My buddy's CZ 75 B 9mm semi-auto pistol

What Products Should a New Gun Owner Buy? (Semi-Auto Pistol Version) 3

Recently, a very good friend of mine named “MJ” purchased his very first firearm: a 9mm semi-automatic CZ 75 B Omega. I think he made an excellent choice. And like any proud new papa, he couldn’t contain his excitement. In fact, here’s the Facebook photo he messaged me within seconds of purchasing it:

My buddy's CZ 75 B 9mm semi-auto pistol

My buddy’s CZ 75 B 9mm semi-auto pistol

And here’s the selfie he sent showing his unbridled excitement at being a new gun owner:

MJ is filled with nervous excitement over being a new gun owner!

MJ is filled with nervous excitement over being a new gun owner!

And then he went out and celebrated like every red-blooded American bearded male celebrates joining the ranks of Second Amendment lovers… with an Oreo milkshake. He sent me proof:

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of milkshakes!

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of milkshakes!

MJ and I don’t get to see each other often (he lives in Florida, I live in Seattle), but we had a chance to meet up in North Carolina just a few days after his new purchase, and we took advantage of the opportunity to fondle each other’s guns.

Uh, no… that sounded weird.

What I actually mean is that we went somewhere where we knew we’d be safe because nobody else was around and we unboxed and got our hands on each other’s pistols.

Wow. I’m not making things better, am I?

Right. So what I really mean is that MJ whipped out his 9mm, and I responded by showing him the kind of heat I’m packing these days — in a somewhat larger caliber.

Phew! That’s better. No risk of double entendre there!

Pee-pee jokes aside, as I promptly disassembled MJ’s CZ to get a good look at everything, he asked me what kind of cleaning and maintenance supplies a first-time gun owner like him should buy. I told him I’d make him an Amazon Wish List with everything he needs. But as I started making the list, I realized that many of these items need a bit of explanation… so the idea grew into this blog post.

This version of a “first time gun owner’s accessories list” is geared more specifically toward all you semi-auto pistol owners out there, but if it goes well, maybe I’ll make this the first in a blog series, and write some more that include my recommended first-timer supplies for bolt-action rifles, ARs, revolvers, and shotguns.

But for now, this one’s for you, MJ!

Gun Cleaning Approach: Three Jobs, Two Product Philosophies, and Two Cleaning Levels

In the gun world, telling someone which cleaning products to use is sometimes worse than telling them which religion they should be. There are plenty of zealous opinions, and plenty of people ready to tell you you’re wrong. If you’re an experienced gun owner who’s reading this and you’ve got a system that works for you, keep on doing that! My approach has evolved over time, and this is post addresses what (currently) works for me.

What all gun owners will agree on, however is that all guns require the following three vital tasks to be kept in top working order:

  1. Cleaning: to remove carbon fouling from burnt gun power, as well as lead, copper, dirt, dust, debris, contaminated lubricant, or anything else that God or John Moses Browning didn’t intend to be on your gun.
  2. Lubrication: to reduce friction, prevent excessive metal-on-metal wear, and ensure smooth and proper functioning of your firearm.
  3. Protection: to inhibit metal parts from rust, oxidation, or other corrosion.

All chemicals used on a gun should perform at least one of those three jobs. And among those chemicals, the vast majority fall into one of two groups: petroleum-based vs. non-petroleum based products.

Petroleum-based vs. Non-Petroleum-Based Products

So what’s the big deal with petroleum-based vs. non petroleum based gun products? It really just boils down to personal preference. Many gun owners are happy with traditional “tried and true” petroleum-based products. I previously used a number of them for many years with great results. Some guys I know actually lube their firearms with straight-up Mobil 1 motor oil. There are a number of highly effective and popular petroleum based solvents, lubricants, and multi-use products that clean / lube / protect in one step (referred to as “CLP” products). And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these products; they’ve been used by military and police units around the world for decades. People who tend to gravitate away from them, however, do so because petroleum-based products are almost always more toxic than non-petroleum-based products, more flammable, and they tend to be a bit stinkier — so proper ventilation is important when using them (though I love the smell of Hoppes #9 solvent). I still have a number of these products in my cabinets, though they now mostly gather dust; I made the switch to non-petroleum-based products a few years ago, and I’ve never looked back.

