My First Time

From Reader Preussenotto in an email:

“I don’t know if you’ve asked this before or its been some time, but I’d be curious to know.
“What was the first “real” gun you ever bought with your own money (long-arm or handgun)?  Not a .22 (because those should be household appliances, like a toaster) and not one you inherited from Grandpa or Dad, but one you plunked down your own hard-earned for?”

I think my first gun purchase was a Llama Mod IXA in 9mm:
…and I say “think” because I can’t remember whether I bought it first, or the Israeli K98k beforehand:
As I recall, the purchases were made within a month or so of each other, so it doesn’t really matter.
The Llama only lasted about a year before being traded for a Colt 1917 revolver in .45 Colt / .45 ACP (with moonclips and a shortened barrel):
…which in turn was traded for a Colt Combat Commander a year or two later.
That was my last handgun before The Great Wetback Episode of 1986, at which time I sold the Colt and gave the Izzy Mauser to a friend.
So… what was your first gun, purchased as prescribed by Reader Preussenotto above?


  1. A Winchester semi auto .22 rifle, don’t remember the model.
    First handgun, and it’s a stretch, was an Ingram MAC 11 in 9mm.
    Those were so long ago I barely remember them.

  2. Mossberg 500. Paid about $90 for it at a Kmart in New Jersey in 1975. Still have the gun in semi – retired status.

  3. Ruger P89DC, purchased when I got an armed security job in college. Picked it up at a pawn shop, later traded it in when I bought my first 1911 (a Rock Island GI-spec model). It was a bit chunky and only had passable ergonomics, but always fed, and always went bang.

    First long gun was the Maverick 88 12-gauge that’s still sitting in my safe.

  4. 1970’s mfg. Winchester #1894 in 30-30. I still have it today, although I haven’t shot it in years. The length of pull seems awfully short, even with an added rubber pad.

  5. Makarov. 1993 or 94 I think, after the wall had come down & the Russkies were hard up for cash & flooded the market with them. $120, came with a holster, extra clip & cleaning rod. Mine was manufactured explicitly for export, has “Made In Russia” stamped in English & I suspect the build quality doesn’t quite measure up to what they churned out for their own. But 30 years and a couple thousand rounds of mostly crap ammo later I’ve never had a single issue with it. It presently resides in my kitchen. Should a goblin bust in while I’m doing domestic shit in that room, 9 rounds of 9×18 will STING, lemme tell ya.

  6. It was a CZ-75A I purchased in Germany while still in the Air Force. Decades ago, of course, not sure if they still have a shooting culture now or if it would be allowed, but they had an avid shooting culture in the 1980’s.

    It was about the only 9mm Jeff Cooper approved of, albeit grudgingly, as I recall, which had some influence on my purchase. Next was a Springfield 1911 when I got back to the states.

    1. I have lots of German cousins and they still shoot a lot, and Germany still has lots of Schutzenfests with the annual King of Schutzenfest being the winner of a fairly tough marksmanship contest, although with some recent covid cancellations and/or downsizing.

      Here’s a video from the 2019 Schutzenfest from my mothers home village. It looks to me like the lads are rehearsing for “Third Time Lucky”

    2. VERY curious if you still have that CZ, and if so, if it is a short rail or a long rail.
      IIRC, they only made the short rail into 1978(?), before lengthening the slide rails. They’ve become a niche collector item.

  7. A Remington Nylon Model 66 in green with a nameless Japanese 4 x 20 scope. Bought it off a mate who was getting married and needed the money. Had it stolen by some kids in Kalgoorlie who left it on the railway tracks when they ran out of ammo. Police said I could have the pieces back if I wanted them …

  8. Walther PPK/S made by Interarms in .380ACP.

    First rifle is a Lee Enfield No 1 Mark I** made in 1902 or so. Never fired it


  9. My firsts …
    Handgun – smith & wesson SD9VE – even w/ Apex stuff, had an awful trigger.
    Rifle – Mosin Nagant 91/30

    I consigned the Smith, used the cash to partly fund a gen-1 Canik TP9SA
    Can’t say enough good things about the Canik. Dead to nuts reliable. Out-glocks Glock for less than $400. It runs dry, it runs wet. Runs clean or dirty. It’s almost a honey badger – it doesn’t care.
    Damned thing is a fork .. pick it up and it works

    Sold the 91/30 to an ex-army lawyer, replaced it with another Mosin, an M44 carbine. Because of the muzzle flash and concussion, my M44 is called The Russian Blunderbuss.

