The Best Guns for Beginners

The Best Guns for Beginners (2024)

Publushed by:

Mathew R Reed

Last updated:

Best Handgun: Glock 43

Short summary

A new gun owner likely wants to start small when they’re testing the waters, and the Glock 43 is the perfect way to do this. This subcompact 9mm pistol has everything you need in a reliable and petite firearm, with an overall length of 6.26 inches and weighing just 17.95oz with an empty magazine.

It’s a compact and crisp single stack pistol that’s also rated as one of the best self-defense guns for beginners.

What makes this such a hit is that it’s easy to hold, which means someone who’s never handled a gun before will find it a cinch. 

If you’ve been around guns for years there’s a good chance you’ll find the compact-sized pistol a little awkward to manage, but the smaller size works in its favor when you’re dealing with a new shooter.

Another great thing about the Glock 43 is its trigger, which is another bonus for someone who’s never fired a gun before. 

Even expert users find it to be a crisp and clean trigger pull and although it’s rated as a standard 5.5lbs, it seems to be much higher than this. With a trigger this efficient, it helps the entire shot to be pulled off perfectly.

The Glock 43 is exceptional for concealed carry thanks to its size and you’ll find it hides away easily just about anywhere. 

If you want to defense yourself the CCW compatibility is a major factor and the 43 certainly offers it. Having something this easy to access means you can act quickly in an emergency, and if you’re looking for your first gun, this type of reliability is critical.

The main disadvantage of this firearm is its low round capacity, with just six shots available at one time. As a new gun user you might not realize the downside to this and if you’re not that confident with your shot yet, it could be a big negative. 

As you only have six shots, you’ll want to make sure you’re right on target, otherwise, there’ll be some time spent inserting the spare magazine.

The smaller size and low capacity of the Glock 43 make it a pretty niche weapon and it would only be suitable for someone looking for the most compact concealed carry weapon to suit either a beginner or pro. 

Otherwise, there are other guns out there that have a larger size and greater magazine that can fulfill your wishes.

Glock is known as one of the most reliable handgun makers of all time and it’s this reputation that makes their 43 the best. 

With a small size, comfortable grip, and easy execution, there’s a lot to love about this single stack pistol, and it’s easily our pick for one of the best defense guns for beginners.

Quick Facts

  • Type: Pistol
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 6+1


  • Easy to hold
  • Crisp and clean trigger
  • Good for concealed carry


  • Low round capacity

Runner Up: Taurus G3

Short summary

If you’re looking for a beginner gun that has a few more bells and whistles, the G3 by Taurus is a full-sized pistol with a lot to offer.

The G3 has a length of 7.28 inches, 4-inch barrel, and 15+1 round capacity, giving you plenty to work with.

It’s made with a matte stainless-steel finish and black design and is chambered for 9mm Luger so it’s a versatile weapon that works in just about any setting you need it to.

The sheer number of extra features this gun has makes it a favorite among everyone from beginners to pros, and when you consider the price point, it’s even more amazing. 

For around half the price of other leading handguns, you’ll get a gun with front and rear three-dot sights, Picatinny rail, and polymer frame. 

Taurus has managed to cram quite a few features in and still make this a dependable and quality firearm.

The Taurus G3 is pretty lightweight considering its full-size frame, so it’s easy to carry and hold without feeling burdened. 

The G3 is around 25oz without any ammunition, and even though it’s light, it still feels well made. If you’re looking for a good in-between of a lightweight compact pistol and a full framed heavier one, this is the perfect solution.

For a new shooter though, you may find its full size a little intimidating, and even hard to get a grip on. 

While it’s a good idea to learn on a standard sized pistol and then see what else is out there, feeling this for the first time and trying to get both of your hands into a comfortable position could be a turn off for some, especially if you’re petite. 

This type of gun is probably better suited to beginners that can handle something larger.

Another downside to consider is that the Taurus G3’s trigger needs some work, and it has an obvious take-up that could be distracting. 

If you’ve never shot a gun before and don’t have anything to compare to, this might not be much of a big deal, but considering you need your trigger on point, it could work against you also.

All in all, the Taurus G3 is a full-sized pistol with plenty to offer and no shortage of features. For its price range, it’s exceptional value, and if you’re hoping to get a quality gun for your first firearm but don’t want to break the bank, you’ll find a lot of joy here. 

Although it’s not the right size for petite users, it won’t take long for others to get used to its wider-than-average grip.

Quick Facts

  • Type: Pistol
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 15+1


  • Front and rear three-dot sights
  • Polymer frame
  • Picatinny rail


  • To big for people with small hands

Best Rifle: Ruger American 380 Rifle

Short summary

Not every beginner gun owner wants a pistol, so if a rifle seems more your style, our favorite pick is the Ruger American .308. The 308 rifle from Ruger is lightweight at just over 6lbs, uses .308 Winchester rounds, and has an overall length of 42 inches.

 If you want to get started with a rifle but don’t want to spend a fortune, this is a well-made piece of machinery that can show you the ropes.

