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Beginner’s Arsenal: Best Guns for Novice Shooters

Stepping into the world of firearms is no small decision. You’re not just picking out a tool; you’re selecting a companion for your safety, your sport, and in some cases, your survival. We’re here to break down for you what makes a solid beginner gun as well as recommend the best starter models.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • 9mm pistols are the best for EDC, vehicle security, and home protection. The best starter pistols are Glock 17 or Sig P320.
  • An AR-15 rifle chambered for 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem cartridge, like the S&W M&P15 Sport III, is a great option for home protection and target shooting. Rifles are generally easier to shoot accurately and generate less felt recoil.
  • Ruger 10/22 chambered for the .22LR low-power rimfire cartridge is a great way to start your shooting journey if you want a rifle that is soft-kicking and quiet and has more classic ergonomics.
  • Shotguns in the Mossberg 500 or 590 series are great for beginner shotgun hunters or those looking for a home defense gun that doesn’t require good marksmanship.

Ideal Beginner Gun – What Should It Be?

Pistols: If you’ve found yourself here, chances are you’re on the fence about which type of firearm fits your future needs best. Handguns, especially semi-auto pistols, are prime picks for everyday carry and situations requiring agility, like home defense, vehicle defense, and close-quarter battle (CQB). That said, handguns do have their limitations. Their shorter barrels limit the effective range and make accurate aiming a tad more challenging due to the short sight radius. Additionally, handguns designed for more powerful rounds like .45 ACP, .357 Mag, and 10mm can be challenging to manage because of their recoil.

Rifles: Rifles offer a significant step up in power and accuracy, with effective ranges extending to 300-600 yards and beyond, thanks to longer barrels that help with bullet stabilization and building up pressure. They’re generally easier to shoot accurately and manageably. For home defense, rifles with barrels around 16-18 inches are spot on. And if you’re thinking about hunting or precision shooting, you need to go longer.

AR-pistols and short-barreled rifles (SBR) offer a middle ground, mixing the maneuverability of handguns with the power of rifles, though legal hurdles can complicate ownership.

Shotguns: They are kings of versatility, useful in a range of activities from home defense to hunting various types of game. Planning on hunting? Make sure you’ve got your shot pattern right, so you don’t ruin your game. As for home protection and target shooting, accuracy isn’t as critical with shotguns, making them a solid choice for beginners.

Best Guns for Beginner Gun Owners

At this point, you might now have a better grasp of what suits your needs best. Next up, we’re going to provide recommendations for the best starter guns ideal for beginner shooters.

Best Beginner Pistols: Glock 17 or Sig P320


There’s always a heated debate between two camps over which brand is truly the best. However, it’s clear that both Glock and Sig Sauer produce pistols that are reliable, durable, and highly customizable.

The Glock 17 (or G17) and the Sig Sauer P320 are full-size pistols, each offering significant advantages for beginners. Full-size pistols are easier to control because the mass of the pistol absorbs a good bit of the recoil. They are easier to be accurate with thanks to longer slides, not to mention both models offer 17 rounds of capacity with a standard magazine. A longer barrel means more power and better accuracy over greater distances. Plus, both the G17 and the SIG P320 are chambered in 9mm Luger – the most balanced and versatile cartridge out there.

Curious about choosing the right beginner handgun? Check out our guide on Choosing the Best Defense Handgun for a Beginner. It dives deeper into pistol frame sizes and other essential factors.

Now, comparing the G17 to the P320, you’ll find each has unique advantages and trade-offs. Glocks are the workhorses of the pistol world – rugged, reliable, and with rather simplistic aesthetics, all at an affordable price range. They’re known to handle thousands of rounds without a hiccup and can take a good amount of abuse. Another advantage is the vast aftermarket for parts, upgrades, and customizations. Here’s an example. Glocks are known for their mediocre trigger feel out of the box. So when you get the basics down and figure out what you’d like to improve, there are plenty of aftermarket options available to you.

If the Glock’s aesthetic and ergonomics don’t appeal to you, the Sig P320 might be more to your liking. Right out of the box, it’s a solid full-size pistol with an appealing design and reliable performance. Like the Glock, the P320 boasts strong aftermarket support. Plus, it offers a modular design that lets you easily switch frame sizes to suit your preference.

Both the G17 and P320 are DAO (Double Action Only) pistols, meaning they have internal safeties and no external safeties to fuss with. This design choice means there’s nothing to forget to disengage in a tense moment or slow you down. Still, if you’re set on having a manual safety, Sig Sauer also provides the M17, a military version of the P320 with that feature.

Why We Love the Glock 17:

  • Reliability and Durability: Known for being able to handle thousands of rounds without any issues, making it a reliable choice for both beginners and seasoned shooters.
  • Simplicity and Affordability: With its no-frills design and affordable price range, it’s an accessible firearm for those new to shooting.
  • Customization Options: A vast aftermarket allows for numerous upgrades and customizations, catering to the user’s preferences over time.
  • No External Safety: DAO design with internal safeties simplifies use.

