Making a guide to choosing a new handgun
OK all. Time to put a guide together and I'd love to have input from the current members. We've been getting lots of new members, many of them new to shooting, and there many questions on how to pick a gun. So I've decided a get everyone's advice and then put a "best of the best" guide together that the rookies will find useful as well as attempting to minimize the time people have to spend answering the same questions over and over. So everyone chime in with your advice as if you were helping a friend or family member buy their first gun; the questions you'd ask them, questions they should ask a dealer, brand and caliber recommendations, places to buy, etc. After one week I'm going to close the thread, compile everything, then post the guide as a sticky.
Some possible topics.
Kids and Guns
The Shooting Basics
Running the Gun
For the Men
Just for Fun
Why a Gun?
On Being a Gun Nut
While that is great information from that site, I was hoping this forum could come up with something original, on our own, that is a reflection of the experience and experiences of the members here on HGF, and not just rip off the work of another forum or web site.
Originally Posted by HowardCohodas
First...caliber,,,,, is it ccw, just for target, home protection, cost of ammo
Second cost....new or used ,look to find what guns are in your price range.
third..... rent as many of your choices as possible to determines which feels the best to you
fourth...read as many reviews as you can on your choices and what there upsides and downsides are.
fifth.... shop around, gun prices vary so look around.
I admire your ambition of developing something original. Knowing about what is available may help sort out what is original, don't you think?
Originally Posted by Todd
If this is something we put together from scratch, then I'd call it original. I have no intention of plagiarizing or paraphrasing any information from any other site. This guide is going to be based solely upon information provided by HGF members. Anybody can Google "Tips for buying a gun" and get 100 different sites. The purpose of this guide is to help our new members make informed decisions based upon the current members personal insights and experiences; and not just providing them with links to other web sites that they could have gotten with an Internet search.
Originally Posted by HowardCohodas
Now, anybody else have anything they'd like to add to the guide?
Grip size: The grip on many pistols is to large for individuals with small hands. It is important that you select one that fits you if you are to shoot your best. When looking at pistols that have adjustable grip size such as M&P's ask and if necessary demand that the store clerk allow you to try all grip insert sizes available with the stock gun.
The gun should feel good in your hand with finger off the trigger. If double action your trigger finger first joint should reach the trigger without strain or repositioning. For single actions the pad on the trigger finger must fit on the extended trigger without strain or shifting from the natural position.
Some big guy's have medium to small hands so they need to test grip size just as do the smaller among us.
Todd, is this more what you are after.
I am expecting you will pull items desired and generate a new Sticky post. If not this later comment can be edited out.
Exactly! All I'm trying to do is get tips for people new to guns in one centralized place on the forum and make the tips come from our current members based on their experiences. Any info we can put in is going to help from basic safety, brand recommendations, caliber choices, to those little tidbits of information that an experienced owner knows but has said, "You know, I wish someone had told me that when I was shopping for my first gun."
Originally Posted by TOF
All the info I get will be complied, duplicated info will be pulled, and then a sticky will be made that will, hopefully, give the new guys a place to start. Obviously, they will still be able to ask specific questions as this will be a pretty general guide.
Having a process for making a decision is frequently the largest impediment to getting started. Pedagogy with respect to technical matters is a particular interest of mine, so this subject has not escaped my analysis. Of those I have tried to help, I roughly categorize them as follows:
- Those who are so new to the concept that they need help with understanding the criteria for making a choice.
- Those who have identified the criteria, but are having trouble ranking those criteria to give them a basis for decision making.
- Those that are looking for validation.
For those who are new to the concept, I generally review the criteria with them and refer them to some web sites that I have selected as containing useful information presented in an organized, thoughtful and understandable method. Just doing a Google search is usually unhelpful for the neophyte as the neophyte has no basis for sorting out what is good information and what is not. Here I am performing a kind of librarian function.
For those having trouble ranking the criteria, there are two approaches I use. My first approach is to ask them to rank the criteria in order of importance for three to five of the criteria. This simple method frequently gets them back on the path for making a decision.
For those still having difficulty, I suggest that they do some pair wise comparisons for the criteria that they find troublesome. I have them express their comparison as follows:
- Criterion A is a lot more important than Criterion B.
- Criterion A is a little more important than Criterion B.
- Criterion A is equally important to Criterion B.
- Criterion A is a little less important than Criterion B.
- Criterion A is a lot less important than Criterion B.
This exercise is usually successful in sorting out the issues blocking the decision process.
Finally, for those looking for validation for their choice or help in selecting from a small number of choices, I generally suggest all are good choices unless I know something about one of their choices that would violate their expressed criteria ranking.
Originally Posted by From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I have been hunting and shooting rifles, shotguns and archery since I was a youngster, 40+ years ago. I became a new handgun owner just a few years ago. Some of the things I wanted to know at that time were and in no particular order:
What did I want it for?
Where was I going to shoot it?
How much maintenance did it take?
What kind of ammo for home protection versus plinking?
Where was I going to keep it so my kids could not get to it but still get to it quickly if needed it in an emergency?
