There is a vast selection of handguns available today. While it is beneficial to have a choice, it can be difficult to narrow down the options, particularly if you are a new handgun owner. In this guide, we’ll offer advice to help you find the perfect handgun. 

Factors to consider when searching for a new handgun

Every buyer is different and it’s important to consider several factors when deciding which handgun to buy. One gun might suit a specific individual better than another. Always tailor your search based on your individual preferences and needs. It can be beneficial to read reviews and articles about specifications and performance, but remember that you’re doing the shooting. The most important factors to think about when looking for a new handgun include:

  • How you plan to use your gun

Perhaps the most important question to ask when browsing handguns is ‘How am I going to use my new handgun?’ There are several reasons why people buy guns, for example, home and self-defense, sport and work purposes. Think about what you’re going to do with your gun before you start narrowing down your options and creating a short-list. The purpose of the gun should impact your decision. A buyer who wants to shoot paper targets from time to time will need a different handgun from somebody who is looking for a handgun for defense purposes. 

  • Your level of experience

Individuals with varying levels of experience may be looking to buy handguns. When you are comparing different guns, consider your skill level and the amount of experience you have in shooting. Some guns are not suitable for beginners and those with limited experience while some will not be tailored to those with advanced skills. If you are still in the early days of training and learning how to shoot and handle a gun, it’s advantageous to opt for a full-frame gun, which is easier to operate and more comfortable to use than compact and subcompact models. 

Selecting the right caliber

Selecting the right caliber is one of the most critical decisions when choosing a handgun. The caliber is the measurement of the diameter of the bullet. In almost all cases, you will need to choose the right caliber for the gun chamber. Always ensure that you understand which ammunition to use for your handgun before attempting to load and shoot. Low-caliber (.22, .32 and .380) handguns are suitable for shooting targets and practising at the range while larger calibers (.40 or 9mm) are recommended for self-defense and those with advanced firearms training. 

If you have any questions or queries about which caliber to choose, it’s wise to seek advice before you buy. 

Trying before you buy

It can be difficult to know which handgun is the perfect fit for you based on reading articles, listening to assistants talking about different models or looking at guns in a display case. Ideally, you need to be able to hold the gun and try it before you buy. The best way to identify prime candidates is to test them out. At many gun stores that are either attached to or located near ranges, you can rent guns to see how they handle and shoot and compare different models. This can be a really useful exercise as there can be a significant variation between how guns handle, fire and operate. 

Another option that might be beneficial for beginners and those still learning how to use a gun safely is to ask to try different handguns during training or personal protection courses. Instructors will often be able to recommend specific models based on the individual’s requirements and skill level and it may be possible to try out different models as part of the training program. 

Once you have established key requirements in terms of what you need the gun for and the most suitable caliber, choosing a handgun boils down to personal preference. You might find that you feel much happier with one model than another even though, on paper, they are very similar. Take your time to explore the options available to you, ask experts for recommendations and try different handguns before you make a decision.


Buying a handgun can be a challenge because there is a diverse range of models available. Whether you are a beginner or you’re an experienced marksman looking to upgrade, it’s beneficial to consider how you plan to use the gun and look for a model that complements your skill level. Select a caliber based on your needs and your level of experience and try a range of models before you make your final decision.