Buying my first handgun -- any recomendations?

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by damcgee, Jul 27, 2004.

  1. damcgee

    damcgee Formula 3

    Feb 23, 2003
    Mobile, AL
    I'm looking to buy my first handgun soon. My budget is quite limited, with the max I could even CONSIDER spending, out the door (registration, etc), being about $500. Because of my tight budget, a Glock or a Sig are most definitely out.

    I want a semi-auto, and I'm balancing my desire to own a larger caliber gun with my need to be able to afford to shoot the gun (at a range, etc) on my very limited budget.

    There are a few places locally that are certified by the state to teach handgun safety courses that satisfy the requirements for a concealed-carry permit. I'm not interested in carrying a gun on me day-to-day, but I would like to have a level of safety training that would make that possible.

    This will be my first handgun, and I have little to no experience in shooting handguns. I do own several rifles/shotguns that have been passed down through my family, and I am familar with all of them.

    I guess what it really comes down to (given my budget), is do I want to buy a .45 that I can't afford target practice with on a regular basis (cost for bullets being ~$0.75/EACH) , or do I spend ~$200 to get a decent quality .22 that I can shoot all day long for about ten bucks in ammo?
  2. darth550

    darth550 Five Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Jul 14, 2003
    In front of you
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  3. Auraraptor

    Auraraptor F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Sep 25, 2002
    I am partal to HK. A nice USP is a great little side arm. I have a USP Expert (.45 or 12.25mm) and a Mark 23 (also .45 or 12.25mm). Both great. Love the look and feel of the expert. Its a big gun but fits well in my hand.
  4. Auraraptor

    Auraraptor F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Sep 25, 2002
    As for your situation, I would suggest getting with a friend who has a few pieces to see what vein you like so to speak.

    Alot of guys like the plastics. For you I suggest looking into SW for this type, they have an American version of the Walter P99.

    If you like more traditional, ie 1911 clone, Kimber is a good piece, great 2/3 of what colt wants for the same thing.

    Stay away from berratta. POS IMHO.

    If you want a decent target .22 look at the ruger, great inexpensive fun reliable toy.
  5. LetsJet

    LetsJet F1 Veteran

    May 24, 2004
    Full Name:

    Congrats on your first purchase. I have the following advice.

    1. Get proper handgun training from NRA or local range.
    2. Practice shooting and try out the guns before even considering purchase
    3. Don't listen to others as your only source of info - everyone will have their bias.
    4. Get trained on the specific handgun you purchase for the NRA or local gun range (again), including being able to clean and break down.
    5. Stay proficient

    Good luck....... feel free to contact me if you would like.

  6. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
    Advising Moderator

    Jul 20, 2003
    Full Name:
    Dirty Harry
    If you're considering many options - I urge you to note the following:
    Smallest to consider: .380 thru as large as you can shoot accurately - i.e. 38 Special, .357 Mag., 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 acp, 10mm.

    If deliberating between semi and wheeled:
    Revolvers don't jam/stovepipe.

    If you opt for revolver: Opt for 6 shooter instead of hammerless 5-shooter. Reason: Hammer pulled back = less "squeeze" & quicker, more accurate first (& hopefully only) shot.

    That said, if you find a 6" Nickel S & W .357 Model 659 - replace stock grips with Pachmyr & you'll be a happy camper. 6" barrel helps accuracy and venting on this Model 659... some .380's & 38's kick harder!. If you're willing to sacrifice accuracy, opt for 4" barrel. Bear in mind, a .357 also shoots .38 - including hot loads.

    Cover your arse and gain peace of mind with trigger-lock and/or small locking case.
  7. gabriel

    gabriel Formula 3

    Couldn't agree more, but what purpose do you intend this weapon to fulfill?
    If it's personal defense, it might be a bit harder to carry a 6 inch barrel under your arm. But my Colt .357 revolver never ever jams, loads are not expensive, and it will absolutely stop anyone under 10 feet tall. It will even stop a car engine with the right load, without much kick. But I would have a tough time concealing it. :)
  8. Erik330

    Erik330 Formula Junior

    May 8, 2004
    I have the HK USP Compact in .40S&W for a concealed gun but it's a little more expensive than your budget allows.

    I would suggest a Springfield Armory .45. They are well made guns with excellent accuracy out of the box and the base model is available new for under $500.

