What kind of gun should I get?
Let’s start by saying ‘firearm’ or ‘pistol’ or another gentler name other than ‘gun’. Buying a firearm, let’s say pistol or handgun is your personal choice. If you were going hunting (whether you are a hunter or not) you would consider what you were hunting for. You would not hunt a deer with the same firearm as squirrels or vice versa. So when you decide on a handgun you need to decide on what you are going to do with it. For example: target shooting, hunting, home defense, carry, self-defense, just shooting stuff, impressing my friends, or competitions.
One pistol may do all of these, but there is a better choice for each of the things above you may do with your hand gun. So let’s cut to the chase and let me make some recommendations. If you never fired a pistol before and you are not sure what you want do some research. Your local club will know where to send you for a Basic Pistol Course. You will meet experienced people as well as people who never held a handgun!
The Instructors are all experienced shooters and can tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about most handguns. Please don’t go out and buy what you think is right or what a friend tells you or what the Salesman at the Firearm Store told you was “perfect for you”. Your needs are particular to you; your hand fits and feels comfortable holding one pistol, but feels “weird” holding another. The bestselling or most popular pistol may also not be what you want. If you are a first time shooter… here is my recommendation:
- Find a Basic Pistol Course at a local Sportsman’s Club that you would join to practice and meet experienced shooters.
- After the course you will have a much better idea of what you want and what’s best for you…I suggest you join the club so you can practice and participant in shooting events to get even a better idea of what you like.
- Now that you have some background and have met some experienced shooters; go shopping… not buying, but shopping. Feel the pistol in your hand… you may or may not be able to dry fire… but you should… a small Gun Store may be much better than a BIG STORE for this. The trigger pull may be too hard or too sensitive… the grip may be uncomfortable. If you take the NRA Basic Pistol Course you will learn all the basics and what to look for.
- I suggest a 22lr Handgun; Semi-Automatic; most are a 1911 type design. The ammunition is cheap; the caliper is light and everything you learn can be easily scaled up to a bigger caliper.
- Let’s say you feel you are a “big boy” and want to start with a larger caliper, such as a 9mm. Not a problem, but buy a handgun you can learn with. A full size or compact is a good start; a sub-compact or pocket pistol is not a good place to start. Once you master the standard size handgun, you will easily move down to a smaller handgun for carry.
You may end up owning several handguns… a full size or compact as well as a carry piece. You decide if you want a semi-automatic or revolver. The Basic Pistol Course will cover the aspects of both types. Don’t be afraid to ask questions… people at gun clubs… especially instructors enjoy telling stories and helping people learn the right way to shoot.
What’s the best way for me to stay in shape?
Very similar to the “do I look fat in this?” question. I have some very basic suggestions for the average person who may need to defend themselves physically or simply run away far enough to be safe… without passing out from exhaustion!
- See your Doctor. Before you change your routine or decide to drop a few pounds always discuss it with your Doctor. Follow his advice and instructions above all others… the Doctor’s job is to keep you alive and healthy!
- You know when you over eat or over indulge… I don’t suggest you try to drop 50# or 20#… I simply suggest you get control. If you maintain or lose 1-2 pounds per month (assuming your Doctor suggests losing weight) then you are headed in the right direction. Slow change is more permanent change.
- Go for a walk… you don’t have to walk one mile… walk until you are tired or had enough… don’t overdo it and it’s not a race! Again, make sure your Doctor approves. In the Winter use a treadmill or find a Mall to walk in. Walking is good for you and if you keep it up… you will soon be walking 2-3 miles and not even realizing it!
- Your body is your business and nobody else’s… but if you ask me to help you be safe… let me ask you a few questions:
- Can you run up and down a flight of steps without losing your breath?
- Can you run a city block or 40-50 yards without losing your breath?
- Could you push a man 200 pounds hard enough to get a few yards separation?
- If I grabbed you from behind could you shake me off with a quick movement?
- Can you push away an attacker and scream at the top of your lungs… at the same time?!?!?!?
