Skip to comments.Buying First Handgun - Advice Please
Posted on 04/27/2009 6:41:14 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo
My wife and I are planning to buy our first handguns.
My wife seems to want either one of the several S&W revolvers chambered in 357, so she can shoot 38SPL, or possibly the Walther PPK semi-auto.
My dilemma is more complicated. I want a semi-auto, but have yet to pick one, but I like the Beretta PX4 Storm, the IWI Jericho/Baby Eagle (hate the Baby Eagle moniker), the S&W Sigma, or the Glock 17. Glock 17 is probably my least favorite. I've also been told by one friend to stay away from the Baby Eagle, but I've seen good reviews for it.
What are your opinions on these?
I have been told that, as a beginner, I should shoot 9mm to start. Is this true, or is it okay to try 40S&W instead?
My advice is when the time comes to turn it over, claim you already did and hide it in the woods.
bkmking for what I’m sure will be great advice
My advice is......you’re going to get lots of advice.
Forget the PPK.
Go to a range that rents guns and try them out. Don’t forget to take the wife ^_^
For years my wife liked her S&W 36, then she went to the rent range and tried a Glock 19. Now she uses the Glock. The point and shoot style guns, like Glocks have really caught on. The only problem my wife has is with the slide, so use high capacity magazines.
I have a PX4 Storm in .40 cal. I absolutely love it. I’ve also shot the 9mm model. I can’t say anything bad about either of them. They’re great pistols.
OH, and as many here will also likely tell you - if there is a range in your area that will let you rent some pistols and try them out...highly encourage you to do so.
Some indoor ranges let you rent a gun for an hour - a good way to try one out. Everybody has an opinion on what is better. You have to find out what you like best.
Me, I like the Army issue 9mm (Colt)....but, if I were to get a conceal carry license, I would have to go smaller. It is just a little ‘bulky’.
If you are just into target shooting, I strongly recommend a 0.22, purely for ammo economics.
...but, they all go boom, its just a matter of what you like best.
Buy a .22 first. Learn to shoot. Then go to a commercial range and rent several different kinds to try before you buy. Guns in general, and handguns in particular reward practice, so buying a pistol and putting it in a drawer doesn’t help you that much. And if you want home protection that goes double because you’ll be using it under stress. It’d be better to get an inexpensive home defense shotgun - because if you miss, the rounds won’t go through walls to kill someone else in your home.
Stick with a revolver- I am qualtified from the military police and having an automatic in the house still scares me.
my gun may not good for you for any number of reasons: hand size, arm strength, dexterity, any number of features of the gun, personal preference.
there is nothing like a good 1911, but .45 is a big round. i carry 9mm's and i like them a lot.
You need to take a little road trip to a gun friendly state and then try out the different guns. Pick one up, try the fit. At the price of guns today, it is foolish to spend that money for something that you cant hit anything with. How big of a guy are you? How large are your hands? How good is your grip—that is very important to accuracy with a semi auto. If you limp wrist an auto, it is going to jam, guarenteed. There are lots of things to consider other than the brand name. You want the one that goes bang every time.
There is no romance with a .40. It is a compromise for those who want something more than a 9 but arent big enough to handle a .45. Ammo is difficult to find and extremely expensive. Go to a good range and handle the guns and get some range time with different ones. 9mm and .45 ammo is commonly available. It works. The revolver for your wife is a wise choice. You are going to have almost equal recoil from either the 9 or the 45, as the 9 is a much higher pressure load than the 45 and kicks back more, so go try them and then make your own decision based upon the range instructors advice.
First off, I think it's very worthwhile to get an inexpensive .22 pistol for fun and practice - ammo is MUCH cheaper and easier to find than even 9mm. I have both a Ruger MkIII and S&W 22A-1. I like them both. Once you've stripped, cleaned, and reassembled a Ruger .22, any other semi-auto will be cake. :D
My other handgun is a Beretta 92fs (9mm). I love it. Gorgeous, fantastic quality, accurate, eats any ammo, never jams, and is incredibly simple to strip & clean. I can't explain it, but I also seem to just prefer metal-framed guns over the plastic ones.
I like the slim 1911 for concealment.
For high capacity, get a doublestacker Glock or XD40. THey are a bit too fat in 45, so I’d get either a 357 sig if you prefer penetration assurance, or a 40 if you want more lead for the bang and buck.
Think manhood, going for adventure, when choosing a gun.
I liked my HK USP better than the glock which is not so good at handling and too light of a barrel (an also I tend to jerk the glock right when pulling trigger), imo, but I believe the HK is not a double stacker.
IF the Cz52 is still cheap around, get one as a back up beater to keep in glove box.
Get what is most comfortable feeling in your hand. If your wife is a bit intimidated by a pistol....get her a revolver she likes...
Take her to practice on Saturdays and get in a league if you can.
