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5 Worst Guns for Beginners (And Some Good Ones)

Don't make a big mistake. There are some terrible guns out there for beginners. Here's our list of the worst ones and also some good first firearms.

The gun world is full of lists, and one of the most common is “X Number of best guns for new shooters”

We’re not knocking them, they are great, and we have…just a few ourselves. But this time, we’re going in a slightly different direction.

Beginner's Guide to Guns
Beginner’s Guide to Guns

We want to name the worst guns for new shooters. 

Not that there is inherently anything wrong with these guns; well, nothing wrong with most of them. Some suck, and some are eww .40 cal. However, in general, these can be great guns… 

…For experienced shooters. 

Table of Contents


Guns For Beginners To Avoid

Magnum Caliber Handguns 

Magnum handguns are so much freaking fun. The recoil, the noise, the power! They can be a real handful, though.

They are not for new shooters. Desert Eagles, S&W Model 29s, and certain Ruger Blackhawks are legendary firearms in the shooting world, as well as pop culture.

Movies like The Matrix, the Dirty Harry series, and Wind River have placed big-bore revolvers and hand cannons into the American psyche. 

Dirty Harry Shooting
Dirty Harry and his .44 Magnum

While they are both fun and cool, they are not good for beginners. The massive recoil is not beginner-friendly, and at best, it will make you develop a flinch, and at worst, it will smack you right in the face. 

Magnum Research .429 Desert Eagle with SwampFox King Slayer red dot proven turkey killer
Magnum Research .429 Desert Eagle with SwampFox King Slayer red dot

Actually, at worst, if you don’t know what you are doing, and you accidentally shoot yourself. This happened with a young lady firing an S&W 500 revolver.

She fired the gun and in twisted in her hands, resulting in her pulling the trigger as the weapon was pointed at her own head.

I would never place a magnum-caliber handgun in the hands of a beginner. It’s insanely dangerous and foolish. 

gun recoiling into shooters face
Kind of like this, but she held her grip instead of it rolling out.

Outside of the danger level, the ammunition for these weapons is expensive, and that will dissuade many from the shooting necessary to establish proper shooting habits.

Speaking of ammo, when you get magnum calibers, you get a lot of specialty loads that you’ll need to be able to read and understand before you toss in your gun. 

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers, 10mm and .357 Magnum are two examples of magnum calibers.

A box of Winchester .44 Magnum ammunition is going to be a lot different than a box of Buffalo Bore .44 Magnum.

And that’s before we get into the .500 family!

left to right 9mm, .50 Beowulf, and .500 Linebaugh
Cartridge lineup, left to right: 9mm, .50 Beowulf, and .500 Linebaugh.

If you don’t understand bullet weights and velocities, then you are gonna have a bad time.

That Buffalo Bore or Double Tap is going to kick your ass. 

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Magnum caliber handguns are for experienced shooters, and beginners should only use one under the supervision of an experienced shooter. 


If you are a new shooter and looking at a powerful revolver, there is one magnum caliber I’d say is okay for new shooters.

That is the .357 Magnum.

.357 mag ammo is pretty
.357 Mag is where it’s at (also, don’t alternate your ammo like this, purely for photo purposes.)

It’s magnum light in many ways, especially compared to modern magnums. 

That being said, get a full or mid-sized revolver or even a Desert Eagle in this caliber.

S&W 686 and .357 Ammo
The Smith & Wesson 686+ is an awesome full-sized .357 Magnum revolver, even for new shooters.

Avoid snub nose revolvers in .357 Magnum. A .357 Magnum does allow you to shoot .38 Specials, which are much softer recoil-wise and cheaper for training purposes.

12-Gauge Shotguns/Firearms 

I love shotguns. Love them an absolute ton. They are amazing weapons. 

They ain’t for new shooters, though. Twelve gauge shotguns and firearms have hefty recoil, a limited capacity, and expensive ammunition. 

When I say firearms as a new gun owner, you might be confused, all guns are firearms, but at the same time, some firearms are different.

Guns that look and operate like shotguns but lack a stock and often have 14-inch barrels but an overall length of 26 inches is technically a firearm. 

Shockwave 590M (5)
Mossberg 590M Shockwave “firearm”

Like magnum handguns, a firearm can be a dangerous weapon that jumps and kicks from your hands like a trout trying to free itself.

On top of that, these guns can easily give you a kick to the face if you aim them without being ready for the punch the gun is about to throw. 

For those who know nothing about guns, especially 12-gauges, you’ll quickly find out the benefit of training and experience. Even a shotgun with a stock can be uncomfortable.

Tavor Shotgun sleeping on shells
Just some of the shells after a day of shooting my Tavor TS12

I like to think I am a journeyman shotgunner, and I’m pretty good at recoil reduction, but a day with a shotgun will still leave me with a beat-up shoulder. 

An amateur is going to develop a flinch quite quickly. 

The most common type of shotgun is a pump-action, and if it’s for defensive use, you have to get real good at working that pump if you don’t, you are bound to short-stroke the gun and give yourself a nice jam to work your way through. 

If you get a semi-automatic, you are going to have to learn how to feed it the right ammo and how to keep it clean.

Semi-auto shotguns are finicky and require the right ammo and a good level of maintenance. 

If you’re looking for your first pump-action shotgun, we can help!

A single shot or double barrel is going to be lightweight, and that will just increase your felt recoil. 

