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Old September 12, 2012, 09:42 AM   #1
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Need help with first hand gun

I have never owned a handgun before, but i just bought a house and want one for home protection and for fun at the range. I'm not a very big guy, 5'6" 170lbs, So I don't want something I can't control, but I don't want something with no stopping power. I talked to a few guys and the concensus from them was a .40 would be good. I also want my fiancé to be able to handle it and she is about the same size. Ive been looking at the S&W M&P .40 and I love the feel. Are there others that would be good for someone my size or something maybe in a different caliber? I welcome all comments and recommendations.
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Old September 12, 2012, 09:52 AM   #2
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Hello and welcome to the Asylum...

Physical size (height & weight) is not all that relevant when choosing a defensive handgun caliber. You need to try the most common and popular defensive calibers, in guns that feel good in your hand... for both you and your significant other.

Try your favorite guns in 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP. They all have different recoil "feels"... in the same gun model, many will prefer one caliber over the other. You may be surprised what you discover.

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Old September 12, 2012, 10:07 AM   #3
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usually, heavier guns means less felt recoil, so a fullsize steel gun is going to have less felt recoil than a compact polymer gun.

i find the 40 to be snappy. the 9mm and 45 are much easier to handle.
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Old September 12, 2012, 12:27 PM   #4
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Have you fired .40 caliber before? I like the round, but a lot of people don't care for the recoil. It's not really forceful, but it seems to have more of a snap to it than a lot of similar rounds. I think it's a good compromise (power vs. mag capacity), and ammo is relatively cheap. I do have two problems with it though.

If you're going to depend on any firearm, for anything, you need to practice a fair amount. It's a little expensive to put a lot of .40 downrange.

The other thing is if you haven't cemented your fundamental pistol skills, you're not accustomed to dealing with recoil, and you find the .40's recoil unpleasant you're very likely to develop a slight, involuntary flinch that happens just as the sear lets go. It'll wreak havoc with your accuracy.

My first pistol was a .40 caliber Glock. Good gun, good round. I didn't care for it at first, I couldn't hit anything past 20 yards reliably. I blamed the gun itself, and decided it just couldn't until a friend of mine picked it up and started hitting a coke bottle at 50. It took a long time to break that flinch.

For a first gun I'd recommend something like a S&W 19 in .357 magnum. That's what I started my mom and my sister out on (both of them fired the glock once, said they didn't like it and refused to pick it up again). It's a good compromise, not too hard to find, they're cheap, very reliable, well made, and you can use cheap, low recoiling .38 special to practice with.

If you go with the .40 I'd recommend getting something like a Walther P22, or other .22 caliber pistol. Practice with that a lot, and the .40 a little and you'll be much more accurate.

With modern bullet technology just about any round can have adequate stopping power. Getting a gun with a little less recoil, and then loading it with hot loads (as long as it can stomach them), it a better solution imo than getting something with a lot of punch, but is unpleasant to practice with.
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Old September 12, 2012, 12:58 PM   #5
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Most ranges rent guns. Try making that a date night for a while. If you two are the same size the same gun may work for both of you. If your hands are different sizes, or if you just process feel differently, it may not, and shame of shames you may have to(Yeah right, most on here revel if they "have" to) buy her her own firearm. What you can try to do, if you end up getting a his and hers, is stick to the same cartirdge. 357 SIG, 9mm, 40, 45, etc.
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Old September 12, 2012, 04:40 PM   #6
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The key to buying a gun is finding one that fits comfortably in your hand. That makes control-ability a lot easier. Next is to shoot that model in all available calibers. While it is true that most law enforcement agencies are now using the .40 round, it is, as someone had mentioned, quite a snappy round. I'm a big guy and normally shoot about 1000 rounds a week. I find that I can comfortably shoot .45 ACP all day long but can only shoot a limited amount of .40 as it does have a lot of snap to it causing some pain in my old, aging hand and arm.
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Old September 12, 2012, 05:24 PM   #7
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I find that I can comfortably shoot .45 ACP all day long but can only shoot a limited amount of .40 as it does have a lot of snap to it causing some pain in my old, aging hand and arm.
I'm another geezer that is not particularly fond of the .40 auto round. I can shoot 9mm and .45ACP all day long, but when I shoot more than about .40 rounds... my carpal tunnel and tendonitis have a field day.
What's weird is I can shoot 50 rounds of 10mm and not have as much pain and numbness as shooting .40 from the same basic platform as a 10mm.

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Old September 12, 2012, 05:51 PM   #8
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Welcome. Go to a range and try out their wares. I went through 20+ handguns before I found 3 I REALLY liked.

The advice here ( including mine) is worth what you're paying for it (most Internet gun sites it's only worth half

Ask lots of questions, try lots of guns and accessories.

