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Old November 3, 2010, 05:14 PM   #1
DougNew
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Help a Newcomer Make an Informed First Purchase

Hats off to this Forum, which has been a huge help for this newcomer, especially in this Thread.


Along those lines, I'm looking for suggestions of handguns to try before getting my first. It should be:
  1. good for a newcomer. I'll take a course, read, and practice, practice, practice. But there's no getting around it: for now, I know bupkis. Simple is the way to start.
  2. $500 to $900. I just don't know enough to invest in more yet.
  3. fun on the firing range at short to moderate distance. That's its primary use; secondary use is for home defense.
    While I might someday want a concealed carry, I'll likely buy a more compact model for that. I won't use this for hunting or plinking.
  4. full-size.
    Or so. Not too bulky. Not dainty. I have long but thin arms and fingers, and a model with a heavy, 4" barrel may feel too weighty.

If it really makes sense, I'd consider two: a .22 for the firing range and a larger model for home, especially if they work alike. But if I can get away with one to start, great.

I have minimal handgun experience, having fired only a .357 Magnum 3" and a Sig p226 three years ago. Both felt fine, but I didn't get the particulars of the models. I'm open to either revolvers or semi-auto. Slight preference for Double-Action Only, but I'd consider Single Action if recommended.


From reading other Threads, I've already found the sensible advice to try different models for a good fit. But there are hundreds of options, and I'd appreciate any advice on where to start.
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Old November 3, 2010, 05:23 PM   #2
LarryFlew
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Before you lay down your hard earned cash go to a range that rents guns and try a few. You can also go to a local gun shop and handle a few for the feel of fit but keep in mind that won't tell you what they do when fired. IE out of 3 .45's I've had all felt great. 1 was very heavy and long and had more of a light push back without any jump to the barrel so 2nd shot was ready to go. 1 was about the same but shorter barrel with a little bit of a jump but again more push than jump. 1 was very light alloy which makes for great carry pc but in 45 it made for a mule as far as kick goes. Nothing you can't live with but LOTs more than the other two.

Might also ask some friends if you h ave any that are into shooting if you can try theirs.

Personally I'm a CZ, Witness, Kimber fan but hey that's just me. Most name brand guns will give you the fit, finish and quality in your price range.

9mm is probably the best all around gun for you at this point. In some brands like CZ you can buy the 9mm and a 22 upper that fits on the frame so you have both guns with exactly the same feel.
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Old November 3, 2010, 05:29 PM   #3
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Double action only is fine, but bear in mind that plenty of Single action-Double action handguns are out there

I'd suggest another look at the SiG P226, look at the Walther P99 too. Maybe at the top end of your budget, true

I'd also suggest that a Beretta 92FS be on your list of 'try em outs'

As a caliber I'd suggest 9mm if you were to get one pistol. The reason is that it's a fine cartridge and relatively cheap to shoot
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Old November 3, 2010, 06:07 PM   #4
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Major-manufacturer 9mm auto is my broad suggestion... (Adequate middle-of-the-road round that won't deplete your funds for practice ammo)... I know you indicated full-size and the choices are many... As long as you stick with a major brand you'll be OK with whatever feels right. But I'm on a bit of a rant right now for the Kahr CW9 as a premier choice for new shooters... It's single-stack, slim and light... (so less than full-size)... but it's got so much going for it I have to mention it here too... It will serve as a rugged range gun AND a reliable easy-carry/home-defense gun so that's why I bring it up again. It's VERY versatile, accurate, adaptable. I suggest you at least check one out... broadly $450 range. If the shoe fits, wear it! If the gun fits, shoot it!
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Old November 3, 2010, 06:39 PM   #5
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You need to go to a gun store or range an try a few if possible. Look at the Beretta 92 or Sig 226 or 229. Your going to need a holster and extra mags as well as a cleaning kit so your money will get used up quick. Theres nothing wrong with a revolver in 357 for a first gun. Good luck
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Old November 3, 2010, 06:49 PM   #6
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my sister bought the sig p250? double set,she likes it a lot.btw,its in 9mm
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Old November 3, 2010, 06:52 PM   #7
dean1818
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I have fired many pistols

For me, try the SIG P226

Its a SA/DA pistol that handles and shoots fantastic

I have NEVER had a failure to fire, or failure to eject.

