The Shooter’s Checklist: 10 Expert Tips for Buying Your First Handgun in Texas

image of a gun range

Are you ready to take the plunge and purchase your first handgun? Before hitting the gun shop or range in Texas for your first firearm purchase, it is important to do some research so you know what to look for when selecting a handgun – and to understand some safety basics and factors to look for while shopping for one. 

Getting the right caliber, material quality, and features of a weapon suited specifically to your own needs can make all the difference when protecting yourself or honing your shooting skills. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide, including some more specific features for our patrons in Texas with a checklist for 10 tips on buying your first handgun as a Texan. First, we suggest some research.

Do the Research

When it comes to buying your first handgun, the experience can be intimidating and overwhelming. It is important to do research ahead of time to make sure you are educated and prepared for the purchase. First, you need to find out what type of handgun you want. Do you want a single-action revolver, double-action revolver, semi-automatic pistol, or something else? Consider what you plan on using it for and ask questions about each type of handgun to get a better understanding of them.


Second, determine whether or not you’ll need a permit for the type of handgun you are purchasing in your state. Some states require permits for handguns that aren’t classified as “concealed weapons.” If a permit is needed, make sure you fill out the necessary paperwork and submit it before attempting to purchase your first gun. The graphic below from is linked to their article on Gun Carry Laws in the United States. 

After getting acquainted with the legal requirements surrounding your state’s firearm ownership, choose a reputable retailer that sells firearms and ammunition. Selecting an established store will ensure that all laws are followed during the purchasing process and that your transaction is handled professionally and efficiently. Inquire about any safety classes they may offer as well if this is something that interests you.


Before making a final decision on which handgun to buy, research various models online so that you can compare different features such as size, weight, caliber rounds used, accuracy ratings, price ranges etc. Make sure to read customer reviews as well so that you have an honest opinion about what other people think about certain guns before making an informed decision. Also consider things like ease of maintenance and availability of spare parts in case something needs repair down the road.


Finally, visit a few shops or shows in your area where different types of handguns are available so that you can handle them before making any purchase decisions. You may find one particular model more appealing than another after picking them up yourself since firing them is sometimes not allowed at retailers or shows due to imposed restrictions from local authorities or store policies.  When all is said and done make sure to always adhere to safe firearm handling practices when around firearms no matter where they are being used!

10 Tips for Purchasing Your First Handgun in Texas

Buying your first handgun in Texas can be a daunting task. Knowing the laws, understanding the selection of products available, and finding the best gun for you can make for an overwhelming experience. 

Here are 10 tips to help when purchasing your first handgun in Texas:

  1. Research the Laws: Before buying a handgun in Texas, it’s important to understand the state’s laws and regulations regarding firearm purchases and transfers. Make sure to check with local authorities and familiarize yourself with any local regulations that may also apply. Call or stop by your local gun range. They are often more than happy to answer questions. It’s also your responsibility to know the laws and regulations concerning carrying, storing, and using the gun, so get researching and be prepared before you purchase. Each state has different requirements, so if you travel or move out of state with a gun, be sure to get familiar with other state laws.
  1. Determine Your Needs: Think about why you want a handgun, including what type of activities you plan on using it for. Different types of handguns are designed for different tasks, so think about whether you need something primarily for home defense, concealed carry, or target shooting. We previously wrote a blog on 3 questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a handgun. These are good to review to understand what your needs are. This advice extends to accessories, storage, and other extras. For example, you may need certain sights for hunting, a special holster for concealed carry, or types of safe storage made specifically for ease of home defense use. Determining your needs beforehand can help you feel more confident with your purchase and make the process smoother.
  1. Educate Yourself: Get educated on gun safety and familiarize yourself with how firearms work before making a purchase decision. Take classes offered by certified instructors at a gun range or gun store to learn more about firearms before buying one. Know how to clean and care for a gun, and be sure to have safe storage methods figured out before you make a purchase. Being a responsible gun owner reflects positively on the whole community, so it’s important to be knowledgeable and safe from the start.
  1. Establish a Budget: Before setting out to buy a handgun, have an idea of what your budget is and stick to it. This will ensure that you don’t overspend or purchase something that isn’t suitable for your needs because it was priced too low or too high compared to other models available at the time of purchase. Consider all the items you might want to purchase in addition to the firearm to really calculate the total cost of owning a firearm. 

