10 Deadly Mistakes That New Gun Owners Make

Travis Pike
By Travis Pike May 11, 2017 12:15

10 Deadly Mistakes That New Gun Owners Make

By Travis Pike – NRA firearm instructor and Marine Infantry veteran

Purchasing a firearm is a big step in someone’s life. If you’ve never owned a firearm this is a major, even life changing, event. New gun owners tend to make a few mistakes. I know this as a concealed carry instructor and I see new shooters at my course all the time. Here are the top ten mistakes I see new gun owners make the most.

#1. Using a Cheap Holster or Sling

This is the worst. I understand being on a budget but a cheaper can holster can be dangerous in a multitude of ways. A cheap nylon holster that is designed to be universal is a very poor option for carrying a gun. The same goes for some Chinese made nylon sling that proclaim itself tactical. Both can be dangerous and unreliable.

A poor holsters offers horrid retention and can be downright dangerous when it comes to carry a firearm concealed. It accidentally coming out is a major issue. Let’s not forget the potential for the holster’s material getting inside the trigger guard and pulling the trigger. A poorly made sling maybe cheap, but is likely to break with Chinesium bending and cheap materials tearing and fraying. My suggestions for a quality budget option? The Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling and an Alien Gear holster are both affordable and quality pieces of gear.

Related: DIY: Bedside Holster System

#2. Getting a Light Trigger Job

If you are a sport shooter then a light trigger can be very beneficial to you. For self defense though a light trigger isn’t always the best option. In a stressful situation too light of a trigger may cause you to have a negligent discharge. Secondly a light trigger means you’ve changed the gun from stock. The gun is proven to work with stock parts, is it proven to work with a trigger job? Is the trigger reliable? Did competent gunsmith install it? If not you may face reliability issues as well. A half pound AR 15 trigger is not a good option for a home defense rifle.

#3. Trying to Replace Skill with Accessories

No matter how many do dads or gizmos you attach your rifle, handgun, or shotgun you won’t be a better shooter. You are likely making your weapon heavier, and doing nothing to make you better. A good shot is going to be a good shot regardless of accessories. The only way to buy skill is to buy, training, and hitting the range.

Related: Futuristic Looking Rifles and Guns

#4. Forgetting (or not learning) the Fundamentals

You always fall back to the lowest level of training you have mastered, and that should be the fundamentals. Learning the fundamentals is the necessary building block to becoming a better shooter. Shooting fundamentals are divided into  proper sight picture, sight alignment, breath control, trigger pull, grip, stance, and follow through. Mastering these fundamentals seems boring, but is the key to success when it comes to safely handling guns.

#5. Not Securing a Firearm(s)

Buying a firearm isn’t just buying a gun. There should be room in the budget for ammo, a holster or sling, and a way to secure it. It doesn’t have to be a full on safe, but at the very least a lock that goes through the action. This doesn’t prevent theft, but keeps anyone from easily accessing the gun. If a gun is not in your direct control it needs to be secured in some manner. Be it a safe, a lock, or completely disassembled.

#6. Not Understanding Ammunition Types

There are wide varieties of different forms of ammunition for different purposes. Using a type of ammunition outside of it’s purpose can be dangerous. Self-defense firearms should be loaded with self-defense ammunition. Good hollow or soft point ammunition, it prevents over penetration. A full metal jacket load will zip through a target and have the potential to harm others. Hollow point, frangible, and soft point ammunition is less likely to overpenetrate and harm others.

Related: How And Where To Store Ammo

#7. Buying the Wrong Firearm

So to be clear there is no objective wrong firearm. However, there is wrong firearms for certain purposes and certain people. For concealed carry your best bet isn’t going to be a S&W 500 Magnum revolver. In some cases a person with reduced hand strengths or arthritis may be served better by a revolver than automatic if they can’t effectively rack the slide. At the same time a 12 gauge shotgun is great for home defense, but smaller people may have trouble handling it.

Buy a gun that fits your purpose, your skill level, and your physical needs. Never go too big, that’s dangerous. If you can’t handle a particular firearm effectively then you can’t handle it safely.

