Skip to comments.Vanity: Advice needed on best small semi-auto handgun for new shooter.
Posted on 01/29/2005 3:57:06 PM PST by cicero's_son
I'm hoping for some good advice from fellow Freepers about which handgun to purchase.
I'm a novice shooter (with handguns at least). Don't really know very much about them. I've applied for a conceal carry permit in Indiana, and I'm signed up for the next NRA basic education classes at the local range.
This will be my first (and possibly only) small sidearm purchase. I don't want or need anything too heavy-duty. Just a reliable, effective, easy to use, accurate pistol for personal and home defense.
I'm leaning toward a Glock 9mm, but I understand there is a wide divergence of opinion on them.
What say you?
If someone can manage the size and recoil of a .45 auto, it does have better stopping power than a 9mm. But even a .32, if one can control it, will be better than a .45 which one can't control or that gets left on the dresser at home.
Get A Sig Sauer...
Personally, I like both my Glocks and my SIGs.
I like the Glock because it fits my hands and the grip angle is perfect for me (some say it's too sharp). The ability to attach a light to the large and medium frame Glocks is nice, but you can't do that on the Glock 26 (compact 9mm). You can have the trigger easily swapped. I use a 3.5lb disconnect but would probably go with a 5lb or higher on a compact CCW weapon.
I also like my SIGs. My first SIG, a P226 I bought in Germany, has over 45,000rnds through it and is still a fine weapon. My P229 in .40SW is smaller and I carry that model usually.
You can't go wrong with almost any of the major, respectable firearms manufacturers. Learn to shoot with a variety of range guns BEFORE you decide. You may find that you can reall rock with a specific model above all others.
One criticism I've heard about Sigs is tht they require a lot more maintenance than the Glocks. Is this so?
A Smith & Wesson 3913.
I just purchased a CZ 75B 9MM
Its a great weapon to shoot and easy to clean.
If you want an exceptional pistol to learn with that doesn't cost too much, I heartily recommend the Walther P22 with the 3 1/2" barrel. It will prepare you for a Glock or any other more powerful handgun, and will always remain a favorite for outdoor carry. About $200.
Personally I don't like Glock.. My brother had one and it had jamming problems... I know a lot of police that swear by Sig... I have fired them and like them very much.
One HK To Rule Them All
What ever you buy, take it to the range and wring it out with a couple of boxes of ammo. Ten years ago, my new Glock .40 jammed on the first box of quality ammunition. A smith in St. Paul polished up the interior, added Trijicon sights and lightened the trigger a tad. The next 30-40 boxes of ammo have been without incident.
The 9mm Glock I used at the range today jammed twice in just 100 rounds. I figured I was doing something wrong.
Went through same exercise about a year ago. 9mm is ok but size does matter. Since I wanted my wife not to be too afraid of it to use it if necessary, I chose .40 Smith & Wesson cartrige in a jacketed hollow point load. Plenty of power, less expensive to use at range. Glock, S & W, Taurus,Charter Arms,lots of other good small semi autos out there. Also several good websites out there to help you read up on home defense guns and cartriges. Shoot lots of shells.
I carry a Ruger KP90. (.45)
I suspect most replies here will be about some 1911 incarnation, any of which would be a good choice as well.
"one MARKETING DEPARTMENT to rule them all" ;)
CZ 75 is one durable service weapon! Throw that sucker in the mud and it will still fire! If I was in a war situation CZ 75 would be my choice... For regular personal carry weapon I would choose Sig...
It's the same size as a Glock 9,, but offers real stopping power.
I and a lot of other people find the slow push recoil of a 45 easier to controll than the sharp slap of a 9mm.
My daughter was another reason for choosing the CZ. She loves a day at the range with Dad and experimented with different firearms. She had the most success with the CZ so of course thats what Dad was instructed to buy!!
Have you fired a .40 S&W ?
Likely you were. The mass of the Glock changes considerably as you empty the magazine. Towards the end of the mag if you "limp wrist" the weapon it will jam as the weapon no longer has the mass to hold it in place while the action cycles. You have to hold it solidly in an iron grip. I had similar problems when I first got mine till I understood what was needed. I love my Glock. Used it just the other night with the integral laser sight to whack a skunk. I favor a Hungarian copy of the Walther PPK for carry though. The Glock is too heavy, and the first rule of gunfighting is to have a gun.
