best first gun

All posts tagged best first gun

A while back I did a post highlighting why firearms enthusiasts like myself, who love to talk about guns, sometimes hesitate when asked exactly which gun to buy.  Well, here I present two very specific, phenomenal handgun recommendations.  Whether you’re deliberating over your first handgun purchase, or adding a new pistol to an existing collection, these are excellent recommendations.  You can’t go wrong with the GLOCK 19, nor with the SIG SAUER P320, both of which are compact handguns chambered for the 9X19 NATO.


The GLOCK 19, aka G19.


A Gen4 GLOCK G19 M.O.S.

The GLOCK 19 – EASILY my first recommendation.  Though, technically, they may not have  invented the genre, GLOCK certainly popularized the  polymer-framed, striker-fired handgun.  I actually remember when GLOCK pistols first hit the U.S. market, way back in 1986.  My Dad and I were early adopters of the then revolutionary, “plastic” handguns.  Now, 30 years later, (Happy Birthday GLOCK!), GLOCK polymer-framed, striker-fired, “Safe-Action” pistols dominate the U.S. handgun market.  In fact, the GLOCK 19,  chambered in 9mm, is one of the most popular semi-automatic pistols of all times, used widely by Military & Law Enforcement around the World.  In fact, roughly 2 in 3 law enforcement professionals choose GLOCK pistols as their primary duty gun. 

So, What Makes the GLOCK 19 so Popular?

  • GLOCK Ruggedness, Reliability, Ease of Use, & Ease of Maintenance.  They flat out work. GLOCK is the AK of the pistols in terms of ease of use, maintenance and reliability.  They are ultra-reliable.  They are also very easy to shoot well, even for new shooters, which instills confidence and promotes use.  Finally, GLOCK pistols are simple to field strip and maintain.


  • The outstanding GLOCK Safe-Action Trigger.  Any sharp-shooter will tell you the trigger is key, and GLOCK’s “Safe Action” trigger is a great trigger.  Though odd looking when first introduced, you don’t even feel the center tab, which is actually part of a built-in safety system, when firing the gun.  Instead, you feel very little take-up, the slightest bit of creep, and a great, always consistent pull, that breaks around ~5.5lbs.


  • The GLOCK 19 is the Jack of All Trades, & Master of Many.  Though considered a Compact (see NUTNFANCY’s “Compact It Ain’t” video), the GLOCK 19 doesn’t give up much in sight radius, barrel length or magazine capacity when compared to traditional, full-size guns.  The low bore axis of the ~4″ barrel, combined with the ~6″ sight radius and full, three finger grip make the GLOCK 19 very soft-shooting, which, like the excellent trigger, improves accuracy and confidence.  This makes the GLOCK 19 a great choice for new shooters, and overall just perfect for home defense, recreational shooting and even entry level competition use.  However, unlike most full-size pistols, the GLOCK 19 is still compact & light enough to easily carry concealed.  In fact, the GLOCK 19 fulfills so many roles, so well, it could be the only handgun you’d ever truly need.  (ha!  except for all the other ones you want, like something smaller and lighter for summer concealment…or maybe a wheel gun…)  Anyway, there are definite advantages to having one gun that flexes easily into a multitude of roles.  

If that’s not enough of an endorsement, check out who else favors the GLOCK 19:

That’s great company.

Honestly, I’ve shot a lot of different handguns over the last 35+ years, of all different types, of all different calibers, from all different manufacturers.  Some of my best shooting is done with GLOCK pistols.  To me, GLOCK pistols feel great in-hand; they point naturally, the balance feels right & the trigger is great.  It’s ready to go, right out of the box.


A Gen4 GLOCK G19 with most of its trimmings, as it comes from the factory.

So, considering how well I shoot GLOCK pistols, combined with their longstanding, successful track record of ruggedness and reliability, especially knowing who trusts their lives to GLOCK pistols, you can easily understand why the GLOCK 19 is at the top of my list.

Street prices range from just under $600 to around $660, for the base model Gen4 G19, and new-for-2016 Gen4 M.O.S. version, respectively.  Those prices include a lock, three 15 round magazines, unless restricted to 10 rounds in your state, and a set of backstops that enable you to perfectly fit the GLOCK 19 to your hand.  Additional factory GLOCK G19 magazines are available at a very modest cost of ~$25, and Magpul has recently released an extremely affordable line of their famous PMAGs for GLOCK pistols.  (One neat thing with GLOCK pistols is magazine compatibility, which in this case means G17 & G18 magazines will work in your G19.  Just make sure those magazines are legal in your jurisdiction should you decide to pursue increased magazine capacity.)  The M.O.S. version, which I believe is well worth the money, includes four adapter plates that enable you to mount your choice of best of breed reflex / holographic style optics, like your EOTECH, to your GLOCK 19.  That’s right, your AR-15 red dot optic now works on your GLOCK.  Click here to find out more.


