New to handguns

New to handguns

This is a discussion on New to handguns within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; In my introduction I stated that I am looking for a handgun to use for CC. While I have been shotgunning for some time, I ...

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Thread: New to handguns

  1. #1
    Member Array barracudamagoo's Avatar
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    New to handguns

    In my introduction I stated that I am looking for a handgun to use for CC. While I have been shotgunning for some time, I am new to handguns and everything about them, so I am looking for guidance and advice. I have picked the brain of a few dealers in the area, and their advice so far has been: Go for a small caliber, 9mm, because the recoil is light and the ammo is cheap, (sounds good, light recoil as well as cheap ammo will help extend my sessions at the range). Outside of that, not much more. So now I'm ventureing out to seek advice from the masses. Reccomendations on the many makes out there. My top dollar is $500, but I would prefer to stay well under that, $350-400 would be ideal. Who are some of the reliable manufacturers (and who are the unreliable one's) and do any of them provide outstanding warranties and customer service? What are some specific things to look for when buying? I've been told to find a gun that "fits", but what should that mean to me. How should the gun properly "fit", and what "feel" should I look for? Finally, any extras or bonus type stuff to keep an eye out for when purchasing, or any fancy stuff that while it looks good, may not (or may) have practical applications for CC. Thanks in advance for any help, I know there are a lot of questions, hopefully in the future I can replace some of them with answers.

    Thanks,
    bm


  2. #2
    Member Array usmcj's Avatar
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    Shop for a handgun just like you shop for shoes. Would you buy shoes just because they were recommended to you? Get your hands on as many handguns as you can. Several of them will feel "pretty good". A few of them will feel "just right". Pursue those.

    Caliber and manufacturer don't make any difference, because if it doesn't feel right, you'll not shoot it enough to become proficient with it. If you're not proficient with it, you may as well carry a bat. ! Just my opinion.
    NRA Life Member ... Marine Corps League Life Member
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Array fatboy97's Avatar
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    Top dollar is $500: Buy a Glock.
    9mm for CC: Glock 19.
    Reliable manufacturers: Glock, and SIG are good names for semi-auto.
    Fit: That is in the eye of the beholder. The biggest option that I look for might be night sights if I'm looking for such an option.

    Recommendation: Find a range that rents guns and has what you are looking for and rent each and SEE IF YOU LIKE IT before you buy it.
    Be Observant and Be Safe.

    Current: S&W 442, Springfield XD9sc, XDm9, and Glock G26, G19, G23C,
    and SIG P226-40 TT, and Ruger GP-100, and Beretta 92FS
    Former: Taurus 92SS, SIG P220 TT, S&W 360, SIG P239-40, Ruger 22/45 MKII

  4. #4
    Member Array Sharp's Avatar
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    Check out this link to see what people mean by "fit": Cornered Cat - Trying on a Gun

    There's a ton of options for you to consider, but over time you will slowly narrow them down. If you don't have any handguns that you have enjoyed shooting before in mind, try to go to a local range and rent all the guns you can. The bigger and bulkier the gun generally the harder it will be to conceal, so choosing a carry method(pocket carry, IWB, appendix, Small of back etc.) will help you narrow down some possibilities.

    Considering you are new to handguns you will want to practice to become as proficient as possible, and even throw in a training class or two. When I first started getting into handguns I took the NRA Basic Pistol class, I had a great instructor who had tons of knowledge. I will be taking more classes as time goes on, but with most classes you get what you pay for.

    A huge "debate" between all hand gunners is the caliber war, bigger cartridge(.45) vs. more rounds(9mm). My advice is to shoot all the common self defense calibers(.380, 38special, .357, 9mm, .40, and .45) and decide for yourself. If cost of ammo is a factor perhaps go with a smaller caliber, or plan on reloading in the future for bigger calibers(or both).

