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  1. #1
    Donato's Avatar
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    Advice about first semi-auto handgun

    I am brand new to the world of handguns. I own a Winchester rifle, but I never held a handgun until yesterday. I'd appreciate some advice from anyone experienced with a semi-automatic pistol. I am looking seriously at either the Springfield Armory XD 40 or Smith & Wesson M&P 40 or Glock 23. All of these handguns received excellent reviews. Has anyone ever owned or fired one and can recommend one over the other? Or are there better first time semi-automatics to also consider, e.g., Baretta?
    The gun will be used primarily for in-home self-defense and also for concealment. I will, of course, use it just for fun at the shooting range.
    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donato View Post
    I am brand new to the world of handguns. I own a Winchester rifle, but I never held a handgun until yesterday. I'd appreciate some advice from anyone experienced with a semi-automatic pistol. I am looking seriously at either the Springfield Armory XD 40 or Smith & Wesson M&P 40 or Glock 23. All of these handguns received excellent reviews. Has anyone ever owned or fired one and can recommend one over the other? Or are there better first time semi-automatics to also consider, e.g., Baretta?
    The gun will be used primarily for in-home self-defense and also for concealment. I will, of course, use it just for fun at the shooting range.
    Thanks!
    Welcome to the forum!

    If this is going to be your first handgun, I recommend something in the compact size. Both XDs and M&Ps come in this size, and the Glock model 23 is a compact. This will allow you to conceal without too much trouble while retaining a lengthy-enough barrel to put shots where they count without much difficulty. In terms of these manufacturers, I've 95% sure they all stand behind their products for life if you buy new (and some even if you don't buy new, although I don't know which). They are also known for their products reliability so I wouldn't give this too much thought.

    I find it interesting as a first handgun all of your choices have striker action (as opposed to hammers). There is nothing wrong with this but I was wondering if your list of candidates was given to you by someone else? I prefer hammers myself, but mostly because I learned on a 1911. This is just food for thought.

    Also, as a first handgun, you may want to consider going with a 9mm or a 45 ACP. The 40S&W round, while not necessarily punishing, does have a sharp, snappy recoil and can irritate novice hands, especially in a compact-sized weapon. Comfort issues and blisters did occasionally come out whenever I shot Glocks 22 and 23 (40S&W fullsize, 40S&W compact), but I never had an issue with the Glocks 17 & 19 (9mm fullsize, 9mm compact). Recent ammunition spikes in price and lulls in availability might also lead one to choose a caliber which is cheaper and/or easier to find. It is also for this reason I think you should consider a 9mm weapon in particular.

    Hope this helps!

  4. #3
    Donato's Avatar
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    That's great advice...

    Thanks very much for this advice. It is not something I considered before, as I wanted something with more punch than a 9mm, but you have given me good food for thought. The last thing I want is to have blisters on my fingers or hands! Can you recommend some solid quality 9mm 45 ACP semi-autos models? What about a lesser caliber, such as a 22? Could they also cause comfort issues? How about a 10mm like the Glock 20 or 29?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donato View Post
    Thanks very much for this advice. It is not something I considered before, as I wanted something with more punch than a 9mm, but you have given me good food for thought. The last thing I want is to have blisters on my fingers or hands! Can you recommend some solid quality 9mm 45 ACP semi-autos models? What about a lesser caliber, such as a 22? Could they also cause comfort issues?
    Well, I don't want to come off as bashing the 40S&W. It is a great round, it just happens to have the highest PSI of the popular handgun calibers (well, second highest, although the difference between 40S&W and 357SIG isn't a whole lot, and I'm not sure you could call 357SIG "popular"). This can lead to wear-and-tear and fatigue on your hands. But also remember, while I have experienced this myself, it was at the range...a place where many people like myself don't hesitate to go through a couple hundred rounds for practice. I seriously doubt you're going to have problems with a 40S&W during a qualification or any range time where less than 50 shots are fired.

