Prospective first time gun owner
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:06 AM   #1
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Default Prospective first time gun owner

Well, all you crazy gun nuts must be rubbing off on me because I have decided to take the plunge and purchase my first gun.

Actually, I have been considering it for a couple years, but I never felt like I knew enough to proceed. Having the support of this forum has given me the feeling that I can pull it off. So I hope you don't mind if I ask some questions. I searched the forums, but could not find exactly the info I was looking for.

It will be a 12 gauge shot gun. I am getting it primarily for home defense purposes.

I checked and Kentucky has fairly liberal gun laws. I will not need to register or license my gun. It seems that I am allowed to buy it from just about anyone as well.

I want to get training for safe handling and proper use, as well as care & feeding of my new friend. I have never owned a gun before and have no idea how to care for one, other than the vague notion that I will need to clean it and oil it at some point. I have no idea what sort of training would be appropriate or where to get it.

That's the first three questions:

#1. Where do I get training from?
#2. What sort of training should I get for a shotgun?
#3. How do I care for a shotgun? (Or will that be covered in a typical training class?)

I told my wife that I had decided to get one and she was right behind me. We have agreed that we will both get regular training and practice with it...just in case we need it.

Some other questions:
#4. Where is a place to buy a shotgun? Wal-Mart? Online? A gunstore? Why?
#5. Do I want a pump action or semi-auto? Why?
#6. What about a used shotgun? (This scares me a little because I wont know what I am looking at.)
#7. How should I store the gun? Safe? trigger lock? under my pillow?
#8. How long will my Ammo keep? Indefinitely?

Ok, I know that is a lot, but I am a complete gun noob. Thanks for the read.

Sincerely, Canis

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Old 08-11-2009, 02:34 AM   #2
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Well, welcome to the fun and amazing world of firearms ownership!

Congratulations on your final decision.

What is your experience with shotgun shooting?

Because a twelve gauge, especially a short stock/folding stock, pistol grip with a pump, or gas operated system, is going to produce quite a bit of energy, meaning it's recoil is going to be a huge shock to you.

A shotgun isn't my first choice for a home defense weapon to be honest.

However, with something like an 18 inch barrel, and #4 birdshot, you should be reasonably able to stop damn near anything without having to worry about overpenetration.

A semi auto shotgun is going to be easier to shoot, since it will reload itself for you, but it's going to be a bit more complicated to clean and maintain.

A pump shotgun is going to be easier to maintain, but it's going to take a bit more to chamber each round after you shoot it. In a panic situation, you might not be prepared to continually rack the slide and chamber the next round.

As for storage: Do you have kids? Do you have anyone else in the house other than you and your wife?

Let's start there - and then we can talk about specific weapon choices...

JD

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Old 08-11-2009, 03:05 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Dillinger View Post
Well, welcome to the fun and amazing world of firearms ownership!

Congratulations on your final decision.

What is your experience with shotgun shooting?

Because a twelve gauge, especially a short stock/folding stock, pistol grip with a pump, or gas operated system, is going to produce quite a bit of energy, meaning it's recoil is going to be a huge shock to you.

A shotgun isn't my first choice for a home defense weapon to be honest.

However, with something like an 18 inch barrel, and #4 birdshot, you should be reasonably able to stop damn near anything without having to worry about overpenetration.

A semi auto shotgun is going to be easier to shoot, since it will reload itself for you, but it's going to be a bit more complicated to clean and maintain.

A pump shotgun is going to be easier to maintain, but it's going to take a bit more to chamber each round after you shoot it. In a panic situation, you might not be prepared to continually rack the slide and chamber the next round.

As for storage: Do you have kids? Do you have anyone else in the house other than you and your wife?

Let's start there - and then we can talk about specific weapon choices...

JD
Hi JD

I had decided on a shot gun because I figured that it would be easier to hit with and would not penetrate walls as you say. I am prepared to change my mind if I there is a good reason to go with a handgun.

I have fired a 12 guage shotgun a few years back. Also a .45 handgun and an M14 in semi and full auto about twenty years ago when I was in the Navy. To be honest, I found the shotgun to be managable, but my wife is a little concerned about the recoil. I figured if we had proper training & practice, she could work through that. Am I wrong? Does she need her own gun?

I suppose I should start with my first gun being easy to maintain. A semi-auto number won't do me much good if I muck it up. I can upgrade in a couple years if I feel the need and am comfortable with it.

