The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: General Handgun Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old June 3, 2013, 10:36 PM   #1
ryanh51
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 2, 2013
Posts: 12
First handgun

Hey all! I just joined the forum yesterday and I've already got a question . I'm somewhat new to the world of firearms. I've been shooting since I can remember but always with other people guns and I never really did any of the maintenance or research involved with owning firearms. As a consequence I love guns but know very very little about them.

I got my very first gun for christmas. An off-the-shelf wal-mart special on a 12 gauge shotgun. Nothing fancy but very suitable for my needs. I've been shooting clay pigeons with it numerous times and my friends love going shooting too. I've loved the idea of owning my own guns ever since I got my shotgun and decided to add to my arsenal. I've been doing research for a while and last week I bought a 91/30 Mosin Nagant. Very satisfied with the rifled especially considering how cheap it was.

So... my question. The next thing I want to start researching is a good handgun. I've got this idea in my head that I need at least one rifle, one shotgun, and one handgun. That way I'll be prepared for whatever I need. The shotgun and rifle are mostly for hunting but I want a handgun primarily for home defense and concealed carry. It doesn't need to be anything with amazing range, and I'm not looking to blast a huge hole in whatever I'm shooting(or whoever if worse comes to worse). Mostly I'm looking for something reliable and something cheap(both in initial cost and the cost of ammunition).

So far my research has led me in the direction of a 357 revolver. I like the sound of revolvers being more reliable and general more straightforward weapons(besides... revolvers are freaking cool!). As far as getting a .357.... thats basically just what a lot of people seem to prefer. I don't really know why.

There's so much I don't know though I thought I'd put the question to you guys. I know it's a bit of a novel... but what does everyone think? What kind of handgun would be reliable, cheap, and just generally practical?
ryanh51 is offline  
Old June 3, 2013, 10:47 PM   #2
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,331
Some (ok, many!) years ago, I went through the same process you're going through now. After considerable research, my decision was to purchase a 4" barrel stainless steel revolver with adjustable sights and chambered in .357Magnum.

For awhile, that was my only firearm. For a brief while... I soon realized that I definitely "needed" more than just one handgun, but I still think that if I were restricted to just one, it would be hard to come up with a single handgun that was a better choice.

Second choice would be a medium 9mm autopistol with a .22LR conversion kit to fit it.
__________________
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old June 3, 2013, 10:53 PM   #3
Lost Sheep
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 2,994
Welcome to the forum and thanks for asking our advice.

If your shotgun is a pump action, I would suggest for home defense, an 18" barrel. Shotguns are easier to hit with than a handgun, more powerful and less likely to penetrate beyond your target (especially nice if you miss).

Having mentioned that handguns are much more difficult to master than long arms, have you thought about a decently accurate 22 rimfire? Much cheaper to feed than any centerfire and sight alignment, breathing and trigger control can be practiced without having to deal with recoil issues and the flinching that tends to follow.

Lost Sheep
Lost Sheep is offline  
Old June 4, 2013, 07:14 AM   #4
Waspinator
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 10, 2013
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 391
Quote:
As far as getting a .357.... thats basically just what a lot of people seem to prefer. I don't really know why.
I think most people recommend a .357 Mag, and why it is also so popular, is due to its versatility. You can shoot a wide range of ammo through it and they all fall under "adequate" defense power. Anything from lighter 38 special rounds, to .38 +P, .38 +P+ in all the various configurations they come in. And then you can shoot all the different .357 Mag rounds from lite loads to hot loads. It really gives you a lot of choice to find your own combination that works well for you.
Waspinator is offline  
Old June 4, 2013, 09:33 AM   #5
SgtLumpy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 2, 2013
Posts: 779
I'm thinkin' a lot of people would suggest going to a gun store and look, feel, try a lot of different gun styles. Unfortunately, right now, there simply may not be a lot of different guns in the stores.