Why We Love the Sig Sauer P320:

  • Modular Design: Allows for easy transition between frame sizes, making it versatile for different hand sizes and shooting preferences.
  • Out-of-the-Box Performance: Delivers reliable performance and an appealing design, providing a solid starting point for any beginner.
  • Aftermarket Support: Like the Glock, enjoys strong aftermarket support for parts and customizations, enhancing its longevity and adaptability.
  • No External Safety: DAO design with internal safeties simplifies use.

Other Options:

SIG P320 Starter Pack





P320 OWB Holster

Holosun 507K

9mm Cleaning Kit

Best Beginner AR-15: Smith & Wesson M&P Sport III

When you’re starting out in the gun world, you’re probably looking for something that won’t break the bank but still has all the right stuff to get you going. That’s where the third-gen M&P15 Sport from Smith & Wesson shines. Priced comfortably under $1,000 — actually, you can grab one for around $650 to $700 — it’s a solid pick without feeling like you’re cutting corners.

Sure, there are other rifles like the PSA M4 Carbine from Palmetto State Armory that come in even cheaper, under $500. But the M&P15 Sport III has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it’s got a mid-length gas system. This is key for a 16-inch barrel since it not only makes the rifle last longer but also gives you a smoother shooting experience. Plus, the 1:8 twist rate is versatile enough to handle loads as light as 55gr M193 bullets and as heavy as 90gr, making it great for experimenting with different types of ammo.

This AR-15 rifle also boasts a 15” free-floating M-LOK handguard, which means you can attach all sorts of accessories. Plus, it’s got a full-length pic rail on top for when you want to add optics — especially handy since it doesn’t come with iron sights. And with a 6-position collapsible stock, you can adjust it to just the right fit. Sure, you might find cheaper models out there, but the M&P15 Sport III’s blend of softer recoil, versatility, and must-have features like the M-LOK handguard and adjustable stock makes it an awesome choice for anyone just getting into shooting.

Why We Love the S&W M&P15 Sport III

  • Affordably Priced: At under $1,000, often between $650 to $700, it’s a high-value option for beginners.
  • Mid-Length Gas System: Enhances durability and provides a smoother shooting experience.
  • Versatile 1:8 Twist Rate: Suitable for a wide range of ammunition, from light 55gr M193 bullets to heavier 90gr rounds.
  • Other Features: 15” free-floating M-LOK handguard, full-length Picatinnyicatinny rail, 6-position collapsible stock.

Other Options:

  • PSA 16″ M4 Carbine
  • Aero Precision Aero AC-15M
  • IWI Zion-15

AR-15 Starter Pack

S&W M&P15 sport 3

S&W M&P15 Sport III


SIG SAUER ROMEO5XDR Gen II Red Dot Sight with Juliet 5

Red Dot Combo

MAGPUL AR/M4 PMAG 30 GEN M3 5.56x45 Magazine With Window

30rd Magazine

UTG AR15 Cleaning Kit

AR Cleaning Kit

Best Beginner .22 Rifle: Ruger 10/22


If you’re looking for a classic semi-auto rifle that’s perfect for beginners, the Ruger 10/22 is hard to beat. This rifle is a legend, making it an awesome choice for teaching both kids and adults the ropes of shooting sports. The Ruger 10/22 fires the .22LR round, which is super cheap and has almost no kick, plus it’s really quiet. However, keep in mind, that the .22LR is a low-power cartridge, and its effective range tops out at about 150 yards. While it might not be your go-to for self-defense, especially compared to rounds like the .223 Rem or 9mm, it’s still not something you’d want to be on the receiving end of.

With the .22LR, you’re all set to join rimfire competitions, go after small game, or just have fun plinking in the backyard. Ruger offers a bunch of different 10/22 models so you can find one that’s just right for you. Whether it’s the 10/22 Carbine with its classic looks and versatility, the 10/22 Target for hitting bulls-eyes, or the 10/22 Tactical for competition use, Ruger’s got you covered.

All in all, the Ruger 10/22 is a solid, well-balanced rifle that packs reliable performance and up-to-date features into a classic design.

Why We Love the Ruger 10/22

  • Perfect for Beginners: With minimal recoil (.22LR round) and a quiet operation, it’s an ideal firearm for teaching new shooters the basics.
  • Versatility in Use: Whether you’re interested in rimfire competitions, small game hunting, or backyard plinking, the 10/22 serves all purposes well.
  • Affordability of Ammunition: The cost-effectiveness of .22LR rounds means you can shoot more for less, perfect for extensive practice sessions without breaking the bank.
  • Variety of Models Available: Ruger offers multiple versions of the 10/22 to fit every shooter’s need, from the classic Carbine to the precision-focused Target model, and the competition-ready Tactical version.
  • Unmatched Durability and Performance: Known for its reliability and solid construction, the Ruger 10/22 ensures a long-lasting shooting experience with consistent performance.

