Not Another "What's the best first gun" Thread

Discussion in 'Semi-Auto Handguns' started by Ranman, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. Ranman

    Ranman New Member

    Well, maybe it is...

    Hi everyone. I am totally bummed in that I just spent an hour typing my first thread and I lost the content due to login/logout issues. I'm going to try again one more time.

    My bio information is in the intro section for reference. I am working to educate myself and ultimately decide on my first handgun purchase and I need some expert assistance. I've done a lot of reading and have determined that there is as much debate and opinion on what the "best" first gun is as there is on politics and religion. ;)

    So far, I have considered three different approaches to a first gun. First, I was considering a revolver. Easy to use, relaible, low maintenance, acceptable home defense, OK to carry. Specifically, I was considering a .357mag with a 3" to 4" barrel in a lightweight frame. This would allow me to practice with .38special cartriges and keep .357's in the nightstand. Short barrel and light frame means good for carry. OK for home defense situations of point and shoot (no aim) at 20 feet or less. Biggest downside is a sore/broken wrist from practice. ;)

    While not a bad concept, I moved away from that idea and thought I would get an "inexpensive" .22lr and learn how to use it. Cheap ammo means lots of practice and with practice comes ownership and handling comfort. Once proficient, I could move up to something bigger. Another similar idea was to get something like a Sig P226 .45ACP plus a .22lr conversion barrell. Start with .22lr and move back to the bigger caliber once up to speed. Both of these approaches are considerably more expensive (2 guns or 1 gun and 1 conversion kit) ways to start.

    Now I'm thinking that I can split the difference with a 9mm. A 9mm would be reasonable to practice on and learn, it should be acceptable for home defense and I could expect to carry it at some point. I think, for a first gun this is the "value point" that balances out what I'm looking to accomplish.

    Statement of Desired Use:
    So, in order of priority, I am looking for a gun that is reasonable to learn on that is high quality and has above average accuracy, is acceptable for home defense, and may be concealed and carried at some future point.

    Assuming that my thought process is sound, I have been looking into 9mm offerings. Money/budget is an issue, however, I should have the means to get something fairly nice. I've been looking at Sig Sauer and HK primarily. It's my understanding that these makers are above average in quality and craftsmanship and are the "German" powerhouses. My budget will allow for $700-$1000. I'm leaning towards something with a slightly longer barrel for range/target practice purposes. I know the drawback on the longer barrel is the conceal factor, but the counter guys at my friendly neighborhood gun dealer agreed that I could easily conceal a slightly larger gun do to my size (6'4" 260lbs). Adding to that, I did visit a gun shop and I was able to hold several models by Sig and HK. Both seemed to fit my bear claw of a hand quite well. I wasn't able to shoot any of them due to a time constraint, but I plan to test the Sig and HK (not sure which models exactly) in the next couple of days. Oh, also, I held a couple of the subcompacts from Sig and HK and they felt rather small in my hand so these will most likely be out as a first gun for now.

    Now, this is where my confusion starts and I'm hoping some of you can help. Can someone give me an idea on the differences between the Sig Sauer and HK's with respect to quality, options, accessories, etc? Maybe even some differences between the actual models? P250, P220, P226. P229, P30L, P2000, USP? There's so much to choose from and so many sub-models under each model I get lost. Expert, Tactical, Elite, Equinox. Then there's the other features like, DA, SA, DAK, SAO, adjustable sights, night sights, tritium, fiber optic, trigger pulls, grips, rails, etc, etc. Can someone help me with some of this and tell me what would be important to consider based on my defined uses and what may not be so critical? Any information in this area would be very helpful and will help me zero in on the model that will best suit my needs and wants. Lastly, is there any other makes and.or models I should take a good look at and try out?

    Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read what might qualify as the longest first thread I have ever posted. Hopefully, I have given enough detail on my demographics and where I am in the process that you can actually make some specific recommendations. Also, I hope the information provided is sufficient such that I don't get flamed for submitting another "what gun is best" thread. :D Thank you in advance for your replies.

