So you got a gun? what else?

A while back we did an article on Buying your First Gun. A reader commented that there is more entailed to becoming a gun owner than simply buying your first firearm – and I agree. While I could add it to the original article, I believe it warrants a post in and of itself.

In addition to a firearm, what equipment does N.U.G.U.N. feel a “nu” gun owner should purchase?

Ear Protection

Unless you have a silenced weapon and sub-sonic ammunition, guns are LOUD!!!!  In order to protect your ears and not end up like a 60 year old disc jockey, you need to wear hearing protection.
There are a variety of choices for hearing protection. They can range from $1 to hundreds of dollar$.  The cheapest, are the orange disposable ear plugs. And I advocate every gun owner purchase a jar of these things. Keep them in your range bag. This way if you have friends, you are always able to provide them hearing protection. There are even some re-usuable plugs often chained by a cord.

My next recommendation for the average user are your basic barebones ear muffs. In particular, the full size models.  Why do I recommend these over many of the more compact collapsible models?  Because of the amount of hearing protection they offer.

Go to your BassPro, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain or even Walmart and look at the models they offer.  You’ll usually discover that the units with the highest level of hearing protection are the cheap $10-$15 models. While many of the higher end ones offer less, even though they fold up conveniently into a compact bundle.

In fact, I recommend you consider wearing both the disposable ear plugs and the ear muffs when shooting inside indoor ranges. Indoor ranges often have more echo and bouncback than outdoor ones. Necessitating an even high level of hearing protection.

If you have money to burn, you can consider some with active protection.  Active protection allows you to hear and converse with others while at the same time blocking out loud sounds.  These seem to fall into two categories. Category 1 turns off the mic during noise. I tried a pair of these and found them very annoying as they often cut off conversations and left me quite frustrated. Although these type of units are much cheaper and more in my budget, I decided I’d prefer to just have a traditional ear muff instead.

Category 2 are the hearing protection which uses more advanced circuity so that it doesn’t disable the sound. Rather it just filters and prevents any loud sounds from being passed through to your ears. I do not own a pair of these as the price exceeds my budget – being around $100-$200. But if money was not an issue, these would likely be the kind of hearing protection I would purchase.

You can find even more advanced and customized hearing protection. At a number of events I’ve seen vendors who mold custom plugs for your ears which incorporate active protection. These are extremely cool, and extremely pricey.


Let’s face it, shooting is fun, being blind is not. Every shooter should wear some form of eye protection be it your own polycarbonate prescription eyeglasses or some sort of goggles or safety glasses.

I usually wear prescription glasses. Only rely on these if they are plastic, and preferably polycarbonate.  The disadvantage is that normal eyeglasses do not provide the side protection that other forms of eye protection yield.

Goggles, I find these to be too obtrusive and uncomfortable and prone to fogging. In most cases I would not recommend them.

Safety glasses, often provide the best compromise. Many can be used over prescription glasses. I am fond of the yellow ones as they seem to brighten the environment a bit.
Range Bag

I believe everyone should have a decent range bag. This should be large enough to hold any supplies you might need for a trip to the range with one pistol (or more).  You should be able to fit a small emergency cleaning and repair kit.  Hearing & eye protection. Ammo. And more…

Repair Kit

Let’s face it, guns are machines, machines break. Occasionally a firearm will break or fail in a way that requires a gun smith. More often than not, the issue is a minor one that can be repaired in the field at the range if you have the equipment. I recommend a small toolkit including small screwdrivers, punches & LockTite Blue (semi-permanent). Perfect for re-tightening a loose screw or keeping it tight.  

First Aid Kit

Consider a small first aid kit as a good addition to your range bag. You never know when you might get bitten by a slide, or even just burn yourself on hot brass.  And even if you’re 100% completely safe, it doesn’t mean everyone around you is.  Your first aid kit might be the difference between life and death of a nieghboring shooter at the range. And before you go spealing about a negligent shooter getting what they deserve, realize it could be a child with a negligent adult or instructor.