In recent years, non-petroleum-based gun cleaners and lubes started to appear on the market, and they seem to get more widely adopted each year. FrogLube is the most popular, and is non-toxic, non-flammable, non-hazardous, made with food-grade ingredients (I’ve literally used it as lip balm), leaves your guns (and hands) smelling like mint, and is even classified by the USDA as a bio-preferred product. After their initial application, non-petroleum-based products tend to make weapon cleaning really quick and easy, because they liquefy when heated and allow dirt and residue that forms on top of the product to wipe off with minimal effort. The fact that they liquefy when warm also helps them penetrate and glide around, re-lubricating the internals of a gun while shooting. They’ve also been shown to do a much better job preventing the formation of rust compared to even the most popular competitors (check out this video and this video for some pretty amazing rust test results). Their main drawback is that they are relatively new, and therefore have less competition, which tends to make them slightly more expensive than petroleum-based products. Some guys also don’t like the fact that they can sometimes take on a thicker “paste-like” state when cold, but that’s more of a personal preference. They never turn solid, and never prevent the functioning of the firearm. Even on the coldest gun, after the first couple shots, they’re re-liquefied and doing their job. For all these reasons, I’m currently a happy FrogLube user.

Which philosophy you choose is completely up to you. Both work, both are far superior to doing nothing, and both have plenty of satisfied customers. So other than saying what I’ve already said above about why I personally choose FrogLube, I won’t try to sway you one way or another.

I will say, however, that these two philosophies don’t mix — meaning you can’t use both types of products on the same gun. Non-petroleum products are most effective when initially applied to a completely oil-free bare metal surface and allowed to penetrate into the pores, though over time they will eventually dissolve and displace any petroleum-based products on your firearm. It’s easy enough to try both approaches and switch back and forth, as long as you completely remove all petroleum-based products from your gun before applying the non-petroleum products.

Note: in the cleaning and lubrication products section of my list below, I’ll include whether a product can be used in the petroleum-based or non-petroleum-based approach.

Field Cleaning vs. Detail Cleaning

Depending on how dirty a gun is, or how clean I want to make it, I have two “levels” of firearms cleaning: field cleaning and detail cleaning.

Field (or Maintenance) Cleaning

My field cleaning procedure (I’ll sometimes also call it my “maintenance” cleaning procedure) is a relatively quick, easy, and light “maintenance” cleaning of a gun. It never requires more weapon disassembly than a standard field (and sometimes not even that). I field clean my weapons after every trip to the range, before putting them back in the safe or holster. If you’re bored, you can watch this video of me field cleaning my Sig Sauer 1911 Tac Ops (but I won’t be offended if you just skip straight down to the list):

Detail Cleaning

My detail cleaning procedure is a much more complex and time consuming process, which involves completely disassembling the weapon, inspecting for worn parts that need replacement (springs get the most attention), removing every bit of dirt and existing lubrication I possible using a de-greasing solvent and/or ultrasonic cleaner, re-lubricating everything, and re-assembling. I’ll often do this when I buy a brand new gun, just to get a good understanding of its internals. But I always do a detail cleaning when I purchase a pre-owned gun, unless, perhaps, it’s been factory reconditioned… and then I might still do it anyway. I’ll maybe do this once every 12-18 months on a gun that sees regular use. First-time gun owners should not feel like they need to go crazy and get their own ultrasonic cleaner. It’s possible to do a thorough detail clean with more “normal” supplies (which are included below). But just in case you were curious as to just how OCD one can get, here’s a video peek at my detail cleaning procedure. Again, feel free to skip the video if you’re in a rush for the list.

Recommended Cleaning & Lubricating Chemicals

Let’s start with my recommendations for cleaning and lubricating chemicals for your semi-automatic pistol, since that’s vital in keeping your gun in top condition. In some cases, I use specific brands of products, but sometimes I’ll just use whatever’s handy and is already at the house. I’ll let you know in each case.

Pressurized Spray Solvent/Degreaser

Pressurized solvent in a spray can is an extremely effective way to clean and degrease gun barrels (inside and out), slides, firing pins, and trigger assemblies. It air-dries and leaves zero residue — including any pre-existing lubrication, so if you apply it to a part that requires lubrication, you’ll have to re-lube it after use. This product can be used with both petrolum-based or non-petroleum-based philosophies because it will completely strip both types of products from your gun. For non-petroleum-based fans, I highly recommend this product before your initial FrogLube application, so you start with completely pristine metal. This recommendation even applies to factory-new guns, since the factory most likely use a petroleum-based product as a preservative before packaging.

In the past, I’ve used to use Birchwood Casey’s excellent Gun Scrubber product, which retails for around $11 for a 13oz can. But these days, I just use non-chlorinated brake cleaner, which is essentially the same thing and much cheaper. You can pick some up at your local auto parts store, or grab some low-odor Permatex Brake & Parts Cleaner from Amazon:

Brake cleaner is great for cleaning guns. Make sure to get the non-chlorinated kind.