So I hope you can see where I am going here. Don’t be a victim. Someone who wants to rob you or hurt you recognizes your weaknesses… like an injured animal vs a lion you will be culled from the herd and attacked! If you can scare off the beast, then you will survive! If you are weak and helpless you may not be so lucky. Stay in the best shape you can… you don’t have to be an Olympian, you just need to be able to fight or run for your life.
The really good news is that most attackers are surprised by someone they thought was a “sure thing” but turns out to be a handful… they often run away from you because they don’t want a fight or attention… you need to have the advantage! Be Safe.
Where can I find Certified Firearm Safety Courses in P. A.?
We have a link to the NRA training Web site on the left side of the page. You can also use a search engine to find courses in your area. Make sure you take a Certified course especially if you are looking for a multi State carry permit. No such training is required in P. A. as of yet.
Where can I get a multi State carry permit?
You can search reciprocity for P. A. carry permits for a list of States the honor the P. A. permit. Since P. A. has no required training there are few States. Florida does have a carry permit you can get online and it covers many States. You will need a certificate of firearm training from a Certified Provider, such as the NRA, and Florida will send you a finger print card you can take to your local police to be finger printed.
Do I really need a carry permit?
In P. A. open carry is allowed. No one will recommend that you walk around town with a gun on your hip. Concealed carry is the preferred and we believe safer method. You do not need training in P. A. and your County Seat (Court House) can provide information. If you travel with your gun a multi State carry permit just makes life easier.
How about Air travel?
Call the air line and print out their rules and take them with you. Make sure you follow the rules! Some people will ship their guns UPS insured separately, but if you wish to fly with them PLEASE make sure you follow the rules.
Any special rules for carrying in the car?
If you have a carry permit it’s not a problem. Be aware if you leave the State or go to a no carry zone, such as a school or post office that you need to safely store your gun. Out of State you will probably have to unload and store ammo and gun in separate locations. Remember if you have a loaded magazine in the same vicinity as your gun… the gun is legally loaded! If you don’t have a carry permit you must keep the gun and ammo separate and out of reach. If you are comfortable being pulled over by a State Police Officer who may ask to look in the trunk or ‘what’s in that bag?’ then you are good.
How should I store my firearm(s)?
This is a multifaceted question:
- Long Term: you may have instructions in you manual or online at the manufacturer’s website. Long term storage can ruin your firearm if not done properly and you should clean your firearm well after storage before shooting it.
- Short Term : every day storage is more don’t know than do… Don’t store in a moist area like your basement. Many safes have a dehumidifier or heating element to keep moisture down. Again your manual or manufacturer’s website can help.
- Safety: you want to keep your firearm secure and away from unauthorized users. You obviously don’t want your children or grandchild to have access and you don’t want someone who broke into your home to get a hold of it to use against you.
- Safes: if you use your hand Gun for home defense please don’t keep it under the pillow or in the night stand. There are many ‘fast safes’ you can use. When people ask me if I can recommend a safe I always say, ‘remember you get what you pay for’. I watched a video today where they opened safes off the shelf with a bent paperclip and a screw driver. These gentlemen were knowledgeable, but you don’t expect a thief to be stupid… Do you? They recommended http://www.locksaf.com/biometric-safe-manufacturer/ and they actually did break into it but it was very complex.
From a safety standpoint any combination gun safe or fireproof/waterproof safe for $200 or more should be sufficient. Hiding your safe is important too. If you carried it in with a dolly or with a friend a thief can do the same. Many safes can be bolted to concrete or studs. If you have a lot of money in Firearms then investing in a good safe is smart. Also check your home owners insurance policy. Many Insurance Companies want a rider or special addition to the policy similar to jewelry or antiques. Call you insurance company for more information.
Keep Ammunition and firearms separate and make sure your ammunition is dry and in good condition.
Please use our Q&A form in the right column to send in your questions. We welcome any questions you may have about firearm safety and personal self-defense.