Just dependable


I used to think that I wanted a manual safety on all my pistols, but after handling and shooting a pistol with SA/DA that has a decocker, it just made sense

My 2 cents... get a 226
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Old November 3, 2010, 07:00 PM   #8
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For a first handgun I would seriously consider a S&W revolver in .357 Mag. Caliber. Big enough for defense with .357 mag loads. Great for plinking, target shooting, etc. with .38 Special wadcutters. A 4" 686 or Model 19 if you can find one would be a good choice.

Revolvers are simple, easy to learn with, and generally safer in the hands of a novice.

My wife, a novice, had a Kahr P9, but found that she was much more comfortable, and proficient with a Model 60 S&W Lady Smith.

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Old November 3, 2010, 07:03 PM   #9
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At the risk of sounding like a "fanboy" I'm going to say if you want an auto get a Glock, and a .22. Here is why - the Glock controls are simple and quick to learn, the gun has a consistent trigger pull and is more than acceptably accurate. The Glock is fairly easy to disassemble and maintain and it's forgiving if you are inexperienced and don't clean it well. It has a great warranty, a tough finish, tons of aftermarket support and tons of people who know how to work on them. With a new Glock and decent .22, you'll still be inside your budget.

If you want a revolver, I'd say take a look at the GP100. Good quality guns, easy to work, easy to tear down and maintain. It's also very easy to get a 22 that works like a GP100, I think there may even be some 22 caliber GPs out there, there are definitely SP101s in 22, which is just the smaller cousin to the GP100.
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Old November 3, 2010, 07:31 PM   #10
WANT A LCR 22LR
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A few things.

A heavy gun will soak up recoil.

For in the home defense, a 38 +P is fine. 357 is really going to be loud for minimal power gain. ( assuming a 4" home gun )

A 22 companion gun is a very good idea with low recoil and cheap ammo.

I started with a loaner 6" 357 until my 4" Ruger GP100 came in. Ran piles of light / mid power 38 through it, bought a LCR 38 after 2 weeks and started working towards 38+P loads.

As it stands now, the GP is the house gun and LCR carry. 4" GP is a occasional out on the property gun as well.
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Old November 3, 2010, 07:48 PM   #11
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Help a Newcomer Make an Informed First Purchase

My advice is worth every penny you pay for it.

I'd suggest a used S&W Model 10 or Model 64 revolver in 38 special with a 4" barrel. These two models are twins, the difference being that the 10 is blued and the 64 is stainless. These are readily available in good condition and reasonable cost on the used market. They handle extremely well and are easy to shoot accurately. The 38+P cartridge is a good load for self defense, if that's a consideration.

All of the above are the reasons that this revolver was the sidearm of choice for most US law enforcement agencies for half a century. And they're still good reasons for us regular guys to own one today. I have several and I always grab one when I'm going to the range or plinking.
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Old November 3, 2010, 08:09 PM   #12
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With that price range, I'd suggest going down the two gun path.
I'd also recommend getting both a revolver and an auto loader, and one a 22 and the other, well something else(see below). That way you can get experience with both.

What exactly to get is a tough choice, given the number of great guns.
You could get an autoloading .22 such as a Buckmark or Ruger Mark II or III, then compliment that with a revolver in .357 mag(can also shoot 38 special).

Or you could get get the 22 in a revolver, then get an autoloader in a bigger caliber. 9mm is a good starter choice there. Again, lots of good choices as listed in other posts but something like a Springfield XD or Glock are excellent choices.
My $.02
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Old November 4, 2010, 09:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
For in the home defense, a 38 +P is fine. 357 is really going to be loud for minimal power gain. ( assuming a 4" home gun )
A 38+P is very similar to a 9mm, maybe a little hotter or weaker depending on which ammo you're using. I'd expect to conservatively see a 30-40% gain in MV with the .357 in a 4" barrel. Perhaps more depending on ammo.
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Old November 4, 2010, 11:45 AM   #14
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+1 for the gp100, its a fine gun, and the 4" version in my opinion is one the versatile firearms available. Enough weight to soak up recoil, offers good balance, accurate, robust and priced fair. My girlfriend wants to get into shooting, and my gp100 is the perfect tool for her to start with beginning with 38 wads and progressing up to 357 mags. You may also want to check out the sp101 and the Sig p226 as previous posters had mentioned. All and all make sure the gun you choose fits YOU best. Good luck and enjoy your gun!
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Old November 4, 2010, 01:07 PM   #15
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buy One and one-half

