Skip to comments.Getting into the world of firearms
Posted on 09/27/2005 5:35:15 AM PDT by beaureguard
Thanks for your following letter, Matt, which I received this afternoon:
Do you think at some point you could write a column on some of the basics of getting into the world of firearms? Specifically, I'm looking for tips on acquiring weapons for home defense and hunting. While I'm not a survivalist weirdo, I have no intention of waiting for any level of government to ride to the rescue, should bad times come along.
Since I have been hit with numerous requests (mostly post-Katrina) from people looking for that first firearm, I am pleased to respond with a column on the topic. Since you used the word weapons (plural) and spoke of getting into the world of firearms (again plural) I have a number of recommendations for you. And here they are:
Marlin .22 Magnum, Model 25 MN. We are going to start you off with an inexpensive gun you can easily pick up at WalMart. I bought my Model 25 five years ago for just $150, although they cost about $170 now. Take your new .22 magnum out to the country and fire a few shots at a paper plate taped on the side of a tree stump. Start out at 25 yards. When you get confident, you can put an inexpensive Simmons scope on it for those 50-yard raccoon shots. I have a big back yard and, for me, a part of home defense is getting rid of those raccoons that tear up everything in sight. Your varmint problems will soon be a thing of the past with this little bolt action rifle. It will also teach you patience and shot discipline better than a .22 semi-automatic. Remember, Matt, every shot counts so dont waste ammo. In fact, make sure that you always buy more than you just shot after a day at the range. Some people call that stockpiling. I call it an investment in your future.
Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum, Model 686. I usually recommend a four-inch barrel but I want you to get a six-inch stainless model. This will help you in the realm of hunting and self-defense. For example, a 145-grain Winchester silver tip will stop that coyote you run into while deer hunting. It will also help stop any intruder (it will even stop his pit bull, for that matter). Keep this gun under your bed and loaded at all times.
Also, this is a great revolver for your wife (assuming you are married, which is another choice I recommend) to get used to shooting. Put some light 110-grain .38 Special rounds in it and see how she likes it. With a big six-inch barrel, it will be easy to handle with hardly any recoil.
Benelli Nova 12-gauge. I have a couple of Remington 870 pump shotguns. But, recently, I bought a 24-inch barrel Nova with Advantage Timber camouflage. I will use mine a super magnum that takes 3 ½-inch loads to hunt a turkey this Thanksgiving. You can use yours for varmint hunting, quail hunting, and a number of other purposes with the right 2 3/4 inch load. Some light buckshot will also make this a good home defense weapon, provided you are in an open space (the barrel is a little long for this particular function).
Stoeger Double-barreled 20-gauge Supreme Coach Gun. If you really want your wife to get into this (to make it a family affair), she needs her own shotgun. I recommend the nickel-plated version because its so darned pretty. Let her keep it under her side of the bed and, please, stay on her good side. For more details, see this link: http://www.stoegerindustries.com/firearms/coach-supreme.tpl.
Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle. A lot of people who saw what recently happened in New Orleans have concluded that every man needs an assault rifle. I came to that conclusion years ago. Go to WalMart and get this nice .223 semi-automatic for around $500 (I got mine when they were $375). Then get a scope (the rings are included with this model). I would also recommend several 30-round magazines by Thurmold. I have fired hundreds of rounds through mine without a single jam even when firing as rapidly as possible. You might also want a flash suppressor, which will keep the muzzle low while you fire away. This is a fun gun that helps explain why I never picked up golf.
Browning A-bolt .270. And, of course, you will need a long-range bolt action rifle when you start bagging deer. My 30.06 Browning A-Bolt Medallion is probably my favorite weapon. Deer, black bear, and boar like it much less. I recommend the .270 to the novice because it has less recoil and will still get the job done. Winchester Power Point rounds (130-grain bullets) are very cheap and more than adequate. Mail me later for venison recipes.
Ruger Super Redhawk .454 Casull. I have no business recommending this gun to you, Matt. Nonetheless, buy it anyway. This gun takes Colt 45 rounds that are great for home defense. When, somewhere down the road, you feel like handling a very powerful handgun, this will provide some great entertainment with the .454 Casull rounds. Get the model with the 9 ½-inch barrel and kill a wild boar. Then kill a black bear. Then put a scope on it (the scope rings are included) and kill a deer at 100 yards. After you are done with your assignments, call me and let me know whether I have given you good advice.
Thanks for writing, Matt. And welcome to my world.
At one point, when for some reason I like the idea of ridiculous amounts of recoil in a handgun, I was going to get myself a T/C Contender. This is years ago... At the time, I was either going to get it in .444 Marlin, 45-70, or (what was considered the world's most powerful handgun cartridge at that time), the .375JDJ. I just wanted to be sure that I'd never be bothered by varmints like cape buffalo in my back yard. You never know, one might show up! And just in case, it always pays to be prepared! I had the chance to meet a guy who happened to have a T/C in .444 Marlin, and one shot from that helped me decide that while interesting, I really didn't need to submit myself to that sort of abuse on a regular basis!
Still, the .375JDJ has been used to take all big game in North America, as well as Africa! Although I can't imagine shooting an elephant or cape buffalo with a bullet or 270 or 300 grains. Anything less than 500 grains just seems "weak."