    I have shot pistol for 40 years but always in my backyard, not at ranges. I recently took my concealed carry class and got to shoot with 30 people. I was ASTOUNDED at the number of guns that didn't work (mostly feed problems on semi autos and primarily Taurus and cheap M1911 knockoffs). Revolvers ALWAYS work. Springfields pretty much always work. Something to consider in a self defense gun. Don't buy a cheap semi auto.
  9. GhostRider

    GhostRider Formula Junior

    Dec 20, 2002
    Tulsa, OK
    Full Name:
    For your budget I recommend the CZ-75 9mm. One of the best (sometimes argued THE best) 9mm's in the world. Before the iron curtain went down, these were hot little guns to have, and expensive. Now that that is all over with, they are much more affordable.
  10. JayO

    JayO Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 4, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Full Name:
    I have a Walther P99 (9mm) and would recommend it to anyone. It is incredibly accurate, reliable and comfortable to shoot. The only advise I would give regarding this particular gun is to stay away from the American Smith & Wesson versions. They are NOT the same as the German versions and do have reliability and quality issues.
    I had a Glock .40 (model 22 or 23, I can't remember) before the Walther and loved it. It was also an extremely reliable an accurate gun. But, once I shot the Walther I sold the Glock. The Glock was rather uncomfortable compared to the P99 and, in my opinion, not as much fun.
  11. Murcielago03

    Murcielago03 Formula Junior

    Jul 5, 2004
    Full Name:
    yeah....dont get one.
  12. b-mak

    b-mak F1 Veteran

    Oh, here we go with the typical Canadian peacenik attitude.

    Dude, if you've never learned to handle one properly, you wouldn't know.
  13. Auraraptor

    Auraraptor F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Sep 25, 2002
    Wow, I had only heard rave reviews, I assumed it was the same. Good to know. Personally I like the P5 better, but then I'm a old school freak :)
  14. ASG 86TR

    ASG 86TR Formula 3

    Aug 23, 2001
    New Jersey
    Full Name:
    Adam G
    Having been a range instructor for many years, and an avid shooter I would suggest a Ruger Mark II. Specificaly the Stainless Steel, bull barrel, slab side, with comp grips. It is a 22 cal, is very cheap to shoot, but is THE BEST training / first gun. It has zero kick back so you can practice your trigger squeeze. Too many times I see guys take the g-friends shooting and pull out a 45 or 40 cal or even a 9mm that is too big and even a bit of a kick.

    I use this gun everytime I go shooting to start my warm-up, and has been used with silencers by Spooks, esp the Mossad.

    Don't worry about the price, they are discounted by everyone, and if need be come in other styles. It also comes with rings to mount an AimPoint / scope to it. GREAT GUN!!!!

    Most important....follow Eric's suggestions.
  15. damcgee

    damcgee Formula 3

    Feb 23, 2003
    Mobile, AL
    I wondered how long it would take for the first idiot to chime in.

    Otherwise, thanks for all the great advice! I think I have pretty well settled on buying a .22 pistol for my first handgun, as I really want to be able to afford to take it to the gun range and shoot it without breaking the bank. I checked out that Ruger Mark II, but if I were going to spend that much money on a gun, I would just buy a larger caliber.

    One day I will be able to own much nicer pistols, but for now, my budget simply doesn't allow it.

    Thanks again for the discussions!
  16. ASG 86TR

    ASG 86TR Formula 3

    Aug 23, 2001
    New Jersey
    Full Name:
    Adam G
    Andy....try and find a used Ruger or go with a Blue non bull barrel to save a few $$. It is the best made 22 out there, and you will not be sorry, as it will last forever.
  17. model builder

    model builder Formula Junior

    Oct 15, 2003
    Long Island, NY
    Full Name:
    Edward Cervo
    A 22 is fun to shoot at the range but is not the best as a defensive weapon. If you plan on buying several handguns in the next year or so then the 22 is a good starting point. But for a carry weapon its not a very good choice. Not that I would want to stand in front of a 22 but it really has limited stopping power. Some very thick leather jackets have been known to stop the round from penatrating in certain situations. The last thing you would ever want to do is have to fire your gun at someone but if you need to I wouldn't want anything less than a 9mm. The reason you would pull a gun is never a good and if you do it had better do its job.

