Trigger Advice for First Handgun?

Trigger Advice for First Handgun?

This is a discussion on Trigger Advice for First Handgun? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hi all, This is my first post here, so allow me to introduce myself. The name's John and I am getting ready to purchase and ...

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    New Member Array aadosx's Avatar
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    Trigger Advice for First Handgun?

    Hi all,

    This is my first post here, so allow me to introduce myself. The name's John and I am getting ready to purchase and own my first firearm.

    I have decided that a pistol will be my first, and I personally dig the semi-automatic type. However, I am a little caught up in deciding what kind of trigger mechanism I want. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Let me tell you what I (sort-of) know already and how I plan to use the firearm.

    I am looking for something for both defense and recreation. I know that I will eventually own more than one firearm, and surely more than one handgun, but I would still like something that I can use all-around for my first. So this will be a home defense weapon, a car defense weapon, and a target shooting weapon. I do plan to carry it sometimes, but honestly I believe that it will rarely be on my side. Of course, this may change once I own it, but that sounds like a good time for a new gun, if that arises. =) So, to reiterate, this will really only be on my person when moving in between my home and car, plus the semi-rare occasion that I am in a "sketchy" area of town, situation, etc. Therefore I am looking at "compact" sized pistols. I want something big enough to enjoy shooting, have some power, etc.. but also small enough to conceal if I really want to. I am a tall/skinny guy at 6'2" 175.

    I've been looking at different handguns for some time now, taking trips to the gun shop and going to the range with my buddies. I've fallen in love with SIGs, and honestly, am all but pulling the trigger on one. However, when I started thinking about the situations I will be in and trigger mechanisms, I cannot quite decide what I want. The particular SIG models I am looking at, in order of preference, are the P228, P220, M11-A1, and P229. I like the slimness of the P220, considering it's a single stack. But I really think I want a 9mm considering this is an "all-use" gun. Anyway, these are obviously all SA/DA firearms. I read some of the stickies and see that at least one poster here loathes the SA/DA type, which I can kind-of understand, haha.. but to each his own I guess. Still, to my internal debate (finally)...

    In my personal opinion, I believe that it would be silly for me to not have the gun loaded and chambered at all times. I feel that it would take far too long for me to chamber the gun in a life or death situation, and don't trust myself to function that well/quickly in such situation. Therefore, I assume that it will always be chambered. That being said, for some reason (maybe it's just because this is my first firearm and, quite frankly, I respect and even fear them to some extent) having a gun by my side that will fire simply from pulling the trigger is a little unsettling to me. Is this ridiculous? Maybe I am just uneasy at the idea. Maybe I even fear that I will accidentally "snag" the trigger somehow when holstering the weapon or placing it somewhere in my car. When I consider situations I will be in, I think I would be competent enough to disengage a safety, or even cock a hammer. Because I will mostly be using this from in the home or in my car, I feel that I will have at least enough time for this. Because of this, I am also looking into SA handguns, primarily the 1911. I honestly haven't seen many other SA automatics, so suggestions there would also be appreciated.

    Anyway, what is your opinion? Should I not be so worried about accidentally firing a DA/SA handgun that has been chambered and de-cocked? If I'm THAT worried, should I just carry un-chambered and practice chambering? Or is a SA "locked and loaded" the only way to go? Again, this is all coming from a zero experience user, so I appreciate any advice or feedback you guys have for me.

    Oh, and one more thing. On a SA handgun, like the 1911 in particular, is there a safe way to de-cock the hammer once chambered? Or is this a feature only available on guns such as the SIGs?

    Thanks a lot in advance! And please go easy on the noob, haha!

    -John


  2. #2
    Member Array rick21's Avatar
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    Unless you are planning to get training beyond a CCW class a DA/SA pistol like the Sig would be good choice. I would avoid Glocks and 1911's for a while. I say this only because it might be a little harder to make a mistake with a DA pistol' but that is debatable. You should choose the pistol you feel the most comfortable and confident with. I would advise you to enroll in a basic handgun class as soon as possible. Training and practice is far more important than what pistol you have. Any quality pistol will serve you well.
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    VIP Member Array ghost tracker's Avatar
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    While I agree with the idea that a 1911 variant isn't the ideal "starter" handgun, I disagree with your suggestion to avoid a GLOCK. Striker-fired handguns (GLOCK, M&P, XD, SR9, FNS, etc.) have rapidly gained impressive market share expressly because they offer the beginning shooter with the simplest, safest possible manual-of-arms. A DA/SA de-cocking handgun still has a more involved learning curve to mastery than does a striker-fired option.
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    I don't have any issue with DA/SA triggers and have come to prefer them. It gives me the option of cocked-and-locked SA or hammer-down DA. Unless you've got one with a 2-ton DA it's no big deal. All it takes is some practice--but what trigger doesn't?

