Helpful Tips and Advice for a Novice

This is a discussion on Helpful Tips and Advice for a Novice within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Hi. My name is Susan. I just joined this site this evening. I am a complete newcomer to the world of guns. I have a ...

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    Helpful Tips and Advice for a Novice

    Hi. My name is Susan. I just joined this site this evening. I am a complete newcomer to the world of guns. I have a really big dog, I have a security system and I live 8/10ths of a mile from the local sheriff substation. (And none of that is good enough.) I am a professional person, and I never would have considered owning a weapon for defending myself until a few pivotal and recent events.

    First ... the dog park in a relatively secluded area and a man who shows up without a dog ... no one around ... he follows me back to the parking area ... after commenting on my lovely smile ... not sure why ... but the man (a complete stranger to me) was downright creepy/ scarey ... and I had an intuitive sense that something just wasn't right with him. I kept my dog between him and me.

    Nothing happened, but I became acutely aware of my total and complete vulnerability as a woman. And a cell phone with 911 pre-programmed on speed dial isn't good enough either.

    Then there is all the craziness of the world today ... the shootings ... the violence ... the men and women who go to the grocery store or the post office or (anywhere) and simply vanish. I don't want to be that woman whose skeletal remains are found in a remote area ... I don't want to be that woman who is raped and robbed and tortured and murdered.

    And finally there is the 911 call a family member made about a neighbor's house being broken into ... the dispatcher asks ... does your husband have a gun? (They live in a rural/ remote area. Unfortunately with all the budget cuts, the police are woefully understaffed and not capable of responding to emergencies.) The answer ... "No, that's why I'm calling 911" ... just doesn't cut it.

    So I would like some advice. This will be my first handgun purchase. I went to a gun store/ range and had a private lesson with a certified firearms instructor. That helped lots and lots. He answered every question I had, reviewed the basics and had me shoot a few weapons to get a sense of what felt comfortable. I want a semi-automatic ... 9 mm or 38 ... but more compact/ smaller/ lighter.

    I had pretty much settled on either a Smith and Wesson M & P 9C or a Glock 26 Gen 4. I am told that it is practically impossible to buy a Glock 26 because of the huge number of back orders. Today I went to a gun show with the thought of buying a Smith & Wesson ... and I happened upon a Sig Sauer P238 ... light, small, easy to conceal ... something I had not tried.

    And I talked with a number of the exhibitors there. I got advice ... all sorts of advice ... everything from I should buy a revolver and not a semi-automatic because revolvers are fool-proof and as a woman that's what I need ... to I should go back to the range and try every weapon (like a 22 then a 25 then a 38 then a 9 mm then a 40 then a 357 and then a 45) to get a sense of recoil and feel.

    I liked the size and feel of the Sig Sauer (they called it "Lady") ... even better than the S&W M&P 9C ... but some folks are telling me that a 38 isn't powerful enough ... (I really have no idea) ... and others have said that if the gun barrel is under 4 inches then it won't be accurate for shooting ... (I really have no idea) ... and still others are saying the Sig is higher maintenance than a S&W ... (sigh ... I really have no idea) ... I could see myself carrying the Sig (yeah, I know it is pricey/ expensive) more comfortably than the S&W

    Folks have told me that I should avoid the 22 and 25 ..... really not powerful enough ... and that I should avoid the 357 and 45 ... both are like canons and difficult to control ... everything else is fair game ... and now I am thinking that maybe it is a good idea to go back to the gun range and trial all the size weapons for comparison sake (at least I would know WHAT I DON'T LIKE and WHY).

    So I am open to suggestions and ideas about how to approach this thing. I feel as if I am shopping for a car or learning how to drive a stick shift or shopping for a new pair of shoes (the right "fit" is imperative). I think the man who told me I should stick with a revolver rather than a semi-automatic was being sexist ... I mean ... why can't I (as a woman) learn how to be proficient at ANY weapon with proper training? But I digress ... But maybe there is truth to some of the other comments and advice?

