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Beginning a pistol collection..where to start

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Old 03-17-2011, 12:47 AM   #1
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Default Beginning a pistol collection..where to start

Just some thoughts on where a new shooter should head as they venture into the world of pistols. Two years ago I was begining my own research and didn't own a single firearm. Today I own 9, among them 5 pistols. With any luck I'll be pretty close to 10 pistols by year's end. Along the way I've made some great decisions and some not so great ones. I've also learned to use this forum (and it's regular contributors/members) to bounce ideas off of.

So here's my thoughts on how to begin a pistol collection and I'd love to hear yours. Most of the "established" contributors to this forum have more real life experience than myself. What are the essentials? What do you see as the ideal progression, etc?

1) 22lr Rimfire Pistol. You can get into a great gun for $250-500, and popular opinion will point you in one of two directions: Ruger or Browning. There are other great options for sure, but those two offer the best bang for the buck. Cheap ammo + insignificant recoil = lots of reps for a new shooter.

2) Your First "Big Boy" Defense Pistol, Centerfire. There are multiple directions you can head here, and they'll be covered in the next three slots. All are simple, reliable defense options. The right choice boils down to personal choice, use, and budget.

*2a) Metal Framed semi-auto 9mm. CZ 75b was my choice, but there are some great offerings from Browning, Sig, and Beretta as well. These guns are well-balanced, heavy enough to soak up recoil, and ultra reliable and accurate. 9mm is an adequate defense round, but affordable enough for plenty of training reps.

*2b) 357mag Revolver, medium-full frame/barrel (3-6"). A solid S&W or Ruger six-shooter can make for a great home defense and range shooter. 357mag is at the top of the heap for common defense rounds. 38sp is nearly as affordable as 9mm, and almost identical ballistically . These things are easy to operate, build "Ford tough", and hold their value well.

*2c) 9mm polymer. These guns are tough, low maintenance, and offer great bang for your buck. Most are under $600. I'm not a Glock fan, but a Glock 19 is one of the most versatile pistols a new shooter can get their hands on. Small enough to carry, big enough to enjoy extended range sessions. Just pick what fits your hand well, as they all shoot about the same. Glock, SW M&P, SA XD, CZ, FNP, Ruger, Beretta, and others offer outstanding guns for $500, give or take $100.

3) Premium Guns, Larger Calibers, etc. Your first major investment might come after you've nailed down just one, two, or even all three of the above mentioned $500-ish options. This affliction can be like a tree branching out in all directions, so my own personal opinion is that there's valuable knowledge to be gained in each of three steps listed 2a-2c...because now the wallet might be opening a little wider. Each of the three "branches" listed below offers plenty of really great options for pistols of any size, including compact carry guns.

3a) 1911, Sig Sauer, BHP, CZ. I find myself heading down this path. If you've found that you're most fond of the steel/alloy framed semi-autos, this is where you're likely headed.

3b) Premium/Large bore Revolvers. Many hunters, outdoorsmen, and recoil nuts go this route. The sheer power of a large bore revolver is something to behold. And there's no shortage of really cool 357/38 wheel guns either, with plenty of collectibles among them.

3c) Tacticool Polymer. H&K, as well as all of the other previously mentioned polymers offer some really cool guns in a variety of calibers and frame sizes. They're sort of the SUVs of the gun world. They're not classics and they're ideal for everyone, but they offer impressive versatility.

The biggest thing for newer shooters to keep in mind is this: Value commonality; both in make and caliber. There's little to be gained in going out right away and buying expensive, rare, or complex firearms. Common makes and common calibers mean more affordable parts, accessories, and ammunition. They also translate to higher demand on the resale market. Keep it simple until you really know what you want.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:05 AM   #2
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Go with a single action .22lr. It will teach the basics without the option to "spray and pray" for the beginner.

Then a .357 double action loaded with .38Spl.

After mastering the revolvers, then go to semi-autos.

