In a previous post, I discussed some of my criteria for choosing a handgun. If you’ve made your decision and picked one up, or maybe you’ve made your decision and you’re just waiting to be able to leave your house again to pick one up, let’s take a minute to talk about some of the other stuff you’ll need.
I know money can be tight, so I’m not going to explore the myriad of accessories that are available today. Instead I’m going to focus on the basics – what do you need to be able to practice and get better with your gun.
Your eyes and your ears are important. Get something to protect them. Ranges won’t let you shoot without both eye and ear protection, and you shouldn’t shoot without them anyway, even if you’re in a buddy’s back yard. Your eye protection should meet ANSI Z87.1 at a minimum. Even better would be glasses that meet MIL-PRF-31013. I would honestly recommend getting glasses from the Army’s APEL (Authorized Protective Eyewear List). They probably won’t be cheap, but neither will losing an eye.
For ear protection, I prefer amplified over-the-ear protection, especially if I’m shooting indoors. I typically do double protection (soft plugs with over-the-ear muffs) indoors, and frequently do it outdoors as well. For beginning shooters, I recommend a pair of Howard Leight Impact Sports. They are under $75 normally and have amplification so you can hear range commands. If you really want to make them comfortable, get a headband wrap from OC Tactical and a pair of Noisefighters gel pads. They’ll keep your ear protection comfortable all day long.
Holster, Ammunition, Magazines, Cleaning Kit
If you plan on carrying your gun, you’ll need a holster and some defensive ammunition. If you’re going to practice or take a class, you’ll need a holster, a magazine carrier, extra magazines, and practice ammunition.
For practice or classes, pick up some full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets. It’s not really a big deal as far as the weight of the bullet, in general. Just something that makes the gun go bang. For carry or home defense, however, make sure you get a quality hollow point round. Also make sure you test your defensive ammunition in your gun to ensure function and get a feel for the round. Some defensive rounds are a little snappier than standard FMJ, so shooting them just gives you an awareness of that factor.
I covered ammunition a little more in-depth here, so swing on over and check that article out.
For your first holster, I’d recommend a quality, basic holster like those from Priority 1 Holsters. To be honest, you’re going to probably go through several holsters before you decide on the one that is right for you, but they’re a great place to start. I personally recommend an Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster with their Tuckable Belt Clips or soft loops. You may decide that their holsters are the perfect ones for you, or you may decide to move on later, but they’re a solid option for a beginner.
I would probably pick up at least a single magazine holder while you’re there as well. You’ll definitely need one for classes, and it doesn’t hurt to carry a spare magazine when you conceal, either.
Most handguns come with 2-3 magazines out of the box. I typically recommend 3-5 per handgun for classes/spares/range time. I would go with factory magazines as a general rule, but I have also had success with Magpul magazines for Glocks and MecGar magazines for Sig Sauers, Berettas, 1911s, and CZs. Of these three items, I would focus your money on the holster/magazine holder and ammunition. Extra magazines are nice, and they’ll help at classes, but they aren’t necessarily a “gotta have.”
Not going to get too in-depth on this one, but make sure you have something to keep your gun clean and lubricated. Unless your owner’s manual makes a specific recommendation, I use basic CLP for both cleaning and lubing, and an off-the-shelf cleaning kit with patches from any hunting store. The one change that I do make to the cleaning kit is replacing the loop with a jag. I feel it gives a better clean than the loop.
This is something you really need to budget for. I’m writing a set of blog posts for new guns owners, but to really improve, you need face to face training that will provide you feedback on your performance. Start basic, learn how your gun functions and how to run it. Once you have a solid foundation, you can look at specialty courses for defensive carry, home defense, speed shooting, competition, or whatever your interest is.
I’m not going to lie to you – quality training can get expensive. But if you are serious about defending yourself or someone you love with your gun, you need quality training. Bite the bullet, so to speak, and save up. I cannot emphasize the importance of quality training enough to you.
Like I said in the beginning, I didn’t spend any time on modifications to your gun. That’s because I firmly believe that you should learn to shoot your gun stock before you modify it. This helps you to learn the ins and outs of your gun and make more informed decisions on what modifications you actually need/want. Besides, there are so many modifications there’s no way to cover it in one post.
So I stuck with the bare essentials you need to get on your way to being a better shooter. I hope this has been useful for you. If you enjoyed, give us a follow and a share. Social media really limits our ability to advertise, and organic shares always have the biggest impact. If you think I missed something or have a question, drop a comment below. Alternatively, you can contact me via my Facebook page, Google Hangout, or email at guntoter.official (at) gmail.com. I also have a Patreon page now if you would like to support the site.
Thanks for reading!