What people love most about this gun is its suitability for hunting and especially as a first-time hunting gun. 

If you’re looking for yourself or someone else, it ticks all of the boxes for one of the best deer hunting guns for beginners. The rifle is easy to handle, lightweight and has perfect accuracy up to around 100 yards. 

Even with minimal practice, you might be surprised at how well you can aim with the Ruger American Rifle.

This famous rifle is also loved for the extra features that make it even better value for money. The Ruger American has a free floating midweight barrel, slide bolt release, scope rail, adjustable trigger, and removable rotary mag, which are all features you’d expect to see on a rifle that costs double what this one does. 

Although it doesn’t look that flashy at first glance, there’s a lot to uncover about it once you start exploring.

This rifle feels a little cheap because of its light weight and if you’ve ever used one of Ruger’s more expensive firearms before you’ll notice the difference right away. 

They’ve tried to cut costs and some areas are made with cheaper alternative parts, so it’s not going to be as bulky. However, this flimsiness won’t be as noticeable and it certainly doesn’t mean the rifle has no staying power.

The Ruger American 308 takes some getting used to if you want to prevent issues, primarily when it comes to the action. 

According to reviews, you’ll need to work it quickly otherwise the spent casings will fall back into the action each time you try to eject them. 

This can be a major pain when you’re in the middle of firing so you have to make sure you’re moving the action constantly to avoid it.

This is an affordable, lightweight, and easy to handle rifle that would be a dream come true for a beginner. 

Ruger’s American rifles are an institution in this country and if you want to get your hands on the 308 and see what all the fuss is about, it’s an entry level firearm that can show you what this gunmaker is capable of.

Quick Facts

  • Type: Rifle
  • Caliber: .308
  • Capacity: 4


  • Easy to handle
  • Lightweight
  • Perfect accuracy up to around 100 yards


  • Casings can fall back in action while ejecting them

Runner Up: Howa M1550 Gameking

Short summary

Howa is a renowned Japanese manufacturer of firearms and their M1500 Gameking is a bolt action rifle that you might not have heard much about here in the US. This .270 Winchester rifle is a smart buy for beginners and includes a Zerolok base and ring, as well as a Nikko Stirling Gameking 3.5-10×44 scope all in one package.

It’s a heftier 9.4lbs with a length of just over 42 inches, so there’s nothing compact about it.

One of the coolest features of this gun is that it comes with a three-position safety which can be a huge payoff when you’re hunting. 

Using this, you can unload the rifle while it’s positioned in safe mode or lock the bolt, so it’s a much safer way to operate. 

Better still, adjusting the safety lever is whisper quiet but you can still get a good feel on what’s happening as you shift your way through these three positions.

According to customers the Howa M1500 has an exceptional trigger that makes it even easier to shoot with minimal experience. 

Even those with lots of practice found the trigger smooth and without any need for upgrades or adjustments. If you’re interested in buying your first hunting rifle specifically, you’ll find the trigger seems to be made exactly for this scenario.

On the downside, the recoil is pretty intense in this rifle and when you’re brand new to firing guns like rifles, this could be a bigger upset. Although Howa has included a recoil pad with the firearm, it does nothing to stop it. 

You’ll need to be prepared for the response when you fire this gun and spend some time getting used to the kickback before you ever plan on using it in a real-life situation.

There were also some concerns about the lack of checking on the grip, with most guns usually preferring to take this approach. Instead, Howa has used more of a raised grid and place it on the fore-end and grip. 

While they had hoped it would provide a better grip for the user, it ends up feeling a little awkward, and means you have to work harder to keep a hold of the rifle than you would otherwise.

Overall, the Howa M1500 is a force to be reckoned with a smart buy for anyone looking for their first rifle that has all of the necessary components included. 

There were some letdowns with the design but it still managed to smash the competition in price and extra features. If you’re looking for a rifle as your first firearm and want to keep things simple, the Howa M1500 270 Winchester is up there with the best of the best.

One of the best things about this gun is that it includes optics with it, and you’ll find the Crimson Trace micro red dot that’s included with it great for lining up a shot. 

Customers found it incredibly accurate and because it’s already attached there’s no need for other accessories. If the battery runs out when you least expect it, the positioning of this red dot optic is low enough that you can still utilize the iron sight accurately.

The comfort and grip of this firearm are second to none and with most women wanting something they can use ergonomically for the most accurate shot, you’ll be thrilled at how the Springfield Armory XD-S feels as well. 

The unique grip texture used on the Mod.2 is an upgrade and it means your hands and fingers stay exactly where you need them to without feeling stuck.

One of the main complaints with the weapon was the optic accessory, but more accurately, the cover on it. Users found that even when stored away, the optic was prone to falling off which meant it would sometimes get lost as well. for a gun in this price range, you’d hope that basic pieces like this would be durable, but it appears they’re not. Although the red dot sight itself was a huge benefit, this one little error lost it some points, and we’re hoping for an upgrade in the next generation.