Brake cleaner is great for cleaning guns. Make sure to get the non-chlorinated kind.

With an all-metal gun like a CZ or most Sigs, it’s safe (and preferred) to use this stuff pretty much everywhere, but don’t get any on wood or plastic grips. On polymer guns like Glocks, I try to avoid spraying too much on the plastic, but I don’t really freak out if a little gets on there.


As I briefly mentioned before, this is my preferred product to run on all my guns. It’s classified as a “CLP,” meaning the same product cleans, lubricates, and protects. This is the cornerstone of my non-petroleum-based approach. Other than some aerosol brake cleaner (or an occasional soak in my ultrasonic cleaner with diluted Simple Green Pro HD as I show in my video), FrogLube is the only chemical I use on my guns for cleaning, lubing, and protecting. That makes things really simple.

FrogLube comes in two versions: liquid and paste. They’re both the same product, just in a different form. I like them both, and both work great. I find the liquid is easier if you want to be able to apply it cold, squirt some down into nooks and crannies of trigger assemblies, and when I’m field cleaning. But I prefer the paste when I’m doing an initial application or re-lubing after a detail clean. Go to YouTube and check out the plethora of online videos that review FrogLube and show how to use both the liquid and the paste (including my detail clean video above). FrogLube is safe to use on metal, plastic, or wood… and actually protects and makes my wood handles look better! And like I said before, I’ve actually used it as lip balm because it’s made from food-grade products.

If you’re insane like me, you can buy a gallon of the paste (that much is spendy) and melt it in a “tactical crock-pot,” but for first-timers I recommend starting out with one of their smaller FrogLube kits on Amazon that contains 4oz of both the paste and the liquid to see how you like it.

FrogLube is my choice for cleaning, lubricating, and protecting all my firearms.

FrogLube is my choice for cleaning, lubricating, and protecting all my firearms.

Hoppe’s #9 Bore Cleaning Solvent

For those who want to go the classic petroleum-based route, it doesn’t get more classic than Hoppe’s #9 solvent, a world-wide favorite since 1903. It’s designed primarily to penetrate, loosen, and dissolve carbon and metal fouling and residue inside your gun’s bore, which can then be removed by pulling a cloth “patch” or bore-wiping device through the barrel to collect the loosened gunk. All true guns guys know and love the smell of Hoppes #9.

Hoppes #9 has been around since 1903.

Hoppes #9 has been around since 1903.

Break Free CLP

There are a number of popular petroleum-based aerosol CLP choices, all of which are designed to clean, lubricate, and protect with a single product. Among the most popular is Break Free CLP, which is heavily used by U.S. Military. Spray it on, let it penetrate, wipe things down, run a CLP-sprayed patch through the bore, and you’re good to go. Before I switched over to FrogLube, I used Break Free CLP for a long time and was happy with the results.

Break Free CLP is well known among military guys as the

Break Free CLP is well known among military guys as the “go-to” product for cleaning, lubricating, and protecting metal weapons parts.


Because I’m happy with FrogLube, I don’t use Ballistol, but there are plenty of people who do (such as YouTube firearms legend Hickok45). It’s technically got a small amount of mineral oil in it, but not enough for me to consider it a petroleum-based product. But it does stink to high heaven. It’s not just a gun lube, but a multi-purpose aerosol oil that cleans, lubricates, and protects guns, leather, knives, tools, locks, wood, metal, and rubber. It’s an extremely popular CLP among old-school gun guys.

Ballistol is a great petroleum-based all-purpose CLP for guns and much more.

Ballistol is a great petroleum-based all-purpose CLP for guns and much more.

Compressed Air

Having an big ‘ol air compressor on hand is nice for drying gun parts (especially if you’re ever using water-based products) and for blowing out dust and debris, but I find it just as easy to use a simple can of compressed air to do the job. Buy a pack of them at any office supply store, Costco, or from Amazon.

Compressed air is good for drying and blowing out debris.

Compressed air is good for drying and blowing out debris.

Gun Cleaning Accessories

Now that we’ve got all the chemicals covered, it’s time to talk about cleaning accessories. Here are the things I recommend.

Nitrile Exam Gloves

Not just for hernia checks, nitrile exam gloves are extremely handy (pun intended) around the house. I use them when I’m BBQing or when I’m working on cars. And I nearly always use them when detail cleaning my guns to protect my hands from drying out when using solvents and to keep my fingerprints off the gun. Because I don’t use petroleum-based products, I don’t use them when field cleaning. Make sure to get the right side for you (I prefer the snug fit of the medium).

Nitrile exam gloves are perfect for keeping your hands clean, and keeping fingerprints off your gun.

