How To Choose A Range Rental
I didn’t grow up in a house full of guns. My family wasn’t against such things, but they weren’t really for them, either. As a result, when it came time for me to purchase my first pistol, I was a blank slate. I didn’t grow up shooting pistols and most of my friends weren’t really into guns. Therefore, in order to figure out what pistol would be be best for me, I went to a local indoor gun range which rented guns, and then rented and shot each one until I found one that seemed to fit my needs.
Like many other people who are new to guns, I figured that spending a little money up-front to test drive a few guns would help me avoid buying a gun that I didn’t like or wouldn’t shoot.
And it did. More on that later.
Can you chose “The Wrong Gun”?
First, we need to define what makes up a “wrong gun.” Quite frankly, we are in a golden age of handguns right now. Essentially all of the guns from the major manufacturers are safe, reliable and accurate right out of the box. This makes them all excellent choices for…something. Now, can there be a wrong gun for a specific purpose, or specific application? Yes, absolutely.
A few years ago, at a prestigious gathering of firearms instructors, I watched a student struggle to safely holster a Sig Sauer P938 at the front of her belt into a hybrid holster that was not designed for that task. Is the Sig P938 a bad gun? No. Was that combination of gun and holster a bad idea and potentially unsafe? Absolutely.
Getting back to choosing which gun to rent, think of the gun rental counter as a serve-yourself soda fountain. Yes, you may occasionally get experimental (“Oooh, raspberry ginger ale! That sounds good!”), but chances are, you’ll fill your cup with your favorite soda because it’s something you’re used to.
At the rental counter, the guns people are used to are pistols like the Glock 17 and 19, along with the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 series, versions of the Sig Sauer P320 and a host of others. These guns are in common use by military, law enforcement and armed civilians alike you and me. They’re comfortable to shoot, which makes them easy to practice with, and the compact models like the Glock 19 or P320 Carry are excellent choices for day in, day out concealed carry.
In order to get familiar with as many guns as possible, many ranges will charge you just one rental fee per caliber. If, for instance, so if you want to try out a 9mm FN 509 pistol and then swap it out for a 9mm Ruger American, you can do so with no additional rental fees.
What To Look For In a Good Rental Gun
As I said before, it’s really hard to buy a bad gun these days. However, some guns are going to be more-suited to your particular tastes than others. Some things to consider as you’re shooting your guns and you looking at your results:
- Can you hit the target more consistently with one gun versus others?
- Did one seem more intuitive to use than the others?
- Were the sights on one pistol better for you than the others?
In addition to this, consider the popularity of your choice. After trying out the rental guns at my range, I wound up buying a 9mm CZ75, and it’s a gun that I own and shoot to this day. It remains one of my favorite guns, but CZ pistols have nowhere the popularity of a Glock or Smith and Wessons pistol. As a result, my choices in holsters, accessories and other items are far more limited than accessories for more popular guns.
Besides helping you sort out what’s best for you, going to the range and trying out a rental gun helps you in other ways as well:
It gets you comfortable with the idea of handling a gun
None of us, not even the top competitors, were born with a gun in our hand. All of us needed to learn the basic manual of arms of how to use a pistol at some point, and learning it on a range with a safety officer close at hand, helps you develop safe gun handling habits that will last a lifetime.
It gets you comfortable with a wide variety of guns
Informed choices require information, and knowing not only which gun works for you, but what other choices are out there helps in two ways. It can calm any buyer’s remorse that you bought the wrong gun, and it also gives you an idea of other guns you might want to purchase later on.
But Most Of All, Have Fun
In order to help your decision about what gun to buy a little bit easier, we’ve created a handy, printable checklist of what to look for as you try out your rental gun. Use it to keep track of what you liked and didn’t like about each gun that you tried out and as a reference for when it comes time to buy a defensive pistol of your own.
Making the decision to own a self-defense pistol is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Buy choosing to own and train with a defensive pistol, you’ve realized that it will be you yourself who will be the first one to respond to a potentially lethal situation. You’ve decided to be in charge of your personal security, protecting the lives that matter the most to you.
But that’s only half the story. The other half is that shooting guns is lots and lots of fun, and chances are, you’ll meet some tremendous people along your journey towards safe and secure self-protection.
Now go out there and shoot!