Skip to comments.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
Don’t tell her about the .500 S&W. Or that they make revolvers chambered in .45-70. ;-)
Luckily your boating accident was caught on tape for the nonbelievers
A gun like that may be more valuable if left intact. I would just go buy a new pump shotgun with a pistol grip, and leave the old-timer as is.
A barrel can be no shorter than 18” (muzzle to closed breechface) and the overall length cannot be less than 36” without running afoul of the NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934). If you wish, cut the barrel to 20” and leave the stock alone.
Look into Winchester PDX .410 ammunition.
My wife is 5'2" and 112lbs. She picked out a 45 ACP Compact for her conceal carry pistol. Back when I met her in 1978 the first pistol she fired was my Colt 1911. she never looked back.
My daughter, 5'6" and 100lbs, also picked a compact 45 ACP. It seems the women in my family not only can handle but also like the larger calibers.
You’ll shoot your eye out!
Seriously, this is not the perfect time for buying unless you insist on getting in at the peak price. IMO a pump shotgun is the best for home defense but whatever you end up with learn how to properly handle and shoot it, pay someone to teach you if need be.
When I can swing the investment, I've got my eye on one of these.
Thanks for the thread. I am in the same boat although I have fired both at our farm and on a range. However that was a long time ago.
I have settled on a shotgun, probably Mossburg, for home defense. The make isn’t the deal maker though. More important will be the shop and service.
I also want a handgun but there is one huge problem in my case.
QUESTION: Since I have poor vision in my right eye (lazy eye) it is very difficult for me to sight a target. That is why I am going for the shotgun. But there must be some way people like me can learn to sight a handgun or rifle. Where do I go for info?
Get a benelli pump shotgun.
I’ll join those posters recommending going to a gun shop that has a range and rental guns. It shouldn’t be too hard to find one.
Take your time and both of you shoot a variety of handguns and calibers. I can almost guarantee that you’ll find one that you just instinctively like. And, I can guarantee that what you like and your wife likes won’t be the same one... Buy one of each. heh
Once you purchase your handgun(s), shotgun, or whatever, put in plenty of range time until operating the weapon is second nature, and could be done in the dark, under stress, etc.
Also, consider what you will use it for - for a handgun to keep at home, light weight is a liability (heavier recoil), whereas if you want a handgun to conceal carry, you want something light and comfortable that you will actually wear.
For a shotgun, the Remington 870 Express Tactical is a great gun at a reasonable price. Before all my guns were lost in a tragic boating accident, I loaded mine with low-recoil 00 buck shot, with a “side saddle” of extra shotshells on the stock.
A hard thing to learn is to never pick up a gun with your finger on the trigger. We’ve all played with squirt gun toys and its natural to automatically put your finger where it shouldn’t be. Find an indoor range because it is less stressful than firing for the first time in a rural area where you feel like you’re attracting unwelcome attention. Suggest to your wife that she spend some time learning how to pull back on a semiauto pistol. A revolver is a good first gun but it hurts a beginners hand.
Typically six shots, just like the old west.
These usually take a clip. The number of bullets in the clip can vary.
Shoots buckshot or slugs. Typically used for hunting (like here in MA) or home defense.
Same as pistols. Semi-automatic that’s clip fed.
Can range anywhere from a small .22 caliber rifle for small game hunting like squirrels to a 30-06 (think M1) to an AR-15. Can be single shot bolt action, clip fed or tube fed.
Squeeze the trigger. Pulling it will pull the barrel off target.
Get a halographic sight.
I agree with those that suggest a .357 revolver. Those can be loaded with .38 Special (less expensive and kicks less) when practicing at the range. Don't buy the alloy-framed "airweight" type of revolver. It may be more pleasant to carry in a holster, but the lighter weight gives those a sharper kick. The Ruger SP-101 is a great choice for men and women alike.
If you do choose to supplement the handgun with a shotgun, stay with a common semi-auto (Remington, Mossberg). When not using that as a home defense tool, you can put the longer hunting barrel on (easy, tool-free swap) and go shoot clay targets across the lake at Tallow Creek (just off of I-12, west of Covington).
I am not sure if this will help you compensate for lazy eye, but training for cross dominant eye shooters may also work for you. Below is a link for one such discussion, but there are many. Hope it helps:http://pistol-training.com/archives/433
Pistol = Handgun : Type of firearm designed to be fired with one or both hands, held away from the body.
Revolver: A type of pistol/handgun which uses a revolving cylinder to hold -- typically 6 -- cartridges.
Semi-automatic: A type of pistol/handgun fed by a magazine. (There are semi-auto rifles and shotguns too...)
My reason for the breakdown I use: There were pistols way before either the revolver or the semi-auto handgun were invented. Single-shot smoothbore handguns have been called "pistols" since the 1500's, so in my mind the word is synonymous with "handgun".
Just my $0.02 worth...
