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StandoffTiger63 03-04-2011 08:34 PM

New Shooter - Looking for insight on first handgun purchase
Hello everyone,

First off I just wanted to say I am new to these forums as well as shooting and I came across this forum on google in hopes of gaining some insight. I'm sorry if this doubles as my introduction but it's more about handguns then saying hello.

With that said, I live pretty close to NYC so it's hard for me and my dad (who works full time as a police officer) to make trips to the ranges out in Long Island. I have shot my Ruger .22 on three trips and my father's service handguns (I beleive he has a glock 19 and a mini glock for his leg that I don't know the correct name of but they have a lot of recoil) so I'm fairly inexperienced.

Me and my father are both gun enthusiasts and he said for my birthday he would get me a handgun of my choice that I could use at the range only (within ~ $800).

My two questions are:
  • What is a good handgun to learn on thats durable? I am interested in the 1911 because I hear it's a beautiful gun and has a great service history (and I hear Alpha Squad uses them so that has to mean it's amazing!) but I'm open to any suggestions. I am very new to the brands and I'm not dedicated to any one company or style. I am also interested in the M9 (the current standard issue service pistol for American soldiers) so any insight on this handgun would be great!
  • What is a good revolver that would last me and be fun to shoot for a long time? I know I keep saying vague words like good and long time but it will be my first handgun so I want it to be working when I have kids and I don't know what makes a good handgun to be honest.
    Also, I have a very sweet tooth for revolvers because I think the mechanism and workings are so interesting that I find all revolvers beautiful. The only thing is no Snub Nose suggestions, I would like a decent lenghted barrel.

Thank you for looking and reading my first thread. I will be checking back to thank anyone who posts information and to answer any questions! Once again great to be apart of this forum!

orangello 03-04-2011 08:46 PM

I have enjoyed my Ruger GP100 revolver that will shoot .38 special or .357 magnum ammo. My research would suggest that they are very durable. It is available in a few different barrel lengths; i chose a 6" barrel with target use in mind.

canebrake 03-04-2011 08:53 PM


In your price window I'd look at the Remington 1911R1.

If you can go another $200, take a look at the Colt Rail Gun Model O1070RG.

When it comes to wheel guns, hands down, find a vintage S&W. These are my two favorites:

S&W Model 19-3 P&R .357 Mag.

S&W Model 29-2 P&R .44 Mag

Either of my S&W's is probably older than you and function flawlessly!

StandoffTiger63 03-04-2011 09:03 PM

Wow Cane, that "S&W Model 19-3 P&R .357 Mag." looks beautiful and a magnum? Can it fire .38 specials too? Or am I confusing a different revolver?

Thank you very much for the pictures, I think you have me leaning towards the revolver now!

canebrake 03-04-2011 09:28 PM


Originally Posted by StandoffTiger63 (Post 457619)
Wow Cane, that "S&W Model 19-3 P&R .357 Mag." looks beautiful and a magnum? Can it fire .38 specials too? Or am I confusing a different revolver?

Thank you very much for the pictures, I think you have me leaning towards the revolver now!

If you are looking for a shooter, not a safe-queen, the S&W model 19 is tough to beat. You can get a shooter for <$400 and yes it eats both .38 spl and .357 mag. Those rounds in the speed-loader bench block are .38 spl. I'm with you, I prefer a longer barrel in the 6" length. Both my Smiths are that size.

This is the only snubby I own;

The Ruger LCR is a great little pocket gun and a necessity here in South Florida.

The Model 29 is also a fun gun that shoots .44 spl and .44 Rem Mag. Its just a little more of a handful!

sweeper22 03-04-2011 10:05 PM

1) Buy a steel or aluminum alloy gun. Polymers have their place, but your needs and interests seem pointed in a different direction.

2) Buy a common caliber: 9mm, 40sw, 45acp, or 357mag

3) Buy a medium to full framed gun. No need for subcompacts.

After that, it's a pretty personal decision. As long as you're spending north of $400, you'll probably end up with a solid gun that meets your criteria. Now it's just about finding the one that fits your personal tastes.

In your price range, focus on...

Revolvers: S&W or Ruger
1911s: Colt, Springfield, S&W, Para, Kimber, etc
Other Semi-autos: CZ, Sig, Browning, Beretta

These guns are all reliable and built to last.

StandoffTiger63 03-04-2011 10:56 PM

Thank you, definatley not into the snub noses but is South Florida really that bad? I know there have been increasing gang problems but I didn't know you actually needed to carry your weapon all day with you.
Have you ever needed to use it? Sorry if that was too personnel but my Grandmother lives in Northern Florida like a two hours from Disney and my cousin who lives with her actually has a lot of shotguns for home defense and bought her one in case of emergencies.
And also I'd just be curious to see how effective it was for defense. If you don't want to answer I'd totally understand and apologize beforehand.

