While I wouldn’t call it a slippery retail slope, but that first firearm purchase quickly segues into an armload of additional things to buy in order to safely and responsibly store and maintain that weapon.
The Bare Necessities (To Arm Bears?)
I had the wherewithal to get the absolute basic necessities when I walked out of the FLGS (Fine Local Gun Shop) with my M&P9 Shield: a locking case, a cleaning kit, and gun oil.
The pistol included a cable lock, which is more than dandy for safe storage, although getting that undone and loaded under duress would take a tiny bit of effort at least. The quest for the “perfect firearm storage” can be a rabbit hole that can lead to all sorts of fancy biometric lock boxes and such, but ultimately you have to balance the opposing requirements of security and ease.
Dontcha Realize Y’gott’accessorize
The following isn’t a bill of materials of what I ended up buying in addition to the handgun, but more like a shopping list to my past self if I were able to provide such a manifest of goods:
- Cleaning Kit (sized specifically for your pistol’s caliber): You have to start somewhere with the basic tools and unguents to appease the pistol’s machine spirit. This kit is the bare minimum for a 9mm pistol. I’ve bought whole packs of cleaning patches as well as multiple bottles of cleaner/lubricant and plastic picks for scraping crud out of crevices (used toothbrushes are great for cleaning guns, too).
- Lock Box: I got a couple of these at the local Bi-Mart, and while they may not be the most sturdy (i.e., plastic) they tick the checkboxes for safe storage and (relatively) quick access.
You’re Not Leaving the House Like That, Are You?
Keeping the gun oiled and locked is one thing, but you need to take it to the range to practice with it.
- Ear Muffs*: All gun ranges should require hearing protection (and if not, run away). I “double bag” with these and foam earplugs, and even then things are pretty darn loud when the pew pew gets going.
- Safety Glasses*: Obviously a pair of plastic goggles won’t do much against a bullet, but it will do wonders against slower bits that go flying (e.g., errant cartridge casings, etc.). Folks who wear prescription lenses, might consider getting a dedicated “range set” made so that you can slap side guards on ‘em. Warby Parker is great for inexpensive specs.
- Case: I did carry the pistol to the range in its lock box for a while, but that was a tad odd, as I had to do something with the loaded magazines that were kept with the gun while at home. After unloading and stashing the ammo before (and reloading after) every range trip, I decided a dedicated carrying case would be great to have. A lot of handguns do come with plastic cases (Sig P365, Glock G19/G44, Kel-Tec CP33), although a lot of ‘em ship in cardboard boxes (M&P Shield/Compact, IWI Masada).
- Magazine Loader: “Save the thumb!” is the rallying cry for the mag loader which makes squeezing that 15th round in just that much easier to do. The Glock G19 included a loader that’s made specifically for Glock magazines, but as most other guns do not, something like the Uplula is great to have, period.
Keep Adding to That List, Chummer!
And the retailing just keeps on going.
- Snap Caps (sized specifically for your pistol’s caliber): You’ll need to practice loading and unloading, as well as clearing malfunctions. To do this with live ammo would be such a terrible idea that I can’t come up with a suitable analogy of how bad of an idea that is. Which is why you need snap caps for these drills (which are to be done after you’ve unloaded and locked away the live rounds!).
- Laser Training Cartridge (sized specifically for your pistol’s caliber): I’ve written about this before, and I’m still using mine for dry fire practice. Being able to “see what you’re shooting,” especially with a smartphone app that tracks where that little dot went, adds so much more enjoyment to dry firing. While I wouldn’t call this a mandatory purchase, it does make practicing at home a lot more fun (and productive as well). For the next level in dry fire training help, seek ye the Mantis.
- Smartphone Tripod: I guess this would come in handy if you wanted to live stream yourself at the range, but I use this to hold my iPod Touch with the G-Sight app when using the laser training cartridge for dry fire practice. See above with regards to the “gotta have it” factor.
Not Done Yet
You’re also going to need ammunition, especially if you’d bought that firearm for home and personal protection. These days, one takes whatever ammo one can find, but ideally you’d have a supply of “personal defense” (or “duty ammunition”) - jacketed hollow point - as well as an equally secured stash of “practice ammo” - full metal jacket or ball ammunition. A separate, lockable storage for the ammo is a must.
Let’s not forget extra magazines! Most pistols include two (while the Glock G19 came with three, and the Masada had only one), but having some extra mags is handy for having a “loaded set” that stays with the gun in the lock box and a “range set” that… well, goes to the range!
Just as you’re not truly done shopping when you walk out of the store with that iPhone, there’s a bunch of additional bits and bobs that go with that handgun purchase. At some point, I may have as many holsters as I do USB chargers, but that’s a topic for another day (i.e., gearing up to conceal).
* An All or Something Proposition
As a new/future gun owner (or “gun-curious,” as some might put it), you might have an invitation with a gun owner pal to the range. In which case, you’ll need some hearing and eye protection. Don’t forget that mask!