Firearms 101: A Comprehensive Gun Buying Guide for Beginners

Interested in buying a firearm? A huge 43 percent of Americans live in a household that owns guns. Yet that 57 percent often have trouble figuring out guns.

Walk into any gun store and you’ll be overwhelmed by jargon that could confuse anyone but Samuel Colt himself. That’s why we’ve created this gun buying guide: we want to wipe away all that jargon and make it easier for you to buy a firearm.

In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about guns and what you need to consider when buying a gun. Owning a gun is your right: claim it.

Ready to find out more about firearms? Then lock, load, and read on!

What Kind of Gun Are You Looking For?

When buying a gun, you should decide what kind of firearm you’re looking for. What are you going to use the gun for?

If you’re interested in buying a firearm for self-defense, a handgun is the only option for you. You can conceal these guns easily with a CCW permit, even across state lines in many cases.

If you would like a weapon to defend your home, a shotgun is your best bet. These are long guns but pack a great deal of firepower and have less penetrating power than pistols. This means that if you fire it in your home, you’re less likely to injure someone other than your target.

For hunting, choose a rifle. When paired with a good sight, these guns are accurate at very long ranges and pack enough power to bring down larger animals. The most common form of rifle is the AR-15 which is available in several different styles and made by many manufacturers, for example, the Sig Sauer 716 Tread.

What Caliber Should You Use?

A bullet’s caliber is how large it is, usually measured in inches or millimeters. For instance, you may have heard of 9 mm or .45 ammunition. 

Larger calibers like .45 ACP or .357 Magnum pack a lot more firepower than smaller calibers yet are harder to control. If you’re a newcomer, you need to choose your caliber wisely. This may be the most important single part of our gun buying guide.

If you’ve never shot a gun before, start out with a gun in .22 LR caliber. These bullets are small and easy to control. Don’t let anyone tell you they don’t pack lethal force either: every bullet does.

The best gun to learn on is a Ruger 10/22. This semi-automatic rifle fires .22 LR caliber bullets and is very easy to control. They’re cheap too, so make for a fantastic introduction to the world of shooting.

Once you’ve got comfortable with the .22 LR, move up to larger calibers little by little. Go to 9 mm or 5.56 and keep practicing. 

What’s Your Budget?

When reading this gun buying guide, you might have a firearm in mind that you want to buy. Yet does this firearm meet your budget requirements?

Like cars and any other purchases, there are firearms for every budget. For instance, if you’re hoping to buy a rifle, the gap between a Mosin-Nagant rifle from the Soviet Union and a top-of-the-line Barrett M82 is insanely large. 

As well as the gun itself, you will need to account for other purchases. Do you want to buy an aftermarket scope, stock, grips, and/or extra magazines? If you do, do you know how much these will cost?

Consider your budget every step of the way. Make sure that, first and foremost, you can afford to buy the firearm you want.

If you need to save some cash, take a look at second-hand firearms. If a used gun has been kept in a good state of repair, it can be as good as a brand-new one and a lot cheaper.

Ensuring You Stay on the Right Side of the Law

One thing that is often missing from a gun buyers’ guide is information about local laws. There is little federal legislature. Not every gun is legal in every state.

For instance, in California, there are limits on magazine capacities. In other states, there aren’t. When you’re buying a firearm, make sure that it’s legal in your state or territory, or you could land yourself in a huge heap of trouble.


If you’re not au fait with gun maintenance, you don’t want to buy a gun that will need a great deal of care. When you’re starting out, you should buy a gun that’s easy to use and easy to maintain.

While learning how to clean and field strip a gun is good, it shouldn’t be necessary for your first gun. Get something that’s rugged and easy to use, and requires minimal maintenance.

Our recommendations would be a .22 LR, a Glock, or an AR-15. All of these guns are well-made and should be easy to take care of.

Take It to the Range

Many gun stores will have a gun range where you can test the gun. This is a vital step when you’re buying guns and should never be skipped. If you don’t like how it shoots and you only find out after you’ve bought it, well; you’ve got an expensive paperweight.

Feel how accurate it is and how much recoil there is. Is it light or heavy? Is it ergonomic to use or is it too big or small for your hands?

The only way to know how a gun operates is to shoot it. Don’t buy a gun blind, especially not your first.

Enjoyed This Gun Buying Guide and Want to Know More?

We hope that this gun buying guide has helped you and you’re now more confident when it comes to buying a firearm. If you’d like to learn more about guns and read interesting articles on other topics, follow us on social media! You’ll get access to our posts as soon as they’re published.