    P.S. I am an avid boater which should help explain my avatar. I will update it to something more appropriateas soon as my cherry has been oficially popped. :D

  2. bigjim

    bigjim New Member

    Guns are a lot like boats, not all boats are good for all tasks, I like bass boats myself, but a nice sail boat at 35 feet would be my first choice. But I have been sailing since I was 16 that's over 50 years now.

    Everyone's first gun should be a 22lr pistol. There are about 100 reasons why, cost, availablity of ammo, recoil, easy to use, can be used almost anywhere and will be the most accurate for the first time shooter, etc....

    However, not good for self defence or home defence (can be used, but not as effective.) But unless you are ready to spend about $200.00 each time you go to the range (cost of ammunition) it (22lr) is still the best way to learn to shoot (about $20.00 for 500 rounds of 22lr).

    If you HAVE to have a larger caliber for self defence then a 9mm would be the next choice, good balistics but not as powerful as a .40 S&W or .45 ACP. It will be easyier to shoot and will hold lots of rounds (13 to 20) per magazine.

    Warning, stay away from the 2 or 3 inch sub-compacts, you need to be a good shot with years of pratice to be any good hitting the target with these. They are self defence guns only (belly guns, short range only). They have their uses but so do skiffs (going to and coming from your main boat.)

    Unless you started your boating passion with twin 75 Merc's on a 20 footer, I would suggest you start with a 22lr (Beretta Neos or Ruger Mark III) and learn to be good with it for 12 months then move up to a larger caliber. Remember you have to fill up those gas tanks on the Merc's.

    Good Luck

  3. RCHanlin

    RCHanlin New Member

    Some good advice Jim. Only thing I would mention is if you are looking for something to use in the home for defense, I'd shy away from the 9mm and go more towards the 45 ACP. You are less likely to go through the intended target and possibly hit someone else (family member perhaps). Anything over a .380 is good for personal defense but in the confines of your home, you don't want your rounds going through the BG or the walls .

  4. bigjim

    bigjim New Member

    RC I agree with you, all family members should be behind you before you blast away with any gun, most self defense (Home defence) videos and articuals will tell you to lock your self along with the wife and kids in your bedroom and dial 911 first then find cover within the room and defend the door staying out of the direct line of fire. Since most bedroom doors are hollow and just 1/4 inch plywood samwiched between 1x1 pieces of framing material, almost any bullet will go through the door regardless of caliber.

    Yes the 45 is a better cartrage to use, but unless you are using an all steel framed 1911 45, it is a harder caliber to control in a plastic gun than the 9 mm. For a first time shooter I think they should still work their way up in calibers, 9 mm, 45 ACP, 357 Mag to 44 Mag.

    I would suggest they rent a few guns at the range and see what they are comfortable with. Hopefully no one will ever have to use one.

    Good Shooting and Stay Safe.
  5. ROGER4314

    ROGER4314 New Member

    First, good post! Glad you typed it back in!

    Advice here: If you have a long post, highlight it and use the "copy" feature before posting it. That way if you have been automatically signed off, you just sign back in and "paste" to re-enter it.

    Now about the guns. You're putting WAY too much thought into it. Pick one and buy it. Try it, shoot it and see if it's really what you want. If not, trade it off and get another. That's fun and it works a lot better than reading up on everything on and on. As long as you stay away from cheap crap and buy quality items, you will come out OK.

    Simply put, it's like learning about sex. Sooner or later, you need to put the books away and try it.

  6. Ruzai

    Ruzai New Member

    It seems like you want this gun for a gun that can be a "jack of all trades" and while this is my suggestion to remedy this, in the end, you have to try something out before you know you're ready to own and use it.

    My first pistol caliber above 22lr was a .380 and it was in a short 3' barrel, and I didnt hit the broad side of a barn for the first few shots.