Start out with a 20-gauge. A 20-gauge is a powerful weapon with a lot less recoil than any 12-gauge. 


If you are looking for a bird hunting or skeet/trap gun, a 12-gauge shotgun might be the right ticket.

The only reason why is the use of soft shooting sporting loads designed for super small game and busting clay pigeons. 

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Recoil will still be a jolt, but it won’t be near as punishing, although a 20-gauge can still be a good bird gun and a more challenging skeet or trap gun. 

Micro 9mm/.380s 

Small, pocket-sized carry guns are everywhere. They are an attractive weapon for concealed carriers, especially if you are new to carrying and shooting.

Sinterfire .380 ACP 75 grain HP Frangibles and a Ruger LCP II. If you like .380 ACP you really should check out Sinterfire’s frangibles
Micro-compact guns like this Ruger LCP II are easy to conceal but not fun to shoot.

There seems to be a mindset among a lot of new shooters and first-time shoppers that smaller guns are a better choice for new shooters.  

People think the smaller the gun is, the easier it is to handle. This is, unfortunately, not true.

Pocket-sized .380s and, even worse, 9mms are a handful. They slap your hand like a hard high five and try to work their way out of your hands with every shot. 

Bersa Firestorm
This Bersa Firestorm…that recoil is snappy!

They aren’t pleasant to shoot, which means training will be less of a priority compared to not beating up your hand daily. Also, they often lack proper sight, and the tiny grip makes reloads a hassle.

This sucks cause you likely only get six to seven rounds at most, and you can barely aim, much less reload under stress. 

These guns also tend to be picking towards limp wristing. Limp wristing is not holding a firm enough wrist while shooting. This can cause some serious reliability issues and give you some fun jams. 


I don’t really have one. Don’t go with anything smaller than a Glock 43 or 42. My personal favorite is the P365 from Sig Sauer. 

P365 Comparison

Subcompact .40 S&Ws 

If you are a new shooter just learning the ropes, a .40 S&W can be an inviting weapon. They are common, and a lot of people feel that .40 S&W is a good compromise between 9mm and .45 ACP.

Glock G27
Glock G27 sub-compact .40 Smith & Wesson

If you are a new shooter and you want a gun you can carry, a subcompact .40 might look even better.

By subcompact, I mean Glock 27-sized firearms, not Glock 23-size. These subcompact frames in .40 S&W can be rough shooters. Recoil and snap will be at an all-time high. 

The gun will try to wrestle its way out of your hands and give you a nice dose of slide bite with every other round. If you are a new shooter learning the ropes of a handgun, a subcompact .40 will be an unpleasant experience.

.40 S&W Round
.40 S&W Round

Not only that, but the ammo is more expensive than 9mm, and the round is falling out of favor. It may be around for the rest of my life, but we won’t see a lot of development for the round between then and now. 


.40 S&W Law Enforcement trade-ins are often easy to find and relatively cheap. You can get a Glock, an S&W M&P, or any number of polymer-frame striker-fired pistols that are of extremely high quality.

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

If you see one at a great price and you can afford it over a lower-tier handgun, go for it. 

But shoot it a lot, and get some training with it. 

Anything In the Ring of Fire Family 

The Ring of Fire guns are small, super cheap guns from companies like Lorcin, Raven, Bryco, Jennings, and Phoenix.

These companies are mostly dead, but lots of their guns are still floating around. 

Bryco Arms .380
A Bryco Arms .380 such as this has resulted in more than 1 accidental death due to their defective design (Photo: Guns.com)

These cheap pot metal guns are small, and available in a variety of calibers. Their main appeal is their often sub-$100 price tags. 

The downsides are, well, it’s easier just to bullet point this:

  • Unreliable
  • Poor fit and finish
  • Unreliable
  • Magazines suck
  • Heavy recoil due to blowback design
  • Unreliable 
  • Sloppy construction 
  • Terrible triggers

Did I mention these are unreliable? They’ll jam, misfeed, fail to fire, and all that, but they will also crack and fall apart. 

Everything is fine dog
Literally everyone that owns a gun from the Ring of Fire family.


None just stay away from them like the guy who hands out apples on Halloween.

Great Guns for Beginners 

I won’t leave you guys with just bad guns. Here are a few good choices for your first gun. 

1. Ruger 10/22 

It’s a classic rifle, one of the most mass-produced in history. It’s reliable, accurate, and cheap!

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

You can find a Ruger 10/22 in almost any gun shop across the country.

Everyone should have a Ruger 10/22 rifle, and it’s a gun that has staying power. You can upgrade it, customize it, and make it yours. 

Fully Upgraded 10/22
Fully Upgraded 10/22

2. Heritage Arms .22 LR Revolver 

As far as first-time handguns go, this is the best one to start with. It’s a single-action design that harkens back to the days of cowboys and western life.

Classicly Awesome
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Heritage Arms .22 LR Revolver is a fun, accurate, and reliable revolver. 

Its single-action design also forces new shooters to slow down and take their time between shots. It’s also an easy shooting gun that’s not too big on maintenance. 

Rough Rider 16-Inch on some wood
Maybe skip the long barrel though…

3. Ruger Wrangler .22 LR

If you’re interested in spending a touch more to get an even better beginner .22 LR revolver, take a look at the Ruger Wrangler!

