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Old September 25, 2012, 05:23 PM   #1
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Need some advice on a new handgun

Hey there! I've been lurking this site for a little while and decided it was time to register here.

I've decided I need a handgun for a more secure home defense weapon. My 30-30 winchester that my father gave me when I was 18 (I'm 26 now) just doesn't seem to be appropriate for this purpose.

As with many large purchases, I prefer to do my research, and in this case, I will spend more time researching than I did when I bought my car. I've talked to several people about my options and I wanted to ask you guys what you would recommend.

I want something that I could confidently use in an emergency situation. God forbid that situation might ever occur, but I'd prefer to be safe than sorry. I'm also beginning to take disaster preparedness more seriously in light of economic and political turmoil, but that's a different discussion. This gun would need to be a handgun naturally so I can access it easily.

Along with having something for home defense, I also want something that won't cost me a fortune to shoot at a range. I've shot pistols before (used to spend a few weekends here and there with my father's .44 mag), and would like to be able to target practice often. That kinda puts the .45 round out of the equation. The need for something capable also eliminates the .22.

From the people I've spoken to, this leaves me with a 9mm round. I am under the impression that it would work well for my purposes.

My budget is $400-$700. I would prefer not to spend more, but I could squeeze in $800 if I had some accessories with it. I'd like to purchase it new, but would entertain the idea of purchasing it used from a reputable source. I would like to have the ability to mount a "laser pointer" as well. I don't recall the technical term for it.

I don't like the Glock very much purely due to appearance. I do like the 1911 and have held one before, finding it quite comfortable. Someone also recommended a Sig p229. I have little knowledge of firearms, but I have been told that Kimber and Springfield are great brands. I'm not partial to any specific brand, but I want something that doesn't need any gunsmith tweaking, and will work excellently "out of the box,"with a reputation for relability. I'd like to keep it for a long time.

I'm in the state of Illinois; Will county to be specific. I'm not sure what steps I will need to take to purchase and own a gun here, but I am aware that I will need a FOID card. Is there a specific license I will need as well?

Thanks in advance for the advice!

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Old September 25, 2012, 06:52 PM   #2
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Hello XtremeRevolution and welcome to the Asylum.

I am so happy, thrilled actually, that a new member took a bit of time and thought with a "what gun" question. We get so many "I want a HD gun... suggestions?" posts from n00bs that it's enough to make your head explode.

Anyway... so a 9mm huh? Good all around cartridge choice. Practically everyone makes a 9mm, and some numerous models. You can't go wrong with a Sig Sauer, Walther, S&W, Kahr, Glock, Springfield Armory, Colt, Kimber, H&K, CZ, Steyr, Beretta or Ruger... and probably a few I've forgotten.
I realize that's a big list, but until, at the very least, you hold each and every one of the potential candidates in your hand... and preferably shoot them, recommending a specific gun is pointless.

If you like 1911s... good on ya', but be aware that there are lots of cheap 1911 clones out there and some are not worth the metal they're made of. Stick with "new to the 1911 party" brands that have a well known name, like Sig Sauer, Remington and Ruger, or with brands that have real 1911 history... Colt, Kimber and SA.

In an "out of the box" gun I'm a big Colt 1911 fan as well as a CZ, H&K and Steyr fan... but I'm old, left handed and ugly too.

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Old September 25, 2012, 06:59 PM   #3
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Creeper, you took all the fun out of it for us, dang it!

I'll just post a picture of my preference, smack in the middle of the OP's price range, and coincidentally I might add, manufactured by one of the many you listed...

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Old September 25, 2012, 07:29 PM   #4
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Go to a local gun store and try as many as many as you can. Down select to 4 or 5, then shoot them (if they'll let you, or find a place that will). The advice you get here is learned, but TFL hasn't figured out how measure your grip or other preferences. If we could, we'd put most of the gun stores out of business.

Good luck and welcome!
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Old September 25, 2012, 07:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hillbilly66
Creeper, you took all the fun out of it for us, dang it!
I'm sorry... We get so many of these inquiries, and one that is well thought and written is so unique... that I just get a little excited.

We always want to recommend a gun, but there are so many good guns, and so many shooters with so many variables these days that being objective and unbiased is almost impossible.
If this was 30-40 years ago, I'd have a much shorter list and say Browning HP, CZ75, H&K P7M8, Colt 1911, Sig P225 or P226, Walther P5 or P88 and S&W 39 or 59... but that was then, and this is now.