Other Options:

Ruger 10/22 .22 LR Rifle Starter Pack

RUGER 10/22 Takedown 22 LR

RUGER 10/22 Takedown


PROMAG Ruger 10/22 22 LR 55rd drum mag

55rd Drum Mag

VORTEX Crossfire II 2-7x32mm rimfire scope

Rimfire Scope

universal gun cleaning kit

Cleaning Kit

Best Beginner Shotgun: Mossberg 500/590


Talking about shotguns and not bringing up the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870 series is nearly impossible. They’re both standout choices for newbies and honestly, picking between them often boils down to which brand you vibe with more rather than a clear winner in performance. Lately, though, a lot of shooters are leaning towards the Mossberg, saying it’s more consistent in quality. Plus, Mossberg 500/590 shotguns sport a couple of user-friendly features like the more convenient location of the safety and slide release as well as a skeletonized always-up shell lifter that allows you to load shells and clear malfunctions easier.

The Mossberg 500 and 590 shotgun series are loved for their straightforward, pump-action design. It means they’re easy to use thanks to fewer moving parts, weigh less compared to semi-autos, and are pretty darn durable. Both series come decked out with features that make life easier, like ambidextrous safeties and anti-jam elevators.

When it comes down to what you’ll use it for, the Mossberg 500 is your go-to for hunting. It comes in a bunch of camo options plus wood and black synthetic stocks, and its lightweight build and longer barrel make aiming and control easier.

If you’re gearing up for home defense or tactical purposes, the Mossberg 590 is where it’s at. It’s decked out for customization, built to take whatever comes its way, and boasts a higher shell capacity. And if a compact, easy-to-maneuver shotgun for tight spots is what you need, the Mossberg 590 Shockwave is legendary. Though it might take some getting used to, it’s surprisingly manageable once you get the hang of it.

Why We Love the Mossberg 500 and 590 Series

  • Consistent Quality: Many shooters express a preference for Mossberg over other brands for its consistent quality across models.
  • User-Friendly Features: The conveniently located safety and slide release, coupled with a skeletonized always-up shell lifter, make the Mossberg series exceptionally easy to load and clear.
  • Pump-Action Design: This design ensures fewer moving parts, lighter weight, and remarkable durability in both the 500 and 590 series.
  • Versatility for Hunting and Tactical Use: The Mossberg 500 is ideal for hunting, available in various camo, wood, and black synthetic stocks. In contrast, the Mossberg 590 suits home defense or tactical scenarios, boasting customization options and a higher shell capacity.

Other Options:

Considering a shotgun for home protection? Read our guide on the Best Home Defense Shotguns.

Mossberg 590 Shockwave Starter Pack

MOSSBERG 590 Shockwave 12Ga 14.3in

MOSSBERG 590 Shockwave


Mossberg 590 light mount

Forend Light

Side Saddle, 9 Shell

Side Saddle

Shotgun Sling

Shotgun Sling


The fit of a gun is determined by how well your hand can grip it, your ability to reach the trigger comfortably, and how natural it feels when aiming. The right gun should feel like an extension of your hand; it shouldn’t feel too heavy or awkward.

Yes, it is highly recommended to take a firearm safety course, even if it’s not legally required in your area. These courses provide essential information about safe handling, storing, and operating firearms. They also often cover local gun laws, which is crucial knowledge for any gun owner.

The 9mm Luger is a popular choice due to its balance of recoil, size, and power. It’s manageable for most new shooters, widely available, and is used in a variety of handgun sizes. This caliber allows beginners to practice effectively without being overwhelmed by recoil. 5.56/.223 as well as .22LR are good rifle calibers.

It’s advisable to clean your gun after every use to ensure it operates correctly and safely. If you’re not using your gun frequently, a thorough cleaning and inspection every few months is recommended. Regular maintenance prevents the buildup of residues and corrosion, prolonging the life of your firearm.

Yes, you can purchase a gun online, for example, on, but it must be shipped to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder, usually a gun store, where you can pick it up. You’ll need to complete the necessary background checks and paperwork at the FFL, just as if you were buying a gun in a store.

This depends on your comfort level and the intended use of the firearm. Some people prefer the added precaution of the manual safety, especially if they are new to handling guns or if there are children in the home. Others prefer firearms without manual safeties for simpler operation.

Safe gun storage is essential for preventing accidents and unauthorized access. Options include gun safes, lockboxes, and safety locks that prevent the gun from being fired. It’s also advisable to store ammunition separately from the firearm.

The cost of a reliable beginner firearm varies widely, typically ranging from $400 to $800. While it might be tempting to go for a cheaper option, investing in a good-quality firearm from a reputable manufacturer ensures reliability, safety, and a better shooting experience.

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