Learning to shoot well with a pistol requires (IMHO) a lot more time and ammo than developing a reasonable level of defensive shooting skill with a rifle or shotgun.
  • Buy a 45acp model 1911
  • or
  • Buy a Glock (*at least many models)
and at the same time buy .22 caliber adaptor.
The Adaptor replaces the barrel, the slide, and the magazine and typically costs around $200. You get the same grip and trigger to practice with and pay only .22 prices for ammo.
* - There may be some Glocks that don't take an Adaptor - I'm not an expert but the InterNet is there if you want to check before buying.

An alternative is to buy a center-fire revolver or auto iand buy a very similar .22.
That can be a lot more expensive if you want a S+W target 22 revolver and a similar .357 - but you get two great pistols.
.
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Old November 4, 2010, 01:50 PM   #16
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I would think for 900$ you can get both a decent 9mm or 357\.38 AND a .22 gun for fun.

There are literally tons of gently used in both calibers available on line and in your local gun shops.

For range work and HD the 9mm and .357\.38 are ideal.

Glock, Springfield, S&W, Beretta, SigSauer, CZ and Ruger are all solid guns. You can get both if your willing to spend $900. If your priority is a HD gun, get your centerfire gun first and then look for a nice used Ruger or S&W semi auto .22cal. There are others, but these are more plentifull used.

The conversion kit is also a very good way to go.
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Old November 4, 2010, 06:47 PM   #17
DougNew
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This is a big help - thanks for the good suggestions.

Quote:
A heavy gun will soak up recoil.

For in the home defense, a 38 +P is fine. 357 is really going to be loud for minimal power gain. ( assuming a 4" home gun )
I definitely want to limit recoil, but from the suggestions above, I wonder if I can go toward the smaller end of full-size. Lighter feels better in my hand, and if it weren't for recoil issues, I'd probably lean toward compact.

My cousin has a Sig P228 (now out of production?), and it feels great, yet he says it has little recoil. Something similar would be ideal.


I'm now leaning away from a .357. I'm happy to lose a little power to practice with something quieter.

Quote:
I would think for 900$ you can get both a decent 9mm or 357\.38 AND a .22 gun for fun.

For range work and HD the 9mm and .357\.38 are ideal.

Glock, Springfield, S&W, Beretta, SigSauer, CZ and Ruger are all solid guns. You can get both if your willing to spend $900. If your priority is a HD gun, get your centerfire gun first and then look for a nice used Ruger or S&W semi auto .22cal. There are others, but these are more plentifull used.

The conversion kit is also a very good way to go.
I'd sure be happier with $500 than $900, so if I can get a single model that serves me well enough at home and for simple practice, great - remember, I'm a newbie and will need a lot of rounds.

But for range practice, if it's really worth getting a .22 or a conversion kit, then I'll do it.
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Old November 4, 2010, 10:45 PM   #18
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I'd definitely suggest looking at CZ's 9mm offerings. They tend to run between $450 and $600 depending on where you go.

Other manufacturers you can buy from without any worries are Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Ruger, Glock, Bersa, Walther, Beretta and Kel-Tec, among others. I'd be wary of Taurus, Jennings, Bryco, Phoenix, Lorcin, and (at risk of being flamed) Kimber.
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Old November 5, 2010, 12:09 AM   #19
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I'd suggest fondling both Springfield XDs and Glocks. Also I'd recomend looking at a .40 or .45.
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Old November 5, 2010, 01:08 AM   #20
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Shoot everything in 9mm that the rental place has.

The guns that feel the best will have other models or maybe the same model in different rounds. Give those a try.

The gun the fits best and that you are most comfortable shooting will most likely be the best gun for you.

Personally I like heavy guns chambered in medium power rounds or light rounds.
A 40oz pistol or revolver in 9mm or .38 respectively will treat you well.