    I'd suggest looking at a 9mm S&W 6906 or 5906 LEO trade-in. Good capacity (12/15 rds), great triggers, built like tanks, etc. I've got the 4566 (.45ACP) and the 6906 and love them both. Heavier than the plastics but make better rocks when empty. Prices are pretty decent also (<$400). It's hard to beat a 3-Gen S&W.
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    VIP Member Array ghost tracker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    It's hard to beat a 3-Gen S&W.
    Surely can't disagree with that, I'm a big fan of the 3913. But what 3rd Gen S&Ws DA/SA (de-cock) models can be carried cocked & locked?
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    Member Array Walden's Avatar
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    DAO triggers are great for beginners. They teach trigger discipline like nothing else. New shooters learn quickly that the gun will fire if they pull the trigger, and they learn trigger discipline. That is not to say a DA/SA pistol or a pistol with a safety cannot be a good starting gun, but they can afford more opportunity for a mistake.

    Compact Glocks (19,23,32), Smith & Wesson M&Pcs (9c, 40c), or Springfield XD 3.8 (in 9mm or .40) are the guns I recommend to friends who want to buy their first handgun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghost tracker View Post
    Surely can't disagree with that, I'm a big fan of the 3913. But what 3rd Gen S&Ws DA/SA (de-cock) models can be carried cocked & locked?
    My 6906 can, but the 4566 is spring-loaded to safety off. From what I've read the type safety/decocker installed was dependent on the purchasing agency's requirements. I've seen several 3rd Gen models with both versions of decocker. And the 3913 is a sweetheart. Would love to have one.
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    Member Array tet4's Avatar
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    The first thing you need to realize is that the function of a holster is to protect the trigger to make sure the gun doesn't go bang, and then to keep the gun in the right place. So, as long as you properly carry the gun in a holster that meets these requirements, the gun won't go off. :)

    As far as holstering the gun, yes, you have to do it safely and properly. With glocks and other guns that don't have a safety or hammer, you just have to be extra careful, but people do it for years without a negligent discharge. With other guns, you still should be careful, but you can engage the safely, or put your thumb on the hammer, to make sure it doesn't go bang while holstering.

    Honestly, you just have to read up on which type of action you like, and maybe try a few. Personally, I like to be able to place my thumb on a hammer when I holster, but that's just me. You have to decide what makes the most sense for you. Frankly, I think new people should shoot a bunch of guns, and then get the one that they fall in love with. I like shiny steel revolvers, for no other reason than they just make sense to me and I just like them. So, a glock 19 probably would be a better gun on paper for me to carry, but I don't because I just like revolvers better. I guess if I ever had to shoot someone, I'd rather do it with something that has a little class. :) (how's that for a drive by zinger)
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    VIP Member Array First Sgt's Avatar
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    If you like the Sig platform, I'd recommend you take a hard look at the Sig P250...P250 and Sig P250: Hall of Fame Combat Pistol by Nutnfancy - YouTube

    Of course, I'm a Glock person, so I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend you consider the Glock 19, probably one of the most dependable weapons on the market..JMO
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    Member Array HandgunWorld's Avatar
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    The best advice I can give you is to shoot no less than 10 different guns before making any buying decision. 10 different types and brands. I didn't do this and wasted a lot of money buying and selling guns, to figure out what I liked the best. Find a range or several ranges that rent guns and try them out. It's better to spend the money up front, than later, picking the wrong gun for your needs. I speak from experience.

    Here are some suggestions on what to try:

    Glock 19 or 17
    M&P 9mm
    Sig P226/229/250 9mm
    Springfield XD9mm
    1911 (.45acp) pick one
    Taurus 24/7 9mm
    Kahr p9
    S&W .38 special revolver

    And perhaps a few more. Nearly all guns made today are good quality and safe guns. The safety is between your ears, mostly. You'll figure out what trigger you like, by trying them.

    Wish I had all the money back from the mistakes I've made. I settled on Glocks, Kahrs and and M&P Shield 9mm. Your decision may vary, but rent some guns and shoot them first!
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  11. #11
    Ex Member Array Piratesailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HandgunWorld View Post
    The best advice I can give you is to shoot no less than 10 different guns before making any buying decision. 10 different types and brands. I didn't do this and wasted a lot of money buying and selling guns, to figure out what I liked the best. Find a range or several ranges that rent guns and try them out. It's better to spend the money up front, than later, picking the wrong gun for your needs. I speak from experience.

