Skip to comments.So You're Thinking of Buying a Gun
Posted on 11/27/2001 8:59:52 AM PST by Gritty
So, you're thinking of buying a gun. With all the unease in the country since 9-11, that isn't surprising. Many people are buying guns; as this news story reports, they're doing so to be able to protect themselves and loved ones. It's not a bad idea, but before you make that move, you should learn as much as you can about guns so you can make an informed choice.
Guns are among the most misunderstood items around. If you listen to some gun control advocates, guns are the embodiment of evil. If you listen to some gun owners, every person in the country ought to carry a firearm, all the time. In reality, the truth is somewhere between these positions.
A gun is a tool. It is morally neutral. A gun can be an instrument of evil, when a rapist uses a gun to force compliance with his vile act. A gun can be an instrument of good, when the sight of one stops some thugs from attacking an elderly lady. What happens with a gun depends on the intent of the person using the tool. Just as with any other tool, if a person isn't prepared to use it, mistakes and accidents can happenbut with a firearm, they can have deadly consequences. To use these tools of self-protection well, you must choose carefully, and train yourself in their proper use.
There are several different kinds of guns. When you visit a gun shop, you'll see "long guns"shotguns and riflesand handguns that range from tiny to huge. How do you know what gun will work best for you?
The only honest answer to that question is, "It depends." It depends on what you want to use the gun for, and where. It depends on your strength. It also depends upon the law where you live. One way to learn the gun laws in your state is to use the National Rifle Association's search utility for state firearm laws. Your town may have firearms laws, too; check before buying.
The first question you need to consider is whether any gun is a good choice for you. Look down deep into your soul: do you know, to the marrow of your bones, that if some bad guy came after you or your family, you'd be able to shoot him or her? Repeatedly, if necessary? If you can answer "Yes", then a firearm is probably a good choice for you. If you know you can't, don't buy a gun! Criminals can sense fear and uncertainty; if you hesitate at The Moment of Truth, your gun may be taken away from you and used to prey on other innocent people. Don't buy a gun if you can't or won't use it.
Firearms can be organized into three types: handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Handguns are small, but can shoot powerful rounds (enough to stop bears). Their overall size has little to do with the size of ammunition they can shoot. They shoot one projectilethe bullet (which is part of the "cartridge", or "round" of ammunition)per squeeze of the trigger. Handguns can be single shotwhere only one round can be fired, then it must be reloadedor can have up to 10 rounds loaded for more rapid fire. Revolvers are one type of handgun; they have a cylinder, and chambers that revolve to place a fresh round under the hammer, ready to be shot. Semi-automatic handguns (also called pistols) have a magazine that slides into the gun. A spring in the magazine keeps pressure on the rounds, so that when one is fired, the next one in the magazine is pushed up into the chamber, after the empty cartridge is ejected out of the gun. (Semiautomatic means that you have to squeeze the trigger once for each round to be fired, and the next round is automatically loaded into the firing chamber each time you fire.) Revolvers are generally easier to operate, and are much less likely to jam than pistolsbut they don't have the high capacity that semi-autos can have.
A shotgun is a long gun that is often associated with hunting and sports shooting. Shotgun ammunition is referred to as a "shell" or cartridge; it holds projectiles that are propelled out of the shell when it's fired. The number can range from hundreds of small lead pelletsgood for hunting birds, which is why it's often called birdshotto one big lead slug. Shotguns fall into three types of action: single or double barreled guns that must be manually loaded for each shot; pump or lever action shotguns that hold multiple shells and must be manually operated between each shot; and semiautomatic shotguns which function like pistols. Shotguns are more powerful, generally speaking, than handguns, and are generally easier to operate. However, it's a heavier gun, and has more recoil (that's the force that pushes against your body after you shoot a round) than handguns. You must be able to hold the gun steady long enough to shoot to stop the threat, and to take the recoil.
Rifles are useful in hunting, and for certain situations (such as defending a building from people outside, when accurate long-distance shooting is important). They can shoot small caliber ammunition the same size as some handguns, or cartridges so powerful they can bring down an elephant. These guns are very popular in military action, because of their power and accuracy. Rifles generally aren't recommended as personal defense weapons; they're too powerful for the distance that most attacks happen at. The bullet could pass through the bad guy with minimal damage, and continue for long distances, possibly injuring innocent people. Unless you live out in the country, a rifle is probably too much gun for your personal defense needs. However, given that the President has stated that we're at war, having a rifle as part of an overall tactical defense strategy can be a good idea. And, should things come to more extreme circumstances, such as the infrastructure of the country falling apart, you'll have a weapon for bagging squirrels or bigger game for meat.
