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Old March 1, 2013, 02:52 PM   #1
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First ever handgun

Hello all,

I recently got my permit and am on the hunt for my first handgun. I have never had a gun before. I did not grow up with guns either so I don’t know much.

I am thinking about getting a 9mm just for self-defense. Nothing too pricy for a first gun. Something that is easy to learn, use and fire. My wife will be using it as well. I plan on getting one soon, then adding second and/or by the end of this year or into 2014.

Is a budget brand like Tarus worth a look or perhaps a used Glock 19. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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Old March 1, 2013, 03:02 PM   #2
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Re: First ever handgun

I would say go to a range and/or find a place to rent a few handguns. You need to handle and shoot some different guns to get a feel for what you like.
Just my opinion. But that would be a good way to start.
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Old March 1, 2013, 03:03 PM   #3
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First welcome!
second I would strongly recommend takeing a course with a qualified instructor. Then start out with a .22. Just my 2 cents worth
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Old March 1, 2013, 03:05 PM   #4
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When I was starting with handguns, I did exactly as the post above said, went to a range and rented several guns to get a feel for different types of actions (DA/SA, DAO, etc), recoil, caliber, etc.

There is considerable difference, in my opinion, between how different guns recoil even in the same caliber. My Beretta 92FS and Ruger SR9c feel considerably different when fired, as well as how they operate, although they're both obviously semi-auto 9mm.
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Old March 1, 2013, 03:07 PM   #5
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A used Glock (if you can find one) would be a good, dependable firearm if it feels right in your hand. I went with a Springfield Armory XD9 several years ago and really like it. If your wife is going to shoot it, I would stay away from the Kel-tec PF-9 and P11 as they are pretty snappy. My XD9 is pretty soft on recoil.

A lot of folks will tell you to start with a .22lr handgun, and while that's certainly not a bad idea, I don't see anything wrong with starting with a 9mm. I did and I haven't suffered any damage when it comes to my gun handling skills. That being said, I would rather shoot .22lr most of the time.

A lot of folks will say to rent some guns at a range, but if you are in an area like I am, that wasn't even a possibility when I got started. I read a lot, watched videos and visited forums to get some virtual training.
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Old March 1, 2013, 03:07 PM   #6
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First let me say welcome to the forum and to the world of the shooting sports.

Secondly, I would encourage you to find a local source for a Handgun 101 type class. That way you can get some firsthand experience and advice on safety, maintenance, and shooting. Some places will include a class or class discounts with the purchase of a gun, so consider that when shopping.

Thirdly, overall the 9mm is a very good choice for an all around handgun. Also, a used GLOCK would probably be a good choice for a first gun.
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Old March 1, 2013, 03:13 PM   #7
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by 9mm it seems you are interested in a semi auto pistol. since you and your wife have no gun experience i would suggest some type of 22 pistol. there is nothing better in my mind than a 22 rifle or pistol to learn with as your first gun. a 22 cal weapon is accurate, it is less loud then centerfires, it has less recoil, it can be less expensive than most centerfire handguns and absolutly less expensive for ammo. in this time of gun and ammo scares i believe you would be likely to find 22 ammo.....oh and while a 22 may not be the best caliber for self defense i do believe that the 22 ranks very high in the statistics as killing the most people in crimes and self defense. my advice is to start with a 22, learn your basics, gain accuracy and then move to a larger caliber if you wish. remember a hit with a 22 you are comfortable with is better than a miss with a 9mm that is too expensive to practice with or you're not comfortable with. my 2 cents.
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Old March 1, 2013, 03:51 PM   #8
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Welcome! I too agree with you and your wife both taking a class with a qualified instructor.
I would also go out on a limb here and suggest taking your wife with you when deciding on the gun. If you both will be using it you want to be sure it fits her hands and that she can run the gun. It is easier for a guy to adjust down to a gun than for a woman to try and compensate for a gun that is too big for her. Safety and accuracy is compromised.
Good luck and again, welcome!

ETA: I had to go find where I remember reading this, but Massad Ayoob wrote an article once titled "Tailoring Guns to Females" that discussed the "pool" firearm. Definitely worth reading IMO, it's over on his backwoodshome website.