A gun that FITS your hand(s) and body, and a gun that you like the LOOKS of seems like a good choice. Since physically checking the fit right now is a challenge, consider the "look" aspect. Go through all the online catalogs and pics and see what just plain grabs your attention. "I like the looks of that gun" is a really good reason to investigate further in regards to fit, suitability for your particular needs, ammo availability etc.

Then a year or so later, buy another gun of same or different style...


Sgt Lumpy
SgtLumpy is offline  
Old June 4, 2013, 11:28 AM   #6
MrBorland
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 31, 2007
Location: NC
Posts: 1,815
Welcome to TFL!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnKSa
After considerable research, my decision was to purchase a 4" barrel stainless steel revolver with adjustable sights and chambered in .357Magnum.
Yup. Very tough to beat for all-around utility. A 3" .357mag (e.g. a 3" Model 65) with fixed sights might be more carry-friendly, but adjustable sights with a 4" barrel is a bit easier to shoot. And personally, I'd stick with a 6-shot (or an 8-shot S&W N-frame, though harder to carry), rather than a 7- (or 5-) shot.

I'd also avoid one of those .45/shotshell revolvers, in case they've caught your eye. They appeal to many for their apparent versatility, but they're gimmicky, not particularly accurate, and don't have the versatility of a good ol' .357mag (flame suit on ).

As suggested, though, it'd be best to try one out first to be sure you're actually going to enjoy shooting whatever your research tells you to buy.
MrBorland is offline  
Old June 4, 2013, 11:54 AM   #7
peacefulgary
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 26, 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 524
Yep, the 4" .357 magnum revolver is definitely one of the best and most versatile handguns one can own.
Like Waspinator said earlier, you have a large range of ammo that you can tailor to your needs.
From cheap .38 special loads for target practice (a real creampuff of a load from a heavy 4" revolver), to tame but effective mid power self defense loads, all the way to full power loads that will kill a boar or an elk.
There's not much that the 4" (or 5" or 6") .357 magnum revolver can't do.

There are a few cons however...

The 4" .357 revolver is not light in weight.
So concealed carry can be a drag sometimes, although it can be done.

The double-action trigger is heavy and takes practice to master.
But once you master the revolver DA trigger nearly any other trigger will be rather easy to master.
And the DA isn't THAT bad....little old ladies and little skinny teens have been known to shoot DA revolvers quite well.

Capacity!
Yep, you only get 5 or 6 shots in most revolvers (7 and 8 in a few models).
So you will have to make every one of them count (as you should even if firing a high capacity handgun).
It's up to you how comfortable you are with just 5 or 6 shots (and a reload of course), but look at it this way: up till now you didn't carry any handgun and you're still alive.
Besides, in my opinion, and some auto guys will disagree, but the reliability of the revolver trumps the capacity of the autoloader every time.

There's nothing more confidence shaking then shooting your carry weapon at the range and have it fail-to-feed or fail-to-eject or encounter a dud round or a hard primer and suddenly turn in to a one-shot handgun.
If you are not willing to take the time to practice stoppage drills religiously then the revolver is definitely the better choice.
peacefulgary is offline  
Old June 4, 2013, 02:10 PM   #8
ryanh51
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 2, 2013
Posts: 12
Thanks for all the great advice guys. I have a lot more to research and think about now. Four more questions I've come across from reading your posts and talking to a local guy in town.

It sounds like a 3" or 4" barrel is the best for what I'm looking for. Is it less accurate simply because it's harder to sight or does the bullet actually travel less accurately?

Fixed vs. adjustable sights. So fixed is easier to carry but adjustable is more accurately? Why is this?

Talking to a local gun guy I learned about a brand called EAA(European-American something... I think). Supposedly they're pretty decent guns for a really cheap price. I've read though that they're supposed to be really heavy. Anyone know anything about these guns? Any opinions?

What should I look for/be wary of with a used gun? My general line of thinking is that if it's lasted 3+ decades, it's liable to last me quite a while as well. I also figure that I can get a better gun for cheaper. a $300 used handgun should be a better all-around gun than a $300 new gun. That's my way of thinking at least? Opinions?


