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10 Tips for New Gun Owners

Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, gun ownership rates are going through the roof. While it’s great to see more people understand their 2nd Amendment rights, it’s important that these new gun owners understand what it means to own a firearm. 

Almost anyone can buy a gun, but not everyone knows what it takes to properly own and operate one safely. We here at M*CARBO are always advocating for safe gun ownership and we’ve provided a list of tips for new and even seasoned gun owners.

#1 Do Your Research

There are millions of guns out there on the market, so it’s incredibly important you do you research first. Start with the purpose, the “why am I buying this firearm?” Is it for home defense? Hunting? Or are you using it recreationally at the range? 

Take your reasoning and begin the basis of your research. The YouTube gun community has a lot of great informational videos to help find the right firearm for you. Not every source is a great source, so always keep that in mind when browsing. After you decide what type of firearm you are going to buy, do a little more research on the specific brand/gun you’re looking at. This might give you more insight on benefits and potential common issues with said firearm. I personally find watching video reviews really helps when deciding my next gun purchase. 

Finally, when you are set on what firearm you want, always go to the range and try before you buy, especially when it comes to pistols/handguns because every gun has a different type of grip. The one you saw online might not fit comfortably in your hand.

Holding a revolver around other revolvers

#2 Budget

Keep your budget in mind when you are buying a firearm. Think of the ammo, case, holster, cleaning kits or any other accessories you want with your purchase. Most first-time gun buyers underestimate the costs of upkeep. 

For example: You buy a handgun at $500. A box of 100 9mm rounds is around $40. A pistol cleaning kit, $20. And finally a holster/ carrying case is anywhere from $20-$70. Without any additional accessories, you will be spending around $600-$650 for your new handgun. When you are forming your budget, keep the purpose of the firearm in mind as well. Do you want to pay $200 for a low quality home defense handgun that might fail when you need it? Or sleep a little safer and spend $400-$700 on a good quality one that is more historically reliable? Or maybe you just want an inexpensive range gun you can burn ammo through for fun. Either way, formulating a budget is a good step to have.

#3 Firearm Safety

Before you swipe that card at the gun shop register, PLEASE read the 4 major rules of gun safety.

  1. Always know the condition of your gun and treat every gun as if it's loaded.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned and you are ready to shoot.
  3. Never point your gun at anything you DON’T intend to destroy.
  4. Know your target and what is behind it, in front of it, and beside it.

Live by these rules anytime you pick up or are around firearms. Yours and other's lives depend on it. 9/10 accidental firearm deaths/injuries are due to people not following these rules. 

Along with the 4 major rules of safety, be mindful where you store your firearms, especially if you have children or others in your home. Get a safe, a lock box or any other lockable compartment.

Firearm Safety chart

#4 Operating Your Firearm

When you buy your firearm, take the time to read the instruction manual, watch videos, or even ask your local gun shop owner and learn how to properly operate your firearm. Learn the different parts and what they do to make your gun fire. 

It’s also incredibly important to know how to properly load, unload, and clear your firearm. Whenever you buy a new firearm, it’s always good practice to take apart (field strip) your firearm and reassemble it a few times until you get the hang of it.

Operating a weapon

#5 Firearm Maintenance

Maintaining your firearm is an often forgotten part of owning a firearm. Knowing what parts to clean and lubricate will prolong the life of your firearm and ensure it is always ready to fire when you want it to. 

I recommend getting a cleaning kit specific to your caliber/type of firearm to ensure the better clean. Even the most durable firearms like AK-47’s and Glocks need to be cleaned and lubricated. Every firearm has a certain recommended maintenance after firing a certain number of rounds. I personally suggest you clean your firearm after every use to ensure maximum effectiveness and reliability.

maintaining a weapon

#6 Ammunition

There are many types of ammunition out there and firearms come in all shapes and sizes for all different kinds of purposes. “Which ammo do I need”? Again, before you finalize your purchase, research and learn what type of ammunition your gun needs. Keep note of not only the caliber (typically measured in millimeters), but also the grain, primer type (centerfire or rimfire) and jacket/tip type as well. 