    As far as other quality manufacturers, I highly recommend CZs and FNPs. If you're willing to spend more, Sig Sauer and H&K are at the higher end of the duty pistols on the price spectrum. While they do bring some unique and impressive products to the market, one need not spend as much as their products demand in order to get a rugged and reliable weapon.

    [Edit]: a 22 caliber handgun for defense isn't exactly ideal. A good rule of thumb is to carry the largest caliber you can comfortably shoot. While I wouldn't rule out a 22 cal handgun for PRACTICE purposes, I think it would be prudent to get the practical personal defense weapon first THEN maybe get a 22 down the road to hone your skills...but that's just me.

  6. #5
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    when I bought my first handgun it was more of an impulse buy. I started off with a taurus .40 s&w. I live the gun and it still shoots without a hiccup. that being said my next was an xd9 and I wish it had been my first. the 9mm round is perfect for home and ccw and without the punishment of the 40s&w. every model you neantioned are great guns handsdown. as far as .22 I went with a sig mosquito because I like that is has the feel of other semi autos. you should also take a look into other sigs for a first purchase. that will be my next and you can get into a sig in 9mm for around the price of all the models you listed. good luck with ur purchase and welcome to the forum.

  7. #6
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    I own a XD.45Compact for home defense and range use, I will eventually get a CCW and that is why I bought compact as I can use either a 10 or 13 round magazine in it.

    To the point: I was originally looking at the XD-M.40 but decided on the .45 caliber round which they don't have in the XD-M series (yet, hopefully...). After borrowing and shooting a XD-M9mm a few times I wish I would have gotten the XD-M.40 instead as the new features are a great improvement. So don't overlook that option as it is a nicer gun in my opinion.

    Also, I have a few FBI special agent/ FBI-SWAT friends who say they will never depend on anything that doesn't have a "4" in front. Take it however you want, I am not trying to start a caliber argument here.

    Good luck with your search, and even if you decide on a .22lr it is better than nothing. Welcome to the forum.

  8. #7
    PhilR. is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donato View Post
    I am looking seriously at either the Springfield Armory XD 40 or Smith & Wesson M&P 40 or Glock 23. All of these handguns received excellent reviews. Has anyone ever owned or fired one and can recommend one over the other?

    There is nothing inherent in the pistols themselves that would allow another person to tell you that one is better than the other. All three are accurate and reliable handguns. The difference is how well a person shoots them. The only thing that you can use to recommend one over the other is how well *you* shoot them. If you are forced to make your purchase without shooting them, then just pick the one that has features that you like.

    Or are there better first time semi-automatics to also consider, e.g., Baretta?

    Yes, but they are only better as far as fit/finish goes, and not because of increased reliability. If you want to spend the money, look at the H&K line of handguns. I doubt that you will be able to shoot any better with one, and they won't be any more reliable than a $500 Glock, but they are pretty darn nice.

    If you want other good choices in the same general price range, then look at Walther P99, CZ's, FN's, Ruger, Sig, and of course the Beretta.


    The gun will be used primarily for in-home self-defense and also for concealment. I will, of course, use it just for fun at the shooting range.
    Thanks!


    If you are going to have just one pistol, then get a compact such as a Walther P99C or Glock 19. They are big enough to shoot comfortably at the range, but can also be concealed by most people without too much of a problem. Even a Glock 26 would be a good choice as well, as long as you don't have gigantic hands.

    PhilR.

  9. #8
    PhilR. is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donato View Post
    [SIZE="3"] The last thing I want is to have blisters on my fingers or hands!

    There is no reason to have blisters on one's hands when shooting these low-powered handgun cartridges, even after an extended range session. If blisters are happening, then either your grip is wrong, or you have the wrong grip.

    My wife shoots our S&W 386 and Colt Python (both are .357 magnum) without any problems at all, even during extended range sessions where we will go through four or five hundreds rounds of 9mm, .45acp, and .357. With the great number of aftermarket grips such as the ones from Pachmayr and Hogue, and the great number of different handgun grip styles, many of which have interchangeable backstraps that allow you somewhat customize the fit, there is no excuse to have blisters.