Buy a handgun that has lost its birth certificate. Then buy another one.
for the most part, semi-autos have a number of safety features that revolvers lack. imho, a revolver is more likely to have an AD. unless you are talking about Glock's.
If she is looking at the PPK, consider a Bersa Thunder. It is nearly identical, cheaper and gets better reviews. My wife and I both enjoy shooting ours. Of course my wife likes shooting her XD9 Tactical even more.
If you like how the ‘baby eagle’ fits your hand take a look at the CZ75 and the rest of the CZ family. FYI, the CZs and the Jericho are all based off the original Browning HiPower.
If you are looking to maybe carry your gun with a permit sometime go with the Storm or (*bleh*) Glock for the lighter polymer frame. If not the all steel frame might make learning easier (more mass damps recoil and muzzle rise’). It might not though (polymer can dampen vibration and shock to your palm).
It is impossible for someone that does not know you to say what you will like best. Gun handling ‘feel’ is extremely subjective and what bothers one person might not be noticed at all by another. Anyone that tells you different is to be taken with a grain of salt. If at all possible get your hands one one or more of these so you can try them yourself.
As a rank amateur, the .40 is a damn good round from what I’ve read & shot, but it is also an aggressive, snappy, and expensive round that probably isn’t the best to start with. It’s good to rent, though, because it will show defects in your grip because (at least as I found it) it’s very “torquey”. IMHO, you’re better off developing superior technique with lighter, cheaper ammo before you commit to a particular model. Rent and practice a fair amount before you pick one (or two) out.
Regarding recoil, it is generally inversely proportional to the weight of the gun. In other words, a very light gun will produce more felt recoil than a heavier gun shooting the same ammo. Many women who buy very light revolvers discover they are uncomfortable to actually shoot. Recoil can be controlled by gripping the gun FIRMLY (some instructors advise to hold it like you are trying to crush the grip).
The small frame .357’s from Smith are difficult to manage, particularly the light ones. If you go that route, look at the model 60 with a 3” barrel. Still pretty small, but has some heft. The PPK has a crap trigger, and a case can be made for the .380 round being marginal (if you can even find any ammo these days) Get her to look at the Kahr 9 mm’s just for grins.
Of the autos you mentioned the G17 is probably the most available and reliable, but many dislike the way they fit the hand (I can’t abide by the grip shape). I’ve heard the Baby eagle has reliability problems. The Sigma? Ok for the price, but nothing to do cartwheels about. Take a look at the Springfield XD and XDM models, and possibly the S&W M&P.
The best approach once you’ve narrowed it down is to find a range that rents and try them.
For your first handgun, you’ll never go wrong with the .357/.38 - It does everything you want a handgun to do.
I like the Springfiled Armory XD. I have one that chambers .45 ACP, but they have one for everyone. They have a 9mm and 40 S&W. The gun is also available as a sub compact with a three inch barrel (but I think only the 9mm and 40 S&Ws) ideal for concealment. It’s a very reliable gun, a bit ugly if you care about that sort of thing, but really fun to shoot. Many Glock lovers leave their first love for this gun. They also came out this year with the XD(M), which won the NRA handgun of the year. Here is a fun review for you.
the review is a bit old, so they have actually improved the gun since then. Great, fun gun!
Before you make your choice, try the Springfield XDm. The grip is much more comfortable than a Glock.
Purchase a centerfire defensive handgun you BOTH like, for the second gun buy a 22lr in the same type, revolver or auto.
It's one thing to purchase, it's totally another to feed it. To be profiecient with a handgun means trigger-time. You'll get more out of the 22 because the ammo is relatively cheaper, recoil is negligble, and you concentrate more on proper sight alignment, grip, stance, etc.
DITTO. An experienced shooter can realize the benefits in the semi-autos. Conceivability, number of rounds, easy fast reloading. But there are also too many things to remember under stress. Did you chamber a round? Is the safety off? With the revolver, its just point and pull the trigger. And less parts to break down when cleaning. And you will be cleaning it allot as you learn to shoot it.
I would go with a revolver for the first handgun.
Good advice. I’d add that you then buy the one that you like the best emotionally, and think is the coolest (as long as it’s at least a 38 or 9mm.)
The intention was to have her shoot 38SP and then, if she ever gets to the point where she wants to try it, she can shoot 357M. Or I can shoot 357M through it when she's not using it. I'm 6'1", 225lbs. She's 5'3.5", 120 lbs. Not sure if she's ever bea ble to handle 357M.
The guns you’re interested in cover a broad spectrum that suggests you need to get to a range with some rental guns and try them out.
Think about what feels good in your hand, easy to maintain, and in these days, easy to get ammo for.
I second that.
Off paper is nearly a must. The advice about the .22 and a range that rents are sound, too.
The slide on the Glocks are something you definitely want to try out. I might suggest that if you go that way, you see if your wife can operate the slide, just in case she needs to use your gun in a pinch.
