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Old August 28, 2014, 08:33 PM   #1
charlie brown
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first handgun purchase

jersey resident here. just obtained my fid 3 days ago and am looking to purchase a handgun. i was thinking of simply buying a bb gun and practicing on technique before i purchase a real handgun. any advice on which bb to consider/avoid? also, which handgun should i look into when i'm ready to make that purchase? personally, i like the beretta 92fs although it is a bit expensive.

p.s. my apologies if such a thread already exists.
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Old August 28, 2014, 09:24 PM   #2
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Charlie, there is nothing wrong with practicing with a bb gun. Normally I would say get a 22lr revolver but, 22 ammo is hard to find and on the side of stupid expensive.

9mm is a good place to start and the 92f is a fine choice but be sure it's for you before you buy. Go to a range that rents guns and try a few to see what fits your hand and feels right.
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Old August 29, 2014, 10:01 AM   #3
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Welcome to TFL, charlie brown!

If you're going to really get the most of the knowledge that our TFL members have to offer, you're going to have to help us help you. There are several questions that routinely come up on these First Handgun Purchase threads, so I'm just going to go ahead and ask them. Having this information will give us a better idea of what your needs might be. So, with all of that in mind:
1) What's the intended purpose of this gun? Will you use it for home defense? Just for range fun? (Given that you're a "jersey resident," I'm going to operate on the assumption that this gun will not be for concealed carry. Please correct me if I'm wrong.)
2) How much experience do you have with firearms? I know you say that this will be a "first handgun purchase," but that doesn't tell us whether you've got any history with firearms (range, military, etc.) that might have imparted some knowledge to you.
3) Do you have a preference for: (a) metal frames vs. polymer frames; (b) hammer-fired vs. striker-fired; (c) revolver or semi-auto; or (d) caliber?
4) What is your budget? You mention that the 92fs is "a little expensive," but I don't have the foggiest clue what those run in NJ. Taurus makes a clone of one of the Beretta models in "the 92 line," but I also don't know enough about the Beretta models or the Taurus clones to tell you which ones they've cloned, how closely they've done so, or offer any worthwile advice on either of those. Also, when figuring your budget, don't forget to include all of the collateral expenses, like ammunition. When it's my money on the line, I'd much rather have a $500 gun and $500 worth of ammo than a $1000 gun and no ammo.
5) Is there a range near you where you can rent guns? This is very important: Choosing a handgun is a very subjective thing. We can debate calibers, capacity, weight, width, etc., all day long (and sometimes we do), but until you hold one in your hand or, better yet, rent one and shoot it, you won't know how it feels in your hand, and that's a very important factor. How it feels in my hand is irrelevant.

Edited to add: Because this is specifically a question about a handgun purchase, I'm going to move it to our "Handguns: General Handguns Forum" where you might get a little more action on it.
I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. If you need some honest-to-goodness legal advice, go buy some.

Last edited by Spats McGee; August 29, 2014 at 10:07 AM.
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Old August 29, 2014, 11:15 AM   #4
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It's too tough to get a handgun in Jersey to waste a purchase on a BB gun! Taurus makes a near twin of the Beretta and it's usually a little less expensive. I also prefer the frame mounted safety over the slide mounted of the Beretta. Be sure the grip fits your hand. If you have smallish hands it might not be a good match for you. CZ's and their clones are also quite popular. If you are on a tight budget you can do worse than an Arcus. These are copies of Browning Hi Powers, which are classic good shooters.

Good luck. And please take every opportunity to fight the dumb gun laws in New Jersey! I couldn't take it anymore and moved out to Missouri!
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Old August 29, 2014, 11:58 AM   #5
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don't worry, millions of such threads exist, but each individual case is unique. personally I don't think that bb guns, airsoft, or painball guns make very good training aids, they all teach bad habits, like having to "hold over" a target at very short range which you wouldn't have to do with a centerfire handgun, or "following the bullet strikes" which you definitely should never do with a centerfire or rimfire handgun. the trigger mechanisms do not match at all, even the one's that are supposed to look like real guns(like the beretta 92 or 1911), too much practice with one can make the real deal feel like a completely different animal. the balance of the "toy" guns is going to be completely different from the balance of real guns.

this is just my personal opinion, but if i were you I would find an indoor range that rents pistols, shoot a variety of pistols, find out which one feels best in your hands, shoots best, has the most features that you like(like location of the safety, what kind of safeties it has, ammo capacity, etc) and make a determination which one you want to buy. get that gun and then start worrying about practice and training.
ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
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Old August 29, 2014, 03:39 PM   #6
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I often recommend a 9 mm pistol as a first pistol, because the ammo is the least expensive of any of the center fire rounds and it is fairly soft shooting, yet it is a decent self defense round. (For a lot of people, a first pistol is at least for a while an only pistol, so having it do double duty at the range and for home defense is a fine idea.)