  10. First long gun was bought the minute I turned 18; a 12 gauge “Coast-to-Coast” (hardware store chain) brand Mossberg 500, purchased used for something like $75. It was the everything shotgun: Deer (with Foster-type slugs), ducks, geese, pheasants.

    The action survived a post-fire submergence in fire-hose water of almost 3 weeks after my apartment burned to the ground and the floor burned out from under the closet it was stored in, but the exterior of the barrel pitted and the stock had mold growing under the varnish. Today it survives as the house shotgun with a pistol-grip top-folding stock and 18″ straight-tube barrel with (for some bizarre reason) rifle sights.

  11. First Long Gun was an Anschutz .410 single barrel single shot bolt action shotgun, from when I was 14, (a mere 54 years ago). I still have it and still use it as often as I can, it is, in fact, my go-to-gun, still. My first short gun as soon as I got my licence was a Walther P38, I’d still have it but the UK had the Great Unecessary Gun Confiscation! (NB My second pistol was a Lahti L-35 but it died irretrievably on the second magazine’s worth, the dealer gave me a full refund).

  12. My first REAL firearm was a 10/22 Sporter: Loved that gun. Even back in the when, in the aptly named LA Basin, any firearm, even a 22LR, definitely wasn’t an appliance. More’s the pity.

    By the OP’s definition, my first firearm was a very early model Ruger Mini-14. It was my introduction to firearm frustration. Between the horrid sights and the pencil thin barrel that lost all pretense of accuracy when it got warm, I couldn’t hit squat. It was also the first firearm I sold.

  13. A Ruger (Old Model) Vaquero, Stainless, 5.5” bbl, in 45 Colt. I paid $325 for it, gently used. That was 24 years ago and it’s still my favorite handgun.

    1. My SASS completion pistols are two Old Model Vaquero Bisleys, SS, 5 1/2″ barrels, in .357. Slicked-up by the King of the Cowboy Gunsmiths, Jim Bowie. They ARE fast and fun!

  14. Rifle–Original 1873 Springfield Trapdoor rifle purchased in 1973.

    Revolver– Navy Arms repro of the 1875 Remington in 44-40. Purchased in1978 at the (gasp!) San Francisco Gun Exchange.

    Shotgun– Mossberg 500 from K-Mart. Came with a coupon for a spare plain barrel. They ran out of plain barrels so they sent me a 26″ vent rib I/C barrel instead. Purchased around 1980.

  15. First firearm, but .22: Marlin bolt action. Still have it.
    First center-fire anything: Mosin-Nagant 91/30. Still have it. That rifle has stampings on it showing a history from pre-Soviet revolution to the Spanish Civil War to Bulgaria and beyond, along with what looks suspiciously like bloodstains on the stock right where a soldier’s cheek would rest in firing stance.
    First handguns: a S&W Model 15, and a Rock Island Armory 1911, released from layaway the day I turned 21. Still have them both.
    First shotgun: Stevens 520A, later replaced by a Stevens 520. Don’t have the 520A any more. Don’t especially miss the A; the safety setup was inferior (in my estimation) to the older version, with an overly complicated spring setup instead of the earlier solid metal performing the job of a trigger block. Also the 520A stock was a tad long for my arms, as someone had replaced it at some point in the past.

  16. I bought a Tangfoglio in .45 and a HK-P7m8 within a year of each other.

    I can’t remember which I bought first, but the Tangfoglio is long gone. I didn’t like the way the .45 recoiled, and it was only reliable for 99 rounds after a cleaning. At 100 rounds it would start malfunctioning. Didn’t matter how much lube or how little. At the first failure to eject, field strip, wipe it down, reassemble and you’re ready for another 99 rounds.

    I came across this earlier this week and thought of you:

    “Taste from our rotating collection of rare cask-strength whiskey experiments concepted by our Head Distiller. These innovations in whiskey employ inventive distilling processes for one-of-a-kind flavor profiles. We will identify and savor the unique tasting notes, and discuss the background and “

  17. Smith & Wesson mod 19 in 357. Found it in the classifieds (remember those). I had just gotten a $100 Christmas bonus and used it, and some savings to pay $225 for it. Beautiful pistol, still have it. Long gun was a Remington 870 express. Still have it too

  18. Browning Hi Power.

    I think it was one of the last ones manufactured and assembled in Belgium before the assembly operation moved to Portugal.

  19. Ithaca Model 37 in 20 gauge, made around 1955. Purchased slightly used from Osage Pawn for $80 in 1969, my first quail season. Still have it, still tight as a drum.

