Choosing The Right Firearm
For beginners, selecting the right firearm can be a daunting task. An incredibly wide range of choices are available to you, along with an equally wide range of opinions on the best choices from any individual "gun person" that offers you advice.
Even for experienced shooters, crossing over into an unfamiliar category of firearm can be confusing, since a different shooting discipline can present new considerations into the decision-making process. For example, an experienced hunter may not have adequate experience to draw upon when choosing his/her first "concealed carry" personal defense firearm.
To help simplify the decision-making process, within this article we are breaking down the areas of primary shooting interest into five basic categories:
- Personal Protection (applicable to both concealed carry and home protection)
- Sport Shooting (participating in general recreational use, including both informal and organized competitions)
- Hunting (firearms used in legally harvesting wild birds and animals)
- Tactical Firearms (types having enhanced features associated with personal protection use)
- Firearm Collecting (with choices reflecting highly diverse sets of individual interests)
Let's take a more detailed look:
1) Personal Protection: Revolvers and semi-automatic pistols are the most common firearms in this category. However, rifles and shotguns are often chosen for the defense of homes and businesses. Most buyers in this category choose a handgun, and semi-automatic pistols are chosen more often than revolvers. However, revolvers are typically easier to learn and operate. As to the choice of firearm sizes and calibers, we recommend finding a balance that matches your own personal needs, size and dexterity of your hands, your sensitivity to recoil, and your eye dominance. What works for one customer may be totally inappropriate for another person. Keep in mind that an accurate shot from a lower-power caliber is superior to a total miss from a more powerful round.
2) Sport Shooting: Opportunities for sport shooting can range from informal get-togethers with friends and family on private property, to highly organized shooting competitions at specialized commercial facilities. Revolvers, pistols, rifles, and shotguns all have a place in this broad category. Several local venues provide facilities that support sport shooting activities in various ways. For example, some commercial shooting ranges (such as MTM Arms in Athens) provide opportunities for both informal individual and family shooting, and also sponsor organized leagues for both men and women. Some membership-based clubs such as Springfield's Abe Lincoln Gun Club schedule some public-accessible events such as monthly CMP-affiliated events for M1 Garand rifes, and also sponsor youth-related training. For shotgun sports, the Menard County Sportsman's Club offers weekly trap shooting opportunities (for both adults and youth) at the Menard County Fairgrounds.
3) Hunting: Firearms used for hunting represent the widest and most diverse selection of guns for any type of sporting use. Species hunted in Illinois can range from small mammals such as squirrels, to large game such as whitetail deer. Upland bird hunting can start with quail and pheasant in the Fall, and end with Spring hunting seasons for large Eastern Wild Turkeys. Migratory bird hunting starts with dove season in September, and then runs through a highly structured set of duck and goose seasons. Typical firearm choices for small game include rimfire rifles and handguns, and also shotguns. Deer in Illinois are typically hunted with specialized rifled-bore shotguns, muzzleloading rifles, and large-caliber handguns. Upland bird hunting is exclusively a shotgun-oriented sport, as is firearm turkey hunting and migratory waterfowl hunting.
4) Tactical Firearms: In general, tactical firearms represent an extension of the desirable high-tech feature sets found in guns already associated with personal protection and home defense. They often have cosmetic similarities with military-associated firearms, and are often mistaken for them. For example, the popular and versatile AR-15 rifle is frequently (and incorrectly) referred to as an "Assault Rifle" and assumed to be a "fully-automatic machine gun" by some uninformed news media sources, when it is not. (Note: the letters "AR" in the model name is often misrepresented to stand for "Assault Rifle," when in fact it stands for Armalite, which is an Illinois company that originally developed the modular design.) Tactical rifles are more properly referred to as "Modern Sporting Rifles" (or MSRs,) and also include AR-15 configurations optimized for long-range target competitions, as well as specific models designed for hunting species such as coyotes and wild hogs.
5) Firearm Collecting: Firearm collections can be very diverse in nature, and reflect the interests of the individual collector. Collections can be started with a small number of possibly unrelated types of firearm designs, or be extended to include a large number of highly specialized firearm variations. For example, some local area collectors concentrate on collecting vintage basic single-shot rifles, while several others concentrate specifically on current "state-of-the-art" tactical rifle designs. Manufacturer-specific collecting is also highly popular, especially for vintage Colt, Browning, or Winchester branded firearms. Perhaps the most popular form of collecting for many people involves family-owned firearms. These guns provide a tangible link to our own ancestors, and represent a part of their lives which have ultimately shaped our own.
Illinois residents must have a valid FOID card (Firearm owner ID) and meet minimum age requirements to purchase firearms and ammunition. Non-residents meeting certain requirements may purchase long guns and ammunition, but cannot purchase handguns without having the handgun shipped to an FFL in their home state. More details are available upon request.
Please note that there is a waiting period between when you fill out the Federal Form 4473 (background check) and when you may pick up your firearm here in our store. Waiting periods for long guns are 24 hours (1 day) and for handguns are 72 hours (3 days.) In some cases, there are technical delays in processing background checks through the State of Illinois system, so please call ahead to verify official approval if you are traveling some distance to pick up your gun. Important: We will not release a firearm until we have a transaction approval number, and the full waiting period has also been met.