Welcome to my First Time Buyer’s Guide to Handguns! Getting into firearms can be intimidating at first, but this guide will serve you well. In this portion of the guide, I will be going over all the things you need to know before buying!

If you think I missed anything important, be sure to message me on Facebook!

Firearm Safety:

1. Clear every gun you pick-up. Even if you leave the room and come back, be sure to clear it before handling it.

2. Muzzle Direction. Never point a gun at a person. Some will say “Never point it at anything you don’t want to destroy,” but when performing dry-fire practice you will point it at inanimate objects that you don’t want to destroy.

3. Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger. You shouldn’t have your finger on the trigger until you are ready to pull it.


These are the main rules to firearm safety, but there are more rules that you should follow when around firearms.
1. Never have loaded ammunition around when doing dry-fire practice or cleaning your firearm.
2. Before going out and shooting your newly purchased gun, learn how it works. Field strip it, dry-fire it, and rack the slide several times.
3. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Make sure there isn’t anything behind your target that you don’t want to hit.

Now that you know the firearm safety rules, let’s talk about what you can read-up on and the items you need to acquire ahead of time.

First things first, you need to gain a firm understanding of federal, state, and local firearm laws. Here are some good ones to get you started:
1. How to purchase a firearm
2. How to transport a firearm in a vehicle; almost every state is different
3. How to get a license to carry
4. Restrictions your state may have
5. Where you can and cannot carry a firearm AND if “No Guns Allowed” signs are enforceable

You are 100% not allowed to carry at Post Offices or any grounds that they own.

To play it on the safe side, all firearms from out of state have to go through the buyer’s local FFL holder. This keeps you and anyone else involved free of any liability. 

As someone that may or may not be new to firearms this can all get very confusing, make sure to read everything twice. For serious questions always seek guidance from a competent lawyer who has specialized in firearm law. Your tax lawyer won’t cut it.

You are making a huge step to becoming a responsible gun owner by reading this series as well as other similar ones. On the right (PC)/below (tablet/phone) you will see a complete list of items that you can get ahead of time.

Ear Protection: OSHA has the safe hearing level at 85dB. When a firearm discharges it is well above 100dB, indoors this is only amplified. If you are shooting at an indoor range I suggest getting both foam earplugs and headphones.

Eye Protection is a given, as it will protect your eyes from possible debris.

Cleaning Supplies are something that you will want to get either with the gun, or ahead of time. You will want to get yourself a cleaning mat or tray, some cleaning utensils, and some lubricration.

For barrels I use bore snakes, it’s a little bit faster, and they get the bore just as cleaning it the traditional way.

Snap Caps are for dry fire practice and prevent any damage from happening to the firing pin.

I am also going to include links to carrying cases, a magazine loader (really good if you don’t have hand strength), and to a pistol safe.

Firearm Jargon:

One of the most difficult things about trying to get into any hobby is learning the jargon of said hobby. Unfortunately, the world of firearms is no different. There are a lot of acronyms, a lot of jargon, and a lot of phrases. Below will be all the more important items to remember.

If you think I missed one that you would like to see added, remember to send it to me on Facebook!

AD: Accidental Discharge, discharges resulting from equipment failure or unforeseen occurrences are thrown under as being AD’s.
ND: Negligent Discharge, discharges resulting from improper firearm handling, or equipment care.
FTE: Failure to eject/extract, A failure to eject is a failure to push the casing/shell out of the slide after being discharged. A failure to extract is a failure to pull the casing out of the chamber after being discharged.
FTC: Failure to chamber (also Failure to Feed), this Is when the firearm fails successfully push a round from the magazine into the chamber of the gun.
FTF: Failure to fire, this is when the firearm fails to discharge the round that is currently in the chamber. If the round had been shot, it makes it an FTE.
“Out of Battery”: Out of battery essentially means that the gun failed to chamber a round, or the slide did not close all the way which can result in a FTF.
Squib:  A squib is when a bullet has not exited the barrel and is stuck in it. It is important that you DO NOT FIRE THE GUN after experiencing a squib.

AIWB: Appendix carry in the waist band
IWB: In the waist band
OWB: Outside the waist band
SOB Holster: Small of Back Holster
CCW: Concealed Carry Weapon
CC: Concealed Carry
OC: Open Carry
CHL: Concealed Handgun License
LTCH: License to Carry a Handgun
FFL: Federal Firearms License, the license required to sell factory new guns to consumers.
C&R: Curio and Relic, these are firearms manufactured before a certain date that don’t require an FFL transfer if you obtain a C&R license for collecting purposes.
LGS: Local Gun Shop
WML: Weapon Mounted Light
MRDS: Micro Red Dot System
RMR (Trijicon): Ruggedized Miniature Reflex Sight
NS: Night Sights; These are sights that are filled with a radioactive substance called tritium for that the sights will glow without needing charged by another light. Don’t worry, these aren’t going to give you cancer.
PID: Positive Target Identification

SA: Single Action Trigger (lighter, typically shorter trigger pull)
DA: Double Action Trigger (heavier, longer trigger pull)
Centerfire: Center fire refers to where the firing pin strikes the base of the cartridge to cause it to discharge. On centerfire guns this is on the primer which is in the center of the casing.
Rimfire: Rimfire also refers to where the firing pin strikes on the base of the cartridge to cause it to discharge. On rimfire guns the firing pin strikes the rim of the casing to ignite the primer.
CHF Barrel: Cold Hammer Forged Barrel
FMJ: Full Metal Jacket, this is a type of ammunition primarily used for plinking purposes. This is also referred to as “Ball” by some people.
JHP/HP: Jacketed Hollow Point and Hollow Point, these two are types of ammunition that are primarily used for defensive purposes.
+P/+P+: +P and +P+ indicate that the cartridge is pressurized past standard pressurization for the specific caliber in mind.

Thank you for reading this part of the First Time Buyer’s Guide to Handguns! Be sure to check out the other parts linked below!

Part 0: Stuff You Should Know Before Buying (Currently On)

Part 1: Handgun Actions Explained

Part 2: Handgun Frames Explained

Part 3: Handgun Calibers Explained 

Part 4: Handgun Holsters Explained 

Part 5: Stuff You Should Know After Buying