December 2nd, 2008 01:21 AM
New to CCW looking for my first pistol
These "what should I buy" threads are all over the board (I know, I read many of them before posting), but as the choice in firearms is often very specific to a person and his or her needs, I thought it would be important to ask you all specifically about my situation/needs. Some of you may have advice or see something that is obvious to you that I could never recognize in regards to deciding on a particular firearm because I have very little experience.
First, a little bit about myself. I'm a college student going to Auburn University, 20 years old (turn 21 in May), 5'11", 150 lbs, my family has never owned a gun and my experience is limited to an afternoon of shooting clays with a 12 guage. Until recently I have always thought it was a rediculous idea for average citizens to carry concealed weapons. However, as I get closer and closer to living on my own and having a family I have begun not only change my mind but to seriously consider doing exactly what I once saw as rediculous. I think it took a little while of being on my own and moving outside of the bubble of security that I lived in throughout high school for me to realize the importance of ensuring my safety as well as the safety of my family and those around me. That being said, I am bouncing all over the place when it comes to deciding on a first CCW.
Being that I live in Alabama I have to deal with hot weather 8 or 9 months out of the year. Ideally I could have a smaller weapon to carry in the hot months when cloths require it and a larger weapon that to carry during the colder months when I wear more cloths. However, I am a college student and as such I can't afford two quality guns. Additionally, I would rather learn to fire one gun well than attempt to become proficient with two guns while still new to it all. My first choice would be a J-Frame S&W due to their fairly small size, ease of use and ballistic power. As it is, though, I don't think I could comfortably carry a gun of this size (especially a revolver) during the summer months when I prefer to wear shorts.
I began looking at pocket (mouse) guns as a compromise between power and size. I first came across the Kel-Tek P32 and went from there. The 6.6 oz. weight is extremely attractive, but I don't know if a .32 ACP would be a good choice for my primary weapon. The P-3at seems more well suited for a primary CCW due to the larger caliber, which leads to the Ruger LCP as it seems to be a slightly upgraded P-3at. The Beretta .25 Bobcat cought my eye with a 8 round clip, single-action design and safety lock. Like I said, I'm new to guns and I would feel better knowing that the gun in my pocket/waist band has a safety lock on and will not fire unexpectedly (a rediculous worry as I know that it is pretty much impossible to accidentally fire a DAO pistol, but I've never carried a gun and the worry would be there at first none-the-less). The Kahr P380 also grabbed my attention, but I don't know if it is worth the extra cash compared to the Ruger.
All of these guns have fairly small calibers, which I know is not exactly ideal. A gun is only as good as it's ability to sotp an attacker should the need arise. While a .25 may make me feel safer, it could do nothing more than make me a prime target for a better-armed criminal. On the other hand, a gun is useless if I don't feel comfortable with it or can not physically control it well enough to quickly and accurately put rounds into a moving target. The Rohrbaugh R9s seems like it would be the best choice when power is concerned since it is a full 9mm pistol in virtually the same size of a P32. But could I really handle a weapon like this? I have limited experience with firearms and no experience shooting pistols, and I'm worried that a 9mm packed into such a small frame could be too powerful for me to quickly and accurately fire. The R9s is more expensive than what I would like to spend, however if I hear overwhelmingly that it is the gun to get and the others would not be suitable for a main CCW then I will give it serious consideration and search for a deal on a pre-owned gun.
In summary (in case someone is as lazy as I am when it comes to reading threads)...
I do plan on taking classes for gun safety and gun skills before carrying a pistol on me as I MUST have the skills necissary to use it before carrying. I do not want to get over my head and cause myself to either be unsafe or dissuade myself from buying/carrying guns in the future as I think it is important to ensure safety. On other hand I do not want to jeopardize my safety or the safety of those around me by carrying a gun too weak to take down a threat or too powerful to accurately control. I am looking at the Kal-Tek P32 and P-3at, Ruger LCP, Kahr P380, Beretta .25 Bobcat, and (pre-owned) Rohrbaugh R9s but am willing to any and all suggestions.