Nitrile exam gloves are perfect for keeping your hands clean, and keeping fingerprints off your gun.


You’ll notice that in nearly all of my YouTube channel gun videos, I’m using a TekMat that matches the gun in the video. If TekMat makes a mate for a gun I own, I buy it. They’re reasonably priced and make a great background for my videos. But more importantly, their neoprene rubber backing prevents scratches to your kitchen table or counter and stops chemicals and oils from dripping through. The polyester top is a soft squishy place to work on your guns without scratching their finish, and the exploded view of all your gun’s parts come in really handy when you’re trying to figure out why you have three springs and a pin left over after re-assembly. But don’t buy one of these, MJ. I just shipped a CZ-75 one of these bad boys off to you as a “welcome to gun ownership” present. 🙂 For the rest of you, I recommend picking one up that matches your particular gun model on Amazon.

A TekMat is a perfect work surface when cleaning and maintaining your firearms.

A TekMat is a perfect work surface when cleaning and maintaining your firearms.


Yep. Q-tips. They’re perfect for wiping out dirt, and for or rubbing solvent or lubricant into tight places. I’m not even going to include a picture. You know what they look like. If you don’t have some already, go buy some.

Baby Wipes

If you use a petroleum-based lubricant, baby wipes won’t be as effective for you, as they’ll probably just smear dirt around your gun’s parts. But if you’re using FrogLube or other water-based lubes, baby wipes are awesome — especially if you’re field cleaning your weapon at the range while it’s still warm. It just wipes off the dirt and grime, while still leaving a good layer of FrogLube on the gun. I find these things come in handy when doing all sorts of gun projects. They’re gentle enough for a real baby, so why not for your semi-automatic “baby?” I like the Costco ones, or just pick up some Huggies wipes on Amazon. Or if you want the fancy “no additive” ones, try the WaterWipes.


Otis Cleaning Kit

I’ve already written a separate review about my Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Cleaning Kit, which I now use primarily for detail cleanings. But for a first-time gun owner, that big of a kit is probably overkill — unless you want the best from the get-go, then by all means go buy one now. But for about half the money, I recommend picking up the Otis Professional Pistol Cleaning Kit instead. It contains three different lengths of their “Memory-Flex” cables, which make pulling a patch with solvent, lube, or CLP through your bore. It also comes with a couple of bronze bore brushes for detail cleanings, specialized tools for complete breakdown and fine cleaning of all critical and hard to reach areas of your firearm, and bunch of their unique patches (which take some getting used to, but then you’ll fall in love with).

Otis makes excellent tools for cleaning firearms.

Otis makes excellent tools for cleaning firearms.

Hoppe’s BoreSnake

For quick field cleaning, I highly recommend the Hoppe’s BoreSnake bore cleaner. I hope whoever invented it got a huge raise and a kiss on the mouth from the boss’ daughter, because it’s one of the most time-saving tools ever invented. Made in different sizes to accomodate a wide variety of pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns (so make sure you order the right one for your pistol’s caliber), the BoreSnake allows you to field clean most weapons without even requiring a field strip! This 90-second video from Hoppe’s shows you how (although don’t get weirded out that John Vaca doesn’t look directly into the camera as he talks):

For you petroleum fans, just soak the part near the brushes with some Hoppe’s #9 (Hoppe’s also makes the M-Pro 7 shown in this video, which is decent stuff) on the “clean, brush, dry” pull, then then use the lube of your choice for the second “lube” pull.

When using FrogLube with the BoreSnake, I simply apply liquid FrogLube on both pulls. The “official” video above shows the gun field stripped, but you can simply lock the slide open and use the BoreSnake with a fully assembled (and unloaded, of course) weapon.

Not to be outdone, Otis makes their own version called the Ripcord, but it doesn’t have the integrated brush (I think Hoppe’s may have patented that), and it still requires you to field strip the weapon. I own a BoreSnake for every caliber pistol, revolver, rifle, and shotgun in my collection (again, make sure to select the correct size for your gun).

Hoppe's BoreSnake is a fantastic time-saving tool for effectively field-cleaning your weapon.

Hoppe’s BoreSnake is a fantastic time-saving tool for effectively field-cleaning your weapon.

Microfiber Cloths

I like good quality (and lint-free) microfiber cloths when performing field and detail cleanings of my firearms. They’re great for drying parts when I remove them from my ultrasonic cleaner. They’re perfect for doing a final wipe-down to remove any prints before planting a weapon at a crime scene returning a gun to my safe. I pick one to wipe off excess FrogLube from my gun parts, which then becomes as a FrogLube-impregnated cloth and perfect for wiping some on other parts without going back to the bottle. I try not to wash my “FrogLube cloth” until I really have to, because I’ll lose all the lube I’ve saved up in it. 🙂

The best cloths I’ve found on Amazon are these ZWipes (I don’t like the Amazon Basics ones).

