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Soon to be first time gun owner (newbie questions)

Posted on 01/08/2013 10:49:42 AM PST by stuck_in_new_orleans

Wife and I are looking into buying a gun for the sole purpose of self defense/home safety. Neither of us has owned a gun nor know anything about guns. Silly question but do gun shops usually have ranges to rent/test guns? Also, any recommendations for guns for home safety? Thanks

TOPICS: Chit/Chat
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans

Shotgun and a Revolver for newbies.

For the wife - S&W .38 Lady Smith Air-Lite is sweet.

Shotgun - Mossberg or 870 Remi is just fine.

Total cost - $850 - $1000.00

81 posted on 01/08/2013 1:19:56 PM PST by GlockThe Vote (The Obama Adminstration: 2nd wave of attacks on America after 9/11)
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To: LouAvul
"someone who won't even look at the gun after he buys it and fires it, a revolver is the only choice."

I wouldn't be quite so absolute about the handgun vs shotgun. Hitting the target is everything. If someone isn't going to put time into practice as you said, any shotgun is better than a handgun IMHO.

I learned shooting a firearm at 10 years old with a 12 ga. Then I moved to rifles. Both were easy to learn and use. To this day I can hip shoot better with a long gun than I can in my best modified Weaver stance with a handgun. Ok, I've got 30 years more experience with long guns. But still...

82 posted on 01/08/2013 1:40:13 PM PST by uncommonsense (Conservatives believe what they see; Liberals see what they believe.)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

I just recalled my “real” name: Bloody Tom Flint.

Good thing too, since I wanted to post something on this thread for easy recovery ;^)

83 posted on 01/08/2013 1:40:24 PM PST by AFPhys ((Praying for our troops, our citizens, that the Bible and Freedom become basis of the US law again))
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans

You’ll see a lot of Freepers recommending shotguns, because it’s good to be able to hit your target when you’re stressed. And you’ll see a lot recommending revolvers. You might consider the Taurus Judge handgun, which can shoot both kinds of rounds.

From another similar thread

The Judge is a pretty impressive and versatile self-defense handgun. It appears to be unique.

5, 10, 15 feet with 000 buck, 4 pellets/ round

Demo gave up on shotgun, went with Judge

female shooter

Also, isn’t the Judge the only handgun that allows washer rounds? Seems like a great compromise gun.

84 posted on 01/08/2013 1:58:41 PM PST by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans


85 posted on 01/08/2013 2:04:13 PM PST by TheConservativeParty
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans

Something that I recommend when you buy a first gun, is to take a gun oriented friend with you and go shoot many more bullets than you want to, instead of 10, or a box of 20, shoot a 100, or 200, shoot until you get tired of shooting and the experience is thoroughly in your blood, then take them and your friend home and fix dinner and clean the guns, in other words, a total immersion experience, a complete ice breaking experience.

Try not to just buy it, put it away and keep putting off the actual familiarization experience to some future date.

86 posted on 01/08/2013 2:12:00 PM PST by ansel12 (Cruz said “conservatives trust Sarah Palin that if she says this guy is a conservative, that he is")
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans

I’ll put in my $0.02 here and will openly admit I am no expert in this but will share my experiences.

I have owned .22 rifles; one a semi and another bolt action single shot. These are highly accurate, can be fitted with a scope and the ammo is very cheap.

I’ve owned a Beretta 92FS. That was my first handgun. But I quickly found out that I couldn’t hit the side of a barn. I sold it back to the gun dealer.

Next gun I got was a Ruger .22 “bull barrel” semi-automatic.
Now that is one sweet gun and highly accurate. But like all semi automatics it can jam and a jammed gun is of little use. It also offers a laser sight option so you could plug someone and kill an intruder very efficiently. I haven’t killed anyone lately and fortunately never had to try to defend myself. If you want a semi-automatic this is definitely one to look at. Very little kickback. Subsequently I sold it.

The next handgun I owned was a Bersa .380. These are fine guns, very small, and increasingly popular. The ammo is somewhat expensive; even more so than the popular 9 mm ammo. And they are not terribly expensive. But again it is a semi-auto and all semis are subject to jamming. I subsequently sold it.

I had a Mossberg 12 gauge pump action shotgun that I bought expressly to rid myself of armadillos that were tearing up my lawn, foundation and driveway. That didn’t prove out very well because they don’t stand around and wait to be shot. An animal trap solved that problem.

Latest gun is a .22 revolver. Nice thing about it is that it will hold up to 9 rounds. No jamming. Little to no kickback, relatively quiet and if one is reasonably accurate it should offer safe home protection. Being that it is double action means that if you pull the trigger it will fire but it will take a little effort as opposed to the single action where you have already pulled the hammer back. But I wouldn’t under any circumstances allow the hammer to remain in a cocked position because it could go off and kill someone. Contrary to some opinions, the .22 is an effective weapon to take someone down. And it is easy to reload. A semi-automatic requires the loading of the clips and that can be very time consuming. So one is advised to have multiple clips handy. I find that very inconvenient plus one has to chamber the weapon, take off the safety and hope it doesn’t jam. And there is one other thing to bear in mind with most semi-automatics. Just because the clip is removed doesn’t mean that the gun cannot go off. Very often a single round has been chambered. And when the trigger is pulled it is just as deadly as when the magazine is in the gun. I believe the Bersa had a safety feature to prevent this from happening without the clip in place. Check this out to be sure.

