I constantly run across some variation of the following post on gun boards: “I want to buy my spouse a gun. What should I get them?” This thread nearly always involves buying a gun not to take to the range but for defense and then devolves into the dreaded caliber wars without any real information on who the spouse is or what their skill level is.

But regardless of what the purpose of the purchase is, or whether you think various calibers can stop a home intruder or not, there is simply one answer to the question: Don’t buy your spouse the gun you want them to have, buy your spouse the gun they want, and if they don’t want one, listen to them and don’t get one. As a certified instructor, my more detailed advice is below.

First, if your spouse already shoots, take your spouse to
a great rental range and try a bunch of different guns. Hand fit, trigger feel, and recoil are all strong personal preferences. Once you’ve done that, take them to the gun store and buy your spouse the gun they pick. If it’s not what you like, well, it’s not your gun. Then, unless your spouse has already taken one, get your spouse a great self-defense inside the home shooting class. (Note – these classes are NOT for beginners – you should not take one until you are truly comfortable with loading, unloading, firing and general handling of a gun.) Indeed, anyone who keeps a gun in the home should take this kind of class. If they only thing you’ve ever shot are beer cans or paper zombies, get yourself a couple defensive classes while you’re at it. Shooting a moving target inside a building in various light conditions is nothing like shooting a static target in broad daylight at the range. A bonus is that defensive shooting classes tend to be incredibly fun. Take one, trust me on this.

Second, if your spouse is willing to have a gun but is not a shooter, don’t buy your spouse a gun or even take your spouse to the range. Instead, buy your spouse a series of shooting classes including an introductory class and an intermediate class. At that point, you can see if your spouse feels comfortable going to the rental range and trying out a few guns and picking one out for you to buy them. In this case, once your spouse picks out a gun and is comfortable using it, it’s time for those defensive shooting classes.

It’s possible, however, that your spouse won’t want a gun for self-defense. The Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms, but we don’t have to. Some people truly don’t want to own a gun, have no interest in learning to shoot them, or have the self-knowledge to understand that they would never be able to pull the trigger on an intruder. Your spouse is allowed to not want a gun. Respect that. There are very good non-shooting self-defense classes that also make a great gift.