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Making the decision to purchase your first pistol can be a daunting one so, if you are a new pistol owner, congratulations! Now what?

There’s quite a lot to think about once you purchase your first pistol so we’ve outlined a few steps you should consider and the options in front of you for making the most out of your purchase.

Ammunition
There are two main types of pistol rounds you can buy:

  • Practice rounds, or Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
  • Defensive rounds, or Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)

You should select your ammunition from a trusted premium manufacturer. Some low-cost, low quality ammunition can cause excessive carbon build-up in your pistol which, in turn, could cause malfunctions over time. Also, make sure you purchase ammo that is rated for your specific firearm; check the ammo box and match it up to your caliber pistol, while also ensuring it is either SAAMi (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) or NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) spec. ammunition. Using non-specified ammunition in your firearm may void the manufacturer’s warranty. Another thing to be aware of is steel-cased ammunition can damage your barrel and therefore we do not recommend it, it may also void or compromise your pistol’s warranty. As for grain weight, typically heavier grain weights will produce less felt recoil. But a lighter bullet will have more energy. For best results, we recommend 124gr from a premium manufacturer. You can purchase SIG SAUER ammunition right here at sigsauer.com.

Holsters
If you intend to carry your pistol, concealed on your person, you are going to want a comfortable mode of carry that fits with your lifestyle choices. This will likely mean trying out multiple types of holsters to find the one that works best for you. Key safety components of a good holster include: complete coverage of the trigger and trigger guard, made of durable material with some sort of retention device that holds the firearm in place.

There are two primary materials of holsters to choose from: leather and polymer. Leather tends to be more comfortable because it bends and moves with you. Polymer on the other hand resists the elements better and tends to be more durable. You will also want to consider how you intend to carry the pistol, the most common ways to carry are: Inside the Waistband (IWB) or Outside the Waistband (OWB) or deep concealment (ankle holster, belly band etc.) How you intend to carry comes down to personal preference and lifestyle. Regardless of what you choose, a quality holster and training is imperative. For more holster options, check out the holster section in our online store.

Magazines
Having extra magazines loaded and ready while on the range will save you time and allow you to focus on your shooting technique. It is also a good idea to have separate magazines for training at the range vs. defensive carry. This way, magazines that are potentially dropped or damaged in a training environment won’t compromise the functioning of your firearm when you need it the most. When shopping for magazines, be sure to match the make and caliber of your pistol appropriately. Magazines for all SIG SAUER pistols can be purchased at sigsauer.com.

Pistol-Mounted Optics
Designed for fast, responsive target acquisition and accuracy, open reflex red dot sights, or pistol-mounted optics, are quickly becoming popular among experienced and novice shooters alike. We recently sat down with SIG SAUER Academy Director of Training Scott Reidy to discuss the advantages of red dot sights and how the Academy is incorporating them into their training programs. See the full interview here and shop for red dot sights here.

Maintenance
Making sure your pistol is in top mechanical performance is crucial. Start with selecting a lubricant to keep the moving parts running smoothly. We recommend SPEC1 because it’s non-hazardous and non-toxic. When you shoot, the lube becomes vaporized and can easily be inhaled. As a result, it’s important that your lube is non-toxic. You will also want to consider a cleaning kit to keep your pistol clean and well maintained. A good cleaning kit will allow you to remove dirt and carbon build-up that occurs from normal use. Choose a kit that contains a brass brush. Brass is a softer metal than the material of your firearm so it won’t damage the finish of your barrel. Fortunately, most modern handguns don’t need to be cleaned as often as older firearms. We recommend referring to your owner’s manual for maintenance schedules and proper techniques. Also, pay attention to the service intervals outlined in your owner’s manual for replacement of key parts over time. Most of these replacements require an armorer’s level education or above. For a list of on-going armorer’s level classes check out the SIG SAUER Academy schedule online.

Storage
Making sure your pistol is locked and safe in your home is crucial. When shopping for a safe, be sure to go with a reputable brand. If you’re selecting an electronic safe, make sure it comes with a battery backup or an adapter to plug into a wall in the event that your home loses power. The safe should also have multiple entry options (combo, biometric, RFID or a key). You have a multitude of options when it comes to home safes. Below are some tips to keep in mind while choosing how to secure your firearm:

  • If you buy a biometric safe, remember the scan function works similar to an iPhone and requires your fingers to be dry and clean in order for it to open.
  • If you buy a key-code entry safe, it usually has a programmed 4-digit code that you can personalize. We have found that these are fast and easy to use in the dark.
  • If you buy a RFID or key entry safe, be aware that you now have to be responsible for the whereabouts of the RFID card or key to ensure it does not get into the wrong hands.
  • If you buy a combination safe make sure that the combination code is something easy to remember but not obvious to others, this will ensure you are the only one authorized to access. Never write your combination down. Memorize your combination and don’t leave it printed in an area where others might discover it.

General Safety
Quite a lot can be written about how to safely and accurately use your pistol. In fact, we have devoted a 140-acre facility in Epping, New Hampshire for just this purpose. From basic firearm skills to executive protection and active shooter response, from close quarters combat and basic marksmanship to long range sniper training, the SIG SAUER Academy has provided the highest quality firearms and tactics training available anywhere in the United States for more than two decades. But if you can’t find time to register for a course, remember:

  • Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you are ready to fire.
  • Always be sure of your target and what is behind it.

This means NEVER point the gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot and ONLY place your finger on the trigger after you have made the mental decision to discharge a round. One final safety recommendation is to purchase a set of eye protection rated for shooting sports and a good set of hearing protection.

Now all you need to do is locate your nearest gun range and start practicing!

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