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Old September 25, 2012, 07:35 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by TXAZ
TFL hasn't figured out how measure your grip or other preferences
You mean... there's not an "app" for that yet?
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Old September 25, 2012, 07:36 PM   #7
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First, congratulation on your choice of caliber. For home and personal defense it is my caliber of choice. I alternate 147 grain FMJ and hollow points to cover all bases.

Regarding your comments on 1911, a warning . Do not waste your money on 1911 in 9mm. I know, been there and done that.

My thinking was: why not have the most popular handgun model in the world chambered in the most popular caliber in the world. Why not have a defense gun, that is cheap to practice with and yet really cool to look at?

I bought a Para 18.9, a beautiful gun and well made, unfortunately even after 500 rounds a got FTE every 5-8 rounds. I went through numerous problem solving steps but it never got better. I really hated to trade that gun away but I did because it was not reliable. I then tried a RIA 1911A2 with a 9mm double stack. In spite that it cost 2/3 of the Para it actually was a little less prone to FTE, but still got a couple FTE with each mags. It wasn't nearly as well made or sexy as the Para. One day while trying to problem solve at the range one of the older members told me that he had similar experience a few years earlier. Except his was a single stack 9mm 1911. He also gave up on a 9mm 1911. Another guy said that his friend had a Kimber 1911 in 9mm that was totally reliable. I did not see it.

So now I have a couple 1911 in 45 cal and they work beautifully. Totally reliable. And I have several 9mm (Glock, Sig, XDm9, Keltec, Beretta, etc..). So my advice to you is get yourself a good reliable 9mm that will serve as your defense gun. and when you get some loose money get yourself a cool 1911.

By the way, for what is worth, you can pay more but you are not going to find an overall better gun then a G17 or G19 or G34. I know I tried and I'm still spending money trying to.
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Last edited by Eppie; September 25, 2012 at 07:43 PM.
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Old September 25, 2012, 07:57 PM   #8
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Recommended HD gun....

I'm relatively new to the hand gun shooting sports, as are you. I've owned a pair of Springfield Armory polymer pistols for 2+ years - ever since getting my concealed carry permit (add this to your 'to-dos'). One is a .45 ACP Compact, 5" barrel, with a few extra higher capacity 13 rd magazines. The other is a Compact 9mm, also with hi-cap mags.

I love them. No failures, comfortable, ambidextrous, shoot straighter than I can, priced right for range and HD use, good plinkers, they passed the Glock 'torture test' better than the Glocks, and will carry concealed... (kinda' sorta', I'm a wide-body craft and can hide Roscoe fairly well with the short or long mag).

Just my preference, though. You will get LOTS of good recommendations. Shoot all you can. Even the .45 isn't too expensive. I bought a slug of ball and HP ammo at a gun show, got set up to reload. Try it - it's therapeutic!
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Old September 25, 2012, 08:03 PM   #9
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I agree with the going to shun store and handling a number in order to narrow to the ones that appeal to your look and feel need. Then see how many of those you can shoot either a friends or a rental. Then head back to the store for your purchase.

I picked up a Beretta 92fs after having shot my friends. It is a larger frame but I loves the way it felt and shot.
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Old September 25, 2012, 08:05 PM   #10
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Sorry. Gun not Shun.
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Old September 25, 2012, 08:26 PM   #11
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Creeper: I'm glad my post was exciting to see. In a sense, I can relate to you as I'm the Super Moderator on forums, and we like seeing people come in and ask questions to get well informed to make an educated decision.

Thank you for pointing out those brand names. I will send those to my phone so I can memorize them and know what I'm looking for when I go shopping. Admittedly, I know a heck of a lot more about things like home theater speaker design and general automotive topics than I do about guns. That's why I'm here. Forums like this are really quite wonderful.

HillBilly66: What handgun is that in your picture? I noticed the barrel is a bit shorter. What are the advantages of a shorter barrel? It is certainly visually appealing.

Eppie: It seems that 9mm 1911s are rather hit or miss. I had been looking at Kimber and Springfield Armory so far. The Glock really does seem to be a great handgun, but the sight of it doesn't excite me at all. Not that I wish to come off as superficial, but if I'm going to drop up to $800 on a handgun, I at least want to like it for more than its simple reliability and quality. Nonetheless, it is still an option. For some reason, I'm still drawn to the 1911. I will have to give this some thought. Is there anyone here who has used other brands of 9mm 1911?

smokiniron: Illinois is one of those states where you are not allowed to carry a concealed weapon, or I would have looked into this a long time ago when I was living in Chicago. Currently, I'm in Will county; outside of Chicago's Cook county, but the same laws still apply. I may find myself getting into this as a hobby. God knows, I've had more expensive hobbies than this before. Home theater speaker design is one, and I even took on a project to rebuild a Jaguar V12 once. If I do start doing this more often, I will certainly look into reloading, but at least to start, the $0.50/round cost would psychologically prohibit me from getting as good at shooting it as I'd want to.

