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Questions About Getting Into Guns/Shooting
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dcmacdaddy
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Sep 18, 2009, 07:13 PM
 
dcmacdaddy here. I have been thinking about getting a handgun for the past few months and I have some questions about what to look for in a purchase. I am looking for something to use for personal (home) safety and shooting at the range. I have looked at a number of gun enthusiast websites and found a lot of useful information but thought I would pose my questions here as well.

Any suggestions/warnings on a specific caliber to shoot? The most common calibers I see are 9mm, .40, and .45ACP. Any particular caliber better than another for my interests (home safety and range shooting)?

Any suggestions/warnings on a specific make and/or model to shoot? I have limited exposure to firearms, with more exposure to rifles and shotguns than handguns, but see a lot of recommendations for Sig Sauer (P220 and P229) and HK (P30, HK45, and USP) pistols with a smattering of other recommendations for Smith & Wesson revolvers.
[Everything I have read says to go to a gun shop or range and try a variety of guns to find oen with the best feel. Having hands on the slightly small side I think this is an excellent idea.]

Any suggestions/warnings on Single-Action versus Double-Action? What are the pros and cons of each type of trigger action?

So, give me your thoughts/suggestions/tips on whatever you think would be best for me and my needs. Thanks!


I have been looking into the gun training courses around here and there are a couple I need to take before I can apply for a NYS handgun license. (I like the intensive requirements NYS has as they want you to have a grounding in basic firearms knowledge as well as classroom and firing range experience before they will issue the license.) So, if I got the courses out of the way this Fall I could make a purchase by the end of the year. I just turned 39 and think I am mature enough to have one in the house for safety and for shooting at the range. Once I got my initial license I would wait a while to decide if I wanted to pursue getting a CCW permit. But, I am in no hurry and rarely find myself in public situations where I feel a gun would be necessary for my safety. (I have spent, and continue to spend, time in dodgy areas/neighborhoods but I feel much safer knowing I can outrun almost anyone if need be.)
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Phileas
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Sep 18, 2009, 07:32 PM
 
Shooting at a person is a very serious matter. Not many people are cut out for it, and that's a good thing. What I am saying, is I am not sure if you'd be much safer with a handgun in the house.

I honestly don't know if I personally could bring myself to shoot an intruder and furthermore if I would react in a way that would keep me out of harm's way. I was planning to get my own firearms license this year, for hunting purposes, but it looks like I'll be too busy at work so this is a topic I'd be interested to read more about.
     
sknapp351
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Sep 18, 2009, 08:02 PM
 
I also agree with the idea that you should find a range that allows you to rent and fire a number of different hand guns so you can feel the difference in grips and triggers.

I have had a Glock model 17 which is a full frame 9mm and a Sig P239 in .40 cal. They were both phenomenal pistols, but in the end I think I preferred the Glock. It all came down to the trigger feel to me. The Sig's trigger fired in the very last bit of trigger pull and I found with my big hands that I ended up squeezing my had to get that last bit opposed to just my trigger finger. This was something I learned to adjust and a Hogue grip also helped, but I personally found the Glock to be more comfortable and accurate from the beginning to me.

I have never had the opportunity to fire an HK, but always wanted to try an HK USP as they were highly recommended by the founder of the Navy's Seal Team 6. Another pistol that I enjoyed firing was a Kimber Ultra Carry 1911 style .45 cal.

Since the most time you will (hopefully) ever use a pistol will be at the range, you might want to look into ammunition costs. I found my 9mm to be much more affordable to shoot than my .40 cal was. Some brands and models also have conversion barrels that allow you to change to a smaller caliber like .22 cal for range use. That is even more affordable.

I strongly encourage all the training you can get in safety and marksmanship. The ultimate goal of owning a pistol for protection is not to ever use it. Training will help you learn good habits that will make you and everyone around you safer.

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turtle777
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Sep 18, 2009, 08:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by Phileas View Post
Shooting at a person is a very serious matter. Not many people are cut out for it, and that's a good thing. What I am saying, is I am not sure if you'd be much safer with a handgun in the house.

I honestly don't know if I personally could bring myself to shoot an intruder and furthermore if I would react in a way that would keep me out of harm's way.
Good points. I'd put myself in that camp.

That's why I got tasers for self-defense purposes in my home.

-t
     
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Sep 18, 2009, 08:33 PM
 
I have a Smith & Wesson Chief's Special 9mm that I'm quite fond of.
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olePigeon
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Sep 18, 2009, 09:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by sknapp351 View Post
I have had a Glock model 17
I dunno what it is, but the Glock M17 and the Springfield 1911 are my two favorite guns. I just like the look.
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sknapp351
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Sep 18, 2009, 10:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
I dunno what it is, but the Glock M17 and the Springfield 1911 are my two favorite guns. I just like the look.
What's the difference between Gxx and Mxx designations?

There is no difference. Glock models are usually referred to as Gxx, which means "Glock xx" (i.e. G17 for Glock 17). However, they are sometimes called Mxx, which means "Model xx" (i.e. M17 for Model 17).

From : The Glock FAQ gives answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Glock line of pistols.

It's just in how you say it.
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sknapp351
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Sep 18, 2009, 10:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
I dunno what it is, but the Glock M17 and the Springfield 1911 are my two favorite guns. I just like the look.
Whoops. I read your post wrongly, thinking that you didn't know what I meant by Model 17. My bad. Both the Glock M17 and 1911 are in my top favorites too. A full frame 1911 is a joy to shoot, a compact 1911 on the other hand can be pretty jarring sometimes.
     
sknapp351
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Sep 18, 2009, 10:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Good points. I'd put myself in that camp.