Next, consider where you'll be using the gun. If you want a gun for home security, many experts suggest either a shotgun or handgun. Handguns are easier for small children to manipulate, an important consideration if you have children. If your primary concern is protecting your person, and you want to carry the gun with you, a handgun is really the only choice of firearm you have. It can be easily concealed, so your gun doesn't alarm others. If you want a firearm to keep in your car, either a shotgun or handgun may do, depending on the type of threat you think you're likely to face. Either will do damage to bad guys, but a shotgun with lead slugs is more likely to be effective if the bad guy's using a car for cover, or as a weapon. If you own a business and want to keep a firearm on the premises, for most situations a handgun is preferred; they're easier to conceal and to bring to action quickly and unobtrusively, which can be crucial in a holdup. Having a shotgun in a safe, strategic place is a good idea, if that's possible.
Once you've decided what kind of firearm you want, go to gun stores and look at guns. Ask questions. No question is too dumb; if the salesperson acts bored or starts giving you sarcastic answers, go elsewhere. If you're a woman and get steered to handguns that shoot small calibers ( such as .22, .25., or .32) on the assumption you can't handle anything more powerful, go elsewhere. Women shoot competitively with large calibers and win regularly. If you have friends who are gun owners, ask for their help. Have them take you shooting, to get a feel for different weapons, how they work, and the calibers of ammunition. Some gun stores with ranges rent guns, so you can test a variety of firearms.
The wide range of choices available can seem overwhelming. You'll find that many people have strong opinions about guns, and they'll happily share them. It can be tempting to rely on someone else's experience, but resist that as much as possible. Remember, you may need this gun to defend your life one day; it needs to fit your circumstances. For example, it's true that the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol, a handgun caliber of ammunition) round is more powerful than the 9 mm round, but if you can't handle its recoil that extra power isn't going to do you any good. In fact, it could work against you. A handgun your friend loves may be too big for your hands. What you choose needs to work for you.
Try to shoot as many different calibers of ammunition as you can, in the type of gun you plan to buy (comparing across revolvers and pistols is worse than comparing apples and oranges). Spend time at gun stores, handling different size guns in the caliber and type you want to buy. You most likely won't be able to shoot all the different guns available, but listen to what other gun owners say about their guns, and ask them how theirs compare to guns you've fired. Read gun magazines, and gun-oriented web sites, to learn the terminology and find what's been proven to work.
There's no need to buy a brand new gun. Most gun stores stock quality used guns, and the price can be considerably less than a similar new gun. If you want a new gun, that's fine. But if you can't afford a new gun, or you aren't sure of what you want, buying used is a solid choice. You may also be able to get more gun for your money buying used. And if it turns out you made a poor choice, generally you'll have less depreciation with a used gun. Have a reputable gunsmith check the gun, just as you would get a used car checked. Not only can a malfunctioning gun not work properly, it can injure or kill you if it misfires. Check the store's return policy before buying any gun.
There's no formula for determining what gun will work best for you. Many will try to tell you otherwise, though, with statements like, "Women can't handle .45 or larger ammunition; it'll kick too much." I know plenty of women who can handle .45s just fine; I also know men who hate that much recoil. (Part of this depends on the type and weight of the gun it's fired from; that's one reason why trying different guns is important.) Similarly, some people don't like the feel of pump shotguns; others don't like semi-automatics.
For a gun to work well for you, it needs to fit with your body well. It can't be too heavy for you to hold steadily and take a shot. If it's a long gun, the butt of the gun should nestle snugly and comfortably in the crease of your shoulder. For any type of handgun, it must fit your hand; various problems can result if it doesn't. You also need to be able to handle the gun's recoil. With shotguns, this means your upper body must be able to absorb the shock. For handguns, your wrists need to be strong enough to control the recoil so that you can aim at the target again fairly quickly. Shooting different guns will tell you what you can handle.
Although no one wants to be shot with any caliber weapon, some are better "stoppers" than others. When you ask about good calibers for personal defense, be prepared for a wide variety of opinions; it's one of the ongoing debates among firearms enthusiasts. The minimum recommended by many experts is .38 Special. These have sufficient firepower to stop even a drug-crazed attacker (although it may take more than one shot). Many experts recommend .45 ACP or 10 mm. Any shotgun gauge except .410 is considered acceptable, although 12 gauge is recommended for those who can handle the recoil. Try various calibersshoot at least 25 rounds of each that you're considering, in the type of gun you're considering. Choose the most powerful caliber you can safely and consistently handle.
