Gunsite Academy Training Pistol Course

Don’t Break the Bank on a Handgun – Invest in Training Instead

For many people, purchasing a handgun for self-defense or target shooting is a significant financial investment. With prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand or even higher, it can be tempting to splurge on an expensive, high-end model. After all, doesn’t a more expensive gun shoot straighter? That may sound logical, but it’s not how it works. High-end guns only shoot well with high-end shooters holding them. Inexperienced shooters make great guns look bad, like sticking Granny behind the wheel of an Indycar and expecting her to end up sipping milk in Victory Lane. No offense to Granny, but the odds of success are not good.

Rather than maxing out your budget on the gun itself, consider opting for a quality mid-priced handgun instead and dedicating a portion of the savings to proper training.

The Misconception of More Expensive = Better

There is a common misconception that the more you spend on a handgun, the better and more effective it will be. While it’s true that very inexpensive handguns may have some downsides in terms of quality control, durability, and accuracy, once you get into the $400-$600 range, most modern production handguns from reputable manufacturers will perform quite well for the needs of the average shooter.

Spending $800, $1,000, or more will get you finer finishes, tighter tolerances, and sometimes additional features, but the actual increase in performance is often negligible for most civilians. The biggest limiting factor in a handgun’s effectiveness is not the quality of the gun itself beyond a basic threshold – it’s the skill of the person wielding it.

The Importance of Proper Training

Well-trained shooters using a mid-priced handgun will almost always outperform untrained shooters with the latest and most expensive models.

Full disclosure: I’m a professional firearms trainer with a dog in the fight. I firmly believe in training hard and often, and I’d love to have you all in my class. However, since most of you don’t live near me, I highly doubt I will personally profit from any classes you take since they likely won’t be from me. So I tell you this as advice, not a way for me to sell more classes or private lessons.

No matter how much you spend on a handgun, it is practically useless without the proper training to deploy it safely and accurately. Owning a gun doesn’t mean you know how to use it any more than buying a Stradivarius makes you a violinist worthy of playing Carnegie Hall. It just means you spent a lot of money on a device that needs a skilled marksman/musician to work properly. Are you a skilled marksman? Not if you’ve never taken firearms training, even a basic pistol class, which I call Freshman Gun 101.

Taking professional instruction to learn fundamentals like stance, grip, sight alignment, trigger control, malfunction clearances, moving and shooting, low-light techniques, and force-on-force scenarios is invaluable. Even experienced shooters can benefit immensely from periodically training with skilled instructors.

Quality training courses aren’t cheap, often costing several hundred dollars for a single-day class. But the investment is worth it. It could make the difference between life and death if you ever need to use your handgun to defend yourself or your family.

Options for Mid-Priced Handguns

What are some good mid-priced handgun options that will allow you to spend money on training, too? Here are a few examples of quality, reliable handguns in the sub-$600 range:

  • Glock 19 (~$550): The Glock 19 9mm is a perennial favorite for its simplicity, durability, and accuracy. It has been a law enforcement and concealed carry staple for decades.
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact (~$475): The S&W M&P line offers solid performance and ergonomics at a reasonable price point.
  • Sig Sauer P320 (~$500): Sig makes several models in this range, like the P320, that are used by many police and military units around the world.
  • Canik TP9 Series (~$400): Turkish manufacturer Canik offers affordable but well-made handguns that punch well above their price point.

With any of these and many other options in the mid-price category, you’ll get a reliable, effective handgun that leaves you room in the budget to invest in proper instruction. The gun is merely a tool. Learning the skills to use it properly is the key.

Parting Shots

While high-end, premium handguns can certainly be nice, the truth is that most modern, mid-priced production models from reputable brands will serve the needs of civilians very well. Rather than draining your wallet on the gun itself, select a quality mid-priced option and dedicate a portion of the savings to taking professional training courses. Developing marksmanship and tactical skills under the guidance of skilled instructors will provide far greater returns than an expensive handgun alone.

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David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. As an NRA-certified instructor, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as possible. “Real-life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”



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