Personally, I would second those who suggest actual practice on a gun range and remember that you will have a deadly weapon regardless of what caliber it is or whether if is revolver or semi-automatic.

And I would say this. I don’t really like guns. I really don’t. But I always recall this saying. If you are murdered remember the cops are only 10 minutes away. Unless a cop is going to be housed in everyone’s home we have little alternative but to protect ourselves.

Again, this is my $0.02 based on my personal opinions.

One other thing to remember. If you are buying one for home protection just think of the fact that regardless of who you may be protecting yourself from you would potentially be taking another person’s life. You have to ask yourself the question. “What are you prepared to do?”

87 posted on 01/08/2013 2:28:21 PM PST by RichardW
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans

I am not going to browse through 85 replies to see if you received a sane answer yet.

My recommendation is for you and your wife to contact a reputable firearms instructor. The NRA website ( has a button to find certified instructors in your area. Contact one of them , ask for references. Basic rifle/pistol and armed self defense in the home are good courses to get started. Same for Armed self defense outside the home (if you ever intend on concealed carry). Also, Lethal force institute, gunsite, frontsight and other private schools (may be NRA affilitated, probably are) are well-know shooting schools but are in the higher cost bracket and may not offer mobile courses in your are (flying to AZ this time of year may be nice though).

I strongly recommend you seek a professional guide to help you through this equation. Your life(s) may depend on it.

I’d love to tell you what you need, but I am not going to. Your situation will dictate what works best for both of you, and you should ignore most advice (except mine of course). Get face to face professional input, training and guidance.

88 posted on 01/08/2013 2:31:24 PM PST by Manly Warrior (US ARMY (Ret), "No Free Lunches for the Dogs of War")
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans

89 posted on 01/08/2013 2:48:48 PM PST by ez (When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.)
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To: uncommonsense
And I've got ~50 years of experience with long guns. Any weapon that requires more than merely 1) picking up the gun, 2) pointing/aiming the gun and 3) pulling the trigger is a terrible choice for a gun owner like the OP. In a panic situation he's just not going to remember everything he has to do. 1) Pick up gun. 2) Find the safety. 3) Try to remember which way the safety goes. 4) Disengage safety. 5) Point weapon. 6) Pull trigger. 7) Remember to pull forearm back to eject spent round. 8) Etc.

A revolver is the only choice for such people.

BTW, this is one of my bedside weapons. It started as a standard Rem 870 Express HD. I replaced the stock w/a Knoxx so as to increase it's portability/maneuverability. Then I decided to try to increase its versatility by replacing the 18 inch HD barrel with a 20 inch turkey barrel. I'm going to use it for turkey, varmint and HD.

It's still a massive gun, regardless. It's loaded with 00 buck. Someone might suggest that with that choke there's not going to be any spread. To that I would say they should actually pattern a shotgun. At across-the-room distances, there's not going to be much spread anyway. That holds true for your argument re revolver vs shotgun. If you don't believe it, pattern your open choke 18 inch barelled shotgun at say, 10 or 12 feet.

I also have a Glock 19 with tac light in my bedstand. Also in my bedstand is my everyday carry piece, a Sig 239 DAK SAS.

If I have to clear the house, I use the Glock that is alternatively loaded with hollow points and solid points. Solid points for penetration (in case bad guy has lots of clothes on) and hollow point for expansion.

90 posted on 01/08/2013 2:57:31 PM PST by LouAvul
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans

Get a pair!

91 posted on 01/08/2013 3:16:09 PM PST by Doomonyou (Let them eat Lead.)
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To: aimhigh

Well said... I have both...

92 posted on 01/08/2013 3:36:03 PM PST by oldoverholt
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans
You are about to get a lot of really great advice from some very knowlegable people. You are also about to get some really bad advice from so-called firearms experts who are legends in their own minds. Please keep in mind, there is no one size fits all and what works for some people may not be appropriate for other people due to a lot of factors such as firearm experience, age, physical ability, proximity to your nearest neighbor, etc.

To answer your first question, some gun shops have ranges that may allow you to test drive the weapon, depending upon state law, prior to purchase, and some ranges rent firearms for use on the range, but do not sell, and if you like what you rent, then you can buy it at a gun shop.

To answer your second question, I highly recommend a pump action shotgun 12g/20g loaded with 00 buckshot. However, if the only thing that separates you from your nearest neighbor is a sheet of drywall, then you may want to use a turkey load (No. 4 - 5). As others have mentioned, I recommend the Mossberg 500 or Remington 870. In either case, buy the shortest barrel allowed under state law. For example, I own a Remington 870 that came with a 26" barrel, which I use when I'm in the field hunting or even for sporting clays. But I also purchased an 18.5" barrel for home defense. I can easily switch the barrels without tools in less than 30 seconds.

