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Old October 3, 2012, 01:52 PM   #1
plinkerguy
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Help me decide on a handgun. I've narrowed it down.

I have been reading reviews and watching videos and I think I've narrowed down my list to what I'd purchase (not in order of preference):

1. Ruger sp101 4.2" .357 magnum revolver

2. CZ 75B (either 9mm, .40 or 45acp) - Would I be better off getting the sp-01?

3. Entry-level 1911 45acp (maybe Rock Island Armory)?

.357 is obviously great for range and defense and a revolver would be great for me. I'm just not sure if I should get a semi-auto or a revolver.

I learned .40 is not good for beginners because it's too snappy. I know 9mm is not the best for defense since it goes through walls, and has less stopping power than a .45. I read that .45acp is actually more of a push back than a vertical recoil, and I'm wondering if I could get used to it even though it would be my first pistol.

Ideally, I'd like a home defense gun that is fun at the range.

If I got a semi-auto, would it be better to go with a 9mm or just go ahead and get a .45 and just gradually get used to it?

BTW I don't have tiny hands, but my hands aren't large either. I guess medium.

I appreciate your feedback!!!
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Old October 3, 2012, 02:24 PM   #2
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What have you handled so far? What have you shot? What did you think of those you became familiar with.

Your choices are quite different from each other. You will get recommendations for each one, no doubt. Rather than make a specific recommendation to you that only reflects my own prejudices, I would like to offer some corrections to some misconceptions.

First, no handgun round guarantees a one-shot stop. The performance of 9 mm, .40, and .45 in ballistic gel (the only standardized test we currently have) is not substantially different from one another. Second, any round that causes enough damage to an assailant to effect a stop even with two or three rounds will penetrate the typical interior wall. Part of your preparation needs to be a consideration of possible lines of fire and what risk they will have to other occupants of your home. Third, while it is true that .45 is often described as more of a push than a snap, the vertical component of recoil, often referred to as muzzle flip, often has more to do with the design of the pistol (the height of the bore axis above the hand and grip, in particular) than it does with what round the pistol is chambered for.

Choosing a handgun is actually a chain of decisions: revolver vs pistol, caliber, capacity, trigger type, manual safeties, weight and size. The best thing is to make educated, thoughtful decisions about each of these factors, then to find and try out a short list of handguns that fit your criteria and choose the one that feels most comfortable to you. The wide variety of your choices makes me wonder if you have considered these factors.

I hope this helps. It isn't meant to sound grumpy or grouchy, honest.
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Old October 3, 2012, 02:36 PM   #3
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My recommendation, since you're asking, is find a range that has all 3 (or 5 or 6) and shoot them all back to back. It should be much clearer after that which one is right FOR YOU.

Had I not tried before buying, I would have ended up with several weapons I don't like.

Like many other Internet Certified Prognisticators, this advice is worth exactly double what you're paying for it.

Good luck.
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Old October 3, 2012, 04:54 PM   #4
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As was mentioned... all the common handgun rounds will penetrate walls and can pass through the body of an attacker. Using hollow points helps prevent pass through of a person, but they do not prevent penetration of walls should you miss.

As was said... consider and plan what you would do in an emergency situation.

All the major calibers perform similarly in tests when using quality HP ammo, do do not worry about effectiveness of different calibers too much.

Gun design/shape, weight... they have a big effect on felt recoil. A 45 in a heavy 1911 is not too bad, but in a small light poly gun... it can be a handful... 9mm is light shooting, but can get snappy as the size and weight shrinks.

Also... handle and shoot any pistols you think you are interested in... this was mentioned above.


My biased opinion... CZ 75b... I have two, and I love them.

For a new shooter, the decocker version (CZ 75DB) would be my choice... unless they can count on an experienced shooter's assistance with training and learning... or at least are dedicated to educating themselves and training.

Last edited by marine6680; October 3, 2012 at 05:00 PM.
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Old October 3, 2012, 05:05 PM   #5
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new jersy has some funky laws.. what can you accually get pinkerguy?
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Old October 3, 2012, 06:06 PM   #6
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Of the three the CZ in 9mm would be my choice for first gun.

Out side of the limitations I'd suggest a Ruger Mk series or a Buckmark.
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Old October 3, 2012, 06:07 PM   #7
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Jersey... no HP ammo there right?

Best bet is the Federal Guard Dog expanding FMJ.

I would check to verify that is legal though.
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Old October 3, 2012, 07:17 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for your replies! TailGator, I didn't think you grumpy at all, and appreciate you sharing things I should be mindful of.