There are a blue gazillion 9 mm pistols out there (roughly) but the Beretta is one of the better among them. The action is famously smooth, and it has enough mass to make the already-mild recoil of the 9 mm even less. I consider it one of the better values out there, in terms of quality for the price. It also doesn't hurt that it is one of the most handsome pistols in production.

But some folks think that the grip is large enough to be uncomfortable, and not everyone likes the trigger and safety setup. Finding a rental range would be a great idea before you write a check. If you settle on the Beretta, used pistols are not rare and they could save you a few bucks, if you can get the purchase around your local regulations.
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Old August 29, 2014, 03:42 PM   #7
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Welcome CB!

Before you buy any gun, find a place, even out of state if you have to, and shoot the same model. The grips, operation and recoil are so different that every shooter has a different opinion.

And if you get to Texas, look us up, we got a bunch we'll let you try!
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Old August 29, 2014, 04:41 PM   #8
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You say look us up but he has no idea who you are...

I recommend an M&P 9mm, Glock G19, or Springfield XD(or XDm) 9mm. Any of these guns are simple in operation and don't have safeties to mess with (a positive to some and a negative to others). The M&P series of pistols can be bought with a safety and when you get comfortable enough it can be removed. I don't own any hand guns with safeties save one, and its a family heirloom with sentimental value. I'd never have bought it myself.

The M&P 9mm is my top recommendation for polymer pistols without safeties.

If you must have a gun with safeties, check out a Sig Sauer in 9mm or even better a Springfield Range Officer 1911 in 9mm. My what a fine first pistol that would make. Lionheart LH9 is another fantastic candidate for a first pistol, also has safety.
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Old August 29, 2014, 06:02 PM   #9
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I've never seen a sig with a safety, all of the ones I've handled only have decockers.
ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
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Old August 30, 2014, 01:03 PM   #10
charlie brown
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i went to a local range yesterday and fired the 92fs; i liked it. i would have continued renting other 9mm's but that would have put a serious dent in my wallet. i ended up going to sports authority, buying an airsoft SS 1911, and designing a mini shooting range in my basement =)
i will look up the other firearms mentioned here and give them a shot (no pun intended) i have a coworker who was a licensed firearms dealer here in jersey so i'll pick his brain as well. thanks for your help everyone!!
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Old August 30, 2014, 09:12 PM   #11
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Good! Glad you had a chance to actually fire a Beretta and see if the wide grip worked for you. I have a Beretta 92 INOX compact. It handles a bit better than the regular 92, you might want to look it up for consideration. I recommend it. Better to pay a bit more for a handsome weapon, than settle for an ugly gun.
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Old August 31, 2014, 12:03 AM   #12
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If you go in knowing that an bb gun is not the same thing, it can be a useful tool.

Mostly in learning to use sights properly.

Point of impact compared to point of aim will at least be consistent with a good bb gun... It just will not be the same as a real pistol.
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Old August 31, 2014, 06:46 AM   #13
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congrats on your FID

I'm certain you are aware your FID card does not allow you to purchase a handgun in NJ. That's another process and several more forms.

Despite the cost and availability of .22 ammo, buy a .22; decide if you want and revolver or a pistol.

Lastly, Pennsylvania is just across the Delaware River and is another world as regards firearms ownership.
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Old August 31, 2014, 07:47 AM   #14
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Unless there is paper work and permission needed to buy an airgun in your state, one of the realistic airguns is, indeed, a good choice.
The criticisms stated are at least five years out of date.
A modern blowback airsoft or pellet semi-auto airgun is an excellent substitute for a .22 - with the added benefits being able to use it at home with readily available ammo.
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