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Old February 26, 2013, 09:27 PM   #1
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Few questions

A quick history... Walked into the range for the 1st time last month.. Let me say this, the sound of handguns took me by surprise and freaked me out a little. Fired a Bersa Thunder 380, I didn't like the grip at all. It felt really fat and like it was gonna jump out of my hand. (I was shaking like a leaf) Next up S&W 9m. Kind of liked it but I could not keep it on target at all.
I went to my local gun shop and fired a Walther P22 walked over to the case, and bought it! I love it. I go to the range a couple times a week!

1. Recoil scares me.. tips to get over this
2. If I move up to a 380 does the grain amount make a difference?
3. Which has more recoil a revolver or pistol?
4. I really want to shoot targets like bottles filled with colored water, cantaloupes.. can I use a handgun or do I need to move on to a shotgun?

Thanks for the help in advance!
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Old February 26, 2013, 09:43 PM   #2
Spats McGee
Join Date: July 28, 2010
Location: Arkansas
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Welcome to The Firing Line, MrsKite!

I'm going to suggest a quick visit to The Cornered Cat. It's written by a moderator here, who goes by pax. It's a firearms forum centered around women, and contains a ton of useful information for new shooters.

As best I can answer your questions:
1. Recoil scares me.. tips to get over this
Shoot that 22 more. If you're just starting out, there's really no substitute for trigger time, and shooting that will give you the chance to develop good habits without developing a flinch.

2. If I move up to a 380 does the grain amount make a difference?
I don't know. Somebody help me out here.

3. Which has more recoil a revolver or pistol?
Easier asked than answered. There are a lot of factors that go into it, such as cartridge and weight of the gun. Lots of folks around here can tell you more about it than I can.

4. I really want to shoot targets like bottles filled with colored water, cantaloupes.. can I use a handgun or do I need to move on to a shotgun?
If you've got a place to shoot them, by all means use that handgun. If you want to use something bigger, go ahead and do that, too. Just know that there's certainly nothing wrong with shooting a cantaloupe with that .22.
I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. If you need some honest-to-goodness legal advice, go buy some.
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Old February 26, 2013, 10:07 PM   #3
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2. If I move up to a 380 does the grain amount make a difference?
Typically, especially with the .380, the size of the gun will make more difference in recoil than the bullet weight. The Bersa that you mentioned is one of the larger .380's out there. There are more of the smaller guns such as the Ruger LCP in .380, and some folks think that recoil in them is a bit harsh. Recoil is subjective and your opinion of it and reaction to it will change with more experience. Bullet weight seems to have more affect on recoil in larger, more powerful calibers.
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Old February 26, 2013, 10:58 PM   #4
chris in va
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1. Recoil scares me.. tips to get over this
Believe it or not I was the same way. Recoil and especially gunshots made me jump and did for a couple months.

The p22 is a great first gun. Keep using it, in time the flinch will subside.

A great reactive target is a can of cheap soda from WalMart. Shake them up first.
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:21 PM   #5
Tom Servo
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1. Recoil scares me.. tips to get over this
Have you taken formal training? Proper grip is something many new shooters miss, and it does make a big difference. You also mentioned noise. Double up on hearing protection (earplugs and muffs). Much of what people consider to be recoil is actually reaction to the sound.

With time and familiarity, it'll get easier.

2. If I move up to a 380 does the grain amount make a difference?
Grain is a measurement of the weight of the bullet. It does not take into account other factors, such as powder charge. shootniron is right regarding the size and weight of the gun. The heavier the gun, the less recoil you'll feel because all that mass acts like a buffer against recoil.

4. I really want to shoot targets like bottles filled with colored water, cantaloupes.. can I use a handgun or do I need to move on to a shotgun?
.22 vs. water bottles is a heck of a lot of fun. There's no need to move away from your comfort zone for now.

The two most important things you can do are get feedback and shoot. The .22 has little recoil, and ammunition is cheap. It's a great platform for a new shooter. Once you're comfortable with it, consider moving up, but don't rush things. This is a journey, not a destination.
Sometimes it’s nice not to destroy the world for a change.
--Randall Munroe
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:31 PM   #6
Doc TH
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Just keep shooting the .22 until you are accustomed to it. I have found that the .380 has a fairly sharp recoil, and depending on the particular pistol, a 9mm may be more comfortable to shoot. This is in part due to the fact that 380's are "direct blowback" (firing cartridge directly pushes back the slide) whereas in 9mm's some of the energy is used to "delink" or move the barrel down out of firing position. Added to the fact that in general a 9mm auto will be heavier than a .380, the latter may not be more comfortable for you to shoot. Most people find the perceived recoil of a semiauto to be less than that of a revolver. If you are looking at a revolver, be aware that the weight is important: the "airweight" revolvers will not make you happy if you shoot the more powerful ammo (e.g., .38 special +P). Start with ammo called "wadcutters" in revolvers.
Best thing to do is to go to a shooting club or range and try different kinds of handguns. Most shooters will be very happy to let you try their handguns - or you can rent particular types - and in that way you will have a spectrum of handguns to try.
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:35 PM   #7
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Reality TV vs Reality...