    PhilR.

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    The XD .40S&W is a stronger contender than the M&P. The backstrap safety and loaded chamber indicator are real winners and the XD ergonomics are great. Get the tactical model if it's available in you area as the longer slide makes it even more of a pleasure to shoot and barrel length is the easiest part of the weapon to hide. I once had a customer order an XD .40S&W Tactical with the compact frame. He could carry it with the short mag seated for a low-printing butt and carried the extended grip mags on his off side for higher capacity. That gun was truly amazing...

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR. View Post
    There is no reason to have blisters on one's hands when shooting these low-powered handgun cartridges, even after an extended range session. If blisters are happening, then either your grip is wrong, or you have the wrong grip.

    My wife shoots our S&W 386 and Colt Python (both are .357 magnum) without any problems at all, even during extended range sessions where we will go through four or five hundreds rounds of 9mm, .45acp, and .357. With the great number of aftermarket grips such as the ones from Pachmayr and Hogue, and the great number of different handgun grip styles, many of which have interchangeable backstraps that allow you somewhat customize the fit, there is no excuse to have blisters.
    With all due respect I'm going to have to disagree here. I'm no competition shooter but I make it to the range often enough to know that I have an acceptable grip on my handguns when I shoot. In fact, G17/G19 are the same dimensions as the G22/G23, and if I'm only experiencing blisters and soreness with the 40s, then obviously it's not the grip. Green hands, such as one who is looking for their first handgun, only increase the chances of problems in my eyes. The Hogue grip wrap might curb this, but why not get a handgun where it's a non-issue?

  12. #11
    DevilsJohnson is offline Senior Member
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    I find it interesting as a first handgun all of your choices have striker action
    I think a lot of new shooters lean to the modern weapons because this is what they see. You wont see 1911's in movies and the gun mags always want the newest thing on their covers it seems.

    Like you say they are a good choice being they (the ones listed) are all reputable weapons. It's just that many people see newer as better and that's just that. Me personally I like a weapon with a hammer. So poly pistols are not near as plentiful. There's some Sigs and the FNP/Browning Pro pistols I guess. The FNP has the changeable back strap. That's a plus i think.

    The .40 round has really been picking up steam these days from what I see in the forums. while they do have a snappier recoil than the heavier 45ACP I personally find the round a lot of fun to shoot. They are more expensive than the 9mm but if a 9mm is not your cup of tea and you just don't like the look of a 45 then the 40 might be what you need. I have a few of them and they are great for targets as well as carry. I advise new shooters if the can to try all three and get a feel for what the recoil and performance is before going out to get one (especially the 40 and 45) The recoil of a 45 is nothing like a 40. So it's a good to see first hand how they all feel. And remember. Poly frame weapons feel and act different than steel frame weapons. So a Glock or XD in .40 will not feel a lot like a Sig Sauer or maybe a 1911 chambered in that round. Just as barrel length effects felt recoil the over weight and balance if a weapon will.

    as far as blisters...? I have yet to have that happen to me and I shoot a lot. Like two times a week and a couple hundred rounds at an outing. It's great to be able to shoot at home

    Really though. blisters from heat or friction? I might have a sore hand from shooting a lot with some big bore like a 44 Rem Mag. but I have never got then shooting something like a Glock in 9mm, 40,45, or even 357 Sig. I'm not going to say anyone has a wrong grip without seeing it first hand but that does not sound like something that should happen.

  13. #12
    ECHOONE is offline Junior Member
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    First go to several different gun shops,handle as many different brands and sizes as you can determine which feels the best to you. Then if possible rent the ones that felt best in all available calibers! just because u like the 40 doesn't mean you'll shoot it the best or even like it after you shoot it. Goodluck

  14. #13
    Donato's Avatar
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    Good advice from everyone...

