For new shooters.

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by cluznar, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. cluznar

    cluznar New Member

    I have had several people ask me how to figure out which handgun to buy if you are new to guns. They say that for a new person there are soooo many guns to choose from that it makes it difficult. The people who I talked with want something for home defense, but said they would possibly get a CCW permit in the future.

    I told them to think of shooting ability, not caliber so much. I pointed out the .22lr, .22 Mag, .32 acp, and .380 acp. I know a lot of people say get bigger calibers, but I want to see the person be able to get shots on target without much problem. Plus it is nice to have quick follow up shots.

    I told them to rent as many of these calibers I recommended and shoot them at a range. Once they get some confidence and feel a caliber they like, then start looking at guns in that caliber to buy.

    Not that many countries have the problem of which gun to buy. The U.S. makes a very large number of guns available to shooters. Some countries limit the caliber you can own and also which manufacturers you can get.

    As a gun owner we have the duty to try and make it easier for new gun owners to find a handgun for their first gun. We need to use our heads and get them going in the right direction as to a first gun. Don't try and get them to buy the .45 you like best. Get them started properly with a lesser caliber, because we all know after they shoot awhile they will want other guns.
  2. G30USMC

    G30USMC Well-Known Member Supporter

    I always tell them to shoot the highest caliber, they are effective with.

    Tell them to go to the range, that rents firearms, and try them out for themselves. Nobody can tell you "what is best", it is different for everyone

  3. Gatoragn

    Gatoragn Active Member

    My wife started with a Ruger Blackhawk .357 mag, running .38 spl, no problems handling recoil and she put holes in the bullseye. Later she picked out a S&W J frame 642 to call her own.
  4. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

    I also suggest that people rent one first.
    My other option is to take a few with when I take a newby to the range.
    I do not limit to semi-autos, either.

    I have found that with a revolver, I can watch if they are developing a flinch (notice that I did not say that they were afraid).
  5. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

    We start everyone off with 22's. After that, they usually are able to decide what they want and can easily "work" with.

    Sent from my iPad using Firearms Talk
  6. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

    personally, i don't make particualr brand or caliber recommendations with the exception of those new to shooting or that have little firearms experiance as then i will suggest starting with a 22 rimfire to learn the basics on and to become familiar with the fundamentals of shooting.

    my biggest suggestion is to try out as many as possible. i try and stay away from particular brands, platforms or calibers simply because what works well for one person may not be the best choice for another person. many times these suggests are subjective and personal based on what works for a particular person.

    another recommendation i like to make is, if there is a gun range or gun store that rents pistols, try them out. this is a good way to learn if the pistol you think you want is the best pistol suited for your needs.

    if a person finds something that appeals to them and seems like it would be suited, then post a question here on the forum. with as many members here on this forum, it's pretty likely that at least one member here has either owned or shot the pistol that interests you and can give some feedback about it.

    after you have made a decision to buy the pistol, then it's time to practice with it, then practice with it some more. learn it, clean it, and shoot it some more. the only way to get proficient with a pistol is to shoot it, alot! did i mention practice? yep, more practice on a regular basis.

    above all, if you are a new shooter, please consider taking a basic pistol or firearms safety course. be safe and have fun.
  7. kbd512

    kbd512 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

    Whenever someone asks this question it has immediate implications, to me at least, regarding why one would have a firearm to begin with.

    If you're purchasing your first firearm, it generally means you've made the decision that going around unarmed all the time may not the best idea ever.

    There are times when you can't or won't have a weapon for whatever reason, but for those times that carrying a weapon is legally and socially acceptable, it's best to have something suitable for the purpose of self defense. Training and special considerations are secondary topics.

    So I answer the question like this:

    What reason have you decided to purchase a weapon for? Nine times outta ten, the answer is personal and/or home defense.

    Have you shot a firearm before? Most of the time, the answer is either no or on a handful of occasions.

    Do you intend to carry this firearm or have a significant other use it in the event you are not with them or injured/killed? This question is also generally answered in the affirmative.