Personally, I keep going back to either the Ruger LCP or the Kel-Tek P32. The extremely small size of both guns is perfect for my carry needs, and the 6.6 oz. weight of the P32 is too amazing to not give serious consideration. In addiction, I feel confident that neither gun would be too powerful for me to learn to shoot with (not to say that any of the other guns would be too powerful).
Thanks in advance for all the suggestions and help!
P.s. Next summer I will be in Houston, TX for an internship. My girlfriend will be joining me for most/all of the summer, which is part of the reason I am now seriously considering purchasing a personal safety weapon (beyond the fact that I won't be 21 until May and that is the age requirment in my county). Texas will recognize and honor pistol permits given in Alabama and, as I will be in a completely new city/state and on my own, I would like to have the knowlege that, should the need arise, I will be able to protect myself and my girlfriend.
December 2nd, 2008 01:46 AM
Welcome and congratulations on making the decision to arm yourself.
I think that you've got your head in the right spot to start.
To start with, the "Mouse guns" are not necessarily for the novice shooter. While you can get proficient with them, they are very susceptible to shooter-induced problems.
For many reasons, I would definitely recommend a revolver. You stated most of the reasons in your post. There are only a very few, rare, fatal malfunctions possible with a revolver in contrast to all the possible malfunctions with an auto, even more present in the super-small-compact guns. Unless you are wearing a speedo or running shorts all the time, a J-frame or a Ruger SP101 or any other snubbie (Taurus makes some good options too) in a pocket holster is a great option. Wearing an In-the-waist-band holster is good too. I wear my larger frame revolver IWB with shorts and a t-shirt all summer, No problem. Just wear a good belt. But with a pocket holster, if anyone looks twice, it will look like a wallet or a bill fold or something in your front pocket. A good holster will not show the print of the gun through the front.
While they are a lot more comfortable to wear, the super-light scandium/titanium/magnesium revolvers are not such a joy to shoot. If you don't shoot it, you won't be comfortable with it and if you aren't comfortable with it, you won't carry it.
Here is what I would recommend for a "progression"
First, get a revolver chambered in .22lr. While its not an exceptional self-defense weapon, it will help you hone your shooting skills and give you a great foundation. Plus, it is great for extremely low cost practice, plus they are just fun.
Second, get your carry gun. Anything that is a 5-shot, ~2" barrel will work just fine. Get REALLY good with it. .357 is a great chambering as it will allow you to practice with .38 special loads (Half the price) and then carry full power loads for protection ammo.
After that, if you really want to, get a ultra-light in the same model. Practice with the heavy gun, carry the light one, but its not necessary.
If you do decide to go with an auto, do the same thing. Get a .22lr pistol (May I recommend a Ruger MkII or MkIII or a Walther P22) for practice and gunmanship, then get something to carry. Lots of people have them and love them, but the "Mouse guns" are not for everyone and can be tough to shoot and master.
Whatever you do, before you make a decision on what it is you want to carry, find a place that rents them and try one out. Its a rental, so try it HARD. Make sure it will work when you need it to.
December 2nd, 2008 02:25 AM
Agree with the above about the mouse guns. Size-wise it's definitely nice to be able to throw one in a pocket but from my limited experience they aren't real fun to play with at the range, but of course that's really not their purpose.
When I was looking around for my first gun I knew it was going to be one of my only handguns for a while (still a student myself) so I wanted something I could carry for defense as well as something I could reasonably enjoy taking to the range. So I pretty much settled on 9mm as it's a good round for defense and I just had the most experience with it.
Next, the gun needed to be small enough to carry, but large enough to be a decent shooter. After shooting some at the range and holding a bunch I settled on getting something that was single stack. Glocks just don't feel right in my hands and I couldn't really conceal a double stack thick gun anyway.
In the end I went with a Kahr CW9 and have been very pleased. Not quite as small as some of the other compact Kahrs, but no fingers are hanging off and I can carry it with no problems. And after around 700 rounds so far I haven't had a single issue so I definitely just that it's going to work when I need it to.