    Thanks. I am so new I do not even have a permit yet! But I have the application and will take a class this week, so it's in the works. Once I have the permit, I'll decide, especially after getting a chance to do some shooting. Will post back then. You've all been very helpful!

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    Oldman's Avatar
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    Maybe

    I may be opening a can of worms here, but.......

    a semi being carried for protection has several built in drawbacks.

    1. A stovepipe jamb can make the gun unusable.
    2. A broken or weak magazine can turn the gun into an expensive single shot pistol.
    3. A poorly held semi can cause the slide to cut the hand of the shooter and distract them from the business at hand.

    Sure, I have a few semi handguns but each of the above situations have cost seasoned police officers their lives. When in the hands of an inexperienced shooter, it becomes more of a factor in survival.

    If I were testifying in court as to the best handgun for a new shooter, it would be a revolver. As long as it is loaded, the other factors are no longer issues.

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    Donato's Avatar
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    No can of worms

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldman View Post
    I may be opening a can of worms here, but.......

    a semi being carried for protection has several built in drawbacks.

    1. A stovepipe jamb can make the gun unusable.
    2. A broken or weak magazine can turn the gun into an expensive single shot pistol.
    3. A poorly held semi can cause the slide to cut the hand of the shooter and distract them from the business at hand.

    Sure, I have a few semi handguns but each of the above situations have cost seasoned police officers their lives. When in the hands of an inexperienced shooter, it becomes more of a factor in survival.

    If I were testifying in court as to the best handgun for a new shooter, it would be a revolver. As long as it is loaded, the other factors are no longer issues.

    My sister just bought a revolver for self-defense, a S&W M686. It fits her hand like a glove. Nice gun. What kind of revolvers would you recommend as a first shooter for a guy that can also be concealed? The 686 was a little "girlie" in my hand. Would a .357 Magnum be too large? Thanks.

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    Oldman's Avatar
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    Pick one

    Any gun that feels good, is easily fired and dependable to the shooter is a good starter gun.

    I have been carrying open or concealed for over 42 years and learned long ago that there is no one gun fits all.

    For me, a good S&W 357 like a model 686, 66 or 19 works well but I am just as comfortable with a 1911 Colt.

    Visit your local shooting range and try out the various guns available. Nothing gives advice better than experience.

  18. #17
    PhilR. is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldman View Post

    1. A stovepipe jamb can make the gun unusable.
    2. A broken or weak magazine can turn the gun into an expensive single shot pistol.
    3. A poorly held semi can cause the slide to cut the hand of the shooter and distract them from the business at hand.
    1. If a stovepipe happens, you can clear the case and proceed with shooting. Conversely, if a revolver jams up - and yes this happens - you will not be able to proceed with shooting as you will have to disassemble it in order to fix it.

    2. That is why you use a good magazine - so you do not get jams. And too, why would anyone use a broken or weak mag to begin with? What - it's possible for a mag to break while one is using it? Why yes, just as it's possible for a revolver to break while one is using it.

    3. That is why one needs to practice with their handgun and learn how to properly use it before you carry it.

    Those are about the thinnest of reasons that I've ever seen to argue against the use of a semi-auto....

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    Oldman's Avatar
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    Actually not a weak arguement

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR. View Post
    1. If a stovepipe happens, you can clear the case and proceed with shooting. Conversely, if a revolver jams up - and yes this happens - you will not be able to proceed with shooting as you will have to disassemble it in order to fix it.

    2. That is why you use a good magazine - so you do not get jams. And too, why would anyone use a broken or weak mag to begin with? What - it's possible for a mag to break while one is using it? Why yes, just as it's possible for a revolver to break while one is using it.

    3. That is why one needs to practice with their handgun and learn how to properly use it before you carry it.

    Those are about the thinnest of reasons that I've ever seen to argue against the use of a semi-auto....

