Beginner Handguns: Top 5 Best Beginner Handguns for 2023

What are the best beginner handguns? The choices might seem overwhelming for those stepping into this for the first time.

Do you go for the allure of the name – perhaps a well-regarded Glock or the finesse of a Sig? Or do you prioritize compactness for concealed carry?

With so many handgun calibers, sizes, and brands, hitting the bullseye with your first purchase is crucial.

Best Beginner Handguns

Best Beginner Handguns for 2023

Navigating the world of firearms can be overwhelming, especially for those new to the scene.

Recognizing this challenge, we've meticulously researched, tested, and evaluated numerous models to present you with our top 5 choices of best beginner handguns.

Our aim is to streamline your decision-making process, ensuring that you're equipped with comprehensive information on each firearm's functionality, ease of use, and overall performance.

By highlighting these select models, we're ensuring that your first foray into the world of handguns is both rewarding and well-informed.

Please remember, when practicing with your beginner handgun, always remember to protect your ears while shooting, as this is vital for long-term hearing preservation.

Best Beginner Handgun #1 - Glock 19 Gen 5

Meet the Glock 19 Gen 5 - often hailed as the "Goldilocks" of pistols. Why? Because it's just right in so many ways.

Think of it as the younger sibling to the Glock 17, boasting a slightly more compact design with a shorter grip and barrel/slide length. But don't let its smaller stature fool you.

While it might be more compact, the Glock 19 delivers a shooting experience that rivals full-sized pistols.

It's a gun that finds that sweet spot - powerful and precise like bigger models, yet more balanced and comfortable in the hand, making it especially well-suited for the 9mm cartridge.

This balance between size and performance is precisely why the G19 has carved out a special place in the hearts of gun enthusiasts. It embodies Glock's renowned reliability and design excellence packed into a more manageable frame.

best beginner handguns

Best Beginner Handgun #2 - Sig Sauer P320

Sig Sauer P320 stands as a robust challenger to the Glock's dominance. At first glance, they share striking similarities - both boast a durable polymer frame and utilize striker-fired mechanisms. But as you delve deeper, the distinctions begin to emerge.

What sets the Sig 320 apart? For starters, it has heightened modularity and the availability of manual safety options. While seemingly small, these tweaks offer shooters a level of customization rarely seen in other pistols.

The U.S. Military's recent selection of the Sig P320 to replace the Beretta M9 is a testament to its outstanding capabilities and reliability.

This pistol offers top-tier construction, a comfortable grip, and a surprising magazine capacity—all in a lightweight and adjustable design.

As for its ammunition, it uses the standard 9MM round, a favorite among novices for its manageable recoil.

While its price tag is a bit steep, reflecting the Sig Sauer brand's prestige, the P320 justifies every penny. As a tried and true pistol, it caters to various uses. It remains competitively priced against similarly specked handguns, typically hovering over $500.

best beginner handguns

Best Beginner Handguns #3 - Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0

When it comes to versatility and craftsmanship, the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 stands out. As the latest gem in the M&P (an acronym for "Military & Police") polymer pistol series, this beginner handgun has been crafted with a range of users in mind - from personal concealed carry enthusiasts to professionals in the line of duty.

One of its standout features is its accessibility. Even for someone new to firearms, the M&P M2.0 feels inviting. It fits comfortably in hand, presenting an ergonomic design that naturally instills confidence.

Its grip, robust and steady, makes even first-timers feel in control. Complementing this is Smith & Wesson's signature smooth trigger pull, which promises accuracy with every shot.

The M&P M2.0 isn't just a one-size-fits-all affair. Depending on the chosen model, its magazine capacity varies, ranging from 7 or 8+1 to a generous 17+1, ensuring a fit for every user's preference.

While tradition roots deep in the M&P line, Smith and Wesson have ensured it evolves with the times.

Recent additions like the Shield Plus, the powerful 10mm, a specialized competition variant, and the particularly user-friendly Shield EZ (a boon for those who find racking standard pistols challenging) attest to this commitment to innovation.

The M&P series has been a trusted choice for law enforcement for years. The 2.0 continues this legacy. Remarkably, it maintains most dimensions from its predecessor, ensuring compatibility with holsters, accessories, and even magazines from the original M&P series.