    What advice would you give to a complete novice who is looking to purchase her first weapon (easy to conceal) for self-defense? (My next training course, by the way, will be a concealed weapons carry.)
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    hbc
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    First, congratulations on your decision to take personal responsibility for your safety. Renting a few different weapons at the gun range is almost always a good idea. IMHO a .380 caliber pistol is a bit light/underpowered for self-defense, so a P238 wouldn't be my recommendation. I'd stick with something in 9MM. Welcome to Defensive Carry.

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    My conceal carry firearm is a Ruger LC9. A very concealable small semi auto pistol in 9mm. It has a a very slim design and is pretty light weight (17.1 oz unloaded ) and holds 7 rounds in the magazine, though I know there are other semi auto handguns out there that may be even more light weight than the LC9. The bad side to this particular firearm is that it is very popular and at the moment very hard to aquire, but that said, it is also ( in my opinion ) a very affordable handgun to own. Also right now, 9mm ammo is very hard to come by, but hopefully in the next few months things will get better in regards to ammo supplies on hand. Others will tell you to try as many different handguns that you can get your hands on and decide what feels right to you as you will be the one spending the money on it. I am only throwing out a suggestion in the LC9 if it might happen to be a firearm that you have not had the oppourtunity to try yet. Beware,.. the LC9 does have a very long trigger pull that for some people is a bit undesireable. Good luck with your journey in finding the firearm that best suits your needs and welcome to the forum !!

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    VIP Member Array Snub44's Avatar
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    ...one thing you'll have no trouble getting here is advice...

    ...I'm sorry that this world has come to the point where a lady has to be armed...but it has...you'll get a lot of good information and support from corneredcat.com and from here...

    ...my daughter was terrified of guns...she was 32...but she was also terrified of intruders...so one Christmas day she trudged up the hill where us man-types shot when we got together...and asked timidly if she could shoot a gun...I said sure thing and gave her my Ruger .45, "spotting" her so if she dropped it when she fired it, it wouldn't hit the ground...she fired all 9 shots, hit the target 7 times out of 9, and the man-types who'd been smirking(they didn't want to shoot the "bad .45") hung their heads in shame...

    ...I'll never forget her first words: "Dad, I don't have to be afraid anymore"....she made my day...


    ...I believe that you should carry as large a caliber as you can handle comfortably and conceal well...I've known women who carry a full-sized .45, but more who carry a 9mm mid-sized or .38 Spl...both of which, with proper ammo, are very good man-stoppers, as handguns go...I would not carry nor recommend a .380...I feel that it provides marginal power...

    ...I would not recommend a mini-sized 9mm, either...though you can become accurate with them, they're less pleasant to shoot because of recoil, and more prone as a class to malfunction...the Glock you looked at is about as small as I'd go...a Kahr P9 or CW9 would be the best compromise between power and size, and is worth the money...
    ...my sister who's 65 bought a Ruger P95, which are available new and used, and was more accurate than I was with it...and I've shot all my life...she-seldom...they're reliable and usually $350-$450...but a bit larger than the Kahr...

    ...many men give women that .38 Spl revolver spiel...thinking the woman can't handle the pistols above...not true, but the small .38s are great defense guns if you like revolvers...I have two, a Smith and a Ruger...those two brands and Colt(somewhat more rare) are good guns, and the 2"-2 1/4" barrel they have is more than accurate enough at 25 yards if you get good grips that soak up the recoil and fit your hand...and buy good ammo...
    ...one caveat...the airweight/Ti/aluminum/scandium revolvers will beat you to death with recoil...an all-steel or stainless has a bit more weight and is much easier to shoot a lot and so become more proficient...

    ...that's enough...probably more than enough...enjoy your class and stand by for the crowd...I'm just staying up late...Welcome and may you never need it!!!

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    One nice 9mm is the S&W Shield which many are raving over..... Bad news they are hard to find...... If you are in an area where you can rent firearms to try that is your best bet on finding a firearm that will suit you.

    You will get many suggestion on this forum and its not to say they are bad but many will come from personal preference... There are people that do not have the opportunity of firing the firearm before buying that soon either sell of their 1st weapon or lock it up and buy a firearm that suits them......