Last edited by redhologram; March 1, 2013 at 05:35 PM.
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Old March 1, 2013, 04:10 PM   #9
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My favorite midrange utility handgun is a second generation Glock 19. Hard to go wrong with it. My favorite gun for range, plinking and learning, is a Ruger Single 6 combo .22.
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Old March 1, 2013, 05:15 PM   #10
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9mm is a great starting point, as is .357 Magnum or .38 Special in a revolver. .22 is fine too, though I'm not the biggest fan of rimfire cartridges for protection.

Pick up and handle as many different platforms as possible (revolvers and semi autos), keeping in mind that all things being equal, weight is your friend for reducing felt recoil. But so is proper fitment to your hands. It might be tricky finding something that feels right to both of you, but it is effort well spent.
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Old March 1, 2013, 05:28 PM   #11
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While a .22 LR handgun is a good piece for refining pistol skills, the 9mm does not kick so much that using a 9mm handgun would be likely to cause flinching, and when proper ear protectors are used muzzle blast is not a real factor.

While .22 ammo is cheaper than 9mm, though some higher quality .22 can approach the cheaper 9mm range ammo in price, using ten rounds of the caliber you'll be depending on for self defense should be more productive than 100 rounds of a caliber you won't expect to use other than for practice.
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Old March 1, 2013, 05:31 PM   #12
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Unfortunately, you picked the wrong time to get into's getting very difficult to find the gun you actually want without a long wait time. On to my suggestions:

If budget isn't really a concern and you aren't purchasing this gun for protection, I'd say pick up a .22 handgun first, to get used to shooting. Ruger Mk III, or even a Ruger SR22 are great .22 handguns. A .22 will let you work on fundamentals without developing a flinch. Even a 9mm had enough recoil where a flinch can develop pretty me, I know. It took several months of work, once I diagnosed why I was shooting low and left consistantly to get rid of the flinch. I wish I had started with a .22, instead I started with a 9mm.

If budget is a concern or this is a gun you plan to use for protection, go with a 9mm from the get go. I'll probably get flamed by the Taurus fanboys, but I really wouldn't get one. You can find a used, known good brand for just as much as a new Taurus. It's true, most people have no problems with their "Tauri" but it's also true that those same guns have a much higher percentage of problems compared to other brands.

I have a Glock 19, it's a great gun. In most cases, and 9mm made by Glock, Sig, S&W, Beretta, Springfield Armory (XD and XD(m)), and Ruger will do you just fine. The best thing you can do is fire as many guns as possible. Most commercial ranges will have rentals available. The range I go to a lot here lets you rent as many guns as you want for the day, for a one time fee of $10. The catch is you have to use their ammo. But, for about $60, you could put 20-30 rounds through 5 or 6 guns and figure out exactly what you want.

If you aren't going .22, I really would recommend sticking with 9mm. Of the popular handgun calibers, it has the least expensive ammo, which means more shooting, which means more practice. You're also less likely to develop a flinch with a 9mm than you are with a .45 or .40.

One of the biggest issues right now is finding ammo. If you can't find the gun you want right away, and have to wait, I'd seriously recommend picking up ammo now, before you have gun. It's getting a little better, but popular calibers are still very difficult to find. I hope that helps you.
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Old March 1, 2013, 05:37 PM   #13
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Welcome, and please accept yet another recommendation for taking a beginning handgun class.

A 9 mm pistol is a good starter because it combines economy for ammo (at least in normal times) with good self defense ability. A .22LR pistol makes a great second gun because it gives you good practice and lots of fun on ammo that costs nearly nothing (again, in normal times), but it is not a great choice for self defense.

Glocks are reliable, easy to find (sigh, in normal times), moderately priced, and have lots of accessories available. They are safe with training and good trigger discipline, but be aware that they do not have a thumb safety if either you or your wife are set on having the safety.