Grab a pack of microfiber cloths. They're useful all around the house.

Grab a pack of microfiber cloths. They’re useful all around the house.


Tactical Hair Dryer Heat Gun

If you decide to use FrogLube, you’ll get the best results by heating up the metal before your initial application. And the best way to do that is with a hair dryer. Sure, you can steal your wife or girlfriend’s dryer, but if she catches you, you’re dead. And she probably will catch you… because she’ll notice that the handle feels way more slick because you were using the dryer with FrogLube on your hands.

Just spend the $20 and grab yourself an 1875 watt top-selling hair dryer from Amazon. If it makes you feel more manly, you can call it your “tactical heat gun.”

A hair dryer makes applying FrogLube fast and easy.

A hair dryer makes applying FrogLube fast and easy.

Tactical Tongs

When heating metal gun parts with a hair dryer tactical heat gun, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised at how hot those parts can get when you pick one up with a heat gun. Avoid that by using a set of tongs with silicone tips (do not get nylon). Silicone can withstand the high temperates, won’t scratch your finish, and provide a good grip while holding the parts as you apply FrogLube.

Grab this inexpensive 2-piece set and use one in the kitchen.

Silicone-tipped tongs make working with heated gun parts much less painful.

Silicone-tipped tongs make working with heated gun parts much less painful.



Accessories That Go On (or In) Your Gun

What’s the fun in having a new toy if you can’t trick it out? Buying your first gun was just a first step. There are plenty of options for customizing and modifying your firearm. Modifying, however, doesn’t automatically mean “upgrading.” As I often mention on my YouTube Channel, my definition of an upgrade is something that “improves the functionality of the weapon for how you intend to use it.” That means that one man’s upgrade could be another man’s downgrade. I’m a fan of modifying guns, but only as long as such modifications don’t adversely affect the safety or performance of the weapon. It’s up to you to ultimately decide if any of the following modifications (which are all upgrades for me) qualify as upgrades for you.

Night Sights

If you plan on using your weapon defensively, and your gun didn’t already come with some, I highly recommend night sights. They glow in the dark for 7-10 years without any need to be “charged” by a light source. There are a number of quality night sight manufacturers out there (such as Ameriglo and Meprolight),  but my favorite is Trijicon. I recently bought a set of their new “front outline” night sights, which really help pick up the front sights while shooting during the day. I buy mine on Amazon. Just make sure you’re buying the correct one for your particular gun. You can call Trijicon directly to ask for the exact model number if you have any doubts. If you have the right tools, you can install them yourself. But you’re probably better off taking them to a gunsmith (or a buddy with the right tools) to get them installed and properly sighted.

Trijicon night sights with front outline. Perfect for day AND night!

Trijicon night sights with front outline. Perfect for day AND night!

Tactical Light

If your weapon has a rail for mounting a light, and you’re planning on using it as a defensive weapon, you should get a rail-mounted tactical light (referred to as a “tac light”). Currently, the best “bang for the buck” in the tac light market is Streamlight. Their standard TLR-1 model is extremely popular, but you can also get versions with an integrated laser. These high-powered LED lights let you clearly see what’s in front of you, and can temporarily blind an intruder with their intensity… buying you precious decision-making seconds.

Streamlight's TLR-1 is a very popular tactical light choice.

Streamlight’s TLR-1 is a very popular tactical light choice.

Improved Grips

The ability to feel like you’re comfortably in control of the weapon while drawing, aiming, shooting, and reloading is a very important goal. Some of my guns’ grips have been great out of the box. Some needed modification. Depending on the type of gun you own, I recommend experimenting with a few different grip options until you find the one that’s an “upgrade” for you.

One popular option (which I use on my Sig Sauer P226) is the Hogue Rubber Grip with finger grooves. For my hands, these grips give me a much more “affirmative” feel when operating the weapon. For some guns (but not for MJ’s CZ), Hogue makes rubber grips without the finger grooves. The “right” one is the one that feels right to you.

On my Glocks, I’ve found that these Rubber Texture Decal Grips are the best option for me. They preserve the existing Glock ergonomics (which work fine for me) while just adding a little more grip in the places a shooter is most likely to make contact with the weapon.

And on my 1911, I found these Magpul MOE 1911 Grip Panels allowed my right thumb to sit more flush against the gun and more easily reach the slide stop lever.

Magpul's 1911 grip panels were an upgrade for me. Maybe they will be for you?

