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New Gun Owner Mistakes

We see and talk to a lot of people about guns, concealed carry, and self-defense on a very regular basis. We also see and hear some questionable things done by both new and more experienced gun owners that aren't best practices. Here is a short list explaining some of those gun owner mistakes:

Internet Advice:

I wish I had a dime for every article with the words “best handgun” in it somewhere (I just checked and Google returned 380,000,000 results). But here's the thing, a majority of those articles are not written by someone who knows anything about guns.

Many of them are written based on research alone, and the writers could barely tell you anything about them. The best case scenario, here, is to conduct your research and take any advice given off the internet with a grain of salt.

I know it sounds strange being that you're here now on the internet reading this article written by yours truly, but I HAVE to warn you about this.

Even websites you think are good because they have the word “gun” somewhere in the URL or title, may not actually be good. Stick to who you know, and who has been around for a while.

Not buying enough ammo:

The first gun I bought after I got out of my Beloved Corps., was a Springfield Armory XD9. I still have that gun, though it doesn't see much use these days. Still, the point is that I bought that gun all those years ago, and only one box of 50 rounds of ammo.

In other words, I was willing to spend a few hundred bucks on a gun that I never planned to shoot. I mean, how could I shoot it with only 50 rounds of ammo? I couldn't even spring for a box of hollow points because they were too much money.

The point?

Buy ammo, and be willing to shoot it. How else can you improve your skills?

You technically can't even call your gun “reliable” until you've put at least 200 through it, and even then, I'd hesitate unless I was running multiple different types and manufacturers through it. One box ain't gonna cut it.

Your Ammo:

Your chosen ammo could be the difference between life and death. You should not, unless barred by law, carry anything other than proper self-defense ammo in your concealed carry gun. Period.

I personally trust my life to a select few, as follows:

  • Federal HST
  • SIG V-Crown HP
  • Hornady Critical Defense FTX

That's really it, and in that order. Are there other decent manufacturers? Yeah, absolutely. These are just the ones I like to use. Find what works for you and stick with it.

Loaded Gun:

This is a tough one based on comfort level and amount of training. However, we teach that if you're going to carry a gun for self-defense it should be loaded. Please note that a loaded gun has a round in the chamber.

Your Gun:

Many people make the mistake of believing that the gun is the most important aspect of the self-defense strategy. Don't get me wrong, having a reliable gun AND good ammo is very important. However, there are other things you need on your side as well.

Like what? How about a mindset having a rough idea of how you'd react if ever presented with a life and death situation? In other words, have you made the decision to defend life with your gun?

Do you have enough training under your belt that you can manipulate your firearm properly? Can you clear malfunctions? How about under stress?

Here's something totally unrelated … do you understand that being in the shape of sack of potatoes isn't the best thing if you need to move quickly while defending yourself?

I know that last one sounds odd coming from 300+ lb Josh, but I can move when I need to. In fact, I've practiced it because I needed to know that it could be done.

You need more than your gun, and being in some kind of shape other than “round” is important.

Your Holster:

I took a class not too long ago and one of the students had a holster that was not only shoddy by design, but also didn't fit the gun he was using in class.

At one point the gun almost fell out after he re-holstered just because it was too large. The holster was for a different make of gun altogether, but it was also not a good holster.

Here's the thought here, if you go out and spend several hundreds of dollars on a gun, and you plan to carry that gun don't you think that you should likely get a decent holster that's actually a good fit for your purposes and gun?

The holsters we stock in our store are good. I suggest you take a look if yours sucks. Heck, even if it's okay it couldn't hurt to try out another one. They aren't that expensive and a good holster is worth the cost.

Not Trained:

I hate to say it, but you should get training. You should want to advance your skills, and this is something that not enough people are doing.

If you had a decent gun trainer that you took a couple classes from, chances are good that you'd fix the rest of the stuff on this list.

They will teach you things that you thought you knew the answer to, but didn't.

Your Gun is NOT Always the Answer:

Many people have the “shoot first ask questions later” mentality. That's totally backwards to me. Every situation is different, and you should be as prepared as possible for as many different scenarios as you can with the understanding that they'll all play out differently than how you imagined them.

The point, is that sometimes the gun isn't the answer. Sometimes, the threat is over and if you were to shoot at this point you could get in trouble.

