We’ve come to expect blatant incompetence from the Washington Post and New York Times regarding firearms, but would hope that western newspapers might be a bit more competent when it comes to giving advice.

It appears that hope was misplaced, as Wyoming’s largest print newspaper, the Casper’s Star-Tribune, utterly bombed with How to Chose a Handgun.

The opening paragraph is painful, if tolerable.

How to choose a handgun

Whether you are new to the firearms market or an experienced collector, choosing a handgun takes consideration and time.

Talking to other merchants and gun owners will give you up-to-date information about the latest models. You might also get some good insights into different brands and models.

Being informed is essential for responsible gun ownership.

While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, most merchants simply  aren’t often armed with up-to-date information about the latest models of firearms. This is generally true at big box retailers and dedicated gun stores alike.

The purpose of gun stores (or gun departments in larger stores) isn’t to serve as a testing ground from the latest and greatest toys, but to move the greatest amount of product possible. To move guns, you sell those guns that more consumers will be aware of and trust, and that typically occurs with guns that have been on the market for at least two years. Recalls of firearms are common among early adopters, and most gun stores tend to stick to proven models to avoid customer service headaches.

Other consumers tend to pass along whatever they’ve heard on the rumor mill that passes for “conventional wisdom.” More often than not, that “wisdom” isn’t firsthand knowledge, but something parroted from an internet forum based on something some guy thinks he remembers someone saying shortly before he went to bed six months ago.

I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered truly good advice on the latest models other than, “wait a year, and see what sort of problems that the early adopters are having.”

The next section on “size and caliber” was filled with relatively harmless generalizations, but the section following that verged on negligence for all the half-truths and flat-out false statements that it contained.

Other things to consider

Along with size and caliber, there are other things to keep in mind.

There are two types of handguns: the automatic and the revolver. Automatics are more modern and usually come in smaller calibers, known as auto calibers. Since they are typically clip-fed, automatics are more complicated. They can also be slightly more difficult to clean and operate, but they are fast to fire and easy to reload. Some younger or weaker shooters have difficulties operating the slide which is necessary to load the gun. In those cases, a revolver may be a better choice.

Revolvers are simpler and more traditional. They have been around a lot longer. There are a wide range of calibers and they are easier to clean, but the firing speed and reload time is significantly reduced. Revolvers are great options for beginners. The beauty of a revolver is that when it is needed for self-defense, all that is needed to fire the gun is to pull the trigger, whereas automatics require more steps to prepare to fire.

Point-and-shoot accuracy is more important than sighted accuracy in an emergency situation. In self-defense situations, you’re usually firing fast and instinctively. So it is good to have a gun that reflects your firing style.

Oh, but were to begin with this tangled mess?

There are two types of handguns: the automatic and the revolver.

There are more types of handguns than I can easily name, including automatic (machine pistols), semi-automatic (which is what the unnamed author probably meant), revolvers, single-shots of various designs, and bolt-actions, just to name a few.

Automatics are more modern and usually come in smaller calibers, known as auto calibers.

Oh really? My Google search for “auto calibers” must have come back with different results than that of the author.