NJ is pretty strict, and there aren't a lot of ranges around. I traveled to PA a few weeks ago and was tempted to move on the spot based on the number of ranges I passed along one road. I'm not sure on the hollowpoints but I do know the round limit is 15 rounds/mag in NJ

I think I'm dropping the revolver to the bottom of my list. It's a sweet gun, but the capacity is only 5 rounds and I think I'd prefer a semi-auto anyway.

As far as 9mm vs .45acp, it is comforting to note that most of you don't think it really matters in terms of performance all that much. Interestingly, there are a lot of anti-9mm people out there who all say to stay away from 9mm because of overpenetration, and less knockdown power. I feel better about going with a 9mm after reading your responses.

What I've handled: Not much. Years ago I shot some 9s but I don't remember what was what. I recently shot a 22mag revolver, but that's not even on the board. Unfortunately the ranges around here are bring your own only. Maybe I can track one down in NJ that lets you try different handguns. I'd prefer to try them as well.

Short of shooting them, I think I'm leaning towards a CZ 75DB. I like the idea of a decocker. Glocks have always bothered me with the though of the only safety being the trigger itself. CZ makes the big bore version of the 75, called the CZ 97B. I'd be curious if anyone has shot both and if you think the big bore would be too much for me since I'm just starting out.

No comments on 1911s. If anyone has any thoughts, I'd appreciate it since if I got a 45acp, I might get a 1911 style.

Thanks!
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Old October 3, 2012, 08:05 PM   #9
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I don't have one but the CZ 75 is getting a lot of good reviews on these forums. I have a beretta 92fs and a XD 9. I like both.
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Old October 3, 2012, 08:18 PM   #10
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I vote CZ 75B in 9mm.
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Old October 3, 2012, 08:52 PM   #11
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In a decocker the safety is the trigger... but it is a long and deliberate pull... no accidental pulling there... and it has a firing pin block so the only way the firing pin hits the primer is if you pull the trigger.

I would pick a 45 over a 9mm if I was restricted to FMJ rounds only. Both will over penetrate with FMJ.

Some find the CZ 97 to be too large in the grip. Recoil should be mild due to the design and weight.

1911s are not something I recommend for new shooters... more so if they want to use it in a defense role... They can be temperamental, and need some tweaking to run 100%... This gets more likely as the price lowers. Good pistols, but they have been pulled out of their comfort zone since the original design... I want one sometime, owned one a few years back, commanders in 40.
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Old October 3, 2012, 09:08 PM   #12
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I"d go for the magnum, but why a 4" sp101? I think a 4" GP100 would be a better choice.
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Old October 3, 2012, 10:25 PM   #13
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Set a target up at 3-5 yards, and dump the mag or cylinder. Do this with various calibers. Observe your patterns, and consider how confident you would be in putting shots on target with speed.

This can be help informing which caliber is right for you.
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Old October 3, 2012, 10:38 PM   #14
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While the choices are all great guns, they seem to be pretty random in selection. As several have noted, I'd really do some thinking as to which platform you're most comfortable with. I understand this may be difficult due to your location, but you did mention being close to PA. I lived in northeastern PA for a while, and though I didn't have the chance to get to a range, I know it's a very gun friendly place- see if you can get to one that offers rentals. Also, chatting with the other shooters at the range goes a long way as well. I'm always happy to talk shop with other courteous shooters and also to let others try my guns. YMMV. Just some thoughts.

If I were in your shoes, I'd spring for the CZ, of those you've listed. 1911s are SWEET but can definitely be finnicky and require some TLC. This might not be best for you, especially if you're a new shooter. Don't worry as much about caliber, for self defense either will get the job done. However, some people just shoot one caliber better than another- find which one you like to shoot as best you can. Ammo prices may be a factor consider as well.

Moral of the story, Come out west- we like guns here.
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Old October 3, 2012, 10:51 PM   #15
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We do really love our guns.

1/20 adults in Oregon have concealed carry licenses.
1/15 in Washington do.

In these states, Republicans and the Democrat majority see eye to eye on the Second Amendment.
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Old October 4, 2012, 11:31 AM   #16
plinkerguy
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Super Sneaky Steve - I was thinking the 4.2" sp101 because it's a bit longer, and isn't as large as a GP100. As mentioned, my hands aren't huge. I figured the 4.2" would help with the weight and accuracy with the sp101.