On a side-note I took my Mosin Nagant out for the first time today. Absolutely love it! I actually like the feel of it a lot better than most newer/most expensive guns I've shot. Very very satisfied with my purchase!
ryanh51 is offline  
Old June 4, 2013, 02:43 PM   #9
MrBorland
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 31, 2007
Location: NC
Posts: 1,815
Quote:
It sounds like a 3" or 4" barrel is the best for what I'm looking for. Is it less accurate simply because it's harder to sight or does the bullet actually travel less accurately?
The short-barreled gun's no less inherently accurate. In general, it's harder for the shooter to be as accurate with a shorter sight radius because any misalignment of the front & rear sight is amplified proportionately as the bullet gets to the target. IME, unless you're formally target shooting, though, it's more of an issue once you get shorter than 3".

Quote:
Fixed vs. adjustable sights. So fixed is easier to carry but adjustable is more accurately? Why is this?
The blade on a rear adjustable sight (usually) forms a cleaner sight picture. And the adjustability gives one a little more versatility in ammo selection.

Quote:
Talking to a local gun guy I learned about a brand called EAA(European-American something... I think). Supposedly they're pretty decent guns for a really cheap price. I've read though that they're supposed to be really heavy. Anyone know anything about these guns? Any opinions?
Never shot them, but they seem to have an ok (not great/not bad) rep for the price. But longevity & durability seems to be an issue, especially when fed .357mags. Sticking with S&W or Ruger is the safest bet.

Quote:
What should I look for/be wary of with a used gun? My general line of thinking is that if it's lasted 3+ decades, it's liable to last me quite a while as well. I also figure that I can get a better gun for cheaper.
check out the Revolver Checkout thread at the top of this subforum.

Quote:
a $300 used handgun should be a better all-around gun than a $300 new gun. That's my way of thinking at least? Opinions?
You can certainly get a relatively nicer gun if you buy used, but there's no guarantee that your $300 used gun will be a good buy. Also, because of the .357mag's versatility, they come at a premium, compared to a standard .38spl. If you've no need for .357mag power, you can find a nice used S&W .38spl for $300 - $350. Finding a good .357mag in good condition in that price range will be tougher.
MrBorland is offline  
Old June 4, 2013, 03:04 PM   #10
fragtagninja
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 20, 2013
Posts: 194
Welcome to the forum ryanh51. I am a newcomer myself who just got into shooting after many years away. There are a lot of great handguns out there to choose from. So many in fact it is hard to decide on one. I would not be so quick to throw auto loading pistols out. Modern pistols like the Glocks, and Sig Sauers are known for reliability. Both have their ups and downs. My dad prefers revolvers to autos and the .357 magnum is his round of choice. If he could own just one gun it would be a Colt Python with a six inch barrel. My advice is to go out and handle everything you can before you buy anything. Then research what has a good reputation. One thing my dad states as a great advantage to the .357 revolver is that it is big, heavy, and can also shoot .38 special which is much lighter recoiling round. He says this is a great way for new shooters to get used to shooting before they make the jump to mag power. This is of course his view of the .357 mag. But again from someone who just went through the process you are now. Go handle every gun you can and see what feels good in your hand. Play with the triggers and every other control on the gun. Make sure they are easy for you to manipulate, and compare sights. If you don't plan on changing sights in the near future make sure you can clearly see them.
fragtagninja is offline  
Old June 4, 2013, 03:07 PM   #11
SgtLumpy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 2, 2013
Posts: 779
Quote:
Fixed vs. adjustable sights. So fixed is easier to carry but adjustable is more accurately? Why is this?
It's not really "more accurate". Once you learn where the bullet goes with either style sights, the bullet goes to that same place every time, minus the human error factor, which is the same, obviously, for both.

I like fixed sights, even though most of my pistols have adjustable. Plain, blackened is fine with me. I don't care for tritium or white dot, rear white bar etc.

