New to firearms: Properties of your ideal gun for home defense?

This is a discussion on New to firearms: Properties of your ideal gun for home defense? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Hello, I am new to firearms and hope to get my Illinois FOID card soon and start exploring some gun options. Eventually, I would like ...

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Thread: New to firearms: Properties of your ideal gun for home defense?

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    New Member Array CF1973's Avatar
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    New to firearms: Properties of your ideal gun for home defense?

    Hello,

    I am new to firearms and hope to get my Illinois FOID card soon and start exploring some gun options. Eventually, I would like several guns including a rifle for fun and target shooting but for now want to pick my first pistol. It will be used for target shooting and home defense only. I live in town but hope to move into the country someday. I am not asking for a first gun recommendation, but instead I wonder how each of you value the following properties of a pistol or revolver for home defense.

    Simplicity
    - Revolver vs SA only vs DA/SA vs DAO(Glocks, M&P, etc)

    Materials for Barrels
    - Stainless vs ?
    I like the M&P9 in theory because of its stainless slide and barrel. Are there downsides to a stainless barrel?

    Materials for Slides
    - Stainless vs Alloy vs ?

    Materials for Frames
    - Poly vs Stainless vs Alloy vs Aluminum

    I am asking these questions because my gut tells me to get a simple, implying very reliable, all stainless steel semi-auto. Does this really make sense if some smaller internal parts and springs will rust anyway and need replacing? Will non-stainless parts last a lifetime with proper care?

    I appreciate any input you have time for.

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    First off, welcome to the forum.

    My first choice for a home defense gun would be a 12 pump shotgun. Keeping it loaded with 00 buck shot. The pattern put out with that load makes it an extremely effective weapon. Also the chance of over penetration of a wall is minimized with a shotgun.

    As a novice to firearms, I would recommend a revolver for your first handgun. Reasoning behind this being simplicity of operation. Since your in Illinois, you don't need to worry about being able to conceal carry, so my recommendation would be something with a 4" barrel. Blue or stainless is nothing more than preference. The stainless is less prone to rust, but if you clean after shooting and keep it wiped down with a silicone impregnated rag, blued is fine also. I think top recommendations for a revolver will be S&W or Ruger. Either will serve you well.

    If you want to go with a semi auto, the selection is almost endless. I personally like CZ firearms, S&W M&P works well as do Glock and Springfield Armory. Just a matter of handling them and see what feels right for you.

    Some people like Taurus, but you will also find many people who have had issues with them. Would not recommend for a new gun owner.
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    Member Array tricolordad's Avatar
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    Id recommend something with a 1/8 inch steel buttplate. If you were ever in the military, youll know exactly what to do. Wink wink

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    I have a Glock-21 with a SureFire x300 on it...there are other Glocks also available.
    I'm working on getting my Glock-19 up to 'inside standards' with a suppressor.
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    Member Array SWIll's Avatar
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    Welcome from a fellow Illinoisan. I started with a 4" barrel Ruger GP 100 in stainless steel. Simple, rugged, no frills. It just works. Revolvers are very user friendly for a person new to handguns.
    Mike
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    The most important thing to consider when purchasing a firearm is will it shoot when you pull the trigger, 1st time & every time thereafter. You have to feel comfortable with your gun. That only comes with trying out as many as you can, revolvers & semi-autos. If you can't try but only a few or none you'll have to practice harder - lots of rounds down range. Get comfortable with it. With most firearms you can purchase many bells & whistles like laser sights, attached flashlight, & so on. Many are good & many are just window dressing & an added expense that you might not want to make. When shooting at the range use good but cheap practice ("target") ammo but also shoot the stuff that you'll wind up using for home defense, probably good quality hollow points. The have a good chance of not going through a wall & hitting an innocent in the next room or even outside.

    Many people swear by revolvers. As a rule they're more trouble-free. Many prefer semi-autos. As a rule they hold more ammo, at least many of them do. Autos are easier to reload with a spare pre-loaded magazine. In your case you won't have to worry about buying something you can conceal so you can get a big gun if that's your preference & omit the holster, a good belt, a magazine holder, etc. When you finally buy your firearm get good cleaning materials at the same time. A friend had to borrow mine the first time he shot because he failed to do that. My thoughts about him lowered a notch. Your gun dealer will be able to recommend what you'll need. There are some guns that aren't too finicky if they're a bit dirty but being Military-trained I've been accustomed to cleaning & making sure that it's really clean. Can't hurt whether it's needed or not.

    My personal firearm is a .40 cal semi-auto with a polymer body & stainless steel slide. The magazine carries 14 rounds - plus one in the chamber ready to go is 15 rounds. I feel, through practice, that I would only need one round center mass but in case of multiple targets or an adrenalin-inspired 1st round total miss I could still neutralize the bad guy.
    Glenn

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    Here are a few answers to your specific questions -

    Simplicity
    - Revolver vs SA only vs DA/SA vs DAO(Glocks, M&P, etc)
    Revolvers have the simplest operating system; load 'em, close the cylinder and they're ready for action. Of course you give up some capacity, compared to semi-automatics.

