Just bought my wife the SR40 a couple months ago...great feel, fit, and for $399.......great buy..........
A used gun represents "the most bang for the buck."
Make an agreement with the seller that you will have the used gun surveyed by an independent gunsmith and, if the report is too bad, you have permission to return the gun for full credit against another. Then repeat the process until you find a pistol you like that the gunsmith OKs.
Most used guns are both comparatively inexpensive and in acceptable condition.
With the exception of Jean's Kel-Tec P3AT, my Star PD, and the Mossberg .22 of my youth, we have never owned a new gun.
Also, we have never bought, traded-for, or been given an unusable gun—excepting one that we were left, in a mentor's will (which was easily repaired, though).
Last edited by Steve M1911A1; 10-08-2012 at 06:45 PM. Reason: (I corrected a bit of misinformation.)
The "in writing" part is an excellent suggestion. I used to include that, in this kind of advice; but for some reason, I forgot it this time.
Considering the small margins upon which a gun shop operates, I wouldn't ask for a possible refund. I don't believe that any shop would give it.
But any reputable shop should be OK with return-for-credit.
(Of course, caveat emptor, and all that. The prospective purchaser has got to do some research, to find a reputable store. One mustn't just go anywhere.)
I own a Springfield XD 45 and S&W M&P Shield 9mm.
Shooting Speers Gold Dot +P 124 JHP short barrel from my Shield 9mm is manly and YouTube ballistic gel tests will confirm my assertion.
Modern defense ammo should calm any concerns regarding over penetration.
I really enjoy shooting 9mm rounds. The low recoil makes for quick followup shots.
Springfield makes a fine weapon but for concealment I prefer my Shield and I have owned a Kahr CM9 and Beretta Nano both in 9 mm and the Shield is my favorite even over my Springfield 45.
Good luck and take your time choosing your weapon.
Hey, I'm also a total NEWBIE here, and still shopping for my first handgun, but I can echo the advice given above "Shoot before you buy". I've shot a total of 7 different pistols in my search so far, and one thing that has become very clear is that a gun that feels good in your hand may not perform the best for you on the range. So, my word of advice is take your time and find a local range or ranges that rent guns and test out as many models as possible before you make a decision. When I started shopping, I was pretty much ready to buy a Glock, until the very nice guy at the gun store convinced me to try a few different brands on the range before I made a decision............now I'm very glad I did. The Glock which felt great at the counter, did not work for me on the range. I did really like the S&W M&P 9mm which is on your list, which is a gun that I had not even considered until I tried it.
Good luck in your search!
I was in the same position you were when I bought my first gun and I will tell you to go with a 9mm. I say this for a couple of reasons. One the ammo is a lot cheaper to shoot so you can spend more time at the range working on your skills. The second reason is that the recoil is very low so you can get use to how the weapon fires and work on technique. The third reason is that you can get more bullets on target with this caliber because of the lower amount of recoil, which is a huge bonus since you are using the fun for home defense. The last thing is that with the 9mm you wont get tired as quick while at the range and won't risk injury from shooting large caliber bullets. I just read an article about this in the Nov/Dec issue of American Handgunner. So my vote is 9mm, you won't regret it.
It is good to see that you are asking about your "first" gun. As mentioned above, go with what your current and future budget will tolerate. If you plan to go to the range a lot for practice and fun, and have a limited budget, go with the 9mm. A .45 is not difficult to manage and is a great gun to shoot, but ammo is pricey.
Even my wife, who once famously asked "why would anyone need more than one gun?" (she now owns 6), admits that guns make a decent investment. You don't lose much on the re-sale, if you find yourself needing to sell one gun so you have the cash for another.
So, don't over think this. What you buy as your first gun will be fabulous, the best gun ever, and you'll regret having ever sold it, years down the road.
Go get what you think you want, and get the training and practice you need to stay safe. You won't be sorry.
Never argue with drunks or crazy people.
Take what you read in the gun rags with a grain of salt. They're more ads than articles and I can't remember the last time one of them had a negative review on anything they ever tested.
I'm a 9mm fan but American Rifleman did a recent stopping power showddown:
Handgun Stopping Power: Sizing Up Your Options
Note that all 9mm is not equal when it comes to self defense. But 9mm is hard to beat considering mag capacity, cost, effectiveness, and comfort ... plus there are MANY guns available in 9mm,
One to the heart with either will end the threat. As a newer shooter I would advocate the 9mm, you can always get a .45 down the road. Just do yourself a favor, which ever you decide on, take a training course to learn how to shoot it. It doesnt do you any good with either caliber, if you cant hit your target....
I, too, am new to the gun scene. I've had a 45 for over 40 years, but never used it...until one of my sons purchased a Beretta 9mm and wanted to hit the range with his dad. I used the 45 for the first time in all these years, and realized it to be too large for a carry pistol. I will admit it is neat to have. I then purchased a Sig P238, thinking the smaller the gun, the better the carry. Now, after several months of searching the net and putting much more thought in the process, I re-thought the whole carry/home defense process. As every one here said, due your due dilligence in your searching. I used "Hickok45" for alot of my 'study'. I made a list of all 9mm carry type pistols and kept notes on pros and cons of each one. When I got it down to a couple, I went to the store to handle them and get a feel for each gun. To each his own, and this is not a recommendation, but I decided on the Springfield XDm 9mm compact...for both the size and carry options and for the mag capacity for a home defense gun. So, best of luch in your quest. As you can tell, I'm no expert, like many that have answered, but I have recently gone through a similar process as you are. Have fun. By the way, a really good source, from my search, is: SportsmansOutdoorSuperstore.