That's why I got tasers for self-defense purposes in my home.

-t
Are these tasers that shoot the probes a distance away from you? If it is the type that you have to hold up against someone for defense, then they are too close for my comfort. They could easily stab you while still convulsing from your taser. If I was going for non lethal defense, it would be a really good lock on my bedroom door, and an empty pump action shot gun as that sound is terrifying.

SAm
     
iranfromthezoo
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Sep 18, 2009, 10:47 PM
 
I am a an avid gun owner and work for a sheriff's department. I understand what you are saying about your personal protection. I'd first strongly recommend getting a gun safe that you can store under your bed that is activated by a keypad combination so that your weapon does not end up in the wrong hands.

Do you have kids? Will there be kids around your house? If so stay away from the Glocks and Sig's. They are wonderful guns and I prefer the Sig over anything. Both the Glock and Sig lack a very important feature, a safety. The Glock's safety is built into the trigger which is not really a safety and a Sig is just the same.

I'd shy away from a 9mm also. A 9mm has enough velocity to go through a person and then a brick wall. This is why law enforcement stopped using the 9mm because of the high velocity.

I use a Sig P 229 .40 cal, it is a very powerful and nice weapon. I really like it and think it is smooth, responsive and very reliable.

Get a good holster, not a cheap $20 holster but one from galls.com that is a double or triple retention holster that only you or someone who really knows guns can get out.

But the real question that only you can answer is are you prepared to take a life if necessary? Do not pull your gun out unless you are absolutely sure you are okay with taking a life. A bullet is something you can never play with or take back. A taser is a less lethal form of self defense and it is very easy to use. Just know what your getting into with it and make sure you are okay with the thought.

Also lots of people go out and buy guns and have lost all sense and think they are invincible. Be safe and PM if you'd like to talk more about the Sig 229.

P.S. don't be afraid to buy a used gun.
( Last edited by iranfromthezoo; Sep 18, 2009 at 10:56 PM. )
     
OldManMac
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Sep 18, 2009, 11:33 PM
 
I just recently bought my first handgun, a Ruger MKIII, 22 cal. I don't know much about the different types of guns either, although I've done a fair amount of range shooting in the last couple of years. My brother is somewhat of a collector, having approximately three dozen firearms of sorts, including handguns, muzzle loaders, rifles, and shotguns, as well as a couple of dozen swords of different styles/types. I see him every couple of months (he lives in a different state), so we always go shooting at an indoor range near his house, and I'm learning more each time I go. I usually spend a couple of days at a time with him, so I've been to the range a number of times in the last few years, and have become fairly proficient at shooting a number of different types/calibers of weapons, including a 45 caliber handgun/cannon, that kicks like a mule and is as loud as a cannon!

Here, in Michigan, one needs to get a permit to purchase a handgun, but it was quick and easy to acquire. If one gets a concealed pistol license, which I intend to do, then the background check and a safety course are required. Also, one doesn't need a permit to purchase additional handguns once a CPL is acquired.

The price of ammunition has gone up considerably since Obama became President (he's against private citizens owning weapons, and my brother thinks he's going to attempt to take away our guns), and the availability has been somewhat constrained, for certain calibers, so I started with the 22, just for target shooting. When I go concealed, I'll probably go with something like a 38 Special, although I'll do more research when that time comes. My brother lives in kind of a rough town (Lorain, OH), so he generally carries wherever he can, and he is an excellent marksman with all his weapons.

I don't plan on going full bore, like he does, but it is fun to shoot at targets, and it can't hurt to have some defensive skills.
     
Andy8
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Sep 18, 2009, 11:48 PM
 
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Shaddim
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Sep 19, 2009, 12:37 AM
 
For home defense get a shotgun, the sound of a pump-action 12 gauge will put some fear into an intruder without ever having to fire a shot. Plus, you won't penetrate walls (unless you live in a cracker box).

If you want to get into targets I'd go with a nice 9mm, like the Beretta M9A1.
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iMOTOR
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Sep 19, 2009, 02:00 AM
 
What style of safety you choose is a major factor as others have mentioned. My preference leans towards having a manual safety. Sig and Glock are top quality but I would also look at a Beretta 92 because, in my opinion, you’re better off with a real safety.

Since you’re considering a CCW in the future, I would recommend getting a full size pistol now, get fully accustomed to it, then when you decide to go for a CCW, pick out a sub-compact.
     
phantomdragonz
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Sep 19, 2009, 03:11 AM
 
Here is my input...

EVERYONE will debate caliber... EVERYONE thinks their choice is the best and only choice.

SAME goes for gun manufacturers, EVERYONE thinks theirs is the best and only one worth it...

get something that is quality and learn how to use it well!

here is my advice. Go out and hold or even shoot as many handguns as you can in your price range. Shoot as many calibers as you can and see which one you like the best and buy it!

When I went out and bought a gun I held as many as I could and really liked they way the Springfield XD felt in my hand so I bought one. The 40cal and 9mm are the same frame but I went with the 9mm. Why? because it is a cheaper round to practice with and my subcompact will hold 13 rounds. More chances to hit something if I need to...

There are MANY MANY MANY people out there that will pressure you into a certain caliber and gun because they think it's the best...

the truth is, whatever YOU like the best and whatever YOU feel most comfortable shooting is the best one for you.