    In over 50 years of shooting, carrying and in law enforcement, and 30+ years of testifying in firearm cases, I have never found a single case of a revolver hanging up. Study why the semi became popular with LEO. We are seeing more and more experienced police officers being killed or injured due to semi malfunction. The reality: most shooters are casual in their practice. When they need the sidearm, they are not so familar with it that they can work or disassemble it in total darkness. A jamb in a semi causes people to redirect their attention to the firearm and away from the issue at hand. There is a lot of difference in firing on the range along with all the fun than in an actual confrontation that no one should have to encounter. And yes, I have been in two actual shots fired confrontations, had the frayed nerves during and the emotional damage afterward. I know what goes on during the confrontations and the ways a person can be distracted.

    That said, there is a case on record in NY where an officer never used his gun and it sat for years with the same ammo in it. When he finally needed it in a robbery, the revolver failed to work because the cylinder had seized up. I still question how he qualified to keep his post certification. It may be possible he used a different firearm.

    Granted, good mags will reduce the potential for failure. They also weaken with age. The sad fact is most people will leave their mags fully loaded and on the shelf, in a drawer or where ever. Time, pressure, dust, dewpoint condensation and such takes over and after a while, the mag no longer works. People do not rotate mags.

    I need to mention H.R. 45 being considered for next years Congressional review. It takes away all guns using mags, autoloaders and forbids the manufacture and sale of magazines. Take away the mags and even if you are able to keep a semi, without a mag, it is then a single shot. The political climate this year is not going to allow HR 45 to go through but read the Congressional Record and see how it is being supported by the Adimistration. The First Amendment says we can own firearms but does not say what type. Under the new Congress and White House staff, the attitude has changed and their attitude has been, "does the First Amendment allow an individual to own a bazooka or an anti aircraft gun?"

    Reality also has shown the 300 million guns owners do not practice. They buy, keep and store. Less than 1% are avid shooters. I shoot often and lots but I get paid for it. I also write letters to politicians and news media as well as speaking in public simply because I am passionate about firearm ownership and the rights of Americans to own them. If even 20% of firearm owners would practice, there would be lines of people waiting at the ranges and we would see a lot more people passionate about the Right to own firearms.

  20. #19
    DevilsJohnson is offline Senior Member
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    I think an auto loader makes a great weapon for SD situations. But like anything that as moving parts it is important that the user takes steps to maintain it. Being a SD weapon might be called upon to save your life I would think that anyone that owns one would want to make sure all the springs and other parts are in good shape. WE clean our weapons for this reason it just seems smart to check parts and replace them. I replace a recoil spring every thousand rounds(longer depending on the type of pistol). It's good to keep an extra spring around. You can see when compared to the one in your weapon that it will start to look shorter than your new one after you get as little as 500-600 rounds. Springs like my main spring I do not change real often but I do like inspect it at least yearly to look for wear that might inhibit the weapons proper function.

    Springs, firing pins and other parts that get a lot of work need to be watched for wear. The one time you need your weapon to help you in a bad situation is the wrong time to find out you have a problem in there that could have been easily taken care of with a few bucks spent on a spring or other part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldman View Post
    Reality also has shown the 300 million guns owners do not practice. They buy, keep and store. Less than 1% are avid shooters...

    ...If even 20% of firearm owners would practice, there would be lines of people waiting at the ranges and we would see a lot more people passionate about the Right to own firearms...
    Good point.

    I agree that most people spend more time acquiring, polishing, tweaking, and fondling their gear than they spend learning how to operate it properly. I only make it to the range once or twice a month, myself, and most of the handgun shooters I see there are not very good. I'm not great, myself, but a little better than most of the folks I have watched.

    My personal opinion is that the person who is going to buy a gun, shoot one box of ammo, and stick the gun in his ammo drawer, should just buy good .38 revolver and forget semi-autos altogether.

    But, on the other hand, a person who is going to practice occasionally and do some dry-fire drills, clean and inspect his gun after firing it or at regular intervals, is fine with a semi-auto, and some people actually shoot them much better than revolvers.

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