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I'm a new shooter and looking to buy my first gun. The objective, once I have enough training to be comfortable with it, is every-day carry.

Would it be a bad idea for my first gun to be a concealable handgun in a self-defense caliber (e.g., M&P Shield 9, Kahr CM9, Walther PPS, or Ruger LCR .38 Spc)? Are the recoil and blast going to prevent me from learning the fundamentals of shooting and good habits? Do I need to start with a .22LR in order not to flinch? If the answer is that it varies from person to person, is a single lesson with an instructor at a rental range going to be enough to tell if I'll be ok starting with a 9 mm?

The only two rental ranges in the state are far away and have limited hours, so I will have to train at a local gun club using whatever gun I buy; I won't have the option of using the range's .22LR guns.

It will realistically be a year before I can buy a second gun (class, permit, and gun club initiation fees take a chunk out of the household budget), so the appeal of starting with a 9 mm is that I would have something with more stopping power earlier and that I could start to carry earlier—both for protection and for finding out whether carrying is practical for me.
 

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The 9mm would be fine to learn with. Beyond having someone teach you the basics, one of the best things you can do to avoid, or lose, the tendency to flinch is to practice dry firing with your gun. It can really help you learn proper trigger usage because the gun isn't firing, so you can actually see what is happening to the firearm throughout your whole trigger pull.

Learning to shoot with a .22 is a great idea, and it's the best tool for younger shooters, because it's so mild. An adult does not necessarily need the same level of tameness to learn the same things. It's a great tool if you can afford to buy one, or have one available, but it's not necessary.
 

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With practice (and training) a smallish 9mm should work for you, but it wouldn't be my choice (especially if cost wasn't a major factor). I would rather see a person start with a .22 and develop sound basics and confidence, not that it can't be done with a larger caliber gun. The next option would be to learn with something closer to a full-sized 9mm, that choice would offer a bit of recoil dampening due to the greater weight and a longer sight radius which should benefit accuracy. However, if you do start with a 9mm, spend a lot of time with dry fire exercises to help learn trigger control (not to mention cheap practice).
 

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The tiny 9mm's are not the easiest guns to learn on. The small sight radius can make accurate shooting tougher, and the lightweight increases felt recoil and can make the gun a handful when shooting. I would reccomend starting with a 22 pistol to learn the basics, but it can be done with 9mm as well. A full size would be the best place to start, but if you want a smaller gun that is still fairly easy to learn on, any of the major manufactures compact models should suffice quite well. I shoot a ruger SR40C and it is easy shooting, super accurate and easy to carry, so it is my everyday carry gun and my Home defense gun.
 

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The easiest thing to do is find an instructor. The hardest thing to do is find a good one. Talk to as many as you can and then pick one based on your gut. Have him/her help you select a gun and help you learn how to use and care for it.

Regards
Michael
 

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I would concur with the above posts--it would be preferable to start with a .22, but if that's not possible, a 9mm is probably the next best thing...but not a tiny 9mm.

Have you considered a smallish, yet more substantial 9mm--like, say, a S&W M&P Compact, or a Glock 26, or an XD/XDm subcompact/compact? These are still very concealable pistols, but have a little more barrel length/sight radius, and a "beefy-er" grip that would make shooting, particularly extended sessions--a lot more pleasant.

I also would recommend against the lightweight, DAO snub .38's as one's first pistol--in my experience, with their long, heavy triggers, short sight radius and fairly substantial recoil (especially for a beginner) these are guns that are not easy to master, and can be frustrating even for experienced shooters. That being said, though--if you have the patience and perseverance to learn it properly...most other pistols will seem fairly easy to shoot. If you want to go the revolver route, I would recommend seeing if you can't find an older K-frame S&W with a 2.5 or 3" barrel--still very concealable and carryable, bit much easier to shoot.

And, most importantly--check with your local shooting club and see if there's someone who can teach you some of the fundamentals. I would think any club would likely have an NRA qualified instructor who could get you started.
 

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I would personally recommend learning with what you are going to carry. Along those lines, I would recommend either a Glock 19 or a S&W M&Pc in a 9mm. Both are accurate, reliable and simple to conceal.
 