The website http://www.theboxotruth.com/ has some VERY real world tests in them, are they perfect? NO but they are REAL! he has covered A LOT of the myths and urban legends out there so read up.

I cant stress this enough, buy what feels right to YOU not what your neighbor says, not what a magazine says, not what some schmuck on the internet says. Buy what YOU feel comfortable with.

and the BEST training I have done was not training at all, there is a gun club local to me that has VERY informal gun matches. I went to a couple defensive pistol matches and learned A LOT. I got a lot of advice, some bad, some GREAT! but more than anything I got a lot of practice and experience under (some) stress. They cared WAY more about safety then the score of the match.

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!!

Feel free to ask me any questions, I am no expert but I will try to help as unbiasedly as I can...

-Zach
( Last edited by phantomdragonz; Sep 19, 2009 at 03:45 AM. )
     
phantomdragonz
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Sep 19, 2009, 03:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by iranfromthezoo View Post
I'd shy away from a 9mm also. A 9mm has enough velocity to go through a person and then a brick wall. This is why law enforcement stopped using the 9mm because of the high velocity.
I was under the impression that 9mm was the most common LEO caliber? or was it 40?

an 9mm FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) will easily go through someone and JHP (jacketed Hollow Point) is much less likely to over penetrate... am I wrong?

I used to think that people suggested JHP ammo because of the increased damage but then realized it was to reduce over-penetration, so I carry only JHP now. I leave the FMJ for the range.

as I said already, I am FAR from an expert!

-Zach
     
turtle777
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Sep 19, 2009, 08:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by sknapp351 View Post
Are these tasers that shoot the probes a distance away from you? If it is the type that you have to hold up against someone for defense, then they are too close for my comfort. They could easily stab you while still convulsing from your taser. If I was going for non lethal defense, it would be a really good lock on my bedroom door, and an empty pump action shot gun as that sound is terrifying.
Yes, the ones that shot probes up to 30 feet. And my tasers have a laser guide.

Once discharged, you can also use them as a stun gun if you are close to someone.

-t
     
iranfromthezoo
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Sep 19, 2009, 08:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by phantomdragonz View Post
I was under the impression that 9mm was the most common LEO caliber? or was it 40?

an 9mm FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) will easily go through someone and JHP (jacketed Hollow Point) is much less likely to over penetrate... am I wrong?

I used to think that people suggested JHP ammo because of the increased damage but then realized it was to reduce over-penetration, so I carry only JHP now. I leave the FMJ for the range.

as I said already, I am FAR from an expert!

-Zach
Some LEO's use this caliber but most are now with .40, .45 or if they are weird like Texas DPS .357SIG. Yeah I use Federal JHP's in my gun at all times unless I am at the range and then it's FMJ. You don't ever want to hit an innocent bystander but you never want them to be in your shot period. Unfortunately sometimes theres nothing we can do if we have an active shooter. Luckily nothing has ever happened.

In Mississippi you do not have to have a permit to buy a gun, if you wish you carry it with you then you must have CCW but your vehicle is considered an extension of your home and you can keep there and up to 500 ft before going illegal.

I liked what the above poster said about going to a gun shop and holding the gun yourself. Your the one using it, make sure your comfortable with it at all times. Also never trust anyone with a gun, even the store clerk. If you watch the guy clear the chamber and take the magazine out, you also clear the chamber and make sure no ammo is in there. This is for your safety and to show the dealer that your just not some idiot floating around. Always make sure your weapon is empty and you trust the person you hand it off too.
     
smacintush
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Sep 19, 2009, 08:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
For home defense get a shotgun, the sound of a pump-action 12 gauge will put some fear into an intruder without ever having to fire a shot. Plus, you won't penetrate walls (unless you live in a cracker box).

If you want to get into targets I'd go with a nice 9mm, like the Beretta M9A1.
This. Right here. You reading this dcmacdaddy?

A handgun for home protection is really a rather poor choice.
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iranfromthezoo
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Sep 19, 2009, 08:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
This. Right here. You reading this dcmacdaddy?

A handgun for home protection is really a rather poor choice.
dcmacdaddy also spoke about being in neighborhoods and implied he was going to get a CCW which a pump action wouldn't work for that purpose, but for a gun in the house shotgun is wonderful along with the brightest light you can get...
     
ghporter
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Sep 19, 2009, 11:12 AM
 
I concur with the suggestion to find a place that lets you rent a variety of pistols to try them out. Not knowing how a particular pistol feels in your hand, and especially how it feels in recoil, can be a Bad Thing if you buy before trying.

I'm fond of 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP. They each have purposes, strengths and weaknesses, and those are typically individual to the shooter. I always qualified expert with the M9 while on active duty because I practiced with my .40, and while the difference in recoil is not that much, it's enough to be Very noticeable.

I personally detest the Glock trigger. Not the design, or how safe it is, but the feel of it. Cannot stand it. In comparison, I have a striker-fired Taurus in .40 that is great for me, and it has basically the same sort of trigger. I can't explain it except that my Taurus' trigger is nowhere near as heavy as the Glocks' I've tried. I love my 1911-it was a bequest from my late father-in-law.

Finally, I heartily concur with a pump 12ga shotgun for HOME defense. For concealed carry, there are so very many options that I couldn't begin to offer any advice except to TRY a bunch of calibers, then try a bunch of guns in the caliber you wind up choosing. Note that in many jurisdictions there is a minimum caliber for qualifying for a concealed carry permit, but that does not mean that you must carry at least that caliber. Here in Texas, you have to use at least a 9mm on the range to qualify, but I know people who have very easily concealed .380s as their carry weapon.

