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Old October 27, 2012, 09:14 AM   #1
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New to the forums, looking for advice on my first handgun

Hi everyone, I'm Clayton, longtime lurker and first time posting. I've been shopping around for my first handgun for a while now, for range and home defense use. I have a few ideas, but would love some suggestions and input.

I know for sure that I want an automatic chambered in .45 ACP. I love the feel and action of a 1911, as I've had several airsoft GBB (gas blow back) 1911s. Before anyone says anything, GBB airsoft guns are great for training and education, as they're function and disassemble almost identically to the real thing. However, there's several other options I'm interested in, namely (in order of preference,) the Springfield Armory XDm .45 compact, H&K USP .45 compact, and the S&W M&P .45 compact with thumb safety.

There are several 1911 models in my price range ($800 or less, preferably less,) namely the Springfield Armory Range Officer (the top of my list,) Ruger SR1911, Remington R1 Enhanced, and the Desert Eagle 1911g.

My main concerns are reliability, accuracy, and ergonomics, in that order. I have no plans for concealed carry, but if I'm not going with a full sized 1911, I'd rather go with something lightweight and compact. Being new, I'm aware that there'll be a learning curve... I'll need training and practice to become a good shooter, and will adjust to whatever I choose. I just want to make a well educated decision, and make my first handgun a keeper that will last for years to come.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. The main thing I'm decided on is that I want a .45ACP chambered automatic. However, if there's an option in another caliber that a great case can be made for, I'll definitely take it into consideration.

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old October 27, 2012, 09:38 AM   #2
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i'd remove the desert eagle from the mix. the rest are great. if you can get a hold of a colt gold cup lightly used for that price, it's a good choice as well. even cheaper, the sti spartan v would be worth looking into.

i have an xdm 45 full size. very nice gun.
fnp45 is also a good option.

both xdm and fnp45 are high capacity
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Last edited by loose_holster_dan; October 27, 2012 at 11:34 AM.
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Old October 27, 2012, 09:40 AM   #3
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You seem to have some good ideas. I would go with the Springfield or the Ruger.
Stick with the .45 ACP. It's proven, it works, and it has stood the test of time.
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Old October 27, 2012, 02:59 PM   #4
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I like your list except, for range and home defense, I'm not sure why you are looking at compact versions. The full sized versions will be more comfortable for volume shooting on the range and will offer more capacity for home defense.
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Old October 27, 2012, 03:56 PM   #5
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Another one who owns and loves the XDM 45 , full sized not compact.
A friend just bought the XDs .45, which is nice as it comes with the
fiber optic front sight (good for us old guys).
In .45 the XDs is a handfull to shoot, not something you want to do all
day at the range.
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Old October 27, 2012, 05:05 PM   #6
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The sweetest 45 ACP I have ever shot is the CZ 97 BD. The ergonomics and balance are perfect, the felt recoil is so soft you don't even notice it which means you are right back on target, and has a very natural aim point. It also comes with night sights. As long as you have average size hands this gun will fit you perfectly. I have shot quite a few 1911's in my time and love them. Most of them in stock configuration, and a couple of very tricked out ones. But I kid you not, to me the CZ is the best 45 I've ever shot, and the most accurate. The first picture below shows the very first time I shot my 97, or any 97. The second picture is from the same day shooting my Colt MKIV Series 80. Both were at 30 feet useing the same ammo. Just some FMJ 230 grain bulk range ammo. When your flyer is in the 10 ring, that's accurate.

Why so many guns? Cause I don't call 911!!!

Last edited by FFournier; October 27, 2012 at 05:13 PM.
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Old October 27, 2012, 08:07 PM   #7
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You can never go wrong when you buy an HK. I have a SA 1911 and a HK P30 in 40. Both are fantastic but the HK is the most well made pistol I've ever seen and a reliability test on the net shows 92,000 rounds before it wasn't dependable.
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Old October 27, 2012, 08:33 PM   #8
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You can't go wrong with a Springfield 1911 but I would also recommend checking out a Sig p220. Great feeling gun and very accurate and dependable out of the box.
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Old October 27, 2012, 10:53 PM   #9
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Why .45?

Just to through a wrench into this. I would suggest a 9mm for both range and home defense. First 9mm is cheaper to shoot, around $8-9 per box vs $16. For home defense 9mm handguns give you more shots with less recoil and a bit easier on the ears (subsonic ammo). Also 9mm is better at penetrating body armor.
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Old October 28, 2012, 11:59 AM   #10
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BEFORE you buy a gun.

1. Join a shooting range/club

2. Take a basic handgun safety course.

3. Beg ,borrow, or rent a compact centerfire handgun in 9mm
so you have a standard for comparison.

Then we can discuss specific guns.
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Old October 28, 2012, 01:02 PM   #11
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Sounds as if you've already made up your mind and it is only a matter of which 1911 to buy.

