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Buying Your First Handgun: What To Know

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

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Buying your first handgun is a big step! Make sure to do your research first.

After spending some time researching and getting more acquainted with others in the firearms community, you may think you are ready for the next big step: buying your very first handgun.

However, with so many different styles, models, and sizes of handguns out there to choose from, deciding what to purchase as your first can be a daunting task. Without proper preparation, you may just find yourself spending money on a handgun that is not catered to your needs and wants.

To prevent you from making a regretful purchase, we have compiled together a list of some of the key ideas you should be aware of before setting out to buy a handgun. Read on to ensure your first experience of buying a handgun is a positive one- remembered fondly over the years as you mature to become a seasoned gun owner in the near future.

Before buying a handgun

Before you even think about visiting a handgun shop, make sure you are well informed about the gravity of what you are setting out to do.

Owning a gun comes with great responsibility with regard to the safety of yourself and those around you. You should be well aware of not only how to stay protected, but also of any legal obligations you may hold to the state of Delaware as a gun owner.

Below are some of the major things to keep in mind as a responsible citizen and handgun owner.

Firearm safety

Guns are, in essence, devices designed to injure or even kill an opponent. Every firearm owner, regardless of whether they are using a heavy caliber rifle or a small pistol, holds the same responsibility on their shoulders when it comes to firing their gun. Without the proper knowledge of how to correctly use your gun, you may be putting both yourself and all those around you in extreme danger.

The bare minimum expected by anyone who sets out to buy their first handgun is to familiarize themselves with the fundamental rules of gun safety. You should know all the different parts that make up a handgun, along with the function of each. In case some part of your gun stops working, you should also know how to effectively care for the firearm without accidentally causing any damage.

Another point you should be clear on is the purpose of buying your handgun. Will you be using the firearm to shoot a game while hunting? Or would you rather keep one close in case a situation arises where you must protect your friends and family? Make sure to consult with instructors at gun stores or ranges so they can best guide you about buying an external safety with your handgun.

Know Delaware gun laws

After becoming a gun owner, you will be obligated to follow certain laws laid out by the government that help ensure the safety of its citizens. You should be aware of what these laws are to avoid any trouble in the future.

Gun laws can vary from state to state, so it is best to do your research for Delaware specifically. You can consult the articles ‘what you need to buy a gun in Delaware’ and ‘14 things you need to know about Delaware gun laws’ to ensure you aren’t missing out on any important information before buying your first handgun.

If you are finding it too difficult to understand all this on your own, look for classes offered by reputable gun dealers in the state of Delaware. They will be able to guide you best on the legal requirements for things like carry permits, as well as any restrictions on the use of your handgun with regard to your municipality.

What type of handgun should you buy?

If you’re looking to buy a handgun, you’ll be faced with two options generally available on the market: a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol. These can come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 6 rounds to nearly 20.

Handgun sizes

Handgun sizes are determined based on the capacity of the barrel, determining how many rounds of ammunition can be fired by the handgun before becoming empty. Based on this, there are six categories that any handgun may fall into, namely micro compact, subcompact, compact, and full-size. To give you an idea, models of Sig’s p365 fall into the category of micro-compact handguns with barrels measuring less than 3.5 inches. In contrast, the barrel of a full-size handgun may measure up to 5.5 inches.

Handgun bullet sizes may also be something to consider when shopping for your first handgun. Factors like recoil, power, and velocity can vary depending on the size of your handgun bullet, making this decision an important one.

The .22 LR is a good cartridge to start with, being very small and lightweight with minimum recoil. It is also very cheap, so you can get lots of practice without breaking the bank, but it is not powerful enough to be a reliable self defense round.


Revolvers have been around since the 16th century, making them the original design for firearms that can be easily concealed and carried. They feature a single barrel with multiple firing chambers aligned in a rotating cylinder. When the topmost chamber is aligned with the barrel, a shot is fired. Afterward, a user can either manually rotate the hammer to index the cylinder or use the trigger so that the next firing chamber becomes aligned with the barrel.

Revolvers may be one of three action types, namely Single Action Only (SAO), Single Action/Double Action (SA/DA), or Double-Action Only (DAO).

They are generally regarded for their reliability and simple mechanics. So, if you choose a revolver for your first handgun, chances are it will last a long time.

Semi-automatic pistol

Semi-automatic pistols became common around the 19th century and have become a popular form of handgun in use today. Unlike revolvers which use a rotating cylinder, pistols contain a fixed chamber, with the barrel of the gun being fed by a detachable or integral magazine. After every shot, the bullet is automatically brought forward to the shooting chamber using gas pressure.

Semi-automatic pistols can store more rounds at a time than revolvers and are also easier to reload. Check out our favorite pistols for women, where we discuss our top handgun choices for women.

Where can you buy a handgun?

Now that you know all about the prerequisites to buy a handgun such as safety measures and state laws, as well as the different types of handguns out there, the next step is to determine where to buy a handgun.

The safest way to purchase a handgun is to head to your nearest dedicated gun shop. X-Ring Supply has a great variety of different handguns and other firearms in store for you to choose from. If your budget is tight, you can also go through our selection of used guns and find a gently used pre-loved handgun at a good deal.

If you’re short on time, you can also shop online for your preferred handgun. Go through customer reviews and decide on a model from the comfort of your home, though you may be asked to come into the store to fill out any required paperwork.

Regardless of the method you choose, we hope you’re able to find a great first handgun that you stay happy with for years to come.

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