    You need to find a firearm you get a good "feel" for it when holding it and in a comfortable caliber size that you can deal with...

    It is true that 357 magnum and .45 caliber take lots of practice to handle the recoil...... 9mm is a popular choice of many concealed carry people..... It will serve anyone well for personal defense with practice.......

    Welcome to the forum and good luck finding a firearm you will be happy with.........
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    S&w shields 429.99 @ ktp


    Quote Originally Posted by Crowman View Post
    One nice 9mm is the S&W Shield which many are raving over..... Bad news they are hard to find...... If you are in an area where you can rent firearms to try that is your best bet on finding a firearm that will suit you.

    You will get many suggestion on this forum and its not to say they are bad but many will come from personal preference... There are people that do not have the opportunity of firing the firearm before buying that soon either sell of their 1st weapon or lock it up and buy a firearm that suits them......

    You need to find a firearm you get a good "feel" for it when holding it and in a comfortable caliber size that you can deal with...

    It is true that 357 magnum and .45 caliber take lots of practice to handle the recoil...... 9mm is a popular choice of many concealed carry people..... It will serve anyone well for personal defense with practice.......

    Welcome to the forum and good luck finding a firearm you will be happy with.........

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    First off, a hearty WELCOME to Defensive Carry. You are asking a host of good questions and you are approaching armed self-defense with intelligence and an open mind - which puts you at the front of the pack.

    Your attitude and open mind tell me you should dismiss any advice about selecting a gun based on gender considerations - e.g., "a woman should stick with a revolver." There may be a scintilla of reason behind that, but let's leave that aside for now. You need to choose a handgun that's right for you. You've identified yourself as a professional person, which to me means you've mastered a certain skill set and are using it gainfully to support yourself. Thus I see no immediate reason why you can't master, at least from an intellectual standpoint, the skill sets required to manipulate most handguns on the market today.

    A couple of general guidelines, starting with caliber. The .380 ACP (which is what the Sig 238 shoots) and the .38 Special (a common round in compact revolvers) are about the minimum power level for defensive handguns. The .25 is really marginal and the .32 is not a lot better; these are mostly effective at "contact" range and not much more. If you're going to pick just one gun (for now), stay away from these. Stepping up from the .380 auto and the .38 Special, there is the prolific 9mm, the .40 Smith & Wesson and the .45 ACP, all for automatics. In revolvers, the next common steps up are .357 magnum, .44 and .45. The drawback to the ".4" calibers is that the revolvers that chamber them are pretty bulky. There are a lot of snub-nosed revolvers chambered for the .357 magnum which are about the same size as those chambered in .38 Special. However, maybe getting ahead of ourselves, the .357 magnum is a pretty fierce cartridge and in a small, lightweight weapon it's a bear to control.

    For a first defensive gun, a really good place to start is with a .38 Special for a revolver, and either 9mm or .40 S&W in an automatic. The weight of the gun has a lot to do with felt recoil, but everyone manages recoil differently. One of our own moderators, Limatunes (who has her own YouTube channel and a blog) is a fan of the .45 automatic... in spite of its "legendary" recoil, and by her own admission she's a hundred pounds, if that.

    Narrowing the caliber down to those 3 still gives you a huge field to choose from, and the next considerations are size and weight. How you carry the gun (holster, handbag, or ?) will affect how much of the weight you will sense. A loaded, full-size .45 automatic weighs nearly 3 pounds, but carried in a good holster with a proper gun belt, it can be comfortable for a full day. A Kimber Solo or Kahr CW9 weigh around 22 ounces and are quite compact.

    That's barely getting the key in the truck for you, but don't let anyone tell you what you need... listen to options, weight them, and ask questions before making a decision. It will be helpful to handle (and hopefully shoot) a number of handguns before you pick the one you want. Do you have any friends who shoot who can steer you or let your try their guns?

