So You Got a Gun For Christmas. Now What?

Christmas presents under the tree

Christmas day brings a lot of new things to a lot of new people, and someone out there might well be getting their very first firearm.

That’s awesome! Welcome to the club.


Owning a gun is a wonderful thing and you’re going to enjoy the hell out of it. Going to the range isn’t just a training opportunity but a social opportunity as well. You’ll have the chance to meet new people and make new friends.

But owning a gun is also a responsibility. Not being a responsible gun owner doesn’t just mean you’re a jerk. It can result in injury or death for you or someone else.

So let’s start with the rudimentary basics. These are the Four Rules of Gun Safety.

  1. Always Keep Firearm Pointed in a Safe direction. Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot.
  2. Treat All Guns as Though They are Loaded.
  3. Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger until You are Ready to Shoot.
  4. Always Be Sure of Your Target and What’s Beyond It.

Keep these in mind always and forever and they won’t steer your wrong.

Yet this is the very tip of the iceberg. As a new gun owner, you need training. Where you get training probably depends on your background. If you were military or law enforcement, you probably got some basic firearm training along the way, which means you might not need the truly entry-level classes.

But I will suggest that you won’t be poorly served by those entry-level classes. If nothing else, they’ll serve as a refresher class.


One challenge for that is it’s difficult to know who is a competent instructor and who isn’t. Perhaps the easiest place to start, and a solid place, is with an NRA basic pistol or rifle course. The NRA has a standardized class and training program that will steer your right, especially at the beginning.

From there, you can look at places like Gunsite, Thunder Ranch,  or other top-notch training facilities or look at good places more regionally located. Those latter options are probably going to be the most cost-effective options for you, but do try to plan to get at least some training for the top tier places as well if you can.

After you book your class, you’re likely to have some time before the class starts, which means you have a chance to pick up some additional knowledge.

For that, I’m going to recommend a book from our own John Petrolino titled, Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & UseJohn is a friend and he and I tease one another all the time, but the truth is that this is the best general handbook for gun ownership out there in my opinion. Picking up a copy will teach basics of gun safety and use, sure, but it also includes such important things as how to maintain your firearm.


You’ll also want to get a gun cleaning kit. You’ll need it.

When shopping for one, you can get one meant for just a handful of handgun calibers–those are usually going to have a few listed because they’re roughly the same dimensions–or rifle calibers, which is fine if you’re only going to have one gun or stick to very limited calibers.

Otherwise, I recommend getting a universal kit that will cover a wide variety of guns.

You’ll also want patches, solvents like Hoppes No. 9, and you’ll also need gun oil as well.

Now, understand that this is meant as some very basic advice to get a brand new gun owner started. Some of this may make you think, “Yes, Tom, I know. I’m not an idiot,” but I promise you that there’s someone out there who got a gun today who hasn’t thought about any of this.

They know it now, and again, I’m glad to have them in the ranks of gun owners throughout this great land.

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