TXAZ: I looked up the nearby ranges a couple of days ago, and there's a fairly nice one here.

They have what appears to be a large variety of rental guns to choose from, so I will head over there soon, hold the ones I'm interested in, and try a few out to see how they feel while shooting. I'm at least a month or two away from actually pulling the trigger on (buying, lol) one, but I want to feel like I made the right choice and not look back a few months later and wish I had done something different.

I also spoke to a family friend who works as a police officer, and got some good advice from him. He recommended I take a course if it's offered as well as trying out as many guns as I can. I like to do as much research as possible.

If anyone has any other advice they offer, I would appreciate it. I understand that there's only so much advice one can give (especially in light of the great advice that's already been given) when the choice will ultimately come down to what's most comfortable in my own hands, but I will take all advice and factor it into my final decision.

Thanks to everyone who has posted so far. This forum has been an enormous help already.
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Old September 25, 2012, 11:22 PM   #12
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Xtreme, my EDC is a S&W M&P 40c.

Advantages of the shorter barrel, for me...well, I can conceal my 40fs just as easily, but the compact's a more comfortable carry for me due to the barrel, and grip as well. That said, I'm so used to shooting either one I can't tell much difference in accuracy anymore... Is that a bad thing?

And yeah, they are nice looking. Very comfortable grip, which is what drew me to M&P's in the first place. The fact that they are both accurate and reliable just makes me appreciate them that much more.

Shoot as many as you can get your hands on before you decide...

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Old September 25, 2012, 11:48 PM   #13
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Since concealed carry is off the table... no need to go with a sub compact.

A full size or the slightly smaller "duty size" as I call them... which are called compacts by manufacturers for some reason... are the best options. (I guess they are "compacts" because they are smaller than the 1911, Hi Power and similar pistols)

You tend to get more round capacity in the magazine and better shootability over all for full sized pistols (I consider the duty size and bigger full sized)

There are many options for your price range that are really good. As was mentioned, getting out and holding many different pistols and manipulating the controls and getting a feel of them is a good idea. Finding a range that has rentals is even better.

As for a few pistols that are generally considered good options by a big portion of people here.

CZ75 SP-01... I am real partial to the CZ75 pistol. Many consider it one of the most comfortable/ergonomic pistols available. Very easy to shoot accurately and well. Recoil is very mild compared to other pistols. One of my favorite pistols I have owned or even fired... and I have fired some real nice pistols before. For you the SP-01 version would be a good choice as you want the ability to mount a laser. They make a decocker version the SP-01 Tactical, if that is what you prefer, and I feel decockers are good for new shooters/handgun owners when it comes to DA/SA hammer fired pistols. Basically the same pistol as the normal 75 but with a accessory rail. Runs about $600 online.

(CZ also has a polymer version, the SP-01 Phantom that many like... they also have a smaller duty sized polymer called the P-07, many like it, but I am not a big fan of the grip texturing)

The Springfield XD/XDM pistols. In the 4 inch or longer barrel versions. I owned an XD in 40 and found it a great pistol. Tough and reliable. $450-600 depending on model.

Sig 2022. Never owned one, but I here good things. I almost bought one for my fiance, but she wanted a CZ like mine. $350 on sale online, or around $400 normally. Comes with only one magazine though.

S&W M&P series. I like how they feel in the hand, not as big on them as the XD/XDA though, as I think the XD/XDMs are better built internally. I here plenty of good things about the M&P though. Not sure on price.

Ruger has many handguns in the $350-500 range, I hear mostly good, but have no direct experience with them. I have a Ruger 22 pistol and rifle and find them fine firearms.

Glocks are good, though I am not a fan of them myself, and as you said neither are you... But if someone gave me a Glock, I wouldn't be unhappy.

The Walther PPQ is not too bad, I look at it about the same as the M&P. As I said, the XD is my polymer framed choice, but thats me... My fiance liked the feel of the Walther but not how it felt in recoil. She felt there was too little texture in the grip and the pistol felt loose in her hand during recoil. I had no such problem.

The Beretta 92... I like them well enough, and they are basically the same pistol as the US military uses. Some complain about breakage of the barrel lock up unless maintained well... No direct experience with that, but something to look into should you think about getting one.

