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Unread 12-17-2012, 08:05 PM   #1
SuperWade2
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First Handgun Advice!

First, I live in California (or Republic of Kalifornia, or Commifornia, take your pick ), so know that I'm somewhat restricted by our State laws. Anyhow, I'm considering a Hand Gun for part home defense and part target/range shooting. I've never owned a handgun before and have only shot a couple times, the last time a couple weeks ago when back in Nebraska for a funeral.

Anyhow, just looking for some advice on direction I should look at. I shot a Ruger 9mm the other day. My pop has a newer Springfield 1911 that he really likes (traded a Glock .40 for part of it), although I haven't been shooting with him yet. Price is really not a huge issues, I don't need/want to go ultra cheap and worry about quality but don't need/want the "Ferrari" either for a first gun.

I don't have a lot of gun shops close by, no Bass Pro or Cabala's or similar big box stores that have guns and live in a VERY liberal area along the coast. There are a couple ranges in the area and a private club if I find a sponsor eventually.

I looked on the NRA site today and saw a NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation and NRA Defensive Pistol course in the area that I think would probably be a good starting point too. I know that I will need to also invest in a Gun Safe or lock box of some kind as well.

Anyhow, just wanted to get some feedback on where to start, whether the NRA courses (or similar) are a good place to start, and any recommendation on good first guns. I'm my extremely novice opinion I'm leaning towards 9mm vs .40 or .45 primarily for the cost of the shells here in CA when I want to go to the range.

Thanks in Advance!
SW2

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Unread 12-17-2012, 08:41 PM   #2
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First handgun for home defense should be a double action revolver. As a defensive weapon, it never jams, can be fired with one hand, and comes in long enough barrel lengths so you (as a novice marksman) can actually hit something. I'd recommend a 5" barrel. .357 magnum. But, you could go with 6" assuming you are never going to carry it on your body.
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Unread 12-17-2012, 09:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilson1010 View Post
First handgun for home defense should be a double action revolver. As a defensive weapon, it never jams, can be fired with one hand, and comes in long enough barrel lengths so you (as a novice marksman) can actually hit something. I'd recommend a 5" barrel. .357 magnum. But, you could go with 6" assuming you are never going to carry it on your body.
Not sure that it matters, but after a bit of thinking, I"m guessing 90%+ Target/Hobby/Collection and 10%- Home Defense...

For the price of many of the .357 Mag Revolvers, I can get a nice 9mm or similar. I understand and appreciate your reply but I don't think I'm even considering a Revolver at this point.
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Unread 12-18-2012, 12:05 AM   #4
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I would highly recommend getting some quality (and I stress quality) training. As for a pistol, get a GLOCK (17,19 or 26) if it's good enough for law enforcement, Govt. agencies, Govt. contractors and a few military guys, it might work for you.

PS. Make sure you get quality training.
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Unread 12-18-2012, 04:11 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by SuperWade2 View Post
Not sure that it matters, but after a bit of thinking, I"m guessing 90%+ Target/Hobby/Collection and 10%- Home Defense...

For the price of many of the .357 Mag Revolvers, I can get a nice 9mm or similar. I understand and appreciate your reply but I don't think I'm even considering a Revolver at this point.
An automatic pistol will be more fun at the range. I have several of both. For target, a real target pistol can't be beat.
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Unread 12-18-2012, 07:44 AM   #6
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I started shooting with my friend's Ruger SR9c. It's his CCW. The SR9 is its big brother. In less than 250rds, I was able to get 8 of 10 hits in the black ring of an NRA 25yd slow fire target. Most of them were inside the 9 ring.

I bought a glock 26 gen4. I'm smaller than average (5'8" 170lbs). I wanted something I knew I could conceal. It's more of a defense than range gun due to the shorter barrel length. Accuracy over 25yd isn't very good yet. With your intended use, a 17 (full size) or 19 (compact) would be my choice. Plastic (frame only, slides are always metal) guns (like Glocks, XD's, etc...) have more perceived recoil than a metal gun (like a 1911) due to the reduced mass. Recoil increases your recovery time and can hurt accuracy. Metal frames can be more comfortable to shoot from a recoil standpoint, but you're holding a heavier object so you'll have to decide if the trade off is worth it. My wife shot a Springfield 1911 in .45acp and loved it so we're getting one for range/home use. She's going to use a 22 or 380 as her CCW. I'm pushing for 380 (she doesn't like the smaller 9mm's).

For fun shooting, 9mm is going to be cheapest. 115gr target (FMJ) rounds are all you need. Nice a cheap (relatively speaking).
For home use you'll want hollow points. 124gr bullets with a velocity around 1150fps are my preference (Speer 23611 specifically; 23617 or 23618 for 4"+ barrels). As a rule (based on what I've read), those specs result in the best expansion/penetration results. Do not use target rounds for defense. They may go through the bad guy and hit w/e is behind him. Besides, that means he didn't absorb the full force of the bullet like he deserves.

It's a good idea to shoot at least a mag of your defense ammo when at the range b/c it WILL shoot different than your target ammo.

Most importantly, quality practice makes perfect. You can't just pop a few hundred rounds down range and expect to be a good shot. Take the NRA classes. Try to find one where you can try different guns to make buying easier. You may even become interested in competitions.
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Unread 12-18-2012, 08:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilson1010 View Post
First handgun for home defense should be a double action revolver. As a defensive weapon, it never jams, can be fired with one hand, and comes in long enough barrel lengths so you (as a novice marksman) can actually hit something. I'd recommend a 5" barrel. .357 magnum. But, you could go with 6" assuming you are never going to carry it on your body.
I will agree with the .357 mag. As for the rest of what you said I disagree.