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

These are normally in the $175-200 range and offer a major improvement in quality and durability over the Rough Riders.

We highly recommend them, so take a look at the full review!

A pair of Ruger Wranglers
A pair of Ruger Wranglers

4. Full-sized/Compact 9mm pistols

If you can’t spend the money on several guns and can only have one, then a full-sized or compact 9mm is a good choice.

CZ 75 SP-01
CZ 75 SP-01 is a full-size 9mm that is a dream to shoot!

Compact in the gun world doesn’t mean pocket pistol; it means Sig P229, Glock 19, CZ P-10C, and other assorted somewhat large firearms.

Glock 19

The above are all excellent choices, as are the Sig P226, the CZ 75B, and the Glock 17.

Handguns are tough to shoot, but these guns are quite user-friendly and offer you a soft shooting, easy-to-control gun that’s cheap to train with. 

It’s also a capable self-defense firearm. 

Check out more of our favorites in Best Handguns for Beginners.

Beginner's Guide to Guns
Beginner’s Guide to Guns

5. AR-15 Carbines 

AR-15s are awesome weapons for plinking, home defense, shooting sports, and even hunting.

BCM with Magpul 40-Rounder
BCM with Magpul 40-Rounder

They are also very simple to use. Every year thousands of 18-year-olds with zero firearms experience qualify on the M4/M16 platform in boot camps around the country. 

The AR-15 series is similar to the M4/M16 in terms of controls, accuracy, and general layout.

Learning to use one is very simple, and with a little instruction, any new gun owner can learn how to use one effectively. 

The AR-15 can be adapted in size for any adult shooter, and the ammo, magazines, and parts are widely available and affordable. 

Check out our favorites in our AR-15 Buyer’s Guide.

A Few Of Our Personal AR-15 Uppers
A few of our favorite things…

6. Pistol Caliber Carbines

A pistol caliber carbine is a rifle that shoots pistol rounds. They come in a wide variety of designs and are quite popular these days.

You can find them at any price point with several different magazine platforms. 

New Frontier Armory C-9
New Frontier Armory C-9

These guns can be quite affordable, and the ammo to feed them is as well. They are soft shooting, and best of all, most indoor ranges that ban rifles will allow PCCs.

This allows you to train and get sharp and stay sharp. 

If you want a suggestion for which one, my vote is for the Ruger PC Carbine.

Ruger PCC shooting standing
Ruger PC Carbine

It’s affordable, simple to use, and allows you to use Glock magazines, which are both cheap and plentiful. 

Check out more in our Best PCCs article.

Final Thoughts

As new shooters become more experienced, they may find that some of these guns might be right for them.

P365 X-Macro

Until then, stick to guns that are well-made, won’t beat you up, and are more practical for new shooters. 

What’s the gun you’d advise new shooters avoid? Let us know in the comments! For a LOT more information, take a look at the Beginner’s Guide To Guns and also our hands-on video course…Gun Noob to Gun Slinger!

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76 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    Thank you this is really important info for fragile female what may end up in a bruise for avg. Joe winds up as a bone fracture for me. Reality nowadays you have to have a way to defend yourself!

    January 23, 2023 10:25 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Zachary N

    I suggest any .22 marlin/ruger rifle. Also any .22 Ruger Mark 2 or 3 pistol as they are highly reliable and have some weight to them so recoil isn't so bad. The very best starter weapon in terms of home defense (if you live alone or with one other person that will be behind you) in case of emergency would be a 20 gauge mossberg 500. These shotguns have incredible pump speed with almost nonexistent recoil for how light the shotgun is in my opinion compared to a winchester or something much heavier to counteract it. You can drop these beat them up etc. The 590A1 is a 12 gauge model but the 500 is very similar construction and I'm sure would take just as hectic of a torture test as the 590A1.
    Stolen from google >>>>>The Mossberg 590A1 is the only pump shotgun that passed the United States Army's Mil-Spec 3443E test. This test involves drops, falls, and over 3,000 rounds of full-powered buckshot. The 590A1 took it without issue and kept coming back.

    November 16, 2022 2:29 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I always recommend a .38 Special revolver to new shooters and new a CC. Easy, reliable, inexpensive.

    November 1, 2022 6:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Canik...the basic Elite model is an all around good size for accuracy and carry. I like them because they are ambidextrous, very ergonomic, and inexpensive! They have all the add ons so a novice doesn't have to deep dive into accessories and get distracted from fundamental training.

    October 11, 2022 5:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tony J

    When me and my teenage friends purchased our first cheap 12 gauge shotguns (mine was a Savage pump action) they had no rubber butt pads. After a day of fun shooting these shotguns we all had severe black bruises on our shoulders. None of us noticed the pain until the day was over. I remember my mom was horrified when she saw that giant bruise on me.
    Definitely not a gun for a first time shooter.

    October 10, 2022 10:15 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Not cheap, but I would advise a Banish45 with ANY new gun new shooter. The suppressor eliminates flinch and excessive noise especially with ear protection (ep mandatory). After a few hundred rounds remove it.
    It may block sights on handguns but learn to point the handgun!!

    October 10, 2022 8:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    The PCC (9mm various brands) and Glock 43's, seeing a lot of them appear around here with new gun owners lately both male and female.

