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Old March 14, 2023, 10:29 PM   #1
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Recommendation needed

I have a dear close friend, who has past military experience with firing a handgun, but none other, as far as I know, for at least, the last 50 years. His desire is supported by the perceived need for a defensive weapon. He does not live in a currently recognized common threat environment. My initial advice was for him to recognize that the presence of a gun does not assure any element of anticipated safety. He needs to develop sufficient comfort, muscle memory, and enough confidence to ensure the proper decision is made in concert with the use of the gun in any actual or potential suspected violent encounter. That said, he will need to devote extended time through practice to establish those suggested parameters.

Then, I suggested that he should consider starting with a .22 caliber pistol to establish a baseline of comfort and confidence. Then, the most popular next and/or simultaneous move would be a pistol firing a 9mm Luger cartridge.

I can lend him the .22. My inventory otherwise is based on my historic financial comfort level. He would be comfortable with a cost between $400-600 for a 9mm pistol.

I don't expect any of you to examine those parameters and present a range of choices that I could have examined, thereby saving my own personal time, but rather, I suspect there might already be such a list existing just from the experience of the group of dedicated TFL participants among these threads.

We both will appreciate and honor your opinions.
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Old March 14, 2023, 10:47 PM   #2
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Go to indoor range and rent some different guns to try. It is mostly him, mentally more than physically. If he is determined, he will find a way.

Sign up a training class will help too.


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Old March 15, 2023, 12:41 AM   #3
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If the military experience was limited to the 1911 I would suggest one of the 1911 pattern pistols as there would be nothing really new to learn. If not the 1911 then something similar to what he used before.
All data is flawed, some just less so.
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Old March 15, 2023, 07:38 AM   #4
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As an Old Fart myself who can still carry, rack, maintain and shoot 1911s fairly well I see the current crop of Commander sized guns as an initial baseline starting point.

But I am also really, really, really aware that things which were just an annoyance in the past can really limit my functioning. That's where the recent advent of pistols designed for those of us, men and women, who have discovered physical limitations that make quite a few modern guns difficult to manage should be considered. The new breed though are designed to be easy to rack, easy to maintain, easy to shoot accurately and repeatedly and with magazines that are also easy to load. They are available in 9mm Luger but also in .380 which really brings the recoil down to 22lr levels and with more and more .380 self defense ammo being offered has become a round to consider.

Three of the .380 models that I currently tend to carry are from S&W (the Shield and Equalizer EZ models), Ruger's Security .380 Lite Rack and Walther's CCP M2 380. The Equalizer is in 9mm Luger.

In fact my daily carry for the last few weeks has been my S&W Shield 380EZ with an 8 + 1 magazine and carried in an IWB Cutthroat holster from Privateer Leather (Wes Dahl). When I carry the Ruger which has a 10 + 1 or 15 +1 configuration I use a Mitch Rosen IWB holster. I'm still holster hunting when it comes to the Walther CCP M2 380 but usually just use one of my High Noon Holster Mr. Softy.

The S&W and Ruger are internal hammer fired and also have manual thumb safeties. The Walther CCP M2 380 is an 8 + 1 striker fired configuration and also has a manual thumb safety.

All three are relatively light, large enough to get all my fingers on the grip, nearly recoil-less and easy to shoot quickly and rapidly return to POA for second shots. So far all three have been pretty much ammo forgiving. They all conceal at least as well if not better than my Commander sized 1911s. There are 9mm Luger options for the Ruger and the Walther, not sure about the light rack 9mm options from S&W.
To be vintage it's gotta be older than me!

Last edited by jar; March 17, 2023 at 07:28 AM.
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Old March 15, 2023, 09:04 AM   #5
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The rental range and friends with good collections are a valuable resource.

First, what does he want?
A service pistol, 1911, M92, P226, P320, etc? Very shootable, not very portable.
A holster gun, Commander, G19, P365, etc? Compromise guns.
Hideout gun, IWB or pocket, G43, LC9s, on and on, lots of activity in the small and medium small category.

Me? I shoot a 1911 or 2011 in competition and kept a P226 for a "house gun" but hardly ever wear a holster to town, I am down to Pocket Plastic with a LC9s.
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Old March 15, 2023, 11:53 AM   #6
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Thanks to all so far for the valuable advice. I'll discuss it all with him. Actually, I think a major stumbling block will be that he really doesn't know what he wants, but I suspect it will never be used as a CCW, it will most likely stay in the house to be available if needed for protection. I'll review that with him and maybe focus on smaller 9mm and .380 Auto.
I have a great Browning 380-1911 but that may be out of his $$$ range.

I have an early Ruger LC9 but I hate the trigger.
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Old March 15, 2023, 12:39 PM   #7
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This will sound like heresy to the semi auto enthusiasts, but I think you and your friend should consider if he might not be better served with a revolver.

