Ally Abrams is on the hunt for a new gun. More than that, actually. She’s on the hunt for her first gun. So, like many first-time gun buyers, she went to her local range, The Machine Gun Nest, because they have a lot of choices in a place where people can see and test them out.

In particular, Ally is interested in a handgun. She’s shot handguns before, but she’s not very experienced. As far as brand loyalty goes for guns, Ally is a blank slate. Which makes the local gun shop/range a perfect choice for her. 

Guns on a gun counter at a gun shop
First, it starts with understanding what guns are available. Here we have a Sig Sauer P320, Canik TP9SFX, Glock 19, Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ, and ,of course, a revolver because everyone gets told at some point they should get a revolver. (Photo: Don Summers/

At the gun shop, she can talk with people who can tell her what to look for based on her needs and what to avoid. It’s an easy place to get quick answers.

  • What types of handguns should she look at? Revolvers or semi-autos
  • What calibers should she pick? What should she avoid and why?
  • Should she stick with popular brands or possibly try something newer?
  • What type of ammo does she need for the range? What about self-defense ammo?
  • What capacity should she get?

When you’re starting with very little knowledge about a topic, it’s easy to think all the answers are online waiting for you with a simple five-word search. But that’s not always true nor is it always easy to cut through all the various opinions out there on the never-ending web. Just typing in “what gun should I buy” will probably send you down a long and confusing journey. 

On the other hand, in just a few minutes of talking with an instructor like Brian George at her gun shop, Ally at least had a working knowledge of what was available to her and some advice from someone more familiar with guns. Even better, she got to hit the range to test and pick her first handgun. Just check out the pictures below to see how it all turned out.

An instructor shows a new shooter how to find their dominate eye
A quick test to see which eye is dominant. (Photo: Don Summers/
A new shooter learns how to grip a pistol
Then some work on proper grip. (Photo: Don Summers/
Guns on a shooting table at the range
And to the range with a bunch of guns. (Photo: Don Summers/
A new shooter tests the Sig Sauer P320
First, it was time to take a crack at the modular Sig Sauer P320. (Photo: Don Summers/
A new shooter tests the Canik TP9SFX
Next, a quick test of a newer Canik TP9SFX with all the bells and whistles. (Photo: Don Summers/
A new shooter fires the Glock 19
Of course, you have to give the classic Glock 19 a test drive. It’s the middle of the road for price and has basic functions. But it has proven reliability. It’s normally Brian’s first pick for a first home defense gun. (Photo: Don Summers/
A new shooter fires a revolver
Then there’s the required range time with a revolver. But is it really the right choice for a first gun? (Photo: Don Summers/
A new shooter fires the M&P9 Shield EZ
Finally, the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ, which turned out to be Ally’s favorite because of the trigger, hand fit, sights, easy-to-rack slide, and an easy-to-load magazine. That’s the gun she finally settled on. (Photo: Don Summers/
A new shooter fires a M249 machine gun
The day didn’t quite end there. The last thing was to try some trigger time with a M249 machine gun. Nothing like the first time behind a machine gun to get you to fall in love with guns even more. (Photo: Don Summers/