Please don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you're buying a firearm, you'll magically be safe against any threat. A gun is one part of a personal defense plan. Think about other things you can do to become safer. The best book I've read on the topic is The Truth About Self Protection, by former policeman and self-defense expert Massad Ayoob. I encourage anyone interested in the topic to read this book; you'll learn things that you just won't find anywhere else. Personal safety is an important consideration; if you're just now thinking about it, you've got some catching up to do but it can be done.
Good gun information links: (This is only a partial list; there are many more good gun sites, and many more gun manufacturers. A Google web search will turn up more.)
general gun safety
handgun primer for novices
Sig Arms site
Sunni Maravillosa is a psychologist, writer, parent, and gun owner. She can be reached at email@example.com
Got one of these this weekend.
#50665 590® 12 ga. Pump Action 9-shot capacity, parkerized finish, bead sight, 20" cylinder bore barrel with heat shield and Speed-Feed® stock
Buy a gun, buy another, see another I like buy it.
Pretty soon I'll have to get another safe.
PT145 is next up, end of the week.
You may find an online price that is better even with an FFL transfer fee. Most FFL dealers will drop a price to match a local competitor rather than lose a sale.
The prices can't be beat, either. New or used.
So You Want To Buy A Gun
Also, here's some other threads on what firearms to use for a given application:
So You Want To Buy A Gun (different article than the one posted above)
Packing Light, Packing Smart: Essentials of Concealed Carry
Hey Freeper Gals what handgun should I look at....
Gun Experts, need recommendations
Enjoy your new toy.
Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed (well armed with that) - Yorktown
http://www.mossberg.com/pcatalog/Price590.htm [51663 MSRP $531]You might also try Arizona Gun Runners
http://www.kyimports.com/rifle3.htm#Mossberg [51663 @ $389.99]
http://www.arizonagunrunners.com/Products/Mossbergshotguns/mossbergshotguns1/mossbergshotguns1.html [51663 @ $360.00]but they're harder to get ahold of - they don't answer the phone - and you have to play phone tag, or email tag, if you want to buy something from them.
In combination with the Federal Classic F131RS rifled slug, at 3110 FPS muzzle energy
http://www.federalcartridge.com/cgi-bin/specs2.pl?product=31crsthis should stop all but the worst of the bad guys.
Energy in Foot-Pounds
(to nearest 5 foot-pounds)
F131RS 3110 2555 2120 1785 1540 F130RS 2805 2310 1930 1645 1450 F127RS 2520 2075 1725 1455 1255
The great thing about long guns is that there's no waiting period whatsoever.
Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed - Yorktown
Don't forget to buy copious amounts of ammo to fit your arms and...
KEEP IT DRY!
I prefer that you associate your new gun ownership with good organizations such as the NRA and your local state firearms association such as the California Rifle and Pistol Association.
There is power in numbers.
Back at ya! Take care!
FOG - you need to bring your toy up here to Knob Creek.
A good surgeon can cut those birdshot BBs out of your hide.
Stay well - Stay safe- Stay armed - yorktown
I can see that that might be a problem in certain circumstances.
and I've read that the bead is plated at the same time as the barrel and action, so you'd need to crack the nickel if you wanted to put different sights on it.
That, too, could be a problem if that was your goal. I have never re-sighted a shotgun, so it's just not a problem for me.
"Look down deep into your soul: do you know, to the marrow of your bones, that if some bad guy came after you or your family, you'd be able to shoot him or her? Repeatedly, if necessary? If you can answer "Yes", then a firearm is probably a good choice for you. If you know you can't, don't buy a gun! Criminals can sense fear and uncertainty; if you hesitate at The Moment of Truth, your gun may be taken away from you and used to prey on other innocent people. Don't buy a gun if you can't or won't use it."
I have heard this line handed out across the counters at gun stores, etc., and as a Certified Personal Protection Instructor, I disagree.
Firearms ownership is about freedom, and about choice. My recommendation is that if an individual is thinking about getting a firearm, he should get the gun and get the training regardless of whether he or she thinks he or she can pull the trigger. Who knows what he will do when the chips are down? If you have the gun and have the training, when the time comes you have a CHOICE. And if you have the tool as well as the knowledge, attitude, and skills that come from training, the choice is yours. Remember, justification arises from the belief that you or another innocent person will die or suffer great bodily harm if you do not use lethat force. So at that last instant, if you are armed, whether or not you shoot is up to you. You can still choose to die (not shoot). If you don't have the gun, you have no choice or control, and you may not have the option of staying alive.
My experience has been that most people who doubt their ability to use lethal force in self defense simply have not had the issues of justification sufficiently explained to them. Once they understand just how narrow and clear-cut it is, the idea of using a firearm in self defense comes easier.