    October 10, 2022 3:25 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Not convinced you're right about the 12g. I didn't know there were other shotties till I was in my mid 20s by which time I'd burned a heap of 12g. Just make sure your instructor isn't a dick (yes I'm stating that if you like hurting people with recoil you in fact are a dick) and you'll be fine.

    October 10, 2022 2:53 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Josie Wales

    Good article!
    My first handgun I bought and used (in the 90s), other than my dads 22, was a Rossi 357 6” barrel, the S&W 686 Clone. GREAT gun to learn with. We all know you can shoot 38s from this heavy gun and get comfortable without the recoil or cost (especially now). I still have it, and if I do my part, it is very accurate in 357.

    October 9, 2022 7:11 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Randalll Van Vlaenderen

    Really contradictory article. You say no micro 9's then cite the 365 as a preferred weapon. You say 6 or 7 rounds yet that gun and many more including the Hellcat pack twice that load. Very unreliable info. Also thr disinfo on a 12 as a home defense weapon. A bit of practice cures that. I dont trust a word you say.

    October 9, 2022 7:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Good and honest article.

    October 9, 2022 7:04 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bill Stephens

    Quite a few years ago, I acquired a CZ83 in 380ACP. It was also made in 9mm Lugar. The gun is very user friendly, heavy enough to mitigate recoil, holds 13+1, and will work SA and DA modes. Ambi safety. I highly recommend it, A friend's daughter shot a mag thru it and had to have one. Excellent choice for a beginner and/or self defense.

    October 9, 2022 6:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    S Green

    I'm fairly new to shooting. I am also a woman. I advise new shooters to look at various videos where they cover field stripping handguns. How many steps are you willing to do and do properly? If something caught your eye, look up the field strip review. Also see what people are saying about customer service reviews.Then, go down to your local range and see if they can rent you one to shoot. My first gun was a M&P Shield 2.0 9mm purchased in the middle of the pandemic. I read a bunch of different reviews and decided on that one. It took me a year to get that out to the range. I did a lot of dry firing practice on my own first. I still love that gun, but she is snappy.

    October 9, 2022 6:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Whoooo hoo for Johnny! I've missed the Appalachian humor lately. You set off my Appalachian DNA! The think the bubbles were best.

    October 9, 2022 6:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    When I was actively teaching new shooter's (private lessons and carry permit classes) I used a Ruger SR22 pistol. It was used by 100s of students and has 1000s of rounds through it. I cannot say enough good things about that pistol.

    October 9, 2022 6:03 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    As a newbie, I did get to shoot at a range with a couple of friends who brought their collection, so I tried several. I'm short (5'2") and have tiny hands. I could manage their pistols, but knew I'd want something smaller for CC and overall comfort. My first gun is a Walther CCP. I don't really see them ever talked about, but it's nice to shoot and is good at absorbing the recoil. I did find that it was a little too large for CC, as I wanted it ON ME, not in a purse, and my stomach and hip area already protrude enough on their own, lol. I still have it, it's my bedside weapon. My CCW is a Sig Sauer P938, also one I never really hear about, lol. I seem to get the one-offs. Definitely snappy with the recoil, but manageable. I really didn't know anything going in to buy a gun, and both were part of the recommendations of the salesguys. I feel solid on the choices.

    October 9, 2022 5:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      A Sig P938 is a great choice. I have a Sig 365, S&W Shield, CZ 75 PCR, and a couple of other pistols but the 938 is on my hip 99% of the time I carry. My daughter has a P238 (.380) which is also a great pistol.

      October 9, 2022 7:16 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Great article, Travis. So unusual to find firearm opinion articles that I completely agree with, but this is one. Keep up the good work!

    October 9, 2022 5:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    ed henton

    I have found that while training my grandkids how to shoot that the 4-inch Taurus model 65 is also a good training weapon when moving them up from a .22 Heritage. It is capable of firing .38/357 cartridges and with its weight, it is easy for them to handle with a .38 wadcutter fired through it. after their shooting session, you can then toss in some critical defense .357 and toss it back in your truck for personal defense..

    October 9, 2022 4:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ronald L Perry

      I hope your grandkids know better than mishandling your weopon should they ever get in your truck and I hope you have a gun locker in your truck.
      Not being mean, just seriously concerned for all our grandkids.

      October 9, 2022 6:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Great article. New shooters vary of course but quite frequently they are intimidated by recoil either real or perceived. Most recoil fears are perceived (IMHO) but starting out with a hard kicker, just confirms the perception. Working up gradually is the only way. This way, when the shooter reaches their comfort level they can enjoy everything below. Hearing protection is also critical, as a new shooter may be intimidated with the muzzle blast.

    July 28, 2022 4:27 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Reed Cundiff

    Magnums have their use in experienced hands. A pocket .357 such as a 2.5” Taurus 605 is fine with 110 and normal 125 grain magnum loads. I would not try with 158 grain.

    I found I could shoot better Cooper drills (5 shot Dozier drills) with 125 grain Frderal 125 grain magnum than I could 125 grain .38 Special since I could not hurry and try double tap. Had to reaquire sight picture to fire. Times were slower but all in 4” wide A.

    The 4” SP101 is heavy enough for DA 158 grain

    May 12, 2022 5:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Sam Harry

    the information regarding firearms is very informative. About all categories of firearms is useful for security purposes and shooting.

    May 12, 2022 9:02 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    J Arnold

    I have to disagree with the choice of an AR as a beginner rifle. I see way too many new shooters chasing speed in lieu of marksmanship. Also the AR is prone to potential failures such as stuck rounds that are more difficult manage safely.

