Best Handgun for Beginners

Best Overall

Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 2.0

Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 2.0

A favorite among seasoned shooters and beginners.

  • Value: 9/10
  • Performance: 9/10
  • Cost: 9/10

Best for Concealed Carry

SIG Sauer P365 right side photo

Sig Sauer P365

One of Sig’s best value handguns.

  • Value: 9.5/10
  • Performance: 7/10
  • Cost: 9/10

Best for Home Defense

Sig P320 RXP

Sig P320 RXP

Reliable for home defense and as a concealed carry weapon.

  • Value: 8/10
  • Performance: 9/10
  • Cost: 8/10

Purchasing your first gun comes with a ton of pressure (and information overload, too!). And that’s what we’re here for! In this concise guide, we won’t only review the best handgun for beginners, but we’ll also help you choose one! 

Let’s go!

Features to Consider

Semi-automatic Pistol vs. Revolver

The first thing you have to decide on is whether you want a semi-auto pistol or a revolver.

A semi-automatic pistol is a “handgun that automatically ejects and loads cartridges in its chamber after every shot.” Most pistols sold today are semi-automatic pistols. 

A revolver, on the other hand, has a revolving cylinder containing multiple chambers. Each chamber holds a single cartridge. Revolvers are more powerful (mostly) but are bulkier and have less capacity compared with pistols.

For that reason, I recommend a semi-auto pistol for most beginners. They tend to be lighter, easier to comfortably carry if you choose, and easier to shoot well.

For a more detailed comparison, check out this article – Pistol versus Revolver.

Ease of Use and Safety

For a beginner’s handgun (or gun), it’s always better to get one with user-friendly controls and easy operation. If you don’t have much shooting experience yet, that won’t be a problem because everything gets better with practice. What’s critical is that your pistol comes with a safety mechanism to prevent accidents.

You’ll always want to remember the 5 rules of gun safety and use them. Additional mechanical safeties on your gun can be a backstop in case you forget one, which is important for beginners.


Like we said, you just need practice to improve your shooting skills. And practicing a lot also means you need a lot of ammo, and that won’t be cheap. So consider a caliber that’s inexpensive to shoot and is easily available, like the 9mm.

Size and Weight

Size and weight play big roles in mitigating recoil. So if you’re still getting used to the “kick,” a heavier gun can handle recoil better. One disadvantage, however, of a bigger gun is concealability and comfort when carrying it for long periods.

And, we all simply have different hand shapes and sizes. So, a gun that your friend loves the feel of may not be great for you. That’s why you should always at least hold and feel a gun out, and if possible, even find a friend to shoot theirs. Only then will you know how well you can handle it!

Some of our options below offer a balance on both features, but if you want to prioritize one over the other, that’s fine too.


Price also takes part in the decision-making process, and we all have different budget preferences. So picked a wide range of handguns below, from affordable to mid-priced brands, but all are cost-efficient and are definitely worth every penny.different budgets and needs.

7 Best Handguns for Beginners

Best Handgun for Beginners Overall: Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 2.0

S&W M&P9 Subcompact right side photo

best handgun for beginner
The S&W M&P9 Subcompact from the Right.

Similar to its predecessor, the Shield Gen 1, the Shield 2.0 is affordable, lightweight, and reliable. It has a 3-inch barrel and steel 3-dot sights for quick target acquisition. It also comes with two sets of mags (7 rounds and 8 rounds).

The more aggressive grip and lighter trigger were immediately noticeable on the line. Smith and Wesson clearly made an excellent carry pistol even better with the Shield 2.0.


  • Very thin for easy concealment
  • Lighter trigger
  • Expanded grip texture
  • More distinct trigger reset
  • Affordable (MSRP at Brownells: $539)


  • Only 7 to 8 round capacity in this single-stack

What Customers Say

“Very good shooting gun. The grip texture is much better compared to the 1.0. Gun has a little bit better of a trigger from the 1.0 shield as well. Overall I’m very pleased with the quality of the gun and its finish.”


Best for Concealed Carry: Sig Sauer P365

SIG Sauer P365 right side photo
The P365 from the right, again with the pinky-extension magazine.

The Sig P365 is perfect for everyday carry with its 3″ barrel length and three sets of magazines (10-round flush fit magazine, and a 10-round extended magazine, and a 12-round extended magazine).

It’s chambered in 9mm, easily concealable, and comes with a crisp trigger. Its grip is made from textured polymer that offers recoil mitigation and comfortable shooting. The front and rear slide serrations allow easy manipulation and the slim-line rail is compatible with laser accessories.


  • Compact and lightweight
  • Affordable (MSRP at PSA: $599.99)
  • Three-point takedown


  • A bit too small for shooters with bigger hands

What Customers Say

Great trigger for a concealed carry gun. The upgraded grip module is a big plus. Very controllable. Shipping was very fast. Well done.

Jonathan H.

Great balance and feel. Easy to conceal and carry. Fun to shoot.

Tommy C.