Ouch. That smarts.
Knock-down is a MYTH.
The 45 has a bigger bullet and you can't argue with the bigger hole, but the the one-shot stop percentage is only 5% greater than that of the 9mm and bullet design has narrowed the gap even more.
A small, concealable and CONTROLLABLE 9mm is preferable to the big honking .45 left at home.
A glock has a very lightweight frame. The weight of your hand is part of the mass that keeps the frame still while the slide recoils to load another round. If you hold it loosly, the frame and slide both recoil together and the pistol jams.
It is a problem for some at the range, but in a desperate situation I don't think there will be any problem remembering to hold the pistol tightly enough. The problem will be in leaving permanent fingerprints swaged into the plastic..
I shoot a 1911, but since you are just starting, get a Glock or Springfield XD or a revolver. There are no safeties or other controls to remember.
Keep it simple to operate.
In 3 years, a DEAD CARTRIDGE.
If you want a .45, get the real thing ;)
That makes sense to me, but again I'm a novice. Do you have a source?
A compromise pistol. Why not get a 45 that is just as easy to control and makes a real hole even if the bullet fails to expand.
Well, in my shooting club a guy (an instructor, BTW) had TWO glock barrel blown and replaced at the factory. I have nothing but good things to say about CZ-75 - and it is robust enough to work with hot +P and +P+ ammo. (I pumped some 30000 rounds through mine - and the only thing I ever needed was a replacement sear). 9mm with expanding (say, Hydra-shock, or Cor-Bon) projectile loaded to +P+ should compensate for lower weight.
Kal Tec .32 defender.
And it is unbelieveably accurate for it's size.
Nope take a look at the king of knockdown ;).50 Beowulf
Here is a link that may be helpful. Read down to caliber and it shows penetration and 1 shot stopping effectiveness for each caliber and different loads for each.
I agree that the .45 has the numbers.
But, against animal/human targets, it's penetration, organ and nerve damage, and blood loss that get the kill. My 5% figure was the calculation some time ago (FBI?) of the percentage of One-Shot Stops (where the target went down with one round). The 9mm can come close to the .45 in that area. When it comes to penetration of harder targets (windows, doors, walls), bullet weight, diameter, design and velocity become more important.
I have both a Ruger GP 100 in 357 and P series in 9mm. I think Ruger is the best made handgun out there and the auto's are underrated by many except the experts.
Here are the questions I asked myself, and the answers that pointed me to the G-19 and Comp-TAC holster:
1) Why do I want a weapon? Personal security in an ever-more-dangerous world.
2) Where will I have to use that weapon? My home and elsewhere.
3) What kind of weapon do I want? It's got to be reliable, concealable, and not cost me an arm and a leg. Ammunition must be readily available and affordable; in my opinion, if you don't practice you shouldn't carry or use a weapon.
4) What caliber do I want? The largest caliber that I can shoot with accuracy. However, this must be evaluated against the number of bullets I can carry. Also, if my use of a pistol includes concealed carry, then the weapon must be concealable and comfortable. In researching "comfort", I ran into a lot of posts indicating that, for my size frame (6', 180 pounds), the G-19 was a lot more comfortable and generated less back pain than larger calibers. (Note: I also considered a .380, but the practice ammunition was significantly more expensive, and I intended to make "practice" a high priority.)
5) What's more important, accuracy or "stopping power"? In research at http://www.ammolab.com and http://www.tacticalforums.com I found that the 1155 fps velocity of the 124-grain Speer 9mm's seemed to deliver the same amount of energy as most .45 rounds. In test firing, I found that I could reliably place 8 out of 10 rounds in a 6" bullseye at 7 yards with the 9mm, but only 3 out of 10 with the .45. (Note: since then, I've improved for both calibers... but that was back then... ). I determined that it was more important to hit the target with 8 rounds than miss it with 7).
6) What do other firearm users prefer? I found that most police units employ the 9mm (either SiG or Glock). "If it's good enough for the police, it's good enough for me." I thought.
Putting the data together, and mulling it around a bit, I decided to get the Glock G-19:
1) It's very concealable.