Magpul’s 1911 grip panels were an upgrade for me. Maybe they will be for you?


Snap caps

Having a set of snap caps around allows you to load and dry fire your weapon without damaging it. They also allow you to practice drills such as “tap, rack, bang” drills for clearing misfeeds or actuating the slide to eject rounds that failed to fire. They can help a new owner get a better feel for your gun’s trigger and practice loading and changing out magazines… and they do all this without any live ammo in the chamber. Of course, it’s important to treat every gun as if it were loaded with live rounds, even when loaded with snap caps.

Snap caps allow you to simulate rounds in your gun, without having rounds in your gun.

Snap caps allow you to simulate rounds in your gun, without having rounds in your gun.

Extra Magazines

No matter how many magazines (don’t call them “clips”) came with your gun, you can always use more! There’s no “one” best place for good deals on magazines, but some of my favorite locations for magazines (and a number of other accessories) are Brownells, Top Gun Supply, and Midway USA. I also recommend contacting the manufacturer, as they often have specials. I just picked up a three-pack of magazines for my Sig Sauer MPX, direct from Sig Sauer, and they gave me a 20% discount and included a free MOLLE mag pouch to carry them. Score!


A steady supply of ammo is, without a doubt, the best accessory for your new gun. Buy as much of it as you can afford, shoot half of it, save up and buy some more, shoot half of that, lather… rinse… repeat ad infinitum. You’ll get plenty of practice, and have plenty stockpiled for the impending zombie apocalypse. Try out a variety of weights (measured in “grains”), loads (refers to how much gun power is inside the cartridge), and brands to see which rounds feed, fire, and feel best for you and your gun (yes, there really are big differences between different manufacturers). Hollow-points are best suited for defensive purposes, and are more expensive than full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds, so your range time will be more cost-effective if you buy mostly FMJ for practice. However, it’s also important to know how defensive rounds feed, fire, and feel in your gun, so go through half a box of hollow-points every now and then, and once you find your favorite (I’m partial to Remington Golden Saber, as well as Hornady’s Critical Defense, ZombieMax, and Critical Duty rounds), stick with it for consistency.

I know it looks silly, but it's actually GREAT defensive ammo.

I know it looks silly, but it’s actually GREAT defensive ammo.

More Recommended Accessories

These accessories don’t go on or in your gun, but they’re worth knowing about, and a few of them are definite “must haves.”

Eye Protection

Simply referred to as “eyes” at the range, a quality set of eye protection could literally save your life. And while any type of eye protection is better than none, some eye protection is better than others. My favorite brand is Wiley X (and it happens to be the favorite brand of a number of special ops teams, too). Go to a sporting goods store that carries Wiley X to see which ones fit you best, then order them on Amazon. I wear the Wiley X Valor glasses, and I bought the set that has interchangeable lenses: clear (indoor), amber (outdoor / overcast), and smoke (outdoor / sunlight). They’re shatterproof, block 100% of UV rays, meet military ballistic and combat protective standards, OSHA occupational protective eyewear standards, and ANSI high impact and optical performance standards. They’re also good looking enough to be worn as your everyday shades, and very well could be the best 60-ish bucks you spend on yourself. But even if you don’t want to spend that much, at least buy the best eye protection you can afford. They’re an investment in your well-being.

Wiley X Valor sunglasses. If they're good enough for the SEALs, they're more than good enough for you.

Wiley X Valor sunglasses. If they’re good enough for the SEALs, they’re more than good enough for you.

Ear Protection

Simply referred to as “ears” at the range, protecting your hearing is just as important as protecting your vision. First-time gun owners may want to simply go with the standard disposable foam earplugs, which work just fine. To take things to the next level, however, you may want to consider a set of electronic earmuffs, like these Howard Leight Impact Sports, which are less than $50. They amplify ambient sound so you can still hear what’s going on around you and have a normal conversation, while electronically blocking noises over 82dB. You’ll still hear the gun go off, but it won’t hurt your ears.

And if you want to take it to the next next level, go with the $400 MSRP Peltor SV Tactical Pros (they’re “only” $200 on Amazon). These are the big daddy’s of tactical hearing protection, and I almost cried tears of joy when Santa brought me a pair last year.

Peltor tactical hearing protectors are as good as it gets.

Peltor tactical hearing protectors are as good as it gets.

GunVault Mini Safe

A strong appreciation for gun safety is crucial for every first-time gun owner, and a big part of that is the ability to secure your firearm when it’s not under your direct control. If you don’t have the budget for a quality full-sized gun safe, or you’d like easy access to a secured gun in your night stand, I recommend GunVault’s mini safe products. I’m not a big fan of their fingerprint safes (which are double the money of their combination models). I use a GunVault GV1000S, which allows quick access via a user-programmable push-button combination (with a manual key backup). For less than $100, it’s as good as mini-storage gets for your gun.