As a smaller gun, it’s probably not a surprise that the round capacity on this isn’t as great as it could be and may leave you wanting more. 

The Springfield Armory XD-S has 9+1 capacity so while it’s not the lowest of the guns we’ve reviewed, it’s also not the highest. Think about where and how you’ll be using your gun and the likelihood that you’ll rely on more rounds than this, and consider whether this gun can deliver.

The Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 is a single stack 9mm Pistol that’s smaller than the competition but still packs a punch. 

If you want something truly compact but don’t want to sacrifice any other features, this is one to add to your arsenal. 

Ask any woman who’s tried one before and they’ll tell you that the XD-S Mod.2 feels as though it’s custom-made and comfortable for any firearm-owning woman of the world.

Quick Facts

  • Type: Rifle
  • Caliber: .270 Winchester
  • Capacity: 5+1


  • Three-position safety
  • Exceptional trigger
  • Recoil pad included


  • Strong recoil

Best Shotgun: EAA Churchill Shotgun

Short summary

Your very first shotgun is one you’ll never forget, but if you don’t want to spend hundreds on an entry level model, the EAA Churchill is the way to go. This 12-gauge pump-action shotgun is simple, effective, and features bead sights and a cross-bolt safety, just to name a few.

The overall weight of the shotgun is a compact 6.4lbs and its barrel measures 18.5 inches, with just a five-round capacity for this piece.

The best thing about the EAA Churchill is how short and light it is which makes it perfect for someone who’s never owned a gun before, let alone a shotgun

This is exactly the type of gun you want to learn on and it’s versatile enough to be used for target practice, home defense, or hunting, so you’re getting extra bang for buck choosing this. You can get a solid grip on it and hold it comfortably so that all your attention is on lining up the shot.

The price for performance factor of the EAA Churchill is another selling point that makes it especially appealing to beginners. 

There’s no need to spend big to get a quality pump-action shotgun like this and if it’s the first piece you’re adding to your arsenal, especially not. Even though it’s cost-effective, it’s also full of features you would normally find on a more expensive model, which means great value for money.

On the downside though, it’s not designed for constant shooting as some of the parts tend to heat up. 

Customers noted that the receiver especially got hot after repeated shots as it’s made of aluminum, which makes the whole thing a bother to hold. Be prepared to take a break if you’re using the EAA Churchill for target practice so you can give it time to cool down.

Another negative is that the plastic parts can wear down after some use as well, so it’s not designed to be a lifetime investment. Some people noted that the pump plastic was the first to go after a few years of use. 

This is the perfect shotgun for beginners and to test the waters until you find out what more you want from a firearm, so don’t purchase it and expect it’ll stand the test of time.

The EAA Churchill is an affordable, entry level shotgun for beginners, but it’s lacking some of the quality that others have. 

While there’s still plenty to love about it and no shortage of extra features, you will have to be careful handling it. If a shotgun is more your style but you don’t know where to start looking for one, the Churchill is a simple solution.

Quick Facts

  • Type: Shotgun
  • Caliber: 12 gauge
  • Capacity: 5


  • 12-gauge
  • Short
  • Lightweight


  • Tends to overheat

Guns For Beginners FAQs

Any time you get a new gun it requires a lot of thought and research, and this is especially true when it’s your very first one.

If you’re looking for an entry level firearm and have no idea where to get started, check out these FAQs and answers that can help you learn about guns for beginners and give you a push in the right direction.

What Should I Look For In First Handgun?

To find a suitable first handgun, the best place to start is by thinking about the purpose the gun will have and whether it’ll be fired just for target practice, self and home defense, or something else entirely.

Secondly, practice with a range of firearms and hold them in your hands to see what you find most comfortable, as each person reacts differently and will want to know that their chosen weapon is a good fit.

What Is The Simplest Gun?

There are some guns easier than others to fire but it depends on the individual as well.

Semi-automatic pistols with a rack that’s easy to slide are some of the simplest modern guns that can be used for self and home defense, but others may find a semi-automatic rifle easier in terms of reloading.

Are Starter Pistols Legal?

A starter pistol is the same type of blank handgun used to signify that a race is starting, and as long as they’re not modified, they’re legal to own in the US.

These pistols aren’t able to fire bullets in the traditional way, and to prevent this, some sort of obstruction may be welded inside the barrel of the gun.

Can You Design A Gun?

It is possible to modify certain firearms in the US whether for cosmetic or practical purposes, but there are limitations and regulations on exactly what modifications you can do.

Before attempting to design or customize a weapon, check the laws in your state to see what’s allowed, and ensure all works carried out are done safely and professionally.

Your Entry to the World of Firearms

The first gun you own should be a memorable one, but not for all of the wrong reasons, so it pays to do your research and take your time finding the right fit.

There’s no need to get a dud as your first and our top picks for the most popular beginner guns show that it’s easy to do without breaking the bank, no matter the type of firearm you’re after.


Glock 43

Minimal recoil

Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.