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4 Best Handguns for Beginners

4 Best Handguns for Beginners

I always get the question about the best handguns for beginners, so I thought I would give you my opinion as a firearms retailer here in California. Please remember this is my opinion based on my experience.

The pistols I recommend for new shooters are based on what is available in California due to the California roster. Some of you may be wondering what is the California roster well, that is for a different article.

The order in which I talk about the positives and negatives of each pistol is in no way the order in which I recommend the Pistols. I have come up with this list based on what is available for Retail sale in California, including price, quality, ergonomics, adaptability, and my firearms retail experience.

Best Handguns for Beginners

Glock 17 is one of the best handguns for beginnersGlock 17 is one of the best handguns for beginners

Glock 17 (Gen. 3)

First on the list is the Glock 17 Gen 3. The glock is used by about 65% of all law enforcement agencies in the country, which is saying something. The reason why Law Enforcement loves Glock is that it is highly reliable and the performance is exceptional.

Glock 19 is a perfect first handgun for beginnersGlock 19 is a perfect first handgun for beginners

Glock 19 (Gen. 3)

Next the Glock 19 Gen 3. The positives and negatives are the same as the 17, with no differences other than the pistol sizes. However, the 19 is an excellent CCW pistol with the same price point as the 17. Also, you can get this exact size and dimension pistol in 40S&W, but it’s called the Glock 23.

The Glock only has a trigger safety which could be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it. The thing about the Glock 17 is it isn’t Sexy. It looks like a square piece of metal and plastic. Regarding ergonomics, folks with small hands generally find it an uncomfortable firearm to shoot. Glock only has a 1 Year warranty.

Glock is one of the most adaptable pistols on the market today. There are a lot of manufacturers that support the glock platform with thousands of aftermarket upgrades.

In summary, Glock produces excellent handguns that are reliable, but ugly. Not everyone will like the feel of the Glock 17 or 19, and we would like to see a better warranty on these pistols, but with a price point of around $550 (MSRP $599.00), they are well-priced pistols for the money. Plus, there is an endless amount of upgrades you can do to the Glock platform. Also, you can get these exact size and dimension handguns in 40S&W, but it’s called the Glock 22, and Glock 23, respectively.

Beretta PX4 StormBeretta PX4 Storm

Beretta PX4 Storm

Next is the Beretta PX4 Storm. The PX4 Storm is a great first-time pistol purchase that combines the newer look of a polymer pistol with older single/double action technologies. The PX4 storm has a physical safety/de-cocker. It comes with different back straps to help folks with varying hand sizes.

Since most pistols that have come out recently have been striker fire like the Glock, some consider the PX4 out of date, but the ergonomics and design of the pistol are better than the glock. Beretta only has a 1-year warranty on their pistol, and the average store price of the PX4 is $650. (MSRP$699) it is a pricer pistol. There are also fewer upgrades you can do to the PX4.

In summary, the PX4 is a reliable fun gun to shoot. When you pick the pistol up for the first time, you can feel the elegance in the pistol’s design and function. The downside is a more expensive gun. Also, because of its 10+ years of design, there is not as much aftermarket stuff to put on the weapon. The PX4 comes in both 9MM and 40 S&W.

Best Handgun for Beginners - Smith & Wesson ShieldBest Handgun for Beginners - Smith & Wesson Shield

Smith & Wesson Shield

Lastly, the Smith and Wesson Shield, Smith and Wesson shield is an excellent ergonomic CCW pistol. With a single stack, Magazine allows shooters with different size hands to have a comfortable grip. The Shield is probably the #1 sold CCW weapon in California, if not the U.S.

Smith and Wesson offer a 1-year warranty with a lifetime limited warranty. Because the Shield has been out so long, many companies are making aftermarket parts for this firearm. Also, since Smith has brought out Shield 2.0, which is almost identical to Shield 1.0, aftermarket parts for this gun should be plentiful for many years.

Some of the downfalls are due to the California Roster requirements. The Shield will not shoot if the Magazine is out of the weapon, which to me, is a terrible thing to do for a CCW weapon. Also, it is a good thing this pistol has a lot of aftermarket parts because the trigger is not great, and it should be replaced as soon as you can.

Overall the Smith Shield is a great first-time CCW purchase. You can do a lot of upgrading with the weapon, with many parts to choose from. It has a good warranty and a great price point of $499. (MSRP $512.00) You can get the Shield in both 9mm and 40 S&W.