  20. If I can’t count .22’s, then my first was a FN Mauser sporter in .30-06, the “graduation project” of a student in the Trinidad (Colorado) State College Gunsmithing Program. I think it cost $125 back then. I will be hunting with it in October.

    A few years later it suffered an unfortunate tree-stand accident and had to be restocked, but it’s the same rifle, right?

  21. Norinco AKM with a folding stock. Bought one month after I turned 18. Still have it many decades later but shoot ARs now.

  22. About 1969, Savage lever action 99 .308. Still have it.

    Because of brown bear country, I have since purchased several Mossberg 12 gauge shotguns. (Cabin, office, wife’s, trunk etc. (I even have a some bird shot ammo, but most of the ammo is 00, 000, and slugs.)

    Took much longer for my first purchase of a handgun (inherited a .22, and a .32.)
    In about 2003 purchased a Taurus .38. Regretted it, but still have it, because…. guns.

  23. First gun was shotgun. Ithaca model 37 I bought from a chain retailer in the Midwest. Gibsons.

    Then a. Winchester 243 model 88

    Sold the both to my brother when I went back to college

    First center fire pistol was a makarov 380 that looks like a Ppk.

    Still have it. Hard to drop the mag as it is a spring you depress. Not much room for it to move. Later versions have a button buy the trigger.

    Walk down memory lane

  24. Remington 12ga Model 870. I was 17 and had to have my mother buy it for me. I sold it to a neighbor when I was about to leave for Germany (U S Army). Loved that gun. Always regretted selling it. Found a beautiful used Wingmaster in the late 90’s in a gun store on Long Island. Not my original but it is an 870. Best repeating shotgun ever made before Remington came out with the Express model to compete pricewise with Mossberg.

  25. It was a used Browning High Power from a deputy sheriff when I was 17. The 25 year old gun was extremely worn on the outside but had less than 500 rounds through it. It averaged a thousand rounds a month through it for the next five years

  26. My dad didn’t like guns so the only shooting I did was with my cousins out on their farm and since they lived 1200 miles away, wasn’t too often. Bought a ruger 10/22 in 1976 (still have), next gun was a mossberg 500 with shot and rifled slug barrel for deer hunting with my brothers in law. that was in the some time around 1990. My 1st wife hated handguns, was ok with rifle and shotgun, probably because her dad and brothers had them. It wasn’t until I was divorced that I got into hand guns, a co-worker was a member of a pistol club and shot PPC. My first handgun was a S&W 686, tuned up for competition shooting. Bought it used from a lady at the club. Over the years I’ve bought dozens of guns, many of which were sold , traded or given to my kids. Now that I’m in my 70’s, half crippled and half blind a fun day at the range usually involves .22 handguns.

  27. HK-93 (the 5.56mm model). I always regretted not getting the HK-91 in 7.62mm NATO, but it always went bang and was accurate. I really liked the sight setup. My first pistol was an FEG (Hungarian) Hi Power clone. A bit chunky in my hands, but it still works.

    1. Heh. In my youth, I wanted an HK-91 in the worst way…There was a surplus (sort of) store in the San Fernando Valley that had one for sale in a wooden case, with all the accessories… It was well out of my ability to pay….

      Then, life overtook events, and while I could have paid for it, there were much more important things to spend money on. Somewhere along the line, the store closed, too.

      But ultimately, I got a -91. And then a few PTRs (my main battle rifle of choice for years). These days, I rely on AR-10’s because they are in many respects, better (ergonomics, ease of scoping, etc).

      The -91’s are still in the safe though. And when they were available I bought a LOT of brand new in the wrappers magazines for a buck each…

  28. An Underwood M-1 carbine along with several mags I bought for $100.00 from the local police chief who was our neighbor. Even gave me a few hundred rounds of ammo. Still have it.

    1. Hang on to it. As a guy who recently paid way too much for a Winchester carbine from Midway I appreciate the valuable piece of history you’ve got. The sad part is that the ammunition is proprietary to the carbine – nothing else uses it and even though there were over six million carbines made they’ve got you by the short hairs even in good times.

        1. There was the old Kimball semiauto that died a merciful death before too many did the whole energetic disassembly thing in use.

          .30 Carbine was one of the two chamberings Marlin’s Model 62 Levermatic was made in.

          T/C Contenders, but then, what cartridge that could possibly be made to fit inside that platform HAVEN’T they made a barrel for?

    2. My dad got his 30 carbine for about $15 from the director of civilian marksmanship, a position that apparently existed in the 1950s.

      1. Still existed in the early-90’s when they sent me an H&R M1 Garand that appeared to be “unissued”, with a bbl date of 1956 – the last year of production. Stopped firing it when I got a Springfield Inc Garand when they were new, and it still hangs on my wall with a serial number less than 500 from the end of the H&R run.