GLOCK G19 Backstrap Set


GLOCK G19 MOS Adapter Set

The SIG SAUER P320. 


SIG SAUER P320C-9-FDE, for Compact, 9×19, Flat Dark Earth.

The P320 is SIG SAUER‘s GLOCK inspired, polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol, in a Modular Handgun System (MHS).  Developed as SIG’s entry into the U.S. Army’s XM17 competition for a new sidearm, the P320  was introduced at SHOT Show 2014, and has since been extremely well received by the civilian market.  In fact, the SIG SAUERP320 just received the 2016 Handgun of the Year NRA Golden Bullseye award.

So, Why the SIG SAUER P320?

  • Legendary SIG SAUER Quality and Reliability.  Judging from friends and family on the job, it seems that the U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies not carrying a GLOCK are carrying a SIG.  In fact, SIG SAUER is proud to report that nearly 1 in 3 law enforcement professionals use SIG SAUER firearms,” including U.S. Navy SEALs, Federal Air Marshals, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard.  That’s one hell of an endorsement from agencies that can choose any sidearm they like, and wouldn’t accept something that didn’t work.  As a result of their successful military and law enforcement heritage, SIG SAUER has earned a reputation for producing high-quality, rugged, reliable handguns, with an excellent fit & finish, or attention to detail.  While some may knock GLOCK’s blocky, utilitarian looks, a quick look through some of their different models will show you SIG certainly knows a thing or two about how to build some sexy, high-end looking guns.  Obviously, if you’re a die-hard SIG fan (and there are many), who wants in on the current polymer-framed, striker-fired handgun trend, then the P320 is definitely your gun.  (You had me at, ”polymer-frame, striker-fired SIG!).


  • The SIG P320 Trigger is Amazing.  Right out of the box, the P320 trigger is simply fantastic!  There’s very little take-up, the slightest bit of creep,  then it breaks like glass, that seems to defy it’s 5.5-6.5lb stated weight.  This is high praise  from someone who for a long time believed GLOCK triggers were the best factory trigger for the genre, and they were, for a long, long time.


  •  The P320 Modular Handgun System (MHS) is the rest of the story here. Originally designed as SIG’s entry into the U.S. Army’s XM17 MHS contest for a new sidearm, the SIG SAUER P320 debuted at SHOT Show 2014, and has since been a home run with civilians.  I mentioned the XM17 MHS program, and specifically the SIG P320 in my post on 2016 Firearms Industry Predictions, but in case you missed it, the MHS is great for first time buyers, and for folks who live in more restrictive sates.  Why?  The MHS eliminates the risk of buying the wrong gun, and enables you to flex one gun into a multitude of roles.  Let’s face it, any firearms purchase is a big deal.  I mean, it’s a major responsibility, and buying high-quality, best of breed guns is not an inexpensive proposition.  So, the decision is usually preceded by a lot of research, reflection and analysis.  Depending upon where you live, the process may also involve a lengthy and potentially restrictive permit application process.  It’s a big deal, and there’s nothing worse than  realizing you’ve bought the wrong gun, which believe it or not, happens a lot.  It wrecks your confidence, and takes all the fun out of recreational shooting, which is the last thing you want to do, especially with new shooters. Again, the modular Sig Sauer P320 completely eliminates the risk of being stuck with the wrong gun, and allows you to completely change your gun, or just the COLOR of your gun, as your skills, experience, needs and wants evolve and change.

The SIG P320 Serialized Chassis; this is actually your gun…


…and these are all the P320 compatible components that work with your gun.

I recommend starting with the Compact 9mm, which is essentially the same size as the above recommended GLOCK 19, and therefore provides many of the same benefits.  However, unlike the GLOCK 19, the SIG P320 can be changed into a Subcompact, a Full-size or even made to fire a different caliber without technically having to buy a new gun, and for a little less cost than buying a complete new gun.  It’s almost like having the GLOCK 17,  19 and 26 all in one “gun.”  It may not make sense for everyone, but the modularity of the SIG SAUER P320 is a major advantage for folks who live in states that have lengthy, potentially restrictive handgun application processes, which normally don’t allow you to exchange, or trade-in your new gun for a different model if you discover the gun you just purchased doesn’t work for you.  It’s also incredibly useful for NRA instructors, like myself, who may frequently work with new shooters of all different sizes and statures, or who may want to try shooting a full-size, compact and subcompact before making their own purchase decision.      