Did I want a .22 or something larger?
Once I got to a gun store I realized I wanted a Beretta 9mm like the military used. No particular reason I just wanted one. It felt good in my hand so I bought it, an M9. I have never been in the military, service or law enforcement.
Looking back on the experience and after a couple of years and buying other handguns, I could have gone about it a bit more methodically. To buy a gun is a personal choice and we each have many factors or decisions to make.
I try to do research now on:
What I want it for?
Is there a brand that interests me more than others?
Do I want a revolver or semi auto?
Do I want new or is used ok?
Is a pawnshop a decent place to buy from or should I stay away and by only new?
Am I going to use it for CC?
How does it feel in my hand?
Is it for me, my wife or my son?
Can I rent my choices to narrow it down?
What is the diffence between service, full size, compact, subcompact and pocket guns?
Does more than one store carry the HG so I can get a better price?
What does the internet say about the gun?
Are there recalls and is there enough bad publicity to discourage this choice?
When we go to the range or a place to shoot can we each shoot at the same time or do we have to share?
My wife likes pretty guns (to her).
I like all black but am starting to modify to two tone and grey ghosts.
My son likes flashy (he is 15) and I bought him a black and blue 6" barrel Beretta Neos. I did not like it at first but it has really grown on me. It is a blast to shoot and really accurate.
Am I going to pass this firearm along to family menber?
Is cost a factor?
What does it cost to shoot?
Can I buy ammo at a discount and where?
Is discounted ammo a poor choice?
What were cop killer bullets?
How do I maintan my firearm and does the manual explain how to do this in detail?
What does my wife like?
I went through an all day pistol shooting instruction course and now would recommend this to every new shooter. It taught:
Basic, safe handgun handling
Different types of firearms
Gun holding techniques, breathing, sight control, sight picture
Loading and unloading of said firearm
What to do with a Fail to Fire, Fail to Eject
Different shooting stances
Actual shooting in the field/range:
Lying on your back
Shooting off/week hand
Shooting through holes
Using objects to protect yourself
Rolling onto a target from protection object
Moving while shooting
Where am I going to wear it?
What is it made of?
Is this a CC holster that is easy to use?
Will the store allow me to bring my firearm in and try it in the holster before purchasing?
This is not all inclusive by any means but at least try to give you a perspective from a realitively new buyer perspective.
I actually thought about this today as I too noticed a number of new handgun owner questions popping up recently.
Thanks for taking this on. You are a scholar and a
I believe what Todd would prefer is for each of us willing to do so to pick a single subject and write a paragraph or two about it. A pretty good list of possibilities are already posted by Buck 32.
Ammunition selection: Blah ba-blah ba-blah
Caliber selection and why one vs. another: Blah ba-blah ba-blah
(don't start a caliber war though)
Todd will put an index together once the content is in.
Pick an item and have fun. Add an item you think is important but not yet listed etc.
Bingo! Look back to when you were buying your first gun, think of something you know now that you wished you knew then (caliber selection, brand, renting guns, selecting a gun size for its purpose, etc.) and just make a little write-up. I'll try to fill in the blanks if there are major gaps. Also, this will be a fluid document. If at any time a member feels we should add something to the sticky at a later date because there is a topic we did not cover, they can PM me and I can put it in.
Originally Posted by TOF
I will take a crack at this. My list will not be all inclusive but here goes:
1) What will the gun be used for? Is it for carry (concealed, open)? Is it for the range? Is it for home defense? Is it for several of those?
2) What are you mostly interested in? A revolver or semi-auto? Not sure? Back to number 1. Let's figure out what the gun will be used for.
3) Caliber. Again, let's consider number 1, cost, laws of your state etc.
4) Make and/or model. See number 1. Also, consider features such as manual safety/no safety etc.
5) Fit. What weapon fits the shooter? This goes hand in hand with number 4 but 4 helps narrow the options down baed on wanted/needed features.
6) Test fire (if possible).
7) Final selection. Ask members of HandGunForum.net to vote and make the decision for you. O.K. I am kidding about the last one.
Last but not least; Howard and Todd why can't we all just get along?
When I first started buying handguns (other than my 1851's) i had been doing a lot of rifle shooting. Becasue of this, I was ...disappointed... with the accuracy of my first handgun. Yes the gun not me. Groups were 4"-5" at 50' Ok that is not bad in retrospect, but i was looking for something in a rifle range. For self defense that is great, and this is what i wanted my pistol for. However 19 years ago the info on such was limited to gun rags (and we all know how biased they can be).
An understanding of what to expect for the purposes that you are purchasing is important.
On Choosing a Defensive Handgun
The absolute best advice I can give on this subject is: Find a mentor who is capable of rational, rather than prejudiced, guidance.
Failing the presence of a rational, critically-thinking, unprejudiced mentor, instead go to a rental facility and try as many pistols on as you can find to rent. Try as many different calibers as are available, too.
In the matter of calibers, choose from among .380 ACP through .45 ACP, including also the various revolver calibers other than the Magnums.
