New Shooter - Looking for insight on first handgun purchase

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by StandoffTiger63, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. StandoffTiger63

    StandoffTiger63 New Member

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    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!
     
  2. orangello

    orangello New Member

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    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.
     

  3. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    1911:

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

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

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

    Either of my S&W's is probably older than you and function flawlessly!
     
  4. StandoffTiger63

    StandoffTiger63 New Member

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    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!
     
  5. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    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;

    [​IMG]

    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!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. sweeper22

    sweeper22 New Member

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    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.
     
  7. StandoffTiger63

    StandoffTiger63 New Member

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    @Cane
    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.

    @Sweeper
    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.
     
  8. orangello

    orangello New Member

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    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.
     
  9. Uncle Tom

    Uncle Tom New Member

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    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!
     
  10. ScottA

    ScottA FAA licensed bugsmasher Lifetime Supporter

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    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.
     
  11. BlackWidow

    BlackWidow New Member

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    S&W Model 617 is a .22 LR 10-shot full-size revolver with 4" or 6" barrel. It will give you a lifetime of enjoyment, and the ammo is a fraction the cost of any other caliber.
     
  12. utf59

    utf59 New Member

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    If I read your OP correctly, you already have a .22 Ruger. If you don't have a .22 and you just want to have fun at the range, I recommend getting one. They are cheap to shoot, and they make holes in paper just as well as a .44 magnum (just half the size). I take my .22 with me on every range trip.

    A full-size revolver is a great choice for a range gun. A heavier gun recoils less. The longer barrel gives you a greater sight radius (distance between front and rear sights) which translates to better accuracy. As has already been pointed out, you can shoot a wide variety of ammunition types with a .357 magnum revolver.

    Another great thing about revolvers is that there are grips available that will help a particular gun fit different-sized hands. There's also a thing called a T-grip that can help a revolver fill your hand better.

    Smith & Wesson and Ruger both make great revolvers. I personally prefer the triggers on the Smiths. Smith also makes both 7- and 8-shot models chambered in .357.

    Happy searching!
     
  13. sweeper22

    sweeper22 New Member

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    These are my two favorite range shooters:
    [​IMG]

    The CZ was bought new, the BHP used. Even with 4-5 mags each, aftermarket grips for the CZ, etc...I've got less than $550 into each.

    [​IMG]

    Excuse the lousy pics...I'm experimenting with the new digicam.
     
  14. zebramochaman

    zebramochaman New Member

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    Welcome from Damascus, MD.

    I grew up on Long Island, so I already like you.

    I am a HUGE Ruger fan. If you are attracted to revolvers Rugers IMO are the best bang for the buck (Pun Intended). Check out the Ruger GP-100. It is available in .38 Special/.357 Magnum and in .327 Federal Magnum. Its available Blued or in Stainless and is also available in varying barrel lengths. They are available from $500 - $700 new, $350 - $450 used.
     
  15. MattT

    MattT New Member

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    Hello,
    I am also new here and relatively new to firearms(had a FID card years ago that I let expire, took the course and am waiting for my license to come in the mail) i am also looking at purchasing a handgun and a rifle as soon as I get my license. A couple weekends ago a bunch of my family and friends went to a range in NH where we could rent a bunch of guns an try before we bought... We had 10 of us there and we rented 4 different hand guns a 1911, couple of glocks of different caliber's and some of the guys brought thier own personal guns in for us to try out and see how we liked them. Of course we rented an Uzi, sterling SMG, MP5 and I shot an AK74U on full auto.. Man that thing is insane all I could see was a ball of fire.. Lost the target completely. I am getting side tracked SORRY! my point is that we all got to try a bunch of guns none of us had, we had a GREAT time and it cost 75 bucks each when all was said and done;) if you can find a range near you that also rents guns I HIGHLY recommend trying several out before ya buy one. I am still not sure what I am gonna get.. Might have to go back to NH!! lmao. In NH ya just need a drivers license to rent a gun on the gun ranges.

    GOOD LUCK.

    All the replys to your post have given me some insights and couple different guns I would like to try before I buy.
     
  16. Dragonheart

    Dragonheart New Member

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    If you don't have a good .22LR start there and develop your shooting skills first. Once you have mastered the stance, the grip, the trigger and the sights you will be ready for a larger caliber. Starting out with a larger caliber before you are ready will only result in a lot of unnecessary expense and frustration.

    After you are confident of your skills either rent of find a club or friends that will take you to the range and let you fire a number of handguns both revolvers and automatics in different calibers. Pick a gun based on what you want it to do, how it fits you and by how well you can use it. Going out and quickly buying a gun just because it is right for me or someone else is not the best choice for you. Take your time and make your purchase count as you need to pick one, at least to start with, out of a choice of hundreds.