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Thread: Help me buy my first handgun

  1. #1
    Member Ripper's Avatar
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    Default Help me buy my first handgun

    Hey folks,

    I am a fairly experienced rifle shooter and handloader, but have never owned a hangun. I feel like I need to fill that void in my life!

    I want to buy a semi-auto "just to have". I will keep it at home mainly, but may look at getting a concealed carry permit sometime. I will want to shoot it for fun, and I will want to handload for it. I want something reliable and dependable. I don't want to spend $2500, but I don't want a cheap $200 gun either. What should I buy?

    From the research I have done so far, I am leaning towards a classic 1911 in the conventional .45ACP. Am I on the right track here? If so, can you recommend a brand? Please tell me the pros/cons of the brand you recommend, as I don't know many of the finer points of the different guns.

    Thanks for your opinions!

    -Ripper

  2. #2
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    A Glock in 9mm is a great first gun. Take down is as simple as it gets and ammo is as cheap as you can find for a larger caliber handgun.
    Guns are accurate and tough as nails.

  3. #3

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    Can't go wrong with the 1911 design or the .45acp. I wouldn't recommend it as a FIRST handgun, but if you like it that's really all that matters. Kimber is a popular maker, but there are many others as you no doubt have already learned. A full sized 1911 is a large gun to carry concealed, but it can be done with the right holster and clothing. A full sized gun will also be more pleasant to shoot than the smaller framed models. Most makers (Colt, Springfield, Kimber, etc.) offer models designed specifically for concealed carry as well as full blown target guns and everything in between so you should have no trouble finding something that suits you. Good luck.

  4. #4
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    Default S&w m&p

    I absolutely love this gun. It comes with three different size grips that you put on the back depending on the size of your hand and you can take it apart with nearly no effort. The thing shoots like a dream. I have it in 9mm and am thinking about buying another in .45ACP. You should be able to find one around the $500 range.

  5. #5
    Member pinehavensredrocket's Avatar
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    the 1911 design is the most copied semi auto in the world, and with good reason. it is generally dependable, accurate, can be made to fit most people, and is available in major power calibers.

    a downside......all 1911's are not created equal, and some have issues in fit and finish that go to reliability. these can be expensive to fix, and results are not guaranteed. if you buy new, get a product that has great reputation for those qualities that are important to you. if you buy used (good idea) the same applies, but you may be able to test and return if not satisfactory (real good idea).

    in the combat catagory, the glock pistol cannot be challenged. it's reliability is legend, as is it's durability. it can fire hundreds of thousands of rounds and stay in specs. (did you know the military endurance test only requires a pistol to digest 2,000 rounds in it's lifetime?). lastly on the glock, parts can be exchanged w/o fitting. this means no gunsmithing! aftermarket parts are available for sights, grips, lightsource, trigger, etc, etc.

    as an armorer who has worked on many of the available centerfires, i can recomment the glock without hesitation.

    happy trails.
    jh

  6. #6
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    Great information, which always inspires more questions. First, why wouldn't the 1911 be considered a good FIRST gun? Size? Recoil? Complexity? Second, it seems like Glock has a good reputation for reliability, just what I was looking for. Are there brands that have a bad reputation for reliability? What do you think about Springfield? S&W? Sig? Whatever I decide to get, it'll mainly be for home defense and target shooting. If I get a CC permit, I'd probably get another gun at that point. Thanks.