The argument about the perp getting control of the gun is a concern, but it will only happen if you let it. Besides, what a criminal might do with your personal property after he kills you should not be the determining factor in your having "right to choose" in a lethal confrontation. Even if you are one of us who knows he can pull the trigger, the same thing can happen if you hesitate or get caught by surprise, etc.
The prices can't be beat, either. New or used.
As an avid gun show follower, I agree totally with you. However, I would like to raise a note of caution. And that is the buyer of used firearms needs to beware and understand what he or she is buying.
At the shows I go to I have seen more 38 S&W pistols offered for sale at great prices to people who have no idea how hard it is to get ammo for that anemic cartridge. At the gun range last weekend, a guy bought some 38 Special ammo and then came back saying it wouldn't fit in his revolver. The Rangemaster gave him his money back on the ammo.
I consider myself knowledgable about firearms, but I have actually purchased a used handgun with a safety that didn't totally work right, only to discover much later that I needed to buy some expensive and hard to find parts to make it work as it should. When I examined it at the show and tried the safety everything seemed to work OK.
Some firearms I would have no hesitation in buying used, after I have sat down and carefully examined them looking at all the moving pieces and carefully working the action, safety, etc. Somethings, it is hard to tell until you actually get a handgun to the range, like if the magazine tends to do a bad job of feeding bullets in a semi-automatic and needs to have the feedramp or "lips" adjusted. The gun shows I go to forbid live ammo from being worked in an action and I don't have a handfull of inert rounds.
That is why once you make that purchase you need to really practice with your firearm of choice. At the range I am a member at, the Rangemaster said last weekend that one should fire at least 200 rounds of the same kind of ammo one would use for defence purposes in a semi-automatic to get an "idea" of if there are any reliability problems. Part of why I go to gun shows is so that I can buy my ammo at a discount to allow me to practice at the range.
price is right though at under 400.
Does anyone else around here have links to online gun sales outfits for Clemenza.
While there may be no federal waiting period for long guns, your state may have one.
If I'm not mistaken, California's waiting period is five days for long guns and ten for handguns. (I could be wrong on this; I haven't made a purchase lately.)
Any word on that little project in the woods?
That should be cryptic enough to confuse the others on this thread.
This is the only sentence that aggravates the he!! out of me. People have been using rifles and handguns for more "sport shooting" than shotguns. There are least a dozen different disciplines where rifles and handguns are used. I'm pretty sure that pistol and rifle shooting were Olympic sports long before they introduced trap and skeet. No wonder that the anti's think that a handgun is only used for killing when the writers refuse to print the rifle and handgun sports.
While the 410 is not a barn burner, you wouldn't want to get shot with it. It has roughly the power of a .41 magnum from a 4 inch barrel. Mossberg has a home security model, HS410, that could be usefull for someone not able to use a handgun or a stouter shotgun.
Actually, I agree with you. In the typical close range home defense situation, you would definitely want something with some spread - primarily to account for the fact that you'll be so scared, and shaking so badly, there's still a good chance you won't hit them, even with the spread. When I mentioned the slugs, I was kind of joking, and kind of thinking of the absolute worst case scenario, when the bad guys are coming at you in bullet proof vests or (lightly) armored vehicles, in which case the slug will give you some leverage. I didn't want to say "bullet proof vest," however, for fear of being labeled a cop killer. Also, Ms. Maravillosa asks
Look down deep into your soul: do you know, to the marrow of your bones, that if some bad guy came after you or your family, you'd be able to shoot him or her? Repeatedly, if necessary?In this case, if you hit the bad guy in the torso with something like the F131RS, there ain't gonna be no repeatedly, cause there ain't gonna be any torso left.
Ahhh, yes I can see it now. A school bus buried twenty feet deep. Surrounded by stacks of milk crates that are filled with concrete to create a 20 concrete wall. It is entered by shimmying down a false pipe under a fake Toilet.
In the cab of the bus is a large screen TV with the Dish network NFL, NCAA basketball, MLB package. As well as a library of tapes of all the old Twenty minute workout episodes.
Oh dang, now I gave away my plans for my property in Eastern Washington.
No I don't need food, as I can live off the prairie dogs I shoot.
It's light, easier to maneuver with because it's much shorter without the stock, especially around the house, and especially if you live in a small house with tight spaces and corners.
The freezer is full of salmon, halibut, and moose. I'm still looking for a bear to join the rest of the frozen goodies. Other than that you are pretty much spot on.
Roger that. I am not a Southpaw but I can fire the shotgun left handed and still sort of hit my target. I figure that after the nine 00 Buckshot rounds from the magazine and the six from the speed feed stock there should not be a whole lot left to be shot at with the sidearms. but hey one never knows.
Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed - Yorktown