With the Christmas shopping season coming I want to relay an important message to men who wish to buy their loved ones their first firearm.

In nearly every class I teach I encounter the same problem – women show up with a very small handgun which was either bought for them by a loving spouse/friend/etc or by them because it was sold to them by a dealer that was also wrong in suggesting such a small gun – as a first gun.

Here’s the thing – I ALWAYS find that a beginner in the handgun shooting sports will be able to control a medium or full sized gun much sooner and with more enjoyment than a sub-compact or micro gun!


Because when you stuff the energy of a 9mm or a .380 ACP into an incredibly small package of a one-pound of gun, the amount of felt recoil is astoundingly huge compared to the same ammo in a two-pound gun – the heavier gun absorbs the recoil for you instead of your hands and arms.

That, along with the notoriously small and difficult to see sights, small handgrip, and (usually) terrible trigger all adds up to a horrible experience for a newcomer to the game.  The last thing you want to do is scare off a new shooter due to excessive recoil, right?

A larger gun usually benefits from exactly the opposite of all those attributes.

A longer barrel means more sight picture control along with less power needed to rack the slide.  A bigger grip works better on nearly EVERY set of hands I have seen, regardless of how small you think your hands are.  (Ok, disclaimer.  I admit that after teaching about 1,300 people (64% of them women and over 55% new to the game) how to shoot or shoot better I have encountered a few mutants with both ridiculously large or small mitts, but seriously, perhaps a dozen or so!)   More weight in the firearm allows more control while pressing the trigger and many times the trigger is just better in larger guns.

Here are some ways to approach this deal.

Don’t think that buying her her first gun means she will only own one for her whole shooting career.  Do you own more than one?  Do you both have more than one pair of shoes?  Of course!  After you buy one for the “range and learning” she will then be more able to help herself figure out what her “carry/defense” gun might be.  Besides, guns and ammo are just like Jell-O – there’s always room for more.  So stop worrying over the “perfect first gun” or whatever, just get her to the range with a whole bunch of guns to experiment with and let her find what she likes – then go down that path.  Just because you are a guy and know everything about guns you must remember that a micro gun is not a beginner’s tool – even if it looks like a good fit in her smaller hands.

Unless you really do know what you are doing in instructing the most up-to-date techniques, please, take this advice seriously.

Hire a knowledgeable, experienced, certified instructor to get her started.  I suggest this because of many reasons, but one of the biggest is that hubbys make terrible teachers for their wives.  A quality training coach will also help with the basics that must be dealt with early on (the old “limp wrist” myth, 9 vs 40 vs 45, revolvers/automatics, safety, safety, safety, etc.).  Also, a quality trainer will teach her how to use her physical strengths and weaknesses for her fundamentals – grip, stance, trigger press, etc. in ways you may not be aware of and you want your NEWB to get started off correctly.  That way she will want to go back to the range more often and get better with her gun(s) so she can be more empowered to protect herself when you cannot be there for her.  Isn’t that why you want her to have a gun in the first place?

So, Merry Christmas, and good luck with your first gun-gift purchase.

One last suggestion – Apex Arms’ Concealed Carry and Shooting Fundamentals class is simply the best and most complete available anywhere in western Arizona and addresses all of the above issues and so much more.  All week long we will be selling gift certificates for this class (and or any other class you wish).  In this class we allow all the students the opportunity to shoot full, medium, small, and micro sized revolvers and autos at no extra fee – it is included.  Mention this article and I will knock 5% off for your Christmas gift certificate right up to Christmas Eve Day.

Jim Liesen, Apex Arms.  Don’t just own it, know how to use it!

NRA Range Safety Officer, Instructor for Pistol and Personal Protection Front Sight Instructional Staffer since 2011 Arizona, Nevada, Utah states certified for CCW, Armed Security, LEOSA (law enforcement national carry), USCCA Instructor and USPSA Competitor

“Apex Arms and all of our affiliated staff are dedicated to the highest safety standards and go to great lengths to make our classroom and ranges as safe as possible.”

Stay safe and we will see you on the range.

ApexArmsAz.com  Real Classroom + Real Curriculum + Real Rangetime = Real Confidence.