5 Best First Handguns or Pistols for Beginners

black handgun in plastic Secure Storage Case
Find the best beginner handgun to protect yourself, enter a competition, or enjoy a day at the shooting range. As a beginner, it can be difficult to find the best pistol to purchase. Check out these five highly rated handguns, the best features of a new handgun, and all the essential accessories you need to take aim safely.

Best Handgun Buying Guide

This buying guide can help you sort through these top five and other pistol options to find the best firearm for your personal situation. First, it’s important to choose a handgun from a leading manufacturer. Quality design, convenient safety features, and easy cleaning all come with a firearm from a reputable manufacturer. Don’t get caught with a jammed cartridge or broken component when you need a reliable handgun. Next, consider how you’ll use your pistol. Some firearms are compact and have a firm safety. These features are suited for a concealed carry weapon, but they aren’t going to give you a competitive edge in a shooting event. For competitive shooting, look for a firearm that’s comfortable in your hands, has an easy trigger pull, and a magazine with enough capacity to keep you moving from target to target. A lightweight frame may be a benefit with a concealed carry firearm but will increase the recoil and discomfort of firing at a range or during a competition. Instead, look for a reasonable weight, great recoil absorption, and a longer barrel for improved accuracy.

Beretta PX4 Storm

One of the best handguns for first-time shooters is the Beretta PX4 Storm. It comes with an automatic firing pin block that prevents accidental discharge while holstered. Once unholstered, this pistol boasts a three-dot sight, interchangeable backstraps, and the option of single- or double-action performance. Overall, the PX4 Storm is an in-between option for both concealed carry situations and target shooting events. If you’re planning on using your handgun for both, it’s a great buy. Beretta is a leading manufacturer, so you can be confident that the PX4 Storm and other variants are built to last.

Springfield XD Mod 2

You can’t go wrong with a firearm from Springfield, particularly the XD Mod 2. This striker-fired pistol is ideal for a concealed holster and daily carrying. For first-time shooters, the grip and trigger safeties are dependable features that greatly reduce the risk of accidental firing. A slip-resistant, full-size grip keeps you firmly in control of your pistol. The XD Mod 2 won’t let a few sweaty palms cause you to lose control of your firearm, so it’s a worthwhile option for intense competitions or serious self-defense.

Ruger LCR9

The Ruger LCR9 reinvents what it means to be a revolver. Most revolvers are bulky and unsuited to daily carrying, but the compact size and lightweight frame of the LCR9 avoid both of those inconveniences. A barrel length of a mere 1.87 inches and a height of 4.5 inches makes it a great option for carrying in a range of concealed holsters. Stay safe with a double-action-only trigger. This long trigger pull isn’t suited for rapid-fire use at a competitive range, but it prevents accidental discharge and makes sure that every shot counts. A small 9mm handgun is going to have some serious recoil, and this Ruger is no exception. Unloading this revolver can pack a punch, which is a downside at the shooting range but not as important of a feature for self-defense.

Glock G19X G5

No list of the best firearms would be complete without a Glock. A serious contender for the best gun for beginners, the Glock G19X G55 is the crossover version of the full-size and compact Glock 17 models. As a crossover, it has a full-size frame and a compact slide. These two features, along with the quality components and manufacturing precision of every Glock, make the G19X G5 a flexible option for a variety of situations. Holster this pistol conveniently thanks to the compact slide. A lanyard loop helps you stay confident if you’re concerned with losing your grip on your pistol. Rising grooves on the handle and a full-size handle frame give you the confidence you need to take aim at any target.

Smith & Wesson 686+

Looking for a revolver that packs some serious punch? Choose the Smith & Wesson 686+ as your first pistol. This seven-round revolver can fire both .375 rounds and .38 Specials. Choose the .375 rounds for excellent stopping power or reduce the recoil with .38 Special rounds. Simple mechanisms and industry-leading quality make the 686+ a revolver that’s unlikely to jam or fail. It may come with more recoil than a 9mm or another pistol, but it’s a sleek and powerful option when you need it.

Targets, Protective Gear, and Other Essentials

First-time handgun owners may get over-excited and go out to purchase one of these firearms quickly. You can’t go wrong with any of these five options, but you need more than a pistol and a box of ammunition. Here are some key accessories you need to stay safe on the range or wherever you go. Review local regulations for owning, transporting, and carrying firearms. A background check, concealed carry license, and other regulations may prevent you from firing your handgun from day one. Once you know how to safely and legally handle your pistol in your area, it’s time to put together a shooting range or competition bag. Here are just a few key items you should have to operate your firearm:
  • Hearing protection
  • Safety glasses
  • Case
  • Cleaning kit
  • First-aid kit
  • Targets
Hearing protection and safety glasses protect your eyes and ears from intense noise, potential flying cartridges, and other hazards on the range. A case keeps your gun safe and clean while you transport it. You’ll want to clean your pistol shortly after firing it, so review your owner’s manual and proper firearm care before taking a trip to your local shooting range. A first-aid kit is one of the most obvious items to include. Be sure your kit has a tourniquet as a life-saving resource in the event of a gunshot wound. Finally, you won’t get much out of a day at the range without targets. Some ranges come with their own targets, while others require you to bring your own. Don’t settle for paper or cardboard targets. These lightweight alternatives are single-use and don’t offer the satisfying sound of a direct hit. AR550 steel targets are reusable and come in a wide range of sizes and setups. Pick up a set of targets with a lifetime warranty to improve your aim for years to come.

Take Aim at a Quality Target from MGM Targets

At MGM Targets, we specialize in industry-leading steel shooting targets. Shop for steel targets proudly made in America to practice your aim. Prepare for a profession in law enforcement or a high-stakes competitive shooting event with professional-quality targets. Find out how you can enjoy affordable options on our sales page. Select one of the five best firearms for beginners and choose a set of our excellent steel targets today.  

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