What Basic Defense Guns Should A New Gun Owner Get?

by Vern Evans
The basics needed for defensive use, a semi-auto handgun and an AR.

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When it comes to gun ownership, the motivations can vary greatly. For some people, it’s hunting that interests them. For others, it’s target shooting and competitions. There are also collectors, history buffs, doomsday preppers and many other things. But, for many people today, the whole point of getting a gun is for personal defense.

One thing that can get confusing in the beginning is that there’s a lot of overlap between the reasons you’d get a gun. For example, you might start with self-defense and then get into competitive shooting. Or, one might be a hunter with a collection of hunting rifles and war memorabilia. You can’t put a gun owner into a box like that in other words!

But, this overlap can get a new gun owner into trouble. Everyone of sound mind should have basic defensive tools and maybe a couple of hunting guns if that’s how you feed yourself and your family, but beyond that, we have to admit to ourselves (however reluctantly) that it’s a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with having a hobby, but not when it gets in the way of important things like paying the bills, building up savings, maintaining your car and home, and keeping the significant other happy.

So, we all have to figure out where to draw the line between essential tools and other hobby things, like collecting. In this article, I want to discuss what basic defensive tools a new shooter should focus on getting and keeping.

Basic Firearm #1: A Defensive Pistol

In today’s world, everyone should have a pistol, learn how to effectively use it and keep it with you. But, it’s easy to spend as much as you can imagine (and probably more) buying a pistol. Sadly, many of the more expensive pistols just aren’t great defensive tools, as they’re built for other things. Plus, if the worst happens and you have to shoot somebody in legitimate self-defense, you can count on that gun sitting in evidence for months at minimum, and you don’t want some $3,500 wonder gun sitting in somebody else’s storage.

This will rile some readers up, but as an instructor who has helped thousands of people get licensed to carry in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, I recommend a basic striker-fired gun for personal defense. I love other guns as much as any of you, but if someone’s on a budget and wants a basic gun for defense, you can’t beat something like a Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P (or M&P Shield) or Sig P365. They can be had relatively inexpensively, they’re reliable and they aren’t hard to take care of.

If you’re on a very small budget to get your first pistol, a Glock clone like the PSA Dagger is another great option. These can often be had for around $300, and sometimes cheaper when there’s a really good sale, complete with a cut slide to add a basic red-dot optic later.

Basic Firearm #2: An Affordable AR-15

The other gun I think everyone should try to have is an AR-15. To newcomers who’ve heard all the talk about weapons of war and mass shooters, this might seem like too much gun, but it really isn’t. An entry level AR is affordable, doesn’t have much recoil can be used for a variety of things like smaller game hunting, home defense, target shooting and even preparedness for “SHTF” or “TEOTWAWKI” or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

In other words, it’s a valuable tool that can serve a variety of defensive and personal needs.

Volumes could be written about how to shop for an AR-15, so I won’t try to do that here. Just be smart, look at reviews for the affordable models, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from trusted friends. Be sure to get some spare magazines (I’d recommend at least six, but 10 is better) and an affordable optic if desired.

If you live in a rural area, you might consider doing an AR-10 instead of an AR-15, but they’re generally not as affordable. The reason I recommend this is that you’ll get better opportunities for hunting with a .308 round than you’d get limiting yourself to 5.56/.223.

Why Not XXXXX????

I know people in the comments will have other ideas, such as revolvers, a bolt-action rifle, and maybe even the formerly cheap Russian surplus guns that are out there. While everyone has a right to their opinions, the goal of a basic defensive gun safe is to have affordable, reliable, serviceable, and versatile guns. A striker-fired pistol and an AR10/15 is about as basic and utilitarian as you can get these days.

Don’t Forget Training, A Safe and Ammunition

A gun is worthless without a reasonably skilled shooter behind the trigger, ammunition and a safe place to keep the guns when they’re not being used or kept ready for use. So, every new shooter needs to take care of those things. I’d personally recommend keeping at least three spare magazines per pistol and six for a rifle, 500 to 1,000 rounds of ammunition and attending at least a basic training course locally to get up to speed.

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