    February 21, 2022 7:17 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Evan Seelye

    Growing up in Montana, my first shotgun (age 12) was a single shot 16 ga. Winchester model 37 full choke, 30" bbl. A 20ga. was considered a lady's shotgun, and a 12 ga. was for older guys - bah! That 16 had a sharp recoil, and with a full choke and long barrel, hitting a bird was a real chore. But, I worked hard (earning extra money) and a year later (age 13) bought a (used) Win. 1200 pump 12 ga. Had to cut the stock down to fit, but it's recoil was less than the single 16 and now I had more than one shot at a bird. At 14 I got a Colt Trooper Mk III .375 mag. 6" bbl. but magnum ammo was expensive so I used .38 special and learned to shoot with it. Of course the first rifle (at age 14) was a Win. model 94 30-30. Coast to Coast was our "sportings good store". The only semi auto hand gun was my Dad's 1911 .45 ACP. That was a tough one to learn on. Learning to shoot then was a baptism in fire as firearms were tools we put food on the table with. I went a slightly different route with my kids when they were old enough to start shooting. .22 rifle and revolver to learn to shoot - and a 20 ga. for the first shotgun. Didn't take any of them long to upgrade and upsize, handing down the smaller calibers to the younger siblings as they became shooting age. We didn't have the selection of firearms like today - simpler was better, and of course budget was a controlling factor. Sometimes one can't be too picky about what they learn with as experience is a great teacher.

    October 31, 2021 5:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dave Hylender

    I enjoyed the article. Would you say that a Walther PDP would be acceptable for a new shooter? I enjoy mine but I’m not asserting that it would me a good choice. I’m honestly curious what your thoughts on it might be. Thanks.

    October 21, 2021 4:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Peter Fallert

    The Legacy web site made an interesting point for new buyers of handguns.
    He recommended 7 WW2 vintage excellent handguns for under $1000.
    His point was, buy something that will appreciate in value, rather than depreciate.
    More careful evaluation is in order of course.
    Most new gun buyers probably wouldn’t want to go through the process of determining the condition of a vintage firearm, when they can buy an excellent one over the counter. You will most likely get less than you paid upon resale.
    I fortunately inherited an excellent Walter PP bring back from WW2, so I’m set. Thank you, Peter

    September 6, 2021 7:26 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Reading your list was like talking to my dad about guns. Even though my dad doesn’t really like anything that doesn’t have a lever or cylinder, he agreed with everything you said. Thanks and have a great day

    June 30, 2021 3:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Mossburg 500, bull pup.
    Best home defence.
    First 2 rounds, #6 bird shot. Next 2 rounds .00buck shot the rest are 3" magnum rifled slugs.

    June 6, 2021 9:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kara B

    My first gun was a Sig P365. It has a bit of recoil but as a woman shooter, it was a great gun to learn on. It’s great for concealed carry too fits easily in most purses (I bought one with a safety so I keep a round in the chamber in my purse). I’ve moved on to larger caliber and my Ruger All American 45 is my FAVORITE gun. Ironically, most women tend to shy away because of its size but it has less recoil and is an incredible gun to handle. I do have larger hands (I’m 5’9”) so that helps. But girls—don’t shy away from larger caliber handguns once you are comfortable handling a weapon!

    May 23, 2021 6:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kevin Schultz

    Super article. Always saddens me to see those "funny" videos of handing an inexperienced shooter a magnum or shotgun or worse yet a big bore rifle. The only thing those videos accomplish is scare potential shooters away from the sport. Keep up the good work I look forward to reading more.

    May 4, 2021 5:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ramey Norris

    Great Article. I’m a woman who loves to shoot and I am grateful that I married a wonderful man who made sure I had a handgun that was appropriate for a new shooter 34 years ago. He took me to the range frequently to let me get comfortable and he taught me shooting safety from day one. I have seen both men and women at the range who had no idea what they were doing and I actually saw a man turn away from the range when his gun jammed and his gun was pointed directly towards the range-master. Thankfully person in the next lane pointed the barrel down. The range master handled himself quite well and escorted the gentleman away from the range and had a discussion with him. I will politely disagree with the previous comment regarding an AR only being good for a plinking gun. That rifle with the correct ammunition is suited perfectly for many things including self defense and hunting. I do love target shooting with it at the range but I have been successful with it hunting and have appropriate ammunition to utilize it as an excellent self defense firearm. Knowing what the gun can do with ammunition and optics and being aware of your backdrop can really open up the possibilities with many firearms. I hope people find your article when they are looking for their first gun. Having the right first gun opened up a lifetime of great shooting for me and my family.

    April 18, 2021 10:34 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      10-4 on the ARs' versatility.
      Even the AR-pistols have a real world application for homo throughe defense with 55gr HPs or similar ammo. I shy away from FMJs because we don't really know what they can't go through and collateral damage is always a dangerous unknown.

      April 21, 2021 5:16 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Justin B

    "AR-15s are awesome weapons for plinking, home defense, shooting sports, and even hunting."
    Home Defense? Hunting? Not really...