Going back to the handgun example, you see your handgun requires 9x19mm Ruger ammo. That means your handgun will ONLY fire 9mm ammunition. When buying ammo, I highly suggest you buy name-brand American ammunition like Remington, Winchester, Federal, and etc. Off-brand, foreign, or homemade (reloaded) ammunition can be harder to clean or even cause malfunctions. Do not ever use homemade ammo unless you are properly trained to do so. Be sure to store you ammunition in a secure, room temperature, and dry place whenever it is not in use to ensure its effectiveness. The majority of ammunition contains lead, so always wash your hands thoroughly after handling ammo.

#7 Wearing Proper PPE

Whenever you go to an indoor or outdoor range, be sure to wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). Eye protection and ear protection are always a must. Hot brass and spent cartridges can fly back and hit a shooter in the eyes and face. Also the sound of a gunshot can be anywhere from 120-180 decibels. Just for a point of reference, anything over 85 decibels is considered harmful. So do yourself a favor and protect your ears. I was an artilleryman in the U.S Army for over 7 years, and I can tell you from personal experience, you do not want Tinnitus or hearing loss. 

Other PPE to consider at the range is your clothing. Most ranges require long sleeves, long pants (no booty shorts or “silkies” for all you Marines out there), and closed-toed shoes in order to shoot. Ejected hot brass can fly anywhere and can burn skin, so always stay covered.

Proper PPE at the gun range

#8 Understand Local/ State/ and Federal Gun Laws

Knowing your laws and rights as a gun owner is incredibly important. A lot of new gun owners don’t realize the legal ramifications of improper carrying and transportation. Some states will allow for unlicensed open-carry (constitutional carry) while some states require you obtain a permit to simply own a firearm. Always know your rights and responsibilities because nobody deserves jail time or fees for wanting to practice their 2nd Amendment Rights. When you are traveling with your firearm, be sure you know the laws of that state or any other states you are passing through as well. 

Now don’t worry, you don’t need a Law Degree to know your rights, just a surface understanding of the do’s and don’ts. In the RESOURCE section below, there is the NRA Institute of Legislative Action website which is incredibly useful for up to date laws in your state.

#9 Home Security Systems

The majority of firearm owners buy their first handguns for self/home defense. While this is highly encouraged to protect the lives of you and your loved ones, it shouldn’t be your only means of protection. Setting up a good home security system gives you a first line of defense against home invasions. 

What is the point of having a home defense firearm if you don’t realize your home is being invaded? I recommend getting a security system with cameras to protect your legal rights to defend yourself. It’s also recommended that you have a security system that can contact local law enforcement in case you are away from your phone or are unable to reach the phone. Nobody ever knows or expects when a home invasion will happen, so having that first alarm gives you an elevated level of preparedness against threats.

Setting up home security

#10 Get Training

This is probably the most important tip, get training with your firearm. There is no better feeling than knowing you know how to properly use your firearm. If you are buying your gun with the intent of self defense, I highly recommend you take a Concealed Carry Weapons course and get your CCW permit. Even if you live in a state that has constitutional open carry rights, you should still take a conceal or every day carry class. 

The safest most responsible gun owners are the ones that seek knowledge. There are so many exciting courses out there for personal defense, hunting, or sport shooting. Not only will you improve your skills but you will also become a more safety conscious owner.

Getting some training with shooting

The world of firearms can seem very intimidating from the outside, but I can assure you there has never been a friendlier and more welcoming community. Always remember to be safe, be educated and have fun! Welcome to the gun community and as always Happy Shooting!

Great Resources for Gun Owners

NRA Institute for Legislative Action- State Gun Laws

NRA- Gun Safety Rules

Smith & Wesson- Ammo Types & Calibers

Pew Pew Tactical- Bullet Sizes and Calibers page