But Glock is just one of several major brands worth consideration, so it is worth handling and, hopefully shooting, several different brands before you decide. Taurus quality is inconsistent, and their reputation is spotty as a result. I would hate to see you get a lemon and spoil your introduction to shooting, and it is possible to do so with Taurus. I would advise you to stick with one of the other major brands.
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Old March 1, 2013, 06:30 PM   #14
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Thank you very much everyone. My wife's family could outfit an army. I'll take a trip to the range and try things out. It turns out that my in-laws have us an older .22. So I will see out that works out.
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Old March 1, 2013, 06:39 PM   #15
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I don't like them, but the easiest guns to shoot are the 1911's. Thin grips, low recoil in any caliber. Good first pistol. Go the shop, see what's comfortable to hold. With enough practice you'll be good witha anything you buy.
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Old March 1, 2013, 08:26 PM   #16
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New gun owners, firearms...

Hello & welcome to the TFL forum;
There are 100s of new gun owners & web savvy users who want advice to get practical tips for weapons, storage, use of force laws, etc.
There are a lot of "dry holes" & misinformation on the errornet, but there are also many trained, mature sources that are military veterans, firearms/tactics instructors, gun owners/concealed license holders, and armed professionals(security, sworn LE, corrections, active duty armed forces, PIs, etc).

I'd advise you start with a brand new(NIB or new in box) stainless steel .357magnum revolver with a medium frame or a compact size or a good condition LE trade-in/surplus weapon.
Top brands include; the Ruger GP-100, the S&W L frame 7 round 686+, the Ruger SP101(DA only or without the hammer spur), the LCR. You can buy .38spl loads to train with then move up to the .38 spl +P or +P+/.357magnum.
+P & +P+ means ammunition designed to a higher pressure limit, . They have more blast & more recoil to some gun owners but are more powerful. Vel(speed) & KE(energy levels) are what you want to look at when selecting a new caliber or ammunition type. A fast powerful round that performs well in the FBI protocol tests and/or has a proven(documented) history in real lethal force events is ideal. Only use factory made rounds too for concealed carry or protection. The gun blitz & ammunition sales have caused many problems but I would still suggest gun owners use a factory made, high quality brand.
Know & understand your area's gun laws & use of force standards. Many of these resources are free or openly available to the general public. Your state AG's office or state LE agency/public safety agency may have details too.
If you really want a pistol, a few top brands or styles I would suggest include; the PX4 Storm C format(constant action) in 9mm Luger(9x19mm) or .40S&W, the new Walther PPX 9x19mm or .40, the HK P30 or P2000 LEM(law enforcement modification) in 9x19mm, .40, .357sig, the SIG Sauer P229R in .40, 9x19mm, .357sig(with night sights & in the DAK/Double Action Kellerman format), the SIG P239 with night sights in .357sig, 9x19mm or .40S&W, the SIG Sauer P290RS(with SIG red laser aimer), the S&W SD9 or SD40(with tritium front sight).
A DA only(no cocking or single action) is better for armed citizen protection/concealed carry because you can avoid the false claims of being reckless or cocking your hammer in a threatening manner. DA only sidearms are in use with 100s of sworn LE agencies like the US Border Patrol, the US Secret Service, NCIS, ICE, the NYPD, Chicago IL PD).
For duty or protection use, I prefer the potent .357sig. It feeds well, has a high vel & a high KE level. It does have a higher recoil or muzzle blast than other pistol calibers(.40S&W/9x19mm/.380acp).
In general, I would not buy or carry anything lower than a .38 spl or .380acp for protection/concealed carry. There is a old saying; use enough gun, .

Keep in mind too, that guns are not props, toys or fashion statements. They are lethal weapons that could injury or kill someone. If you can't honestly use lethal force or feel you can shoot at a violent subject in a high stress event, DO NOT carry a firearm.
In closing, custom features or add-ons are not a mandate. They can aid you with training or in a critical incident but they aren't a strict requirement. I would advise carrying a pistol with 3 dot night sights. Most violent attacks occur in low light. Lasers & white-lights(bright flashlights) are helpful also.
Here are a few websites, resources. Feel free to post any questions or PM me on the forum.

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Old March 1, 2013, 09:24 PM   #17
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Realize everything you read here is relative and based on experience and opinion. Lots of good info in this thread. As always on this website!

Personally I do not see the point in starting w a .22 LR. Unless you are defending your home from onslaught by rodent or Hobbits. Plenty of people will tell you 22 LR is lethal, and it is. But you will have to be much more accurate. You are a first time gun owner. You may even want to consider a shotgun as your first weapon.