I like both 9mm and .45, but I have to agree with the recommendation to start with a 9mm first and make the 1911 your second gun.

Unless you are lucky and have a lot of disposable income, the cost of the .45 will quickly put a break on your shooting and you will feel frustrated. Lot's of guys wind up trading their .45s because of it.

Get yourself a nice Glock 34 with a 5.25" barrel, your love it. Here in texas we have and you can easily get 90% of your money back on a G34. YMMV where you are.

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Old October 28, 2012, 01:15 PM   #12
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Nothing wrong with your choice, but think long and hard about what you want this first gun to accomplish.

If this is your "learn to shoot" gun, PLEASE consider how expensive .45 ammo is. Justin posted up some prices on ammo for 9mm vs 45. If you notice, the 45 is twice as expensive. I'll tack on, however, that I haven't seen prices for ammo that low around here in several years. It generally seems like a box of 50 rounds of 9mm is about $11-$12 and 45 is between $25 and $28. If you are planning on being a serious shooter and only have the one gun to shoot, two boxes a trip would be pretty much your minimum (and worth maybe an hour of shooting). Is that a price you're comfortable with? It takes an awful lot of misses before you get any good.

An option you do have (and one I would very much consider) is to get a 1911 model that has a .22 conversion kit available. Yes, it will hurt shelling out for the extra parts (figure an extra couple of hundred bucks), but now you do have a gun you can practice and learn with.

Also, consider what your future needs might be. I picked up a CZ-75B for my first centerfire pistol and it has served me well for many years. I now find myself in a position, however, where I am getting my CPL - something I wasn't sure on when I first got into shooting 5 or 6 years ago. The CZ is a great gun, but it's not exactly stellar for concealed carry. I wish I had went with the slightly more compact version. Obviously, future needs are a bit harder to figure out but keep it in mind.

Then again, when all is said and done guns to tend to breed over time. You can always get what you want now and then accumulate more as your tastes and needs become more articulated. It just might take a few years to satisfy everything.
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Old October 28, 2012, 05:31 PM   #13
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Actually, one of the main reasons I want a 1911 is so I can get a .22 conversion kit for practice and plinking. I plan to purchase an AR15 for the same reason, actually. I've also found boxes of .45 ammo for $16.50, which is an acceptable price for me.

I just know the 1911 fits me perfectly, which is why the RO is my first choice. I do plan on shooting some other guns first, to make a well educated decision. I'll also look into full sized alternatives if I don't go the 1911 route.

Thanks for the help, I appreciate all the advice!
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Old October 28, 2012, 11:44 PM   #14
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Been considering the same, what would be a 2nd, non 911 choice for a .45

Probably will get a Ruger sr1911, but also wanted a .45 in non 1911 platform.
XDM looked pretty good. There is also the sig 220 I believe and the cz 97.

Would the XD be too close to the Glock (which I have available to use) and would the sig or cz be heavier than a 1911?

OR should I just get a ruger or SA like the OP is moving toward?

P.s., I don't care about the cost of ammo. I have thousands of rounds of reloads at my disposal or can reload more at any point.
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Old October 29, 2012, 12:28 AM   #15
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I own a SA Range Officer. I don't think it's an awful choice for you. But there are a few things to consider. This gun comes with target sights. I do not mind these sights, but they do rule the gun out as a ccw for me. Also I would not prefer these types of sights for home defense. I prefer to have night sights, and a rail for mounting a light. The Range Officer has no rail.

The gun has ran just about flawless for me though. I say just about because I did have a situation once, where the extractor would not grab the brass rim of the cartridge when loading. This was fixed with a quick cleaning. This is not a big deal if you stay on top of cleaning it. But I will say that something like a Glock would be much more forgiving in this area.

The weight of the gun makes it a light shooter. And the trigger is just awesome. At the range the target sights can really come in handy. I see no reason why anyone couldn't become a good shooter with this one. I never plan on getting rid of mine, and I will never regret buying it.
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Old October 29, 2012, 11:15 AM   #16
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If 1911 (for range because of rear sight), the SA RO is the first one I would consider. Shot one a few times. Good pistol.
IMO, 1911 in 22LR conversion has such a different feel compared to centerfire 1911 (9mm or 45) that I would rather have a centerfire 1911 + a dedicated 22LR like a Ruger 22/45 or MKIII.
Have you considered a 9mm 1911 + a dedicated 22LR?
STI Spartan 9mm + Ruger 22LR would still be close to your budget. Other choices in 1911 9mm are more expensive up front but ammo cost savings will easily cover it. Less recoil, too than 45.
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