#8. Relying on a Manual Safety

A manual safety is designed as a secondary mechanical safety. The primary safety is the 6 to 8 inches between your ears. Your brain and ability to be a safe gun handler is way more important than any manual safety. Manual safeties can and do fail, ask Remington about their Model 700 safety. It may be comforting to have a firearm with a manual safety but do not simply depend on that safety to keep your firearm safe.

#9. Forgetting to Maintain the Gun

A gun doesn’t need to be cleaned each and every day of the week, even a carry gun. However, guns need to be cleaned on occasion. Not only when they’ve been fired, but when they’ve ben exposed to the elements. This is especially true for concealed carry guns who may be exposed to sweat or pocket lint. I’d clean a gun exposed to the world at least once a month if concealed carried.

A dirty, and rusty gun that goes click when you need it most is seriously dangerous.

#10. Not Memorizing the 4 Safety Rules

The 4 Gun Safety rules always apply. During my time in the military before every range we recited the 4 safety rules. To this day they are scorched into my memory. I end the article with these 4 safety rules to get the point across as best I can. If you follow these rules you’ll be safe with each and every firearm. These four rules were written by Gun Guru Jeff Cooper.

  • All guns are always loaded.
  • Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.
  • Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified

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Travis Pike
By Travis Pike May 11, 2017 12:15
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  1. Bobby May 11, 17:41

    You really need to have someone proof read your work, before you post it. I found several errors in spelling.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ms. Spelling May 11, 19:41

      You really need to have someone proofread your work before you post it. I found one error in spelling.

      Reply to this comment
    • BoredComment October 14, 05:28

      You won the daily internet stupidity award when you posted that one.

      I’m browsing SHTF web sites and I find the grammar police. I love it.

      Reply to this comment
    • not a grammar freak May 8, 15:48

      Bobby & Ken,

      Thanks for your very very important review of the poor spelling and grammar used but, I was not on here to check for grammar and spelling issues. Looking at the content only. Best you both carry your happy a###s somewhere else. Content is what is important. Oh did I mess upp sorrry I can nott spell gould enought for you shit heeds.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Ken May 11, 18:36

    The grammar in this article is so poor, it was difficult to read in places.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ms. Spelling May 11, 19:45

      I found the message in the post to be of greater importance than mere spelling or grammar issues. Focus more on the message and less on the vehicle.

      Reply to this comment
      • Ken May 11, 20:43

        You see, that’s the problem. The grammar was too distracting. Additionally, when I see poor grammar I tend to doubt the validity of the message.

        Reply to this comment
  3. Rick May 11, 23:29

    Thanks for the article, Travis. I didn’t see anytging wrong with spelling or gramnar that amounted to the level the above comments alluded to.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Brentz Thompson May 12, 00:40

    Wouldn’t #3 actually be “trying to replace skill with accessories”?

    Reply to this comment
  5. Madarain May 12, 01:57

    The article was good AND the presentation was a little loose (sloppy).

    I liked it and learned some things…including the fact that a gun can be referred to as a “who”. This fact alone could win the author some friends.

    Mainly though, the errors are minor, typographical or grammatical oversites, while the message is well thought out and worth reading, at least for me.

    Reply to this comment
  6. bob May 16, 22:49

    Great article, and great advice to those new to firearms. I especially appreciate the thoughts about choosing a suitable holster or sling. Actually, #’s 1,2, and 3 should be posted in gun shops. Geardos are everywhere, and there’s certainly no shortage of geardos (and unnecessary gear) in the world of firearms.

    Reply to this comment
  7. DMONIC May 19, 23:00

    Great article for newbies to firearms. Sadly, they wont read it here.

    Secondly- FUCK OFF grammar and spelling Nazis. If your brain cant fill in the blanks, YOU are the problem, NOT the author. I had ZERO difficulty reading the post. Get a lobotomy, or go lick pelosis and schumers boots for the 15th time.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck October 14, 02:32

      I can understand that being hyper technical about an esoteric rule of grammar might engender frustration when it reminds others of their similar shortcomings, but using vulgarity to try to make a point diminishes the validity of your statement and casts the user of same as someone with a limited vocabulary, unable to express himself with clarity and thus must resort to crude and vulgar terms because that is the extent of his word knowledge.