Since you have stated you are interested in a handgun....

I would start w 9 MM. If you are using for home defense, a metal frame 9mm will give you lower felt recoil generally. a 1911 style 9mm in either aluminum alloy frame or steel frame will probably offer best felt recoil of this caliber, and as another poster opined, will offer a relatively thin grip which will be easier shared between you and your wife. The steel frame will add weight, but in a self defense situation, you are not holding the weapon indefinitely. You did not say you are planning to carry, so I am not taking that into consideration.

My own wife found that her Dan Wesson 9MM 1911 recoils less than her previous gun, a Walther PPKS in .32, despite the Walther's lower caliber. It was a very light gun and the operating system plus weight conspired for a high felt recoil despite lower caliber. She also finds her 1911 stye pistol recoils less than my Beretta 92FS in 9mm and moreover, the grip being much narrower, it fits her hand better. The sacrifice of a 1911, incidentally, is often a break in period and normally a lower magazine capacity since very few 1911 style pistols are double stacked.

Anyway... she had not shot since the experience with the Walther, and so for all intents and purposes, a first time shooter. She has taken to the 9MM very well. So while I think the coaching on starting w a .22 LR is extremely well intentioned, I would not hesitate to go to higher caliber. It's not like a 9mm is a .50 cal.

I read a well written argument for a .357 magnum revolver. Solid argument, high dependability, excellent takedown power, excellent energy delivery to target. High recoil, IMHO.

Beyond all else, you need to follow the advice to go to a range that rents pistols and try a few. Select pistols that fit both your and your wife's hands, then rent 3-4 and try them. Select on how it feels shooting, how accurately you shoot it, how easy it is for you to acquire the target. Change targets between guns. Shoot each gun at least 1 magazine and at least twice (shoot gun a, gun b, gun c, gun a, gun b, gun c).

Magazine capacity, IMHO is not what you should select on. If for defense, if you ever have to use it, you will likely never pull the trigger more than 3-4 times. Particularly if your wife has smaller hands, a larger capacity auto will simply increase grip size and restrict your choices.

The poster(s) who urged you to get some training are spot on IMHO. An hour with a range instructor, even 1 hour, would make a differnece.

You will need to decide on whether you want a gun w a distinct, separate safety mechanism. Two extremes to illustrate the point: GLOCK - safety is incorporated in trigger. Battery of arms (the procedure for employing the weapon) is much simpler. Pick it up, aim, pull trigger. Opposite Extreme - Beretta design with safety decocker. Battery of arms requieres you to disengage safety with thumb while drawing the weapon. Assuming you are keeping the weapon chambered on safe, decocked, the first trigger pull will cock the hammer and release the hammer.

You have no handgun experience. I will give you my personal gut reaction, but it is at best opinion, and equally viable opinions will be provided: get a gun with a safety. Again many first time gun owners buy Glocks with 0 issues. My own personal evolutoin started with a Beretta 92FS and I have always selected pistols with a safety regardless of caliber. Treat all guns as always laoded, and keep your finger always out of the trigger guard, your own discipline being your safety. That is equally viable, but I have always preferred the extra safety marign.

To that end, whatever gun you buy, you MUST practice the procedure for employing it. It will not be realistic to do this at the range only.

Create a procedure for yourself to practice battery of arms for your weapon at home. Set up a target in your bedroom. Lock the door against interruption, ensure everyone most especially children are on the other side of that door. Clear the weapon, load ONLY a snap cap (a practice round that is made for practicing firing which contains a spring to absorb firing pin energy, not gunpowder). Spend 30 minutes a day the first week practicing raising the gun, disengaging the safety, aiming, putting your finger on the tigger, and pulling trigger. Do this repeatedly for 30 minutes once a day for the first week always aiming at the target you set up - never the TV, never a person, not even a photo of a person. Do this until the repitition builds muscle memory for disengaging the safety (if so equipped) in the proper succession. Each time you conclude the practice session, clear the weapon, re-load it, re-enage safety, put the gun back in your safe locatioin ( I recommend a GunVault safe in your nightstand), and say the words "PRACTICE IS OVER, THE WEAPON IS ARMED."