    Do you have any hand-to-hand combat training or training with edged or blunt weapons? The answer to this question is usually very little or none at all.

    If someone attempted to attack you or take your weapon from you with little advanced warning of an impending assault, would there be anything that you could or would do about it? It's a very simple question about where the rubber meets the road. Quite simply, "If you have no other option but to fight, with or without a weapon, are you mentally and physically prepared to do so?"

    Basically, I have a person who is new to both self defense and firearms, probably has never shot a pistol before (sometimes they will have shot a hunting rifle or shotgun at one point in their life) with little or no realistic close quarters combat training.

    Ok, so where does this leave us?

    I know we could find exception upon exception ad nauseum, but basically the person in question needs fundamental hand-to-hand training first, then edged/blunt weapons training, and after they have at least passing familiarity with all of that then we can talk about using firearms (generally a handgun).

    So here's what I recommend:

    1. Basic self defense or martial arts training from an instructor who understands what it's like to be in a fight with two or more people from actual experience who will teach his or her students things that are universally or generally effective irrespective of size/weight/strength differences, whether or not weapons or multiple assailants are involved.

    This training can and probably will take months and sometimes years of practice (entirely dependent on student aptitude and participation), which is sadly lacking from many self defense/martial arts curriculum because they are more interested in their special flavor of self defense/martial art and less interested in teaching the students things that are generally effective and don't require years of practice in order to achieve the desired effect.

    So now that we have some basic level of situational awareness, understand how people with weapons use them, how they can be disarmed, and understand how the most common types of weapons we'll face work, then and only then can we get on with using the most advanced form of weaponry most of us who are not soldiers will carry on a routine basis, which would be the handgun.

    I feel as though all of the conversations and arguments about this topic try to skip over all of this and go straight to the most advanced answer to the question.

    So, about the handgun.

    Size - If you're going to carry it on your person, which is the only way it will help you when you need it, then it needs to be concealable.

    Weight - Carry a 3 lb weight in your pocket for a week and then let me know if you want to exchange it for a 2 lb weight.

    Features - How many things do you feel the need to do before you can use your firearm as a firearm? In my case, I prefer to present the pistol and pull the trigger, but some people want more complicated solutions to the problem of firing a handgun.

    Capacity - If I told you that you won't know ahead of time how many rounds of ammunition you'll need, but I'll give you two ammunition packages of the same size/weight/shape/capability to carry with you and whatever situation you find yourself in, you have to solve it with just those two ammunition packages, would you rather have a greater or lesser quantity of ammunition with you?

    Caliber - Should we take the advice of trauma surgeons who treat gunshot wound victims or the say so of this company or that company or this shooter or that shooter about what's effective?

    There are plenty of highly competent shooters and even munitions manufacturers who know little to nothing about the effects of blunt force trauma, apart from personal experiences. Personal experience is certainly important, but I want information about "what's effective" to come from someone who has the expertise to analyze the results of shootings and make that determination. In other words, "Did that guy fall down after he was shot because he just decided to give up or because he was physically unable to continue fighting?"

    This is part of the reason for the wide variety of accounts about the effectiveness of this cartridge or that cartridge. A trauma surgeon isn't affected in the same way that the shooter is because he's treating a patient versus trying to survive combat. He's most interested in how/why from the perspective of understanding what the effects are and thus how to treat it.

    Employment - It should go without saying, but the typical purpose and use of a 5 shot snobby is different than a full size service pistol. The user has some important trade-offs to understand and make decisions about. So, "What are the likely or realistic use case scenarios that this particular firearm will be used in?"

    Employment is far, far more important than make/model/features, but it typically affects those decisions.

    So, with that in mind, what's the relative importance of the specific make/model/features of a handgun? The answer is not very, but those choices can also affect outcomes.

