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  1. #1
    Bellator's Avatar
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    Caliber Selection

    I've never shot a handgun but I've shot a variety of small to medium bore rifles and 12-gauge shotguns over the years. I know handguns are different animals compared to rifles and shotguns in terms of handling recoil but I think I can handle recoil well. I'm a pretty big guy and I don't notice the recoil much from my brother's Lee Enfield Mark III in .303 British or my Mauser K98 in 7x57 Mauser IS. My other brother is a little smaller than me and he said the .45 ACP was a dream to shoot and the recoil was very manageable using a 1911 pistol. I would really like an HK USP Tactical in .45 ACP for my first handgun but I'm not entirely sure about the caliber selection. I plan to have several handguns in several calibers and one will definitely be a .45 ACP. I'm just wondering if I should select a caliber with lighter recoil for my first handgun. I would really just like to get the HK USP Tactical in .45 ACP and go shooting Plain and simple. Did any of you guys start shooting handguns in .45 ACP or did you work your way up from smaller calibers? Did you guys test several handguns before you bought one or did you just buy one and go shooting?

  2. #2
    Mike Barham's Avatar
    Mike Barham is offline Senior Member
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    I started with a .45ACP. It was a mistake. It set back my progress as a shooter by several years. If I had it to do over, I'd start with a .22, or if I needed a defense gun, a 9mm.
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  3. #3
    Baldy's Avatar
    Baldy is offline Senior Member
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    Here's what I would suggest. Go get a Ruger Mark I or standard and practice all the fundamentals. Perfect your sighting, trigger control, stance, and breathing. You will do a whole lot better with that 1911 if you do. Good luck.

  4. #4
    PhilR. is offline Member
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    My first handgun was a Smith 41, which is a .22lr target pistol. Fun and cheap to shoot, and never misses if you do your part. Once I was comfortable with what I was doing, I purchased a Smith 39, which is a 9mm. My third purchase, done after I decided that I liked the handgun thing, was a 1911.

    Thinking back on all this, which happened in the early eighties, I'm glad that I started w/a .22. I never developed the flinch that you will often see in other people when they shoot a handgun that kicks. I'm not saying that you won't be able to handle the recoil of a .45, but I do think it's possible that you won't handle the recoil well.

    I too think that a good .22lr auto is a great place to start. They are cheap to shoot, and can be handled by just about anyone in your circle of friends. Also, I firmly believe that every handgunner - no...every shooter - should have a .22 handgun anyway.

    As for your choice of USP - they do have a great reputation, and although they are too large for most to carry concealed, they do make a great range or house defense gun. That being said, if I were to spend that much money on that big of a handgun in .45acp, I would get a 1911 of some sort. Too many other high-cap polymers out there. But that's just me......

    PhilR.

  5. #5
    Charlie's Avatar
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    If you're a big guy, I wouldn't worry about the recoil of a .45. That said, I would start out with a smaller round until I got used to shooting. A .22 or a 9 mm would be a good entry level handgun. Just keep in mind for later on the old saying, " A 9 mm may expand but a .45 never shrinks.."

  6. #6
    Bellator's Avatar
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    I live in Canada so I can only use handguns at the range. Did you guys start shooting .22LR at a range? If I have to shoot at the range, I would consider shooting a 9 mm to start. Is it a large jump from the 9 mm to the .45 ACP after shooting 9 mm for a while?

  7. #7
    hideit's Avatar
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    well i would get the 45 first
    the recoil of a 45 is like a strong push
    but the 9mm has a recoil that is quick and snappy - the reason is
    the pressures in the 9mm are very high and the 45 has lower chamber pressure
    reason i said get the 45 first is your experience with the rifles and you are a big guy and you know which 45 you want - that is a plus because there are so many manufacturers out there (of 45s) that it could get confusing -
    IMO getting a 22 can also be confusing

  8. #8
    Randall Donahoo's Avatar
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    first

    My first handgun was an inherited .45 ACP revolver. Got it when I was still in high school. Wish I still had it.

    Next was either a surplus .32 semi-auto I bought at Sears or an H&R 922. Still have the latter. Wish I still had the .32.

    If you'd like a .45, start with that. No big deal. I've never shot a 9mm, but I just got a KelTec and hope to shoot it soon... if only it would quit snowing here in CO! A .38/.357 mag is a great choice for a first handgun, IMHO. The .38 is easy shooting and a serious caliber in its own right, especially in +P versions. When ready for a little more kick and a real serious caliber, load it with .357. If you're the least uncertain about starting with .45, the .38/.357 would be my advice. Great, used handguns in this caliber are available very reasonably. This will always be a useful handgun in a growing arsenal... uh, collection.