This sounds artificial, and possibly nutty. Consider that you are taking a big-boy step of bringing a loaded weapon into your home. You will need to introduce some discipline and control over yourself, and these type of procedures help put boundaries around your behavior and when it both is and is not safe for you to practice handling your weapon.

Practice Practice Practice. For basic proficiency, you should hit the range weekly for a couple months. then once per month to retain proficiency. Once per week if you want to advance your capability. Take courses. Be safe.
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Old March 2, 2013, 09:28 AM   #18
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my first 2 guns were taurus. why? because i didn't ask anyone with experience what to get. they were guns 2 and 3 under my worst guns i ever owned category. being beaten out only by the smith and wesson sigma. don't repeat my mistake.

My wife's family could outfit an army.
my wife's family is always saying that about me.
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Old March 2, 2013, 10:18 AM   #19
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Welcome to the shooting ranks.

I agree with most of the comments above. A good way to start would be to join a local gun club or take an 'intro to handguns' course at a local gun range. At either venue, you should find someone with a good collection of handguns that you might experiment with. After just 30 minutes with an experienced shooter/trainer and an assortment of firearms, you'll know the right starter gun for you.
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Old March 2, 2013, 11:45 AM   #20
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Well if you are new to shooting then IMhO you have to get some time behind a trigger actually doing a lot of SHOOTING.

And (boy is this ever a tired refrain) there is no better platform to get your introductory shooting accomplished than an accurate .22 like a Ruger Mark II or Mark III, an S&W model 22a or a Browning Buckmark.

Almost no recoil so you can concentrate on safety, sights, grip, stance, breath control and just get some experience with a gun going off in your hand without a lot of expense of using the higher caliber/higher cost ammunition.

Also they are all semi-autos so the skills you learn about loading and changing magazines and checking the chamber and handling malfunctions - as an added 'bonus' if you shoot bargain.22 ammunition you will almost certainly get some real life malfunctions. This will all be of use later if you get a higher caliber semi-auto like a 9mm.

Plus you and your wife can probably shoot it the rest of your lives and pass it on to your kids or grandkids and they can do the same.

Maybe the wife's family can loan a .22 to you.
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Old March 2, 2013, 11:57 AM   #21
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I think the OP is on the right track, 9mm and a Glock would be a great starting point. A 22 is nice but with 22ammo being almost non existent at this time I would hold off on that.
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Old March 3, 2013, 08:16 AM   #22
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Since it sounds like you have a number of different firearms available to you, I would shoot as many different pistols as you can and then buy whichever feels best to you. And you and your wife may have different preferences. Although a lot of people love Glocks, I've never been a big fan of most of their models. There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all pistol.
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Old March 3, 2013, 08:27 AM   #23
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In a midrange 9mm, you may also want to see if you can find a CZ 75 to try. They have a great reputation for reliability and accuracy.
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Old March 3, 2013, 07:56 PM   #24
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A Glock 19 would be a great choice but don't limit yourself. There is a huge variety of great handguns out there that would be suitable. I'd stay away from Taurus though, I wouldn't call them junk but you do run a greater risk of getting a lemon.

One of my top recommendations to a new shooter is a Smith and Wesson Model 10. They are inexpensive, accurate, and great quality for the money.
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:52 PM   #25
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Check out your local gun clubs. Speak to their prez and let them know what you are up to. They may invite you to a shooting session at the range and give you some pointers. If not, ask if one of their more senior and knowledgable folks would take you both for a lesson or two (free of course except for the cost of ammo). Both you and your wife need to select the gun. If on a budget, let the wife make the choice and you adapt accordingly. If you buy a Benford 2000 that leaves craters in the floor, the wife probably won't carry it or want to use it. The club probably won't steer you to a 22 for home defense. I sure wouldn't. Be sure to buy some amplified shooting ear pro. They are great and increases your hearing abilities. I can tell where anyone is in the house by listening at full volume. They will block the bang from the gun so don't worry. Be sure to have two sets for in doors shooting so you both don't end up deaf. Don't be surprised if they steer you to a shotty for the house.
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