Whenever you look at or Google any sort of ballistic test the .357 mag has a strong showing.

I prefer semi auto over a revolver. I don't like double action.. I do have a double action revolver and a few semi autos. One semi auto I have is double action first you single action after that. I also have a couple single action semi autos, which is what I prefer.

As far as semi auto I have a Walther p22(DA* firts shoot than SA**) and a High Standard Victor (SA**) (I would not recommend either for self defense) and a Colt 1911.45 (SA). The high standard and 1911 eats whatever you put into it. The P22 is picky. Some semi autos are picky about what ammo you use, I think this is why many give them a bad rap.

My 1911is the gun I use for conceal carry and as my home defense weapon.. This gun shoot really well for me, nothing I have shoot compares.

I would concentrate on the .40, .45, and .357 go to a range that rents a variety, shoot and see what you like. There is plenty of reports and tests showing the 9mm to be a good choice also.

I really love my 1911 but it is a little on the pricey side. If you ask me it is worth it, but that is a personal opinion.

SA**=single action, the trigger only drops the hammer. The recoil of the gun will cock the hammer.
DA*=double action, the trigger cocks the hammer and drops the hammer.

To me the SA is faster to shoot and easier to get back on target. For me the extra trigger pull a DA requires more trigger pull and takes me further of target than the recoil of the gun.
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Unread 12-18-2012, 11:18 AM   #8
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How large are your hands?

I love my FN P45 but if I had the extra cash I would have bought a USP .45

Or if price is no object, you cannot go wrong with a FN Five-Seven. Its like sex to shoot it.
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Unread 12-18-2012, 01:41 PM   #9
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How large are your hands?

I love my FN P45 but if I had the extra cash I would have bought a USP .45

Or if price is no object, you cannot go wrong with a FN Five-Seven. Its like sex to shoot it.
Average Sized I guess...


What is a FN or a USP?

I'm leaning 9mm vs. .45 due to ammo costs... .45 is a chuck more to shoot out here!
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Unread 12-18-2012, 06:33 PM   #10
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Want a cheap to fire range gun, get a Ruger Mk2
Want a home defense gun? Get yourself a 20 gauge pump. If you miss with a 357, it will go through walls. Great way to shoot your kids while they're sleeping in their beds. That 20 gauge with #4 buck won't have much left after it goes through a wall. Still think a 357 is good gun for the home? Go to a range and shoot one. But, it has to be at night with no hearing protection. No doubt a revolver is the way to go for a house gun if you're just dead set on it. I don't care how much you say you practice with your pistol. You might be able to work it with your eyes closed. That's awesome. Now think of it this way, it's 2am and you've just been woken up from a deep sleep by the sound of glass breaking. Your heart is pumping, your wife is hiding in the corner calling 911 and you can hear your kid in her bedroom yelling "DADDY?" You see the POS that broke into your house. You pull the trigger, and nothing. WTF? Revolver? Just pull the trigger again. Pistol? Safety on? No. Now what? Tap rack squeeze. I've been shooting for 25 something years now, and am very comfortable with any gun I can get my hands on. My house guns are a 12 gauge O/U and a 38 snubbie.
These might give you an idea of the muzzle flash of a 357. It's HUGE
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Unread 12-18-2012, 08:38 PM   #11
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While obviously this is just window shopping and no hands on yet.... the Springfield Armory - XDM 9mm BiTone 4.5" has really caught my eye (and I guess recommendation on the S.A. Brand from my father...)



Unfortunately as I read more, it seems that they don't make a 10 round mag for these, so not legal in CA (and won't be able to get shipped in)... if that's true, it sucks hard!
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Unread 12-18-2012, 08:44 PM   #12
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Let me know if you find yourself in my part of the valley, I have lots of handguns and I shoot them often. You can try whatever you would like in my collection. If there's something in particular you would like to fire, let me know and I will see if I can get a hold of it. I have done a few safety courses in the last but its been a few years.
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Unread 12-18-2012, 08:57 PM   #13
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Take a look at the S&W Governor, it shoots 410 shot shells, 45 colt, and 45 acp.
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Unread 12-19-2012, 06:35 AM   #14
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The .357 magnum is a great gun that is very flexible in that it shoots a powerful .357 magnum round (in several loads) or a mild .38 special round. It's great if that was your ONLY gun and you could never buy anything else.

however, for a first gun that you are wanting to use for HD and targets, I would go with others who said 9mm. they firearms are cheaper (for the same quality), the ammo is far cheaper (although after this weekend, good luck finding it.) and it has plenty of power.

As for the forearm it'self.
Beretta PX-4 (I have two and LOVE them)
Sig Sauer (I have the 2022, no problems.)
Glock (had one didn't like it, but tons of other people love them).
Springfield XD series
S&W M&P series.
Ruger SR9

there are others as well but all of these can be had for under $500, and all will be quality firearms.
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Unread 12-19-2012, 07:11 AM   #15
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Of course, almost no one who legally owns a hand gun will ever use it defensively. It is more likely to have your house burn down or be killed in a car accident. And, for home defense there is nothing to beat a loaded 12 gauge shotgun under the bed. I have a Mossberg 88 for that job. No handgun is remotely equivalent for home defense, although I also have a laser grip hammerless 5 shot Ruger 38 Spec. nearby just in case.

Since the OP is not going to CC, the compact automatics are a non-starter.

And, for target and range shooting, the best possible choice is a 22LR target pistol like a Mark III.

Its always a problem trying to get one gun to do two things well.
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