first gun

All posts tagged first gun

Once you decide between semi-auto or revolver and finalize your caliber choice, your next question will be, “What brand of Handgun should I buy?!?”  Fortunately today, there are a ton of great options.  Assuming a working man’s budget, with a focus on value, and based on my own personal, hands-on experience plus extensive research:

  •  For semi-autos, I have significant hands-on experience with, and am partial to Beretta, Glock, and Sig Sauer.  There are also many great offerings from Smith & Wesson’s M&P line, Springfield Armory, FNH USA , CZ USA, Heckler & Koch (pronounced ‘coke’) and Ruger.  All reputable, qualified reviews, articles and videos I’ve researched on those have been very positive.  Many of the brands I’ve presented here have an extensive pedigree including Military and/or Law Enforcement use – and that definitely says something.  These are your ‘mainstream’ semi-auto gun manufactures and you generally can’t go wrong with a weapon that has been successfully tested and put into use by a major Military or Law Enforcement agency.

 

  • When it comes to Double-Action revolvers, I recommend Smith & Wesson and Ruger.  This is the stuff of endless Internet and gun forum debate.  Saving you a ton of reading, the prevailing thoughts seem to be that Ruger firearms are over-built, but Smiths are The Cadillac of Guns, having better triggers which lend themselves to better accuracy.  Honestly, you can’t go wrong either way.

 

  • Taurus, what about Taurus?!  Taurus International Manufacturing makes both semi-auto pistols and revolvers.  I have no personal experience with Taurus beyond handling a few at my local gun store.  Again hopefully saving you a ton of reading and research time, the bottom line seems to be that Taurus offers great value for your money.  Fit, finish and attention to detail will not likely be on par with some of the other manufacturers I’ve mentioned above, but you’ll get a working, reliable gun for a very reasonable amount of money.  If you are on a very tight budget, Taurus might be the way to go.

 

This is a bit like “Ford Vs. Chevy” or even “Blonds, Brunettes or Redheads” in that with so many good offerings from so many reputable manufacturers – and many made right here, in the U.S.A. which is something important to a lot of people these days.  You almost can’t go wrong with an offering from the list I’ve recommended, so is really your call, and should be based on personal preferences.  You’re the only one who must be happy with the decision.  Check out different makes and models.  Surf the Web.  Visit your local gun.  Try to get experience shooting your choices by finding a local range with a rental program or by going shooting with a friend.  Pick the one you are most comfortable with, the one that feels best in your hand, and the one that best fits your budget.

 

While we plan to post some gun and gear reviews in the future, check out our links page for some excellent resources to help with your research.

Let’s assume you’ve gone through, or are in process of following all proper State and Federal laws for your upcoming purchase.  Let’s also assume, you’re a new shooter.  So, what handgun or pistol should you purchase?  This is a pretty easy one for me to answer.
  • If you want a semi-auto, go with a full-sized 9mm.
  • If you want a revolver, get a medium to large, steel framed .357 magnum with a 3-4″ barrel.

So, right now you’re reading this and thinking, “OK, I understand the semi-auto recommendation, I expected as much, but you’re seriously recommending an ‘old fashioned’, double-action wheel-gun as a viable first gun purchase for modern times?”  Yes!  I won’t agrue reliability (though there are plenty that will), but I will point out the following:

  • With no external controls like safeties or slide locks, the revolver is simple and easy platform to operate.
  • With no slide to rack – something new shooters may find intimidating or even physically difficult to do correctly – the revolver is sometimes perceived by the new shooter as easier to safety check.
  • All double-action revolvers can be shot Double-Action (DA) or Single-Action (SA).  The same is not true of all semi-autos.
  • The revolver is still a very viable and suitable defense weapon.
  • Versatility.  This one’s admittedly a bit of a stretch, but you might be able to do more with your .357 Magnum revolver and use it in more ways than your 9mm semi-auto.

 

Why a full-sized weapon? Again, assuming you are new to shooting, you are buying a gun primarily for recreational and / or home protection purposes:

  • The weight of a full- size pistol or medium to large, steel frame revolver with a 3-4″ barrel will lessen felt recoil.
  • The longer barrel length will increase bullet velocity, but more importantly to a new shooter, will lessen muzzle blast and noise.
  • The better balanced full-sized handgun with a longer barrel will in most cases be easier to shoot more accurately than a sub, sub-compact or pocket sized pistol.

 

Why the 9mm?  The 9mm (also called the 9×19, 9mm Luger, 9mm NATO, 9×19 Parabellum) is used many military organizations around the World, and by many United States Law Enforcement agencies.  Therefore, it is one of the most popular handgun rounds in the World.

  • Ammo is easy to find virtually anywhere in the World, and relatively cheap.
  • It’s easy to shoot, especially from full sized pistols.
  • It’s a proven, very effective defensive round, especially with the proper ammo.
  • Your full sized 9 will most likely be a double stack, meaning it will hold a double digit round count.
  • The concern with the 9mm in a defensive role is it’s inability to penetrate cover such windshields or car doors, etc.  This shouldn’t be much of a concern for the civilian shooter.

It’s hard to go wrong with a full-sized 9mm.  You shouldn’t feel under gunned in a defensive situation, you won’t go broke target shooting and it should be soft shooting enough that you will practice often without developing poor shooting habits.

 

Why the .357 Magnum?  The .357 Magnum is a time tested, versatile powerhouse.

  • Use soft shooting .38 specials for recreation and practice.
  • Use .357 Magnums for personal defense or hunting – the .357 Magnum is a popular handgun hunting cartridge where allowed by law.
  • Use shot-shell (also commonly called snake-shot) loads for critter control.
  • Today’s medium to large frame wheel-guns come in six to eight shot varieties, which is ample for most things the new shooter is doing.
  • The concern with the .357 Magnum in a defensive role is over-penetration.

A 7-shot .357 is one highly capable firearm.  Perfect for back-country hiking, camping or field use.  Near the top of the list for home and personal protection.  Readily used for hunting and able to put everything from small-to-deer-sized game on the table.  It’s also a fun plinking or target shooting gun.  It offers versatility that is very difficult to beat.

 

Both are easily great calls for your first handgun. You can’t go wrong either way.  Visit your local gun store and check out different makes and models of both. Pick the one you are most comfortable with, and the one that fits best in your hand.

 

Final quick thought: If you get the auto, I highly recommend a .22lr conversion kit.  Even easier, quieter & cheaper shooting with the exact same form, function & controls of your primary weapon.