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Old 02-18-2009, 04:44 AM   #1
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Default completely clueless

hello from california!

i would like to obtain a gun for self-defence (esp. after virginia tech) and
target shooting. however, i grew up having never having even seen one except on cops and, as you can expect, am completely clueless over where to start. i've researched a few guns online, but everybody seems to recommend different guns (although i did see a lot of walther p22's mentioned). my question is, which handgun would be nice for a beginner (that fits california's rather unreasonable standards), do i need a license or something (if i'm not planning on concealed carry), and general tips for how to get started in the first place. i have no friends who are gun owners. any input would be greatly appreciated.

if it's relevant, i'm not particularly strong, so a big caliber would probably be out of the question, and price should be hopefully less than, say 600$

thanks!

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Old 02-18-2009, 12:41 PM   #2
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First of all, welcome to the forum.

As far as getting started goes I recommend you find a local class. It will teach you the basics of how to handle and shoot a gun safely, and give you an opportunity to practice your new skills at the range. Most classes that I am aware of can provide all the gear you need including the handgun. Not sure where you live, but here in So Cal I highly recommend these guys: Firearms Training Associates.

Once you have the basics down find a local range with a good selection of handguns for rent so you can try some different guns, different calibers, and get a feeling for what fits well in your hands.

As far as the type of weapon goes you probably need to give some thought to how you expect to be using the gun. In my opinion you should plan to shoot often to develop and maintain your skills. That said, many people will not have that discipline. It you don't shoot regularly some people will recommend a revolver. They are a bit simpler to operate, and some would say are more reliable, especially if maintenance isn't all it should be. On the other hand if you will practice and maintain your weapon regularly a semi-automatic pistol has some advantages.

As far as the caliber, starting with a .22 is a common suggestion. Ammo is cheap so you can afford to shoot a lot, and the recoil is not intimidating at all. Only problem is a .22 is pretty much useless for self defense. If you really want a handgun for self defense you need to be looking at 9mm minimum in a semi-automatic pistol. In a revolver you could consider a .357 magnum, which would allow you to practice with .38 ammo which is a bit cheaper (and with less recoil).

You shouldn't have any problem finding something in your budget either in a revolver or a semi-auto pistol.

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Old 02-18-2009, 01:57 PM   #3
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I'm going to agree with the suggestion of a class first. Then learn to shoot using a Walther P22. I have one and shoot it all the time for practice because the ammo is so cheap. You could find one between $200-300. Yes, the Ruger 22/45 might be more accurate for plinking, but the P22 is better IMO for training purposes of a new gun owner. That way your familiar with the mechanics of a larger caliber semi-auto handgun. Once your comfortable with shooting, trade it in towards a handgun in a self defense caliber.

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Old 02-18-2009, 02:00 PM   #4
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Oh, And you will need to get a CA Handgun Safety Certificate in order to purchase a handgun in CA. You must be 21 or older, and there is a simple test you need to pass. Study materials are available online, but the test is pretty easy. Subjects covered include gun safety topics, a little about handguns, and some questions about the gun laws in CA.

If I recall correctly the cost is $25. Any class you take should be able to administer the test for you, and most gun stores will do that as well.

Don't worry about concealed carry for now - in most metropolitan areas of the state it's nearly impossible for an ordinary person to get a CCW permit anyway.

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Old 02-18-2009, 02:52 PM   #5
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+1 on getting some training. The NRA has an instructor program and likely has several in your area. You could probably find a female instructor (or at least co-instructor) that might be more comfortable for you.

As far as guns go, at least find a gun store that has a large selection and go handle as many as you can. Finding one that "fits" your hand is a big issue. A tiny little .22, .25 or .32 may seem very concealable but may not be very shootable. A large frame revolver may be too heavy and bulky for you to even shoot. Small is fine for concealability and "cute" factor but is generally not powerful enough to be relied upon or shoot well.

For a semi-auto pistol, look at .380 as a minimum caliber with 9mm as better. .40 or .45 may be too much. For revolvers, .38 spl is good. .357 is better. With a small to medium 5 or 6 shot .357 magnum revolver you can shoot very light .38 special ammo until you get comfortable and move up to heavier loads like the .38 spl +P and eventually even to the .357 Magnum ammo when and if you are ready. That will give you a lot of flexibility and prevent you from needing to buy a second (or third) gun when your skills and needs change, not that there is anything wrong with having more than one gun.

Similarly, the new .327 magnum revolvers can shoot .32 short and long ammo as well as the .32 H&R magnum and ultimately the .327 Mags down the road.

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Old 02-18-2009, 08:18 PM   #6
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For the life of me I cannot state it better than robocop.








Quote:
Originally Posted by robocop10mm View Post
+1 on getting some training. The NRA has an instructor program and likely has several in your area. You could probably find a female instructor (or at least co-instructor) that might be more comfortable for you.

As far as guns go, at least find a gun store that has a large selection and go handle as many as you can. Finding one that "fits" your hand is a big issue. A tiny little .22, .25 or .32 may seem very concealable but may not be very shootable. A large frame revolver may be too heavy and bulky for you to even shoot. Small is fine for concealability and "cute" factor but is generally not powerful enough to be relied upon or shoot well.

For a semi-auto pistol, look at .380 as a minimum caliber with 9mm as better. .40 or .45 may be too much. For revolvers, .38 spl is good. .357 is better. With a small to medium 5 or 6 shot .357 magnum revolver you can shoot very light .38 special ammo until you get comfortable and move up to heavier loads like the .38 spl +P and eventually even to the .357 Magnum ammo when and if you are ready. That will give you a lot of flexibility and prevent you from needing to buy a second (or third) gun when your skills and needs change, not that there is anything wrong with having more than one gun.

Similarly, the new .327 magnum revolvers can shoot .32 short and long ammo as well as the .32 H&R magnum and ultimately the .327 Mags down the road.
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:39 AM   #7
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Double action revolver. either smith & wsson or ruger. I am and have been for years a range officer-master. Cant tell you how many times a week someone would show up with a new semi auto who could figure out how to operate it. Till you have shot at least 2000 rounds stay away from complicated machinery. Double actions all you have to do is pull the trigger. They are not ammo finacky and can go from mild to wild in the same cylinder.

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Old 02-19-2009, 05:17 AM   #8
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First, learn firearm safety. Then try out different handguns and see what floats your boat. Many firing ranges rent guns for just that purpose. Then do some homework. The internet is just the ticket for some research. Then you'll be able to make a solid decision.

Welcome here.
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:00 AM   #9
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Best to find a range that rents pistols and offers training. As important as the firearm is your ability to be effective with the pistol is even more important.

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Old 02-21-2009, 01:45 AM   #10
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thanks for all the info! i've found a (closet) gun owner who's a friend so he'll help me get started i guess...
and did i really sound like a girl in the above posts? i mean, its just that i haven't hit the gym in a looong time...

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