GunVault GV100S Mini Safe. Quick access when things go "bump" in the night.

GunVault GV100S Mini Safe. Quick access when things go “bump” in the night.

Range Bag

When you go to the range, it’s OK to be a noob. But it’s not OK to look like a noob! Arrive like a pro with you gun, ammo, magazines, “eyes and ears,” and other accessories inside a range bag. This Sportster Nylon Range Bag from BlackHawk is a great starter bag for under $30.

BlackHawk's Sportster Range Bag is a great entry-level option.

BlackHawk’s Sportster Range Bag is a great entry-level option.


Notice the line above doesn’t say “holster” (singular)… it says “holsters” (plural). That’s because the chances of you falling in love with and continuing to use your very first gun’s very first holster is as likely as shooting a bulls-eye with your eyes closed… at 100 yards… in the dark… while Kate Upton blows in your ear. Chances are that you’ll try one, kinda like it, try another, kinda like it better, and repeat this process until you find one you’ll use for a while… until you try another one and like it better. Go right now and empty a drawer somewhere in your house. No seriously, do it. That will now be your “holster drawer” where you store holsters you’ll never wear again. Every serious gun owner has one. I’m already on my third one (drawer, not holster).

What I currently wear (until I try another one) really depends on the gun, but when I’m wearing a suit I’m normally sporting a Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster System. In more casual clothes, I’m most likely wearing an Alien Gear IWB (inside the waistband) holster. But I’ve also got a drawer full of BlackHawks OWBs, and Fobus, and IMI, and Uncle Mike’s (everyone needs at least one Uncle Mike’s), and a couple of Safarilands (although I do take them out and wear them from time to time), and countless others. The Galco shoulder rig isn’t the most practical or tactical, but you’ll catch yourself looking in the mirror before you put your suit coat on, and hearing the Miami Vice theme in your head.

Don’t be afraid to try a new holster. And don’t be afraid to put it in the drawer and try a different one. It’s inevitable. Just accept it now.



Galco’s “Miami Classic II” is inspired by the classic Miami Vice rig worn by Don Johnson.

Glock Tool

This isn’t specifically for MJ because his first gun wasn’t a Glock, but if you’re a first-time Glock owner with a brand new Glock, you need a Glock Tool. It will literally be the best $10 you spend on your Glock. If you’ve watched any of my Glock videos, my Glock Tool is bound to make an appearance in at least half of them. I’m still surprised Glock doesn’t just include one in the box. If you don’t already have one, get one.

The Glock Tool should be standard issue for every Glock owner.

The Glock Tool should be standard issue for every Glock owner.


Magpul Phone Case

I never leave home without this accessory, because it’s always attached to my iPhone. And while it’s not exactly for your gun, it does identify you as a gun owner to fellow gun owners, while doing a great job protecting your mobile device. Magpul Industries is a very well known firearms accessory company, and I get at least 3 or 4 “Whoa, cool!” comments on my Magpul iPhone case every week. You will too (Magpul also makes them for the Samsung Galaxy).

Magpul Industries phone cases are tacti-COOL!

Magpul Industries phone cases are tacti-COOL!

Block, Punches, and Punch Hammer

If you’re planning on ever doing a detail cleaning or even some minor gunsmithing on your pistol, I recommend picking up a bench block, small punch hammer, and some steel punches for removing roll pins. Make sure you know what size punch(es) your gun needs before you buy them.

Steel punches come in handy when removing roll pins.

Steel punches come in handy when removing roll pins.

Touch-up Pen

When (not if) you get your first scratch on your new baby, cry it out… then reach for a Birchwood Casey Super Black Touch-Up Pen. Make sure you pick “flat” or “gloss,” depending on your gun’s finish.

Birchwood Casey Super Black Touch-Up Pen to the rescue!

Birchwood Casey Super Black Touch-Up Pen to the rescue!

Eva-Dry Wireless Mini Dehumidifier

If you have a gun safe, a small dehumidifier like the Eva-Dry E-500 will help reduce moisture inside and prevent corrosion in space up to 500 square feet. I keep one of these in both of my big safes. Once the beads inside get wet, they turn pink. Plug the unit into a standard wall outlet overnight and it heats the beats, evaporating the moisture and turning them blue. Store it back inside your safe and “recharge” it when they turn pink again! I plug mine in about once a month. Just make sure you buy the scent free version, or your gun safe will smell like “Spring Rain.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Eva-Dry mini humidifier helps keep moisture away from your guns!

