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In this article, we’ll cover the top seven handguns ideal for beginners, focusing on their ease of use, safety features, and reliability. Each model is carefully reviewed, highlighting unique aspects like grip, trigger design, and recoil management, to help new shooters find a handgun that best fits their needs.
Compared to other firearms, handguns are the most accessible shooters one can buy.
Whether you plan on getting one for self-defense, as a sporting firearm, or for hunting, you’ll have to pick the best handgun for beginner shooters if you’re one.
As avid gun enthusiasts, we’ll let you in on a favorite. The Glock 19 Gen 5 is the best for beginners, mainly because of its moderate learning curve and safety features.
In this article, we run you through the 7 best handguns for beginners. You’ll also learn what every beginner should consider when choosing a gun. So, stick around to find out.
Glock 19 Gen 5
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Smith and Wesson M&P 9 2.0
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Springfield Armory XD Mod 2
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Sig Sauer P320 X Compact
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Heckler and Koch VP 9
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Here Are the Best Handgun for Beginners (Our Picks)
The following seven handguns are the most beginner-friendly firearms available. So let’s dive in to find out just what makes each of them so unique.
1. Glock 19 Gen 5
Capable of carrying 15 nine millimeter rounds, the Glock 19 is one of the most accessible handguns to use. Its exterior frame doesn’t have any safeties or decocking levers, letting the beginner focus on what’s important when carrying the gun for the first time: grip, trigger pull, and aim.
This handgun features a trigger with a reset that’s hard to miss, speeding enhancing the beginner’s accuracy in terms of follow-up shots. Additionally, the Glock 19’s grip is textured, providing a steady hold when it’s slick with moisture. Thanks to an ambidextrous slide stop, these handguns are also great for left-handed beginners.
Reloading the Glock 19 requires almost no time, thanks to its flared magwell, which gives it a better workspace. To easily find out how many rounds the gun has at any given time, Glock has added an orange follow on its magazines. It also comes with multiple replacement back straps, so the user can customize the grip’s size or increase the size of the beaver tail.
Finally, beginners will appreciate how easy it is to procure parts and other accessories (holsters, magazines, and more) for this handgun.
The Glock 19 Gen 5 is an excellent choice for beginners who want a handgun that’s easy to use, low-maintenance, and whose parts are widely available. Also read our list of 7 best lights for Glock 19.
2. Smith and Wesson M&P 9 2.0
The Smith and Wesson M&P 9 2.0 is a beginner-friendly handgun with features that work together to accelerate learning. For starters, its stainless steel chassis helps reduce flex. Next, a low barrel bore axis manages recoil.
Moreover, this handgun features a trigger pull weight that prevents the firearm from veering off target when fired, helping to improve the user’s aim. Additionally, the trigger reset provides an audible cue that helps improve the follow-up technique of the user.
It also comes with four interchangeable grip inserts, letting the user customize the gun’s fit as needed. For better accuracy, the M&P 9 2.0 is fitted with a 1 in 10 muzzle twist and an 18-degree grip angle that makes aiming more natural.
Furthermore, you can purchase the M&P 9 2.0 with or without an external thumb safety. It’s suitable for ambidextrous shooters, and you can flip its magazine release button to either side. Not to mention, it comes with two magazines capable of holding 17 rounds, and its frame contains metal rails that dull recoil when it’s fired.
The Smith and Wesson M&P 9 2.0 is an excellent handgun for beginners who want to learn fast. Shooters who are good with both hands will also appreciate the gun’s ambidextrous magazine release button.
3. Springfield Armory XD Mod 2
The XD Mod 2 comes with a backstrap safety that prevents the gun from firing if it isn’t gripped correctly. The handgun’s loaded chamber indicator prevents accidental misfires by informing the user whether it’s loaded or not. It also helps beginners develop good firearm maintenance habits.
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The interchangeable back straps that come with the gun make it easy to customize an exact fit for the palm of your hand. Also, Springfield Armory provides three magazines with the XD Mod.
For a gun that’s beginner-safe, you want the Springfield Armory XD Mod 2. You can take advantage of the handgun’s backstrap safety, which prevents discharge while the gun isn’t gripped well.
4. Sig Sauer P320 X Compact
Featuring a low-profile internal magazine and reduced fastback cut, the P320 X is extremely easy to conceal. In addition, the handgun’s beavertail has been extended, while its trigger sports a high undercut. Together, these features make the gun more comfortable to use and keep recoil under control.
Moreover, the 320 X Compact has two magazines capable of holding 15 rounds. To make it easy for the user to see in low light conditions, they have night sights (X-Ray3) installed. They’ll help with self defense if you’re faced with a home invasion in the early hours.
Finally, the P320 X Compact’s polymer frame is highly modular, meaning you can change its parts at will. For example, you can swap the gun’s grip for a different version that’s comfortable for the user.
The Sig Sauer P320 X Compact is a perfect firearm for beginners who want a gun that’s easily concealable and comfortable to use, thanks to its diminutive size and modular frame.
5. Heckler and Koch VP 9
With a full-sized handgun, you get a longer sight radius, thanks to the VP 9’s barrel length. In addition, the two rear and front sights help line up shots, improving your accuracy and vision in low-light situations.
Additionally, the VP 9 features a molded grip, allowing for a milder purchase. You can also customize the grip however you want using panels that come in small, medium, and large sizes. Furthermore, although this handgun is a lightweight 1.5 pound-machine, it manages recoil excellently, making it easier to handle.
This handgun also features two polymer wings positioned behind its slide and underneath the gun’s rear sights, making it easier to pull the slide back. This makes the VP 9 much simpler to operate. Finally, the loaded chamber indicator at the gun’s rear end makes for safer handling of the weapon by beginners.
