Prospective first time gun owner

Discussion in 'Training & Safety' started by caniswalensis, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. caniswalensis

    caniswalensis New Member

    142
    0
    0
    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. :D

    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? :D
    #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
     
  2. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    23,972
    1
    0
    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
     

  3. caniswalensis

    caniswalensis New Member

    142
    0
    0
    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
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009
  4. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    23,972
    1
    0
    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. :D

    JD
     
  5. caniswalensis

    caniswalensis New Member

    142
    0
    0
    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.:D

    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
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009
  6. Shotgun Shooter

    Shotgun Shooter New Member

    819
    0
    0
    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.
     
  7. caniswalensis

    caniswalensis New Member

    142
    0
    0
    Yes, it helps and thank you very much, SS.

    For #8, I meant will ammo deteriorate over time? Can it go bad like milk?
     
  8. Shotgun Shooter

    Shotgun Shooter New Member

    819
    0
    0
    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.
     
  9. hydrashok

    hydrashok New Member

    692
    0
    0
    +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! :)
     
  10. Ubergopher

    Ubergopher New Member

    1,210
    0
    0
    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.
     
  11. hydrashok

    hydrashok New Member

    692
    0
    0
    When faced with having to search your home for a bad guy... to have your space invaded like that, I believe you will find complacency is the LAST thing to worry about. You'll find you'll search your house HOPING you ran off the BG, but you'll EXPECT that you haven't. The bigger concern would be the startle factor... which, with good training (ie. keeping your finger off the trigger until you're on target and ready to shoot) will keep you from blasting your reflection in the dining room mirror as you round the corner.

    Usually, your "enemy" will EXPECT you to be armed (in the case of night burglars). In most cases, burglars aren't armed. What they don't know is that you're HOME. If they find you ARE home, or that they've been detected, most of the time, they'll run. In the rare cases they ARE armed, they certainly don't want to be out gunned.

    Think about it, would you want to get in a CQB gun fight with someone armed with a shotgun rather than a pistol?? Not me. I'd rather battle it out with someone armed with a handgun vs. a shotgun ANY day.

    I don't want to TOTALLY discount the effectiveness of a handgun in a self defense situation... but I am a big supporter of superior fire power.

    Excellent choice! However, living in an apartment, I hope you're using frangible ammo!! If not, I hope you have, at least, determined your sectors of fire for safety before the need to protect yourself in your apartment arises.

    Ditto!
     
  12. IGETEVEN

    IGETEVEN New Member

    8,358
    4
    0
    Canis, I think you made a wise choice going with the shotgun. You have gotten some good opinions pro and con shotgun vs handgun from some of our most knowledgeable members here. I think once you purchase the shotgun of your choice (Mossberg 500, the one I recommended to you originally in another thread) and get some range time in with it, that you will be completely satisfied.

    You can always move on up from there with other handgun or shotgun choices and preferences, as suggested. Like Lays tater chips, once tasted, you just can't have one! Good luck with you purchase and I hope we hear in the future how your range breakin goes with your new family member. :)

    Jack
     
  13. skullcrusher

    skullcrusher New Member

    10,888
    1
    0
    Canis,

    You've gotten some good advice already.

    Since you are in Kentucky, you should have very little trouble finding a range that will rent guns so you can try different ones including pistols. Most ranges have people that will have training classes. The Yellow pages should yield some names and locals for you.

    As for the 12 ga and the wife. Maybe try a 20 ga first at the range. The recoil from a 12 ga can make some people not want to ever shoot again. The first gun my wife ever shot was my single shot .410. It was managable enough that she did not shy away. She still has not fired my 12 ga, and she does not want to. So, if your wife is interested, find out what she is comfortable with.
     
  14. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    23,972
    1
    0
    Some really excellent information contained in this thread so far, and I take no offense to any opinion written opposite me, in fact I relish it to see what others feel. Thanks to Uber and Hydra for stepping up to the plate here.

