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Choosing the Best First Gun for Beginning Shooters

Most of the people coming through our doors are new to the gun world. Over 7 million guns were sold last year alone.  For those venturing into the world of firearms, selecting the right first gun is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the learning experience. Whether the goal is to engage in recreational shooting, personal defense, or simply understanding firearms for sport, there are several factors to consider when choosing the ideal firearm for beginners.


One of the key considerations for beginners is the caliber of the firearm. A popular choice for novice shooters is the .22 LR caliber. Rimfire pistols or rifles chambered in .22 LR offer several advantages for beginners, including low recoil, minimal muzzle blast, and affordable ammunition. These factors make the learning process more enjoyable and less intimidating.

At C2, we highly recommend that everyone start with a .22cal. In our Basic Level courses (P100-300) we provide free use of Glock 44s in .22 caliber to ensure the best experience possible for your students. The caliber is inexpensive, the recoil time, and through the Glock 44s, a whole lot of fun to shoot.  In our rifle classes, we provide Ruger 10/22s in .22 caliber and for shotgun novices, Mossberg semi-auto shotguns in 20g.

Firearm Type

The type of firearm also plays a crucial role in the beginner’s experience. Single-shot or bolt-action rifles are often recommended for those just starting. These firearms are simple to operate, allowing beginners to focus on learning fundamental marksmanship skills without the distraction of semi-automatic or automatic fire.

If a semi-auto rifle is of interest, we recommend Pistol Caliber Carbines (PCCs) or AR-style rifles. Shotguns can also be a viable option, particularly those with lower recoil. A 20-gauge shotgun, designed for reduced recoil, can be an excellent choice for beginners. Shotguns are versatile and can be used for target shooting and home defense.

Pistols are by far the most popular, but also the most difficult to shoot and master, which is why we specialize in pistol training at C2. Our C2 Method has allowed us to get many of our students to a level where they can shoot a playing card on edge on their first day on the range.

Ergonomics and Size

The ergonomics and size of the firearm are essential considerations for comfort and ease of use. A firearm that feels comfortable in the hands has intuitive controls, and suits the shooter’s physical build will contribute to a positive learning experience. Handling different firearms can help beginners find the one that feels right for them.

At C2, we discuss the fit of a gun. Size, weight, shape, and other issues make a gun right for you or not. Fit is much more important than capacity, caliber, or size, especially for a beginner. Shoot the gun that is most comfortable for you and that you enjoy shooting. After you have developed sufficient skills and safety can you start to think about other issues like concealability, or higher caliber. Think about learning to drive. A large truck or a small stick shift model would be much more difficult to learn on than a simple sedan.

Local Laws and Regulations

Understanding and complying with local laws and regulations regarding firearm ownership and usage is paramount. Before purchasing a firearm, beginners should familiarize themselves with the legal requirements in their area, including any mandatory waiting periods, background checks, or licensing procedures.

Which Gun is Best

Choosing the best first gun for a beginning shooter depends on various factors, including your comfort level, intended use, and local laws. However, some general recommendations for beginner-friendly firearms include:

.22 LR caliber rimfire Pistols or Rifles:
  • Low recoil and minimal muzzle blast, making them comfortable for beginners.
  • Affordable ammunition allows for more practice without breaking the bank.
  • Good for learning the fundamentals of shooting.
9mm caliber Handguns:
  • Common and popular caliber with manageable recoil.
  • Widely available ammunition.
  • Versatile for both target practice and self-defense.
Single-shot or Bolt-action rifles:
  • Simple to operate, helping beginners focus on marksmanship fundamentals.
  • Suitable for learning proper shooting techniques.
  • Good for target shooting and hunting.
Pistol Caliber Semi-Auto or AR Style Rifle rifles:
  • Very Low Recoiling, great ergonomics, ubiquity.
  • Widely available ammunition.
  • Versatile for both target shooting and home defense.
Shotguns with Low Recoil:
  • 20-gauge shotguns, specifically designed for reduced recoil, can be a good choice.
  • Multiple styles to choose from.
  • Versatile for both hunting and home defense.
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