First gun: which caliber?

by Erik  

If you are considering your first gun chances are it's a hand gun. Rifles can be be intimidating and usually cost more than run of the mill pistols. So you may be wondering which caliber should I get?

There are many out there and and it's very confusing as a novice. As a rule of thumb, I don't purchase any guns chambered in exotic calibers. By exotic, I mean things like 5.7x28mm, 50AE, etc. If you want to learn more about these have a look at my top 5 dumbest calibers.

My general rule of thumb is to only purchase guns chambered in calibers which are readily available. This limits your choices for hand guns to:

  • .380
  • 9mm
  • .38 Special
  • .357 Magnum
  • .45 ACP

I could technically throw .44 Magnum in the list but it isn't quite as easy to find as the calibers above and is fairy expensive. When I bought my first gun (Glock 21C) in 2005, I choose the .45 simply for the stopping power associated with it. However, I didn't realized the cost of .45 ACP which at the time was ONLY around $.37/round. It has since increased to around $.45/round today.

I always suggest a 9mm simply because it's one of the easiest rounds to find. The ballistic performance is good all around and the recoil is fairly easy to manage for new shooters. I'm not a fan of .380 or .40 calibers. Ballistics on the .380 fall short of 9mm while the price per round is almost equal. The .40 caliber is a high-pressure round with increased recoil over the 9mm; especially in short barrels. Neither will re-sell as easy as a 9mm.

I'm not a huge fan of wheel guns but .38 special is a excellent choice with a decent ballistics and the supply is plentiful. .357 is priced higher and packs more punch along with more muzzle flash. While there is no "magic bullet" I hope this information is useful to anyone considering there first hand gun.

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