Street prices for the Compact 9mm with SIGLITE night sights are around $650, which is a great price for legendary SIG quality, and right in-line with the GLOCK 19.  The price includes a lock, two 15 round magazines, unless restricted to 10 rounds in your state, and a fairly nice, very usable holster.


A SIG SAUER P320C-9-FDE, with most of its trimmings, as it comes from the factory.


The included OWB (outside the waistband) paddle holster is actually quite nice and has decent retention right out of the box, that can also be adjusted if it loosens up over time.

The included holster is a nice touch SIG SAUER, though frankly I would have preferred an additional magazine.  Speaking of which, factory SIG magazines for the P320 are readily available, they just cost ~$50, because SIG is really proud of their magazines… 🙂 Regardless of whether you get the full-size, Carry, Compact, or Subcompact, most guns ship with the Medium size frame, but additional Small and Large grip modules are available in your choice of Black, FDE (Flat Dark Earth) or ODG (Olive Drab Green) for ~$50 so you can perfectly fit the SIG P320 to your hand size and color preferences.  Complete caliber / size conversion kits cost ~$400, and yes, we’re all hoping that number comes down a bit over time.


The GLOCK 19 and SIG SAUER P320: You Can’t Go Wrong with Either.  Get ‘Em Both if You Can’t Decide!

I’ve recently spent time on the firing line with both the GLOCK 19 and SIG P320, and I’ve subsequently field-stripped both, and given them a thorough cleaning.  Both are HIGH-QUALITY, EXTREMELY DEPENDABLE, RELIABLE, EXCELLENT PISTOLS that are easy to shoot well – so long as you do your part – and both will serve you very well, in a multitude of roles; be it home defense, recreational shooting, concealed carry, or even as a way to test your skills at competition.  Whether you’re choosing your first handgun or just expanding the collection, you can’t go wrong with either.  If you want the original, and are heavily influenced by what the NYPD & Navy SEALs carry, then get the GLOCK 19.  If you’re partial to SIG, or like the flexibility and “wrong-gun-risk-mitigation” provided by modularity, then get the P320.  And if you really can’t decide, then get em both!


Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2016 Inside The X Ring.

Seriously, you’d think gun guys and gals love this question, and we do.  As a general firearms enthusiast, Blogger and NRA Instructor, it’s a question I get a lot, and I can certainly talk to it at length.  However, it’s a tough one to answer, because there are so many great choices, and so many different factors involved.  Different strokes for different folks, as they say. 

For defensive POU’s, the answer is, “Get as much gun as you can comfortably and repeatedly shoot accurately.”

But there’s actually a bit more to it.

First of all, why do you want a gun?  What’s your purpose, or philosophy of use (POU)?  Personal protection carry gun? Personal protection home defense gun?  (Though both focused on protection, some of the key factors that go into each are vastly different.) Recreational target shooting? Hunting? Competition?  Perhaps a jack-of-all trades?  Do you live in a Shall Issues Carry State?  Will you actually carry the gun beyond trips to the range? 

Will you be the only one shooting this gun, or do you want something the wife (or someone else) can also shoot effectively?  (Are you 6’5”, 250lbs, married to a 5’3”, 100lb woman?) 

Is this the first, only and last gun you will ever buy?  (You may think so now, but I doubt it…)

What’s your tolerance for recoil?  How about your wife’s, or other shooters?

What battery of arms are you comfortable with?  A cocked-n-locked Single Action Only (SAO), Double Action Only (DAO), Double Action / Single Action (DA/SA)? 

Wheel gun or auto pistol?  Hammer or striker fired?

How do you feel about safeties and nanny devices?  Do you want a gun with a safety lever that must be manually manipulated, or something with just internal safeties associated with trigger manipulation?  Do you also want a grip safety?  Do you want a decocker so you don’t have to dry fire the gun before field stripping, or to make it safer to carry hammer down with one in the pipe on a DA/SA gun like the Sig P226?  How do you feel about those new nanny features (that actually do more harm than good because they don’t teach fundamentals) like loaded chamber indicators, or the inability for some guns to fire without a magazine in the gun?  (Learn how to properly check the chamber and unload the gun. NEVER rely on nanny features.)