Just me and the wife in our house.

Thanks so much for taking time to help me get started!

Canis
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:19 AM   #4
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Okay, here is the deal with a shotgun.

Your door way is 3 feet to 3.5 feet wide. That's every door in your house. And the hallways in your house are about 4 feet wide.

When you are lying down next to your lovely lady and you hear that bump in the house, you are going to have to make it through all those bottlenecks to get to the source of the problem.

I assume you are familiar with the "Low Ready" position? That is the best way to get through a doorway, or perhaps move down a hallway, with a long gun like a shotgun in your hands.

You could carry barrel up, and hope to bring it down onto target, but there is a reason that Low Ready is taught and that is it's more effective.

Now, you can get a folding stock, with a pistol grip and shorten the overall size of the weapon, but then ou are going to get a very large recoil with the first round, and that first round might not be enough to hit a threat.

I prefer a pistol for home defense because it's all around easier to move from room to room, sweep/clear and bring to bear on a target in a quick situation.

But that is only my opinion. If you are more comfortable with a shotgun, then get a shotgun. But over penetration is an issue to worry about, which is why I would suggest perhaps a .20 gauge instead, or at the least #4 birdshot to keep that to a minimum....

More in the morning - it is late and the bedroom appears to be the perfect temperature.

JD

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Old 08-11-2009, 03:40 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dillinger View Post
Okay, here is the deal with a shotgun.

Your door way is 3 feet to 3.5 feet wide. That's every door in your house. And the hallways in your house are about 4 feet wide.

When you are lying down next to your lovely lady and you hear that bump in the house, you are going to have to make it through all those bottlenecks to get to the source of the problem.

I assume you are familiar with the "Low Ready" position? That is the best way to get through a doorway, or perhaps move down a hallway, with a long gun like a shotgun in your hands.

You could carry barrel up, and hope to bring it down onto target, but there is a reason that Low Ready is taught and that is it's more effective.

Now, you can get a folding stock, with a pistol grip and shorten the overall size of the weapon, but then ou are going to get a very large recoil with the first round, and that first round might not be enough to hit a threat.

I prefer a pistol for home defense because it's all around easier to move from room to room, sweep/clear and bring to bear on a target in a quick situation.

But that is only my opinion. If you are more comfortable with a shotgun, then get a shotgun. But over penetration is an issue to worry about, which is why I would suggest perhaps a .20 gauge instead, or at the least #4 birdshot to keep that to a minimum....

More in the morning - it is late and the bedroom appears to be the perfect temperature.

JD
Hi,

Well, I had no idea what the "low ready" position is but I googled it and found out. Plus, I learned some other common positions. I was not kidding when I said I am a complete noob when it comes to guns.

If someone broke into my home armed with a medieval sword & shield, I would know exactly how to take a doorway and clear my home because I train with and against those weapons every week. Guns - not so much.

I suppose this is going to be a long arduous process of catching myself up on this stuff. I just hardly know how to begin, and that is what has been holding me up. I do not expect you guys to train me either. But I am at a loss as to where to go for training.

I suppose I feel more comfortable about a shot gun because it seems like an advantage over a handgun. It seems easier for an unskilled person to come out on top with a big blast pattern on their side. I realize that may be a misconception on my part.

To be honest, My current defense plan is something like this:

1. We hear a robber.
2. I tell my wife to lay on the floor behind the bed.
3. She dials 911 while I ready the firearm.
4. I crouch behind the end of our dresser in the darkness of our bedroom and aim at the door, ready to unleash my hogleg on anything that comes through the door without identifying itself as a police officer first.

Lame? Maybe. It's just that I have a lot of nice stuff in the house, but except for my wife, none of it is worth risking my life for. Right now, it is very hard to picture myself engaging in a fire fight over material posessions. It just does not seem worth it. Especially at my skill level, it seems like a good way to get the both of us killed or worse.

Maybe I could find a place in my area that will rent me a gun to try out. Is there even such places? I could try a couple sizes of handguns, and shotguns in both 12 & 20 gauge for comparison. Does that sound like a good plan? Or even possible? Unfortunately, I only have one friend that owns guns, and those are all collectable military rifles that he does not ever fire.