Cartridges of power below that of .380 ACP are essentially useless for self-defense. Magnum calibers (.357, .41, .44) require very special training and dedication, and should be avoided by the novice.
Single-action semi-auto pistols (e.g., the 1911 and its clones) require careful training and use.
Double-action-only semi-auto pistols (and I include the Glock and its clones in this category) are probably the easiest to learn to use well, but pick one with a relatively lightweight trigger-pull.
Traditional-double-action semi-autos (e.g., the Beretta M9 service pistol), which require the user to switch between two very different trigger pulls, should best be avoided by the novice.
If the choice is a revolver, it should be fired double-action-only, and never thumb-cocked. Learning both double-action and single-action triggers is a job for the more experienced shooter, and self-defense requires quick double-action shooting.
Generally speaking, heavy bullets moving relatively slowly make a given pistol easier to control.
In my experience, the .38 Special revolver loaded with 158-grain-bullet, standard-velocity cartridges is easier for a novice to learn to shoot well than is the same gun loaded with 110-grain-bullet, high-velocity or +P cartridges.
A full-size 1911 firing 230-grain bullets at 850fps is easier to control than any .40, or even a 9mm Parabellum.
If the pistol feels too big for your hand, and if its grip cannot be easily and simply exchanged for a smaller one, it is not the gun for you.
However, if the weapon feels too small, it's pretty easy to make its grip larger with accessory parts or different panels.
Go for comfort, but also make sure that you can easily grab the pistol in a proper firing grip, right off the bat and without adjustment. (The proper firing grip lines the barrel up with your forearm without making you strain to reach the pistol's trigger.)
Although for concealed carry thinner and smaller is better, the novice needs size and mass to make learning to shoot defensively much easier.
Start with a relatively large pistol. Leave the smaller ones for the experts, or for when you have achieved a couple of years'-worth of experience.
Choose a gun that requires widely-used, "popular" cartridges, because feeding it will be less expensive. The 9mm is probably the cheapest to feed, with .38 Special and .45 ACP right behind it.
Finally: When in doubt, ask questions. Listen to all the advice you receive, and then "filter" it according to your own needs.
Always listen carefully to advice, but do not always accept it or act on it.
My tidbit... From experience:
Competition guns are for competition.
Carry guns are for carry.
Many of the features that make a handgun good for competition: Bullseye, IPSC/USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, etc; are negatives for concealed carry. Beginners often look for a one-size-fits-all weapon due to limited budget or knowledge. But like cars... there are good "utility" vehicles, and there are good "performance" vehicles... Don't by a pickup truck for autocross, and don't buy a Corvette for hauling lumber...
Heavy guns are stable, "track" better, and recoil less; all good features for competitive shooting.
Heavy guns are horrible for carry, since you won't carry it if it's too heavy.
Long barrels provide a greater sight radius, a small increase in velocity, and more weight (see above), and therefore good for competition.
Short barrel guns are more concealable, comfortable, etc... for carry.
Single action guns tend to have crisper, cleaner trigger breaks, and are preferred for bullseye and other precision shooting competitions.
Double Action Only guns have longer, typically heavier trigger pulls that are safer in a life-or-death situation.
The more rounds you can carry in one magazine (or cylinder), the better for carry (weight considerations).
Many competitions are round-limited, or less critical, like Production Class (limited to 10 shots), Bullseye, or steel shooting, where there are only 5 targets in a stage.
New buyers should carefully consider WHAT they need the gun for, and buy the right gun. If you are in a state/city that does not allow concealed carry, why buy a Kel-Tec??? If your primary usage is concealed carry when maximum concealment is the goal, why buy a Glock 21???
There are very few, if any single-gun-solutions for most shooters. When I first started out, I bought a Glock 23C. I thought it was the perfect blend of power (40 S&W), concealability (compact size), control (ported barrel), and reliability (Glock brand). I found out it was too big, long and heavy for carry, and the ports where a bad idea in a carry gun. I found the 40 S&W chambering to be abusive and expensive to shoot, without added stopping power over a well-placed 9mm. I found the gun too imprecise for target shooting, and too expensive to feed for plinking... I found plenty of brands with Glock-like reliablility, but better ergomonics, and finish. There are thinner guns, shorter guns, more accurate guns, etc... as my taste, and needs evolved.
The "prefect gun", was pretty good for everything, BUT great for nothing...
Now, a few years later, I own a Kel-Tec P-3AT, a XD9SC, a Buckmark 22, and a M&P9 Pro Series... for deep concealment/low threat carry, high-fire-power/higher-threat carry, and for competition only/never carry (rim-fire and center-fire)... to each task, a gun.
There is no one-size-fits-all "perfect gun"...
Now we're getting somewhere!
I get along with everyone, just ask my friends ..... errr ...... friend.
Originally Posted by Ptarmigan
Where do we find him?
Originally Posted by Todd
Great advice. good idea.
You can't find him. He's .... invisible.
Originally Posted by niadhf
Search tags for this page
loading a semi auto pistol
Click on a term to search for related topics.
» Springfield Armory
» HGF Sponsors