Look into a (Romanian) WASR-10 (semi-auto AK-47 knock-off). Chrome lined, and very reliable. Mine was $350.
SKS rifles (should) run less.
Personally, I'd avoid the Yugoslavian SKS rifles. They're not chrome lined.
You can find a bunch of info on both the SKS and AK/AKM here: http://www.surplusrifle.com/index.asp
Amen to that.
Explain, please, the difference between the two.
I wonder if a scout axe is the same as the Hudson Bay Axe. I have one and it is about half way between an axe and a hatchet. I like it but actually think a hatchet is better for most jobs and a full sized axe for others.
What I've seen across the net, and this just seems to make the most sense to me anyway...
.357 wheel gun with matching .357 carbine...
Smith & Wesson Models 620 .357 Magnum / Model 94 Ranger Compact .357 Magnum
Check out the Ruger forum. Lots of good advice and info on the sp 101 and other Rugers.
You couldn't go wrong with the Ruger Mark II or Mark III. I've had a Ruger for 30 years and it's still dependable and accurate. Of course, ergonomics are important and if the Walther feels good in your hand, all things being equal that would be a good choice.
In my younger days I dropped a few deer with a .22 mag. It's a good gun but not for learning. .22 LR ammo is so cheap it's the logical choice for a newbie.
Just a note on your remark about jams with you first few rounds. You might try running a dry swab through the barrel before you start shooting to clean out the oil residue. That may help.
I tried just about everything, including being sure that there was no "wet" lube at all, going to a dry lube. I spoke to a number of people who had seen the problem, and all agreed that there was no "good" reason for this sort of nonsense, but shooting about 100 rounds always took care of the problem.
I know that this will sound terrible, but I wound up giving that Ruger a thourough cleaning about twice a year (of course, I would give it a wipe down, and check for lube and wear on critical contact points ever time I'd shoot).
That just seems to be the way this gun is "happiest."
You never did say exactly what you're shooting but I have a Mark I that had feed problems and after having a gunsmith strip and clean it and still having the same problems I replaced the magazine which cured it. Seems the spring was weak.
It's a Mk II Government Model. It's just something that it's always done. I bought it back in 1989, and it's done it since day one. I've tried different magazines, cleaning methods, solvents, lubes, etc... I guess it's just part of the "personality" of the gun. No big deal. I just make sure that once I've given the gun a good cleaning that I put 100 rounds through it before using it for competition. It's no big deal. After that 100 round guestimate, it NEVER jams. I couldn't even begin to guess how many rounds I've put through it: At least 100,000 rounds, and that's just how it is.
I know a few shooters who don't clean the action or bore of rimfire pistols until they show signs of malfunction. .22 ammo is so easy on barrels, etc... that cleaning puts more wear on the firearm than extended shooting. With the non-corrosive ammo available in the last 40-50 years, there's no real worry about rust. I clean my Smith 41 about every 2000-3000 rounds (internally, not just a external wipedown). Revolvers need a swab out a bit more often, because the ammo won't chamber fully at times and misfires, this is more a problem on my 70's guns than a new 617.
I guess quirks are one of those things that make guns interesting. (although I have a bit lower tolerance for this on defensive firearms) :)
I bought a used one this summer. I set the site on the 4-7x at 50, and then preceeded to go out to 300 yds, I was impressed... It kicks, all right, but it shot where it was pointed! It's now ready for the season next week!
I have a couple of good ones, but have never tried to post a picture here....do I have to host the picture somewhere?
My wife is a petite woman (sexy petite, I might add). She needs a bionic arm to handle my .357 Magnum.
She can't hold it up, and she can't pull the trigger. She has small hands.
I have had others on this website give me advice on a good handgun for my wife, and believe me, a .357 Magnum is NOT the gun of choice for the wife, unless you are married to some transvestite.
Perhaps some of you experts can suggest a better gun again for those on this thread for a small woman who has trouble handling a big gun. This author is either married to a hulk of a woman or does not know what he is talking about.
I hope the author had the foresight to inquire if "Matt" has any children in the house before dispensing this little nugget of advice.
It has almost no recoil and is light accurate and durable. The double action pull is nothing extra but she can cock the hammer first for practice. I suspect after a little practice, she will come to enjoy it.
In an emergency I suspect she would have little trouble pulling that double action trigger if necessary.
I would recommend nothing less than a .32 for defense. There are plenty of light, small, high quality guns in that caliber and the recoil is not too much for your wife to handle. If she's able to control it you should consider a .38. The more power you can pack the better off you are. Visit a gun range and rent a small pistol your wife can hold comfortably and let her shoot a box of ammo with it. It will run you about $35 or $40 but she'll get the feel of the caliber she likes and involving her in the decision will ensure she'll be happy with the gun.
I'm a wheel gun believer myself. There's a lot less complication involved with them and reliability is important. I've had too many jams with semi autos and a new shooter will have less trouble with them. Just my 2 cents.
I would recommend buying a high quality 7.62 x 39 AK-47 from www.AK-103.com
I don't know who could argue your point about having a revolver for self-defense, especially for the wife who, if she ever needs to use it, needs to just pick it up and shoot. Simplicity is what is needed at that time. May not be as sexy, but who worries about sex during a home intrusion? (Other than a potential raper)