    April 7, 2021 6:18 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      AR-15 has less over-penetration through drywall than 00 buck or 9mm. Rifles are easier to use and easier to aim under stress. And a 30-round+ magazine is a lot of firepower on tap. Hunting with an AR-15 is also totally viable depending on the game. Varmint and preditors and hogs are perfect game for 5.56 while 6.5 Grendel, 6mm ARC, 350 Legend, and other caliber conversions make medium and large deer viable targets as well.

      April 7, 2021 7:49 am
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      Mike Vee

      I have about 50 hogs in Florida that would disagree with you, each with 1 shot. Home defense? I'll take the 30 rounds any day of the week.

      October 9, 2022 6:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Enjoyable article and a great subject. I'll keep my comments short:

    First, I have talked to so many new shooters who went out and bought a pocket rocket like the LCP or PF9 and shot them once at the range and never fired them again, but continued to carry them. One woman I worked with told me how her ex ran her off the road one night and pulled her door open to confront her. She had her LCP but never even tried to use it. Fortunately, the ex was satisfied with running her off the road and terrorizing her for a few minutes before leaving her otherwise unharmed. When I asked why she didn't draw her gun in case she needed to protect herself, she was very honest that she didn't feel confident enough to use it because she'd never practiced with it. Why? Because it was too painful and difficult to shoot so she never practiced with it. I told her to sell it and buy a decent 9mm like a Shield or an XD. Tiny pocket pistols are painful to practice with and terrible guns for new shooters.

    Second, my wife and I love shooting our Mossberg 590M. But we are both highly experienced shooters. Hey, she asked me for a 1911 Government Model for Christmas one year. Yeah, of course she got it. ;-)

    March 28, 2021 5:36 pm
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    Tim Lewis

    My wife and I bought Ruger LCP 2 for our CCW classes. We both find it pretty easy to shoot and this was my wife’s first gun. Even my daughter is pretty accurate with it despite having never fired anything stronger than a .22 before. With the extended magazine it is very controllable.

    September 24, 2020 6:05 pm
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    Gray Michael Parsons

    Very informative piece. Thanks. Can you suggest someone in the North Carolina Outer banks area for beginner instruction and safety? It would be great if they have worked with dominant arm partially disabled folks.

    September 14, 2020 3:46 pm
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    Hi I purchased for my CCW a Taurus Millennium PT-111 G2 9mm Flat Dark Earth (FDE) Sub-Compact Pistol as my 1st gun 2 yrs ago. It scared me so it went into the drawer till now. I am getting ready to practice with it when I find ammo. I am guessing it was not a good 1st gun? I was given a .38 special for home protection and never fired it. Will it too hit me with a powerful recoil? I was told for home protection get a AR or AK but after the PT throwing my hand off the gun I cant see me shooting a gun off my shoulder videos make the recoil look painful.

    September 6, 2020 7:10 pm
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      Russ A

      Ashlee, I recommend taking a beginner firearms class from a qualified instructor. This will benefit you greatly. I have seen some ranges offering them free for women. Apart from that, I suggest finding a range that rents firearms. That way, you do not end up wasting hundreds of dollars on a firearm you do not like. Since it sounds like you are sensitive to recoil, you might consider buying a 22 caliber rifle or revolver to learn shooting with. Once you are comfortable with with it, then move up to a larger caliber. Shooting, like everything else, is a learning process.

      October 6, 2020 5:35 pm
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        Arthur Person

        I totally agree. I would recommend that a new shooter start with a 22lr pistol. I am a very experienced shooter, rifles, shotguns, pistols. My favorite now is a Ruger Mark IV tactical. It has a top and bottom rail ( because of the fixed top frame, a relatively inexpensive red dot sight will work well). These pistols are a blast to shoot, no recoil and inexpensive to shoot. You can find ammo for as low as 10 cents a round, so you can go out to the range and burn through a hundred rounds with no sore hands and your wallet not dented! I also shoot a neat little Walter PP in .32. Fun to shoot, but over 5X times as expensive to shoot.Even if you can handle a larger caliber, if the cost of ammo is pinching your budget, you won’t shoot as much. Learn to shoot correctly and then move up to a more powerful pistol. The absolute worse thing that you can do is go out and buy a powerful pistol as a beginner that kicks your butt and scares you to death. A bad first experience will result in your new pistol being stored away or sold and you becoming resistant to ever trying to shoot again.

        March 29, 2022 6:12 pm
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    I'd have thought you'd use a picture of the current PC Carbine over the old one that doesn't take Glock mags. Some folks poo poo the idea of using a pistol caliber in a rifle/sub gun., but all I say is that this has been a thing since WW2. And at self defense distances, my 9mm PC Carbine has comparable numbers to a .357 out of a 3" barrel. Only a new shooter will be able to manage the weapon better and have better accuracy.

    April 16, 2020 8:06 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      The Ruger PCC is cool, one has earned a place in my safe, but let’s not overlook the Keltec SU2000. Got one In .40 and one in 9mm. They’re really cool. And, while we’re on PCC’s I must mention recently running across, and acquiring, a cherry Marlin Camp 9. Really a beautiful little rifle with nice wood furniture.

      August 12, 2020 8:22 pm
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    Travis, great list. One gun that regularly ends up in class is the snub nose revolver. It's usually a woman who took a 'friend's' advice on what to buy. I think it's a really, really bad choice for a beginner--we have them switch to a .22 semiauto pistol, and they actually enjoy shooting. Go figure. To all you shooters out there--DON'T recommend a snub nose revolver for a new shooter!!!! To everyone thinking about buying a gun, find a range that will allow you to rent multiple guns. Find the one you're comfortable with and you're set. You're only going to practice with a gun you like, so don't buy something you don't like to shoot. If money is not an object, I'd recommend a .22 pistol--trigger pull and sight alignment are the holy grail of accuracy, and you can practice that a lot cheaper with a .22.