Research, research, research! And of course practice, practice, practice!

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macforray
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Sep 19, 2009, 12:11 PM
 
I see a lot of discussion here regarding magazine loaded semi auto pistols. They are all good in the right hands of someone more experienced, but please do not underestimate a good and very reliable revolver.

I am 53 years old and have been shooting since I was 12. I have owned numerous rifles, shotguns, black powder rifles, revolvers and semi auto pistols. I have also been reloading my own ammo since I was 20 years old.

So, based on my personal experience, if someone new to guns, especially handguns, were to ask me what I would start with, I would recommend a 5 or 6 shot, short barrel revolver in 38 Special caliber that would also handle +P loads. A revolver is much more reliable than an auto because it won't jam if you have a bad round in the chamber. It is also much easier to learn on because of it's inherent simplicity. You can also pick up one of them, either new or used, for a reasonable price.

I am able to be very accurate with a short barrel 38 Special at 25 yards or less because I have made sure the weapon fits my hand perfectly and it then becomes an extension of my hand and arm. It is relatively light and easy to hold. I no longer have to aim this weapon, I am able to keep both eyes open to maintain my peripheral vision, and point. If I can hit a 9" diameter paper plate at 25 yards I am happy. Actually, if you were to review your home layout, you would find that you only need to be that accurate at 15 yards max for home defense.

Again, this recommendation is for a new shooter to start with. There are many fine weapons mentioned and suggested in the above threads. Once an individual is comfortable with handling a revolver, they certainly should branch out and try a semi and also "hotter" calibers.

As for home defense, someone above mentioned a shotgun. That gets my vote also. There is nothing more intimidating than having a 12 gauge bore pointed at you, the sound of the chamber closing, and the mere size of the weapon. Some of the manufacturers even make special home defense models. A 12 gauge 2.75" double 00 buckshot round has nine .33" diameter lead balls that will literally eviscerate a person at close range. If deadly force is needed at close range, this is the weapon of choice. Our soldiers used this weapon in Vietnam doing tunnel searches for the Cong. It has a proven track record.

Shooting sports can be a lot of fun and can also be a whole family activity at the appropriate ages. Whatever you purchase, please practice often and enjoy the sport.
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reader50
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Sep 19, 2009, 01:06 PM
 
Several different people have recommended shotguns for home defense. However, home defense can easily turn into a close quarters affair. There is no guarantee you will always see the pedophile who broke in before he's in the room. If they are close and grab the end of the long gun, you will not be able to bring it back on target.

A handgun seems like a far better choice for home defense, because they can't grab it effectively. You gain an extra 3 feet of safety margin within which to protect your life.
     
finboy
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Sep 19, 2009, 01:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Phileas View Post
Shooting at a person is a very serious matter. Not many people are cut out for it, and that's a good thing. What I am saying, is I am not sure if you'd be much safer with a handgun in the house.
That's good advice. Make sure you're ready, mentally, to point at the center of mass and fire until it's down. That's a tough thing to prepare for, but that's a good way to think of it. Weaver (I think) had some basic rules to follow -- one was never point a gun at anything you aren't ready to kill.

That said, welcome to the fold. Be aware, first, that there are a whole bunch of people out there who will judge you mercilessly about this particular issue. Just by exercising your natural right to defend yourself and others, you will be labelled a "gun nut" and right-wing fanatic.

My advice is to go to a range that rents different guns and see what you have a tolerance for. About the smallest self-defense caliber I'd recommend is 9mm or 38. Revolvers are always more reliable than semi-autos, and you'll never need 15 rounds unless you're going to be on "Miami Vice". Even a 2" 5-shot 38 is better than a .40 that jams without some special brands of ammo.

A .357 is overkill for most things, but if you have bigger hands/bones it will shoot OK. If you're not going to conceal the weapon, then stick to a 4 or 5 inch barrel with revolvers or a standard size automatic. Small automatics are easy to conceal but hard to hold on to and break in.

If you can stand it, a full-size 45 is about the best auto to have, best combo of stopping power and the single-action think makes little difference with that gun.

If that's too hot, a full-size nine mm is a good tradeoff. Ruger makes good ones, as does the ones you mentioned, but stay away from composite frames in cheaper guns. Taurus used to make some good autos, but I hear mixed reviews these days. Same with their 38/357 revolvers unfortunately.

I've never liked the Glocks or anything with a complicated trigger, but that's just me. They shoot fine, and the Model 19 is a really nice pistol, but the 26 is a little hot for my small hands (smaller). Those are a matter of choice I guess.

The best all-around gun you can have is a 4" .357, because they will also shoot the cheaper (and much lighter to shoot) .38 Special. You can never go wrong with a 3"-4" S&W .357 in stainless, but that's a pretty penny these days.

For practice, it's always nice to have a 22LR around. There's a lot to be said for cheap ammo.

One final thing: if you're going to buy and keep a gun around, make time to break it in and be/stay comfortable with it. Breaking in a Sig or HK will probably, realistically, take 300-500 rounds or even more. Which is time you can use to become familiar with it. Then don't leave it in a drawer, take it to the range every 4-6 months at least, and practice (which can get expensive). Revolvers are simple, automatics are much more complicated and tend to get even more complicated in the dark.

Good luck.
     