Popular Calibers for Handguns

9mm Ammo


The 9mm caliber is widely regarded as an excellent choice for beginners due to its manageable recoil, wide availability, and affordability. It strikes a balance between magazine capacity and stopping power, making it suitable for self-defense and range practice. Its ammunition options are abundant. Its mild recoil and ease of use make the 9mm caliber a top recommendation for beginners.

.40 S&W Ammo

.40 S&W

The .40 S&W caliber provides a balance between the 9mm and .45 ACP. It offers a compromise between recoil, stopping power, and magazine capacity. However, the .40 S&W tends to have a snappier recoil compared to the 9mm, potentially impacting shooting comfort for beginners. Ammunition availability for .40 S&W may also be more limited compared to 9mm.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your First Handgun


When choosing your first handgun, paying attention to ergonomics is crucial for a comfortable and secure shooting experience. The ergonomics of a firearm directly impact how it feels in your hand and can significantly affect accuracy and control.

One of the key aspects of handgun ergonomics is finding a grip that fits your hand well. An optimal grip promotes proper alignment of the wrist, hand, and forearm, allowing for improved recoil management and follow-up shots. Look for handguns with various grip sizes and shapes to find the one that feels most natural and comfortable for you.

Texture is another vital consideration. A textured grip provides a non-slip surface, ensuring a firm hold even in adverse conditions or sweaty palms. This feature is particularly important for maintaining control and accuracy during extended shooting sessions or self-defense situations.

Furthermore, consider the availability of interchangeable backstraps or grip panels. These allow you to customize the grip size and shape to better suit your hand’s unique dimensions. Being able to tailor the grip to your specific needs can significantly enhance your shooting comfort and control.


A well-designed trigger can significantly enhance accuracy and ease of use, making it an essential consideration. Look for a handgun with a smooth and consistent trigger pull. A smooth trigger allows for better control and minimizes the chance of jerking the firearm during the crucial moment of firing. Consistency in the trigger pull ensures that each shot is delivered with the same level of force, resulting in more predictable and accurate shots.

For beginners, a lighter trigger pull weight is generally more suitable. It requires less force to pull the trigger, reducing the potential for involuntary movement or flinching. This lighter pull weight contributes to a more relaxed and controlled shooting experience, especially during extended practice sessions.

Remember, a good trigger is not just about ease of use, but also about enabling you to shoot more accurately. It allows you to focus on your sight alignment and target acquisition without the distraction or disruption of a heavy or inconsistent trigger.


Establishing a price range will help you explore options that align with your financial resources. However, keep in mind that the cost of the firearm itself is not the only expense to consider.

Begin by determining your overall budget, taking into account potential expenses beyond the initial firearm purchase. These may include ammunition, accessories like holsters or magazines, and training or certification courses. Factoring in these additional costs will give you a clearer picture of the overall investment required.

While it’s natural to seek the best value for your money, remember that quality and reliability are paramount when it comes to firearms. Ensure that you strike a balance between affordability and purchasing a firearm from a reputable manufacturer known for their reliability and customer support.

At Empire Guns & Ammo, we understand the importance of finding a handgun that meets your budget without compromising on quality. Our team is ready to assist you in exploring options within your price range, ensuring you make an informed decision.

Buy Your First Handgun at Empire Guns & Ammo

Shop for Your First Handgun at Empire Guns & Ammo

When selecting your first handgun, it is crucial to find a firearm that suits your needs and offers a beginner-friendly shooting experience. The Glock 17 and Glock 19, both chambered in 9mm, are highly recommended due to their reliability, ergonomics, and popularity among beginners. However, other options like the Sig Beretta PX4 Storm and Smith & Wesson Shield also provide excellent choices depending on personal preferences. Consider the popular calibers such as 9mm and .40 S&W, weighing factors such as recoil, capacity, and ammunition availability. Finally, prioritize factors like ergonomics, trigger quality, price, and accessory availability to ensure a well-rounded selection process.

Are you ready to take the first step towards owning your very own handgun? Visit Empire Guns & Ammo today and let our knowledgeable staff guide you in finding the perfect firearm for your needs. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced shooter, we have a wide selection of handguns, including the highly recommended Glock 17 and Glock 19 in 9mm. Experience top-notch customer service, explore various calibers, and discover the best deals on quality handguns. Your first handgun is waiting for you at Empire Guns & Ammo. Don’t miss out – visit us now and start your firearm journey with confidence!

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