When selecting a firearm, there are many factors to consider to determine which one will fit the best for you.
What Price Range are you looking for and what is your budget?
The first factor you want to look at is, how much you want to spend on your firearm. Sometimes your budget may need a reality check after you see what is on the market and compare it to what you want. There are a wide variety of price points for handguns. They can range from $200 all the way up to $2000+. You will have to decide what an acceptable price point is for yourself. Knowing your total budget will help you determine what features and accessories are the most important for you.
When you are considering the price point take into consideration what the firearm comes with and if you have to save some of your budget for a holster or additional mags. Some handguns come with a holster and some extra mags in the case when you buy them new and this might help you value one firearm over another in the selection process. (Keep in mind that even if the firearm comes with a holster, the holster may not be right for you.)
The budget you pick for your firearm will have a domino effect on your equipment and training after your purchase.
For the most part, extra accessories can be as cheap or expensive as you would like them to be. When you look at holsters several options market themselves as a universal fit, however, these tend to have several risk factors. In general, most instructors do not allow the universal/ serpa holsters. Because they are not fitted to your gun, they may not safely cover the trigger or retain your firearm firmly in the holster. On the other side of the spectrum, there are also many companies on the market making fully customizable holsters for $60 to $200+. A holster is a very individualized item and it may take you a few tries of testing out different options before you find one that fits you.
So before you go with that all-decked-out custom holster, make sure that you like the fit, feel, and design. You can use the Mantis X10 to test out your holster draw at home and see if the holster is efficient and effective for you. Keep in mind, that if you buy a popular firearm model, you are more likely to find a holster on the shelf in your local gun stores. If you are inheriting your grandpa‘s old firearm or selecting an uncommon model, you may have to find a company to make a customized holster.
Also, look at the price of extra magazines and other accessories. Some companies make firearms that have universal parts and pieces, so other manufacturers have made their own versions of the parts. (Make sure you look into the quality of the other manufacturers if you are going with parts that are after market.) In most firearms, you can swap out triggers, slides, and optics if you find a part that suits you and the firearm better than what you purchased originally.
Ammo is an ongoing and consistent expense when you plan on training. A good question to ask is if the ammo for the firearm you picked is affordable. Can you train at least periodically at the range? There may be a significant price difference between the hollow point ammo you carry daily and the ball ammo you use at the range to train with. Consider both price points. And lastly, is your ammo available from now until the foreseeable future?
You can even out the cost of ammo with dry-fire practice at home. Mantis X systems will give you all the data you need to improve in the comfort of your own home without the additional range and ammo costs. You can also use the Laser Academy Standard Kit if you would like to see where your shots would have hit a target if you were shooting live fire.
What is the intended use of the handgun?
The intended use of the firearm that you’re purchasing plays a huge role in limiting or expanding your options. If you are using your firearm for self-defense, where you are using it can determine what size, weight, and accessories you need. At home, if you are looking to have it as a nightstand you may not need the traditional holster. You might be able to get away with a small lockbox instead. If you are using the firearm for concealed carry in public the type of holster and the size needs to be considered. If you decide to carry in your vehicle, you might be able to carry a larger firearm because you aren’t limited to finding a space on your body. Lastly, if you are planning on carrying in the workplace you might need to consider something that will fit in a desk, purse, or bag if you’re not carrying it directly on your body.
If you plan on using it for recreational use like sports or just shooting for fun, this opens up a whole new world of options. Because now those high-end competition guns are on the table or something that just looks fun to shoot and may not be practical in other self-defense scenarios. If you’re looking for something recreational you may not have to worry about the ammo budget or ammo availability.
What is the reputation of the manufacturer?
How easy is it to operate?
When you’re in the store and you have the firearm in your hands, you are going to want to look at how easy it is for you to operate. Can you operate the magazine release, slide lock, and trigger? If you can reach all of these and operate them then it comes down to how well you can operate the firearm as a whole. Can you rack the slide back and lock it into place easily? And if it is difficult for you, is the difficulty something that you can train out of? Training can help solve many of these problems. If you have trouble racking the slide back, you may want to consider that there is a “break in” period for your firearm.
How comfortable the firearm is, is also important, especially if you’re going to carry the gun on your body.
Some people are very particular about the trigger pull. Some triggers have higher poundages and some are set at lower. They all feel slightly different so if you can, at least dry-fire the gun a few times before you make a decision. If you decide to dry fire in the store please make sure it is OK with the associate behind the counter first. Some gun stores allow dry firing and some do not.
Many indoor ranges have a rental program where you can test out some of the common models before you purchase them. If you are a data person, you can use the Recoilmeter on the Mantis X10 app to see how well you control the recoil on different firearms.
Your handgun purchase can be quite the process. You must take your time to understand all of your needs concerning the firearm you pick. The budget you set will determine the rest of your experience. Consider the factors above as you start your search and know that different models and brands exist for a reason. A specific firearm might be your friend's favorite and just not work for you.