The Total Cost of a Pistol: From Payment to First Shots

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Last Updated on July 31, 2021.
The Total Cost of a Pistol From Payment to First Shots

If you are a new gun owner or thinking about becoming one, you may not realize at first glance what are the total costs involved in buying a firearm. Like with cars, computers, or mobile devices, a gun’s sticker price isn’t the only expense a new gun owner must face.

Understand all the potential associated and ancillary costs of buying a firearm before buying your first pistol.


Necessary Equipment

If you’ve visited a gun store or an online retailer recently, you may have already noticed that the cost of a typical, good-quality handgun usually ranges between $400 and $800.

However, if you’re starting from scratch, you may need to make a few extra purchases. Your choice of firearm and its associated sticker price are only one part of the answer to “How much does a pistol cost?

Hearing protection

As obvious as it might sound, firearms are loud, and shooting - especially indoors - puts your hearing at risk. Investing in quality hearing protection is arguably a one-time purchase, but it is necessary if you’re serious about using firearms. 

Inexpensive earmuffs can go as low as $10, but you can find high-quality electronic earmuffs for anywhere between $70 and $200.

Electronic hearing protection dampens high-intensity sounds (such as those from gunfire) while amplifying less intense sounds (such as talking), making it very convenient and practical.

Eye protection

A good pair of shooting glasses may not seem like the most significant priority at first, but they are recommended safety equipment for multiple reasons.

Eye protection at the range shields your eyes against freshly-ejected shell casings, which are hot enough to cause minor burns. It also protects against ricocheting fragments and blown-back powder, which may damage or burn your eyes.

Good shooting glasses may also possess colored, contrasting lenses, which improve your vision at the range and on the field. If you wear prescription glasses in your daily life, you can even order models with prescription lenses.

Typical shooting glasses can go as low as $5 for inexpensive range glasses and as high as $150 for high-quality prescription lenses.

Extra magazines

Although many pistols today are sold with extra magazines in the box, you will likely want more than one or two, or you find yourself constantly refilling magazines at the range.

Exactly how many magazines you need is up to you, but it is generally a good idea to have as many as possible. Consider separating magazines dedicated to self-defense ammunition and magazines you intend to use only for training or plinking.

The cost of extra magazines depends mainly on your handgun model.

For example, a Glock 19 15-round magazine typically costs $25, but the actual price may vary between $10 and $80 depending on the model.

Safe storage solutions

A safe and responsible gun owner should always ensure their firearms are stored safely and securely when not in use. Depending on where you live, safe storage may even be a legal requirement

Fortunately, safe storage for pistols opens you to relatively inexpensive solutions, ranging from simple $5 cable locks and $10 trigger locks to dedicated pistol gun safes

Pistol gun safes, which are the most preferred safe storage option, range between $27 for simple mechanical lockboxes to as high as $350 for electronic safes with biometric locks.


Recurring costs

When asking the question “How much does a pistol cost,” an experienced shooter will tell you that the most expensive element to the answer is the recurring costs.

If you want to enjoy your firearms, you need to keep them fed and maintained, just as you need to keep your car fueled and serviced.

Ammunition

Your ammo needs may vary greatly depending on how serious and dedicated a shooter you intend to become, but you should shoot at least 50-100 rounds every month to develop proficiency. The more, the better.

FMJ ammo for training and practice is much less expensive than personal defense hollow-points.

As of April 2021, a typical 50-round box of brass-cased 9x19mm FMJ ammunition costs between $27 and $35.

However, keep in mind that ammo prices are challenging to estimate due to wide variances between calibers, brands, availability, and the effects of the ongoing ammunition shortage.

Cleaning and maintenance

All firearms require regular cleaning and maintenance. You should invest in an appropriate cleaning kit and use it after every shooting session. Failing to keep your pistol (and your magazines!) cleaned and lubricated will result in malfunctions and increased wear and tear.

Cleaning kits and supplies run the full spectrum of prices and comprehensiveness, ranging from basic single-caliber $10 sets to $150 cleaning cases with everything you could need for multiple firearms.

Range fees

Unless you’re fortunate enough to own a property where your backyard can be your range whenever you desire, you will need to travel to a shooting range to practice

Although the rates will vary depending on the location, most shooting ranges charge by the hour, usually between $15 and $25 per person.

Virtually every range offers membership plans, which usually include benefits such as preferential rates and discounts. If you intend to shoot regularly at the same location, take advantage of these plans to save some money.


​Optional But Recommended Purchases

Equipment and range access aren’t everything, especially if you’re a new shooter.

Consider enrolling in a class and have an instructor teach you how to handle and shoot your pistol as safely as possible.

The costs of a gun class vary depending on your location and their completeness. Introductory pistol safety courses are relatively inexpensive and can be completed in a few hours, whereas complete marksmanship programs take months and usually cost multiple hundreds.

If you intend to concealed carry your pistol, you will need the following:

  • A CCW permit, if required by your state. Permit fees vary depending on where you live; consult your state government website for information.
  • A sturdy gun belt ($50-$100)
  • A quality holster ($40-$80)

See Related Article: Standard Gun Range Rules


Budgeting and Final Considerations

As a new gun owner, it is essential to understand all of the associated costs of purchasing a new firearm, both one-time and recurring.

With this understanding comes the ability to form a realistic budget, even if you don’t intend to shoot more than once a month.

When purchasing your first pistol and all of the necessary equipment to be a safe and responsible gun owner, a good rule of thumb is to double your pistol’s sticker price and make the result your operating budget. For example, if your handgun costs around $500, you may want to plan a $1,000 budget.

Remember that you can reuse most of the necessary and recommended equipment once they’re already in your possession. For instance, you typically only need one set of eye and hearing protection, and you can reuse some types of gun care and cleaning tools on other firearms.

So your first gun tends to have the highest cost. The associated costs of buying additional guns gets lower the more guns you buy.