Have a good nights sleep, Canis
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Last edited by caniswalensis; 08-11-2009 at 03:55 AM.
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by caniswalensis View Post
Well, all you crazy gun nuts must be rubbing off on me because I have decided to take the plunge and purchase my first gun.

Actually, I have been considering it for a couple years, but I never felt like I knew enough to proceed. Having the support of this forum has given me the feeling that I can pull it off. So I hope you don't mind if I ask some questions. I searched the forums, but could not find exactly the info I was looking for.

It will be a 12 gauge shot gun. I am getting it primarily for home defense purposes.

I checked and Kentucky has fairly liberal gun laws. I will not need to register or license my gun. It seems that I am allowed to buy it from just about anyone as well.

I want to get training for safe handling and proper use, as well as care & feeding of my new friend. I have never owned a gun before and have no idea how to care for one, other than the vague notion that I will need to clean it and oil it at some point. I have no idea what sort of training would be appropriate or where to get it.

That's the first three questions:

#1. Where do I get training from?
#2. What sort of training should I get for a shotgun?
#3. How do I care for a shotgun? (Or will that be covered in a typical training class?)

I told my wife that I had decided to get one and she was right behind me. We have agreed that we will both get regular training and practice with it...just in case we need it.

Some other questions:
#4. Where is a place to buy a shotgun? Wal-Mart? Online? A gunstore? Why?
#5. Do I want a pump action or semi-auto? Why?
#6. What about a used shotgun? (This scares me a little because I wont know what I am looking at.)
#7. How should I store the gun? Safe? trigger lock? under my pillow?
#8. How long will my Ammo keep? Indefinitely?

Ok, I know that is a lot, but I am a complete gun noob. Thanks for the read.

Sincerely, Canis
First off, good choice! Shotguns are fairly cheap and a blast to shoot. Now to your questions.

1. Training can vary from meeting people at the range to buying videos.
2. For shotgun training, I'd say focus on large loads [buckshot and slugs] for accuracy and endurance.
3. Shotguns are pretty easy to take care of. Wipe down the internals quickly and use some gun oil/solvent for the barrel to get the residue out.
4. Best place to buy is from a gunstore. They usually know the most about the guns. Some gun places may not, but for the most part they usually do.
5. Pump action because the racking of the slide is the best sound.
6. I have a used shotgun and I wouldnt think twice about using it for home defense. It's been good to me since I clean it whenever I use it, even if I dont shoot it but load the magazine to go hunting.
7. This is preference. I prefer magazine loaded, safety off, chamber empty. You can do it however you feel is safe for you.
8. Not sure what you mean.

Hope this helps, even in the slightest.

S.S.
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:07 AM   #7
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First off, good choice! Shotguns are fairly cheap and a blast to shoot. Now to your questions.

1. Training can vary from meeting people at the range to buying videos.
2. For shotgun training, I'd say focus on large loads [buckshot and slugs] for accuracy and endurance.
3. Shotguns are pretty easy to take care of. Wipe down the internals quickly and use some gun oil/solvent for the barrel to get the residue out.
4. Best place to buy is from a gunstore. They usually know the most about the guns. Some gun places may not, but for the most part they usually do.
5. Pump action because the racking of the slide is the best sound.
6. I have a used shotgun and I wouldnt think twice about using it for home defense. It's been good to me since I clean it whenever I use it, even if I dont shoot it but load the magazine to go hunting.
7. This is preference. I prefer magazine loaded, safety off, chamber empty. You can do it however you feel is safe for you.
8. Not sure what you mean.

Hope this helps, even in the slightest.

S.S.
Yes, it helps and thank you very much, SS.

For #8, I meant will ammo deteriorate over time? Can it go bad like milk?
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:16 AM   #8
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Oh. I should have figured but its getting a little late. It'll be a while until the ammo goes bad. So no worries there. My cousin leaves his shells in his hunting vest year round and it goes bang everytime.

Glad it helped. Have any more questions, feel free to ask.

S.S.

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Old 08-11-2009, 05:00 AM   #9
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First off, good choice! Shotguns are fairly cheap and a blast to shoot. Now to your questions.

S.S.
+1

While I highly respect JD, my opinion on home defense aligns more with shotgun shooter's.

Now... on to your questions:

#1. Where do I get training from?

Excellent first question! (Most would have asked, "what kind of gun should I get?"...)