    As for Canis, the idea that a shotgun is going to unleash this massive, whole doorway spraying pattern is a little unrealistic.

    If you take a look at some youtube videos, you will see that shotguns, for the most part, group about 2" to 3" of buckshot, or so, at about 50 to 70 feet. How many rooms do you have that are that large? :p

    So yes, you are getting a larger pattern of spread, but not enough that the shotgun is just a "point in the general vacinity and pull the trigger weapon".

    A real key with home defense, in my mind, is creating and knowing where choke points are in your house.

    In my house, it's a two story. Now, I have a monster of German Shepard that will let me know LONG before anyone gets inside. The UPS guy doesn't even come all the way to the door anymore, he stops at the entrance to the walkway and puts the package behind the potted plant and then leaves. :D

    BUT, the stairway coming up from downstairs is a great choke point. It's 14 stairs ( or fifteen depending who's counting ) and it offers a great down angle shot, with good overhead lighting that doesn't silhouette me at the top of the stairs and offers cover from both sides of the landing.

    In that situation, a shotgun or a pistol is fine, because I can hold that position until the cops come with just basic covering procedures. Plus the dog will probably already be chewing the bad guys throat out by the time I get into position, so that adds to my feeling of joy-joy wellness. :D

    If you feel that you would be better suited with a shotgun, then by all means get a shotgun. The most important thing is that whatever you buy, you have to be willing to train with it. Take it to the range and practice. Having the best weapon on the planet doesn't do you any damn good if you can't release the safety and put the weapon on target in the dark without fumbling around like your playing with your first bra clasp. :rolleyes:

    Are you willing to practice with the shotgun? Like 2 times a month?? If so, I am sure a shotgun would end up being just fine for you.

    JD
     
  15. Shotgun Shooter

    Shotgun Shooter New Member

    819
    0
    0
    I must have overlooked the sentence about his wife agreeing with him. I too would get her a .410. The big loads like 000 buckshot are very little recoil, well compared to the 12ga I've been shooting. If you want her to have her own gun, pick up a .410. Ammo is a little expensive but a blast to shoot.

    As for practicing, I'm a pretty fast learner. If I do something a few times, I usually get the hang of it. So, practicing with my shotgun didnt take long until I felt comfortable with it. Shooting for a couple hours a day for 2 or 3 times a month will go a long way, compared to shooting for 10 minutes once every few months.

    S.S.
     
  16. caniswalensis

    caniswalensis New Member

    142
    0
    0
    I thought that might be the case. Thanks for setting me straight on this.

    I see what you mean here. I have a stairway with a 90 Deg. angle in it right outside the bedroom door. I can even flip the foyer lights on from the top and project a nice shadow of anyone on the lower part against the wall.
    LOL! I mastered bras a long time ago. I hope that guns go as well for me!;)

    Are you saying that shotguns require more training than handguns to attain proficiency? I would have guessed the opposite. How often would you train with a handgun?

    Are you saying that people who do not Practice 2-3 times a month should not own a gun? I am not disagreeing, only asking. A firearm is a big responsability, and if someone is going to own one, they need to live up to that. Is two to three times a month really the minimum amount of practice required to maintain your skills?

    Whatever the case, I have been contemplating this move for some time, and have resolved to do what it takes. I expect that it will require some extra effort on my part at first, and then once I am up to speed, less practice will be required to stay in good form. Is that correct?

    Also, what do you consider to be an acceptable practice? Ten rounds? Fifty? Does anyone here ever run drills in their home with an (carefully checked) unloaded gun? It seems that I could practice working the safety and targeting in the dark better at home than at a range. Am I taking a foolish risk by practicing in my home? What about loading drills? Is there a safe/unsafe way to carry those out?


    And....

