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Old April 12, 2014, 03:07 PM   #26
Bentonville
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I can only speak with actual knowledge of what has worked well for me. When I first started my quest for a self-defense handgun, there was no internet. I asked several of my LE friends what gun should I purchase. The LE guys all said go with nothing less than a .38 and for home defense a 4 inch barrel would be best. I got my deceased grandfather's pre-model 10 six-shot snub nose S&W revolver for free. They also suggested I have instruction. Concealed Carry wasn't a legal option then. They did not recommend owning a semi-auto until I had handled guns for quite a while and had a lot of training. I followed the advice about training and practiced a lot over the years. I have since owned many other guns for various purposes but I use a Chief Special Airweight for CC and feel very comfortable. Follow the great advice on this forum. I personally would advise against a Glock or a 1911-style gun until you have a lot of experience. This is just my opinion. I found that a striker-style and cocked and locked require a different avenue of thinking for safety. I had trouble transitioning between those and a DA pull. I personally like having a fairly heavy pull on my revolvers. I practice and so it's not a problem for me.
Good luck. I have found that owning guns is addictive and also requires constant learning and re-learning. That's why it's so fun, I guess.
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Old April 13, 2014, 08:30 AM   #27
SFsc616171
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re: beginner's gun advice --answer to OP

Hi.

.38 special is a very good cartridge for a beginner, in a full size revolver, and here is why:

1. You are going to be learning basic pistol marksmanship. A steady, stable revolver is great for that.
2. You are going to be learning how to correctly squeeze the trigger. A double action revolver will give you that feedback, as well as being able to tell if you are doing one of several things you might not catch.
3. There is enough bang and boom with out banging your wrist.
4. You can acquire any number of choices of used service revolvers, and still have money to spend for ammunition, and range time.

.38 special in a snubnose revolver has been the choice for many years, and will still do the job, for years to come, for concealment .... once you get the basics down, first.
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Old April 13, 2014, 09:31 PM   #28
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+1 and well put SFsc616171
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Old April 13, 2014, 11:52 PM   #29
DannyB1954
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I have both revolvers and semi's. I don't know that learning how to deal with a heavy double action trigger is all that beneficial if you never plan on owning one. It is like learning how to drive a stick shift when you only want to buy and drive are automatics.
I am pretty sure he can learn trigger control with whatever he buys.
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Old April 14, 2014, 07:45 AM   #30
Hal
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Get a decent .357 magnum.
Use .38 specials in it.

Forget the .22.
Right now, .22 ammunition is so hard to find you'll spend most of your time wishing you could shoot your gun instead of shooting it.
& when you find it, you m ay find the price is all sorts of out of whack.

I keep seeing everyone saying they can find all sorts of it - but - every store I go into has either an empty spot where it should be or some grossly over priced stuff.

Instead - invest in a basic reloading set up.
For the price of a Ruger or Browning .22, you can buy a nice reloading setup. No - a very nice one...

Back when I started shooting (I'm 62), it seems like everyone that shot reloaded their own ammunition from the start.
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Old April 16, 2014, 12:16 PM   #31
Skans
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Good used Smith and Wesson Model 19 with a 2" or 4" barrel in .357 - you can shoot 38 special out of it also. You can find a good one in your price range if you look.

Edited to scrap the comment about finding Model 19 barrels - apparently, not readily available....not that you really would need one.

Last edited by Skans; April 16, 2014 at 12:27 PM.
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Old April 16, 2014, 08:08 PM   #32
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9mm and 38 spcl are great first time calibers... and good calibers overall.

Something good to know, a 357 mag revolver will fire 38 spcl. You must clean the pistol after shooting 38 before shooting 357... 38 is a little shorter, and lead can build up just in front of the bullet, this will cause 357 rounds to fit tighter, and that is bad. Jacketed bullets do not have this problem as much.


Something to keep in mind...

The smaller the pistol, the more felt recoil.