Or, what if you're ready to shoot and your kid pops up behind the bad guy? Things happen, and sometimes you need to be able and willing to use your gun, but not use your gun.

Needlessly handling your firearm:

I have to frame what I'm about to say more carefully than the sack of potatoes comment above because this can be a touchy subject.

When I say needlessly handling your firearm, I mean complacency kills. I also mean that once your gun is strapped to your body for the day, it should not come off except under a very small number of circumstances.

It doesn't matter if you're getting in or out of your vehicle, or anything else. Your gun should only come off your body at certain times. And no, your car is NOT one of those times unless you have some extenuating circumstance.

Why? Because that's the perfect time for the whole “complacency kills” thing.

Think about it, every time you handle your firearm the chances of you having a negligent discharge goes up by default. 

It goes up simply because you're handling it. If you don't handle it, the chances of it firing are as close to zero as they can get.

All it takes is one slip and you end up shooting someone. Many of those negligent discharges happen by experienced shooters who grew complacent with their firearms handling. Don't be that guy/gal. Only handle your firearm when you need to.

Off topic, but since I mentioned a car we actually destroyed a car with bullet holes in this video, showing you how to defend yourself in and around your car:


There are a few channels out there that are great, and there are some that should be avoided like the plague. There are also channels out there that are totally fine that I'm not aware of yet and didn't make this list. You should proceed with any new channel you're not familiar with, with extreme caution when it comes to gun advice.

In reality, there is a lot of bad info out there. We like to recommend some of these channels from our industry friends:

Active Self Protection

Warrior Poet

Handgun Combatives

Concealed Carry (ours)

Your Turn —

What things have you seen gun owners doing that have been questionable? Let us know in the comments below.

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8 Responses to New Gun Owner Mistakes

  1. Jim Baize May 29, 2019 at 5:54 pm #

    Great comments. I appreciate you guys and your efforts at helping us to be prepared.

  2. Alan Wolin May 29, 2019 at 10:37 pm #

    Yes, frequent handling of ones firearm does increase the chance of a negligent discharge, but how about dry firing practice? It is important, but you have to unload your firearm–just be very careful. I dry fire at home frequently.

    • Joshua Gillem May 30, 2019 at 8:16 am #

      Hey Alan,

      Dry firing is a great thing to do for practicing in the comfort of your own home. Just as long as we don’t grow complacent in the handling of our guns, it’s fine. I was talking more about unnecessarily handling your gun, like in the car for example, when you don’t intend to do anything with it. When you have the intent of training, the intent to dry fire, it’s a different ball game and your brain is in a different frame of mind than if you were just unholstering your gun because you can’t take it into the post office and it’s a pain in the rear to take the entire holster off your body and you accidentally hit the trigger.

      Always practicing gun safety is key, no matter what we’re doing.

      Thanks for the comment and for helping me clarify,


  3. Lee May 30, 2019 at 2:03 pm #

    Excellent article. I agree with everything, the advice, the good ammo choices and the YouTube channels. You are correct, the right mindset goes a long way. Whether that means getting quality training, ammo, holsters or considering shoot no shoot scenarios, especially around your house or place of business.

  4. Judi Kail May 31, 2019 at 1:26 am #

    I am a new gun owner, age 71. I appreciate your information and find it very helpful. Yes, 5he internet is full of misinformation in many forms. Thank you!

    • Joshua Gillem June 3, 2019 at 8:34 am #


      Welcome, and thank you for being here.


  5. Tobin Wright June 2, 2019 at 2:42 pm #

    Great article and well worth the read no matter how experienced you think you are.

  6. Garry June 4, 2019 at 6:04 pm #

    Great article, so much of this needs to be said as often as possible. I have a few words to add:
    New and old gun owners I have known tend to forget 2 basic rules I have learned over a lifetime in manufacturing and design that apply to gun ownership as well.
    Rule one is that anything and everything can be improved upon. You will never find one best of anything, you can always find a way to improve anything. Try new things even though you may be comfortable with what you have, learn new skills even though you may be happy with what you are able to do now. Listen to others opinions even though you may have already arrived at a decision.
    Rule two is that if something can happen, it will, eventually. You can hope it won’t, you can say it never has, but if it is possible and given enough time, it will happen. Look for preventative measures, they are so much better than the alternative. But, you have to remember rule one when you are thinking about gun safety: Any safety regimen can be made better, and should be.

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