Hand with a gun

What you need to do after buying a new gun

In this post I’ll show you what you’ll need to know to safely own and effectively use your new fire arm.

These are the same skills I use and are those recommended by qualified safety instructors.

Ready to begin? Let’s go.

Safety – your first concern

One of the first things you should review, after buying a new gun, is the standard safety rules that are relevant to all firearms.  Safety is critical.

Here’s a summary of the basic rules:

Rule #1 – All guns are Always loaded – Always. This simply means you must always treat every gun as if it’s loaded. Always assume that every gun you come into contact with is loaded until you have physically verified it for yourself. Don’t ever rely on anyone’s word for it. When you hold a gun in your hand, you are responsible for it and anything that occurs while in your possession. If you don’t know how a gun works, leave it alone, and find a knowledgeable person to show you.

Rule #2 – Never point a firearm at anything you’re not willing to shoot – Ever. You must always be aware of where your gun is pointed at all times. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy. This is the rule that saves lives – if it’s too dark to see DON’T SHOOT – and get a light. You MUST exercise due caution and diligence when handling a firearm.

Rule #3 – Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard. Always keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until your sights are on target, and you have made the conscious decision to shoot. If you have your finger on the trigger and you are startled in some way, your brain will react with a primitive response that will tighten every muscle in the body, including the trigger finger.

Rule #4 – Be sure of your target and what’s beyond and around it. The hand that holds the gun is responsible for whatever is done by that gun. If you fire a gun, you are responsible – no matter where it lands or what it hits. You must know where your shot will go when you fire it. You must know what it might hit if you miss your intended target. And you must know what it can go through and still have enough energy/power to kill or hurt.

Rule #5 – Always lock up your guns. Always keep your firearms locked. As a responsible gun owner, you know that your gun is always loaded (refer to Rule #1), but not everyone is aware of these rules. Children are naturally curious and there’s always a chance someone could find your firearms.

A quick tip. People often think their guns are unloaded when they are actually loaded. This can be an extremely dangerous mistake. If you have a semi-automatic gun, simply removing the magazine does not ensure that the weapon is unloaded. You will need to rack the slide to eject any round and inspect the chamber to ensure that the handgun is unloaded.

Understand how guns work

Generally, handguns are either semi-automatics or revolvers. The difference is in how the ammo is stored – semi-automatics have the rounds held in a magazine while the revolver holds ammo in a cylinder. Here is an excellent and quick video that illustrates both the parts of a semi-automatic weapon and how it works.

Store your handgun in a safe

The two primary goals of storing your handgun are to make it accessible to an authorized user and in-assessable to all unauthorized users. In other words, in case of an emergency, you need quick access yet you need to ensure that children are not able to access the gun. The best way to do this is to have your weapon ready and cocked in an approved safe that is within your control and accessible.

Trigger locks can be used for short-term security but they violate the goal of accessibility. Additionally, having a gun unloaded also violates the accessibility rule. The most viable solution is a safe, and to further enhance the inability of unauthorized persons to access the safe it may be desirable to bolt the safe to a non-movable location.

I have used a number of safes and the only one I use and recommend is the Sentry Biometric handgun safe below. This safe works both in biometric and combination modes and has a solid construction which makes unauthorized access improvable. Other safes are simply made too thin.

Learn how to use your handgun and practice

Purchasing a handgun is a commitment to safety and security. It’s not like buying an insurance policy where you make your purchase and just leave it alone. There is a certain amount of commitment that is required.

Believe it or not, not all handguns are created equally, and unfortunately, some will not work properly. It is incumbent upon you to practice with your handgun both to improve your safety skills and to make sure that the weapon operates properly.

Going to the range does not need to be intimidating. There are certain accessories you will need such as ear and eye protection but all ranges will have these available to rent until you decide to make any additional purchases.

Here’s a post that discusses some of the equipment you may need for your range practice sessions.

Use a light

You may read the occasional story, of how some homeowner accidentally shot an intruder who turned out to be his son. How did that happen?

I’ll tell you. Most incursions occur in the evening – when it’s dark. In most situations, a homeowner, fearing for the safety of their family shoots at an intruder without fully seeing who the intruder is. Why? Because it’s too dark.

This is stupid and tragic.

Please, whatever you do, put a light on your weapon. There is no excuse for shooting at anything when you don’t even know what it is. It’s dangerous, tragic, and dumb.

Forget handheld lights, although it’s important that you have that type of light available – go for a weapon-mounted light. Unless you are trained as an FBI agent, holding a handgun in one hand and a light in the other is just not the way to go.

Have the light mounted on the handgun and ready to work. The light I recommend has permanent, temporary, and disabling strobe capabilities. You can review it below.

Not all ammo is the same

Just as you need to understand the various parts of your handgun, it is also necessary to understand what ammo to use. Different ammo is available for target practice and for self-defense. Here’s an article which not only explains the differences but addresses how to go about obtaining ammunition during periods of low inventory availability.

Learn to clean your handgun

Finally, it is important to keep your weapon clean and I have an article that addresses both how to clean your handgun as well as what tools you may need to perform periodic cleanings.


Owning a handgun is an awesome responsibility. It may also be the last line of defense to protect you and your family.

Understanding the safety rules, how guns work, your best storage solutions, and making an effort to practice and learn will go a long way to ensuring your new purchase will be a positive experience and not a disaster. It’s up to you.