    To all that have taken time to give me your best advice here, I thank you from the heart. I do not have time to answer all of you personally, but I have read every word that was written here carefully and your help is very much appreciated. I will be counting on your continuing good will and advice as I progress towards my goal of being a 2nd ammendment participant. :)

    Sincerely, Canis
     
  17. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    23,972
    1
    0
    Canis, you are going from a point of having no familiarity with the weapon, to trusting your life on it. I think 2-3 times a month is a must to get up to speed with what the weapon can do, atleast to determine what is going to happen, and how you both will react, when you pull the trigger.

    For me, I'd never trust my life to a weapon I haven't put at least 100 rounds through WITHOUT INCIDENT. And for us, in our house, a range session for pistols is about 150 to 200 rounds. For a shotgun or rifle range trip, where the shooting is more static, it's at least a box of shells per visit, but usually 2 boxes.

    As for a shotgun versus a pistol and which is easier. Most pistols that aren't super pricey are going to have one safety catch. A simple flip, point shoot. That's about as basic as it gets, especially when you consider how easy it is to point your finger at something.

    With a shotgun, especially a pump shotgun, you have to either rack the slide, or be prepared to rack it after you let loose one round, and you have a safety that is frequently located on the trigger guard.

    Training is needed to be ready to make that a natural motion. Trying to rack a shotgun, that either has a shell in place, or the safety on, is going to distract you. Distraction leads to doubt, leads to you doing two things at once, looking at your gun and not paying attention to what is happening in your house.

    Having a pistol in Condition One ( round loaded, safety on, ready to rock ) is a simple matter of thumbing the safety ( most models ) and pointing the weapon.

    For people that I have taught, including my fiancee who had never really fired a weapon before, she took to pistol shooting MUCH quicker than she did to shotgun shooting because of the sheer size and cause-effect of the weapon.

    But, you and your wife might instantly take to the shotgun. Where do you life? Back east somewhere I seem to recall. Perhaps there is another member in your area, or a family friend who is an avid shooter, that can take you out and let you experience the differences.

    Just a thought...

    JD
     
  18. orangello

    orangello New Member

    19,156
    0
    0
    My ole mossberg pump 12 is beside my bed, like a cold metallic teddy bear. I have been very happy with it. I did change out the hunting barrel to a 18.5" one for the HD role; that makes it a bit easier to get through a door. I also switched out the stock to one with a pistol grip added to a semi-normal shaped stock to get a bit better control & the ability to shorten the overall length by not shouldering the butt of the gun. There is something hard to quantify about a pump shotgun; it reminds me of a revolver; they function so simply that it is somewhat assuring.

    One thing, if you do end up with a shotty, buy a box of the cheapo (like $30/100 shells) target loads & shoot a box (25) every month to keep yourself used to the BANG.
     
  19. caniswalensis

    caniswalensis New Member

    142
    0
    0
    Sounds like good advice JD.

    Everyone, Please do not think I am arguing in any way with all these questions. it is just at this point, every piece of info raises questions in my mind. I want to make sure that i get the full bebifit of the advice you are generously giving me.

    I need to take responsibility for myself and do some reading to get caught up on the basic principles here. I have read that that there is a book called "the Shooter's Bible" that is very good. Would that be a good place to start?

    I live in western KY. Henderson, to be exact. It is located right across the Ohio River from Evansville Ind. If there are any generous & patient forum members in the area that are willing to work with me in person, that would be very welcome.

    I have read that the Mossberg 500 has a safety that is reasonably easy to work. I was initially set on getting the Maverick 88, but I read they have a difficult safety. Of, course, this is all subject to change. It is concievable that I could go with a handgun after I try shooting some rentals.

    Regards & thanks, Canis
     
  20. Shotgun Shooter

    Shotgun Shooter New Member

    819
    0
    0
    I own a Maverick 88, so if you have questions on it let me know.
    I prefer the safety on the Maverick over the mossberg 500 safety. I wouldnt turn away from the Maverick without trying it out first. Great price for it, too.

    S.S.