    Meanwhile, soak up as much info as you can. A couple of good resources for women (not being sexist here; these ladies' advice is solid, but they offer a uniquely feminine perspective which we Neanderthal guys can't fully appreciate) are blogs/websites by Kathy Jackson and Limatunes, plus one more:

    Limatunes' Range Diary

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    I think you are off on the right foot by trying a variety of guns and getting a feel for what is out there. A S&W or Glock will make an excellent carry pistol. They are tried and true pistols, impeccable reputations. For reliability and performance straight out of the box, it is probably hard to beat a Sig. They are carried by military personnel, law enforcement and everyday citizens around the globe. The Sig is probably the more expensive pistol of the three. With the ammunition available today, the 9mm is a very adequate SD round, especially in the +P loading. I'm sure any Sig manufactured today can take +P ammo. ( the term +P, can mean, added velocity, energy, or "power" I suppose) If the Sig felt good in your hand, then that is half the battle. Don't scrimp on holsters. You will probably want a variety to use for different carry scenarios. Whatever you get, be safe, have fun, and shoot as much as you can.

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    The .38 special caliber round is virtually exclusively used in revolvers....... They do make semi automatic handguns in .38 Super caliber.......

    The .38 special round is underrated..
    What is difference between a 38 caliber bullet and a 9mm bullet
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    Buying your first gun can be extremely confusing and frustrating if you listen to all the "advice" people have to offer. Has anybody asked you what you plan to do with the gun before telling you what to buy? Are you going to carry concealed? Will it be a home defense/nightstand gun only? If people are offering advice without knowing the answers to these questions then you're probably better off not listening. A 9mm compact semi auto double stack handgun can fill any of these roles well. This is a great size for concealment, while being large enough to absorb recoil and shoot accurately, with plenty of capacity to do the job. A few examples would be the Glock 19, Springfield XD compact, Sig P228/P229, Ruger SR 9 compact, HK P2000. Do an online search for these and similar models, pick 2-3 you like the looks of (this is important regardless of what some will say), and rent them at the range. Buy the one you like the best and can afford. For what it's worth, a woman can shoot any production gun a man can in most cases, but it won't always be enjoyable. The Sig 238 is way too small for a first time shooter, and the .380 isn't a reliable man stopper in my opinion. Good luck with whatever you choose to buy, and don't forget to post some pics!

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    Welcome, welcome! After reading your post, i got a sick feeling when you were told Sigs are higher maintence..psh, no more so than any other gun.
    Now, personally i love the full size .45. I dont CC much so i dont care about trying to hide my right to bear arms, but thereare times i tuck it in the belt. But i digress..
    Somtimes a badguy, seeing a gun, tells them you will fight back with deadly force. So one might assume to have a pistol that can deal in deadly force. Hail to the .40sw.

    Now my wife is about 110lbs and 5'6" and she shoots a .40sw better than i do, and with that i leave my recomendation.

    SigSauer P226 .40

    But even a .22short is better then nothing, so learn all you can from the fine folks here, because id bet my last bullet that there is thousands of combined years of experiance between Defensive Carry members.

    May your ammo and range time be bountiful.
    weekend pre-apocolypse nomadic warrior, leather duster and all.

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    ...the OP told us in her first post exactly what she wanted it for:


    "What advice would you give to a complete novice who is looking to purchase her first weapon (easy to conceal) for self-defense? (My next training course, by the way, will be a concealed weapons carry.) "

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    Susan:

    First of all, welcome and you have already taken the right first steps in this process by taking basic firearms training and planning for additional subject specific training. As far as guns and calibers, a lot to say on that so I'll itemize them (hey it's tax season!):

    1) Revolvers: I HATE people telling new gun owners and women in particular that a revolver is the only option they should consider. Yes, a revolver is generally more reliable than a semi auto since it is less complicated but to say that it is 'fool proof' or 'won't ever malfunction' is completely wrong. A lot of times they will also say that women don't have the hand strength to rack the slides on semi autos, my 5'1 110 pound girlfriend can rack the slides of all of my guns including one that is fitted with an extra heavy recoil spring.