If you were to shoot a lot of different loads, you could, in theory, adjust that adjustable sight for each load. But I sure don't. I just learn that with this load the bullets go 1/2 inch high and left over that load.

Fixed sights are nearly impossible to knock out of alignment. Adjustable sights may snag on clothing or skin as you carry.


Sgt Lumpy
SgtLumpy is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 11:17 AM   #12
mxsailor803
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 8, 2010
Location: Norfolk, Va
Posts: 737
MrBorland hit the bullseye on everyone of those topics. For my money, I'd look for a S&W or Ruger. Keep this in mind also, both of those companys have very good customer support and if you buy used and something doesn't function correctly, they will fix it. Welcome to the forum and this addicting hobby lol.
mxsailor803 is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 11:42 AM   #13
jimbob86
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 4, 2007
Location: All the way to NEBRASKA
Posts: 6,778
Quote:
Having mentioned that handguns are much more difficult to master than long arms, have you thought about a decently accurate 22 rimfire? Much cheaper to feed than any centerfire and sight alignment, breathing and trigger control can be practiced without having to deal with recoil issues and the flinching that tends to follow.
....provided you can find .22lr.

Hard to find here-abouts, lately.

Quote:
I've got this idea in my head that I need at least one rifle, one shotgun, and one handgun. That way I'll be prepared for whatever I need.
Add a .22 rifle in there, and you pretty much have everything covered.

I found that a revolver is more difficult to conceal than an automatic pistol ..... just my experience, YMMV. ....... even a 5' steel framed 1911 carries better for me than a 3" .357, even though it is almost twice as heavy and much larger- thing is, it is flat, so it rides under your belt better than the revolver.

I hear a lot about "pocket carry" for revolvers, but I'm not seeing how that is possible without some really big baggy pants.

Clown Pants have no place in my wardrobe.

FWIW, a .357 revolver was the second handgun I purchased, and I liked it so much I bought another one.
__________________
TheGolden Rule of Tool Use: "If you don't know what you are doing, DON'T."

http://nefirearm.com/
jimbob86 is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 12:01 PM   #14
SSA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 1, 2010
Posts: 347
budsgunshop.com has police trade-in S&W model 10's.
Might be worth considering.
SSA is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 01:51 PM   #15
Spats McGee
Staff
 
Join Date: July 28, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 5,073
Welcome to TFL!

As others have mentioned, a .357 Magnum (not to be confused with .357 Sig) is a very versatile pistol. You can chamber .38 Special rounds (in a variety of different loads) in one, and it'll serve you well from everything from plinking to self-defense. Just remember that you can put .38 Special in a .357 Mag pistol, but NOT the other way around.

Used vs. New: In the Revolvers forum, there's a "used revolver check-out" stickied, and that will give you some pointers on checking out a used revolver. I'm not a gunsmith by any stretch of the imagination, but I know enough to feel comfortable buying used. With that said, I think I'd rather have a used firearm from a company with which I'm comfortable (Ruger, S&W, Colt, etc.), than a new one from a company whose reputation makes me uneasy. I don't know enough about EAA (which you mentioned) to form an opinion one way or the other. Perhaps some EAA owners can chime in on this?

You also mentioned that you were under the impression that the EAA pistol that you were looking at is heavy. Bear in mind that the extra weight has good points and bad points. A heavier weapon will absorb recoil better, but it's also harder to carry. If you're planning on carrying full-time, take that into consideration.
__________________
A gunfight is not the time to learn new skills.

If you ever have a real need for more than a couple of magazines, your problem is not a shortage of magazines. It's a shortage of people on your side of the argument. -- Art Eatman
Spats McGee is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 02:02 PM   #16
temmi
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 13, 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 531
Go to a place where you can try out various Handguns.

You may find you shoot one type peter than the other.

