Tips for First-Time Pistol Buyers.

If you’re a first-time pistol buyer, Browning would like to offer some tips to make your first firearm a safe, prudent and useful purchase. Our founder, John M. Browning helped to pioneer the semi-automatic pistol almost 125 years ago. In many parts of the world the term “Browning” still refers to any type of semi-automatic pistol design.

The focus of Browning has always been on autoloading pistols rather than revolvers. Both have their place and we hope our special expertise can help you as a new pistol owner.

John Moses Browning's extraordinary pistol design, the Model 1911, shown during testing and trials before being adopted as the official sidearm of the U.S. Army. The M1911 (later designated the M1911A1) served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1986.

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There's Plenty to Like about Smaller Calibers.

Calibers like 22 Long Rifle and the 380 ACP are easy to handle and are the perfect way to introduce first-time buyers to a capable, top-quality pistol.

The choices in handguns today are extremely numerous and can be confusing for the new purchaser. Browning's expertise in pistols began in the closing years of the 19th Century with breakthrough designs by John M. Browning. Today our focus is on smaller caliber pistols, including the Buck Mark and 1911-22 series (both are chambered for the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge) and the 1911-380 series (chambered in the centerfire 380 ACP cartridge). 

The .22 Long Rifle cartridge can be ideal for your first handgun and rimfire ammunition is inexpensive . The recoil and noise of a rimfire are less intimidating for new shooters. You can easily carry a box of 100 rimfire cartridges in your pocket that doesn’t take up more space than a candy bar. Rimfire ammunition comes in many different styles, ranging from high-velocity hollow points, standard velocity target cartridges, and lower velocity subsonic ammo.

When you purchase your first pistol, make sure you also buy the ammunition and accessories you’ll need – important items like extra magazines, a holster, gun case or storage enclosure and basic cleaning supplies.

The Browning Buck Mark and 1911-22 rimfire pistols are great first pistols for many new shooters. Browning also offers a full line of magazines, holsters, cases, safes, and cleaning supplies.

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A Consistent Single-Action Trigger is Easier to Shoot Well, Especially for Novices.

The consistency of a good single-action trigger is generally easier for new shooters to master. Browning pistols have excellent single-action trigger pulls, right out of the box.

Many modern semi-automatic handguns have a double-action trigger, meaning the trigger both cocks and releases the hammer or striker. Because the trigger performs both functions it has a long, heavy pull for the first shot with subsequent shots having a shorter, lighter pull. Other designs, called double-action only (DAO), are similar to a revolver and have the same long, heavy trigger pull for each shot.

A semi-automatic handgun with a single-action trigger (generally speaking) requires the hammer to be cocked before it can be fired for the first time. Once the first shot is made, the hammer is re-cocked by the action and the handgun is ready to fire again. Many shooters, novices especially, find a handgun with a single-action trigger preferable with the consistency and lighter pull allowing them to place more focus on proper grip and sight alignment.

All Browning Buck Mark, 1911-22 and 1911-380 pistols all offer the dependable, easy to shoot single-action trigger design.

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Semi-Auto Pistols Feed Ammunition from a Detachable Magazine.

Each cartridge is loaded into the magazine, then the loaded magazine is inserted into the grip of the pistol.

The autoloading pistol fires one shot, ejects the fired cartridge case and loads a fresh cartridge from the magazine each time the trigger is pressed. It's now ready for the next shot.

Unlike a revolver, where each cartridge must be loaded, one-by-one into the gun’s cylinder, a semi-auto pistol feeds from a detachable magazine.

You load the cartridges into the magazine, then insert the loaded magazine into the grip of the pistol. You then pull the slide fully to the rear and release it to chamber a cartridge, and then place the manual "safety" in the on safe position. When the manual “safety” is placed in the off position the pistol will fire when the trigger is pressed.

The pistol will also eject the fired cartridge case and load a fresh cartridge from the magazine, so it is ready to fire again with another press of the trigger. When you’re finished firing just remove the magazine from the gun, pull the slide fully to the rear to eject any cartridge remaining in the chamber.  Always double check to make sure the chamber is empty and the magazine is removed whenever storing or transporting your gun.

All Browning Buck Mark, 1911-22 and 1911-380 pistols offer the detachable magazine design, and extra magazines are readily available.

The Browning 1911-380 is an 85% reduced-scale version of the classic Model 1911 originally designed by John M. Browning for the US Military. Mr. Browning's original "45 Automatic" served all branches of the armed services from 1911 to the mid-1980s as the general issue sidearm. The Model 1911 was regularly carried by special operations troops for several more decades.

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You Want a Rugged Pistol for Designed for Long-Term Reliability.

Make sure your first pistol is constructed with top-quality materials that should provide your with years of reliable, trouble-free service.

Your first pistol will probably get more than its fair share of knocks, scrapes and bumps. Make sure it’s constructed with top-quality materials like stainless steel, aircraft-grade aluminum alloys and the latest polymer composites that can shrug off hard use and harsh conditions.

Like a fire extinguisher or seat belt, a pistol must be ready, reliable and dependable whenever and wherever you might need it.

All Browning Buck Mark, 1911-22 and 1911-380 pistols are based on designs that have proven reliable for many decades. They’re built from the finest stainless steel, top-grade alloys and rugged composites.

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5. Understand the Law and Get Additional Training and Firearm Safety Information from Reliable Sources.

Make sure you carefully read and understand your owner’s manual before you store, load or use your new firearm.

With firearm ownership comes great individual responsibility. 

Make sure you comply with the firearm laws and regulations for your location and that you read and understand your owner’s manual before you store, load or use your new firearm. Take some time to do additional research on the skills you need to develop to be a safe and effective firearm owner.  

Your local gun store, gun range or shooting club may offer basic and advanced classes in firearm safety, marksmanship and home protection from certified instructors. There are many good online resources available as well. 

One excellent resource for both local gun laws and training is the National Rifle Association. You can learn more at

All Browning Buck Mark, 1911-22 and 1911-380 pistols are shipped with a free locking device to assist in the safe storage of firearms.

It's always wise to get additional training in firearm safety .

Gun Safety Starts with You. Here are some good rules to live by when handling firearms:

  1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use. 
  3. Don't rely on your gun's "safety." 
  4. Be sure of your target and what's beyond it.
  5. Use correct ammunition. 
  6. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care!
  7. Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting. 
  8. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting. 
  9. Don't alter or modify your gun, and have guns serviced regularly. 
  10.  Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using. 

Learn more about firearm safety at