Tips for Buying Your First Handgun

So, you’ve taken the first step and decided you want to buy your first handgun. You are now probably in the research phase of your decision-making process and want to make sure you buy the right gun for your needs. There are a lot of factors that can go into purchasing your first handgun and without guidance, it can get overwhelming.

Before you get to the fun stuff, like buying holsters, you need to decide what gun will work best for you and your needs. A gun is an investment, so it’s important to pick something that will last you as long as you need it to. That is why we have come up with a few tips to help you with your first handgun purchase. So, let’s get started.

Make Sure The Handgun is Reliable

Buy a reliable handgun and holster

The handgun market is filled with a variety of gun models and manufacturers, some of which are better than others. But as a first time gun owner, how do you know which ones are reliable and which ones aren’t? Well, there are a few resources you can use to help you make sure the gun you are purchasing is going to be reliable.

First, a quality gun salesperson will be able to guide you on reliable guns that suit your needs. Sometimes even established and reliable manufacturers can release new gun models with malfunctions or other issues. When this happens, manufacturers may decide to recall that gun model. If you have a knowledgeable gun salesman helping you choose your new handgun, they will more than likely know of any common issues with various gun models, old or new.

Another thing you can use to help determine a gun's reliability is the endless bucket of knowledge we call the internet. Many companies write articles that review different guns, which can prove very helpful in determining not only if a gun is reliable but also if it is right for you. YouTube has also become a popular resource in the last decade. Many YouTube Channels will post torture tests of guns, testing the reliability after shooting hundreds and sometimes thousands of rounds through a gun.

Pay Attention to How The Gun Feels In Your Hand

Be comfortable with your gun

Guns come in all different shapes and sizes. They even have different triggers and grips. Each one may feel different in your hand as you are holding it. Now, as a first time handgun buyer, all of them may feel weird at first, but as you begin to train with it, it will become more comfortable.

Even though a gun may become more comfortable in your hands over time, there are still some reasons people choose not to purchase a particular gun. For example, if the magazine release is hard for you to reach or press, you may not want that gun, or if the grip texture is too rough, you may find it uncomfortable to hold.

So, while comfort can come with prolonged use of a handgun, there are a few things you may notice from the beginning that makes a gun uncomfortable for you.

Home Defense vs. Concealed Carry

Concealed Carry

People use handguns for various reasons, so when you purchase your first handgun, it’s important to think about what you will use it for. Again a quality gun salesperson will be able to help you decide which type of gun suits what you plan to use it for. While the same weapon can be used for both home defense and concealed carry other times, it may affect what gun you choose to purchase.

First, if you haven’t already, choose whether you will primarily use your first handgun for home defense or concealed carry. If you don’t have a concealed carry license or aren’t planning to get one, you most likely will be using your gun for home defense. With a home defense gun, you may have more flexibility in the size and type of gun you choose.

If you are planning to primarily use your gun for concealed carry, you might choose a smaller framed gun that is easier to conceal. Keep in mind that a concealed carry gun can absolutely be used for home defense as well. If you plan on concealed carrying, you may want to look at what holsters are available for the gun model you might purchase. Some gun models have fewer holsters available for them than others.

You can check out our complete list of gun models here on our holsters by gun model page. Knowing what you want to use your first handgun for can help you when buying a pistol.

Consider Your Budget

Guns can be expensive no matter what kind or size they are, although some may be more cost-effective than others. When you are looking at what gun you want to purchase, budget can be an important factor to think about. There is an initial cost associated with your first gun purchase in addition to recurring charges like range fees, maintenance, and additional ammo.

If you have a tighter budget, you may want to consider selecting a handgun that uses a more popular caliber of ammunition. For example, 9mm and .380 are more common calibers than .45 ACP and .40; therefore, they are going to be less expensive and probably a better option if you have budget constraints. Using an experienced gun salesperson can be beneficial when working with a tighter budget, they can help point you in the direction of guns that will suit your needs and budget.

Aftermarket Support

When you are deciding which gun you want to purchase, taking into consideration how you want to use the weapon in the long term can be beneficial. Many guns offer aftermarket products you can purchase to customize your gun.

For example, there are many options for sights, lights, and lasers you can add to your handgun after it is purchased. If you eventually want to use your new handgun for target practice or competition shooting, getting one with many aftermarket options may benefit you. Glock and Sig Sauer are examples of manufacturers that oftentimes have aftermarket options for their guns.