The huge demand for firearms & increased interest in firearms/2A issues has made "unscripted" basic cable shows like Sons of Guns & American Guns very popular.
1st off, these TV shows are fake, color water jugs or sparks are not going to fly up every time you shoot a firearm. The shows are produced for entertainment and are not quite what you will see in real life.
I'd start with a simple .22LR DA only(no cocking or single action) type revolver like a Ruger LCR or a simple stainless steel S&W revolver in .22LR.
Take a safety class or two & understand your area's gun & use of force laws.

If you want to get a concealed license or carry a firearm to defend you be fully ready to use lethal or deadly force. If you can't kill someone or honestly feel you could not operate a loaded firearm in a high stress event then DO NOT carry a gun.
There are classes & training videos out there but it's REAL not a Hollywood fantasy show.
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:48 PM   #8
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
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Welcome to TFL.

As to recoil, it might help to remember that it's not going to hurt you. It's just a push. If you can, simply put it out of your mind and let it happen.

From my experience teaching new shooters, it can help to focus and concentrate on the front sight as you smoothly press the trigger straight back, with only the trigger finger moving. Allow the pressure on the trigger to build until it fires by surprise. We call that the "surprise break." Letting the gun essentially fire itself helps you put the recoil out of your mind and helps you avoid expecting or anticipating it. The surprise break is the key to good trigger control, and that's the key to good marksmanship.

If there's one in your area an NRA Basic Handgun class would be good idea. A little instruction can help get started on the right foot. If several instructors near you are offering the class, ask around for recommendations. Some instructors could be a better fit for you than others.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:57 PM   #9
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1. Recoil scares me.. tips to get over this
Focus on the sights rather than on the target. Most people tend to focus on the target which means that between them and what they're paying attention to, is an object which makes an extremely loud noise, moves around fairly violently, and creates flashes of light and emits smoke.

That is guaranteed to cause involuntary reactions. Imagine trying to read with someone waving their hand around between your face and the book.

Now, imagine that you are trying to see something on the hand, and the book is simply in the background. Nothing has changed except your focus. But now, since you are paying attention to the moving object, it has ceased to be an annoyance and is actually something that interests you.

In a similar way, if you focus on the sights, and concentrate on watching them while you operate the trigger--even on trying to watch them as the gun fires and comes back down on target--recoil is far less of an annoyance.

Dryfiring (practicing shooting with an empty gun--make sure your particular gun is suitable for dryfire--some guns can be damaged by dryfiring) is a good way to train yourself to operate the gun and watch the sights without recoil and muzzle blast intruding. Rimfires, which have much lower recoil, are another good way to train yourself to deal constructively with recoil.

Finally, don't ask too much of yourself. Small guns--especially in relatively large calibers--tend to recoil a lot more than larger, heavier guns. A sub-compact gun in a typically recommended self-defense caliber is probably not the best choice for a new shooter.
2. If I move up to a 380 does the grain amount make a difference?
Less than in some calibers. The .380ACP, as loaded by "respectable" ammunition companies has a relatively narrow performance range--and therefore recoil is pretty similar regardless of the specific bullet weight you choose.

By the way, the "grain amount" refers to the weight of the bullet. Grains are an archaic measure of weight used very little except in the world of firearms. 7000 grains make up a pound, there are 437.5 grains in a single ounce.
3. Which has more recoil a revolver or pistol?
All else being equal (and it rarely ever is), a revolver will recoil more than a semi-automatic pistol. That means that if you shoot a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol, each weighing the same amount and firing cartridges with identical momentum levels, the revolver will generally feel like it recoils more.

The operation of the semi-auto tends to spread the recoil impulse out a little bit, and that makes it feel less sharp.

A revolver essentially transfers all of the recoil directly to ths shooter in one "package" which can make it less comfortable.

That said, there are LOTS of variables that affect recoil and how a shooter perceives recoil. A heavier gun will reduce the recoil, all else being equal. A grip that fits the shooter well will make recoil more tolerable. A barrel that is relatively high above the shooter's hand will tend to increase felt recoil.
4. I really want to shoot targets like bottles filled with colored water, cantaloupes.. can I use a handgun or do I need to move on to a shotgun?
Reactive targets are a lot of fun. Make sure your range allows you to use this type of target and be sure to be safe.