Good advice. I’d add that you then buy the one that you like the best emotionally, and think is the coolest (as long as it’s at least a 38 or 9mm.)
Hand Gun of the Year (Rifeman mag) -— XD-40M.
Also, any time you handle a gun for feel make sure to compare it to others of the same model in different calibers. Many guns are in 40, 9 and 45 (sometimes more) and each one has a subtlety different size and shape grip. You might think one feels a bit small and but the next caliber feels just right.
Some people have pointed at that .40s&w is a fair bit ‘snappier’ than 9 which is true. Some are saying the ammo is expensive and hard to find which is NOT true. It might be true where THEY live but it is not the case everywhere. In fact with all the demand for ammo these days it might be easier to find than the more popular .45 and 9mmm. The last time I bought 40 it was at walmart and the price was almost identical to the 9mm and they had a lot more .40 in stock.
Correction: they don't jam with reasonable care, and using good ammo. Neglect it to the point where it rusts, and it will jam. If a spring breaks, it will stop working. Lead buildup from lack of cleaning may also cause problems (see here).
Also, shooting .357 in a light revolver causes the ammo to experience heavy recoil, which with low-quality ammo may cause the bullet to dislodge from the case:
Another warning in the owners manual is that recoil may pull the cases of unfired rounds in the cylinder rearward with enough force to unseat the bullets causing the cylinder to jam. The recoil inertia generated by .357 Magnum loads that are 158 grains or greater cause the bullet to "jump-crimp". This will cause the bullet to protrude out of the cylinder, a term know by some as "prairie-dogging". This will ultimately cause the gun to jam up without removing the unseated bullets and replacing with new ones. Since the cylinder lines up flush to the forcing cone (back of barrel), the protruding bullet will not be able to clear the forcing cone and therefore render the gun incapable of firing the next cartridge. It has also been noted that accuracy is comprised in these types of ultra-light revolvers since the barrel is a steel sleeve liner rather than a single solid piece of steel.
Here’s my new one...Smith & Wesson
I recently bought a Springfield XD9 subcompact. Great gun!
>> My first handgun would be a single action .22 revolver like a Ruger Single Six. <<
I strongly agree that the first handgun should be .22 revolver.
But just as strongly, and speaking as the proud owner of a Single Six, I recommend against a single-action revolver for a beginner because it lacks a “swing-out” cylinder. This disadvantage makes a SA revolver a bit less safe and much more awkward to operate than a DA revolver.
On the other hand, a double-action revolver like the Ruger SP-101 chambered in .22LR (which I also own) does have the swing-out cylinder, thereby giving at least two advantages:
1. It’s safer, since when you swing the cylinder out and push the ejector, you’ll remove any live round that might (unbeknownst to you) have remained in place.
2. It’s a heckofa lot quicker and easier to reload.
If you have never had a semi-auto jam, you havent shot enough. Clean or otherwise.
I’ve heard the 686 was good. If she gets a revolver, she intends to get something with a moderately long barrel. Too long will be unwieldy for her. Too short means too much recoil.
For ease of use and cleaning go with the S&W 686. Especially if this is your first handgun. 38’s do not have too much kick and are about $12-$15 per box and you always have the option of a .357 magnum round...which will give a real nice “kick”...that is one nasty round and a pretty darn lethal one shot take down.(I know, there are other factors, but for argument’s sake)
My wife is 5’1” and 110 lbs...even though she prefers my XD9 tactical (9MM from Springfield Semi auto) over the 686, I think the 686 is much easier for her to figure out, load and clean. no concerns about jamming and stuff. Actually, I am much more accurate with that gun than my own...I put very tight groups with it from 15 yards in.
Now I must add, that in my area .38 ammo is next to impossible to find...even our range is having trouble getting it. 9MM was scarce (in my area) about a month ago, but now it’s readily available.
My suggestion: If you can find them used then get one of each. I have a Beretta 92FS and a Springfield XD9 tactical and like I said my wife loves the XD9...thin grip and easy aim. I got both used for less than my Dad got his 686 new. However, it took her about 150-200 rounds before she got the hang of loading, shooting and cleaning the XD9. With my Dad’s 686 she was loading and shooting after the first round....and she understood how to clean after being shown once.
You will soon learn that you’ll want more than one gun anyway. I started off thinking the XD9 would be enough, then I got a 30-06 Rifle, shotgun and another handgun. Soon I will be getting a .22 for cheap target practice and another shotgun....it never ends. good luck and let me know if you need more help.
Go to the range and rent a revolver and semi-auto. They both have a different feel and only you can decide what feels better and more comfortable.
The reason I recommend the single six is because it is difficult to shoot yourself with. It loads slowly and has to be cocked to fire.
I have seen many accidental table shootings at the range with beginners with autos and to a lesser degree double actions.
Try the XD-40.
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