There are, however, several firearms that are available today, that I would put on a list of the 7 best handguns for the new shooter. To make this list, the firearm had to meet certain criteria: The weapon had to have some type of safety feature, be known for accuracy, is easy to clean, be reliable and be available in 9mm. However, note that the perfect gun depends upon the shooter, how big their hands are, what they’re looking for in a gun and what they need it to do. Here is a list of the 7 best handguns for the new shooter:
1. Springfield XD:
After I got out of the military, the full size XD9 was the first pistol I purchased—and I actually still own it. The XD line is an excellent striker fired, polymer pistol. They tend to come in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45ACP and are available in a plethora of different sizes. One model is even available in the venerable .357 Sig cartridge. These firearms are about as safe is you can get, without actually having a manual safety that you have to flip off. Finally, they are also easy to field strip and clean.
2. Smith & Wesson M&P:
Smith & Wesson’s M&P line of handguns are an excellent option in the striker fired, polymer framed self-defense pistol category. The M&Ps meet all of our requirements for a safe weapon because they can be purchased with a manual safety, and they do have other safety features as well, if you’re like me and don’t want a mechanical safety. These handguns are comfortable in hand, are reliable and are available in different sizes. Projectiles range from .22 up to .45, to make sure you can feel comfortable behind the trigger.
3. Ruger LCR9:
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one revolver. Revolvers are great because they are simple, point and shoot firearms. There is literally almost no room for error. Just don’t miss your target five times, or you’re screwed. The safety feature on this handgun is the incredibly long double action only (DAO) trigger, which you have to intend to pull. Recoil on these little snubs can be intense for newer shooters, so make sure you’re ready for it, and understand proper shooting mechanics, first.
4. Glock 19:
It pains me to put a Glock on my list because I’m not a fan-boy. But, there are other pro-shooters out there who swear by them, and who am I to argue with the pros? I listed the 19, because it is chambered in 9mm, which is an excellent choice for self-defense. And, it does have the trigger safety to help reduce negligent discharges. Furthermore, Glocks are arguably the most reliable handgun in the world, so there’s also that.
5. Beretta PX4 Storm:
The PX4 is an uber safe, comfortable and reliable handgun that some people overlook, simply because it isn’t as popular as the others on this list. Having a manual safety/decocker that needs to be disengaged before it can be fired is a positive in the minds of some new shooters. Plus, after the safety is disengaged, you’ll have a long double action trigger, unless you pull the hammer back. It is available in 9mm, .40S&W, and .45 auto colt pistol.
6. Walther CCP:
This is a bit of an oddball to be on this list, because it is a different type of handgun. However, it does have a manual safety, and is a perfect firearm for someone with weaker hands, because of Walther’s “Softcoil” gas-delayed blowback system. It is also ideal for shooters who have a hard time pulling the slide back to send a round into the chamber.
I would like to state, here, that having a mechanical safety might mean that the firearm won’t “go off” when unintended. Then again, it is one more step you need to take in a self-defense scenario. We always recommend practicing as much as you can, that way you’re used to flipping it to the “fire” position whenever needed. For more info on this subject, check out this blog post from our firearms instructor.