Picking up shooting as a beginner can be intimidating. In addition to learning gun lingo and figuring out how to shoot the right way, there is the concern of finding the right gun and the right caliber.

As a beginner, you don’t want your first handgun to be out of your league. You need a model that is easy to use and learn with.

For men and women both, selecting your first handgun can be tough without some guidance.

Below we look at how some recommendations on caliber choice for new shooters.The two types of handguns that are recommended are the .22 and 9mm, and we will break down the pros and cons of each caliber & why our choice comes out on top for new shooters.

Meeting the Needs of New Shooters: 

The needs of new shooters are often far different than those of experienced shooters. It is essential to find a handgun that is affordable, easy to use, and more than anything – FUN!

If you buy a handgun that scares you off due to the recoil of a larger caliber, it won’t be something you enjoy, and it won’t be something that keeps you coming back to the shooting range.  Not to mention, you must work on the fundamentals of shooting before moving up to a larger caliber handgun.

.22 caliber Handgun

The Trusty .22 Caliber Haungun


These are the primary reasons why both .22 and 9mm handguns are so often recommended for new shooters. Most handguns in these calibers can be found at affordable prices. Plus, the ammo for these guns – especially a .22 if you can find it – is the cheapest ammunition around. On top of this, both .22s and 9mms are easy to learn to use while still powerful, reliable, and accurate.

.22 or 9mm?  Our basic breakdown: 

When the rubber hits the road, either a .22 or a 9mm can both be the first gun for an inexperienced shooter. Both models are accurate and powerful. They also suit smaller hands and have less recoil than more powerful models like a 40 caliber, or 45 caliber handgun, both which we would stay away from if it was our first time on the shooting range.


Many shooting experts tend to lean towards the .22 for new shooters over the 9mm. The reasons are numerous but once again they boil down to learning the proper shooting technique without recoil. The easier it is to learn to shoot, the more quickly you will learn the ins and outs of properly using a firearm.

In this regard, it’s a smart idea to learn how to shoot on a .22 before moving up to a 9mm. You will learn how to shoot the gun and how to handle the recoil as the .22 caliber doesn’t have much more kick than an airsoft gun.  This way, if you choose to move up to a 9mm model, you will be ahead of the learning curve and able to adapt.

What About Self-Defense? 

There is a lot of chatter about gun enthusiasts about .22s and self-defense. Many people claim they are not an effective self-defense option in comparison to the 9MM or other larger calibers.

While 9mms do offer more power, .22 are no slouch in self-defense situations. Their lightweight and small size allows them to be carried (concealed or opened) and maneuvered well in close quarters. Interestingly enough, the .22 caliber bullet is also considered to be one of the top self-defense calibers by many experts.

The Mighty 9mm Handgun

The Mighty 9mm Handgun

They are also more than powerful enough to get the job done. They can put a bad guy down as well as anything else out there, and it’s likely that a thief or assailant isn’t going to stop and ask you what caliber of handgun you are shooting if you have to use it.

And then there is the sole fact that a powerful gun isn’t worth a cent in a self-defense situation is it is too powerful to shoot. Accuracy is far more important.

So What’s the Verdict?  Which would YOU choose? 

While we do like the stopping power of a few well-placed 9mm rounds, we’d recommend that you try out the tried and true .22 caliber handguns before you make the jump to something more powerful.

Most shooting ranges will even allow you to rent a firearm to try it out and figure out if it’s the right gun or caliber for your needs before you take the plunge and buy it.  All new shooters should have a .22 caliber handgun in their arsenal, if nothing more than for survival seeing as .22 ammunition is one of the most widely stocked calibers in the United States.

While we don’t’ want to neglect the stopping power and efficiency of the 9mm, the .22 caliber is our pick for a first time shooter not only as a rifle, but as a handgun and what we recommend testing out if you’ve never had the joy of shooting a handgun.

While both models will do well in self defense situations, the .22 brings many advantages for beginners, especially cost.  Cost is important because when buying a firearm, you should also be considering how you plan to secure it.  Whether that be in a large gun safe (like these featured here) or a small fingerprint recognition model, you should always be a responsible gun owner (especially if you are a NEW gun owner!) and make safety your top priority.

About The Author

Andrew is an avid gun enthusiast and supporter of the 2nd amendment rights. When he is not writing for ArmsBearingCitizen he can be found at the range, hunting, or simply enjoying the outdoors with his family. Andrew hopes his years of experience with firearms and the outdoors can help others decide what gear is right for them and how to safely use it.

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