Friday, June 5, 2009

Your First Handgun: Read The Manual

Most handgun buyers are eager to quickly operate their newly purchased "hardware" at the nearest available shooting facility. It is certainly understandable that a new firearm owner wants to see how well his new acquisition performs.

More than likely this purchasing decision, especially if it was the buyer's very first handgun, was not quickly made; considerable time was probably invested in an effort to buy the best gun for his needs. The "moment of truth" has now arrived after mulling over and making a decision on the numerous options that had to be weighed: form factor, caliber size, new versus used, revolver versus autoloader, and etc.

However, despite the buyer's heightened anticipation, no action should be performed with the gun until he has completely read and understood his firearm's operator's guide.

The operator's guide is the definitive source of information on a specific handgun. It will inform the handgun owner of everything that he needs to know about his handgun. The following topics are usually addressed:

  • Firearm Safety Review
  • Firearm Features
  • Firearm Operation
  • Firearm Maintenance
  • Allowable Ammunition
  • Warranty Info


The operator's guide is provided by the firearm's manufacturer and is provided to the buyer with the purchase of every new handgun via a gun dealer. If a buyer purchases a used handgun from a private seller, the buyer should inquire as to the availability of the guide that was originally provided with the gun.

If the operator's guide is not available, the manufacturer's web site should be searched in an effort to locate one for download. If all else fails, the used handgun buyer should contact the manufacturer or designated importer by mail or telephone to locate and acquire a duplicate copy.

It is absolutely imperative that a handgun owner completely reads and comprehends everything in his operator's guide. If anything is not readily and clearly understood, the gun buyer should find someone to answer his questions before using his handgun.

Many handgun manufacturers have a customer service phone hot-line or a contact facility/mechanism on their web site. If the buyer has a question, he should use it to get the answer he needs. Other resources that buyers should be able to turn to for credible information about their gun would include the following: the dealer that sold him the gun, a firearm safety expert, or a knowledgeable gun owner.

A failure to read and/or comprehend the info in the operator's guide can have negative consequences. In extreme cases, it could lead to a death or severe bodily harm. In lesser cases, it could lead to a malfunction or otherwise avoidable damage to your firearm - which may not be covered by any applicable limited life-time warranties if the terms specified in the guide were violated.

Bottom Line:
An operator's guide is provided to buyers as a tool for them to learn how to safely operate their firearms. Most guides are less than 50 pages in length and will not require a great investment of time to absorb and digest. Thus, it is a no-brainer that new gun owners should read it before operating their handgun, especially when the penalty for not doing so could lead to death, severe bodily harm, or damage to the firearm itself.
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