Eva-Dry mini humidifier helps keep moisture away from your guns!


Pistol Storage Hangers

Yes, you’re a new gun owner and so you’ve probably only got one gun… so far. But these things are like Tribbles… they tend to multiply. Once your collection starts to grow, I love these hangers that allow my guns to hang under the shelves in my safe.

Free up shelf space and store more guns with these handy hangers!

Free up shelf space and store more guns with these handy hangers!


Mag Lula Universal Pistol Magazine Loader

The Mag Lula loader is another one of those inventions where I hope the guy who thought of it made a million bucks. It’s the fastest way to quickly and easily load magazines without having… to… keep… pushing… down… those… last… few… rounds… with… your… thumb! You might not thing you need one, until you get one. And then you’ll wonder how you lived without one.

The Mag Lula magazine loader makes filling a magazine as easy as flipping a switch.

The Mag Lula magazine loader makes filling a magazine as easy as flipping a switch.

Tacti-Cool Clothing

So maybe you’ve got all the awesome goodies for your gun… now you need some awesome goodies for yourself. It’s time to dress tacti-cool.


Nothing says “you really don’t wanna see what’s under these pants” like a pair of 5.11 TacLite Pro Pants. Uh, no… I’m not falling for that one again. These lightweight pants are perfect for trips to the range or out in the elements. I actually wear mine when I’m travelling on a plane because they have lots of storage pockets for documents and snacks. They’ve got wide belt-loops that easily support larger duty-style belts which makes holster carry that much easier. You can buy them in an array of many colors… but just know that you won’t be as cool as me unless you pick up a pair in Coyote Brown… which reminds me of the punchline to a joke: “BRING ME MY BROWN PANTS!

5.11 makes great military-grade tactical gear, including these awesome pants.

5.11 makes great military-grade tactical gear, including these awesome pants.

Mechanix Gloves

Let’s say it’s cold outside. Let’s say you want to shoot your gun, but your poor widdle fingers are too cold. Or maybe you just want to look like a bada$$ and still be able to property actuate all the features of your firearm. Either way, these Mechanix gloves are what all the tacti-cool kids are wearing these days. They’re available in 9 colors, and the cool kids wear them all except orange. If you have to ask why, it means you’re not cool. Just don’t buy orange.

Mechanix gloves - not just for mechanics.

Mechanix gloves – not just for mechanics.

Shooter’s Cap

It’s not a “hat,” it’s either a “lid” or a “cap.” Just look on YouTube. Do you see any gun videos where the dude isn’t wearing a cap? Of course you don’t. Oh.. you did? And he looked like a complete tool without one? Thank you. You just proved my point. This is the one I wear. Because… America.

Keep this lid on your dome.

Keep this lid on your dome.

One Last Accessory

I’m a Patron Life Member of the National Rifle Association. But truthfully, I find a lot of the NRA’s current rhetoric tiring and alarmist, and I feel that much of their octogenarian leadership is out of touch with mainstream America.

But even with those drawbacks, I still support the NRA’s primary mission, which is to defend the rights protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. No organization is perfect, including the NRA. But I’m trying to do what I can to help attract more moderate, responsible, safety-conscious gun owners to its ranks in an effort to help counterbalance the “Bubbas” that stay up late at night worrying about the ATF knocking down their doors and “kon-fuh-skatin” their guns.

I support sensible firearms legislation that protects the rights of responsible gun owning citizens while still protecting the life, liberty, and ability to pursue happiness of all citizens (whether or not they are gun owners). I oppose legislation that fails to meet that standard. And in that regard, and as the longest-standing civil rights organization in the United States, I still feel the NRA is doing more good than harm, which is why I continue to support them.

I believe one of the best accessories you can purchase along with your brand new firearm is an NRA Membership.

There’s usually some free SWAG (like an NRA logo range bag) when you join, so go check out the freebie and thoughtfully consider joining.

Final Thoughts and Absolute “Must Haves”

So there you go, MJ. It’s probably a much more complete list than you were looking for, but I hope it helps you (and many other first-time gun owners) consider some future purchases to further enjoy this new-found hobby.

If I had to prioritize and limit my recommendations to what you really… really… really… need first, I’d say this:

  • “Eyes and Ears”
  • Non-Clorinated Brake Cleaner and FrogLube
  • Hoppe’s BoreSnake
  • One micro-fiber towel
  • Your first holster (but seriously, go clean out that drawer)
  • Some type of lock system or safe

With those things in hand, you’ve got the bare essentials covered. The rest you can pick up along the way, or ask Santa to hook you up.

Oh, and you probably need that “lid.”

Because… America.

I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and feedback below!