    Depending on where you are, a decent pistol like a Glock or a Springfield XD or Walther P99 or something like that can run you roughly about $600.
    A decent 22lr conversion kit will run you about $250-400 over the internet depending on who you get it from and what gun its for.
    The reason I think this idea is better is; muscle memory. Operating a 22lr conversion kit on the same frame gun will be the same as operating it in a larger caliber minus the recoil. Switching from a Berreta U22 Neos 22lr to a Glock 45acp was a bit of a challenge for me to overcome my muscle memory of the previous gun.
    Since you want to carry the gun supposedly it is a good idea to practice, and practice often to prepare for that awful day you might just have to pull your gun to save you or someone else's life. The more you practice with the gun the more engrained into you the movements will be on that day you need them and you dont want to be fumbling to do something on your gun the day it happens.
  7. gorknoids

    gorknoids New Member

    I was shooting the breeze with a police Lieutenant the other night after work, and he made the statement that when he retired, he was going to carry a .380 instead of a 9mm due to size and weight issues. This guy is in his mid-50's and could carry a keg of lead around on his back all day.
    His take on it is that the average gunfight starts out toe-to-toe, and he's seen plenty of corpses sporting .380 diameter entry wounds, so it meets the bar for lethality.
    I'm a fan of capacity, just as many people won't trust their lives to anything smaller than .45, but we all have our reasons and rationale. I carry an XD 9 or an AMT Backup in .380. One holds 17 rounds, and the other holds 5. The only praise I can give either of them are that they are suited for specific situations. They are tools, and have to viewed in that light.
    You can't fell a tree with a screwdriver, and you can't take off an outlet cover with a chainsaw. I have one buddy that carries an H&K. He paid a lot for it, and it's a nice gun, but as he's an airline pilot my personal opinion is that he doesn't need to be dicking around with a safety lever when the ragheads are coming through the cockpit door. It should be a point-and-click interface. Rent every one that catches your eye, shoot them, and evaluate how they address your needs, because the gun you carry only serves one master.
  8. Makarov

    Makarov New Member

    I would recommend a Sig, Glock, Springfield XD, or Beretta 92FS in 9mm. If you go with the Sig, I would NOT recommend the P250 because mine broke after 200 rounds and has been at SIG for 6 weeks now. Many people will say this is just a fluke, but I have heard similar reports and your first gun should not be a problem gun.
  9. CaptainSlow

    CaptainSlow New Member

    I recently went through very similar deliberations. Lots of good comments in this thread so far. (The comparison to sex was great!) Let me share with you where I ended up.

    For many of the same reasons you stated, I landed upon 9 mm as the caliber of choice. At this point I got all kinds of hung up on debates about which gun would be the one, perfect solution to all my needs. I had a fondness for 1911s. So now I was looking at semi-custom 9 mm 1911s. I was willing to pay the money, but the choices were still mind boggling. Reading reviews, gun forums, and magazines just made my head hurt.

    Then one day I had - for me anyway - an epiphany. For the amount of money I was looking to spend, I could get MULTIPLE guns, each suited to a purpose. Given that you referenced a $1000 top end to your budget, I suspect you could do the same. Sigs and HK's are awesome guns, and you certainly would be hard pressed to go wrong with either. But since you're just starting out, would you really notice the difference in accuracy (arguably, if any) amongst those and say a Glock, and XDm, or a S&W MP? In my case, I decided that, no - I wouldn't. So I went with a XDm 9 for range work and home defense, and then with the left over money, found a used Kahr PM9 for carry. The XDm is very nice to shoot, and has been great to work with on some of the basics as far as stance, grip, pull, etc. The Kahr isn't quite as nice to shoot, but fits in a pocket holster without a problem.

    So the point isn't that an XD or a Kahr or Brand X is the best choice, it was that each gun has it's purpose. Maybe instead of looking for one expensive gun, look for two cheaper guns?

    Just a thought. Best of luck in your search!
  10. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

    Take a look at a CZ compact model in 9mm as well. Outstanding pistol, excellent quality and much better priced than the HK's and Sig's.
  11. Mr. Bluesky

    Mr. Bluesky New Member

    Why resurrect this? The OP hasn't logged on since February.
  12. ninjatoth

    ninjatoth New Member

    If you aren't carrying yet,and have another firearm around the house like a shotgun for protection,then a .22 is the best way to go.If you have an immediate need for protection than I would make my first gun a .357 revolver or 9mm auto.38 and 9mm ammo is easy to find and priced well enough to practice with.
  13. Mr. Bluesky

    Mr. Bluesky New Member