    As far as manufacturers I have yet to be disappointed with any large company's firearms, warranty's basically come with all guns(except for S&W if you buy used, because it's only valid through the original owner that i know of). Taurus got a bad reputation back in the day for their quality and warranty service, as far as I know they have raised the bar to acceptable standards. Big names Glock, XD, Sig, HK, S&W, CZ, Ruger, and the list goes on. A lot of people like Glocks, but I am just as confident in other guns I have fired time and time again as far as reliability goes.

    Get some training, do some homework and read up on various guns, and go shoot and find out which ones you like.

  5. #5
    Distinguished Member Array Gideon's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum and the world of carry. The 9mm is a good start because it is a very good self defense round, it is cheap (relatively speaking) to shoot and there's a LOT of gun choices.

    The advise on shoe shopping it good too becasue how any gun feels in your hand is CRITICAL. For example, I can't get comfortable with any "double stack" gun because the grips are too fat so the reach to the trigger is uncomfortably long for me.

    Semi or revolver is the next choice. Semi's reload faster and are typically a lot easier to conceal but that depends on whether you're a big guy, small, fat, thin, etc. Do you wear untucked shirts a lot? All of those impact your decision on what you can carry and conceal.

    In your price range, one gun to consider as a "starting" point might be the Keltec PF9. It's 9mm, a very concealable gun and one that's easily in your price range. It can be a tad abrasive on the hand when shooting but that can be worked on too. Another gun in your price range worth considering is a Bersa in 9mm. They're a very good value in a handgun.

    Some will recommend you start with a revolver. They are easier to get started with, however, 9mm revolvers are rare and you must use what's called a moon clip to hold the rounds. Best to avoid that for right now. If you'd like to start first with a revolver, then a .38 is an ideal round. It's potent enough for self defense but still mild enough to shoot at the range. If you buy a .357 revolver you can also shoot .38's through it so that gives you the option of shooting .38's to learn and practice with and then to shoot .357 rounds for self defense and the .357 is an OUTSTANDING self defense round.

    One revolver that is a good starting point is the Ruger SP101 in .357. It comes in either a 2" version or a three inch version. It's a very good gun in your price range. When you shoot .38's in it, it's very mild and fun but you can shoot some very serious .357's in it. It's a heavier revolver so to carry one you'll want an "over the waist band" OWB holster or an "inside the waist band" IWB, holster and a decent belt. If you get the 2" barrelled version you can carry it in a pocket although it's heavy for that.

    Another classic revolver for carry is the Smith and Wesson J frame snub nose. Takes some practice and it's only intended as a 7 yard personal defense weapon but it's a good choice. You can buy lighter .38 loads to practice with and then work your way up to a heavier round.

    There a a LOT more choices out there and most folks end up with several guns, both revolvers and pistols until they find their favorite one.

    Enjoy it and learn to be very very safe!!!!

  6. #6
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    I will concur with the 2 previous posters. Ergonomics is #1. The recommended gun might be used by the Elite Tactical SEAL Airforce SWAT team from Little Town Alaska but if you cannot get a decent grip, you will not shoot straight and hit your intended target.

    As for budget, don't constrain yourself with brand new guns. If you can find a dealer you trust, check their used inventory. My first gun was a Taurus PT92 that I got for $300 and I still have and it is the one I will strap on for a SHTF scenario. If you can't find or know a trustworthy dealer, ask around here in the forum and I am sure somebody knows somebody in your area.
    Don't forget a good holster, mag pouches & belt!
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
    Randy Cain.

    Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
    Signed: Me!

  7. #7
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    Rent or borrow as many different handguns as you can... find out what you like and enjoy shooting and THEN go shopping!
    ALWAYS carry! - NEVER tell!

    "A superior Operator is best defined as someone who uses his superior
    judgement to keep himself out of situations that would require a display of his
    superior skills."

  8. #8
    Member Array Obiwan's Avatar
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    There have been some excellent posts here. It's all good advice. You're probably going to have to shoot some rental guns to get an idea of what is good for you. Get some instruction. Right now you don't know enough to ask the right questions, but keep trying. We're all here to help and have been through this stuff before. Some of us are still looking for the "right gun".