Ergonomics should be important to you.  So, how big are your hands?  What feels comfortable?  Can you reach and easily manipulate all of the gun’s controls?  (As I hinted above, those tiny, micro guns great for deep concealment carry are often difficult for shooters with large hands to manipulate and shoot accurately beyond a few yards.  They may not make great home defense or jack-of-all-trades type guns.)  If your wife or anyone else will be shooting the gun, you’ll likely want something that can be adjusted for different hand sizes by using different back straps or grip panels.  Do you have any physical limitations or disabilities that need to be considered?

Are aesthetics important?  Of course! Who spends hard-earned cash on something that doesn’t appeal to them at some level.  That said, I’m a HUGE fan of Glock firearms.  Though there are plenty who just can’t get past the no frills, all business, utilitarian looks.  (If this is your first or second gun, focus on purpose of use, functionality, fit and feel over looks and coolness factor…)

OK, OK, I Know You Want Specific Recommendations…

When it comes to auto pistols primarily for home defense and recreational target shooting use, I steer most towards a full size (4″ – 5″ barrel) 9mm, aka the 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Luger, 9×19, 9x19mm, and sometimes with the “+P” designation.

The .40S&W has a snappy recoil.  The .45ACP has a heavy recoil.  The snappy and heavy recoil make it a challenge for some new shooters to get comfortable with, and master those calibers, especially if you go with something smaller or lighter.  Do your research and you’ll discover the 9mm has a proven track record as a defensive round.  (I believe it is also the most popular military handgun cartridge in the World.)  And while in an emergency defensive situation any gun is better than no gun, even a .22lr, I personally don’t see any compelling reason to go smaller than the 9mm for home defense.  With its mild recoil, especially in a gun with a 4″- 5″ barrel, I find men and women, the tall and the small, novices and experts alike all shoot the 9mm well.  It is a round that in many instills confidence, and is a pleasure to shoot at the range.  The round is so popular you can get ammunition anywhere in the World, and usually at reasonable prices.  Likewise, due to its popularity, everybody in the game produces at least one 9mm variant, so you’re sure to find the pistol that’s just right for your needs, budget, and your tastes; regardless of whether you want a micro sized, super light pocket pistol like the Kel-tec PF-9, or a full-sized, full-featured battle pistol just like the ones used by our Navy Seals, like the Sig P226.  Recoil aside, you also usually get 1 – 2 more rounds in the 9mm than in the same gun chambered for 40S&W, or 45 ACP.  In fact the 9mm is so popular, and there are so many great choices, watch out for “analysis paralysis“.  As my boss used to say, “That’s a high class problem to have.”  Still want more  direction?  I can tell you from hands on experience that Beretta, Glock, SigSauer, and Springfield Armory all make fantastic choices.  If I were now in the market for a new 9mm, I’d add FNH USA, Ruger and Smith & Wesson to that short-list.

Want a wheel gun?

You can’t go wrong with a 4” barreled .357 Magnum, with 6, 7, or even 8 shots.  Simple to understand.  Easy to operate and use.  It’s something pretty much anyone can shoot, and shoot well, especially when loaded with light 38 Special ammunition, which shouldn’t to be discounted for defensive purposes.  (You know they make 38+Ps for when full powered .357 Mag loads may be a little much, or when rockin’ a snubbie…)  Here again, and from personal experience, Smith and Wesson and Ruger are at the top of my list, though Taurus is certainly also worthy of a look.


.38 Special, .380, 9MM, 40S&W, 45ACP


My Final Thoughts & Recommendations…

Talk to fellow gun enthusiasts.  Surf the net.  Buy the gun rags.  Read as many reviews as you can.  See what your friends have. (Get lost in some analysis paralysis for a bit.)  But in the end, and while I certainly hope my thoughts are helpful, it really doesn’t matter what I, or anyone else thinks.

Finalize your POU.  Think about who else may be shooting the gun.  Narrow down your caliber choices.  Decide if you want a wheel gun or an auto pistol.  Finalize your short list.  Then find out which Local Gun Stores (LGSs) have them in stock.  Go to as many different guns stores as possible.  Get hands on.  Handle as many of your choices as you can.  Always practice gun safety, and be advised that many LGS owners don’t want you to dry fire their guns – so ask first.  Hit the range with friends as much as possible.  Hit a range that rents if possible – especially if they rent the choices you’re considering.  Send lead downrange.

In some cases, you’re going to find that what feels best in hand, and what you shoot best may NOT be the same gun you fell in love with from just pictures and specifications.  I’ve seen it happen.  Better to know before you fill out all that paperwork and plunk down all that hard earned cash.

It’ll come to you.  Again, it’s a high-class problem to have – and we are VERY lucky to live in this Great Country, where we can have such a problem!


Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!


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