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Sep 19, 2009, 05:17 PM
 
I've had good luck practicing and handling my Springfield 45ACP. The 45 will leave a bigger boo-boo than a 9mm which will usually go through a person instead. The police and federal types I've talked to say 2 rounds into the target will usually stop them, whereas with a 9mm you made need to strike the target a few more times. If you have 10 rounds in the clip thats 5 targets down with a 45 vs 2-3 with a 9mm.
     
phantomdragonz
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Sep 19, 2009, 10:10 PM
 
"knock down power" is really a moot point... if you cant comfortably and ACCURATELY handle a larger caliber then you should not own one. I have grown VERY comfortable with 9mm. and in the end of the day SHOT PLACEMENT is what really matters.

Some reasons why I like my 9mm:
9mm is cheaper then the larger calibers (cheaper to practice)
9mm is PLENTY powerful (it was used in many military sidearms)
9mm semi autos will hold more rounds then a larger caliber
9mm recoil is very manageable, although I did not notice mush difference between my XD9 and my friends XD45 and I literally shot one after the other.

Also, IF you end up really liking the XD series i STRONGLY recommend you start with the subcompact. a full size magazine with grip extension is included and makes the gun feel exactly like it's full size brother. I speak from experience here as I have both... I will probably sell my full size because of this reason.

PLEASE PLEASE dont take any advice you hear as truth, there is so much mis-information and mis-conceptions about all things related to firearms... And my experience is the most adamant people are the most mis-informed.

Shoot what you can afford and are comfortable with. get as much trigger time as you can... I would not carry concealed till you feel as though the gun is an extension of your arm and hand.

people debate caliber till they are blue in the face, if you are somewhat tight on money they buy a cheaper caliber so you can practice more. If you can afford the larger calibers and are comfortable shooting them then do that. but the effectiveness of ANY caliber really comes down to shot placement...

I have heard (as in rumor) that more people have died from .22 long rifle bullets then any other caliber. could be totally false! but makes sense to me.

-Zach
     
UncleDannie
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Sep 19, 2009, 10:53 PM
 
Looking for a good concealed auto - 9mm or .40 will do. I have several .22, but need a more substantial weapon. I like phantomdragonz take on the subcompact XD.
( Last edited by UncleDannie; Sep 19, 2009 at 10:57 PM. Reason: Too gory)
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dcmacdaddy  (op)
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Sep 20, 2009, 12:10 AM
 
Thanks for all your replies. Glad to see there is consistent advice in getting hands-on experience with a handgun before making a purchase. I wouldn't want to make a purchase without being very comfortable with the weapon first. (And as NYS requires you to have classroom and range experience before you get your license to buy a handgun the question of pre-purchase experience almost becomes a moot point. It is mandatory here.)

As for caliber choices, I said in my initial post that I have smallish hands. As such, I think some of the guns I have seen that shoot .40 or .45ACP would be too big for me to handle (both in holding comfortably the gun and managing the recoil). In addition, I like the comments about accuracy and shot placement being more important than knock-down power. If I were in a shooting situation in my home I would rather be able to know I could stop the person with a couple well-aimed shots than relying on a powerful, bit likely poorly aimed, shot from a higher caliber gun.

When I get my handgun I figure I will be at the range once a month to keep myself fresh, as well as to gain experience. A 9mm caliber seems like a more economical choice for that level of practice. (I was really surprised when someone mentioned going to the range once very 4-6 months. I would think that is not enough for a beginner.)

I still plan to go for the handgun training and licensing first and then will look into a CCW at some point in the future. Although, all the comments about a shotgun being optimal for home defense makes me think I should get the handgun license first and then go back for a rifle/shotgun license and wait on the CCW. (While a rifle/shotgun license is not required in New York state I do not want to buy ANY firearm without having both classroom and firing range experience under my belt before making the purchase.)

I appreciate all the suggestions. If anyone else has recommendations on specific guns to look at, please post them.
( Last edited by dcmacdaddy; Sep 20, 2009 at 12:20 AM. Reason: for sake of clarity and to fix some typos.)
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Sep 20, 2009, 12:19 AM
 
In reply to a couple posters who made comments about the politics of gun ownership, I am
going to make one and ONLY one post about the politics of gun ownership in this thread.*
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I think it is quite possible to be both politically liberal (like I am) AND be in favor of gun ownership. I do NOT think the two are mutually exclusive. As I have said in many PWL threads on guns and/or gun ownership, I do not think the biggest debate is about whether or not it is OK to own firearms but whether it is acceptable, and to what degree it is acceptable, to regulate and/or restrict gun ownership. Some will say no restrictions are acceptable, while other will say some restrictions are acceptable, while yet others will say extreme restrictions are acceptable. I fall in the middle camp that says some restrictions are acceptable (based on a person's mental fitness, record of criminal activity, and responsibility with gun ownership).



*Much thanks to all of you who have kept this discussion politics-free and focused on the practicalities of gun ownership. I really appreciate it. If you want to debate me on the politics of gun ownership, you all know I will have that debate, but in the PWL and not here.
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Sep 20, 2009, 12:40 AM
 
One more thing I should mention. I am left-handed* but right-eye dominant. I think being left-handed will put Glocks farther down my list as they have the safety and magazine release made only for right handed shooters. Is there anything I should look for in regards to having my dominant eye be different from my handedness?