Final advice: Don't buy any weapon off the Internet without trying the exact same model.

Good luck!
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Old September 12, 2012, 06:15 PM   #9
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I have never owned a handgun before, but i just bought a house and want one for home protection
Ever shot one? Can you hit what you are aiming at, quickly?

A pump shotgun is more easily managed by novices, cheaper, and has power in spades.....

A 20 guage youth model is pretty handy, too.

I don't want to discourage you from getting a hand gun, but a properly fed shotgun would be preferable at this point.... get that first, then get your handgun and develop your shooting skills with it.

As for range fun gun, the Ruger .22/45 gets the most work when we fo shooting. Easter egg hunting is a hoot!
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Old September 12, 2012, 08:12 PM   #10
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IIRC, there was a thread on here a few months ago regarding shooters' perception of recoil, and a large majority of folks rated them as 9 mm being the most comfortable, .45 second, and .40 the least comfortable.

My perception is with the majority. Because of comfort, speed and accuracy of followup shots, and the cost of practice ammo, 9 mm is a good starting place among the legitimate self defense calibers.

Factors to consider in choosing an individual pistol are weight (which is bad when you are carrying it but good when it is absorbing recoil), grip size and shape relative to your hand, capacity, trigger/hammer/striker action, and presence or absence of an external safety. All of these factors except the fit have advantages and disadvantages to consider, and you will need to consider your own needs and preferences. When you talk to people about what handguns they like, listen less to what they picked than why they picked them, and you will be able to make your own choice.
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Old September 12, 2012, 08:24 PM   #11
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40 would be great!

S&W M&P, Glock 23 and Springfield XD. . .Try them all. You will like the trigger and grip best on one of them. By like I mean you will like the feeling.

I like the XD. My buddy has HUGE hands and likes the M&P. MAny others like the Glock 23.

9 vs 40 vs 45 is an endless debate. All are good. To me 40 and 45 are great. I, unlike some others, think the 45 kicks the hardest. I think this feeling because I do not shoot a steady diet of 200 gr cast bullets at 700 fps through my 45's. I shoot loads in the SD range which are like 230 gr bullet at 850 fps. My 40 loads most often shot are 155gr cast at 1050 fps. I think a normal SD load is more like 155 gr cast at ~1200 fps. Yes, those are snappier, but not snappier than 45 with 230 gr at 900 fps! It's all relative and there is some overlap in recoil ranges. Also, some say the 40 recoil fee;s different. I cannot feel other than the different power levels.

If you think you will be a regular shooter, the above is good advice. If you think you will be a less than regular shooter, there are better weapons.

A pump shotgun, stored without a round in the chamber is a good and easily aimed weapon. Smaller buckshot would be my round of choice. A pump shotgun is great to practice with because cleaning could be a very minimal task. The issue comes down to how will you get really good with it. . .Probably the best way is to shoot some clay birds with target loads. Nothing improve my quick sighting of a shotgun like that! Especially with a defensive cyl choke! You almost have to shoot as you yell pull! That was a fun day!

Another good starter pistol is a 38 special or 357 mag revolver. 38 specials shoot at the same power level as a 9mm, easier to shoot. . .Also, revolvers tend to have better recoil control and are less fussy related to cleaning. A S&W M65 could give you years of good service, just cleaning every 500 - 1000 rounds. The cleaning still takes less than 20 min and could be done without disassembly. Do you want to clean this little. . .well, not if you are me, but you could clean this little. Then, bring it in to a gunsmith and pay him to detail clean it every 3000 - 5000 rounds or so. Maybe more. Really, revolvers get so little grit in the action, maybe they never really need cleaned!

Last edited by Nathan; September 12, 2012 at 08:36 PM.
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Old September 14, 2012, 12:51 AM   #12
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Since you sound new to guns, as your name suggests, I suggest starting with 9mm. .40 caliber kicks substantially harder. 9mm is also substantially less expensive, which helps keep practice cheaper.

Since you say it's mainly for home defense and range, you can also get a larger, service-size gun that will help with recoil also.

You should try a bunch on for size, and rent a number until you find something you really like. Make sure you can comfortably put the last joint of your finger over the trigger face without stretching--you don't want too long a trigger pull or your shots may drift right.

Some suggestions I know to be of good quality:

Glock 19 (@$500)
Beretta Px4 (@$560)
Ruger P95 (@$330)
Smith & Wesson M & P (@$550)
Springfield XD ($500)

And there's nothing wrong with a good used Ruger or Smith & Wesson police revolver in .38 special or .357 magnum (though I would shoot .38s out of it).
Ruger GP 100 and Security Six, Smith & Wesson Models 10,15,19, 64, 65, 66, 67, etc. Make sure a gunsmith or knowledgeable friend takes a look at it first. There is a sticky in the revolver forum at the top about what to check for.
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