    2) Advice at gun shows: forget it, especially these days. Gun shows attract a crowd spanning the spectrum from totally normal people looking to buy/sell/trade to total nut jobs that think the men in the black helicopters are coming to take their guns and tax them to pay for the death panels. You never really know who you're talking to. Add to that the many less than honest sellers that are trying to capitalize on the current panic buying situation. Also, never buy ammo at a gun show.

    3) Caliber: .22,.25, .32 are not suitable for defense use. .22 is great fun for putting holes in paper, .25 and .32 often used in 'saturday night specials' aka junk guns that are typically used in crimes and may/may not work but then are thrown in the closest river. .380 and .38 are borderline, for a new shooter and if this will be your only gun 9mm really is the best choice. It doesn't recoil that severely, is decently priced, and with modern JHP rounds is just as deadly as bigger calibers. 9mm loads can range from mild to wild, 115gr range ammo is often very low recoil even in small guns, I personally carry 124gr +P and 127gr+P+ rounds and they have a significant recoil but not excessive. .40 is more expensive and recoil is sharper but not terrible, especially in the 180gr loads. I'd stay away from .45 and .357Sig due to cost and in the case of .357 the recoil and noise.

    4) Guns: There is nothing wrong with a revolver, but I'm semi auto all the way, specifically polymer frame semi autos for carry. I have a full size M&P40, a 9c, a Glock 27gen4 (same size as the 26 just in .40), and soon will have an HK P2000SK LEM in .357Sig (wrote about it in another thread), you can't possibly go wrong with a Glock or an M&P. You mentioned the Sig, I'm not aware of your price range but at that level look at Heckler and Koch also. The Glocks and M&Ps are phenomenal guns and very good prices ($500-$650) and make great first time purchases. If you are going to use it a home defense gun I can't stress enough the importance of having a rail mounted light, unfortunately the subcompact Glocks don't have a rail but the M&P compact does. Right now, my girlfriend has my M&P9c in her nightstand with a Streamlight TLR-3 mounted on it. $70 or so could prevent making a mistake that you will spend the rest of your life regretting.

    You are on the right track, see and hold as many guns as you can, shoot as much as you can, train as much as possible. The gun that is right for you will feel right when you try it.

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    First, welcome to the forum....

    Next...

    Revolver, or semi-auto?


    Just because a revolver is functionally "simpler" than a semi-auto, doesn't make it any more of a ladies gun than any other firearm. To assume that a lady must "love guns" before being able to cope with a mechanical safety, is silly. Personal preference is one thing, and gender bias is another. You don't have to love guns in order to carry one, but if you carry without being proficient with your chosen firearm, you're a fool....male or female.


    The age-old "trade-off" in handguns is especially applicable to the ladies..... short barrel, light weight, only 5 or 6 rounds equals much more perceived recoil.... longer barrel, more weight equals less recoil, REGARDLESS OF GENDER. That being said, get some training FIRST.... a good instructor will have a variety of guns for you to try out.


    Once proficient with the fundamentals, then anyone (even women) can learn to shoot any caliber, as well as learn to shoot either a revolver, or a semi-auto.


    Caliber comes AFTER proficiency in the fundamentals. Start with a .22 caliber something. Once a new shooter begins to flinch from shooting a large caliber right away, it's tough to "unlearn" it.


    Shop for a firearm just like you shop for shoes.......


    Shoes...... when you buy 'em, you try 'em on first...... if they don't feel good, you don't buy 'em..... if they feel good, and you buy 'em, chances are that you still might need to break in the shoes, and your feet.


    Guns..... try 'em on first...... if they don't feel good, you don't buy 'em......... if they feel good, and you buy 'em, chances are that you still might need to practice with it, and enhance your ability to use it.....


    Buying a handgun simply because someone else has one is just foolish. If there were a "best" handgun, we'd all own it, and the huge selection of handguns to choose from wouldn't exist.


    Hey ........


    GO SHOPPING
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    Welcome to the forum!

    Enjoy your time here. Lots of good people with lots of very good answers/suggestions.
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