    To start out - I'd go with either a medium sized 3-4" revolver in .38/.357 or a medium sized auto in 9mm. With the revolver you can buy different grips. With the auto you have to be comfortable with the basic grip shape. Some have different sized "inserts" to moderately change the grip. Some grips will be too small, or too large. Once you have that basic instruction, and know where the trigger finger, thumbs, and sights align you'll be in a better position to judge "fit".

    Good luck and keep posting.
    When seconds count, help is minutes away!

  9. #9
    Member Array jongle's Avatar
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    Obiwan used the magic words: "get some instruction". Like golf, one can learn some bad shooting techniques if he/she decides to be self taught. Get a certified NRA instructor and while being instructed, ask about pistols that fit your grip, as all posters have said.

  10. #10
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    Join a local shooting range that loans/rents handguns.
    Try as many as possible, then settle on the one that works for you.

  11. #11
    Member Array usmcj's Avatar
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    How should the gun properly "fit", and what "feel" should I look for?
    Once you have a given firearm in your hand, assuming it "feels right".... as in the feeling you have when a new pair of shoes "fits right".

    I prefer that my little finger be solidly on the grip, do you? Is it?

    With the gun comfortably in your hand, extend your arm and raise the gun (UNLOADED AND IN A SAFE DIRECTION) and see if you can line up the sights without making any radical adjustments to the original position of the gun, or changing your grip.

    The trigger should contact your trigger finger on the pad of your finger, just opposite the cuticle.

    Ideally, you should be able to operate all the controls without altering your grip...... mag release, slide lock, cylinder release, safety, etc.

    If all that lines up to suit you, find one of those to shoot. Ask around at your local gun shop, or range. You may luck out and find someone that has one you can shoot.

    Shopping is fun........
    NRA Life Member ... Marine Corps League Life Member
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    Some of my toys....

  12. #12
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    As many others have posted ergonomics is one of the most important factors. CZ guns are hard to beat in this catagory. Look at the CZ75 compact, or the CZ PCR, both are well built and very accurate. The Compact is a conventional safety model, the PCR is a decocker model. There are also many variations of DAO (double action only) models available. Most common are Glocks and Springfield XD's. Taurus also builds several models. Any will serve you well, but remember you need to practice, practice and then practice some more.

  13. #13
    Member Array hayley's Avatar
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    Shopping is part of the fun, but I think 9mm would be a good start caliber for the reasons you mention. You won't go wrong, tho, with a Glock, S&W M&P or perhaps a Sig CPO. For what it's worth, it took me some time to become reasonably accurate with a 2" barrel J-frame revolver. And, as much as I like my Kel-Tec PF-9, I don't know if it's a beginning handgun. It's not pleasant [for me] to shoot, and given its light weight, one really needs to grip it properly. Hopefully, you'll find a handgun that you look forward to taking out for a day of shooting, either on your own or in an activity like IDPA.

    Oh yeah, Archer is spot-on. CZ!

    stay safe!

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array JonInNY's Avatar
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    I thought I'd put in my 2 cents worth. I agree as stated by others, that you need to hang out at the range and get a feel for what's out there, and try as many as you can. I am partial to the CZ-75 PCR (9mm). It's slightly large for carry, but not undoable. It's a great feeling gun, and balances just right, and the aim is dead on. If you can find someone at the range that has one, give it a try!

    Good Luck!
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch; Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
    -- Benjamin Franklin

  15. #15
    Distinguished Member Array morintp's Avatar
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    As several others have mentioned, definitely go to a range that rents guns and try as many as you can, if you have one available in your area. All guns are not created equal, at least not for everybody. What one person likes, others do not. You need to find what YOU like and shoot well. For example, 1911's, almost everyone on this forum loves them. For some reason, I don't. I can shoot them very well and have fired them in the past. I just don't like them.

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