Most firing ranges will have contact information for a local instructor. Some instructors offer some kind of "Basic Home Defense" course, which includes tactical scenarios based on the layout of your home and how many people occupy your home, as well as firearms instruction. If not, at LEAST take instruction on operating your chosen firearm.

#2. What sort of training should I get for a shotgun?

The best I can offer up is box range training in different firing positions. If you're hunkered up in a corner in the sitting (bad tactical position) position, go to a range and learn to shoot real good in that position. Learn to become proficient in reloading (to include handling the ammo) without looking (in case it's dark, etc.) You can do a search on YouTube for some cool reloading techniques by the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) that will allow you to maintain control of the shotgun without taking your eye off the danger area.

#3. How do I care for a shotgun? (Or will that be covered in a typical training class?)

Shotguns are quite easy to maintain. Just keep the rust of the barrel, keep the barrel swabbed after firing, and you're generally good to go. Despite contrary belief, firearms do NOT have to be "GI cleaned" to remain effective and functioning. Most of the time, a good wipe-down is all that is needed.

#4. Where is a place to buy a shotgun? Wal-Mart? Online? A gunstore? Why?

I would visit a gun store. Wal-Mart has grown to be quite liberal and shies away from using firearms for anything other than hunting. (Sam Walton is turning in his grave, I'm sure.)

#5. Do I want a pump action or semi-auto? Why?

PUMP ACTION!!!

I would recommend something like a Mossberg 500A with a full stock and a 18 1/2" barrel with a 5 round magazine (tube type). I recommend a full stock as opposed to a pistol grip because a) the room saved with a pistol grip isn't enough to matter, b) a full stock offers a LOT more control over the shotgun, and c) if you run out of ammo, you still of a very viable self-defense weapon... albiet, a club.

#6. What about a used shotgun? (This scares me a little because I wont know what I am looking at.)

I good brand-new shotgun for self defense only costs in the $250-$350 range. You're not really saving THAT much money buying a used shotgun, if that's your concern. I would recommend the new gun with the owner's manual, trigger lock, and everything else that comes in the box with it.

#7. How should I store the gun? Safe? trigger lock? under my pillow?

Opinions differ quite greatly here. The following is *MY* opinion, so take it as such.

I prefer to drop the hammer on an empty shotgun, load it, then store it with no round cycled in the chamber. With the hammer dropped, I don't have to worry about depressing the slide release to charge the shotgun. If I do hear that "bump" in the night, I can grab the shotgun in the dark, wait a moment, then very loudly and deliberately rack that sucker! Every bad guy in the world knows what that sound is, and a shotgun is more intimidating that coming around the corner wielding a Desert Eagle .50 cal. If you still have an intruder after racking the shotgun, the bad guy is either deaf, or really wants to die.

#8. How long will my Ammo keep? Indefinitely?

Again, this is a matter of opinion. I've fired LOTS of ammo that was given to me for no other reason than it has set in a dresser drawer for more than five years. I've never had a problem with ANY "old" ammo that has been kept in a climate controlled setting. I would trust a box of twenty year old name brand stuff in a drawer before I'd trust a box of brand new reloads from Joe's Gunshack down the street.

Right before deploying to Iraq last year, I fired a bunch of .223 someone gave me from when he ran ranges in the Air Force back in the early '80s. Not a single mis-fire.

Then again, if that's the kind of thing you're worried about, then you're not training enough!
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:21 AM   #10
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Personally, I don't subscribe to the thought that the sound of a racking 12 gauge is enough to stop any criminal and make him give up his first born and everything he owns to you. Infact, I believe it can actually be detrimental to the good guy, "Hey, I racked this, I scared him away, not I can get complacent when I search my house... BAM".

In addition, racking it could serve as a warning to a possibly armed enemy that you are in fact armed and I'm a big believer in letting the enemy know as little as possible about me for as long as I can.

I personally prefer my shotgun right where it is (up on top of my shelf, unloaded ready to shoot skeet).

When it comes down to self defense I like my handgun, its a compact Springfield XD 40 that I can fire both left and right handed, one handed, 2 handed with a light without a light in my other hand or on the rail, and at the close range of home (or in my case apartment) you shouldn't have any trouble hitting your target if you've trained your muscle memory to draw and go directly to center of mass without having to line up your sights.

Reguardless of your decision the one thing I (and everyone else probably) can't stress enough is training. Even when you're done with the class keep practicing until you don't even have to think about it anymore, it just happens.

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