2) It's relatively accurate. While the SIG has a better reputation for accuracy, that accuracy comes at the cost of maintainability and durability.
3) It's the most easily-maintained pistol in 9mm. It's also incredibly durable... bury 'em in sand, freeze 'em in ice... they fire a bullet. However, the loose tolerances make the pistol slightly less accurate.
4) Speer Gold Dots and Remington Golden Sabers have excellent fps ratings, and provide serious cavity damage in gel block tests ... without over-penetration.
5) Practice ammunition is cheap. You can get 100 rounds of Winchester 9mm for $10.96 at Wal-Mart.
6) The G-19 cost me $415. A SIG was going to run $725.
Oh, and as far as accuracy goes, here are a couple of targets shot at a range of 10 yards (30 days and 600 rounds after I purchased my G-19). The diameter of the "black" on the top target is 5 1/2 inches.
I decided that a Comp-TAC holster was my choice, and have been very pleased with it (http://www.comp-tac.com/).
I also purchased a Gunvault safe... I don't want to come home some night and find that I've been burglarized, or that my kids had a friend over and someone got to "playing" with my weapon and killed himself.
Getting a weapon is only the beginning... you will need to thoroughly understand the laws in your state. I've appended an email I sent my son before he attended an NRA course; while the laws for your state will vary, you'll need to understand not only what you can do, but what you should or should not do.
Matt, it is absolutely essential that you understand this portion of the New Hampshire law before Saturdays class.
627:4 Physical Force in Defense of a Person. -
I. A person is justified in using non-deadly force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful, non-deadly force by such other person, and he may use a degree of such force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose. However, such force is not justifiable if:
(a) With a purpose to cause physical harm to another person, he provoked the use of unlawful, non-deadly force by such other person; or
(b) He was the initial aggressor, unless after such aggression he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person his intent to do so, but the latter notwithstanding continues the use or threat of unlawful, non-deadly force; or
(c) The force involved was the product of a combat by agreement not authorized by law.
II. A person is justified in using deadly force upon another person when he reasonably believes that such other person:
(a) Is about to use unlawful, deadly force against the actor or a third person;
(b) Is likely to use any unlawful force against a person present while committing or attempting to commit a burglary;
(c) Is committing or about to commit kidnapping or a forcible sex offense; or
(d) Is likely to use any unlawful force in the commission of a felony against the actor within such actor's dwelling or its curtilage.
III. A person is not justified in using deadly force on another to defend himself or a third person from deadly force by the other if he knows that he and the third person can, with complete safety:
(a) Retreat from the encounter, except that he is not required to retreat if he is within his dwelling or its curtilage and was not the initial aggressor; or
(b) Surrender property to a person asserting a claim of right thereto; or
(c) Comply with a demand that he abstain from performing an act which he is not obliged to perform; nor is the use of deadly force justifiable when, with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily harm, the actor has provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter.
(d) If he is a law enforcement officer or a private person assisting him at his direction and was acting pursuant to RSA 627:5, he need not retreat.
Source. 1971, 518:1. 1981, 347:1, 2, eff. Aug. 16, 1981.
If you start the fight, you surrender your right to defend yourself with deadly force.
If you can retreat, and do so safely, you surrender your right to use deadly force. (Note: this does not apply to your own home IF you didnt provoke a fight that ends up in you home. If you pick a fight with someone in the street and they follow you inside your house, you could well be considered the aggressor. In that situation, if you use deadly force, you could be convicted of manslaughter or murder).
If you have possession of someone elses property, and they are asserting a claim to it, you may not use deadly force to retain the property.
If you are asked to refrain from conduct that you are not legally required to perform (e.g., asked to keep the noise down!), you surrender your right to use deadly force, even if provoked in an argumentative manner.
Guidelines: Be Polite. Avoid Confrontation. Dont go STUPID places, with STUPID people, or do STUPID things.