    April 16, 2020 4:55 am
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    Although the T/C version of the 10/22 is slightly more expensive, most people have complained for the last few decades about the last round hold open and auto bolt release that T/C fixed from the Ruger that we all know. It is well worth the extra $ to go with the Thompson.

    April 13, 2020 3:23 am
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    Why is it when someone has an opinion they get ripped for it?
    Travis wasn't "wrong" with all of his picks and mentions, they are his opinion nothing more nothing less.
    If you don't agree that's fine, make your owns choices and suggestions.
    He is entitled to his too...
    I don't know Travis so I'm not sticking up for him, just sticking up for his right to have a say.

    April 10, 2020 11:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Travis Pike

      Its the nature of the beast. Whe. I shoot my opinion into the ether people can disagree. I don't mind

      April 11, 2020 4:37 am
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    I call BS in the idea used 40 cal guns are cheap. Outdoor Sportsman Superstore regularly has police trade-ins. I just looked and a used Glock 22 is going for $393.

    April 10, 2020 4:09 pm
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    TJ Rich

    What holster are you using for the p365 with the light?

    April 10, 2020 1:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Travis Pike

      The Crossbreed Dropslide OWB rig

      April 10, 2020 6:26 pm
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      d. santos

      I've been using using the Tier1 Concealed Axis Slim for a good while now and I've been extremely happy with it... Compatible with the 365 (plus TLR-6), excellent for IWB and it includes a spare mag carrier.

      April 10, 2020 6:27 pm
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    I think this article misses the boat on a couple of levels. Start with what does the "noob" want the gun for? Plinking, hunting, home defense, eventual CCW, those questions ALWAYS drive my recommendation. Second go to the local pistol range and rent a few, try them out, talk to people at the range. Third, is the noob a man, woman, child? It makes a difference especially with hand size and grip strength. If however I was going to purchase a gun as a present for a newbie my top choices would be Ruger 10/22, Ruger 22/45, Glock 19, or Ruger SP101.

    April 10, 2020 8:16 am
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    Daniel L

    You spoke of pistol caliber carbines, my suggestion would be a Hi Point carbine. First you have less recoil and secondly, these guns are not expensive. My sister, who's scared of guns, actually like mine 9mm HP carbine enough that she has been talking about getting one.

    April 10, 2020 4:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Rufus P Rathbone

      They also make the carbine in 380ACP caliber. They would be worth checking out. Once she got comfortable with that one she could move up to the 9mm or perhaps something like the Ruger PCC if she wanted .

      January 27, 2022 4:20 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    If a .357 Magnum revolver is an exception and therefore acceptable for a newb, then so should be a 10mm pistol. There is a wide range of power loads for 10, which allows a new shooter to progressively ease into the hotter stuff over time. In fact, most of the loads that are the most accessible are weak for caliber--i.e., better suited for beginners. And selecting one gun that you start with and keep using for a long while is surely easier than continually buying and relearning how to use one new gun after another. I selected my Glock G20 as my first gun with my eyes wide open to the fact that it would be accompanying me through a whole slew of different development phases as a shooter. Meanwhile, I saved myself the expense and hassle of ever having to bother with lesser caliber ammo and platforms and then having to sell them off in order to move up. I just need to learn new loads--not new guns. Even as I add other pistols to my collection, they will also be 10mm, minimizing the relearning.

    April 9, 2020 9:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robert S

    My daughter and son in law wanted a gun for house. I sold them my Ruger EC 9. Slide was rough on her hands at first. But after a few You Tube videos, she got hang of it, by following some suggestions. They took it to range and are pretty happy with it

    April 9, 2020 8:24 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I really hope that they had someone train them instead of just being YouTube Warriors. There is nothing scarier than a untrained, overconfident YouTube Warrior with a gun.

      April 9, 2020 11:07 pm
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    Clifford Bloom

    Bought my wife a Glock 23 for her birthday about 10 years ago. Too much gun, blisters, etc. Daughter (who was in law enforcement at the time) coached her up on a Glock 19. (Daughter prefers Sigs & H&Ks). Still a bit too much gun. Forget about 1911 or 357 Python.
    My most used favorite tool that is quickly becoming my wife's favorite: Ruger single 6 .22. Gave the Ruger 10/22 to grand kids. Their mom, dad and uncle (who used to set up Barrett .50s for snipers) teaching them basic gun safety. Now grandkids have their eyes on my 2 Henrys. Sorry. You get those when I die.

    April 9, 2020 8:04 pm
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    brooks ellis

    I bought a Lorcin 22 because it was $40 a long time ago - how bad can it be?
    Worse than your description. Stovepiped every magaziner, usually multiple times per magazine. This made it very un-fun to shoot.
    Pot metal broke, cracked, unrepairable. Complete waste of $40.