*Actually, I am fairly ambidextrous with a lot of hand-skill activities (eating, sports, using tools, etc.) but I I would plan on shooting left-handed. When doing things with my left hand whatever device I am using feels like a natural extension of my hand whereas with my right hand, I am facile with the device, but very cognizant of its presence in my hand.
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phantomdragonz
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Sep 20, 2009, 12:57 AM
 
I am right handed but left eye dominant and I have no issues with it. as long as you get a gun with ambidextrous functions (The XD has them) then you should not have any issues.

and after you get a lot of experience and skill you should be shooting with both eyes open anyways.

-Zach
     
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Sep 20, 2009, 12:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Several different people have recommended shotguns for home defense. However, home defense can easily turn into a close quarters affair. There is no guarantee you will always see the pedophile who broke in before he's in the room. If they are close and grab the end of the long gun, you will not be able to bring it back on target.

A handgun seems like a far better choice for home defense, because they can't grab it effectively. You gain an extra 3 feet of safety margin within which to protect your life.
The fix, the Mossberg 88 with optional pistol grip. Close-quarters defense with all the shotgun benefits, just practice a bit with it to get used to the kick. Check your state laws about barrel lengths and which mods are legal.

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Sep 20, 2009, 02:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Several different people have recommended shotguns for home defense. However, home defense can easily turn into a close quarters affair. There is no guarantee you will always see the pedophile who broke in before he's in the room. If they are close and grab the end of the long gun, you will not be able to bring it back on target.

A handgun seems like a far better choice for home defense, because they can't grab it effectively. You gain an extra 3 feet of safety margin within which to protect your life.
Without trying to pick it apart, what you are describing is a single type of less-than-likely situation.

No type of weapon is perfect, but In most home defense situations the shotgun will be superior to the handgun.
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Sep 20, 2009, 03:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by phantomdragonz View Post
"knock down power" is really a moot point... if you cant comfortably and ACCURATELY handle a larger caliber then you should not own one. I have grown VERY comfortable with 9mm. and in the end of the day SHOT PLACEMENT is what really matters.
Sure hitting the target is important but you can't simply rely upon that and pick an inferior caliber. Saying that knockdown power is moot is just silly.

Some reasons why I like my 9mm:
9mm is cheaper then the larger calibers (cheaper to practice)
Agreed, but why are you skimping on something that you intend to defend your LIFE with?

9mm is PLENTY powerful (it was used in many military sidearms)
Ah. The ol' military/law enforcement angle.

The 9mm wasn't used because of it's stopping power. In military applications as well as law enforcement penetration is more important than in personal defense. The 9mm has merely OK stopping power and GOOD penetration. Plus, you must understand that when Beretta got their military contract there was a whole bunch of bullshit politics behind it rather than the superiority of the weapon.

9mm semi autos will hold more rounds then a larger caliber
The difference is mostly irrelevant in self-defense situations. Even a .45 ACP with a staggered magazine hold plenty.

When your life is on the line you have to be sure that however many hits you manage to make, they will do their job. The 9mm is OK, but is not really the BEST choice IMO.
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phantomdragonz
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Sep 20, 2009, 03:15 AM
 
If I owned a gun because I KNEW I would end up using to to protect my life I would probably have a 45. HOWEVER I doubt I will ever need to use a weapon to defend my life so I chose one I could economically shoot for sport/fun and have decent protection capabilities as well.

the main selling point for me on my 9mm choice is because it's cheaper to shoot. Thus I can practice more. not to mention the 9mm frame fit my hand a lot better then any of the 45cal guns I handled in my price range.

The benefits of a 9mm outweighed the benefits of a larger caliber in my situation...

-Zach
     
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Sep 20, 2009, 06:10 AM
 
I'm partial to revolvers, simply because they rarely, if ever, jam or misfire. I'd look into getting a .357 revolver from someone that makes one that is comfortable for your hand. It's also the only gun that I know of that can shoot two different caliber rounds out of it without any modification at all. It can also shoot the .38, which is cheaper. This is the way I would go.
     
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Sep 20, 2009, 10:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
Ah. The ol' military/law enforcement angle.

The 9mm wasn't used because of it's stopping power. In military applications as well as law enforcement penetration is more important than in personal defense. The 9mm has merely OK stopping power and GOOD penetration. Plus, you must understand that when Beretta got their military contract there was a whole bunch of bullshit politics behind it rather than the superiority of the weapon.
Again, most agencies do not use the 9mm because it will hit the intended target and then go through them to whatever was behind them. SWAT teams would literally go inside a duplex and get into a firefight with a subject and the bullets would travel through the walls and would have potentially hit someone on the other side. Yes they use Hollow Points and Teflon Coated bullets.

I haven't found my .40 to be expensive, I am getting 50 target rounds for $10 a box. For target rounds you don't need the best bullet, cheap ones work. My Sig 229 is very easy and comfortable in my small hands. They do make left handed releases but they are hard to find. Knockdown power is important because when you shoot someone you want them to go down and not be able to return fire or cause you anymore harm while the police are on the way.
     
ghporter
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Sep 20, 2009, 10:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
Ah. The ol' military/law enforcement angle.

The 9mm wasn't used because of it's stopping power. In military applications as well as law enforcement penetration is more important than in personal defense. The 9mm has merely OK stopping power and GOOD penetration. Plus, you must understand that when Beretta got their military contract there was a whole bunch of bullshit politics behind it rather than the superiority of the weapon.

The difference is mostly irrelevant in self-defense situations. Even a .45 ACP with a staggered magazine hold plenty.

