Unfortunately, there are as many opinions on this matter as there are experts on the subject. Some will recommend a .22 revolver for its simplicity and cheap ammunition. Others will recommend a 9mm Semi-auto because it is the first and last pistol anybody ought to own.

So … Why tackle this question at all? Certainly there are more than enough opinions on the subject without adding mine.

Simple! I’ve been told by several people that my opinion on this matter made more sense than all the other advice they had read or received. Of course, that makes sense. Afterall, if they had really good advice on the matter, they probably wouldn’t have asked my opinion! Or, had previous advice simply been something they could totally understand and agree with, they would have stopped asking and started repeating what they now believed.

To answer this question, I want to start by telling you what got me really excited about shooting.

How I got started…

I cannot remember for sure whether the very first handgun I fired was a revolver or semi-automatic. However, the first handgun I remember shooting was a revolver. It was a .357 magnum! Specifically, it was a Dan Wesson .357mag with a 4-inch barrel. My father’s friend had just bought it, and was showing us his new purchase. I was almost 12, a little under 5ft tall, and just about 100lbs. I was warned that I should stagger my feet (Weaver-style, or more) for additional support. To everybody’s surprise (except mine, of course) I outshot all the adults that afternoon. I was instantly in love with a hefty .357mag revolver. I dreamt about owning one for almost 10 years before I was old enough to buy my own.

Dan Wesson .357
The first gun to get me excited about shooting was a Dan Wesson .357magnum

Moral of the story…

The best pistol for a new shooter is one that will get her or him excited about shooting. It may be something mild for somebody who is intimidated by them. It may be something HUMUNGOUS for somebody with extra testosterone. It could be cute and pink. Afterall, this is their first gun, but it won’t be their last if you succeed in getting them excited about it.

To determine what will be best, you need to listen to the shooter. You need to know how much they might know, or whether they’re secretly afraid of guns. If you have a nice variety, you might play show and tell. Be sure to explain the difference in recoil and how loud each one will be. Watch their face for responses. When you explain that a 44 magnum has a ton of recoil and might try to jump out of their hands … do they wince, or get excited at the challenge.

If you are trying to pick one for yourself, you might need to find a friend or an instructor whom you trust to help you make these discoveries. Don’t go for that super-macho “Go BIG, or go home” person, unless that’s who YOU are! You might need to rent a few before you find your “Goldie Locks” gun. Let yourself be excited! Make it something fun, regardless of “Experts’ Advice”. Find what’s right for you! When you get excited, then get good, then finally find yourself thinking about home defense (or personal defense) … THEN you can look for a purpose-built defensive pistol that fires reliably and accurately.

Sexy is whatever gets your heart pumping with excitement! You deserve a little excitement. Worry about “the right gun” another day!