    Sometimes if I'm talking to a gunsmith, I'll mess with him, and say "Hey, and I've got this Lorcin I was hoping you could look at..."
    They ALWAYS give you 'that look'. Hilarious

    April 9, 2020 5:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Dude, why do you have such an issue with the .40 S&W round? It seems everytime you bring it up you have bad things to say about it. It is an outstanding round with excellent knock down, high capacity, manageable recoil and a hell of a lot less muzzle flash than a 10mm or magnum caliber.

    April 9, 2020 5:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      You're right, he doesn't like the .40 S&W and he makes that pretty clear. I'm with you, I love the round for the reasons you mention.

      April 9, 2020 6:29 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I think it's a military thing. My brother did his 20 and will never own anything in .40 S&W. I haven't asked him to prove it but he swears that side by side it's been proven that .40 S&W has more recoil than 9mm or .45 ACP and this is proven to affect fallow up shots. I was going to buy a shield in .40 S&W because at the time I had access to tons of free ammo, but he steered me away from it and I bought the 9mm instead.

      April 12, 2020 4:34 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      A bit snappy for a beginner.

      December 27, 2021 12:26 pm
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    April 9, 2020 5:21 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Yep, I got a Phoenix .22 strictly for use as a tackle box gun. Have taken it to the range several times with the more acceptable tools and it’s never failed to go bang and is quite accurate. And, if it happens to go overboard.......meh.

      August 12, 2020 8:16 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I agree with the single action 22s but I would add the semi auto 22s like the Browning Buckmark, Ruger MK series, or S&W Victory are also great starter guns and a lot of fun. The 10/22 is also a great choice but again a good bolt action 22 like a Cooey Repeater is a ton of fun too.

    April 9, 2020 5:18 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I think he was going for cost on this one. for the price of a Mk IV you can buy a Ruger Wrangler and a 10/22.

      April 13, 2020 12:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Gotta agree with GC, I've got a Jennings J-22, bought it 40 + years and thousands of rounds ago, no issues. I bought it strictly as a range toy but still it does work.

    April 9, 2020 4:56 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Here's another caveat for you re magnum caliber firearms for beginners: a heavy magnum caliber handgun with its non-magnum counterpart just might be a great choice. My daughter shot my 5" Ruger Super Blackhawk with .44 spl loads when she was a relatively new shooter. She loved it, and it remains one of her favorite handguns / loadings to shoot. She still does't care much for magnum loads from that revolvers, but characterizes .44 spl from that revolver as "smooth." In fact, she likes it better than .38 spl out of either of our .357 mag handguns.

    April 9, 2020 4:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David Castor

    You are very much wrong on shotguns. Having grown up in western Nebraska and my father being an avid trap shooter, I was raised with a shotgun in my hands. I have also been an avid Cowboy Action Shooter for 15 years now. 12 gauge is the only way to go if you want to be a serious shooter. I have seen lots of women get turned off and not want to shoot cowboy cause their all knowing husbands or boyfriends buy them a lighter 20 gauge thinking it will kick less. This is way wrong. A lighter 20 gauge side by side kicks more than a 12 gauge side by side and ends up kicking the snot out of the ladies. You are way better off getting low recoil 12 gauge shells or if you reload, just put a lot less powder in them. You don't have to worry about an explosion with less powder like you do with bottle neck rifle cases, and with the extra weight of the 12 gauge, the recoil can almost be pleasant. I recently started playing around shooting trap and sporting clays with .410 bore shotguns. This is proving to be a fun and interesting challenge. The same can be said about reloading these little cases. Quite the learning curve there but you have no choice. Half the components of a 12 gauge shell but twice the price to buy new.

    April 9, 2020 4:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I also disagree about 12 gauge being a bad first gun/round. Neither my wife or myself are hunters but we both learned how to shoot with my Rem. 870. It's still my wife's favorite when we go to the range. She feels she can control it better than a pistol and is simpler to use than my AR. In fact when I leave town for work she pulls it out of the safe to keep next to the bed. It all comes down to who's the one teaching you how to stand and pull the trigger, we had good teachers that explained how to hold and manipulate a shotgun and correct body posture to deal with recoil. It's not for everyone but it can be a great platform to lean on.

      April 9, 2020 4:54 pm
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      Bull o' the Woods

      If you can shoot a 12 gauge, you can shoot a 20 gauge better. It's a shame that dropping to 20 gauge limits your selection of shotguns to hunting types and "youth" models. The Market believes that 12 gauge is the preferable shotgun round. It is harder to find a 20 gauge with an 18-inch barrel or ghost-ring sights and aftermarket accessories are more limited. With some research and judicious shopping you can convert a Remington 870 Express 20 gauge to a tactical configuration.

      April 9, 2020 5:13 pm
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    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Actually, my wife's carry piece is a Walker Colt. She's not experienced, but she fears nothing, and this is the answer she wants, to any question at all.

    April 9, 2020 4:18 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I dread conducting training with husband/ wife students. The Husband usually chooses the wife’s weapon.... usually one she cannot handle for whatever reason.
    Spot on with the ring of fire junk, I don’t allow them in my sessions..period. I use a Jennings.380 (purchased new a few years ago) that blew apart on the very first round) as a example of cheap weapons. Great article as usual.

    April 9, 2020 4:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Thomas Rehbein

    Great article Travis! I'd also add the SW 15-22 for those who want the baby AR experience....lol

    You know - I have a 15-22, couple of .22 rough riders, SP01, BCM Recce......does that make me a NEWB? LOLOLOL

    April 9, 2020 4:06 pm
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