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I would recommend getting training with whichever gun you plan on CCing. If you're new to shooting then I would recommend driving out to a range and rent some different calibers to see which one you are comfortable shooting. Everyone reacts differently to different recoils. Fining a caliber that you are most comfortable with is key. Once you find a comfortable caliber then find the best gun in that caliber to fit you. Smaller guns will have more recoil than larger ones but smaller is better for concealment. After you find your caliber you will have to decide what size gun you will be able to conceal comfortably, if its not comfortable you can won't want to carry it.
 
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Is a small 9 mm bad for learning fundamentals?

I'm a new shooter and looking to buy my first gun.
One thing: you needn't think your initial purchase must ultimately be the one gun you must carry. You can learn on one gun, one that's suitable for your training, then later change to a different gun once you determine the pros/cons of various features of a carry gun that'll most work for you. The thing is, right now you don't know what those pros/cons are ... and we can't really tell you.

JMHO ...

Heading to a rental range, first, might be a good step. It'll give you a good spread of guns to play with, to get basically comfortable with. Then, decide whether you want a revolver or semi-auto pistol, whether you want external manual safeties or not. Then, buy a gun to really learn on. If you go for a pistol, I'd recommend a gun with a safety. If you learn that really well, the same techniques you use to draw/present/fire will essentially work well for any other pistol. (ie, learning on a 1911.) A high-quality revolver can also be a good option. Particularly in the larger barrel sizes (ie, 3" or so, on up) and heavier weights (ie, not 13oz), many people find them extremely easy to control and to shoot. And for a newbie, there are no safeties to muck up in a pinch.

Head to a range, where you can rent many different guns. Try out the revolvers and pistols of folks you meet at the range. That'll be a good start. And remember that your first purchase need not be what you ultimately carry.
 

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In general small 9mm's have a lot of snap to them. For new handgun shooters this can cause major flinching issues. The felt recoil can also be fairly severe and might cause you to fatigue sooner so you may not practice enough. All this can be mastered but may take a lot more time, energy and ammo money compared to starting with a bigger gun like a Glock 17, 19, XD 9mm full size, M&P9 and etc.
 

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For learning, a decently-sized pistol with or without a manual thumb safety should do just fine. Such as any Commander-sized 1911, a Glock 19, a CZ 75 (P-01, PCR or variant), the Bersa Thunder UC Pro or BPCC, possibly a Kahr K9/P9/CW9. Or, any mid-weight revolver, such as a Ruger SP-101, or other high-quality revolver in the 20-25oz range.

My preference is, with all the handguns I've shot, for a 9mm +P cartridge in a mid-sized pistol of ~23-30oz weight. It's what I shoot best, most-accurately. The Glock 19 would be a very fine choice, in this category, though I've just never acquired one. It's relatively slim, light and of decent capacity. Plus, "everyone" out there knows them well. Good resale value, too, if you ever choose to sell. If you prefer something of similar size but with a manual safety, possibly a Bersa Thunder UC Pro would do you well. There are several good choices, out there.
 

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First, let me say I am no expert at all. But applying a bit of logic to the situation....

A small gun has some disadvantages to it:
-- Harder to hold
-- Shorter sight radius (distance from rear to front sight)
-- Lighter which usually means more recoil

So, if you are just learning, why would you want to compound your learning experience with the additional problems a smaller gun brings. IF you are willing to trade in or sell your first gun, perhaps re-think the size a bit.

9mm would likely be a good choice for carry, true. But the expense of the ammo for learning can hamper your efforts to properly train. Its also a punchy round and for a new shooter may cause flinching and squinting at first which makes learning even harder.

.22 ammo is substantially less expensive compared to 9mm. For example, 50rds of 9mm 117g goes for about $15-$20 locally while a 333rd or 500rd brick of .22 goes for $25-40 or $3-$4 per 50rd box. 100rds of 9mm or 300-500rds of 22 for the same price. Which will give you more practice shots?