If you must spend a bit more that is ok... save and get what you really want

Snake
temmi is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 02:54 PM   #17
ryanh51
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 2, 2013
Posts: 12
Wow. Such a great reception to this forum. I appreciate everyone's input and I feel a lot better equipped to make a purchase when I get the money. I've decided that I'd rather spend a bit more money off the bat. I'd rather get something good now than feel like I have to upgrade later.

I'll post an update when I buy one!
ryanh51 is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 03:03 PM   #18
SIGSHR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 13, 2005
Posts: 3,076
While I am a .357 and revolver fan I always recommend a 22 for a first handgun. Easier to practice with.
SIGSHR is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 03:07 PM   #19
Microgunner
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 6, 2006
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 2,929
I'm going to be in agreement. If I were to own just one handgun it would be a .357mag revolver.
__________________
Proud NRA Patron Member
Microgunner is offline  
Old June 6, 2013, 03:33 PM   #20
Bluestarlizzard
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 23, 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 254
I started shooting with semi auto's. That's what Dad had, so that's what I shot.

When I was 16, he came home with a S&W model 19, which is a .375 mag revolver with a heavy frame and a 4' barrel, which he gave to me.
My first reaction was "How dorky?" (did I mention I was 16?) and Dad really had to sell it for me to come to the conclusion that beggers can't be choosers and revolvers wern't THAT dorky.
After a few weeks, I loved that thing. Years later I can say that my shooting improved considerably with it. It will never be sold, trader or discarded. It hopefully will get passed down when I finally have some kids.

I am a semi auto girl, and will never likely spend too much time and effort in the wheelgun side of the world, but a big, steel frame .357 Mag is one handgun I truely think everyone should have, at least for a little while. It's basic, rugged, realible and good practice for both a beginer and an experianced shooter.

So, you can add my vote with all the other wheelgun votes. And welcome!
__________________
Mal: "If anyone gets nosy, just...you know... shoot 'em. "
Zoe: "Shoot 'em?"
Mal: "Politely."
Bluestarlizzard is offline  
Old June 7, 2013, 07:54 AM   #21
TRex99
Member
 
Join Date: March 30, 2013
Posts: 47
25 years ago, I was in the same situation. I had grown up shooting rifles and hunting with my dad and owned a couple of rifles, but when I wanted a handgun, I didn't know where to start.
I went to a LGS near my house and the owner steered me to a 4" S&W Model 586 with fixed sights. I put a Pachmayr grip on it and shot thousands of rounds through it. I started handloading then too.
I've had several handguns since, and these days I favor pistols in .45ACP. But that old Smith still has a spot in my safe.
TRex99 is offline  
Old June 7, 2013, 08:51 PM   #22
ryanh51
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 2, 2013
Posts: 12
Ended up buying a .357 Mag Taurus model 66. Wood stock with a blued barrel. It's a six shot with adjustable sights. Wasn't planning on buying one this soon but as I was looking around I found this gun and it just spoke to me. It's nearly perfect and I got it for what I think is a GREAT price. Overall very happy and looking forward to shooting it

Thanks again everyone for steering me in the right direction
ryanh51 is offline  
Old June 8, 2013, 12:56 AM   #23
mxsailor803
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 8, 2010
Location: Norfolk, Va
Posts: 737
Enjoy your next range trip. Many of us on here try to be as supportive as possible since introducing new shooters to our hobby is what keeps our alive for generations to come. Now, grab a couple boxes of .38special and .357mag and have fun.
mxsailor803 is offline  
Old June 8, 2013, 09:53 AM   #24
buck460XVR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 28, 2006
Posts: 2,071
Congrats on the new firearm and enjoy! First handguns are like first girlfriends. They teach you a lot, that you never forget..........
buck460XVR is offline  
Old June 9, 2013, 07:32 PM   #25
Boncrayon
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 24, 2008
Posts: 504
First handgun

Still have my first handgun purchased when I was about 25 y/o. 40 years later I'm still shooting it at the range with pin-point accuracy and it looks like it just came out of the box! It's a High Standard Sport King .22 LR.
Boncrayon is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:15 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.12938 seconds with 7 queries