Budgeting Advice for the First Time Gun Owner

Being a gun owner myself, I have learned quite a few things over the years and I want to impart some wisdom (take it as it is) onto you, the soon-to-be gun owner.

So you are interested in buying a new firearm.  You’ve probably set yourself a budget (or had one assigned to you by your better half) and have been looking around.  Maybe you’ve seen some guns in the big-chain sporting goods store or perhaps you have a friend or family member who has enough inventory that they would be able to open their own store if they ever chose to.  Or perhaps you’ve just been doing some looking online, reading articles, reviews, and watching YouTube videos.  I sincerely hope you’ve done the latter as that is exactly why I am writing this now and plan to follow this up with a video detailing the same topic.

If I could go back to when I first started becoming interested in firearms I would like to sit down with myself and make sure I understood a few important things.  First and foremost would be to understand what firearm ownership really and truly entailed.  Sure, having a gun was “cool” when I was younger (thanks to the glorification in the Hollywood blockbusters), but I didn’t appreciate that having something like that immediately brought about a huge level of responsibility.  Would having known that stopped me from buying a gun?  Not in the least, I would have just liked to be prepared for that feeling.  I would also make sure that when I budgeted to buy a gun, I took into account all of the other things that go with it.  So that’s what I want to share with you today, the understanding of your budget as it pertains to your first firearm purchase.

When I was buying my first handgun I had set myself a budget of $300.  I had gone to a local gun shop and held a few different types and calibers and eventually settled on a Ruger P95DC chambered in 9×19 Luger (9mm).  Naturally, as we all have done, I went over my budget but only by $10 paying a final price of $310.  I was incredibly happy when I walked out of that store, grinning from ear to ear.  However, as happy as I was when I left the store I was just as disappointed when I got home.  Now you’re probably asking, “Why would you be disappointed?  Did you not like the gun?”  Truth be told, I have no idea if I liked the gun or not yet (though I did LOVE how it looked).  You see, I had only budgeted for the gun and not all that goes along with gun ownership so little things like ammunition got overlooked.  Here I was, I had this new firearm and I couldn’t shoot it.  Additionally, I had no place to store the gun, no holster in which to carry it, and only had 2 magazines (and they were 10-rounders thanks to the wonderful legislature in Massachusetts).

So, here is what I would tell you, the soon-to-be gun owner, when budgeting for your new firearm:

  1. Understand the intended purpose for the gun. Seems simple enough, but you can’t even begin to set a budget until you know what you want to do with it.  Will this be a house gun, a hunting rifle, a concealed carry pistol, a sporting shotgun, etc?
  2. Look at the wide range of cost within the category of intended purpose you’ve chosen. If, for instance, you have chosen a .45 caliber pistol for concealed carry you will see that you can spend as little as $200 on a Hi-Point firearm and well over $1,000 on a custom 1911-style pistol.  Also understand that just because a Hi-Point is very inexpensive does not necessarily mean it will not work and be reliable.  Sure they are not the most aesthetically pleasing, but they go bang.  Conversely do not assume that the $1,000 pistol will be the perfect fit for you, your needs, and your lifestyle.
  3. Understand the cost associated with the ammunition the firearm requires. As in the example mentioned before, the average cost of .45 caliber ammunition is significantly more than the cost of 9mm ammunition, to the tune of almost twice as expensive.  So, while you may have only spent $200 by purchasing the Hi-Point chambered in .45 and I spend $300 on my Ruger chambered in 9mm, after 450 rounds fired through each, your out of pocket expenses related to your firearm will be greater than mine.
    1. Also, I would always recommend a good set of “snap caps” or “dummy rounds” for any firearm purchased.
  4. While every firearm purchased today is sold with a locking device (trigger lock, cable lock, integrated locking systems such as Taurus) if you ever needed access to the gun for emergency purposes those wouldn’t allow for quick-deployment. It would be a good idea to purchase a good quality safe or locking metal cabinet/box.  If you have intentions of purchasing more than just that .45 caliber Hi-Point you may want to consider going for something bigger so you will only have to make this purchase once.
  5. When you purchase a gun you will most likely want to use it. Unless you have the luxury of many acres of land and your own, personal gun range you will need to transport it.  The next item you should strongly consider would be a holster (if for a pistol) or a bag/case (if for a long gun).  This will ensure the item can remain safely stored and locked up if desired or on your person.  The added benefit to the holster for a pistol would obviously be the ability to use it for concealment as well.  It’s worth noting that you will buy more than one holster for any pistol you buy, it just always seems to happen that way, so don’t worry too terribly much about your first holster purchase.
  6. Lastly, consider any accessories or after-market products you may want or need. These could include upgraded sights (night sights, etc), spare magazines, lights/lasers, rifle scopes, grips, bi-pods, and the list goes on and on.

That was a lot of information, I know, and hopefully I did not discourage you in any way from taking that next step and making a purchase.  Just understand that your budget of $500 will get you that gun you’ve wanted, but there is more than just the cost of the gun itself associated with firearm ownership.

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