Targets should be placed as close to the berm/backstop as possible to prevent ricochets off the ground from possibly travelling over the berm.

Also, you'll want to pre-plan to clean up when you're done. I recommend that you choose targets that are biodegradeable (at least the parts you won't be able to pick up when you're done) and ones that are not sticky. For example, shooting unopened cans of soda can be fun--but diet/sugar-free soda is a lot more fun when cleanup time comes. No sugar means that the trash you pick up at the end of the shooting session won't be sticky.
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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Old February 27, 2013, 12:06 AM   #10
Join Date: April 24, 2010
Posts: 15

As others have said keep shooting the 22 until you are very comfortable with it and the flinching goes away and you can keep your eyes open when shooting.
then if you want a 380 look at the new ruger lc380. it is a larger version of the lcp and same size as the lc9. the extra size and weight will tame the recoil quiet a bit.
let me add that even though the 380 and the 9mm shoots the same diameter bullet the 380 is a low pressure slow moving, lighter bullet as compaired to the 9mm. the difference in the 2 when shooting melons and water jugs with soft nose or expanding bullets is tremendous.
If you can try some of the compact 9mm like the ruger lc9, the taurus 709 slim or the S&W 9mm shield before you move up you might skip the 380. the 9mm is far better as a defensive carry gun.
my 2 cents.

Last edited by jerryv; February 27, 2013 at 12:57 AM.
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Old February 27, 2013, 02:32 AM   #11
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Everything you felt is 100% normal. Stick with it, you WILL get more comfortable and accurate.
Shoot smart. Shoot S-Mart.
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Old February 27, 2013, 07:50 AM   #12
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Good marksmanship goal...

A good basic goal to reach with handguns is to consistly hit a 3"x5" card at 30'.

That's what Richard NMI(no middle initial) Marcinko; , used for the SEALs & operators of MOB-06 & SEAL Team 06(which changed to DEVGRU or Development Group then became CLASSIFIED ).

You can learn more about Dick Marcinko & his training methods in the non fiction books: Rogue Warrior & Red Cell.
When shooting, breathe in breathe out slowly then pull the trigger. Don't jerk it or stress out. Maintain your focus, watch your sight picture & aim center mass.

If you can go to the gun range or pistol club in the off hours or when it's not crowded. Noise, young kids, talking, trash, etc can throw you off.

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Old February 27, 2013, 08:20 AM   #13
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Join Date: February 26, 2013
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I sure to appreciate all of your responses!!

I forgot to mention... I took a guns 101 class. It was a one on one class and he taught me everything I needed to know about my handgun and then we spent the rest of the class on the range.
I also too a CCW class... I won't see the permit until July.
My son is a US Marine and has been very supportive in my journey.

All good stuff here!
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Old February 27, 2013, 12:30 PM   #14
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Welcome to TFL!
Definitely go visit Pax's website and also I HIGHLY recommend getting her book by the same title. It is BY FAR my all time favorite, and most helpful book that stays on my nightstand.

I am going to assume your first range visit was an indoor range? Mine was too. That was the most overwhelming, loudest, stressful NOT FUN time I ever experienced with a gun in my hand. Sensory overload. Stick a fork in me, I was done!

Outdoors is where I prefer to shoot. It reduces noise, I don't feel like I am shooting from a horse stall or that someone is standing right on top of me shooting at the same time or doing who knows what. My family has 130 acres outside of town and I've been able to put together a range out there thankfully.
I do still force myself to indoor ranges just to challenge my comfort zone and ensure my proficiency in such an environment, but if you get a chance to get outdoors, definitely do it.

Recoil: Here is what I found. I am a lefty and started out shooting as a lefty. I think I was shooting a modified Isosceles. Recoil didn't bother me much in the smaller .380, but the compact 9mm rattled me all the way up my arm. The Glock 19, Gen 4, some recoil but not bad.
I soon learned being a lefty in a right handed gun world wasn't for me, so I switched and am now a cross dominant shooter. I also switched shooting methods as well. I got trained in the CAR method. (Center Axis Relock). Immediately recoil disappeared. I now actually CCW a compact 9mm.

Moving up to a 380. Definitely look for one with more weight to it. May help with the recoil.

Pistol vs Revolver - Couldn't tell you, I have never shot a revolver.

Your choice of targets - Sounds like a blast! Definitely for outside!! lol

Again, welcome to the forums. Also thank your son for his service to our country!
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