Many of us have been asked, and many of us have asked others….”What is the right gun for me?”. The question has been asked ever since the advent of gunpowder, and is nearly impossible to answer. Handguns are almost as individualistic as all of those who buy, carry, and use them, so believing in a “one-size-fits-all” answer is both impossible and foolish. One thing none of us ever needs on our conscience is knowing that information or suggestions we gave to someone turned out to be faulty…especially given the nature of the question itself.
With that in mind, some of us will actively help people simplify their decision, not by answering the question for the curious, but by taking the curious to where they can answer the question for themselves. We will often allow someone to inspect our own collections, take them to the range, and give them a basic education, not only in the safe handling and operation of the firearm, but to help them determine a path for them to follow. While this may be a great first step, many of us are not afforded with the luxury of having as many firearms as we would like and may not be able to help to the extent that we would like, simply because the firearms in our own collections were bought for us, for our needs, and for our particular comfort level.
I don’t have very many sub-compact firearms as they tend to be too small for me to handle comfortably, at least in the sense of an Every Day Carry. That is not to say I don’t have a few, but not enough to assess whether the person I am helping will find one they like among my collection. I might be able to find something for another person with hands the size of mine, or of a similar build, but I would be hard pressed to find something to accommodate someone of diminutive stature, or varying hand size or dexterity. So where do I go from there? I can take them to a gun store that has a rental program and let them fire as many different guns as they can afford to, but that still has drawbacks as many of these locations only offer a smaller variety of firearms to choose from. Not many will be willing to set aside a huge portion of their inventory for “newbies” to get their hands on.
So what’s next? Call my gun-toting buddies, ask them to load their collections into their trunks and head out to the range for the day? Sure, I can do that, but when my friends hit the range, they are more interested in sending rounds down range and not so much in sitting around watching one person try their gear. Now, they will do it…but that’s a big favor to ask, especially when we consider they will be the ones at home that night cleaning up someone else’s burned powder residue.
Then there is my favorite alternative…The “TRY-A-GUN” program at my local Gun Club. Every couple of months, a few of us get together and load up a variety of handguns that represent a wide field of choices. Everything from Micro 9mm’s to Hand Cannons, Full Size Polymer’s to Government 1911’s, Peacemakers and Top Breaks, Derringers and Revolvers. We try to cover the entire spectrum of available options, calibers, and actions. Usually there are about 100 (or more) firearms to choose from, and with that kind of variety, there will be at least one type of handgun that will at least feel comfortable enough for that curious shopper to be pointed in the right direction…a direction that only THEY can choose.
Still, with all of this work, and all of these choices, the question of “What is the right gun for me?” is STILL going to be unanswered. It is unanswered not because they haven’t found something they like, but for a far more important reason. Is it a gun they can use? While someone might find the gun that has all of the controls within reach, has all the modern scientifically developed ergonomics, and is fitted to their hand like a fine tailored glove…if they cannot hit anything with it, well, it becomes an expensive experiment in futility. On the flip side of that expensive coin is the situation many others find themselves in…a much worse situation. They find a gun that doesn’t fit their hand all that well, is a little too big or small, maybe more powerful than they can handle, to powerless to be effective, or too unreliable to trust their lives to…but they can hit the 10 ring with every squeeze of the trigger. While hitting the target might be the ultimate objective, it means NOTHING if the firearm they have winds up sitting in the safe instead of on their person, simply because it was too uncomfortable for them to carry or handle.
So where does this leave our curious subject? It leaves them right back where it should….TRAINING. It might be a fruitless effort to convince someone to carry a gun that they are proficient with , but they hate…but it is a valuable investment of time, energy and practice to get them up to speed with the firearm that fits them the way it should. When someone builds up the confidence and comfort they need in their firearm, and couples it with the training to make them proficient in the use of it, it will become and remain an extension of themselves…and THAT is the entire point.
So the next time someone asks you what the right gun for them is…do your best to have them answer that question for themselves, then do your best to make sure they have the training and the wisdom that are just as equally important as the question itself. When someone comes to you for this kind of advice, they aren’t doing so because they know that you have guns…they are coming to you because they trust YOU, they trust your judgement. They are trusting that you are going to help them defend themselves and their families in a time of crisis, and to be asked for that help is something that should not only be taken seriously, but it should be taken as the ultimate compliment. So do your very best to be the person they are trusting that you are.
Lastly, if you belong to a Gun Club, or Range, ask if they have a “Try-A-Gun” program, and volunteer your time to it. If they do not have a “Try-A-Gun” program, do your best to have them initiate one. One of the most critical factors in being a Second Amendment Advocate is helping bring others into the community and helping change the perception that too many have of our lifestyle. Positive changes MUST come from within our community if we are to continue to make make gains with regards to our right. This is not only a great way to help others, but to help ourselves….and the worst that you can expect is to have a little trigger time yourself.