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    First let me say I really like the 1911 types and have two and a glock 21. They would not be my first choice as they are more complicated to use and more difficult to learn to shoot accurately than a revolver. ( This should start a war ) Malfunction drills don't exist with revolvers, if it doesn,t go bang just pull the trigger again. And, there is no safety to deal with. Yes ,I know that you can learn to deal with these things but a first handgun may not be the place. There is only one thing difficult about learning to shoot a handgun accurately and that is keeping the sights on target completely through the trigger pull. Most everyone starting to shoot a handgun will have trouble with trigger control, flinching,jerking the trigger, preignition push or whatever you want to call it. I find the easiest way to learn good trigger control is to load a revolver with one or two live rounds the rest empties and carefully start shooting at your target. when you learn to keep the sights on target when pulling the trigger on an empty load you will have mastered trigger control. My opinion is get a good quality 4 to 5in 357 revolver and use 38 spl for practice and 125gr hp for home use. What ever you pick use it enough to get very familiar with it. Good luck

  8. #8

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    I wouldn't recomend a 1911 as a first gun because of recoil and complexity. It's hard for beginners to concentrate on marksmanship fundamentals when shooting a large pistol with a hefty recoil, and the 1911 is a weapon that is properly carried cocked and locked...round in the chamber, hammer cocked, safety engaged...also not for beginners IMO. I don't think the gun's size, except for concealed carry, is much of an issue when we're talking typical handguns. For a novice shooter, a lighter recoiling and simplier design (i.e., .38 DA revolver) would be better to learn with. That said, if you are already a seasoned rifle shooter and understand the basics of markmanship and can learn to operate the weapon safely and confidently, then go for it. I personally don't like the Glocks and similar plastic framed guns, but the good ones are very popular and are usually extremely reliable. Bottom line is, look at and shoot as many as you can before making a purchase and choose the one you like best. Then get to know your new gun intimately.

  9. #9
    Member pinehavensredrocket's Avatar
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    the 1911 isn't a good first gun.......it's a GREAT first gun. this design has really stood the test of time, and is undisputably a genuine classic.

    how-ever, the glock is hands down the finest combat handgun extent. it can (and will) fire under the most gruelling conditions that will leave other weapons jammed and useless.

    the beauty of the glock is the number of parts (33-34) and that no hand fitting, or polishing is required or recommended. this means if something does break (after 100,000 rds or so) you can fix it yourself! cheaply!

    my glocks are as accurate as my natl match colt .45, and are "easier" to shoot. they will feed and fire ammunition that other guns can't. they can even be safely fired under water (with ported spring cups for the firing pin).

    ** handguns are extremely personal in their fit and feel, to the shooter. not all weapons are comfortable, or natural pointers to everyone. find a quality firearm that you like, and that fits you and you will be well served for years to come. if it happens to be a glock.........for many years to come.

    happy trails.
    jh

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    Glock 19 seems like it would best fit your needs. Gun is relatively cheap in price but excellent in quality; ammo is cheap so you could practice a lot without killing your wallet. It is also compact enough to conceal if you ever get your ccw. I have one that I carry in a comptac minotaur holster, it is very comfortable and concealable.

    Just make sure you buy some aftermarket sights; the stock glock sites are not the best. The xs bigdots are pretty sweet from what I hear.

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    Smile

    If you are going to get an auto as a first handgun, at least get a few dummy rounds to learn trigger control. Load mag with some loaded and some dummies and start shooting. I find this to be the best way to show people what they are doing wrong. It's real easy to see muzzel movement when the striker falls on a dummie. Also, it gives you a chance to practice malfunction drills. Yeah, I know Glocks and 1911s never fail to fire or double feed or fail to extract except for the ones I've been around. Anyway,Learn to use it well AND learn how to make it go if it quits.

  12. #12
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    I think a .22 makes for a great first handgun. It takes a fair amount of practice to become proficient with a handgun, and .22 ammo is far cheaper than anything else out there.

    A guy can get a very accurate .22 pistol for less than $400. I'd be looking at the Browning Buckmarks and various Ruger offerings. You should be able to find something you like.

    After you've mastered the .22, then you can look for the next best thing. And even after you buy your second handgun, you'll still find yourself shooting your .22 just for the fun of it. IMO, a good .22 pistol is a must in any gun collection.