The Heckler and Koch VP 9 is an excellent handgun for beginners who want to get a lot of practice. Its customizable grip also makes it a good choice for people who want a comfortable gun.
6. Springfield Armory Hellcat
The Hellcat’s frame features a stippled Adaptive Grip texture that makes the gun stick to the hand like glue. In addition, the gun’s beaver grip ensures a higher grip position that prevents the muzzle from rising during recoil. These two features make the Hellcat easier to wield when fired.
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Additionally, its trigger comes with a safety blade and has a pull weight of about 5 pounds and 7 ounces. This trigger safety makes shooting speedier and more precise. As for the trigger reset, it improves the beginner shooter’s recovery time.
Although the Hellcat is a micro handgun, Springfield Armory opted to incorporate a full-sized rail into the firearm’s design. This helps the beginner shooter with sighting their target, which improves their accuracy.
The Springfield Armory Hellcat’s Adaptive Grip texture is a one-of-a-kind feature for beginners who want a gun that handles well. The gun’s trigger safety blade also makes it a great option for beginner shooters who want to achieve speed and accuracy as quickly as possible.
7. Sig Sauer P365 XL
The Sig Sauer P365 XL features a magwell that facilitates loading a magazine into the handgun. Releasing the magazine is also very easy to do. It can hold 12 rounds in its chamber, and the gun’s longer slide makes for a better sight radius.
While the P365 XL is highly concealable, its grip is a great size, providing beginners with a good purchase on the handgun. It also has a texture akin to sandpaper, which makes holding the gun more effortless and more secure. Moreover, two large dimples on either side of the gun above the grip’s texture let the user adopt a higher hold for comfortable handling.
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In addition, this handgun sports a flat trigger that’s comfortable to pull (and interestingly improves on the P365’s). As for the gun’s modular design, it means the user can change the length of the barrel and slide to their liking.
Thanks to its small size and textured grip, the Sig Sauer P365 XL offers beginners concealability and comfort. The handgun’s easy to use magwell helps beginners learn the mechanics of loading and reloading quicker, and its longer slide helps improve aim and accuracy.
Buying Guide: How to Choose a Beginner Handgun
Choosing a beginner handgun involves considering factors like caliber size, which affects recoil and handling. A proper fit to the shooter’s hand, ease of use, and maintenance requirements are also important. Safety features, such as manual safeties and integrated lock systems, provide added security for new shooters. It’s crucial to select a handgun that aligns with the individual’s comfort level and intended use, be it for self-defense or target shooting.
When choosing your first handgun, there are a couple of things you need to consider, including:
Caliber refers to the measurements of the handgun’s bullets, described in inches. Additionally, handgun calibers can also be categorized by size: small, medium, or large.
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Guns designated for large calibers tend to be larger, and they may not be the best choice for beginners due to how difficult they can be to handle. To explain, as the size of the gun’s caliber goes up, so does the gun’s recoil, making it a little more difficult for the gun’s frame to absorb impact.
As a beginner, it’s highly recommended that you choose a handgun that comes with a safety mechanism. That’s because it prevents accidental discharges, whether they’re caused by human error or otherwise.
There are two reasons a handgun’s size is a crucial consideration beginners must make note of. The first is that it determines how well it manages recoil.
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The second is that the bigger the handgun, the less concealable it is. Therefore, consider a subcompact or compact handgun if you’re looking for better concealability when carried in public.
If you find yourself dealing with a home invasion in the dead of night, you’ll want your handgun to have rear and front sights to make defending yourself a little easier.
Revolver or Semi-auto
Handguns come in two categories: revolver and semi-automatic. Of the two, revolvers tend to be more beginner-friendly. They also contain fewer moving parts than semi-automatic handguns. Moreover, they’re less prone to malfunction and are cheaper to purchase if you’re on a budget.
Meanwhile, semi-automatic handguns have a higher capacity for ammunition, ergonomic designs, and the ability to reload faster. They also make better self-defense firearms.
Before buying a handgun, you’ll need to make sure you comply with your state’s laws with regards to training and licensing if you intend on carrying your handgun in public.
Additionally, you’ll need to decide how to carry your handgun, whether concealed or open carry. Each requires a license you’ll need to have on you whenever you’re out and about with your handgun.
This consideration is especially true for beginners whose reason for getting a handgun is self-defense. You’ll want the gun to work when it’s supposed to and not disappoint. This relies on several factors.
For instance, a handgun with poorly made materials won’t be very reliable, as it’ll be prone to malfunctions and breaking. Otherwise, the way the gun fits your hand is critical. For instance, is it too bulky for your hand? If so, it won’t give you the needed control over the gun.
Ease of Use
A handgun’s ease of use is essential because it determines how quickly the user can become comfortable using it.
The above is especially true for beginners who get a handgun for defensive purposes. Additionally, complicated safety mechanisms and disassembly will make maintenance a chore.
Purpose of Firearm
Keep your reason for getting the handgun and the handgun’s intended usage in mind when making a buying decision. For example, a gun meant for conceal carry differs from one used for hunting or sport.
As far as handguns go, the best one for beginners is the Glock 19 Gen 5. Extremely reliable, easy to use, and sporting widely available parts, this semi-automatic handgun triumphs over the others in almost every way.
Being one of the most accessible handguns for beginners, the Glock 19’s collective features help improve beginners’ accuracy, follow-up, reload speed, and gun-handling practices. It’s also highly customizable in a way the other guns on this list can’t compete with.
If you’re a beginner looking to get a handgun, we highly recommend that you select the Glock 19 as your gateway gun, especially if you’re getting one for self-defense.