Copyright © 2014 by Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training  ·  All Rights reserved  ·  E-Mail:
Copyright © 2014 by Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training  ·  Boise, ID · Meridian, ID · Nampa, ID · Caldwell, ID  ·  E-Mail:
Choosing a firearm is a personal decision-there’s no “right or wrong” firearm to purchase. If there is such a thing, you might want to
characterize the “right” firearm as one that meets your needs, one you are comfortable using and can handle effectively. A “wrong”
firearm would be the completely opposite-bulky, hard to use, does not meet your needs, spends its time in the safe, rather than with
That said, there are two “stereotypes” assigned to gun purchasers when they begin their quest for the “perfect” firearm. If you’re a man,
the firearm salesperson has you fitted with a 1911 .45 semi-automatic pistol or a Glock Gen 2 before he's even introduced himself to
you. If you are a woman, you’re going to need the smaller, less powerful, less complicated, .22, .32, .38 caliber revolver. The truth of
the matter, you won’t know what to buy because you can’t shoot it first to get an idea, to compare sizes, calibers, and powder load.

If you do not own a firearm-don’t buy one until you have attended a firearms safety class. Tell the instructor you need to rent a gun, you
want to fire different models, calibers, makes, and models. At Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training, we’ve found many woman prefer the
same caliber as men and they typically choose a semi-automatic pistol over the revolver.

How will the Gun be Used?

The first decision you’ll need to make is to determine the primary purpose of the firearm? Is it for home defense? Personal defense
when out in public? Will it be used for both? If you choose to carry and conceal the firearm with you while away from your home,
you’ll need to decide on a carry preference-holsters, purses, backpacks, and fanny packs are just some of the options available. If you
choose a holster or larger concealed carry device, you won’t need to worry so much about the size of the gun. If you want to carry a
small firearm in your pants pocket or a fanny pack, then the size of the firearm will have to be considered.

At Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training, we have a saying:


“If it’s not on your person, it’s locked in a safe!”

We’re going to assume you’re considering the purchase of a firearm for personal protection while away from home as the primary
purpose of the gun. We’re going to further assume you are going to apply for an Idaho Standard or Idaho Enhanced Carry and
Concealed license. Remember these simple rules when purchasing a handgun:

The larger the gun, the more difficult it is to carry concealed
A larger handgun can be taken away from you easier than a smaller gun
A larger gun will have less recoil than a smaller gun
A smaller gun is easier to conceal and carry in public
A smaller gun is harder to take away from you
A smaller gun requires a bit more strength and dexterity to keep it under control


The caliber of the gun is based on the size of ammunition it will fire. The smaller the caliber, the less recoil it will have and the size of
the projectile will be small. The larger the caliber, the more recoil you will experience but the size of the projectile will be larger. This
section of our site is dedicated to choosing a firearm; if you want additional caliber information, please read our about ammunition
In general, any gun is better than no gun. Most “experts” agree a .22, .25, .32 caliber handgun isn’t powerful enough to stop an
attacker, especially if they are under the influence of a drug or alcohol. That’s all well and fine, but anyone getting hit by one of these
bullets will eventually feel it! If you can’t pull the trigger on a larger caliber gun, by all means use a smaller caliber gun!
We suggest you choose the largest caliber firearm you can safely and accurately use.
Copyright © 2014 by Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training  ·  Boise, ID · Meridian, ID · Nampa, ID · Caldwell, ID  ·  E-Mail:
To schedule your next class or Home Safety Inspection

Choosing a Firearm

The Semi-Automatic Verses Revolver Debate

The Revolver

Revolvers have been around for a very long time; they are a tried and true proven performer.
Revolvers are less complicated then semi-automatic pistols, have less moving parts, will
never jam, and will consistently deliver a projectile whenever you pull the trigger. They
consist of a rotating cylinder which holds the ammunition in place, As the trigger is pulled
(or the hammer is cocked with single -action revolvers), ammunition is rotated behind the
barrel and in front of the firing pin. Revolvers have a longer, harder trigger pull which assists
in preventing unplanned discharges but can also be a deterrent if you are weak or hurt.
Revolvers can only hold 5-6 rounds of ammunition which is quite limiting in a gun fight-
especially if there are two or more bad guy’s. Revolvers have “speed loaders” which are
designed to load the revolver quickly-they are the equivalent to a semi-automatic pistol
Revolvers come in a variety of sizes. “Experts” will recommend a caliber of .38 Special, .357 (which also holds .38 special
ammunition), .40 S&W and .45. The larger the caliber, the heavier the gun, the larger the recoil.

Revolver Video

Single-Action Revolvers

Single-action revolvers do not load ammunition when the trigger is squeezed, requiring the operator to pull back the hammer before
each firing event. In a life-threatening situation, this is probably not the best type of revolver to have to protect yourself.

Double-Action Revolvers

Double-action revolvers perform two steps simultaneously-they “cock” the hammer and rotate the cylinder at the same time. A double-
action revolver will continue to rotate the cylinder, provide a fresh round of ammunition to the gun, and complete the firing sequence with
one complete pull of the trigger. This is the type of behavior you’ll want when faced with a life threatening encounter.

Double-Action Only

Double-action only revolvers don’t have a “hammer” to cock. They rely on an internal firing mechanism and therefore, cannot be
“manually cocked”. Aside from this exception, the double-action only revolver behaves in the same fashion as the double-action revolver.
One benefit with double-action revolvers is the missing “hammer”, which makes the gun somewhat led likely to “snag” on clothing during

The Semi-Automatic Pistol

The one used by James Bond, 007 and our United States armed forces, populated on nearly every TV show and movie, the semi-
automatic pistol is show cased more often than any other gun.
Semi-automatic pistols are in many ways, the complete opposite of the revolver. They have an external magazine which holds the
ammunition-with the ammunition capacity as high as 15 or more rounds, magazine-style semi-automatic pistols are faster to reload, they
rely on the pressure of a discharged round of ammunition to reload, they expel the shell of the ammunition, have an easier trigger pull,
many need to be “racked” (the slide pulled back and the first round loaded into the chamber), and some allow you to carry “hot” (racked
and loaded, one in the chamber, “battery-ready”) with a hammer design similar to a revolver.
On the down-side, semi-automatic pistols are more likely to experience miss-feeds and other related functional problems that require the
operator to know how to clear those malfunction quickly, especially during a life-threatening encounter. This should not deter you from
purchasing a semi-automatic pistol because, with the correct amount of training and practice, jams, miss-feeds, and other mechanical
problems are quickly resolved.
Cleaning a semi-automatic pistol is far more difficult than a simple revolver. Most semi-automatic pistols can break down into many small
parts, making the new firearm users a bit intimidated by the entire process. Don’t let this deter you-after a few cleanings you’ll wonder
why it was so difficult the first time!

Additional Information

If you would like additional information on how revolvers work, please see: Revolver Components and Operations.
If you would like additional information on how semi-automatics work, please see: Semi-Automatic Pistol Components and

Firearms Training

The best advice is to go out and shoot different caliber makes, models, revolvers, and semi-automatic pistols. Once you have settled on a
personal preference and have purchased a gun, you’ll need to learn how to use it safely and efficiently. Don’t just fire it once and place it
in your safe! Practice with your gun at least every 3-4 months, take lessons, target practice, train.
Idaho Enhanced Permit Classes

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