    There's nothing wrong with the question, but I think the answer to all of that should address the issues.
  8. cluznar

    cluznar New Member

    I believe a revolver is as good as a semi-auto, just less round capacity. The Ruger LCR in .22 mag or a .327 mag which fires assorted .32 rounds are two good revolvers for new shooters. Though my guns are semi-auto, I see no reason a revolver won't do the job. Six to 8 rounds is plenty good, usually you fire no more than three shots, and when a bad guy is being shot at he doesn't think whether it is a revolver or semi-auto.
  9. jjfuller1

    jjfuller1 New Member

    and what do you say to someone who answered your question with target shooting or hunting in mind? to me your post concentrates on things that are beyond the general new shooters needs or even thought process. but if thats what you feel to say then go for it.

    i generally find out what they are interesed in it for. and simply say ask friends to shoot their different pistols or rent them from a LGS. always start small and work your way up. start close with targets so you can see hits and gain confidence. and practice.. dry fire, assembly/disassembly, cleaning and shooting! oo and have fun.
  10. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

    If they are target shooting I tell them to get a rule book and attend some matches to see what everyone else is shooting.

    If they have to ask what gun to get to hunt with I just change the subject. They really need to do some research. You have to be a good hunter to take big game with a pistol.
  11. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

    just because people want a pistol, or any firearm for that matter for target shooting, does it mean they automatically plan on competing.

    many people like to do informal target shooting and as such are not limited to what the rule book says.

    lots of people do nothing more than informal target shooting and never plan on competing, simply for the enjoyment of shooting and getting to be a better shooter.
  12. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    With 22lr so hard to come by, I would hesitate to recommend one at this time. If a new shooter is looking for a home defense weapon, I would suggest a good quality 4" 357 revolver with 38 spl ammo for a start. Keep It Simple Stupid. You dont have the break in issues of a semi auto and it will accept a lot of different power levels and bullet types without feed problems. You also have enough weight to keep the recoil down. Gender and size does not matter. My petite wife learned on a 4" S&W 19 with 38 spl. Once a new shooter has gotten the basics, he or she can move to a different platform or larger caliber if they desire. Keep in mind a new semi auto requires a good number of rounds for break in and proof of reliability. A new shooter may not be willing or able to do what is necessary to run a semi auto.
  13. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

    very good points JTJ.

    nice thing about a revolver in 357 Magnum, is they can go up in power factor of the loads without having to go to a different pistol. just change the loads they are shooting.

    another nice thing about a revolver, is they can shoot shotshells much easier than a semi-auto can and it makes them good for pests if a person lives in a rural area.

    my wife as well has no problems in shooting a 357 Magnum, even with hot Magnum loads. she does quite well with my 4" barreled and my father's 8.5" barreled revolvers. she does get tired quicker from shooting his, but that is from the much longer barrel and the weight, and not the recoil. a few years ago, the first time she shot my father's 357, we were both impressed with her accuracy at 25 yards with that revolver.
  14. LoniJo

    LoniJo New Member

    I'm about to buy my first gun. My husband loves a 22 anything, but you can't find .22lr ammo, and 22 short has limits on how much you can buy. There are no ranges close to me for me to rent and try out different guns. I knew I wanted a 9mm, semi auto, but it had to fit my smallish hands. The ONLY one I found that felt good was the Ruger LC9. In fact when I held it it was like it had found a home :). The only thing I was worried about was recoil, but several people here set my mind at ease. I rarely see a 9mm being suggested for new shooters but I'm not sure why...
  15. kbd512

    kbd512 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

    I like shooting .38 Special out of my .357's, too, but I differ in my opinion of what I recommend to new shooters. Hand placement under bore is a matter of simple physics and a revolver doesn't do as well as a modern semi-auto with ammunition of the same power level.

    Not that it matters for learning to shoot, but the .357 chambered revolvers generally weigh more and will always be larger than semi-autos that fire ammunition of the same power level, for a given barrel length.

    As it relates to concealed carry handguns, any modern double stack pistol compared to a revolver of equivalent size will have near to or more than twice the capacity of the revolver and an 8 shot .357 is about as concealable as Dirty Harry's M29.