When your life is on the line you have to be sure that however many hits you manage to make, they will do their job. The 9mm is OK, but is not really the BEST choice IMO.
I have a different take on this. Getting shot with ANY caliber will ruin the bad guy's day. Remember that until the 1930s, police in Europe carried .380s (the Germans called it "9mm Kurz"). The 9mm cartridge was designed to be a military caliber. That it does not have the power of a .45 is not a big deal, because, as I said, getting shot at all is a Very Bad Thing for the shoot-ee. And my father-in-law, who earned one of his Purple Hearts for being shot with a 9mm in Germany in WWII, said that getting shot with the "under-powered" round was a LOT worse than his shrapnel wounds were.

The .45 ACP generates a LOT of recoil, even in so-called "high velocity" loads that use a lighter bullet, and frankly it takes a LOT of training and TONS of practice for an average-sized person to learn how to manage that. The Army adopted the M1 Carbine specifically because it took so long and was so expensive to teach people how to effectively shoot the M1911A1.

I've had the "pleasure" to be on the line when other people have been trying to shoot a variety of .45s, and it's been anything from funny to scary-picture a 5-foot nothing guy that's got loads of muscles but not much mass trying to shoot a 1911 one-handed...on his first shot, he nearly beaned himself and the rangemaster RAN up to him and cautioned him that this was his last warning to keep his muzzle pointed downrange.

Sure, if you really can handle a .45, use it for home defense and carry, but if a pretty heavy gun like a 1911 is a problem to handle, how hard will a compact, light gun be in a crucial situation?

As someone else said, the caliber to carry is the one that is the most powerful one you can accurately place on target. The idea is to be sure of hitting the bad guy, not carrying around something that you'll do lots of collateral damage with while missing the bad guy at 20 feet.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Mrjinglesusa
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Sep 20, 2009, 12:31 PM
 
Lots of good advice and information in this thread.

9 mm is plenty powerful for HD use, especially for a new handgun owner. Velocity of 9 mm vs. 0.40 is about the same, although the 0.40 throws a higher weight bullet at the same velocity as a lower weight 9 mm bullet. If you were to use a 124 gr JHP +P 9 mm round and were accurate with your shots you wouldn't need to worry about it "going through" the bad guy any more than a 0.40.

Good advice is to go a range that rents handguns and shoot a 9 mm, 0.40, and 0.45 in one brand (e.g., Glocks) and then shoot the same calibers in other brands (e.g., Sig, HK, S&W, etc.). It's not enough to simply shoot different calibers using the same brand because you might find that you shoot the 0.40 in one brand like you shoot the 9 mm in another.

For me, I didn't like the feel of the Sigs I shot. I found the Glocks to fit my hand better and I was more accurate with them than Sigs. YMMV. Many people don't like the triggers on Glocks. I liked the trigger pull on the Glocks I shot more than the trigger pull on the Sigs. Again, YMMV. The only way to know which you like and shoot best with is to go to the range and shoot different calibers in different brands. You will find just as many people recommending Glocks vs. Sigs vs. S&W vs. HK etc, etc.

Take a look at IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association). Many ranges hold IDPA matches. Good way to practice hitting stationary targets from behind cover, tactical reloads, hitting targets while moving, etc.

Lastly:

1) A gun is ALWAYS loaded. If you cleared it, leave, and come back, it's loaded.

2) Don't point a gun at anything you are not prepared to destroy or kill (Muzzle control)

3) Never put your finger in the trigger guard until you are prepared to fire. Only once you have aimed and have your target in the sights should you permit your finger to gently rest on the trigger (Trigger control)

4) Be absolutely sure of your target and what is behind it


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chabig
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Sep 20, 2009, 01:37 PM
 
I own and love my HK 40 USP Compact. It's relatively light, powerful (.40 has more oomph than 9mm), and most of all is simple to use and damn reliable. I've put about 6000 rounds through it without a single malfunction. It's not too big to carry concealed, but since you don't plan to use it that way, the size won't matter as much. I'd consider the regular model over the compact for home defense since you don't really care how compact it is.
     
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Sep 20, 2009, 01:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by phantomdragonz View Post
I have heard (as in rumor) that more people have died from .22 long rifle bullets then any other caliber. could be totally false! but makes sense to me.

-Zach
I'd believe it. I've known plenty of folks to carry .22 for protection, and two of our three "house guns" are .22 (bedroom, kitchen, office upstairs). My wife is more comfortable with it, and consequently her shot placement and reaction time will be better. Same with me to some extent. But I'd never recommend that to someone without thousands of hours of range time and combat handgunning under their belts.

Training is everything. It's not enough to say your "ready" to defend yourself, you have to practice with that intent. Also, having a gun around makes your house immediately more dangerous according to CDC -- make sure you've got things locked up, and treat every gun, every time, as loaded. Complacency is a dangerous thing.
     
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Sep 20, 2009, 01:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
The fix, the Mossberg 88 with optional pistol grip. Close-quarters defense with all the shotgun benefits, just practice a bit with it to get used to the kick. Check your state laws about barrel lengths and which mods are legal.
Yeah, practice so you don't break your wrist when you fire it. In my experience, it takes skill to keep from doing so. The 20 gauge 870 "youth model" with the 21" barrel is a lot easier to handle, and you don't have to do anything to the stock. Plus, the reduced recoil makes folks flinch less.

Finally, make sure whatever you do you leave off the "shoot me" light. You know your house, they won't -- giving them a light to shoot at (or throw shoes at, whatever) is really, really stupid. Looks good on TV though. If you use a light with a handgun, hold it high and away from your body with your other hand. If you use a light with a shotgun, have someone else hold it for you.
     