Your friend is not a recreational shooter, not an experienced shooter, military training (notoriously poor) half a century ago leaves a memory, but not experience or skill (in most cases). The situation you describe is a house gun, so many factors important to a defensive carry gun do not apply or apply to the same degree.

Revolvers are less complicated to operate, generally, and don't have potential issues with racking the slide, feeding, or magazines, possible in semis.

Also, if left loaded & ignored in a drawer for a decade, (because it wasn't needed) a revolver stands a better chance of working than a semi if the oil in it thickens.

Additionally, revolvers offer the potential of using more powerful rounds, IF the user can manage them.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing your friend needs at this point is a bit of education on the legal aspects of using a gun in self defense. HE needs to understand when he is justified using deadly force and when he is NOT.

He also needs to know, and comply with ALL laws from Fed down to local ordinances that apply to him having a gun, as well.

Don't overlook the simple, durable, reliable DA revolver. It may not be what he chooses, but it absolutely should be one of the options he is made aware of to chose from.
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Old March 15, 2023, 01:27 PM   #8
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If they are familiar with the 1911, i would start there. Take them to the range, brush the rust off. Try some rentals for perspective. The browning 380-1911 are great. Id stay away from 9mm 1911, i have found them to be fickle things. 10mm or 45 only.

There is no environment that is threat free, just low risk. As long as they are of sound mind, if they want to thats their call.

I suspect a range trip will bring a lot of perspective, and give some comparison of memory vs reality, and cost.
I don't believe in "range fodder" that is why I reload.

Last edited by Shadow9mm; March 15, 2023 at 01:59 PM.
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Old March 16, 2023, 10:35 AM   #9
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If, as you mention, CCW is not a likely use-scenario, then consider that smaller isn't always better. Baring physical limitations (i.e. a weak grip) a larger platform may present a more comfortable shooting experience. Larger frames usually mean a better sight radius, lower perceived recoil, and maybe even easier on the hands (my hands seem to dislike small firearms as I get older).

From the library section (, you can also use the site (un-official handgun database) for some window shopping and size comparisons.
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Old March 16, 2023, 02:37 PM   #10
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Lots of people with little or no training have successfully used guns for defense. Of course, I do recommend training and practice.
I also recommend a revolver- a mid-sized frame .38 Special with 4" barrel.
Bill DeShivs, Master Cutler
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Old March 16, 2023, 09:07 PM   #11
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The revolver recommendation is a good one, and it did pass through my mind initially when he asked, but I focused on a pistol since that seems to be what most people view as necessary. He is lined up to visit in April and we'll spend some time on the range to allow him to try my revolvers and pistols in .38 Special, 9mm, and .380 Auto. I'll avoid anything with more recoil other than to bring to his attention their existence.
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Old March 18, 2023, 08:35 AM   #12
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The key is to set the hook. He should try things to see if there are any guns he just despises.

22LR is a good way to get rounds down range.

9mm is a good caliber choice unless he hates it for some reason. To a certain extent, SD is about fast and reasonably accurate shooting. For most, 9mm can do this the best. Stopping power is over stated 2 9mm’s on target Beats 1 45!

As for guns. I don’t know if there is a list. To me Smith & Wesson is doing this the best with their lineup. Springfield does pretty well also. Kahr is becoming dated. Sig is a bit higher end, but does about the same thing. Cannik might be good enough. SAR and others fill out the bottom. Frankly, I would avoid the $300 gun. There are many. Quality is hit or miss, which by definition is poor quality!

Look for the fundamentals. 4-6lb comfortable trigger, good sights, 12+ capacity, good grip texture, quickly acquired sight picture, manual safety, decent cocking serrations, tough finish. Avoid flashy, Pearl/pink grips.
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Old March 18, 2023, 08:50 AM   #13
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"Frankly, I would avoid the $300 gun. There are many. Quality is hit or miss, which by definition is poor quality!

Look for the fundamentals. 4-6lb comfortable trigger, good sights, 12+ capacity, good grip texture, quickly acquired sight picture, manual safety, decent cocking serrations, tough finish. Avoid flashy, Pearl/pink grips."

Nathan, great advice. Thank you!!
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Old March 18, 2023, 02:20 PM   #14
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Beretta PX4 in 9mm. I really like mine, which is a type F decocker. But that’s me, whereas the wife decided she hated her S&W EZ 380 (too complicated she said). Finally, for pure simplicity sake, she settled on a revolver. Shoots it pretty well. No knobs, switches, levers, etc.

I can’t help but think that a Colt Diamondback in 38 Special, with a 4” barrel would be about the perfect revolver. Or something similar.
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