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How Do People Choose Their First Gun?

We take a look at some considerations most people look at when selecting their very first gun. From price to trigger pull, come see what we found!

Sales of guns throughout the U.S. have gone through the roof.

We’ve been keeping tabs on such trends here at PPT, and it’s been noted that a wide portion of these gun sales come from first-time gun owners.

So much to choose from

But what exactly do newcomers to the gun world look for when they purchase their first gun? What are the features involved with how they make their choice?

For me, and most of us here at PPT, we look at things like price, ergonomics, and other features when selecting our guns. (Sorry, y’all, I can’t drop $3,000 on a new gun. I could, but my wife would tell me to pick up a comfy couch to sleep on while I was out.)

SIG Sauer MCX Spear range pose
I mean, she’s pretty, but $4K is a little outta my price range.

But do first-time gun owners feel the same way? Do they look for different characteristics?

New gun owners are our specialty here at PPT, so we decided to delve into this topic more to discover how people choose their first gun.

You may be surprised at what I found, so follow along to learn more.

Table of Contents



I figured if there was anyone that would know a thing or two about what new gun owners are looking for, it would be Hyatt Guns – one of the largest privately owned gun stores in the U.S. It was here that I got the opportunity to talk with Neal Connor.

99 poor meme

Connor said that the first thing many customers are concerned about is price.

The sheer number of options feels overwhelming, so narrowing down by price point helps customers better grasp what they’re looking for and what’s within a realistic budget.

Concealed Carry

The ability to carry was another factor for many first-timers.

Connor noted that the Glock 43X, Sig Sauer P365, and the Springfield Armory Hellcat are all incredibly popular models for customers that were mainly concerned with concealed carry.

at GrabAGun

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

This crowd is mainly looking for something smaller and more concealable for daily life, and all three of those options fit the bill perfectly for such.

Marco with T4 Tactics, a training site that gets newbs spun up, said that 99% of his customers are looking for a pistol, not a long gun.

4. Best Duty Weapons Walther PDP
A lot of people want pistols.

And what are the most popular weapons he’s seeing first-time buyers bring to the range?

The Glock 43, G43X, and Sig Sauer P365.

at GrabAGun

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

People seem to enjoy the versatility because these weapons are good for both home defense and EDC.

Home Defense

When it comes to home defense, things change quite a bit for customers.

In particular, over the past two years, Hyatt Guns has seen a massive spike in its sales of AR-15s for home defense guns. Connor says this trend follows a very logical decision-making process.

Modded AR-15s
Modded AR-15s

The AR-15 is a very functional weapon for home defense purposes, he noted.

Given that people spent quite a bit of time under lockdown in 2020 and 2021, it makes sense that home defense is what many first-time gun owners were primarily concerned about.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

In addition to ARs, shotguns also saw a boost in sales among the first-time buying crowd.

Everybody wants something, and both options tended to be the #1 sellers for home defense.

A300 Ultima Patrol shoot left
Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol

No Ammo, No Pistol

If a pistol was the route a customer was interested in, Connor noted ammo availability was also a huge motivator.

He stated there had been several experiences where a first-time buyer asked for a .38 Special revolver, ready to put cash on the table.

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers

Once they discovered limited ammo availability, they quickly changed their mind, moving to something more prevalent, like 9mm.

This is a unique twist in the world of American gun purchasing, but it’s drastically impacting what people are buying.

9mm Ammo in Stock

Cost Per Round
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Connor said it’s because of this that 9mm and .45 ACP are the two most popular caliber pistols they’re currently selling.

If that’s the ammo available, that’s what people will buy.

Recoil & Ergonomics

On the range side of things, Marco told PPT that another big factor for first-time buyers is recoil.

Newcomers are generally afraid that their weapon will kick like a mule and want options that won’t hurt them.  

Sig XTEN recoil

Regarding handguns, Marco noted that the trigger pull is also a factor new gun owners need to consider.

He said there’s been many times he’s taken a customer out to the range only for them to discover they don’t have the hand strength to pull the trigger with any degree of accuracy.

Beretta APX trigger

The same goes for racking a slide. While new shoppers may not realize that’s something they need to be looking for, Marco says that this is one of the key things they need to check out.

This is why he thinks all first-time gun buyers should rent the weapon they’re considering for some range time first – with somebody who knows their way around a weapon – and only then decide whether they’ll purchase.

Walther PDP F recoil
Better grip = better control

For women purchasers, Marco has noted that grip size is often a feature they consider before purchasing.  

What Do the New Buyers Have to Say?

I wanted to get a first-hand interview with a new gun owner as well and was able to get in touch with 23-year-old graphic designer Olive.

She purchased her first weapon after watching the events of 2020 unfold and realizing she needed some means of protecting herself should the need arise. 

Womens Concealed Carry IWB

When she first set out for a gun, she knew there were a couple of ‘must-haves’ for her to purchase.

Chief of these was that she wanted something that didn’t feel intimidating. She wanted to feel comfortable with the weapon and well-versed in handling it.

Part of this comfort for her included the firearm’s safety as well. Without that safety, she said she’d always feel on edge.

Taurus G2S safety
Taurus G2S safety

A pistol was her weapon of choice as she wanted the ability to conceal carry and have something with her in her bedroom for when her husband was away.

She went to her local gun store to begin her search with all that in mind. She noted that the selection was incredibly limited at the time – it was 2020, after all.

Her final choice? A Ruger EC9s with a purple grip.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

While she enjoys her weapon, liking how it feels in her hand, its size, and the peace of mind it provides, she wishes it was solid black.

With how things were going, though, she was happy to get what she could.