I also recommend a revolver that shoots both .38sp/.357 magnum. Revolvers are easy to shoot and rarely fail. Pull the trigger and it will go bang. Although revolvers generally don't have a safety, a safety is unnecessary because of the heavy trigger pull. Since you do not intend the carry the revolver concealed, I recommend the Ruger SP101 or the GP100 with a 4" barrel because the weight of the gun and length of the barrel will "absorb" recoil better than the shorter/lighter revolvers -- particularly important when shooting .357 magnum rounds. In addition, longer barrels generally produce greater bullet velocity and energy, which may be important if you prefer to shoot .38sp as opposed to the significantly more powerful .357 magnum.

I also advise that no matter what you buy, that you practice, practice, practice. That means shooting hundreds and hundreds of live rounds at the range; playing "what if" in your mind for every conceivable home defense situation; and dry rehearsal WITH AN UNLOADED WEAPON at home so that you can visualize the likely confrontation points and what lies in the line of fire beyond your target. (You may want to do this now before you purchase to help you in selecting the appropriate firearm and caliber for your situation.)

Lastly, research, research, research. I highly recommend anything written by Chuck Hawks, which you can easily find on the Internet using the search engine of your choice.

93 posted on 01/08/2013 3:39:02 PM PST by Labyrinthos
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94 posted on 01/08/2013 4:07:17 PM PST by RedMDer (Those that believe in gun free zones should wear GUN FREE ZONE T-SHIRTS.)
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To: LouAvul
"Any weapon that requires more than merely 1) picking up the gun, 2) pointing/aiming the gun and 3) pulling the trigger is a terrible choice for a gun owner like the OP"

I think we're having a productive and civil debate for a thread on 1st time home defense gun use.

There are many common features between various types of guns and many legitimate preparatory states to store a handgun or shotgun for home defense. What you stated in the quote above does not exclude using a shotgun as you well know. The means of deployment are dictated by each situation - like the limitations of the user, untrained children in the home, alert lavel, home layout, etc. (I know I'm preaching to the choir, but for the benefit of the 1st time owners).

Most handguns and shotguns have a safety. It can be locked on purpose or by accident due to lact of training.

With a double action revolver, it can be uncocked, on safety, and 2nd chamber empty for safety reasons. It can be cocked, clambered, and off safety if the homeowner is on high alert - or something in between.

A shotgun or semiauto handgun owner can choose to keep the safety off and the round unchambered - requiring "cocking". Or they can keep it cocked, off safety, with a round chambered. I'd say that fits your readiness criteria, but obviously not very smart.

My Smith .44 has a safety and it's double action. So I can have the gun uncocked with the safety off and a round chambered - ready to fire. Or, I can have it cocked with a round clambered ready to fire, but on safety - like most semiautos. I may want to have the hammer cocked and the safety off if I'm really paranoid. Or I can leave the 2nd chamber empty so someone doesn't find the handgun and fire it with the 1st pull of the trigger.

My semiauto Colt .380 has a safety but it's not double action like a PPK, so I need to keep a bullet clambered and on safety if I don't want to require pulling the hammer or racking a round before firing.

After saying all this, the bottom line is - there are several common features to both hand and long guns. It gives the owner options needed for their particular situation. There are always tradeoffs. It's best to start with the most fool-proof solution - learn, train, test scenarios (especially for undesirable outcomes like neighborhood kids rooting through your bedroom, or shooting through walls), then alter accordingly.

95 posted on 01/08/2013 4:44:11 PM PST by uncommonsense (Conservatives believe what they see; Liberals see what they believe.)
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To: uncommonsense

I am also a newbie to handguns, I just bought a new Sig P226 9MM on the advice of a pro target shooting friend of mine. I haven’t even fired it yet because I want to be safe and get some training.

Just wanted to see what all you all think of this model gun since I haven’t seen any mentions of Sigs in the other comments (I know, I know, I should have posted here BEFORE I bought it )

96 posted on 01/08/2013 5:08:42 PM PST by bigtoona
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans


97 posted on 01/08/2013 5:34:45 PM PST by maine yankee (I got my Governor at 'Marden's')
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To: parisa

Check out all the different firearms on YouTube. I love 9mm pistols, but my wife isn’t strong enough to cock it.

98 posted on 01/08/2013 5:45:44 PM PST by aimhigh ( Guns do not kill people. Planned Parenthood kills people.)
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To: bigtoona

Sigs are high quality. Good choice.

You need to practice. A lot.

99 posted on 01/08/2013 6:17:53 PM PST by 2111USMC (aim small, miss small)
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To: uncommonsense
Your smith 44 has a safety? What? You bought a smith w/an internal lock? I would have to be desperate before I bought any revolver with the IL. Google Massad Ayoob and Smith and Wesson internal lock failures.

Nor does my GP 100 have any safety. None of my revolvers have locks. In fact, only the Clinton Smith and Wessons have that lock. No other revolver, except some of the single action Rugers have any such internal lock.

My recommendation to the OP is to get a GP 100 which has no external safety device. You just pick it up and shoot.

100 posted on 01/08/2013 6:22:13 PM PST by LouAvul
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