Best for Home Defense: Sig P320 RXP

SIG Sauer P320

The Sig P320 RXP is a striker-fired polymer pistol with a composite frame. It features an XCarry Grip Module that’s compatible with a detachable Magwell and grip weight. The modular design also makes the P320 RXP easy to take down and clean.

It comes with a striker safety, a disconnect safety, and a three-point take-down safety. This one-of-a-kind safety system allows you to release the striker without pulling the trigger.


  • Simple controls
  • Modular design
  • Reasonable price
  • Comes with an extended ambidextrous slide catch lever
  • 10-round mag capacity


  • There’s a bit of trigger overtravel
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

What Customers Say

10 stars! I love this gun. I have a compact as well and this one is much easier to shoot and feels a lot more comfortable in my hands. Occasionally the slide does not stay open after the last round but I chalk that up to it being brand new.


Great shooter. Bought for my wife for the range and target. Ripped off 150 our so rounds of 115 and 124 grain, mix of new and reman ammo, not a single hiccup or thought of it.


Best for Accuracy: Heckler & Koch VP9

Heckler Koch VP9 right side
The VP9 from the right.

The HK VP9 is a heavy-duty gun for home-defense to everyday carry. It features a cold hammer forged cannon-grade steel barrel sporting a polygonal bore. Plus a machined steel slide with diagonal serrations front and rear, plus charging supports mounted on the slide’s rear.

Its finger-groove grip has excellent ergonomics and comes with three changeable back straps and six changeable side panels so you can really dial the gun into your specific hand. 


  • Accurate
  • 17-round capacity
  • Reasonable price
  • Ambidextrous controls
  • Crisp trigger 


  • Grip texture isn’t that aggressive
  • A bit pricier than our other picks (MSRP at PSA: $799)

What Customers Say

Great ergonomics, size, weight, capacity, accuracy, and quality at a great price. Better than glock on all aspects.

Rob K.

It’s just amazingly sexy, form-fitting in hand. Truly it is a work of art. I trust this gun with my life before I even shoot it . German engineering at its finest! The doing is tight but I’m sure it will lighten after I put a few hundred rounds down range.

Gerry H.

Best Trigger: Walther PDP 4.5″

Walther PDP 4.5"

The Walther PDP is an excellent pick for home defense and target shooting because of its reliability.

Aside from its buttery smooth trigger (no creep, short, light take-up, and short positive reset) the textured grip on the Walther PDP 4.5” offers a very natural feel and a solid feel. We also appreciate how it performs consistently no matter what ammo you feed it with.


  • Smooth and crisp trigger
  • 18-rounds mag capacity
  • Reasonable Price (MSRP at PSA: $649)
  • Modular design


  • Limited aftermarket support

What Customers Say

Gun is great. Great for bigger hands. Works great and I like it a lot.

Carson W.

This is a beautiful handgun with Walther pedigree oozing in great shooting characteristics. Amazing trigger, accurate, and not at all snappy. Loves 124gr with zero FTF.

Todd R.

Glock 43 Single Stack 9mm

The Glock 43 from the right.
The Glock 43 from the right.

The magazine in the Glock 43 holds six rounds in a staggered Glock-design polymer magazine. Two mags (plus a magazine loader) come with this single-stack pistol. The first mag has a flat base plate and the other has a finger-rest extension. 

The aggressively textured grip has an integrated beavertail design for a higher and tighter grip. The Glock 43 is striker-fired and operates on a short recoil system, with its barrel hood locked into the large ejection port window.


  • Compact and easy to conceal
  • Mild recoil
  • Comfortable to shoot and hold 


  • Only 6-round capacity
  • Tedious takedown
  • Heavy trigger pull
  • Not great for big hands

What Customers Say

I love this gun, great for conceal carry.

Darry B. 

Crisp trigger, light recoil, easy mag changes. This is a perfect EDC.

Matthew H.

Springfield Armory XD Mod 2

Springfield Armory XD Mod2 Tactical right side photo
The XD Mod.2 Tactical from the right.

The Springfield Armory XD Mod2 is an accurate and great value with excellent ergonomics. This is a classic gun that you can’t go wrong with. It offers a solid feel, is very easy and comfortable to shoot, even with the extended magazine.

It’s built on a polymer frame with a stainless steel slide, and chambered in .45 ACP, .40 SW or 9mm. This semi-auto pistol also comes in a sub-compact version (XD Mod2 Sub-Compact).


  • 16 round capacity
  • Slim and ergonomic
  • Affordable (MSRP at PSA: $419.99)


  • It’s a bit heavy for concealed carry

What Customers Say

I have shot thousands of rounds thru my XDs and have no issues with the grip safety, cocked or unlocked, and have had no issues with cocking the pistol in a smooth efficient manner while engaging the grip safety. Others may disagree but it’s the main reason I stay with XD models.

William H.

The gun feels great in my hand and has fantastic ergonomics. The case is nicely designed too, to have the firearm and magazines cutout in it. The magazines are metal and appear to be pretty solid quality.

Jason R.


Now that you’ve chosen your handgun, congratulations! If you haven’t, it’s okay, you don’t want to rush the process and end up with the wrong gun. :D

Have fun and welcome to the world of guns and shooting!

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