Finally, a note on its origin: the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 is proudly made in the USA, further sealing its reputation as a reliable and authentic firearm choice.

best beginner handguns

Best Beginner Handgun #4 - Glock 43

A compact, striker-fired, 9mm pistol, the G43's polymer frame offers a perfect blend of lightweight construction and robust durability.

Its manageable recoil and unwavering reliability make it an ideal candidate for both a bedside companion and a concealed carry choice.

Some might even argue convincingly that the G43 stands unchallenged as the best single-stack 9mm carry pistol available.

Even though Glock's foray into the smaller, single-stack 9mm handgun realm may have been a tad later than other brands, the delay has yet to impact the brilliance of this Austrian marvel.

To understand the reliability of the Glock, a glance into the annals of handgun history might reveal the iconic Glock logo. The G43 continues this tradition by providing steadfast reliability in a design that's all about discretion and concealability.

Iconic Glock features enthusiasts have come to admire, such as the integrated safety system to avert unintentional discharges, an ambidextrous slide stop, and a reversible magazine release button, are all neatly packaged in the G43.

Its trim design, with a maximum width of just an inch at the grip's broadest part, positions it as a top contender for those seeking to marry their concealed carry license with a 9mm Glock pistol.

Moreover, the Glock 43's slender silhouette ensures a snug fit in virtually any hand. Its design, devoid of finger grooves, promotes an easy and firm grip.
However, this sleek design does mean a slightly reduced magazine capacity – housing just six rounds.

For those who find the grip a bit compact, the Glock 43X bridges the gap by combining the G43's compactness with the grip of the Glock 19.

best beginner handguns

Best Beginner Handgun #5 - Ruger LCR9 (9mm)

While semi-automatics often steal the limelight, no discussion about beginner-friendly firearms can overlook the steadfast reliability of a revolver. And that brings us to the Ruger LCR9, a modern take on a time-tested formula.

Compact with its 4.5" height and a petite 1.87" barrel, the LCR9 is designed with concealed carry in mind.

The beauty of a revolver, especially for novices, lies in its straightforwardness. Point, pull the trigger, and shoot. That's it. No fussing over safeties or jammed cartridges.

Ruger has always had a knack for producing guns that resonate with the masses. Still, it's essential to remember that smaller revolvers, especially the snub-nosed variety like the LCR9, can come with a robust recoil.

To Ruger's credit, they've implemented technology in the LCR9 to minimize the perceived kickback. Still, as a new shooter, it's something to be aware of.

One of the standout features of the LCR9 is its double-action-only (DAO) trigger. The longer pull is a safety measure, significantly reducing the chances of unintentional firing.

Combine this safety feature with the formidable stopping power of the LCR9, and it's evident why this revolver is a top recommendation for newcomers to the world of handguns.

best beginner handguns

*Note: As a beginner, familiarizing yourself with essential gun safety rules is imperative, forming the foundation for responsible and safe handgun use.

Essential Features of Handguns for Beginners

When getting a beginner handgun, you should consider a few key features:


This is about how big or small the gun is. A good size will fit comfortably in your hand and won't feel too heavy.


This refers to the size of the bullet the gun uses. For beginners, you want something manageable but also want to ensure it's effective.


This fancy word is about how the gun feels in your hand. It should be comfortable and easy to hold, especially when shooting.


You want a gun that works well every time you use it—no jams or problems, especially in crucial moments.


Like shopping for anything else, you must consider your budget. Good guns are in all price ranges, so pick what you can afford.

Finding the Right Handgun Size for Comfort and Confidence

Selecting the right handgun size is crucial, particularly for concealed carry. The ideal handgun should feel like a natural extension of your hand, ensuring not only comfort but also boosting your confidence and effectiveness in using it.

A well-fitting handgun allows you to easily access and operate all controls - the trigger, safety, and magazine release - without needing to adjust your grip. This is particularly important for beginners who are still developing their handling skills.

For those new to firearms or looking to refine their handgun selection, expert guidance is invaluable. Visiting a gun store with a wide selection or a range that offers rentals can provide hands-on experience with various models. This is crucial in understanding how different sizes and fits can impact your control and comfort.

For example, larger handguns, like the Cool Python, may suit those with bigger hands, offering ease of control and operation. Conversely, these might be cumbersome for individuals with smaller hands, affecting their ability to reach the trigger comfortably or manage the gun's weight.

