Image by Oleg Volk. Used with permission.

by Nick Klementzos
America had eight point four million first-time gun owners in 2020. Seeing that, it surely seems like America has a massive swell of people joining the ranks of those wanting to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s a big responsibility, but Americans aren’t timid, nor do they cower well.

Indeed, protecting one’s self and family truly remains an awesome responsibility. If this describes you, great! However, you should know that in addition to acquiring the tools and equipment necessary for this mission, it remains equally important to get educated in the safe and effective handling of your firearm(s).

Unlike college courses, you don’t have to spend a fortune or a lot of time to get up to speed. The National Rifle Association and Project Appleseed both have great training programs that won’t break the bank. A day or two will help you learn the fundamentals of safely using your new firearm.

What are some firearms you should look to acquire?

A quality .22 long rifle. semi-auto rifle that takes detachable box magazine. Highly recommend the Ruger 10/22. Yes, other choices exist in the marketplace. Or you can seek out a quality bolt-action .22. Get extra magazines for either (a minimum of four total). Why? You can learn the fundamentals of shooting using this rifle then carry that over to a center-fire rifle.

A quality .22lr semi auto pistol.  Given the scarcity of center-fire handgun ammo, a rimfire pistol will prove a valuable acquisition to help you learn and refine your handgun skills. Stick with known companies like Ruger, Taurus, Smith & Wesson. Remember: 4 magazines for semi-autos.

A quality pump shotgun, ideally in 20 gauge.  Preferably in a youth stock model too. Can’t find these? Then a 12-gauge will work. I prefer Mossberg 500s, but Remington 870s are great also (and Remington will start making them again March 1). Stick with the 20 gauge if you can. Nothing wrong with 12 gauge, but the 20 is just as effective and lighter for smaller / younger people. Why a shotgun? It’s the most powerful, shoulder-fired firearm you can buy. It’s devastatingly effective at short ranges and novices can deploy them effectively with just a little coaching.

Image by Oleg Volk. Used with permission.

A quality center-fire self-defense pistol.  There are so many to choose from, but stick with good ones. Taurus, Canik, Smith & Wesson, Walther, Glock, Sig, Springfield, Beretta, Ruger to name a few. I like 9mm Lugers but .38 Special, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and even .380 ACP can get the job done. I know John Boch recommends a minimum of three magazines, but I’m strongly urging you to get a minimum of four mags while you can.

And lastly: a good service-caliber rifle/carbine.  They don’t call the AR-15 “America’s favorite rifle” for nothing, folks. There are a ton of manufacturers and very few of them suck. Don’t like the AR? They get a Mini-14 or a commie AK-47-style rifle. Stay away from Century Arms imports, in my opinion. Don’t like semi-autos or want to hedge against semi-auto gun bans? Then get a good lever-action or bolt rifle.

Dont get lost in buying the latest and greatest wizbang guns and gear. Avoid the exotic guns that you can’t find holsters that fit. Buy quality – the best you can afford. Taurus makes some great, affordably-priced handguns for the budget consumer. Finding affordable guns (or any guns) right now can be taxing at the moment but stick with the plan.

If you have to hold off until you can afford to get something better than a Hi-Point pistol, then do so. Buy once, cry once.

Practice. Practice.  Practice!
Dry fire. You should dry fire at least 10 times for every live round you let loose downrange. Especially with the scarcity of ammo at the present time.

When you go to the range limit yourself to 50 or 100 rounds. Don’t be a bonehead spraying and praying.

Load your magazines with only 4-5 rounds at a time. Why? You want to get accustomed to reloading your gun(s) when they run dry. Take your time make each and every shot count. You can look all tactical and cool but if you miss your target the people around you will laugh at you – not with you. And you will waste training time, money and ammo. Only hits count. Misses? Not so much.

It’s definitely difficult right now to find ammo, but buy ammo priced at sane prices whenever you can. Ammo scarcity will not get better in the foreseeable future.

Get educated in the use of your battery of firearms.  Spring and summer will be here before you know it.  I hope you will be able to come and shoot with GSL Defense Training and learn not only how to defend your loved ones but more importantly how to legally and ethically use force in the last resort.