As someone new to handguns and on the budget you mentioned... I would stay away from 1911s. While you can get a good one at that price with some research and knowledge... 1911s can be more picky and finicky than more modern designs. Not a good thing for someone new to the sport or handguns... and definitely not something you want in a defensive pistol. An experienced 1911 owner can fix and tweak any little issues quickly, but inexperience may be frustrated.

There are many more options, in the budget you specified... like has been said... get your hands on many options.

If I had to suggest a pistol for someone to buy sight unseen... it would be the CZ 75 as I have found that it fits so many different hands well, and many love how it feels to hold and shoot... but that does not mean that another pistol would not be better for a certain person.
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Old September 25, 2012, 11:49 PM   #14
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What about a Beretta 92. You said that you were drawn to the looks of a 1911, and in my opinion the Beretta 92 looks reminiscent of a 1911 (external hammer, metal frame).
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Old September 25, 2012, 11:56 PM   #15
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Taking a class is a good idea. A really, really good idea.

Also ask a lot of questions.

You're paying somebody to teach you stuff so make them do their job. If you get any funny looks from folk I can almost guarantee you half of them probably had the same question but were too afraid of looking like a noob to ask the question themselves. For example, ask them your question about the shorter barrel.
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Old September 26, 2012, 12:03 AM   #16
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Old September 26, 2012, 12:31 AM   #17
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marine6680: You've given me a lot to think about.

For some reason, I'm a bit turned off to polymer designs. I'm not sure why. What's the expected longevity on a poly framed pistol? My understanding is that the frame itself can absorb a bit more shock than steel, which will make for more comfortable shooting. That, and the lighter material makes it more comfortable to carry around; something I'm not too concerned with. I'm just wondering if something like that might feel a bit cheap after a while.

The CZ75 SP-01 looks like a great handgun. I like the look of it, and it does look like it would be rather comfortable. This is one I'll definitely remember to look out for.

The Springfield XD & XDM and Sig sp2022 are also polymer framed. Still not sure what to think about that.

The Beretta 92 looks pretty nice. I think if the 1911 is not a particularly good choice for a beginner's handgun, this would be a good alternative. I wouldn't be one to let something like this go unmaintained.

What kind of finicky or picky issues are you referring to with the 1911? Are those focused on certain manufacturers, or on the design itself?

DaleA: if I do end up taking a class (which I hope to), I will certainly ask as many questions as I can.

Any comments on the "Baby Desert Eagle 9mm?"

Last edited by XtremeRevolution; September 26, 2012 at 12:38 AM.
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Old September 26, 2012, 01:12 AM   #18
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18" Shotgun 12, 16, or 20 Gauge

A long gun is MUCH easier to hit with than any handgun.

A short-barreled shotgun is pretty much ideal for a stationary defense scenario. (Call for backup, stay safe and protect that which cannot be replaced or insured - e.g. your life and limb and those of your loved ones.)

Shotgun has a lot more instant stopping power than any handgun round, and less overpenetration, too.

Readily available in the $300 range.

No one in their right mind,after hearing a pump shotgun's action close on a full chamber on the other side of a closed door will open that door if there is another exit.

Now, having said all that, I am a fan of handguns and enjoy the sport of target shooting and keep one for self defense. So, you take your compromises where you will, as have I.

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Old September 26, 2012, 01:44 AM   #19
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Look, I've had lots of handguns and was in a similar situation.

Czech out the CZ P01. It has quite a few features that make it easier to reload/fire under stress, such as an extended mag and slide release, beveled magwell, forged frame and very ergonomic grip. Light and compact enough for carry, accurate enough for general range use.

It also has a rail if you need to add a light or laser for HD use.

I had a 75bd for years and now realize the P01 has everything I was missing with the older model.
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Old September 26, 2012, 06:21 AM   #20
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XtremeRevolution, I'll chime in with some of the others and tell you that it's obvious that you've put some thought into your handgun selection. I'll also agree that finding a range where you can fondle handle a few pistols is a really good idea. There are guys on TFL that can tell you more about pistsol construction and ballistic performance than I will likely ever know. That said, none of us can tell you what will feel good in your hand. It's your hand, and your money.

As far as your living in Illinois, well, I'm not an Illinois lawyer, but my (uneducated) understanding is that you'll likely have to have your FOID before you can even handle a gun. One good place to start that process is The admins there do a fine job of compiling information on handgun laws around the country.