    As for ammo, 9mm are not very expensive. I think like maybe $10 a box of 50 for range ammo. The ammo you would use to carry will be more money, but you do not need much of it. 22 rounds are obviuosly really cheap.

    Sig Sauer makes some very nice semiauto 9mm's. The HK's are great but very expensive, even the cheaper ones.

    Overall size also matters. I carry a Sig 228. It fits my hand perfectly and is not a very large gun, easy to carry and holds 13 rounds. Its not small, but its pefect for me. I think it cost me about $500 new in 1992 (I got it at a very good price, I think they were about $600). Nowadays you can't get a new gun that carrys more than 10 rounds anyway so its easier to find a smaller gun that holds bigger rounds like a 45

    It all depends on what purpose you assign the gun.

    There is lots to choose from so take your time.

    As stated, revolvers are more reliable however most quality auto's very rarely jam unless they are not taken care of properly and maintenance/cleaning is very simple.

    I used to own a gun store in NY so if I can offer any assistance I would be happy to offer it. I firmy beleive in the right to carry a gun. Better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it.

  18. matterhorn762

    matterhorn762 Formula Junior

    Apr 19, 2004
    That's quite a statement, unless you're joking of course. We're not talking about somebody who needs a handgun to double tap a quarter at 25 yards. Even if we were, one's hand size and preference for balance leaves a lot more options than just a Sig or Kimber.
  19. matterhorn762

    matterhorn762 Formula Junior

    Apr 19, 2004
    A handgun choice is a lot simpler than a rifle for example. As long as it shoots when you pull the trigger, and doesn't when you don't, all that matter is how you like its shape, size, balance, kick, weight, etc. All things that are a personal preference. Everybody can have an opinion on their favorite, but unless dealing with specialties or specific requirements, the only way to properly choose is to go to a rental range and just try as many as you can.

    Everybody has a preference, but in the end only yours matters. A handgun is just a tool.
  20. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 30, 2003
    Full Name:
    if you are on a budget, try this. buy a QUALITY Co2 powered air pistol, BB or pellet, if you can get one " like" the real firearm you plan to purchase, even better. when i was a teen i had many many MANY Crossman AND Daisy Co2 pistols, in addition to the RWS air rifles i had ( and i still have the RWS rifles and they still work!) my point is, you can shoot these things in a house safely ( i did , and do off and on) to keep the basic skills of trigger control , breathing ect. you try shooting face cards from an old deck of cards and see how good or bad a shot you are! my stuff is old, i have no clue what is available today as far as air rifles / pistols go. get one modled after a revolver or a semi auto and then use the " real " firearm at a range as time and budget permit. i later came to own the real versions of the various air pistols, and i was IMMEDIATLYfamiliar with the " FEEL " of it in my hands.
    i have to add the Ruger 22/45 and MII pistols are excellent target / range guns. i have a Ruger 22/45 with a silencer. ( LEGAL IN GA WITH PAPERS ) when fired it is quieter that a can of soda opened on a hot day. i have also never had a Taurus, Browning Hi Power , CZ-75 fail to feed with quality ammo . NEVER. i have a matched set of Taurus PT99's that function perfect. Ruger and Taurus have lifetime warranties of thier firearms also. sorry i wrote a small novel, i need to go tinker on the 308 while i have daylight!!!! michael
  21. Bad Chariot

    Bad Chariot Karting

    Dec 6, 2003
    Reading, MA
    Full Name:
    I recently sold off all my guns for as much as I enjoyed shooting them, my addiction to golf was 100 fold! If it's nice out, I am golfing NOT shooting plus my bestfriend/shooting partner still has 2 years left on his PhD so once his ultra-crazy lifestyle slows down I will get back into it. Before I stopped, I was really getting involved into Action Shooting & doing my own reloads. I belonged to one of the best shooting clubs in New England too that was silly cheap to be a member at ($100.00 yr)

    That being said I have owned the following and what I liked/disliked about them:

    Browning Buck Mark 5.5 Target .22 cal. This is a VERY accurate gun, was super cheap to shoot, hit my hand like a glove! Only thing is you have to clean it good or you will get a "stove pipe" aka a spent shell sticking out the top of the barrel.

    Beratta 92FS (Italian model) 9mm. Of course one of the most popular 9mm handguns ever made. 9mm rounds can be bought for 6.50-7.00 per box so pretty cheap to shoot. My 1 complaint was the gun was nose-light so rather then slamming into your hand, the nose slammed up.