      Grammar, correct word usage and punctuation make for smoother reading and ease of understanding. I think all of us are guilty of hitting the post or send button before we have carefully proofread what we have written. I know I fall prey to that error more times than I like. We sometimes also fall prey to the insidious “Predictive” which I find, due to my typing speed sometimes has not caught up with me and changes what I actually typed to what it thought I was going to say and if I don’t proofread my typing, I am then embarrassed by what is posted.

      there is a certain element of a perverse sort of pride in not using correct grammar that seems to exist in the U.S. Because of lack of attention in class or, unfortunately, lack of qualified teachers with the support of a well-thought out curriculum, many high school and, indeed, college graduates, lack a firm understanding of basic English grammar, word usage and punctuation. But instead of working to overcome that lack of fluency, they adopt the attitude of the fox in Aesop’s Fables that correct grammar and word usage is something to be sneered at.

      Reply to this comment
      • Gettin Old November 9, 20:22

        I ALWAYS enjoy your comments. If the shtf, you’d certainly be welcome in my rathole.

        Reply to this comment
      • Biglou13 July 17, 20:25

        And in this you are totally correct. I may not be an English major, but I do know that someone with “basic” English skills can get their thoughts across to be understood by all. Remember, the way you communicate with others reveals the type of person you are. Sloppy language, sloppy person, or at least a purposefully ignorant one. PS. I had no trouble understanding & enjoying his message. I find it very beneficial.

        Reply to this comment
    • Nitakola November 12, 16:22

      AMEN, Why are they here if all they care about is grammar?

      Reply to this comment
  8. Mmark May 24, 10:03

    This guy is trying to teach you something about personal safety not spelling, please grow up.

    Reply to this comment
  9. KP May 29, 18:02

    I am a new owner and a grammar freak. The article was well presented and the info mirrored what I have been learning. The content was great and I did not find what I was not looking for (grammar errors) only great info. Thanks!!

    Reply to this comment
  10. coyote307 October 13, 14:27

    Leonardo if we are talking about spelling you need to proof read yours, just saying.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Labienus November 15, 21:26

    For God sakes learn the right ammo type for your gun. A .12 gauge can’t take a .20 gauge. A .40 can’t take a .45.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 18, 00:58

      But a .32acp will fit in a .380 and fire. Don’t ask me how I know this.

      If one has one’s mouth is engaged at the time of loading the magazine and has neglected to clear the bench of other types of ammunition, .32 acp ammo will fit nicely in a .380 magazine, feed and fire. There may be some stove piping and there may not.


      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 18, 01:06

      Labienus, you are absolutely correct. In addition to knowing what ammunition your particular firearm takes, there are known sizes of ammo that will fit in a larger firearm and the unsuspecting shooter may not realize he or she has inserted a smaller but closely similar in size cartridge in the firearm.

      While a 12 ga. won’t fit in a 20 ga. I believe a 16 ga. will fit in a 12 and a 20 in a 16. A .308 will chamber in a .30-06. A .270 looks very much like a .30-06 and will chamber and I believe will even fire although definitely not recommended.

      I can’t vouch for the accuracy of my shotgun statements. I can vouch for the two rifle/cartridge statements. However, I want to loudly proclaim I do not have the empirical, hands-on knowledge as I do with the .32 acp/.380 combination.

      Reply to this comment
  12. Raven July 17, 18:13

    Hello Travis 🙂 Really appreciated and enjoyed your article! I’m glad I read it and it was beneficial and direct. Thanks again.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Gettin Old August 12, 23:23

    Always appreciate y’all’s shares; the humor was a serious bonus. I needed a chuckle. Esp to LCC; you’re ‘all that and Pnutbutter crackers’.

    Reply to this comment
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