The lighter the pistol, the more felt recoil.

The thinner the grip profile, the more felt recoil.

New shooters can be more sensitive to recoil, and heavy recoil can cause bad habits. Flinching and recoil anticipation hurt accuracy. It can also make practice more of a chore, and therefore less likely to happen.

So you do not want to go too small. But if concealed carry is a possibility, then you do not want to go too big.


If you want a pistol to learn on and use for defense... and possible concealed carry...

The default answer is a Glock 19. They are dirt simple to use, maintain, and clean/lube. Big enough to shoot comfortably and serve as a home defense pistol, but small enough to carry concealed without much difficulty.

But any similar sized pistol... like the XD, and M&P will work. (they are similar in design to the Glock, and are just as good) There are many models in both of these pistol lines... look at the specs and compare, that way you get the right one for your needs. Around 5in tall and 6-7in long is a good middle of the road size...

Hold and shoot as many as you can... see which you like, you may hate the Glock feel... I am not a Glock fan personally, for that reason, I prefer the XD feel.

A striker fired (like Glock/XD/others) or DA/SA with a decocker (like Sig 229/others) is a good choice for a new shooter as well.



Revolvers are also great first time pistols due to the simpler manual of arms. But... the ones sized well for concealed carry have disadvantages. Short barrels around 2in, short sight radius (distance between front and rear sight) which makes accuracy harder to achieve.


Hold and shoot when possible, rent from a local range, talk to friends who own pistols and ask if you can tag along on a range trip. If a local shop has a range, they usually rent as well. The people there to shoot are good to chat with, if you are renting and learning, they will often times offer assistance, or a chance to pull the trigger on their personal firearms. I have lost count of the times I have done that for new shooters.



Also remember.

How the pistol feels in the hand is important.

It needs to feel comfortable. The trigger should be easily reached, and not too hard to pull smoothly.

Controls should be easy to use, and not hard to reach. Most pistols will not allow you to reach the slide catch/release and mag release without a slight shift in grip... but that is normal. The trick is to minimize this shift.

The pistol needs to have enough stippling/texture to the grip to allow a secure hold. A pistol may feel comfortable to hold, but if it is slick, it may feel loose in the hand during recoil. This tends to be an issue for new shooters, as they may have issues with learning grip. Practice will help with this.

My fiance had this problem with a Walther, I had no such issue with the pistol.


Training Training Training... A class at a local shop/range is good. A friend who shoots a lot is a good initial source so you do not go in blind.

Grip is an area most new shooters have issues with.

Not too loose but not too tight... Too loose means less control, too tight hurts accuracy and tires your hands quicker.

Hold similar to how you would a hammer, when taking normal swings... not hard as you can driving a huge nail into 100 year old hardwood grip.


Learn local gun regs and laws... if the pistol is for defense, learn the rules about when and where use of a firearm in a defensive manner is allowed.

A shooting course usually goes over this stuff.
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Old April 16, 2014, 08:39 PM   #33
tomrkba
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Quote:
Revolvers are also great first time pistols due to the simpler manual of arms.
FAIL. You are argung the difference between one minute of explanation and two minutes of explanation. As I stated before, shooting and reloading a revolver proficiently requires more training.
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Old April 16, 2014, 08:53 PM   #34
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In the not so long ago, a beginner would be advised to start with a .22 pistol and fire enough cheap ammo to become proficient in the basics before going to a more powerful handgun.

Today, the advice seems to be to start with the biggest, most powerful, heaviest recoiling gun available and with the biggest magazine capacity, so as to demonstrate one's machismo while spraying bullets all over the landscape. Of course, the ammo will be either super expensive or unavailable, so the neophyte will never even practice enough to learn to shoot his gun, even if he can get by his shaking hands and ringing ears.

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Old April 16, 2014, 10:10 PM   #35
marine6680
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FAIL. You are argung the difference between one minute of explanation and two minutes of explanation. As I stated before, shooting and reloading a revolver proficiently requires more training.

