gun. 

Another source is magazines.  Unfortunately, most magazines give you a new gun of the month every month and a new super duper cartridge every month.  Well, that sells magazines and guns, not necessarily in your best interest, so take what they say with a grain of salt. 

Gun shows and stores offer a wide variety of guns to look at and have the benefit of actually being able to touch the guns you are interested in.  You may find some very knowledgeable people here so listen to what they say but remember to let them know you are not buying a gun today but will be in the near future…this keeps them from trying to “sell” you a gun.

Lastly, find someone you trust to give you information.  As a side note, if you can find a place that rents guns then by all means spend $30-50 trying different guns out so that you make a wise purchase.  Believe me when I tell you that $50 is a small price to pay to determine if you like a gun or not!


The act of buying

You can purchase a firearm from a variety of places individuals, stores, and the Internet.  Remember to obey local laws in purchasing firearms (I personally think all gun laws are un-Constitutional and according to Marbury vs. Madison do not need to be obeyed, but I leave that to you).  Should you decide to purchase a gun from an individual, I recommend you read my article “How to buy used guns.”  I would also get a name and address with a signed bill of sale.  This satisfies most legal issues.

If you are going to a store, be sure to know a fair price for the gun you want and don’t be afraid to ask them to come down to it!  It never hurts to ask.  If you are buying over the Internet be careful.  If the person you are buying from is out of state you will need to transfer the gun from their local FFL (federal firearms license) dealer to your local FFL dealer and there may be a small charge for their services (I have seen as high as $40 charged for a transfer).  Your dealer will need to send a signed file copy of their FFL to the sellers FFL in order to arrange for the transfer.   A fax won’t cut it; it needs to be a signed hard copy of the FFL.

At this point you will be asked to fill out form 4473 in order perform a NCIC federal background check on you.  This form is mandatory for FFL dealers in order to transfer the gun to you.  After you complete the form the dealer will call the FBI and receive one of three responses…

1)  Proceed.     You are free to take the handgun home today

2)  Denied.       You may not take the gun home.  You will also be given a form that tells you how to appeal this ruling.  The last numbers I heard were that up to 40% of all denials were clerical errors on the local level.  So if you are denied be sure to appeal!  

3)  Delayed.     This happens about 25% of the time.  It means that the FBI needs time to look up your file to make sure of something.  It is neither good nor bad.  The FBI has up to 3 business days to respond back.  After the 3 business days are up the FFL is allowed to release the firearm to you.

As I mentioned earlier, I think these rules are bogus but if you want to buy a firearm from a FFL holder than they are required to do this or face losing their license.  I hope this helps.



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