  9. #9
    Randall Donahoo's Avatar
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    oops

    I entered this thread from the New Posts lists. Didn't notice that it's in the semi-auto forum. Sorry, if you're looking for auto, the .38/.357 mag is not a choice. Sure, there is the reportedly powerful 357 sig, but you can't also shoot a cheaper, "weaker" caliber in a handgun that's chambered for 357 sig... at least as far as I know.

  10. #10
    Bellator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randall Donahoo View Post
    Sorry, if you're looking for auto, the .38/.357 mag is not a choice.
    The HK USP Tactical .45 ACP is definitely my first choice. However, it's kind of funny you mentioned a .38/.357 MAG because the Ruger Blackhawk .357 MAG/9 mm Convertible is also up there on my list. Getting the Ruger would save me quite a bit of money if I got that first. I like this idea because I could start with .38 in the .357 MAG cylinder, 9 mm in the other cylinder, and shoot .357 MAG when I'm good and ready. I would just have to be pretty patient for the HK USP Tactical .45 ACP I love guns!

  11. #11
    Charlie's Avatar
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    If you're not a small guy and have a pretty good grip, I'd recommend at least a 9 mm if not the .45 ACP. As was said, the .45 has a push rather that a snap. Good luck with whatever you end up with.

  12. #12
    MindControl66 Guest
    i bought my .380 at a pawn shop on impulse for about $150.. then i took it straight to the shooting range

    i quickly regretted buying that piece of shit when the sharp plastic trigger split my index finger open the last 2 out of the 3 times ive shot it. also cuts on my thumb from the slide

    i just bought a s&w .40 and since the gun is of higher quality the recoil feels about the same. the bullets are huge though compared to the small looking .380

    id reccomend getting something nice even if it is $400 more it will last much longer and holds its value, it also wont blow up in your face or rip your hand apart.. and now i will read the rest of the replies

  13. #13
    MindControl66 Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR. View Post
    Also, I firmly believe that every handgunner - no...every shooter - should have a .22 handgun anyway.
    why? cheaper ammo?

  14. #14
    PhilR. is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by MindControl66 View Post
    why? cheaper ammo?
    Well, that's part of it. Cheaper ammo lets one shoot more, and putting lead downrange is what helps to develop basic skills. Spend some time at a public handgun range and you will eventually see some very poor shooting by someone with a large caliber handgun, and you will then see someone who could have used a good .22. A .22 pistol is also a good choice for a "starter pistol" if you have someone that you want to teach how to shoot a handgun. It's nice to have something easy and cheap to shoot if you happen to take a friend with you to the range. They also serve well for pest control or small game hunting, if you are fortunate enough to be in that situation.

    But more than that, there are some types of firearms that are basic to a collection. A decent smallbore rifle or pistol, a shotgun, a centerfire handgun (or more, as in the case of most of the readership here), etc..

    In other words, it's a philosophy thing, and not written in stone, nor is it something you have to do....

    PhilR.

  15. #15
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR. View Post
    Spend some time at a public handgun range and you will eventually see some very poor shooting by someone with a large caliber handgun
    Heh, "some time?" I bet you'll see more lousy shooters than good ones, and all in the first five minutes.

    As usual, PhilR. is right on the money.
    Employed by Galco Gunleather - www.galcogunleather.com / Veteran OEF VIII

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  16. #16
    JeffWard's Avatar
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    I think the first pistol I ever shot was my uncle's 44 Mag Super Redhawk... Everything since has been a breeze...

    Seriously... I started my serious pistol ownership with a Glock 23C 40 Cal. I had been shooting for years as a kid and teenager, but no regular shooting for at least 10 years.

    I'm not sure you have to "build up" from a 22LR, but I agree that having one is an EXCELLENT way to improve as a shooter. I bought a 550rnd brick of 22LR with my Buck Mark... The guy at the range threw in 100 rounds when I picked it up. I still haven't gone through that pile of ammo, and I've shot it 4 times. (I take the 45, or the 9mm with me every time.)

    Not only is the ammo dirt cheap (lead down range), but the guns are cheaper too... until you start modifying them... (My Buck Mark will be my most expensive gun in about a week!!!)

    Jeff

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