Additional costs may include:

  • ammunition
  • hearing protection
  • extra magazines
  • safe storage solutions and carrying cases
  • cleaning and maintenance
  • range fees
  • permits (if required)
  • classes 

These costs are just some of the basics that go along with most gun purchases. On top of these costs, you may find yourself looking for accessories for your gun. Scopes, flashlights, bipods, holsters, lasers, grips, and stocks are just some of the many options and add-ons you may want to purchase to enhance your shooting activities. You may find budgeting monthly for gun needs a simple way to ensure you can purchase what you want and need as you grow in your experience.

  1. Shop Around: Once you decide which type of firearm best suits your needs, compare prices from multiple gun stores in order to get the best deal possible on the same model/brand of handgun that meets all of your needs and requirements. One of the easiest ways to do this is at a gun show. Gun shows provide ample opportunity to easily ask questions and shop around to learn more about what you might want without driving to multiple locations. 
  1. Rent Before You Buy: Take advantage of rental services offered by some gun stores, like HOT Shooting Center’s “Try Before You Buy” program, and give different weapons a try before committing to purchasing one outright. This kind of program allows you to get a feel for various types, sizes, and calibers of handguns available before settling on the one that is right for you specifically. Most people will find they have preferences based on their own physical size and hand size.       
  1. Handle It First: Make sure that you handle any firearms before agreeing to buy them in order to make sure they fit comfortably in your hands without feeling overly bulky or awkward when aiming down range; no matter how great a deal might be on paper – if it doesn’t feel right physically then it probably isn’t right for you personally. If possible, you should test-fire the weapon as well so you have a good feel for how it performs. You may find a gun has too much kickback for your liking or isn’t as easy to aim as you’d prefer.
  1. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask questions while shopping around – after all, there is no such thing as too much information when it comes down to making an informed decision regarding something as serious as buying a firearm! Be sure to inquire about ammunition compatibility/capacity recommendations based upon intended use (i-e Concealed Carry / Home Defense / Target Shooting etcetera). Take the time to talk with experts and get to know what is really involved. Ask about storage and accessories, range availability, training, and anything else you’re interested in.
  1. Purchase Insurance & Maintenance Supplies: Consider investing in insurance coverage specifically tailored towards firearms ownership – even if not legally required. This could save money and hassle should anything happen after-the-fact with regards to damage repair/replacement, etc. Additionally, purchasing proper cleaning supplies (such as bore snakes, dusters, and lubricants) at the same time you purchase the gun ensures that maintenance can be done quickly and easily. Proper gun maintenance from the start is absolutely essential to extending the life of the gun and can save you a lot of hassle by avoiding costly, preventable problems.  
  1. Follow All Local Rules & Regulations: Above all else, make sure to follow ALL applicable Federal, State, and Local rules and regulations regarding firearms ownership! From purchasing, to carrying, storing, and firing the gun, it’s your responsibility to know and follow the law. Be aware that while these guidelines may vary slightly depending upon where you live within The Lone Star State, always err on the side of caution when purchasing anything related to firearms.

When deciding to buy a firearm for the first time, it’s important to be knowledgeable, take the initiative, and do your research. Before purchase, you should be confident in why you want a gun, and what the main use will be. It’s essential to find an experienced gun shop or gun club to help you navigate what can become a convoluted process. Don’t be afraid to walk out of a gun shop or range that makes you feel uncomfortable, and find a shop that is willing to answer all your questions, follows the law, and prioritizes your needs as well as safe gun use. Remember, your gun purchase is only the first step. Once you are a gun owner, get trained in the safe use and maintenance of your weapon, and become a responsible expert. The type of gun owner you are reflects on the entire community and should always be taken seriously.

About Heart of Texas Shooting Center

We are Waco’s Premier Indoor Gun Range. Conveniently located near I-35 on Hwy 6/Loop 340, we are proud to be a locally owned and operated business.

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Closing Announcement

It is with heavy heart that we announce that we are closing Heart of Texas Shooting Center effective close-of-business on Saturday, March 30. We want to say that we feel privileged to have been able to serve McLennan County’s shooting needs for the past 3 years.

Thank you for honoring us by making us part of your firearms journey, and we wish you the best of everything for the future.


Eric Nutt, CEO