Consider the following in a first aid kit: bandaids large & small, antiseptic ointment, compression bandange, tampon (just about the right size for stopping a bullet wound), and perhaps a QuickClot sponge. 

Cleaning Kit

Part of gun ownership is maintenance. There are a number of different aspects to maintenance, but most involve the removal of residue and keeping the firearm properly lubricated.

Regardingly, cleaning rods.  I’ve tried a number of different styles. First I bought one of those oh so common cleaning kits. You know the one I am talking about. Packaged in a 100 varieties; includes a multi-part brass rod and a number of attachments. 

The Good: all those attachments and brushes allow for the cleaning of many different firearm types.

The Bad: That multiple part rod could potentiall scratch the inside of your barrel if mis-used.

I later bought an expensive carbon fiber rod. Much better than the multipart and less likely to hurt my firearm. But it’s big, not very portable, and require a LOT of space to use.

Later I purchased an Otis cleaning kit. Otis system provides numerous attachments and uses a pull through cable rod. It works very well and I’ve had little issue with scratching. They are compact and can be kept in your range bag.  Downside, if you were to have a jam. I can be somewhat more challenging to dislodge a round with a flexible cable than a hard rod. But usually it still can be done.

Oils and Lubrication – You’ll find a mess of opinions on this. Many go for the simple CLP (Clean Lubricate and Protect) such as BreakFree. It’s an easy one bottle does all, and it does. I often utilize it myself. However, there are many other lubricants and cleaners that likely provide better overall lubricant and rust protection. 

One instructor of mine advocated against CLPs because of a tendency for the bottle not to be fully shaken, and over time a failure to get the balance of lubricant, & protectorant.  He recommended if you are going to use a CLP, use it for just the cleaning and apply a separate lubricant afterwards.

Is this overkill? maybe and maybe not…

The idea is to ensure that your firearm is lubricated properly. By using one product to clean and a second to lubricate you always ensure you are fully lubricating your firearm rather than just relying on the lubrication from cleaning to be sufficient.


Any fire arm that is not “ready to use” (ie: for self-defense or carry) should be kept locked and safe.  Now mind you, I do not advocate for a firearm which you intend to defend yourself with to be kept locked. As the amount of time it takes to find the key, unlock the gun, and ready may be the difference between life and death.

Providing security for your firearms is important, especially if you have children. But even if you don’t, the last thing you want is a criminal stealing your guns.

I am NOT a big fan of trigger locks. Perhaps because when I was in Gander Mountain I discovered I could manipulate and fire the trigger on about a 1/4 of the firearms with locks on them.  That’s a NO NO in my book.

Many new firearms incorporate integral gun locks. Gun owners are mixed on these with some liking the feature and others viewing it as just one more complication that could fail in time of need.

What other options are there? There are a variety of locks, some go through the barrel or the the slide. They vary from firearm to firearm.  There are also locks that bolt into a wall and secure a firearm to a wall.  

One might also consider a safe. Safes range in size from small pistol safes to full size room safes.  They usually feature one or more of the following: key lock, comination/button lock, or on newere models, fingerprint biometric lock.

While many opposed the technological angle of the latter, I feel it is a good option. And if I were to purchase a safe, I would like one that allowed for quick opening via a biometric fingerprint scanner and back-up option with a key. Offering a variety of unlocking mechanisms from keys, to combination buttons and now even fingerprint readers.


Lastly, your head….never forget that this is what keeps your safe, makes informed decisions, and aids you in improvising when you find yourself lacking a tool.

There are many other topics to discuss, holsters, belts, etc. But these fall more into the purvey of carry than a trip to the range. 

If any readers have any suggestions to additions to this article, please post in the comments.  I am sure there are a few good items I have forgotten, other make for better topics in and of themselve – like dry fire/snap caps (small fake bullets for the practice of dry firing).

Published in: on May 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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