Well the wife recently took her class and actually liked the Kahr so I think she's going to claim it for herself....which is why I just recently picked up a Walther PPS. Haven't shot it yet but have read good things about it online and it seems to be really well made. Again, I knew I wanted to stay with a single stack 9mm so that narrowed my options down. And since it's going to be my main/only gun for a while (for personal defense and for fun) I didn't mind paying for something of good quality.
So, really think about your use and let that help you narrow it down.
December 2nd, 2008 02:27 AM
I second what both have said!
Better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.
December 2nd, 2008 06:41 AM
Two points to answer what the OP himself has touched upon:
First, go with your first gut feeling about the J-frame.
I'd suggest the 642 for several reasons.
A. You're wrong about it's concealability. It conceals very easily with shorts because it's light as well as small enough.
B. It's the one of two models from S&W that you can get without the Internal Lock which I wouldn't want on a carry pistol.
C. It's a perfect platform for someone who isn't "into" guns.
D. It offers plenty of horsepower for it's size.
Second, when you can, go with your second gut feeling about the Rohrbaugh.
I used to carry a PPK for decades, but my little "pup that Rohrs" has replaced it totally (R9S Stealth).
Being a semi-auto, it will be your responsibility to learn the mechanics and care and cleaning of it which is more involved than a simple J-frame. But you will be rewarded with a pistol that you can take anywhere. If you can't hide the R9, you're naked. Even then...
It would make sense to get the J-frame first because then when you get the Rohrbaugh, the J-frame can become your girlfriend's (future wife?) carry pistol.
Both the Rohrbaugh and the 642 are very rust and corrosion resistant, so they each make a great carry piece in sweaty climates.
December 2nd, 2008 07:06 AM
For a first gun, you can't beat a J-frame.
Any small gun you get will be a challenge to shoot well. I really like Kel-tecs and the P3AT or even PF9 would be good choices in semi-autos. Think about ammo cost for shooting enough to get good at getting hits and remember dry firing can work wonders on trigger and grip control (but use snap caps for the Kel-tecs if you get them).
Congrats on your willingness to take your safety in your own hands. Carry in good health and avoid trouble when you can.
"If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking" - George S. Patton.
December 2nd, 2008 07:49 AM
I agree with the previous posters and would likewise recommend a revolver for your first gun. Several manufacturers make hammerless revolvers which are less likely to snag on clothing when drawing and are easy for the novice to operate. I would recommend the S&W 640 which is a .357 magnum, but of course will also fire .38 spl. It is built on the J frame and is all stainless steel which would help tame recoil. A good IWB holster will easily conceal it. If finances are a problem, you might consider a used one.
For self defense I would avoid mouse guns, especially the woefully underpowered .25ACP.
"First gallant South Carolina nobly made the stand."
Edge of Darkness
December 2nd, 2008 10:04 AM
It sounds as if concealment in hot weather is a major consideration for you. This certainly implies a small gun with corrosion resistant properties, in case you sweat on the gun and holster.
I'd recommend going no lower than 9mm in caliber to meet your other requirement of having adequate power to stop an attack. The .32, .380 and .38 special calibers are all inferior to 9mm in this regard.
I'd recommend looking at the 9mm Kahr pistols, which come in various configurations, both with polymer and steel frames. My small gun for hot weather concealment is a steel Kahr MK9 in a kydex holster inside the waist band. The gun is heavy enough to be easy to shoot well, but is corrosion resistant because of all stainless steel construction. It is very small and thin so it conceals extremely well.
Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington
December 2nd, 2008 10:53 AM
I will go with the majority here and recommend a Snubnose revolver S&W, Ruger or Taurus. All are good find one in your price range and try it. I would suggest a .357 because you can go up and down the power scale from .38 spl to .357.
I would never start a new pistol shooter out with a pocket pistol auto. You should learn the basics first on a full size auto.
If you are in Huntsville go to Larry's pistol and pawn and rent some revolvers and autos and see what you like the best.
“You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”
― Robert A. Heinlein,
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