I noted a lot of people in these forums choose revolvers for home defense for obvious reasons. I also did see a lot of people mention the CZ 75 B for the home and the range.

Last related question:
For those of you with the CZ 75B, is the CZ 75 SP-01 a newer version? Which one should I get? I noted there's a Phantom model as well. Has anyone compared the 75B to the 75 SP-01? Also - have you had trouble locating parts for them?

Thanks a lot everyone!
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Old October 4, 2012, 02:47 PM   #17
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I don't own one, but the CZ is a very well-thought-of pistol, and could well be a fine choice for you for a first pistol. Promise us, though, that you won't rely on the mechanical safety, but rather that you will get some training and obey the Four Rules:

1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle point at anything you don't want to see destroyed.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire.
4. Be certain of your target and everything behind and around it.

Notice that they are redundant - you have to screw up more than once to shoot something that doesn't need shot.

Since you made mention of visiting gun shops in Pennsylvania when you live in New Jersey, be aware that it is against the law to take delivery of a handgun in a state in which you don't reside. It would have to be shipped to a licensed dealer (FFL) in your home state, after which you pay the FFL to complete the necessary paperwork and hand over your pistol. That may or may not be worth the hassle and extra expense.
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Old October 4, 2012, 03:45 PM   #18
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plinker guy

If you already know how to handle a pistol, go with 9mm, it is good for self defense with the right ammo, that I will let you figure that out. If you are new to handguns or just not comfortable with them, go with the sp101. I have the exact one you're talking about and I love it. You can also start out with .38 special if the. 357 recoil is too snappy for you. Whatever you get, practice manipulating it, drawing, loading, cocking it, etc. This will get you familiar with it. Not trying to treat you like a rookie, as I practice manipulating all the guns I have all the time.
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Old October 4, 2012, 04:28 PM   #19
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I have fired several different CZs and definitely prefer the SP-01 Tactical. I have the 9mm version and one of my friends has the 40 cal. His 40 cal SP-01 Tactical has less recoil than any other brand 9mm I have ever fired. The weight of the gun probably has a lot to do with it. Without the mag, it weighs 2.4 pounds. The SP-01 Tactical is a sturdy gun for sure.
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Old October 4, 2012, 04:40 PM   #20
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The SP-01 is a variant of the CZ 75.

There are a few differences... but very similar. Pick which you like the best. Their feel in hand is almost identical, the SP-01 is a little heavier.

The SP-01 Phantom is the polymer version, and I hear good things about it.
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Old October 4, 2012, 05:25 PM   #21
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All BULLETS GO THROUGH WALLS. Pick a common Pistol that is easy to repair and get parts for. you need to study up with some reliable information Read this link http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19887. I wouldn't buy any of the pistols on your list for the first pistol. You have chosen the 3rd or 4th pistols to get first. IMO everyone should own a high quality 9mm .

Last edited by cookie5; October 4, 2012 at 05:36 PM.
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Old October 4, 2012, 05:44 PM   #22
marine6680
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The 1911 is the only one I would consider as not a good first pistol...

A good revolver is very beginner friendly... and the CZ is a reliable easy to shoot semi-auto that is no more difficult to use than any other semi-auto.
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Old October 4, 2012, 06:10 PM   #23
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Rock island armory would be my choice. They also make 9mm 1911's.
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Old October 5, 2012, 10:21 PM   #24
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I was going to mention a 9mm 1911 as well. That said I've never fired a CZ 75, but the people that own them seem to really like them. My first revolver was a 4'' Taurus .357. Still have it. But now days I'm more of a semi auto guy.

While all my 1911's are .45's. I wouldn't shy away from one in 9mm. Modern 9mm HP's make a good choice for for defensive ammo. But if you aren't allowed to use HP's then the .45 is the better choice for defense.

Another vote for you to go down to the rental range and try all 3. Then decide from there what you like best.

Good luck with your search
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Old October 5, 2012, 10:52 PM   #25
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Have you handled a 1911? They're not for everybody, but they are simply the best for me. I have 3, two in .45 ACP and one in 10mm. One is my EDC for the last 8 or 9 years. With medium hands, you will probably prefer a flat mainspring housing. My rather large hands prefer an arched MSH, though my EDC has a flat, so hand-filling grips were part of the fix to make it perfect for me. A 1911 has many variations of size, personalizations like grips affect fit, and there are many different cartridge choices. I am still missing a Commander-sized one in 9mm. Someday for sure. Certainly check out the 1911s. But beware. You can't have just one.
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