“I bought my handgun, now what?”

Across the board I see everyone asking what handgun they should buy for their first one, why they should buy a specific one, etc. What I rarely ever see is, “What do I do after I buy the handgun I’ve decided on?”

The few times I’ve seen it the responses were less than correct, those responses being “Time to look at the 2nd purchase!” Owning firearms is fun and buying them does become a hobby, to some extent. I love them, but I made the fatal flaw of just going and making that 2nd purchase without any forethought, so learn from my mistakes.

The question has a few answers that go a long with it, if you’re just getting into firearms, expect to spend a few hundred dollars beyond the initial purchase, and also expect to possibly lose your ass on your new purchase if you end up hating it.

  1. Prior to making your first purchase, make sure that there’s holster availability for it. Holsters that don’t count in this search: VersaCarry, We The People, Vedder, FOBUS, SERPA, Alien Gear;
    The mentioned holsters either don’t have retention, are dangerous to use, or are of bad quality.
  2. While purchasing your first handgun, make sure you order 500-1,000 rounds of ammunition with it, as well as 1-3 spare magazines. Minimum “break-in” for a new handgun is about 250rds to ensure it functions properly. The 1-3 spare magazines are so you can have dedicated carry magazines and dedicated range magazines; which I’ll explain a little later.

IF, IF you don’t like the handgun, whether it’s too large for you to conceal, too much for you to handle, etc. Don’t take it back to your gun store if they don’t have a return policy. List it on Armslist as you’ll retain more value selling it privately. Take the money and repeat processes 1 and 2 until you find a handgun that you’re comfortable with using.

3. Once you have a handgun figured out, you have a holster ordered, and you have your ammunition, it’s time to take a two courses. Now there’s two ways you can go about this.

If you’re confident in your firearm safety skills (finger off the trigger, etc.) then I personally would say you can skip an introduction to firearms course. At which point, it’s time to look at a beginner’s concealed carry course or two. (I’ll be making a rolling post of vetted instructors across the nation eventually). Before making a 2nd purchase of a firearm, it’s important to take at least one beginner’s concealed carry course. It can help you find weak points in your chosen set-up to figure out what you need to do or purchase in order to improve your effectiveness.

Now, why do you want to have dedicated range magazines and dedicated carry magazines? Compression and extension of the spring leads to said spring wearing out faster, the more you’re unloading magazines to load them back up at the range (because defensive ammunition is expensive) the faster the springs are going to wear out.

If you start experiencing issues, you’ll have to replace the springs, which will leave the magazines dead unless you have the back-up springs on hand. Having dedicated range magazines can help you practice the mechanics of clearing a malfunction and having dedicated carry magazines means you don’t have to worry about debris (like sand) causing issues off the range.

Speaking of defensive ammunition, let’s go ahead and nail that down and call it good for this post. First, if you’re deciding to carry a .380ACP or smaller caliber, you’re better off carrying FMJs than anything else due to those calibers struggling to penetrate to the proper depths per the FBI’s protocols.
Second, if you’re using a duty caliber, FMJ’s less than desirable, and the common gripes against using jacketed hollowpoints have been addressed per the FBI’s ammunition testing protocol’s which you can read about in this article.

Right off the bat, I’ll say that if you’re running 9mm, .40S&W, or .45ACP you basically have 4-5 options depending on who you ask.
Federal HST (my preference)
Speer GoldDot
Remington Golden Saber
Winchester Ranger series
Hornady Critical Duty/Defense

Going down this list, let’s go ahead and knock some out for you.

Winchester Ranger series is fantastic with good terminal ballistics, but, it can be hard to find the 50rd boxes in stock for civilians, so we’ll throw it out of the line-up.

Remington’s Golden Saber’s suffer the same issue as the Winchester Ranger series. Good terminal ballistics, but have fun tracking down the 50rd boxes.

Hornady Critical Duty/Defense… many would argue that they aren’t as consistent as any of the others listed (myself included) and it’s also hard to find the 50rd boxes.

Why is the availability of the 50rd boxes an issue?

Well, there’s a couple of reasons as to why it’s an issue. The civilian marked 20rd boxes are typically more than twice as expensive as the “Law Enforcement Only” marked boxes. As an example, a 20rd box of 124gr Federal HST is $20, so $1 a round. A 50rd box of 124gr Federal HST is $20, so about $0.40/rd.

Just to ensure the hollowpoints will run fine (100-200rds) through your firearm, you’re looking at $100-$200 using the 20rd boxes, versus $40-$80 using the 50rd boxes. For that reason, myself, as well as many others strongly recommended picking between Speer’s GoldDot and Federal’s HST line (Hydrashock is last gen technology and is inferior to HST).

The ability to find the defensive ammunition in 50rd quantities now also foreshadows how easy the ammunition will be to find the next year when it’s time to fully cycle out your defensive magazines. Which, I know what you’re wanting to ask right now but I’m going to save that for another article.

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