    Here are some suggestions on what to try:

    Glock 19 or 17
    M&P 9mm
    Sig P226/229/250 9mm
    Springfield XD9mm
    1911 (.45acp) pick one
    Taurus 24/7 9mm
    Kahr p9
    S&W .38 special revolver

    And perhaps a few more. Nearly all guns made today are good quality and safe guns. The safety is between your ears, mostly. You'll figure out what trigger you like, by trying them.

    Wish I had all the money back from the mistakes I've made. I settled on Glocks, Kahrs and and M&P Shield 9mm. Your decision may vary, but rent some guns and shoot them first!
    This is the best advice given. Shoot plenty of guns and figure out what YOU like. After shooting and reading about them you'll know if you want da/sa, sa, or dao. Each has their benefits and very few draw backs.

    I settled on the xd line. I like sa and the grip safety like a 1911 along with a trigger safety. Sig makes a great gun if you go that way. Have fun and like people have said before, safety is between your ears.

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array dangerranger's Avatar
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    If you are looking for a gun that's for defense and recreation first and a sometimes carry gun second Id be looking at a larger gun first. The longer barrels and heavier weight both are in your favor. The only reason for smaller lighter guns are to ease problems in carrying . Guns with a 4 to 7" barrel are easier to hold on target, And the extra weight will tame recoil. Millions of shooters learned on the 1911. I see no reason to avoid it. DR

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    VIP Member Array SmokinFool's Avatar
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    I don't mean to rain in your parade, I really don't. But if, as you stated, you have a certain fear of guns, and you find the idea of just having to pull the trigger to fire one is unsettling, then you're not really ready to carry one (yet). I would suggest going to ranges and shooting as many handguns as you can, so that you can become more familiar with them and decide whether you feel you can feel at ease with one, and also so that you will know which one works best for you, should you decide to get one.

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    Senior Member Array sensei2's Avatar
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    first, welcome to the site, John, and i really hope you find it useful and helpful!

    re: your concerns/fears:

    my guess is that you are not really confident that you can/will always be safe with your gun, and you are hoping for some technological or procedural way to make yourself safer. my answer to you is, training, practice, and consistent awareness of what you are doing. (in other words, always pay attention to what you're doing when you're handling a gun). modern designed guns are quite 'safe' if handled properly. it is up to you to learn how to properly handle it. if you're not sure, ask. and that's what you're doing now. so, to your specific questions.


    re: empty chamber carry:

    here you're in luck. in the current issue of Handguns Magazine (December 2012/January 2013), Walt Rauch, one of the 'Grand Old Men' of self defense shooting, actually does some experimenting with chamber empty carry, to see just how much extra time it takes to chamber a round on the draw (assuming no snafus). he also comments on the 'instructions' some gun makers print, to not chamber a round until you're going to fire.

    average time added to the draw/fire procedure was about four tenths of a second. the one time he fumbled a bit, his added time was seven tenths of a second.

    that said, i don't know ANY 'expert' who recommends this. furthermore, if you carry the gun in a holster that covers the trigger guard, chambered round carry is safe. remember to keep your finger off the trigger when re-holstering, and, if you have a hammer-fired gun, you can place your shooting hand thumb on the back of the hammer so you can feel if something catches the trigger and starts to raise the hammer. if you do feel this, abort the holstering process and check what's wrong.

    if you're concerned about something entering the trigger guard during storage, keep the gun in a holster when you store it. i recommend a hard plastic or kydex holster for long-term storage rather than leather or padded nylon. these last two materials can stain a gun or hold rust producing moisture.


    re guns:

    i like and prefer DA/SA Sig-Sauers myself. i own four. they are my most frequently carried SD guns. if you want a 9mm, the P-228 or P-229/9mm are available. the P-239 (not mentioned by you) is a slim, single stack 9mm.

    if you like the DA/SA trigger (as i do), but would prefer a manual safety, then check out the H&K guns, or the FN polymer guns. some of the DAO S&W M&P's are available with a manual safety.

    personally, i believe a relative beginner like yourself is SAFER with a DA/SA gun with NO manual safety (like most Sigs), or with DAO guns with NO manual safety, like Glocks, Springfield XD/XDm's, and most S&W M&P's. their manual of arms (how they're operated) is much simpler without a manual safety.

    an SA gun like a 1911 (there are some CZ-type variants from EAA that are SA, and there is the Browning Hi Power) that has a manual safety may seem safer to you, but IMO, the short, relatively light trigger pull, coupled with the need to be aware of whether the safety is off or on, actually makes an accidental discharge MORE likely. and i do own a nice 1911 - a Kimber Gold Match, so i have a fair amount of experience with 1911's.

    you should never trust a manual safety to keep a gun "safe". that is YOUR responsibility. someone (i don't remember who), has properly said, "the best safety is between your ears."

    modern guns are 'safe' in that they will not fire unless the trigger is pressed to the rear. it would take a serious and unprecedented internal malfunction for a modern designed gun to fire without the trigger being pulled. personally, i have NEVER heard of such an incident, ever!

    strict adherence to the rules of safe gun handling will ensure your gun, with or without a manual safety, never "goes off by itself" or fires unless and until you want it to.