(In general, these guidelines work for all aspects of life, with our without a weapon on your body)
Action Safe Action System
Length (slide) 6.29 in. 160 mm
Height 2) 4.17 in. 106 mm
Width 1.18 in. 30 mm
Length between sights 3) 5.67 in. 144 mm
Barrel length 3.46 in. 88 mm
Barrel rifling right, hexagonal
Length of twist 9.84 in. 250 mm
Magazine capacity 4) 9 / 11
Empty without magazine 19.75 oz. 560 g
Empty magazine 2.12 oz. 60 g
Full magazine 5) ~7.23 oz. ~205 g
Trigger pull (standard) ~5.5 lbs. ~2.5 kg
Trigger travel for discharge 6) 0.5 in. 12.5 mm
Number of safeties 3
1) C: Compensated
2) Includes magazine and sight
3) With sight rear 6.5
4) Check local law and regulations.l
5) Depending on the used ammunition
6) Includes trigger safety
Everyone is different. First of all, if you want a big gun, you'll want a .45 or .40. Find out how much it weighs. My Colt Commander weighs about 37 oz, over two pounds. Get something the same weight and similar size and carry it on you for a week. It becomes heavy and not only that, its length makes it uncomfortable and difficult to conceal, and it unbalances your body.
Then there's your size, location and personality to consider.
Take your time. Take the course and ask the instructors. Hopefully they'll be reasonable.
I carry guns every day. Freepmail me if you want.
GLOCK 36 Specifications
Caliber .45 ACP
I do not approve of any Glock, for the obvious reasons.
I'm sure this concept has been FReeped to hell and back somewhere.
(Yes, I'll look it up.)
But Soviet Makarovs in 9x18mm are small, effective, cheap, dependable and accurate.
Maks simply dont jam or break and the fixed barrel is very accurate.
A lot of guys that used to tote heavy 45s and bulky glocks all day now carry Makarovs do to ease of concealment and effectivness
You might think so but the .40 has plenty of knockdown power. I owned a 9 MM Glock and liked the fact that a lot more power was available in the same medium sized pistol that fit my hand.
Do a Google search for "Strasbourg Tests". In that test several European police agencies did a test on live French Alpine goats of the same size and weight of the average human male to see which cartridge disabled a healthy goat in the shortest length of time. I think something like 600 goats were shot in the thorax with various popular handgun rounds, and the time interval between the shot and the animal's collapse was recorded to the tenth of a second and averaged out over a series of shots from each cartridge.
IIRC the .45acp did very well, but it wasn't the top "stopper". Again, IIRC, the .357 mag firing a 125 grain hollow point round took the top spot. Also IIRC, the 9mm came in with a very respectable score, not far behind the .45acp in fact.
For me personally I usually carry a Taurus medium frame 2-1/2" .357 revolver in a Don Hume belt slide holster, except in hot weather when I can't conceal it under a jacket or coat. In hot weather I have been carrying a commercial Russian Makarov .380 semiauto loaded with Federal HydroShok cartridges in a pocket holster, but I am planning to upgrade to a 9mm Springfield Armory XD Compact semiauto before summer weather returns. IMHO the .380 is just barely adequate for self defense, but at the time I bought it there were no truly small 9mm guns on the market and it was better than the little .32s.
If I were you I would check out the Springfield compact. It has everything going for it that the Glock model 26 has and it's quite a bit less expensive. Although I really like the old .45acp and have owned several 1911s and one S&W .45acp revolver, I believe anyone is quite well armed carrying a reliable 9mm loaded with good hollow point cartridges such as Corbons or Hydroshoks.
It is also available now in .40 S&W caliber, but I wouldn't recommend such a lightweight (20 ounce) .40 caliber pistol to anyone who isn't quite familiar with heavy recoiling handguns. A 20 ounce pistol firing a 165 grain bullet at over 1100 fps is going to kick pretty darn hard, and if you aren't accustomed to that kind of recoil it can easily develop a bad flinching habit which ruins your accuracy and is very hard to overcome.
I know about flinching, because a Colt Lightweight Officer's Model .45acp caused me to acquire a flinch habit which I'm still bothered by at times. OTOH, I really enjoy shooting a heavy 8-3/8" Colt Anaconda .44 magnum, and it has no tendency to cause a flinch even though it's much more powerful than the .45. Little guns in big calibers are designed to carry a lot and shoot a little. But you need to practice regularly, and if your gun hurts you when you shoot it you won't practice enough.