    "Traditional" DA/SA autos change the trigger pull after the first shot, so a lot of practice is required to keep that first shot from being a throwaway. SA autos (like the classic 1911) typically have crisp triggers and short trigger pull (since the trigger itself isn't hinged - it translates rather than rotates), but having to switch a safety off before the gun can fire seems to confuse of slow some people down. The DAO pistols as well as the Glocks (technically not a DA trigger) have a longer trigger throw which is usually heavier than a SA auto's, but the advantage is that it remains the same from shot to shot.

    Materials for Barrels
    - Stainless vs ?
    I like the M&P9 in theory because of its stainless slide and barrel. Are there downsides to a stainless barrel?
    When you get into the realm of hyper-accurate rifles, stainless is usually not a preferred material. But for handguns, stainless makes sense from the standpoint of slightly reduced maintenance. My Kahr CW9 has a 'regular' steel barrel and it now has some slight pitting from carrying when I was sweating (the slide was next to my skin). I found it in time so it's just cosmetic, but a stainless barrel would have prevented that. Stainless vs. conventional steel isn't a deal-breaker either way for me, but stainless has its advantages. (BTW, conventional steel is almost always "stronger" than stainless - stainless just has corrosion resistance, but with the tradeoff of some strength.)

    Materials for Slides
    - Stainless vs Alloy vs ?
    Defensive handguns almost universally have steel slides. The only serious-caliber automatic that I'm aware of with a non-steel slide is a Hi-Point (not to be confused with a Hi-Power).

    Materials for Frames
    - Poly vs Stainless vs Alloy vs Aluminum
    Each has its advantages. Plastic won't rust and it absorbs some recoil. Stainless vs carbon steel, stainless again resists corrosion (but modern coating can protect carbon steel guns nearly as well). "Alloy vs aluminum" - well, when a manufacturer refers to an "alloy" frame that's an abbreviation for "light alloy" which is almost always one of the tough aerospace aluminums. So in the context of firearms, an "alloy" frame can be considered an aluminum frame. Alloy vs steel, the alloy is lighter, maybe wears a little faster, and if shooting heavy loads may crack (but steel guns crack, too).

    I am asking these questions because my gut tells me to get a simple, implying very reliable, all stainless steel semi-auto. Does this really make sense if some smaller internal parts and springs will rust anyway and need replacing? Will non-stainless parts last a lifetime with proper care?
    The top handgun makers all produce reliable guns that with proper care will last a lifetime, unless you're a Rob Leatham and shoot a few thousand rounds a week. Just about any handgun sold for "duty" work (police, military) has very durable innards that won't corrode easily. Just stick with a reputable brand and you won't have to natter unnecessarily about taking care of the gun.

    Your questions are all good ones. I think at this point you should focus on finding a gun that fits your hand and your budget, and hopefully one you can shoot (rent or borrow) before you plunk down those Franklins. Once you narrow it down to a handful or fewer, post back and we'll give you lots more opinions.
    Smitty
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  9. #8
    Senior Member Array cn262's Avatar
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    I would start with a handgun for home defense. You want it to be comfortable (grip, weight, length). Practice is a great thing. Dry practice is free, but going to the range can be expensive. I prefer .40 S&W, but 9mm is a great choice as well and the ammo is a lot cheaper. You should also pick something with a reasonable length. I carry a subcompact G27, but it took a while to become proficient with it. A slightly longer gun (like a G23 or G22) is easier to handle and probably a better overall choice for home defense.

    A shotgun is actually more challenging if you are not familiar with it (length, reloading, not much pattern expansion at close range, likelihood of overpenetration in a domestic setting, etc), and requires more practice to really become proficient. I've heard various people talk about the AR being the perfect weapon for home defense (big magazine, great firepower, supposedly less penetration with 55 grain bullets than most handguns).

    Years ago I had my Colt Detective Special (a beautiful pistol) and speed loader near the bed. Our house alarm went off and it was extremely difficult to load under stress. After that I event I switched to a semi-auto. Loss of fine motor skills under stress can be an issue. The best way around that is a lot of practice, ideally under pressure (time, distractions / noise). For that reason I would personally go with a semi-auto. But, if you can keep it loaded and locked-up conveniently nearby it could be very nice and foolproof.

    My personal bias is with semi-autos. I used to keep a 1911 around for home defense, but over the past two years I have become very fond of Glocks. I was never a fan in the past, but they are easy to manipulate and shoot, and safe as long as you are careful (keeping finger away from trigger and trigger guard, slowly reholstering to avoid having something get in the way). They are accurate and reliable. I've shot 800 rounds during training in the desert during training over several days without cleaning. They just tend to work, and it is easy to train someone to quickly become proficient using them.