  29. Browning BDM in 9mm. Looks like a Hi-Power, but a modern gun designed for the US army trials to replace the 1911 in the 80s. Has a control on the side that switches the action from DAO (revolver), to Double-Single (Pistol).
    I’m a small guy, and the BDM has a very slim grip, especially for a magazine that holds 15 rounds.

  30. I was a most excellent rabbit hunter when I was a mere youth, Jack Rabbits and Cottontails and I was given several .22s and a couple of shotguns growing up from age 10 to 16. When I was 16 I worked in a hardware store and with my own money bought a Marlin lever action .22 magnum that a hard hitting rifle for rabbits and squirrels. My first pistol I bought when I was 17, a nice used Ruger Mark I which I found in a pawn shop in 1962 and carried it as an under the driver’s seat pistol for a number of years until the mid 1980’s and things were just different in the old days about that sort of stuff.

  31. In 1990 I bought one of the last HK91s to be imported. Bought in Massachusetts (now banned there).

    I was in the Marine Reserves at the time. Dry-firing and range time with that beast helped me move up my score with the M16 from Sharpshooter to Expert.

  32. Glock 17, gen 2. It was a police trade-in that had all the recall parts changed and wear parts (except the barrel, which was excellent) replaced at the factory.

    I still carry it daily. Upgraded to good steel adjustable sights, and no other modifications.

  33. A Kahr PM9 for $400 that I still carry everyday, and a Norinco SKS that had been re-arsenaled and was in suburb shape in a blond wood stock for $180. Now it’s in a Tapco stock with a red dot sight.

    Both purchases were around 2004, and a direct result of reading Kim’s blog.

  34. My first handgun purchased with my own money was a Colt Python with 6 inch barrel. It was, I think, in 1985. Not a bad start , eh? My first centerfire rifle was a Ruger 77 in 30’06 bought about the same time. My very first rifle I bought was a Marlin 39A (I know .22s don’t count here) but that one I bought in 1966. I had been given a model 94 Swedish Mauser carbine modified as a G33/50 by Interarms about 1968 I think. My nephew has the Mauser, and I still have all the others.

  35. A Mossberg 12 gauge. But, I inherited, and always had use of, a complete set of World War II infantry rifles plus a few World War I ones.

  36. Hey Kim…I’ve been reading your stuff for many years and never felt the need to comment, because you’ve always said all that needed to be said.

    But….you did ask, and my first gun that I bought with my first pay check back in 1980 was also an Israeli 98K Mauser chambered in 7.62 NATO, so I thought I should add my $0.02 worth. Your recent posts about the new Mauser also ignited lots of old, good memories.

    I’m Australian, and hunted ferals (pigs, goats, dogs and cats) with that gun for many years. Then I married the wrong woman, and The Long Story commenced and I had The Time of No Money and No Guns. That’s behind me now, and I have a good woman, half a dozen handguns and half a dozen rifles, as a man should.

    Best wishes from Oz.

  37. Beretta model 1934 .380acp. Purchased in 1978 after having the rather disconcerting experience of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a burglar opening my bedroom door. By the time I was fully awake he was gone. I heard him shout “There’s somebody in here” then heard the sound of people leaving. By the time the Police arrived there was not much that could be done. Minutes vs seconds etc. It wasn’t long before I also moved to a better neighborhood. I now prefer air conditioning to ventilation from open windows on those warm summer nights.

    I still have the Beretta, but I also have other more powerful handguns and long guns.

  38. At 31, I married into a hunting family and bought a Savage 110 chambered in 7mm Rem from a pawn shop. With the wooden stock it kicked like a mule and ate cheap scopes for breakfast, but it did help me harvest my first two elk, two pronghorn and a white tail buck.

  39. First gun was a Glock 23, back in ’98 or ’99. I was shooting someone else’s Glock out in the desert one day, and doing a not-bad job at it considering how infrequently I had shot guns in the past.

    First rifle was an M1 Garand, back in ’08. My first run-in with the type was with my grandfather’s Garand when I’d visited a few years earlier. As with the Glock, I was getting good results out of it for being a still not-as-frequent-as-I-should-be shooter.

    I’ve picked up a few other handguns and rifles since and have parts on hand that I need to assemble into a Glock 22 -alike. I’ve also 3D-printed an AR lower, but not gotten around to trying it out yet as there are some non-printed parts that need to be added. Still don’t have a shotgun, though.