Perhaps starting with a .22LR pistol thats a physically decent size (and similar style to your eventual carry weapon, meaning slide/revolver) would be a better choice. You can get a longer barrel for less weight and thus increase your sight radius. The larger gun will be easier to hold yet weigh less than a full sized 9mm. And .22 has very little recoil and is accurate enough for initial training. This eliminates all three disadvantages of the small/compact 9mm. And the .22 pistols are fairly inexpensive so you have a low price entry point to begin your training.

The downside of a .22 pistol is it simply is not a SD pistol which means you will either have a gun that will not suit your end goal and you need to buy one that will. But, in the mean time, you can put a significant number of rounds downrange, you will be comfortable in your stance and technique and you will be ready to step into 9mm and/or a smaller sized pistol at that point. By training with a full sized pistol in a smaller caliber you can focus on hold, stance and technique and not have to worry about gripping a smaller weapon, dealing with flinching and the challenge of a shorter sight radius. You can relax and practice.

If you go that route, you can take your time in searching for and acquiring your real carry weapon. You can bide your time looking for good prices because you are already shooting and becoming a proficient shooter while you are shopping. You can take your time, ask questions. Rent various models at a range to try out and find the one that fits you. After you are confident in your .22 shooting, you can invest in a good carry 9mm, 40 or 45 (choice is up to you). Then all you need to do is put some rounds through it to familiarize yourself to this specific weapon and tighten your groups with the larger caliber and shorter sight radius. You will already have the basics down. If you can put 22's in the black, the first shots of 9mm will be close to it too.

And if your thoughts are of being afraid of showing up at the range with anything less than a hand cannon ala macho man, then you are going there for the wrong reasons. Not saying you are, but a lot of guys think the size of the gun they bring to the range matters. It doesn't. Its the size of the shot group you leave with.

Just my thoughts from the outside. YMMV.
 

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Try the Beretta nano or Px4 Storm (compact)
Both have hardly any felt recoil, if that's a concern for you.
Truth is, if a small gun is what you plan to carry, use it. Get used to it. Learn how it feels. That's what you're going to rely on, so you should become intimately familiar with the feel of it. I don't think it'll have any effect on learning the basics. Once you are comfortable around a firearm, changing to a different firearm, at least for me, wasn't really a challenge. It's like learning to drive, then getting into a different car. Most of it is the same, really.
 

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If not already said. Practicing with what you carry and are comfortable with every day is always the best idea. Shooting fundamentals apply to every single gun. As well as the same safety rules, everything. I personally think people that learn on revolvers become the best overall shooters with all gun types. Never the less, practice with what you carry. if recoil and shooting strain or hurt your hand with non magnum guns, time to suck it up and DRY FIRE practice a whole lot. Nothing helps as well as dry firing and practicing your draw hundreds or thousands of times. If you aren't dry firing at least 30 minutes a week you are neglecting something major. Also practice moving out of the line of fire as you draw then fire, move again. Store ammo in another part of the house, then clear gun 2-3 times and aim at a fireplace or brick wall. Tape a few small targets on the wall. A laser grip can be used to see how much your point of aim moves when you pull or press the trigger. This can allow you to learn trigger control and progress along faster than wasting ammo on paper at a range.
 

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Practicing with your carry, sure, you better! Absolutely no argument there at all. But learning to shoot from the ground up with it? Dunno. Its like taking a 18 wheel semi to high school driver's ed. Sure you can learn to drive with one, but wouldn't something easier to handle be more appropriate to learn on and then step up to the big rig once you got the basics down be a better path?
 

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I believe the key here is NEW shooter. If the OP never fired a handgun then he would definitely want to go to a range and try several out just to experience function and recoil. My first 9mm was a Kel Tec PF9 and at 12 oz. is very snappy. It's kinda like playing catch with a hardball without the mitt. So to eliminate flinch while I broke it in I used a fingerless padded biker glove. Obviously no one would wear a glove with EDC but learning not to flinch in a SD situation is much more important. I feel comfortable without the glove now.
If I had to recommend a CC gun for a newby it would be in the 20 oz. range, as some posters here recommend, heavy recoil can spoil your day at the range
 
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