    Whatever you decide you should invest in some training and then create a plan. For example, years ago I would go outside when I heard a noise. Now I know better and wait for a threat to come to me (through a doorway, up the stairs, or down a hall - all places that where you can anticipate them coming and have a real advantage). Knowing how to safely clear a room is great (and fun), but from a practical perspective you really don't want to clear your house alone. Having a firearm handy is a good thing. Really knowing how to use it and how to protect yourself and your loved ones makes it a great thing.

    Hope that helps.

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    Member Array Shiphted's Avatar
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    My opinion would be xDm 5.25" Comp with surefire light and crimson trace laser. Or pump shotty will do also as stated. Get your gun, field strip it, learn it, dry fire practice, get on the range and get proficient. My 2c

    I say this gun for its accuracy, quality, ease of use. You pick the caliber I prefer .40.

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    Features important to me: reliability, ergonomics, concealability, durability. I don't really care how it looks, if it works well for me.

    I've mostly selected semi-auto pistols, DA/SA, with some DAO. Of ~20 or so handguns I have had, my favorite has been the CZ P-01 9mm, DA/SA, decocker, no safety, steel bbl / steel slide / steel alloy frame. My first handgun was a revolver, S&W 442 Airweight .38spl, forged alum. alloy frame.

    I suppose from a simplicity standpoint that revolvers and DAO (without manual thumb safety) would be the simplest of all, in terms of operating them when needing to defend oneself. I've had a couple of each, but mostly they've been semi-auto DA/SA pistols. Then again, it's simple enough to train for competency, irrespective of whatever tool you've got. Plenty of people carry and love their various "more complicated" handguns.

    My preference would be for an all-steel gun, though lighter weight via alloys seems a decent trade-off if the mfr does it right. I'm open to stainless steels, though I have yet to have one that's fully stainless. Focusing on ultimate reliability has, so far, yielded handguns that have been steel/alloy/alum. Not an important factor to me, if the reliability is there. But that's just me.
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    Senior Member Array IAm_Not_Lost's Avatar
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    I had to look up what a FOID card was. Made me shudder.

    IMO I would not be too concerned about which materials your firearm is made of in regards to durability, simplicity, and reliability, as all the materials you mentioned have been used and proven time and again. The bigger issue is the all around quality of brand you buy from, i.e. Sig uses many different materials, but whether their frames are steel, alloy, or polymer I know their firearm's are quality.

    I think your HD gun could be any of the type you mentioned, revolver, SA exc exc. You could go buy a Ruger LCR or SP101 and have a great gun, or a 1911, or a Sig, or a Glock, and all be great gun's, and all representing the various types you mentioned. It all depends on what you like.
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    Glock 17 or 22 with a weapons light would be a good choice. Simple, rugged, corrosion resistant, easy to clean and will go bang everytime. No parts are going to rust away in a gun that only gets shot from target practice and home defense in pretty much any quality firearm.

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    In my dreams a perfect HD weapon would be a suppressed SBR.

    But really, a 9mm from a reputable manufacturer and a professional training course (or two) and you're on your way.


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    12ga Shotgun with 0000 Buck is best home defense.

    For carrying around, check out the Ruger SP101. They make a version that has a concealed hammer for pocket carry and although it's a .357 magnum that you can practice with .38 specials too....it will disappear in the pocket, especially in a pair of loose jeans or dockers. They last practically forever and don't give you problems. Accurate and reliable.

    Later, if you want to IWB or OWB carry one under a loose shirt/jacket, check out the Glock 19. Deadly accurate, easy to maintain and it's a point-shooter (meaning you just point & pull trigger-pretty much hits on target even without aiming) that's durable as any gun out there. It's a high capacity 9mm and you can even use the Glock 17 magazines...up to the 33rnd Schaer magazine...if you want on the target range to save having the reload those mags...or if SHTF scenario.

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    Quote Originally Posted by archer51 View Post
    First off, welcome to the forum.

    My first choice for a home defense gun would be a 12 pump shotgun. Keeping it loaded with 00 buck shot. The pattern put out with that load makes it an extremely effective weapon. Also the chance of over penetration of a wall is minimized with a shotgun.
    :SNIP::
    I used to think this was true also but now I am rethinking this. I have read different tests done with 00 buck vs a high velociety 223 hollow point round and they show the 00 buck to penetrate more layers of Sheetrock and non masonry wall materials than the 223 will using the correct projectile. They showed the 223 rounds with non hardball projectiles to blowup on the first contact with the Sheetrock and siding while the buckshot had retained its momentum through the walls and into the next room or neighbors house.

    Michael

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