  40. Per the rules, not counting .22s and purchased with my own money, earned by a job other than working the family farm:
    Rifle: “A” model UZI carbine, purchased at a gun shop in a town near my first duty station while in the Marines.
    Handgun: 5 & 1/2″ blued Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum, ditto on acquisition.

    After that, it’s been somewhere rather north of a thousand, give or take. Most have come and gone, my wife would argue that too many have stayed. Most recent arrival, (from Collectors Firearms no less!) was a rifle marketed by Kassnar, made by Italian gunmakers Sabatti. Looks vaguely like the results of leaving a Remington Model 700 Classic and a Ruger M77 alone in the safe with Barry White music playing, but with a butterknife bolt handle.

  41. ” Household Appliance ” early 1970 Browning Challenger.
    First real gun about one year later S&W M19 4″.

  42. SiG P220 in .45 ACP, purchased from the Vogelweh Rod & Gun club when I was stationed in Germany, back around 1998 or so. Followed not long after by an H&K USP Tactical, also in .45 ACP, from the Baumholder Rod & Gun.

    Still have the SiG, but not the H&K.

  43. I turned survivalist/back-to-the-lander in the late 1970’s, and sort-of following Mel Tappan’s advice, I bought my initial arsenal (I already had .22’s.)

    Colt Combat Commander (Satin Nickel finish).
    Ruger Mini-14 (I’ve never regretted it).
    Remington 870, 12 gauge.

    I looked at ye olde gun safe last week, and I think it may be time to start thinning the herd. But those guns will remain.

    1. I’d love to see your Colt; when I got mine, there were no finishes to be had other than blue. Send me a pic, if you want.

  44. A 50’s era PPK (9mmKurz) that was acquired from the evidence locker at the LACo courts via a friend on the LAPD who got a friendly judge to release it as the perp who used it was on Death Row. It came in the original box, with both original mags, cleaning rod, manual, and test target.

  45. A high serial number Springfield 1903-A3. It had an old externally adjusted scope bolted on, which I immediately removed. No other sporterization.

  46. Owning a gun if you’re in the military is sometimes a hassle, so my first guns were purchased right after I retired from the Canoe Club. Three brand-new (in serial number order) FN Browning “Hi-Power” pistols in 9MM. That was long ago.

    I added a couple of rifles in the following years, but it wasn’t until we moved from Cacafornia to Texas that I added three more rifles and two more pistols. Now I think I have enough guns, so I’m focusing on buying ammo for them, now that ammo prices have started to level off.

  47. 1st – a 1960 Marlin 39A purchased at a hardware store with my money saved delivering newspapers and cutting lawns. Still have it. I know, I know, it’s a .22, but I worked hard for that.
    Got my own house, finally, about 1972 and made a little armory with in a year:
    2nd – my great-grandfather’s 12 ga Lefever sidelock double. Still have it. Inherited, I know, but I took care of it for many years before my grandfather gave it to me as a housewarming gift.
    3rd – S&W Model 19 2-1/2″ bbl – BIL stole it, long story – might get it back.
    4th – Rem 700 BDL .308 – still have it
    5th – Colt Gold Cup Series 70 – still have it.

  48. The first purchase was a Ruger 10/22 for $99 from a local sporting goods store. But the first non .22s were:
    Colt Delta Elite 10mm pistol (1988)
    Marlin M45 Camp Carbine.
    Still have both.

    I didn’t get a .22 handgun for years after that…

  49. #1 was a Chinese SKS 56, back when commie milsurp could be had for 7-cents a round.
    #2 was a Glock 35 full frame handgun in .40S&W, back when that round was fashionable.

  50. Canik TP9 Elite SC. First time gun owner. Bought it last week. Haven’t even been to the range yet. Watched gun porn till I was blue in the face. Figured it was now or I’d never get the chance once president FUBAR issues some insane diktat (to which I say BFYTW).

  51. First long gun: Either a Mossberg 500 shotgun, SKS or a Swedish Mauser in 6.5×55 (for $100!). I’m pretty sure it was the 500.
    First handgun: 1851 Navy in .36 (first real handgun was a S&W 5906 in 9mm)

  52. A Chinese Type 56 (SKS), in 1976. Not Norinco, but a Vietnam bring-back. Bought it from the soldier who brought it home, for $225. All my date money for three months back then. 7.62×39 was also all bring back, and I was paying $1.50 a round in 1977 when I could find it.

    Sold that rifle for $400 a few years later (needed rent money). Selling it is one of my biggest regrets.

  53. If my Ruger 10-22 doesn’t count, then my Mossberg 20-gauge. If that doesn’t count, my Beretta PX4.

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