/facepalm

There is a lot more going on with a semi than a revolver. More controls, more things to do right, more that can go wrong.

A revolver is simple to explain.

Trigger control and shooting accurately is a separate issue, and a good revolver will not cause any more issue than a DAO or DA/SA semi.


To you, me, and others here, the difference is not difficult. But to others unfamiliar, it is a huge difference.

When my fiance was first learning, how to load and use a revolver was easy... Semis took her longer to figure out.



Quote:
In the not so long ago, a beginner would be advised to start with a .22 pistol and fire enough cheap ammo to become proficient in the basics before going to a more powerful handgun.
Yeah... 22 would be my first choice for a beginner, but with ammo as it is....

Why a good sized 9mm or 38 are good alternatives. Fairly mild recoil wise, and ammo is easier to get.

Last edited by marine6680; April 16, 2014 at 10:16 PM.
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Old April 16, 2014, 11:42 PM   #36
idek
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I don't have a ton of handgun experience (have owned six and shot a few others), but the guns I shoot best and enjoy the most are the ones that fit my hand the best.

Until I'd shot a while, it was difficult to tell which guns would be most comfortable, point most naturally, or have the best trigger reach. This would be one plus of revolvers in my opinion. While some semi-autos have interchangeable backstraps or replaceable side panels, I believe revolvers (especially k-frames) offer a lot more options in terms of changing grip size, shape, and angle after you've bought the gun than semi-autos do.

My first centerfire handgun was a k-frame S&W. The original grips were on the small side for me, but I was able to find something bigger. But before long, I realized I wanted a longer trigger reach. I was able to find another grip that covered the backstrap and extended the reach. The gun wasn't a perfect fit at first, but replacing grips was easy and inexpensive, and I ended up with something that feels really good now.

On the other hand, one of the semi-autos I bought wasn't a great fit for my hand. About the only option I had for modifying the grip was a slip-on Hogue grip. It helped a little but did nothing to change grip angle or trigger reach. My options then were to sell it or put up with a gun that didn't fit me well.
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Old April 17, 2014, 03:53 AM   #37
Hal
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Quote:
In the not so long ago, a beginner would be advised to start with a .22 pistol and fire enough cheap ammo to become proficient in the basics before going to a more powerful handgun.
Funny - I don't seem to recall those days.
I was advised, when I started started down the handgun path, to choose a caliber appropriate for defense (.38/.357 mag) and reload my ammunition to control costs.

Nothing macho about that in the least.

And, I'd hardly call the 9mm and the .38spl the biggest and baddest rounds you can buy.

Jim, I love ya man - but - I'm afraid your post is off base this time.
No one here seems to be advising a .454 or .50 S&W.
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Old April 17, 2014, 06:46 AM   #38
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my wife started shooting last year, she went through two compact nines with much discouragement, after the first time with her 357 snubbie loaded with 38 her confidence went up and she actually enjoys shooting now, i think a 38spl is a fantastic choice for a first gun, i would personally get a 357 just so i have the option later on
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Old April 17, 2014, 07:28 AM   #39
Skans
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I'll raise my hand and admit that I don't usually tell people to get a .22 for their first gun and here's why:

1. Most people looking for a first gun don't want a 22 - why try to convince someone they need a .22 when they don't want it and it's not necessary.

2. .22LR has (in my opinion) has very limited use as a self defense weapon. So, you're telling an adult they must buy a range toy first before they get a "real gun" (that's how it will be perceived).

3. Many people don't have the money or don't want to spend money on a .22 target gun and then have to go buy a gun for home/self defense

4. Most healthy adults can learn to shoot with 9mm semi-auto or 38 special wad cutters in a .357 or .38 revolver. If they decide that they need more accuracy beyond 30 feet, or decide they want to get more involved in the shooting sports, then they can step up, buy a .22 and work on trigger control, if they need this.