  13. #13
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    Thumbs up

    I've got a full sized Para Ordinance 1911 as well as my issued Glock 21 (both in .45acp) and I just sold a Glock 26 earlier this year that I carried concealed for years. The Glock is definitely simpler to shoot and maintain, but there is something sexy about the 1911. I don't think you would go wrong with either.

    If you do get a 1911, I think they offer an aftermarket conversion for .22LR which would be a great way to get familiar with the gun, learn some trigger control and do it without much recoil (a lot cheaper too). I'm not sure if Glock has the conversion kit.
    AKmud
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  14. #14

    Smile Glock or 1911

    Either a Glock or 1911 is a good defense gun. Some formal training with a good instructor would be money well spent and would advance your skill more then anything. Becoming and staying a good pistol shot takes lots of practice and dedication. You will want a good belt, a holster made for your gun, several magazines and a magazine carrier. A Glock is probably the cheapest route to go. Accurate handgun shooting is all about the front sight and proper trigger manipulation. The pistol is a very good thing to be good with.

  15. #15
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    If you are looking for a good "just in case" gun or a "SHTF" gun I would go with the crowd here and say Glock full size in .45 ACP, you get 13 +1 of a real manstopper. Also staying with .45 acp or .9mm will help you find ammo when the world falls apart, it's everywhere.

    If you want to go with a 1911 style, I would go with the para ordnance P14-45 or another one of their hi cap models. 14+1 in .45 ACP. Para has a frame design that makes the hi cap feel not much thicker than a normal 1911 grip. Also they have a better extractor and feed ramp than the orignal 1911. It will feed and extract more reliably than a regular 1911.

    Both of those are full size, if you want to go with something that will be better for carry, I would go with the Glock 23 in .40 s&w caliber. It gives you 13+1 in a package that can be concealed.

    I keep a hi cap .45 in a drop holster next to my AR in the safe and my daily in town carry is a Smith & Wesson 642 with crimson trace laser. My wife carries a glock 23 with crimson trace laser in her purse.

  16. #16

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    If you get an auto make sure you get a butt load of high capacity mags, before its too late.
    Henry Bowman for President

  17. #17
    Member akshrop's Avatar
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    I suggest that you go to a lot of shops and get a feel for all the makes in the caliber you finally settle on. Do some research one the ones that feel the best in your hand for reliability. A handgun has to be an extension of your body and one that does not feel right, will never shoot right. It needs to be a natural pointer for you. This feel is different for everyone. I am a wheel gun person mostly, so when I branched into the auto world, I bought an all steel, well balanced one. I could not get used to any of the plastic ones as they would not point or balance naturally for me. I found only 2-3 makes, out of all available ones when I live, that felt good in my hand. I researched those few and bought the one rated as the most reliable. Then practice, practice, and practice some more. After all that practice start the whole process over, cause you should never own just one.

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    You mentioned that you might want to carry concealed. If you are in Alaska, you don't need a concealed carry permit. Anyone who can legally own the gun can carry it concealed or open. The permit only lets you carry in other states. I'd still recommend taking the class for the permit, they cover all the legal issues, including where you can't carry (schools, post offices, etc.)

    Oh yeah, I'm another vote for the Glocks. I'd recommend either a 17 or 26 depending on which size you prefer. I started with the 17 but found I can shoot the little 26 just as well.

  19. #19
    Member JamesMac's Avatar
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    If you have little to no experience with handguns? then I would suggest a .22 caliber revolver. IMHO this is the best way to learn the fundamentals of handgun shooting. Historically revolvers have been the most reliable, .22 ammo is cheep and this makes for a great survival gun – complete utility here.

    Plus a .22 revolver is just plan fun to shoot! Trust me - you will never get tired of it. Also I guarantee that not matter what gun you decide to go with it will not be your last, unless you have extraordinary self control

    I have revolvers, Glock’s and a real nice Kimber 1911 – love them all. I have to admit though, there is just something very special about a 1911……….

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    a Springfield Armory 1911 .45acp is a great choice!!

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