Overall, this isn’t something everyone needs for their first gun, but if you plan on doing more with your gun in the future, the number of aftermarket additions could influence what gun you purchase.

Top 5 Handguns For First Time Buyers

To help you with buying your first gun, we’ve selected a few of the top handguns for first time owners. These are in no particular order but may help guide you in discovering the perfect handgun for you and your needs.

1. GLOCK 19

Glock 19

There is no question of the reliability that comes with the Glock name, and the Glock 19 is one of the most commonly known pistols around. It is one of the most proven and carried firearms of the past decade. It has a comfortable grip that fits great in most hands, and makes for a good first gun.

This 9mm striker-fired pistol comes standard with a 15-round magazine but fits up to a 33-round magazine. Weighing only 21.16 ounces, this exceedingly popular handgun may be just what you are looking for.

For more information on the Glock 19, visit Glock’s website here. Or, if you want to know what holsters are available for this popular pistol, check out our holster options for the Glock 19 here.


Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Series

The M&P Model 2 series has quality ergonomics and proven reliability making it a perfect option for first time handgun owners. It has an ambidextrous slide stop, and the grip feels thin when you are holding it.

This series has multiple caliber and size options to suit your needs. Each M&P M2.0 is a striker-fired pistol and ranges in weight from 24 to 28 ounces. Compared to other similar guns, these are moderately priced, making guns in this series a good option if you don’t have a large budget.

For more information on the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 visit Smith & Wesson’s website here. Or, if you want to know what holsters are available for this popular pistol, check out our holster options for the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 here.


Sig Sauer P320

In 2017 the US Army selected a version of the P320 to be their new sidearm. Having passed rigorous testing to earn that title, any of Sig Sauer’s P320 pistols is a great option for first time handgun owners.

They are easy to use and highly reliable. There are multiple size and caliber options for the P320 as well as the military models. This gun features an interchangeable grip module and overall has a variety of customization options.

For more information on the Sig Sauer P320 visit Sig’s website here. Or, if you want to know what holsters are available for this popular pistol, check out our holster options for the P320 here.


CZ P-10 Series

The CZ P-10 is a fiber-reinforced, polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol with carefully thought out ergonomics. It features a reversible magazine release and a glove-friendly trigger guard.

It has a unique grip angle and uses 9mm rounds. The CZ P-10 is another moderately priced gun that is going to be reliable for new gun owners. It is available in multiple sizes and colors.

For more information on the CZ P-10, visit CZ’s website here. Or, if you want to know what holsters are available for this popular pistol, check out our holster options for the CZ P-10 here.

5. H&K VP9


The H&K VP9 features an interchangeable grip and backstrap combined with a striker-fired ignition and Picatinny rail. And it is, of course, reliable, which is what makes this such a good first handgun.

This gun has a unique feature that many people love: a cocking indicator. This is just a small red indicator at the back of the slide that, when the gun is cocked, will be visible. The VP9 is also available in a subcompact model that has the same features.

For more information on the H&K VP9, visit H&K’s website here. Or, if you want to know what holsters are available for this popular pistol, check out our holster options for the H&K VP9 here.


There is a lot of information and choices that go into selecting your first handgun, so let’s review. First of all, make sure you are purchasing a reliable gun. A good way to check for this is by reading reviews or watching YouTube videos.

Once you start narrowing down your choices, pay attention to how each gun feels in your hands. You may find that some are more comfortable than others. Think about what you plan to use the gun for, whether that is home defense or concealed carry. This can play a part in what size gun you choose.

Consider your budget when you are choosing a gun. Beyond the initial cost, ammunition is also going to cost you money, and some calibers are more expensive than others. Last, if you plan on using your gun for target practice or competition shooting in the future, you may want to look at guns that have aftermarket support. If you are still having a hard time narrowing down your options, a quality gun salesperson will be able to help you decide what gun is best for you.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you prefer and what meets your needs. If you’re looking for belts or holsters, we recommend visiting our Holsters by Gun Model page if you are looking for holsters that are custom-made for your weapon of choice. For all of our belt and holster options and for more information to help you choose the carry system that works best for you, visit our Vedder Holsters website.

Looking for items beyond holsters and belts, check out our Resources Page for popular product links like lights, lasers, first aid, maintenance, and more.