This way you can go back and review should you need to.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:57 AM   #3
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By thinking about what you need a pistol for it's much easier to narrow your search. The major categories are carry, home defense, range fun, training newcomers (spouse/kids/friends), and competition. Sadly a single gun is not "the best" in each of these areas. Once you decide on the roles intended for your handguns you can now look at the budget you'll assign for each role. For me a basic collection would consist of:

A good .22 pistol or revolver - cheap trigger time and lots of fun, great training tool.

A quality 4 inch .357 Magnum revolver - the most versatile gun there is.

A lightweight compact gun for carry - if it's difficult to conceal or tiring to carry all day - you won't.

A full size medium caliber range blaster - the next level of gun for training folks and having fun.

A full size .45 ACP, preferably a steel frame 1911 - the standard by which every other handgun is measured - great competition gun.

While I have 2-3 in each area, these are the categories that stay filled in my collection. Yes, I swap them around and try out new and different stuff - but I always have a primary in each area.

I should have never watched the Les Baer show on the Outdoor channel the other day - a "premium" 1911 is calling my name and I truly don't NEED one...

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Old 03-18-2011, 01:22 PM   #4
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Yeah what NGIB said.
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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Either a .22 caliber revolver (Ruger Single Six) or a 4" double action .357 revolver (GP-100, S&W M-19/66).
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:29 PM   #6
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My thought is almost like Sweeper22 and NGIB w/ a minor change.

Range pistols
- 22LR
- full size 9mm

Carry gun (any light and compact handgun preferably .380 or larger caliber)

Home Defense
- Any full size pistol 9mm or greater
- A .357 revolver

Due to budgetary constraints, a beginner usually aim to cover all bases with one pistol...usually a plastic variant 9mm.

Of course after getting the only needed do-all pistol, he/she will learn that there is no such thing and the rest of the categories will be filled (several times and more).

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Old 03-23-2011, 03:02 PM   #7
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Looks like a good set of recommendations.

If a buyer is on a budget and concerned about self defense, I think choices one and two can be swapped. I encourage people to purchase a .22LR as soon as possible because of the value and sheer fun factor.

I think your recommendation of 9mm is a well thought out as well. The modern 9mm cartridge is fine for self defense, has easy to manage recoil, and practice ammo is less expensive than many other cartridges. It allows for a new shooter to stretch their legs without straining their budget as much.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:14 PM   #8
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New guy here, sweeper22 your excellent post pretty much nails it. It should be make a sticky & hopefully every newbie would read it. I got back into firearms after a very long hiatus. Went to forums like this one & started to educate myself.

My 1st goal was HD, so I purchased a 12 gauge to cover that while I bought some time to educate myself on handguns. I didn't & do not have unlimited funds so I wanted to spend my money wisely.

My 1st handgun purchase was a .22, very inexpensive to shoot. Allowed me to get back to the range & learn some basic fundamentals on handgun control on the cheap. I highly recommend this route , worked wonders for me.

My 2nd handgun purchase was a .357 revolver. I feel that this is an excellent HD weapon. Simple, reliable & you're able to practice using .38's which will keep the cost down. (this is also my carry weapon)

All of my following purchases were mainly to enjoy range shooting, with secondary HD duties.

9MM semi auto (my favorite caliber to shoot) & semi auto .45

This was accomplished over a two year period & I doubt I would have done it any differently since it worked out very well for me.
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:57 PM   #9
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Yeah if i could do it all over id definitely have skipped the keltec PF9, ad probably the the wwalther P22. The walther has been flawless, but it is still a little cheaply made. I like having few guns, and at the moment i only have the P22 and my .44mag Raging Bull. I carry the Bull when I can, and the P22 when I need to carry under dress clothes on my bike. The Bull is going back to Taurus for repairs and how well it works when I get it back will determine whether or not I regret the purchase.

If i could do it all over again, id probably go with a Glock 19 for CC and HD, a Buckmark for .22 plinking, and either another .44 Bull, or perhaps a single-shot or bolt-action rifle.
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Old 03-26-2011, 12:45 AM   #10
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I'd have to agree the first should almost always be a 22LR, something for the range or plinking fun.

IMO, the proper choice for pistol #2 is where things start to get hazy...
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