A couple of weeks back, I suggested a handgun as the ideal first gun for a neophyte prepper. Maybe folks got hung up on the word “prepper” a bit too much, I don’t know, but it seemed that most folks tended to have a different opinion on what the ideal weapon was.

Fair enough.

While I understood the people suggesting .22 long rifle weapons–hey, seriously, low recoil makes for a more pleasant training environment–most suggested things like shotguns. However, I argue that you’re going to get far more use out of a handgun than anything else. It’s prepping for what they’re most likely to need, rather than the worst case scenario.

You can fill in for the rest later, in my opinion.

Today, I feel at least a little vindicated since Greg Ellifritz suggests handguns as first guns too.

It’s true that in a short range gunfight, a shotgun is certainly more effective than a handgun and arguably more effective than even a rifle.  There is a small allowable margin of error in aiming afforded by the spread of the pellets, but it is far less than what most people think.

Even with these admirable qualities, I don’t think the shotgun is the ideal FIRST weapon.  It is powerful, but the blast and recoil are very intimidating to first time shooters.  Besides that, it isn’t very portable or concealable.

For a first gun, you want something versatile.  You may only be interested in home protection right now, but in the future you may want to actually carry the weapon out in public.  Unless you are walking through the hunting fields, the shotgun doesn’t make a good public carry weapon.  Even if you never plan on carrying a weapon out in public, you may have to carry it around your house.  Trust me when I say that it is difficult and tiring to search for criminals inside a building while carrying a shotgun.  The long barrel makes it difficult to open and close doors and gives your position away when it extends around a corner before you do.

If you are moving around or carrying the weapon in public, you’ll want a handgun.  I have nothing against the shotgun or battle rifle (and own several of each), but I think the handgun is your best choice for a first weapon.  It is also much easier to find quality handgun training than training with the shotgun or rifle.  Practice will be easier as well since many public shooting ranges ONLY allow handguns.

Now, Greg brings up some points that I didn’t mention, including a few I didn’t even think about, but it’s good to feel validated.

His post is rather lengthy, but filled with really good information. Of particular interest are his suggestions of what to buy. Here, he departs a bit from what I suggested so far as calibers go, being far more trusting of mouse gun calibers than I am, but it’s a quibble. He also seems to suggest revolvers for the more casual gun owner where as I tend to suggest semi-autos as a general thing, but it’s not a difference I think really matters. He supports his suggest with reasonable points, though.

With this in mind, what do you think? Should the handgun be the first firearm purchase, and if not, why?