Ruger EC9s glamour left
Check out our review on the Ruger EC9s!

Final Thoughts

So, what do new gun owners look for?

Price, use, ergonomics, recoil, and ammo availability all play a part in newbie gun choices. If a weapon can check the boxes for each of these variables, it’s likely to be the firearm chosen by a new gun owner.

A table full of striker-fired handguns.

And when it comes to what checks those boxes, right now, it looks as if the AR-15, shotguns, Glock 43X, and Sig Sauer P365 are king.

What was your first gun, and what led you to buy it? Let us know in the comments below. New to guns and need some help? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Guns!

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11 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    I grew up with guns ranging from .22LR to an MAK-90, but spent most of my time shooting .410 and .30-30 in the woods around southwest Missouri. I hadn't owned a gun in about a decade, however, until last year when a former client started threatening me. So I went out and bought an 18.5" Mossberg 500 because I already knew how to handle it and what to expect.

    Buying that gun unlocked several core memories of hunting and plinking with my dad and brother, and it reminded me how much I enjoy shooting in general. So, since buying that shotgun in March of 2022, I've added a .couple 9mm pistols, a Ruger 10/22, a 24" Mossberg 590, an AR-15 in 5.56, and (most recently) a DPMS-style .308.

    So...I guess to answer the question in this post, what made me choose my *first* gun was necessity for a very specific task. What made me choose the rest was remembering my roots.

    May 5, 2023 10:25 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    My first is a Bersa Thunder 380, bought in 2020 COVID era. Of the dealers selection at the time it fit my hand the best and just felt right. I'm a good shot with it, and it always goes bang. I like the DA/SA action. For me it was a great choice

    April 24, 2023 9:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    My first gun was a Glock 19.

    I took a beginning handgunclass and we tried all of these different guns. Sig kept on popping out of my hand, Beretta made the webbing between my thumb and forefinger hurt, and the Hellcat I could not get my hand around. It was down to the Glock 19 or HK VP9, which I loved. Process of elimination I got the Glock because it was 1/3rd the cost of the VP9. I think I made a good choice.

    I might get the Glock 43x in the future

    April 24, 2023 3:20 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joseph Pestel

    My 1st gun was a 38 revolver bought cheap at a gun show. Less than a 100. Don't even know the brand rg is on the side. Thousands of rounds and 20 years later still fires every time ammo permitting. I have rugers, smith & western, kel tec, but still shoot my 38 once a month just love the feel and action of a da revolver. Looking to buy a Blackhawk soon

    April 24, 2023 10:44 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Your revolver was made by RG Industries, the U.S.-based division of German firearms company Rohm Gessellschaft which split from its parent company Rohm GmbH in the 1950s.

      April 24, 2023 2:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I feel my first was a "Goldilocks"- 9mm S&W M&P 2.0 E-Z Shield Performance Center. It's small enough to conceal- with some effort and great advice from you folks. 9mm is rock solid for home defense. The PC trigger and tactile click on release are really nice. The tritium sites are easy to pick out when practicing a quick draw. The take down is beyond easy. I'm still in love with it.

    April 23, 2023 7:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Not to give away my age or anything, but, my first firearm was a 5 shot Smith & Wesson Air Weight snub-nose .38 with a speed loader... too many Dirty Harry movies. While light weight, easy to conceal, and reasonably effective at short ranges, I decided to upgrade to a semi auto 9mm, a Browning 9mm Hi-Power. Best Pistol Ever!

    April 23, 2023 6:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Bought a p365 when I turned 21 because I wanted something easy to conceal and someone told me Sig was a good brand. I love the gun, but now I'm upgrading to an HK VP9 because I want something a little easier to shoot and more comfortable to hold. My father has always carried HK so it's nostalgic for me and I've become a bit of an HK fan boy now (as much as I can on my budget). But I'm keeping the p365 too since I have all the holsters for it.. I figure I'll use it as a backup for when I want something lighter.

    April 22, 2023 5:05 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    After a certain political party let entire cities burn to advance their own agenda, while simultaneously advocating for disarming us all, I looked up articles on "best handguns for beginners", including one on this very site, then went to the local gun range and tried out the subset of those they had in stock (not many, I wonder why?). Ultimately a S&W M&P 9 2.0 had the most comfortable grip, so that's what I went with.

    April 22, 2023 4:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    My first handgun was a Glock 26. I bought it solely because I knew nothing about handguns, and because the gun store salesman told me it was the perfect gun for me. After buying it, I soon realized that it was not the perfect gun for me, for the following reasons:
    * No thumb safety. I simply CANNOT carry a loaded weapon around that doesn't have a reliable thumb safety.
    * The slide is very difficult to rack, due to the heavy spring.
    * I can't get it open to clean it - you have to line up a Glock perfectly, then pull the two notches simultaneously, in order to get it apart to clean it. I've tried many times, I simply can't do it.
    I wish the salesman had asked me about these issues before recommending this gun to me.

    I then watched a ton of Youtube videos and read lots of online articles and posts before buying my next gun.

    I finally ended up buying a Ruger EC9S, because a guy who looked like a gun expert on Youtube said he really liked it, and because it was really cheap. This is the gun I carry (and have carried for a couple of years):
    * It was cheap - out the door for less than $300.
    * It is super thin - perfect for pocket carry.
    * It is lightweight, because it holds only eight rounds - easy to carry all day.
    * It is reliable.
    It is not the best shooter, but it is adequate in that department.

    April 22, 2023 3:23 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Lakey

    My first pistol was a Sig Sauer M18 with a safety after The Government let several cities burn. It the cities didn't burn I would never have bought a gun.

    April 22, 2023 1:03 pm
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