Good luck and welcome to The Firing Line!
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Old September 26, 2012, 07:38 AM   #21
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Xtreme, I was in the same spot you are a few years back and spent a lot of time looking at and researching guns. I found what I thought was the perfect gun for what I was wanting. I bought a Springfield XD subcompact in 9mm mainly because of the concealed carry purpose. I loved shooting the gun and it still is a very accurate and dependable gun with thousands of rounds through it. I then bought holster after holster trying to find one that was suitable for my build. It was then that I realized that for concealed carry this was not the gun for me.

My next purchase was a Kahr CW9 that I found at a great price. It is very easy to conceal as far as size goes but I do not like to shoot it. The recoil is rather snappy and cleaning it proved to be a problem for me. I bent a spring the second time I cleaned it that caused the slide to lock back after every shot.

I then started looking at smaller .380's. I ended up buying a Sig P380. I understand that you are looking for a 9mm but I will say that this was a great buy. I love this gun for summer carry and it shoots great. I also bought one for my wife and she shoots it great. Better than me actually but that's not hard to do.

All this said, one of my favorite guns is the Springfield EMP 9mm. I had been looking at this gun early in my search and determined that it was too expensive for me to buy new. I am like you in the sense that I don't want to buy a used gun from just anybody so I kept calling and looking for used one at a local gun store that I trust. After I had given up on the search I got a call from them saying they had recently bought one. I picked it up and have loved it ever since. For some reason I shoot this gun better than any of my semi-autos. My wife does too. It has a great feel and I haven't had one problem out of it. It is also a great carry gun in winter time for me.

I will add that I also have a few revolvers ( S&W 66-1, S&W .38, Ruger single six, single ten) that are great guns too.

I know this is a lot to read but I was in your shoes when I first started looking for a gun and I should have taken the same approach as you have.

Hope this helps and good luck with the hunt.
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Old September 26, 2012, 07:44 AM   #22
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Czech out the CZ P01
Totally agree with that suggestion. Amazing pistol that has quickly beome my personal favorite in the collection. Outstanding ergonomics.
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Old September 26, 2012, 09:02 AM   #23
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In your desired price range I'd check out the Ruger SR9 or SR9C if concealed carry is a future possibility. The Ruger P95 is another low cost option which would leave you some cash left over for ammo and accessories. The CZ pistols have an excellent reputation around here, as a matter of fact I don't think I've ever heard anything bad about them here. Out of your price range (you might have to save a bit more) I'd look at the Browning Hi Power if you like the 1911 and want a 9mm, it's not a 1911 but is a Browning design and is reminiscent of the 1911.

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Old September 26, 2012, 09:58 AM   #24
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- more secure home defense weapon.
- something that I could confidently use in an emergency situation.
- something that won't cost me a fortune to shoot at a range
- this leaves me with a 9mm round
- budget is $400-$700. I would prefer not to spend more, but I could squeeze in $800 if I had some accessories with it
- I'd like to purchase it new
- ability to mount a "laser pointer" as well
- I do like the 1911 and have held one before, finding it quite comfortable
- not partial to any specific brand
- doesn't need any gunsmith tweaking, and will work excellently "out of the box,"with a reputation for relability. I'd like to keep it for a long time.

CZ 75b or SP-01 fits everything you stated
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Old September 26, 2012, 10:40 AM   #25
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I don't cease to be impressed by the wealth of knowledge you guys have about your guns and your willingness to help. Very much appreciated.

Lost Sheep: I am beginning to understand that one can shoot better with a longer gun, possibly even experience less recoil, than with a smaller one, while a smaller one is more suitable for concealed carry purposes. My limited understanding of firearms would hint that a longer barrel would also be more accurate. I had thought about a shotgun, but am sort of in the same boat as you were. I want something I can get some use out of as well. A shotgun is something I would buy and store in the closet, and perhaps never use. A pistol is something I would keep around in case of an emergency, but also something I could use on a monthly basis.

chris in va
: I believe that at this point, the CZ P01 will be a name that will not escape my memory when I go out to look at these handguns. Their support here has been quite definitive.

Spats McGee: I called up my local shooting range and they confirmed that I do need to have my FOID card before I can even shoot at the range. Looks like I'll be mailing that out today.

west5757: I don't see myself moving out of the state any time soon, so I won't be able to conceal anyway. The EMP does look like a very nice handgun, but it's at the upper limit of my price point. I'm glad I'm doing the research ahead of time, as it seems there's a whole lot to learn and many choices to choose from.

stu925: The Browning Hi-Power looks very nice, but the MSRP is $1,059, and if that's any indication of its retail price, it will be out of my range. That, and I can't find one with an accessory rail. I did notice the Beretta 92 has an optional accessory rail that you can install later.
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