    H&K USP-40. This was my 1st large caliber handgun (the Browning was my 1st ever). I got one that had maybe 1 box of rounds thru it for $425.00 and now they are selling for $700.00+. I found it fit my hand real well, I liked how the mag drop was set. The quality was 2nd to none for everyone knows Heckler & Koch makes some of the finest firearms in the industry.

    Now my baby that I will miss! :( A Stainless steel Para Ordnance P-16 .40. I had (4) 17 rd mags, I had done a fair amount of custom work to the trigger, magwell, 1 pc recoil spring, beavertail, and springs. I loved the single action trigger, the way it fit my hand. Was a very accurate gun. This was my #1 handgun for Action Pistol.

    To the original poster, do NOT be afraid to look at used handguns. There are some great values out there. You stated you wanted a larger caliber handgun. I would consider .40 S&W rounds, you get more pop then 9mm, great stopping power if you want personal protection, and a lot cheaper then .45 to shoot.

    To everyone else, I still have an excellent condition Dillon Square Deal Progressive loading press w/ .40 dies. I also have a tumbler and corn media I am looking to sell so if anyone is interested let me know.

  22. tbakowsky

    tbakowsky F1 World Champ
    Professional Ferrari Technician Consultant

    Sep 18, 2002
    The Cold North
    Full Name:
    Don't forget get your cowboy hat and holster!!
  23. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 29, 2001
    Full Name:
    Hugh G. Rection
    I have been affiliated with Insights Training Center for a number of years. We teach defensive use of firearms to LE, military and private citizens. Far and away the best semi-auto we see and use is the Glock 9mm. Preferably the G19 or G17. If your budget is tight, get a used one. Most people shoot a gun very little before selling it. A Glock will rarely wear out. They are user friendly, with no sharp edges. I have a G19 that has had tens of thousands of rounds through it (I bought it used years ago). One of my main reasons for recommending the Glock is it's simple operating controls. It is easly to learn, and operate. Most other operating systems; whether they be single action, or double action require the proper manipulation of the safety, and/or decocker. It takes considerable time to familiarize oneself and ingrain the memory needed to snick off the safety as you come on target. Same with holstering the gun, you have to remember to decock and apply the safety. Too many times we have to constantly correct students to decock their already holstered gun...or apply the safety. These are non issues with the "self decocking" Glock system.

    Don't sweat the caliber thing too much. 9mm is fine. 9mm ammo is the most reasonably priced in a true "self defense caliber" (if you buy full metal jacket training ammo at a gun show, you can get 1,000 round cases of quality, name brand stuff for around $140 per case; this is MUCH cheaper than shooting .45). I would definitely draw the line on recommending a .22 for self-defense. They indeed make a fine addition for training, but since you only have money for one gun, get the Glock first.

    There are other fine guns out there, such as the Sig, Beretta, et all. If you can commit yourself to the necessary training, and can find a good deal on a used, one, then by all means go for it. Do not get a "cheap" gun. There are all sorts of inappropriate, sharp edged, unreliable POS's out there. Stay clear. Buy a quality used gun....not a cheaper new one.

    BTW, I would not recommed a "double action only" trigger system from any of the other brands. In general (with the exception of the new Sig LEM trigger), these are pretty much unmanageable...with long, very heavy trigger strokes and long "reset" as well. It is very difficult to hit accurately with these guns.

  24. maranelloman

    maranelloman Guest

    My first handgun was the 1911-style .45 that my dad carried in combat in WW2. It's bluing is gone, it is pitted inside & out, its slide is a lot looser than a new weapon, it killed countless Nazis from 1942 on....and it, to this day, shoots extremely accurately. Unbelieveably so. Very easy to shoot, very easy to break down & clean & reassemble, very little recoil (I have replaced the mainspring, since the original 1942 spring, which he still has, is a mit too soft), etc.

  25. Tspringer

    Tspringer F1 Veteran

    Apr 11, 2002
    In your price range.... A Taurus 92F. Its basically a Brazilian built Baretta 92F but at $250 less. The Taurus is a great 9mm. Looks great... shoots great... extremely well built and brand new out the door for about $400.

    The Glocks and Sigs and such are very fine guns, but they are also out of the stated price range. The Taurus is well under your target price leaving money for ammunition, a holster and a gun safe.


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