    1. treat every gun as if were loaded (i add, 'until you have personally checked that it is not' - otherwise, how do you ever clean it?)
    2. don't point it at anything you are not willing to destroy
    3. keep your finger off the trigger until you are actually preparing to fire (and for you, i will specify, REMOVE your finger from the trigger when you are NOT shooting)
    4. be aware of your target and what is behind it

    if you follow rule 3 and REMOVE your finger from the trigger when you're not firing, your chances of discharging the gun while re-holstering are slim. but your concern has merit. i've heard of LEO's firing their Glocks when re-holstering because they had left their finger on the trigger.

    as a salesman in a gun store and at gun shows for several years, i could easily tell the experienced (read, SAFE!) gun handlers from those without training. when handed a gun, the beginners would immediately put their index finger on the trigger. the experienced people place their trigger finger OUTSIDE the trigger, alongside the frame/trigger guard.


    went back and re-read your post:

    you CAN safely lower the hammer on a cocked 1911 with a round in the chamber and safety engaged, IF you do the following things correctly: point the gun is a safe direction. place your off-hand thumb between the cocked hammer and the rear of the slide. make sure the gun hand has depressed the grip safety. control the hammer with your gun hand thumb. make sure no part of your off hand is in front of the muzzle of the gun. disengage the manual safety and press the trigger (REALLY have the gun pointed in a SAFE direction when you do this!). then remove the blocking thumb and carefully lower the hammer until it's resting against the back of the slide. that's it. and if you fumble things, the gun could fire. a 1911 has NO decocking lever like the Sigs, or like most DA/SA guns do. neither does the SA Browning HP, or most CZ variants. some DA/SA or SA H&K's do have decocking levers, but most SA guns don't.

    IMO, there is no reason a person would really want to perform this de-cocking procedure on a loaded 1911. condition one: chambered round, hammer cocked, safety on, is by far, the best way to carry a 1911. if, for some reason, condition one is not a possibility, then i much prefer condition three (empty chamber, loaded magazine, hammer down, safety off), over condition two (loaded chamber, loaded mag, hammer un-cocked, safety off). i would much rather have to rack the slide and chamber a round (cocking the hammer at the same time), than try to manually cock the hammer on the draw. AND i don't have to go through that risky de-cocking procedure EVERY TIME i load the gun!

    as a beginner, you may not realize that on a 1911, the manual safety CANNOT be engaged UNLESS the hammer is cocked. i don't think this (condition two) is what you had in mind.
    Last edited by sensei2; October 17th, 2012 at 07:39 AM.

  15. #15
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    For a person new to firearms, simple is good.

    That said, anyone can learn any manual of arms so long as properly and effectively introduced, and so long as training consistently reinforces the use.

    A simple used revolver can be good, here, until you learn safe and consistent handling.

    A Glock can be a good choice, due to its simplicity of operation.

    Any firearm without a manual safety can be a bit of a concern, if you're unable to practice consistent and reliable control over the weapon. In this sense, a firearm with a manual safety might be your preference. My first handgun (a Browning BDM 9mm) was with a manual thumb safety. After tens of thousands of rounds and a few years in the saddle, I felt fairly comfortable with that platform as well as numerous others. For me, it was a good first choice. My second was a snubbie revolver. Each semi-auto pistol after that has been without manual thumb safety. YMMV.

    Regarding DAO, DA/SA or SA, and hammer or striker-fired, to my way of thinking it's mostly a trigger feel question. I believe comfort and basic competency comes fairly quickly, between the variations, no matter which is selected. My preferences has been for hammer DA/SA, but that's not because of any inherent failing or distrust of the other types. It's just worked out that way.

    Regarding carrying your pistol chambered or not, it comes down to what risks you're prepared to accept and be competent with handling. The risk of being unchambered is that you might find lack of time to bring the gun into battery, if forced to defend yourself. The risk of being chambered is that you might end up firing the gun unintentionally, if failing to exhibit competent trigger control. Either way, you need to be competent at handling the gun, no matter whether it's got a safety or not, no matter whether it's holstered or you go without a holster. Myself, I prefer chambered, and I prefer to always treat every gun as though it's always loaded.

    If still up in the air regarding the options, I'd strongly recommend heading to a rental range at which you can try-before-buy as many different handguns as you can. Better still, do so with a buddy who's got lots of experience. Ask lots of questions of those at the range who clearly have lots of experience/competency handling their handguns.
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