    I do recommend revolvers to people who have injuries that affect dexterity because depressing the cylinder latch is easier than operating a slide. That said, if you use the proper technique all adults I've ever seen who were not disabled had little issue with operating a slide.

    A pistol like a Glock or M&P doesn't have a break-in period. It either works from the box or there's something wrong with it. Quite plainly, guns that have break-in periods were not properly built for reliability. If you're only going to use it for target shooting, then anything that you fancy is fine.

    Any gun you intend to use for self defense should be tested with the exact ammunition you intend to use when you carry the gun, period. Before you get to the point where you are going to attempt to use a handgun of any type for self or home defense, you should have fired many hundreds and preferably many thousands of rounds of ammunition through it.

    Regarding simplicity or KISS, with a revolver you load ammunition, you latch the cylinder, you pull the trigger, and it generally fires. With a pistol like a Glock or M&P, you load ammunition, you operate the slide, you pull the trigger, and it generally fires. Neither are terribly complicated.
  16. Cnon

    Cnon Member


    I have CP and I just hold the gun in my weak hand, and pull the slide with my strong hand.

    Where's there's a will, there's a way.

    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014
  17. BeyondTheBox

    BeyondTheBox New Member

    I always answer the same, "figure it out for yourself."

    I've always believed in self edification in every realm and every way. It's a tale as old as time... give a man a fish, blah blah blah; teach a man to fish, Yada Yada Yada.
  18. Steel_Talon

    Steel_Talon New Member


    You've accomplished the first hurdle.. You researched the 22 and the 9mm correctly.

    2nd Hurdle You found a pistol that's fits your hand! "HOME":)

    Given the market for 22lr as it is, you can buy many guns in that caliber but what good is it if ammo is still a hit or miss challenge. So Go with the next best option 9MM...

    9MM Easy re-coil, Ammo is very available, Proven defensive and offensive caliber. Cheap to handload for. Over all easy caliber for new shooters to master.

    Plenty of reputable and not so reputable pistol manufacturers. The Ruger LC9 is a good small frame pistol to CC with and for its size it carries a good number of cartridges. If that is your intended primary use.

    There are plenty of larger frames 9mm pistols available, New and used.. Never over look a used pistol some real gems can be found for way less than new.

    *The reason why 9mm don't get the recommendations is.ost experienced shooters prefer the 22lr for its over all ease to use for the new shooter (confidence builder) The ammo was on the cheap and always available (once upon a time;) )

    *The next is the 9mm is hardly found in revolver configuration. Revolvers are safer for the new shooter (plenty in 22lr). Where an auto is ready to go immediately again. And if for some reason your mind strays a UD can quickly occur, sometimes with catastrophic results.

    So my recommendation is go with the 9mm, learn it master it, shoot it often. shoot it safely, and keep it clean.

    If its going to be your CC pistol then buy some premium factory defensive ammo (Gold Dots etc.) buy a couple extra magazine (I say four is minimum)

    And a Good CC holster or two..
  19. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

    And if you want something a little Bigger, the SR9 & SR9C were also mentioned. Ruger also just released a New version the 9E( for Economy). Basically is a less expensive SR9. Can take 10 or 17 Rd. Mags like the other SR9's,..the difference being interchangeable Backstraps for the Grip, like several others on the market. My wife has smaller hands then mine, and she likes the SR. As soon as we find a Stainless or two tone,...look for the 9E in your LGS of Choice within a month. Ruger execs couldn't release the info back in January when we interviewed them @ SHOT,.. But they did let slip that. "Something was in the works" for a mid yr. release. MSRP is$429..compared to $499-$529 for the std. SR...

    Edit: BYB: if you asked someone advice and they told you "Figure it out for yourself" you'd think they were just a bit rude....,
    Just Saying. Some of us don't mind offering the help, that's part of what the forums are supposed to be about.
    Sent from my iPhone using Firearms Talk
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2014
  20. Shoobee

    Shoobee New Member

    Personally, I don't believe a mouse gun is a good idea.

    I think someone should learn to shoot a 9mm with JHP's at least.