Whether you are new to shooting or have been shooting for years, there are five essential firearms that you need to have. You might have WAY more than five already, that’s ok. Let me explain what these 5 particular ones are, why you need them, and my recommendations.
Category number one: 12 Gauge Shotgun!
The 12 gauge shotgun, preferably pump, is probably the most versatile gun you could buy, as well as the cheapest option to originally purchase, maintain, upgrade, and shoot. Another perk to the 12 gauge is that they are easy to shoot. Let me explain.
COST: You can purchase a 12 gauge for around 300 dollars new, add 50 for a barrel of a different length. Ammunition is about 6 dollars for a box of 25 target rounds and for defense rounds about a dollar per round.
VERSATILITY: I consider the 12 gauge shotgun to be the most versatile gun because it fulfills three different purposes. It is a great range gun, I could spend hours if not days at the range shooting clay targets thrown into the air. It is also a great home defense option, throwing on a shorter barrel and keeping it in the back of a closet, under the bed, or even beside the nightstand, with 3-5 rounds of 00 Buckshot in the tube will give you some peace of mind if anything happens to go bump in the night. The final use of a 12 gauge is for hunting, you can use a 12 gauge to hunt anything from deer to turkey to dove or quail.
EASE OF USE: A 12 Gauge is also one of the easiest guns to maintain, just a wipe down with an old rag, a dab of oil on moving parts and a quick patch down the barrel will keep your 12 gauge running like a champ for years. Takedown is very simple on almost all modern pump shotguns, you could trade barrels in 20 seconds. Finally learning to shoot a shotgun is super easy, and with the spread of a shotshell, you can hit targets much easier.
RECOMMENDATIONS: I recommend four models for new shooters
#1 Remington 870 express
- This is a great model for new shooters, try to get a pre-2007 model if you can, Remington got bought out by Freedom Group and quality control has declined. This is the #1 choice because of the availability of parts, affordability, and reliability of name (and warranty)
#2 Mossberg 500
- The Mossberg 500 is #2 on the list only because there are more aftermarket parts for the 870. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a new 500 would likely be better than a brand new 870. The 500 is a great gun and a very reliable one with a ton of aftermarket support.
#3 Benelli Nova/Supernova
- The Nova is a fantastic shotgun, they have great quality control and a great warranty. In my opinion, it is a better gun than the 500 or 870. There is not quite as much aftermarket as compared to the 500 or 870, however, there is still stuff out there. The price point is a little bit higher but still affordable.
#4 Stoeger P350
- This is actually the gun that I personally own to fill this category, Stoeger is owned by Benelli and the P350 is definitely a better gun than the older Novas, and cheaper! The reason that this is the last on the list is the parts availability. There is almost nothing aftermarket and the stuff that is out there is being clearanced out. If you are looking for a barebones get the job done gun this is for you.
Category two: Pistols!
A pistol is essential to your 5 gun loadout because of one reason, DEFENSE! While hunting with a pistol is possible, it can be difficult. The more accurate purpose of a pistol is to give you the opportunity to conceal your ability to defend yourself. For a first time shooter, I would recommend a “compact” size double-stack 9mm. Two things to note on this description. Firstly compact is a loose term in the world of firearms, go for a Glock 19 or something of similar size. I choose 9mm for a variety of reasons which I explain in a separate post, but to put it simply, reliability, affordability, ballistic capability, and abundance. Getting a pistol as your second gun is smart because after your first gun, you will know some of the shooting basics, and pistol shooting is much harder to master than rifle or shotgun shooting, so it gives you more time to become proficient as you train with your other firearms. Here are some of my recommendations for a good pistol for a new shooter.
#1 Glock 19
- This must be the most popular gun in the world with a name for reliability, and a massive aftermarket support system. IF you encounter any issues with this firearm there is someone out there that has had the same problem and fixed it.
#2 CZ P-10c
- This gun in my findings is a much better gun than the 19 for less money. It has better sights, a better grip angle, a beefier chamber, a longer sight radius, better trigger, and is 100% ambidextrous. The reason it is not in the #1 spot is that it does not have nearly as much aftermarket support as the Glock.
#3 Springfield XD series
- This is a very popular gun and a very reliable gun, in my opinion, it’s just mediocre all around. It doesn’t have anything that stands out except that it is alright at everything. The thing I don’t like about it is the grip safety, it’s not anything good or bad about the gun I just have a personal grudge against grip safeties. This gun gets the #3 spot because it is just mediocre, and there isn’t a ton of aftermarket like the Glock.
These are just the guns I wanted to expand on, don’t discount other models like the P320, the M&P 2.0, the FN 509, or the H&K VP9. These are all good guns, but if I took the time to describe every good gun, we’d be here a while.
#1 CZ 75
- This is a great pistol that has proven itself for years in the light of quality, rugged durability, and performance. It is a fantastic choice for aftermarket and replacement parts, a wide variety of holsters and a huge fan base. The downside to this pistol is that it is a bit heavy and larger than the aforementioned options.
#2 Beretta 92
- This is another fantastic model for a hammer-fired gun, again a bit large. The upside to this gun is that it is super durable and has huge support in the aftermarket and replacement parts markets.
