At an auto dealership, it’s not enough for most people to sit in the driver’s seat in the parking lot while listening to the salesperson. It’s insane to buy a car without test driving it first, so why do many people purchase their first handgun after barely handling it?
Handling an unloaded gun from across a glass countertop and basing your buying decision on that five minute experience with no relation to a real situation or experience is unwise.
Purchasing a firearm is a serious decision both in terms of money and what you intend to use it for.
What may be a good choice for one person might not be right for another.
Author R. K. Campbell, who is also a shooting instructor talked about a discovery process he developed to see what handgun was best for his students in his article “Drills for Handgun Selection” on USConcealedcarry.com:
“I have developed a fifty-round drill that tells a lot about the student’s skills and ability with the chosen handgun, caliber, and ammunition. These drills are useful as entrance drills for advanced courses and for evaluation before choosing a handgun. Expending fifty rounds of ammunition is much easier to do than to spend more than five hundred dollars for a handgun that is not suited to the student’s ability. The handgun may not be reliable and it may be too powerful for the student. (Read more about choosing your handguns wisely here)”
The great thing about participating in even the most basic of shooting classes is that it will be an excellent opportunity to try out many different handguns. Students are usually quite happy to swap guns with one another. You may also have the option to rent handguns at some shooting ranges and if you are in a gun shop with a range, let them know how serious you are about buying a piece.
The staff should be more than willing to let you “test drive” used versions of the guns you are interested in purchasing.
Also, while it’s very useful to solicit feedback from experienced people such as friends, family, and instructors, it’s also important to remain vigilant for less than objective opinions. People may try to sway you into buying what THEY like and that might not be right for you. Leave your emotions and attempts at “status” at the door and coolly contemplate your pistol options with a clear head.
Your final decision should be one that makes you feel safe and confident every time you handle your gun.