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  1. #1
    foolery is offline Junior Member
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    New Member with caliber question

    Greetings, folks. I am a new member and a recently first-time handgun firer (is that a word? Firer?). A long-time freind had firing a gun on her Bucket List and we took a brief training course and shot a few select handguns last week. It was great fun and I am thinking about taking up target shooting for recreation. However, I have a question about calibers...

    We shot some .22s, and a .45 - the latter of which had a definitely greater kick (and as such, was much more of a kick to shoot!). The .45 was a S&W 911 Commander, which I'm seeing could run me well into the thousands - which is more than I want to spend as a newbie. My ultimate two questions are -

    1.) Relative to the recoil and kick a weapon has, am I right that a .22 will have significantly less kick than a .45? And where does a 380 fall into this? Sometimes I see calibers with decimal points (.22, .45) and other times written out as larger numbers (380, 457, etc) - what's the deal?

    2.) What would be a decent handgun for me to consider as a new guy interested in exploring shooting? I will unquestionably contact a few local dealers, check out their stock and recommendations, and train properly, but thught maybe you folks might have suggestions.

    Thanks for an informative and fun forum!

    Tom

  2. #2
    Bisley's Avatar
    Bisley is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by foolery View Post
    Greetings, folks. I am a new member and a recently first-time handgun firer (is that a word? Firer?). A long-time freind had firing a gun on her Bucket List and we took a brief training course and shot a few select handguns last week. It was great fun and I am thinking about taking up target shooting for recreation. However, I have a question about calibers...

    We shot some .22s, and a .45 - the latter of which had a definitely greater kick (and as such, was much more of a kick to shoot!). The .45 was a S&W 911 Commander, which I'm seeing could run me well into the thousands - which is more than I want to spend as a newbie. My ultimate two questions are -

    1.) Relative to the recoil and kick a weapon has, am I right that a .22 will have significantly less kick than a .45? And where does a 380 fall into this? Sometimes I see calibers with decimal points (.22, .45) and other times written out as larger numbers (380, 457, etc) - what's the deal?

    2.) What would be a decent handgun for me to consider as a new guy interested in exploring shooting? I will unquestionably contact a few local dealers, check out their stock and recommendations, and train properly, but thught maybe you folks might have suggestions.

    Thanks for an informative and fun forum!

    Tom
    Consider the .22 to be a practice gun, because it is cheaper and more pleasant to shoot, and the .45 to be a serious self-defense gun - the best in my opinion, but with some drawbacks, sometimes, for some people.

    1.) The caliber is expressed in decimals of an inch, in most American originated calibers, or in millimeters for chamberings of European origin. The caliber is the diameter of the bullet, and there are often many chamberings that will use the same size bullet, but may vary radically in power.

    A .45 is roughly 45 one hundredths of an inch (45/100). A 9mm, if expressed in 'American' terms would be a .355 caliber. However, manufacturers have confused the issue through the years by such marketing decisions as calling certain .357 diameter chamberings as .38 caliber, or by calling certain 9mm chamberings .380 caliber, etc. Quite a bit of reading will be necessary for you to grasp all the little variations, but this should give you the general idea. Just don't assume that caliber tells the whole story about the power of a gun.

    2.) Since you have already fired a .45 and liked it, there are hundreds of possibilities for you. You already know that a .22 is great for practice, so you may want one of them so that you can afford to shoot more often. You should try a good semi-auto chambered for 9mm (aka Luger, Parbellum, 9x19, etc.). It is a chambering that will allow you to shoot low-power practice ammo, but can also accept high-powered self-defense ammo - a great chambering that is still popular after about a century (like the .45 ACP).

    In that same vein, you owe it to yourself to try a revolver chambered for .357 magnum, because it is capable of shooting very powerful magnum loads, or very comfortable .38 special loads. It is a great all around shooter, and nothing outdoes the .357 magnum for self defense purposes.

    I would avoid .380 for anything except a pocket pistol. If you get one small enough to pocket-carry, it will be a handful for a new shooter, and if it is big enough to be pleasant to shoot, you should go with a heavier chambering (9mm Luger), for self-defense purposes.

    As I said, since you liked the .45, you can handle about whatever you want, so enjoy the experimentation, and be safe.