Category 3: 22 Rifle
A 22 is needed in your 5-gun arsenal. A 22 is cheap to shoot, and ammo is widely available. A 22 is quiet and can be made quieter with a suppressor. 22s are awesome for small game hunting or practicing your fundamentals. There is practically no felt recoil which makes a .22 rifle one of the best options to introduce someone to the world of firearms. My recommendation is to buy a rimfire rifle chambered in .22 LR because the ammo is much cheaper and easier to find than .22 WSM or .17 HMR or any other rimfire variants. The only options I would really consider in the .22 category is something that is either made by Ruger or accepts the Ruger magazines.
#1 Ruger 10/22
- This is a great option because they are easy to find, have an abundance of parts and aftermarket support and have very few functioning issues. Mags are cheap and widely available and can be interchanged with all Ruger rimfire variants. There are plenty of different 10/22 submodels out there to fit anyone’s specific needs. These guns are also often put on sale so if you are patient you can normally find one for around 200-300$
#2 Thompson Center TCR22
- This is actually a 10/22 clone made by Thompson Center, which is owned and operated by Smith and Wesson. This 10/22 clone has a lot to boast including, an integrated Picatinny optics mount, a fiber optic front sight and ghost ring rear sight, threaded barrel, Magpul stock, and best of all it accepts any 10/22 magazines. You can pick these babies up for about $300.
#1 Ruger American
- This awesome rifle comes with a wood laminate stock, a threaded bull barrel, integrated Picatinny rail, and the Ruger Marksman trigger. This rifle is awesome because it also accepts the Ruger 10/22 magazines. The downside is that this rifle does not come with iron sights, so an optic is needed right away.
Category 4: MSR
This category is designated for modern sporting rifles, in other words, AR’s and AK’s. Whatever your preference, this category is important because you can use this type of firearm to compete, most commonly in two-gun and three-gun competitions. You can also use these guns to defend your home from any bumps in the night. ARs are awesome because they are cheap and so are mags, though your AR should be able to shoot any ammo, decent ammo will cost about $0.35 per round. AK’s are great too, though they are not as cheap to buy and mags cost more, they are awesome because generally they are extremely durable and are built to eat up any cheap ammo you can find, this makes ammo prices about half as much as ammo for an AR.
AR’s (Armalite Rifles)
#1 Smith and Wesson M&P Sport II or Ruger AR556:
- Both of these rifles are awesome starter rifles around $600. They have subtle differences, but all in all, are pretty basic models of the AR platform with A2 style front sights and carbine handguards. The beauty of the AR is that it is the lego of the gun world and anything can be changed to fit your needs.
#2 Palmetto State Armory
- Palmetto state armory sells ARs and AR lowers and uppers for relatively cheap. At this point in time, you could get a built lower for about $100 and a complete upper with a bolt carrier group and charging handle for about $180. This means that before shipping and a transfer fee you could have a basic AR for less than $300. You can also mix and match uppers and lowers to find the combination that you want.
#3 Build One!
- This is a great option for the ambitious first-time buyer, you could buy the tools and parts to build your own AR exactly how you would like it. There are plenty of tutorials out there to show you what you need and how to do it.
#1 WASR 10 or RH 10
- These AK’s are built in Romania and imported by Century Arms. They are slightly modified after import due to restrictions of firearms importation. They are about the cheapest option for a decent AK.
- These AK’s are great starter AKs. They are made in Yugoslavia and imported into the US. Be careful of these AK’s, make sure to do your research and check out a couple of AK buyer’s guides before jumping into the AK world
NOTE: Try to stay away from American Made AK’s. Unfortunately, unless the AK is made by a reputable AK builder, as opposed to a large manufacturer, American AK’s can be of extremely poor quality and can even get you hurt.
Category 5: Long Range
The last category of firearm that every shooter should have in his arsenal is a long-range option. This is generally going to be a bolt gun, though an AR-10 could suffice, the biggest thing about these types of rifles is caliber and barrel. The reason I put this category last is because it can easily become very expensive, in rifles, glass and ammo. This category is awesome because it gives a shooter the ability to hunt large game, shoot in ranged competitions, and hone the fundamentals of marksmanship. As far as caliber goes, I recommend .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor they are both very easy shooting calibers with long-range capabilities and lower recoil.
#1 Remington 700
- There are many different submodels of Remington 700. The 700 platform is probably the most popular bolt gun platform in the modern shooting era. You can buy a good 700 used for relatively cheap and there is a sea of aftermarket parts available.
- The T3 series is an awesome option for an out of the box shooter, great trigger and barrel as well as a detachable magazine. The CTR is a bit heavier with a beefier stock and a bull barrel. All Tikka rifles come with an MOA guarantee.
#3 Bergara B-14
- This is another great option for an out of the box shooter, great barrels and good triggers as well as a stock with an adjustable cheek riser and length of pull. These rifles come out of the box with a sub-moa guarantee.
This concludes my explanation of the perfect 5 gun arsenal that every gun owner should have. Buying guns is awesome but remember, training is more important. Buy ammo, take a class, and get out there and train.