I strongly disagree with your comments on shotguns, but whole heartedly agree with your choice of handgun for the reasons stated.
1) Shotguns: Winchester makes several configurations of their Defender. It's a pump that has choice of stocks, an 18" barrel, 3" chamber, and holds 7 shots with 1 in the chamber. (It's good to leave the chamber empty and still have 6 in the hole so you make the unmistakable sound of racking the beast.) That's a gun which is easy to learn, aim/use, maintain, and will stop anybody without shooting up the neighborhood. Plus, you can buy a longer barrel and target shoot or hunt with it.
2) Pump vs semiauto: I've used a Browning 12 GA semiauto for 40 years and I can't tell you how many times I've had misfires or jams that required me to clear the chamber - but it's my skeet gun that I've used since I was 10, so I stuck with it - plus it's a Belgian Browning. I've had the same problems with my semiauto Colt .380 handgun, but never my S&W .44 revolver or pump Defender. Jams are frustrating when target practicing, but it's NOT what you want in an emergency. It's also more complicated to clean a semiauto. With a pump, as with a revolver, you don't have to worry about awkwardly clearing a misfire or jam. That's a BIG deal for a defensive weapon.
I'm up in North Louisiana. Congratulations on your decision to purchase your first firearm! Shooting is just a great skill to have.
This is a Taurus .38 special. It was my first revolver and I still love it. To me, you just can't get more simple than this. Here are some of the things that made me feel very confident and comfortable with this gun right from the start.
easy and fast to load
lightweight (which makes it fun to shoot!)
nothing to snag in a pocket or other clothing
consistent means of operation and trigger pull
It's point and shoot. Mine is loaded with hydra shok hollow points and is always ready to rock.
Perhaps this is something that your wife would also like.
If you’re gonna give gun information out maybe you might want to learn the difference between a magazine and a clip?
Oh, and the .30-06 is WAY more powerful than the .223 or even the 5.56 mm.
Beretta 92FS...sweet piece. I love mine.
One suggestion; If she buys the 92FS, get her one of these. The EZ Rail. It will give you a rail on which you can mount a laser sight in front of the trigger guard. I found a very inexpensive and very small laser on eBay to fit it. It was about 25 bucks. Very nice setup.
I would suggest letting your wife try out and choose the gun. It it fits her hand size well and she if comfortable with the fire power, you’ll both be able to use it. I did this and chose a 9mm that my husband, of course, can handle easily. Anything larger was hard to control and seemed to jam more frequently.
Our local gun shop/range had a ladies night where I could “rent” the gun for free, paying only for the ammunition I fired on the range. It took several weeks of trying different calibers and types to decide. It also took that long to get over being girly and get over being afraid of the gun. Didn’t want one in the house if I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I’d use it if threatened.
“Select a self defence load, though. Don’t use bird shot (#6 - #9).”
What do you consider a “self defence load”?
Agree. And that reminds me to mention that it's best to start shooting with a low recoil gun to learn safety and accuracy first.
My step dad started me at 10 years old with a 12 GA Browning semiauto skeet gun that kicked like an Army mule. I developed a flinch because of the kick. Some smart instructors would load my gun with duds to see how smooth my action was - almost always reacted to whatever punishment I thought I'd take from the gun (but managed to still hit my target with a real bullet somehow).
Mount a laser sight on the bottom of the barrel with a trigger on the back of the handle activated by your palm grip.
Let me add a vote for training. A simple handgun safety course goes a lONG way to you being happy and safe with firearms. Most courses also teach about the various types of guns, how they operate, and why you might want one versus another. Well worth the money.
I would plan on buying at least two guns. One for self defense, the other for a practice/learning gun. The .22lr caliber is perfect for practicing. Easy to shoot, cheap rounds, and you can get a .22lr with the same type of action (pump, semi auto, or double action revolver) as your self defense gun.
A lot of people start out learning with larger caliber guns, and end up with a huge flinch.
It's the same for the pump. Both types have a safety, etc.
For a gun owner like the OP, someone who won't even look at the gun after he buys it and fires it, a revolver is the only choice.
As far as size, even a shotgun w/18 inch barrel (one of my bedside guns is a Remington 870 express HD) is still a big gun. Fine for someone who takes the time to get and stay proficient, but that's not going to be the OP. He'll buy it, shoot it, and store it.
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
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...
I just recalled my “real” name: Bloody Tom Flint.
Good thing too, since I wanted to post something on this thread for easy recovery ;^)
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
Also, isnt the Judge the only handgun that allows washer rounds? Seems like a great compromise gun.
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.
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?”
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 (nrahq.org) 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.
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.
Get a pair!
Well said... I have both...
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.
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.
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 )
Check out all the different firearms on YouTube. I love 9mm pistols, but my wife isn’t strong enough to cock it.
Sigs are high quality. Good choice.
You need to practice. A lot.
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.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.