  3. #3
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    welcome to the forum. glad to have you aboard.

    in my opinion, I agree with Bisley. something in 9mm is definitely gonna be cheaper for you to shoot and will be a great CCW and home defense. 9mm affords you a lot of possibilities for a handgun. also a .380 has a lot of options. I think if you look in those two calibers, you will find a handgun that is:
    1. easy to shoot
    2. doubles as a home defense weapon
    3. won't break your wallet.

    good luck and see ya around.

  4. #4
    foolery is offline Junior Member
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    Thumbs up Thanks!

    Bisley and Brent05Redfire -

    Many thanks for the rapid and detailed replies. Theyw ere exactly what I was looking for and will send me in the right direction.

    Take care.

    Tom

  5. #5
    fiasconva's Avatar
    fiasconva is offline Junior Member
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    Welcome and beware, shooting and firearms can be extremely addicting. You may want to start out shooting the 22 cal. until you get the finer points of shooting accurately down. They are cheap to shoot and a lot of fun. Your learning curve increases very quickly if you are patient and ask some of the local more experienced shooters around you. Enjoy your new hobby!

  6. #6
    gunluver is offline Member
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    Welcome to the board! I agree that a .22 would be the best for cheap shooting and practicing your fundamentals until you are more comfortable with handguns in general. 9mm would be a good all purpose caliber for defense and reasonably inexpensive range shooting.

  7. #7
    Wandering Man's Avatar
    Wandering Man is offline GM HGF Gold Member
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    Welcome aboard.

    You've got a lot of fun research ahead of you. In addition to a range that will let you rent guns, you might also look for a friend or acquaintence who is familiar with guns.

    It looks like you've already taken the gun safety course, so now you're ready to start shooting, reading, and having fun.

    Enjoy the search. Remember that the gun you buy will be your FIRST gun, not your only one.

    Plan for that, and when the time comes to be a gun owner you won't get as stressed out about what gun to buy.

    WM
    Never argue with drunks or crazy people.

  8. #8
    banjar's Avatar
    banjar is offline Member
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    Welcome from North Carolina.

  9. #9
    tekhead1219's Avatar
    tekhead1219 is offline Senior Member
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    Welcome from southeast Texas. +1 on what they said.

  10. #10
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    dondavis3 is offline Senior Member
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    Welcome from North Central Texas & +1 on what's been said by others.

    Look long & hard at the .380 in my opinion (not agreed to by all) the .380's that are available from Sig Sauer & Glock & Walther PPK are excellant CCW guns, I mean they are very light and do a good job of being accurate at fighting ranges.

    I actually like to shoot low recoil guns and even though I don't mind the kick of my four .45's, it's nice to shoot a gun with less recoil sometimes (I even enjoy shooting my mulitiple .22 cal. pistols sometimes, but not for home defense).

    I hope this helps.

    Last edited by dondavis3; 08-17-2009 at 08:06 PM.

  11. #11
    foolery is offline Junior Member
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    Smile Great replies!

    Thanks, everyone. I've already started my research into where to go locally (yes, I'd prefer to rent for a while until I find the right FIRST gun for me), and look forward to scouring the replies and entire forum for info. This site and all of you are great resources, thanks!

    Tom

  12. #12
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    WinM70 is offline Junior Member
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    Welcome to the forum.
    My favs are the 9mm and the 357 which handles 38specials also.

  13. #13
    Bisley's Avatar
    Bisley is offline Senior Member
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    One more thing, before you start agonizing over which gun to buy that will serve all your needs.

    It will be a lot easier to make a decision if you just go ahead and look at your first handgun purchase as a stepping stone toward what you really need. The more you learn about guns and start to really enjoy shooting, the more you will realize that you need an array of guns, to satisfy all your needs.

    For handguns, I would assume a bare minimum of 4 to be about right...although twelve would be much more realistic.

  14. #14
    Wandering Man's Avatar
    Wandering Man is offline GM HGF Gold Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bisley View Post
    For handguns, I would assume a bare minimum of 4 to be about right...although twelve would be much more realistic.
    Hmmm ...

    By your reckoning, I need another three handguns.

    Thanks for the advice!

    I'll let 3Reds know its time to hit the gunshops again.

    WM
    Never argue with drunks or crazy people.

  15. #15
    Bisley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wandering Man View Post
    Thanks for the advice!
    You're welcome.

    I would hope that you would do the same for me.

  16. #16
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    Welcome from N.C. and just keep on squeezing that trigger.

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