Thank you for the information. Can you tell me what are the differences (if any) between the 1911 companies that produce the handgun? Is Springfield better then Colt, ect

And just general question for you two, what is the recoil like for the .45 and .38/.357? Like I said I am new and wondering if I'd have any difficulty handling them since they are a larger caliber or would it just take a few times at the range to get use too?

P.S. I haven't forgotten about you Orangello, I am just unaware of Ruger's revolvers and would have to research more about them.

orangello 03-05-2011 08:24 PM


Originally Posted by StandoffTiger63 (Post 457674)
Thank you, definatley not into the snub noses but is South Florida really that bad?

P.S. I haven't forgotten about you Orangello, I am just unaware of Ruger's revolvers and would have to research more about them.

Cane may have been referring to the need for a smaller firearm for concealability in shorts & such for the heat.

Ruger GP-100 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Ruger® GP100® Double-Action Revolver Models
Prices seem a bit high there; i paid $400 for mine, though it had been sitting in the shop for a while & had a oil smudge by the hammer. .38 special doesn't kick much in a 6" barrelled pistol. My XD45 "pushes" more than it "kicks" (don't know how to explain that better, try one).

If you aren't going to concealed carry the firearm, then get a full-sized one for less recoil and more comfort. I picked up a used CZ75b (5" barrel, full-sized frame, kinda heavy, steel frame) for about $400 and have really enjoyed it for 9mm plinking; it is very accurate & cheap to shoot.

Uncle Tom 03-06-2011 02:53 AM

1st Handgun
It sounds like you are interested in something more than the always versatile .22LR...

1. Think about costs -- 9mm for semi-autos and 38Spec are a lot cheaper than most other rounds. (Note that you can shoot 39Spec in a 357 Mag revolver, if you want more stand-by power).

2. Think about famous American names: Colt: Single Action Revolvers; Smith and Wesson: Double action revolvers; Browning: - 9mm High Power semi-auto.

3. Think about quality -- you can certainly add Ruger to the above list.

4. Think about recoil -- to develop as a real marksman (if that is your interest), it is probably better to start with the 9mm or 38sp, not the big-bang 357s, 40sw or 45 acp that will initially distract you with blast and recoil.

5. Think about barrel length -- for revolvers, "service" pistols of 4" up to "target" pistols of 6" length is probably the right range. Semi-auto's (measured differently) would mostly be in the 4-5" range.

6. Think about weight/material -- target pistols tend to be heavier, say 2-3 llbs (32-48oz) and made out of steel. "Carry" guns (since they have to be carried and sometimes hidden) are lighter - below 2lbs, down to 10oz or so. They get there by using non-metal materials. I'd question anything under 1.5lbs for starting off.

7. Think about cost -- in the $800 range, the "famous" names are probably available to you only as used guns -- if checked out by an experienced shooter, used guns from famous names are likely to hold or even increase in value over time if treated well.

8. Configuration -- for target shooting you probably want adjustable sights -- fixed sight guns (cheaper, more rugged, for military use) can be deadly accurate (shoots go to the same spot each time) but may not shoot to point of aim, e.g. you find out you have to aim 1" high and 1" left to have the bullets hit dead center.

8. Iconic guns (buy used in your price range): Revolver: Smith and Wesson Model 10 (Model 15 with adjustable sights) in 38 spec., Model 27 in 357mag (will also shoot 38spec), In autos, the Browning High Power, as mentioned; the Colt Model 1911 -- made by many manufacturers including Colt, Springfield, Smith and Wesson, Kimber. (Note that "real" 1911's had fixed sights). If you tend toward the modern/plastic and Europe, Glock was the break-through name in plastic guns -- Sig, HK and Beretta are also famous quality names.

9. Next step -- do your googling -- it is easy to find websites and images of the above. Good luck - have fun -- stay safe!

ScottA 03-06-2011 05:07 AM

I would not be concerned about figuring out the "best" between any of the major manufacturers. If your buying Colt, S&W, Ruger, etc; what's important is what feels right to you and meets your needs.

If you buy a revolver, get a .357. It is by far the most versatile chambering of any revolver chamber. You can shoot cheap .38's all the way up thru full power magnums.

There are 1911's in your price range, but I've found the lion's share of quality 1911's are $800 to $1400. IMO, pay attention to the tang on 1911's. A good beavertail is a necessity for me. That's one of the reasons I haven't purchased one yet. The 1911's I find comfortable to shoot are a little pricey.

9mm is the most economical round, other than the .22lr. And I wouldn't rule out a good quality polymer gun at all. I personally love Springfield's XDm series.

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