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November 21, 2023 | Your First Gun

John Rubino is a former Wall Street financial analyst and author or co-author of five books, including The Money Bubble: What to Do Before It Pops and Clean Money: Picking Winners in the Green-Tech Boom. He founded the popular financial website in 2004, sold it in 2022, and now publishes John Rubino’s Substack newsletter.

“Your only rights are those you can defend” — Thomas Jefferson or someone similar

Many readers of this newsletter are already well-armed. If you’re one of them, this article is not for you — though you might want to check it out and post constructive criticism or pro tips in the comments. Anyhow, here goes:

As we descend into financial and geopolitical chaos, the likelihood of an encounter turning violent — carjacking, home invasion, mugging, riot, etc — is rising. If you’re still in one of America’s imploding cities, the odds might already exceed 50-50.

Somewhere along the way, you’ll wonder about self-protection, and maybe that thought process will extend to firearms. Put another way, the question isn’t whether you should prep for the above dangers, but when and how. And one solution is to buy and learn how to use a gun.

Lots of choices

At first glance, the firearm world seems to offer an overwhelming variety of options. But most of them — AR-15s, shotguns, high-caliber pistols — are second, third, or fourth acquisitions. To start out, you want something for your bedside table and/or car glove box, which means a pistol, probably a 9mm semi-automatic.

I asked “generative AI” ChatGPT for an overview of 9mm pistols and damn, our future robot overlords are good at summarizing. In literally 3 seconds, it produced this:

The 9mm pistol is one of the most widely used handguns in the world, known for its versatility, effective ballistics, and relatively low recoil. Here’s an overview:

Caliber: The “9mm” refers to the diameter of the bullet, which is 9 millimeters. The most common type of 9mm ammunition is the 9mm Parabellum or 9x19mm, also known as 9mm Luger.

History: The 9mm cartridge was introduced by Georg Luger in 1902. Since then, it has been adopted by numerous law enforcement agencies, military forces, and civilian users around the world.

Design: The basic design of a 9mm pistol is similar to other semi-automatic handguns. They generally have a magazine that holds the cartridges, a slide that cycles to chamber and eject rounds, and a barrel through which the bullet is fired. Safety mechanisms and firing mechanisms can vary between models and manufacturers.

Magazine Capacity: Depending on the design and purpose (compact, sub-compact, or full-size), a 9mm pistol’s magazine can typically hold anywhere from 6 to 20 rounds, with 15-17 rounds being common for standard-sized models.

Popularity: The 9mm’s popularity is due to a combination of factors, including its relatively moderate recoil, making it accessible for most shooters, and its balance of power and capacity. Its widespread use by military and police has also driven its acceptance in the civilian market.

Ammunition: Various types of 9mm ammunition are available, ranging from full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds for target shooting to hollow points designed for self-defense. Bullet weights typically range from 115 to 147 grains.

Notable Models: There are many notable 9mm pistols in the market, with some of the most popular models including the Glock 17 & 19, SIG Sauer P320, Beretta 92FS, CZ 75, Walther PPQ, Heckler & Koch VP9, and the Smith & Wesson M&P9, among others.

Applications: The 9mm pistol is used in a wide range of applications, from military and police service to personal defense, competition shooting, and general target practice.

Advancements: Modern 9mm pistols benefit from technological advancements, including polymer frames, improved ergonomics, accessory rails, and enhanced safety features. Additionally, ammunition technology has also advanced, with newer bullet designs offering improved terminal ballistics.

Legislation: Depending on the country or state, there might be legislation governing the ownership, carry, and use of 9mm pistols. It’s essential to understand and adhere to local laws if considering acquiring or using a 9mm pistol.

If you’ve read the above and want to proceed, do the following:

Visit a local gun shop

Buying a starter gun is a lot like buying your first gold/silver coins. It helps immensely to have a local dealer who will explain the basics, offer expert advice, and then troubleshoot the inevitable beginner’s problems. Luckily, gun shops are even more common than coin dealers, so finding a well-reviewed local shop with a good Better Business Bureau score shouldn’t be too hard.

Then stop in, meet the staff, and ask your questions. Unless they’re swamped (as they sometimes are when governments threaten to ban various weapons or types of ammo and everyone is pre-emptively stocking up), they’ll be happy to spend some time cultivating a new repeat customer. When you’ve made your choice, they’ll walk you through the mandatory background check and related paperwork.

Choosing your first gun

Size always matters, so try out some different models to see which best fits your hand. Then do the normal shopping thing of looking up reviews, comparing prices, and discussing pros and cons with your gun dealer.

Top-ten lists for various kinds of guns abound online. For 9mm pistols see here, here, and here.

Get some training

You don’t want to just buy a pistol and then start carrying it around — though a recent Supreme Court ruling gives Americans the right to do so. Concealed carry is only for people so well trained that drawing and firing are muscle memory rather than conscious thought. Put another way, armed and untrained is a recipe for disaster. So before you start carrying, you’ll want to be this guy:

Until then, the goal is home defense and your pistol should live on your bedside table or in a locked drawer or safe (depending on who else is in your house), ready for that middle-of-the-night emergency.

Join a shooting range/gun club

Gun clubs seem forbidding but are actually very welcoming. They want to grow and are happy to accommodate new dues-paying members. Most clubs offer lessons on gun safety (absolutely crucial, do not skip that lesson) and basic shooting techniques and strategy. Your gun dealer will know the local gun clubs and can recommend the best fit.

Never stop learning

As with everything else these days, YouTube and Rumble feature hundreds of helpful firearm videos like the following:

Future articles in this series will cover AR-15s, pump-action shotguns, and higher-caliber pistols.

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November 21st, 2023

Posted In: John Rubino Substack

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