Manufacturers such as CZ and Dan Wesson cater to this diversity by offering handguns in various sizes. The CZ SP-01 Tactical, for instance, is often preferred by those with larger hands due to its superior grip and control. On the other hand, smaller handguns like the Dan Wesson ECO, Glock 42, and Springfield 911 are designed for smaller hands, with features like magazine extenders to improve grip.

The key is to find a handgun that fits your hand and meets your needs, such as for concealed carry. A well-fitted handgun should allow effortless operation of all its functions, which is critical in self-defense situations.

To gain deeper insights into gun fitting and make an informed decision, our online 'Firearm Confidence Course' includes a comprehensive module on Gun Fitting. Our experienced instructors, Candy and Hunter, will guide you through selecting the right handgun size, ensuring your choice provides both comfort and confidence for concealed carry.

firearms confidence course

A Pistol for a First Firearm?

Is getting a pistol as your first firearm a good idea? It is. Pistol is a popular and wise choice for many reasons.

Size and Handling

Among the many gun types, pistols are often the most manageable, especially for beginners. Specific sizes are comfortable for most hands and don't kick back too hard. These characteristics make them easier to shoot and learn with.

Safety and Concealed Carry

Another advantage of pistols is that you can carry them hidden, a practice known as "concealed carry." Concealed carry means you can keep a gun for protection but don't make others nervous. Pistols are perfect for this because they're small.

Learning the Rules

While concealed carry can be handy, knowing the rules is essential. Different places have their laws about carrying guns. Some might require permits, while others might have zones where guns aren't allowed.

Understanding the etiquette at the range is as crucial as selecting your first handgun, ensuring a respectful and safe environment for everyone.

Variety and Options

Pistols come in various styles, brands, and sizes. Whether you're drawn to a well-known brand like Sig Sauer or interested in specific features, there's likely a pistol that fits what you're looking for.

Carrying and Storage Solutions: Tactical Backpack & Hard Carrying Case

In the world of firearms, the gun is only a part of the equation. Ensuring you have a reliable and safe means of transporting and storing both your handguns and shooting gear is equally vital. Luckily, we have a solution for this!

TradeSmart Gun Backpack

TradeSmart Tactical Backpack, designed meticulously with the shooter in mind, boasts multiple compartments tailored for various shooting gear.
Its specialized pockets and impressive high capacity can comfortably hold 50+ pounds without any distortion in shape.

The branded YKK heavy-duty zippers and the resilient Cordura™ fabric complement its durability.

For those concerned about security, the 'Anti-Theft' pocket discreetly nestled behind the lower back ensures that your handguns remain safely concealed from prying eyes.

And to top it off, a generous 10-year warranty provides peace of mind.

TRADESMART tactical backpack

TRADESMART tactical backpack

TradeSmart Carrying Case

On the other hand, the TradeSmart Hard Carrying Case is a testament to convenience and safety. With heavy-duty stitching ensuring longevity, this case is specially designed to house essential shooting accessories like safety glasses and earmuffs.

The open mesh pockets keep your gear organized, and the option to choose from a vibrant range of five colors adds a personal touch.

Like its backpack counterpart, this case also promises a decade of reliability with its 10-year warranty.

In a nutshell, these carrying solutions don't just protect your prized handguns and gear; they amplify your shooting experience by keeping everything organized, accessible, and secure.

hard carrying case


With many options, each boasting different features and advantages, finding a firearm that aligns with your needs, comfort, and budget is crucial.

Each pistol offers unique attributes tailored for various users, from the dependable Glock 19 Gen 5 to the versatile Ruger LCR9.

The Sig Sauer P320 and Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 further prove that the market is flooded with quality choices suitable for newcomers.

Yet, a comprehensive handgun experience doesn't end at the firearm alone. Proper storage and carrying solutions, like TradeSmart Tactical Backpack, ensure safety, organization, and accessibility.

As you grow more comfortable with your handgun, you might want to step into competitive shooting, where you can test your skills and precision under different scenarios.

Remember that choosing the suitable handgun and accessories isn't just about the specs and reviews. It's about finding what resonates with you, ensuring safety, and enhancing your shooting experience.

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