Consider buying used.
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Old November 5, 2010, 01:29 AM   #21
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Doug, the advice to try several guns at a range until you find something that suits you was good advice; however if thats not possible, what I'd try to do is buy a used steel framed ex-police department revolver in 38 Special, for something less than $300. That way, you can use it for as long as you like - for a lifetime if you want to - or, if you want to buy something more exotic later, you can sell the service revolver and possibly even make money out of it. Even in a worst case scenario, where the economy tanks, you couldn't lose much. These guns are usually heavy enough so that they don't recoil much if at all, but they're not so heavy that they would detrimentally affect your marksmanship. (You don't have to be a muscle man to handle one of these. There are a lot of frail female 38 Special shooters.)

You can buy a used 38 Special service revolver just about anywhere but you usually get the best prices from those dealers who purchase large quantities from police departments at a good price and then retail them out. The last large batch of 38 Special police guns like that that I saw advertised on-line were being sold about a year ago by J&G Sales (they may still have a few) but they were double-action only as I recall, which would be ok for HD but not great for target shooting.

There are many advantages to owning a 38 Special service revolver, especially if it can be fired in either single or double action mode. Most such revolvers that were manufactured after about 1950 are capable of firing +P ammunition, at least occasionally, but be sure before you buy. (I wouldn't buy one that wouldn't handle at least an occasional lite diet of +P rounds, because in my opinion you need +P Hollow Points for HD.) Standard velocity round nose and wadcutter ammo is best for your target and plinking needs. Its also realitively inexpensive ammo. One of the best things about any revolver is that you can load a chamber with one or two specialty rounds for use in emergency or particular situations. For example, I always keep at least one cylinder of mine loaded with a CCI shotshell because it gives me a very deadly minishotgun for snake duty. (Lots of cottonmouth moccasins around here.)

Last but not least, most people can learn to shoot a 38 Special service revolver with great accuracy because its such a user-friendly, fun gun to shoot.

PS: Some people say purchase a 357 revolver and shoot 38 Special ammo in it, the idea being that gives you "versatility" but I don't recommend that. If you buy a 357, it'll just cost you more than a comparable 38 Special revolver will, and it'll be heavier than a comparable 38 Special revolver would be, and if you're recoil sensitive, you'll probably never fire a round of 357 magnum in it. Or maybe you'll fire one, but not many more. (Most people who own 357's never shoot 357 magnum ammo in them, and if they did, the recoil and blast would probably detrimentally affect their accuracy.)
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Old November 5, 2010, 08:28 AM   #22
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Agree with CWKahrFan ... 9mm is probably your best bet ... and while I carry a Kahr PM9 on a daily basis, I'd suggest instead that you look at the Springfield XDm-9 ... it's my favorite range gun at the moment; 19+1 capacity, extremely accurate, light recoil, great both for practice and home defense and you can carry it if you later decide to get a license ... plus it has never failed in any way, and Springer has great customer service on the off chance you might get one with some defect. Good luck and have fun ...
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Old November 5, 2010, 09:24 AM   #23
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Hi Doug - I would suggest holding the larger and smaller versions of the guns you're interested in. They do make a 3" GP100, since you had mentioned wanting one, but the 4" is much more popular and easy to find. When I bought my 3" SP101 it felt lighter to me than the 2" SP101 did, balance is more important than overall size or weight, in my opinion. Weight at the end of the barrel will sometimes make a gun feel "right" and other times make it feel "wrong".

Another option for smaller, full-size revolvers would be the Ruger Security Six (Speed Six or Service Six), which can be had in shorter barrel lengths and found for a decent price on the used market (they are out of production).

Also understand that a .357 Mag can easily shoot .38spl or .38+P rounds, so you don't have to worry about the "loud" factor, but you have the option to move up later if you want.

If you're stuck on the smaller end of full-size and are interested in an auto, then I say have a close look at the G19, it's small-ish, but not tiny and handles easily. It's a 9mm, seemingly the round of choice in this discussion.
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Old November 5, 2010, 10:42 AM   #24
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+1 to trying out the guns at the range first if at all possible. It is worth the few extra $$$.
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Old November 5, 2010, 10:54 AM   #25
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Quote:
Shoot everything in 9mm that the rental place has.

The guns that feel the best will have other models or maybe the same model in different rounds. Give those a try.

The gun the fits best and that you are most comfortable shooting will most likely be the best gun for you.
Far and away the most useful bit of advice on the thread.

We can all tell you what our favorite guns are, but the only thing that matters is which of all these fine guns feels best to you. Buying a certain brand and model of gun because a few more people favor it on some internet forum would not be advisable.
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