5. It's exciting to buy your first "real" handgun; being told you need to buy a .22 first is a bummer! Let's get folks excited about buying their first gun; let them learn how to use it, and then if/when they get more into the shooting sports, that's the time to tell them they need to work with a .22 pistol to correct some "bad habits" and make them a more expert shooter. By then, he/she will already know this and will be asking you what the "best" .22 is for type of work.

Kids are different. Kids don't expect to have to defend themselves with a gun and have no expectation that they will be shooting 9mm+P at the age of 10. There is no disappointment to manage there. I personally recommend that kids start off with 22 short in a bolt action rifle; move to 22LR in a revolver or possibly a Ruger Mark I/II/III for their first handgun experience.

Last edited by Skans; April 17, 2014 at 07:38 AM.
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Old April 17, 2014, 08:01 AM   #40
natsb
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Add to that, the lack of availability of ammo will cause that brand new 22 to sit in the safe for most of the year.

Therefore, a factor in first gun selection should be ammo availability.
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Old April 17, 2014, 09:48 AM   #41
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I am in Skans's camp on this. The first gun is, at least for a time, the only gun, and for an adult, a defensive gun. If you start them with a .38 or a 9 mm, they meet their immediate need with a handgun that is not too difficult to learn. A .22LR makes a great second handgun for most adults.
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Old April 17, 2014, 02:11 PM   #42
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I don't think the previous posters were talking about recommending BUYING a .22 first, but rather getting introduced to shooting via one. When I was first learning, everyone was like, "Here, use my .22 and we'll get you trained on the basics before you move up to a bigger gun, then you can go buy your own." If you have a friend with one or a range with one in the rental case, they are still a great way to introduce someone to firearms. The only issue with starting someone on a .22 I've seen is when they spend too long on the little gun and then don't want to use the higher caliber weapons because of the recoil difference.
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Old April 18, 2014, 09:27 AM   #43
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Quote:
I don't think the previous posters were talking about recommending BUYING a .22 first, but rather getting introduced to shooting via one.
I read the OP differently because of his reference to having a budget of $500, but if your reading is correct I absolutely agree that borrowing or renting a .22LR for early learning is a great idea. I just wouldn't make it a recommendation for a first purchase for an adult interested in owning a firearm for defensive purposes.
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Old April 19, 2014, 12:56 AM   #44
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well a 22 can be fun, but the main thing it will do is get a person used to paying premium prices for small boxes of ammunition.

The cheapest 22lr i can find right now anywhere online is 19 per 50 shots.


if a semi auto is so much easier to learn to use, why is this forum and youtube loaded down with videos and articles on how to avoid limp wristing and messing up the ejection and feeding of that wonderful auto?

limp wrist a revolver, you just miss your target.

Ive yet to fing a semi auto that will let you change the grips, other then 1911s. or to change the size and shape of a mag release.

but its not that hard to change out a hammer or cylinder release or change the grips on a revolver. Ive seen to many posts on how someone wonderful at the store semi auto, sucks grip wise at home.

yet the people who complain about the grips feeling funny after a while on that revovler simply get new grips.
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Old April 19, 2014, 11:57 AM   #45
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Hi, Hal,

I suspect your "not so long ago" is a different decade from mine. In my beginning time and place, shooting was done primarily for fun and sport, not with the idea of protecting oneself from vicious criminals or hordes of terrorists. A .22 may not be appropriate for either (except that one can easily carry 500 rounds to deal with the larger hordes), but it can help teach the basics at a reasonable cost without the trouble and expense of setting up for reloading. Light loaded .38 Special still has a greater noise and recoil than a .22, and cost about the same if you don't count the time involved in reloading.

I am certainly not against reloading; I have reloaded tens of thousands of rounds of various calibers.

But most of the folks on these sites, especially beginners, seem to want full (or even excess) power handguns, and all their thinking is directed at self defense, never shooting for fun. I guess it is just a more serious and maybe more cruel world. Kind of a shame.

Jim
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