Laminar
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Sep 20, 2009, 04:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by phantomdragonz View Post
PLEASE PLEASE dont take any advice you hear as truth, there is so much mis-information and mis-conceptions about all things related to firearms... And my experience is the most adamant people are the most mis-informed.
You sound pretty adamant about this.
     
BadKosh
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Sep 20, 2009, 08:11 PM
 
I have no problems handling my 45ACP XD. I go to the range at least every other month to keep sharp. I don't want to be a cowboy, just knock down the bad guy. A by-product of coming in to my locked house un-invited. I would rather hurt them in 2 shots than have to hit them 4-5 or even 6 times to stop them. time, opportunity, and skill all play a part. A 45 is loud as hell without your hearing protectors and will really get the intruders attention!
     
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Sep 20, 2009, 11:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by phantomdragonz View Post
PLEASE PLEASE dont take any advice you hear as truth, there is so much mis-information and mis-conceptions about all things related to firearms... And my experience is the most adamant people are the most mis-informed.
This is probably the second most useful advice in the whole thread. The first being the four rules of firearms handling, posted by Mrjinglesusa, which ARE true, by the way. Listen to the advice, weigh it based on what you know about the poster and his/her feedback and reputation, and test it out before you "buy it."

Originally Posted by phantomdragonz View Post
I have heard (as in rumor) that more people have died from .22 long rifle bullets then any other caliber. could be totally false! but makes sense to me.
I don't know about the stats, but it is very true that a .22 is a very dangerous round. Note that most boxes of .22 ammunition remind the user that the bullet can travel up to 1 1/2 miles...yes, that's a dangerous thing right there. Another danger is that people underestimate the round. It has LOTS of penetration power; note that Sirhan Sirhan used a .22 to assasinate Robert Kennedy. Worse, by failing to attend to the 4th rule (be absolutely certain of your target and what's behind it), shooters put people who can't even hear the report in jeopardy. It's never good to underestimate ANY firearm or cartridge, and the .22 is a the top of the "don't ignore me" list.

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phantomdragonz
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Sep 20, 2009, 11:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
You sound pretty adamant about this.
thats why I keep telling him to come to his own conclusions...

-Zach
     
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Sep 21, 2009, 12:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by dcmacdaddy View Post
As for caliber choices, I said in my initial post that I have smallish hands. As such, I think some of the guns I have seen that shoot .40 or .45ACP would be too big for me to handle (both in holding comfortably the gun and managing the recoil). In addition, I like the comments about accuracy and shot placement being more important than knock-down power. If I were in a shooting situation in my home I would rather be able to know I could stop the person with a couple well-aimed shots than relying on a powerful, bit likely poorly aimed, shot from a higher caliber gun.

I still plan to go for the handgun training and licensing first and then will look into a CCW at some point in the future.
Ok, let's address some of these points:

I, too, have smaller hands, and have shot (extensively) a Glock 22 and a Springfield XD both in .40 cal, and didn't particularly care for them as neither felt very comfortable in my hand. Oddly enough, the most exquisitely comfy gun I've ever held and fired was a Walther P99, again in .40 cal. For some reason, it just felt amazing in my hand, and the slide release is ambidextrous (for a lefty like you, that should come in handy.) Now, on to caliber choice...

In my experience, there is a lot to be said for stopping power, as it can make up for some not-so-precise shooting, an unfortunate (and common) side effect of confronting an intruder in the dark. It used to be that the LEOs I knew were trading up from a 9mm to a .40 cal to gain a little more stopping power and less penetration. I've always found it to be a great round for me, and found that it shoots a little easier than a 9mm. I know a lot of people these days who have switched up to a .45 and love it. My father has a .45 as his daily carry weapon, and claims it is an extremely easy caliber to live with. Again, please note that these are all subjective claims, and I encourage you to keep an open mind and shoot everything you can get your hands on, and try to keep an open mind.

On the CCW front, things get a little more murky, as you'll probably want to pick up another gun to use for that purpose. Lots of guns that are great to shoot don't lend themselves too well to being stuck in a holster in the small of your back all day long. Kimber makes some outstanding models designed for concealed use, but that's a little way down the line for you, probably.

Now, having said all that, I cannot overstate the reliability of a good revolver in .38 or .357. It's a foolproof grab-and-go weapon that you can get comfortable with very quickly. It'll never jam up and it'll put someone on their ass in a hurry. Hope this helps, and I'm glad to meed another small-handed-liberal-gun owner! I thought I was the only one
     
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Sep 21, 2009, 07:19 AM
 
^ i don't know about small hands, but you're not the only liberal gun-owner.
     
ghporter
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Sep 21, 2009, 09:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by seandavid010 View Post
Oddly enough, the most exquisitely comfy gun I've ever held and fired was a Walther P99, again in .40 cal. For some reason, it just felt amazing in my hand, and the slide release is ambidextrous (for a lefty like you, that should come in handy.).
Walther have put a LOT of work into studying the hand and building an interface that works EXTREMELY well, while both Glock and the overseas makers of the Springfield XD line (Chech?) have not. Big difference there. My very favorite feel for a pistol is the SIG P220. It's a .45, which fits my fairly large hands perfectly. But then, so do P99s...kinda odd, eh?

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finboy
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Sep 22, 2009, 02:04 PM
 
"don't take anything you hear as truth"

...without verifying it, as with anything on the IntraWeb. But the secret is to find someone who's been around guns all of their lives, or someone who uses them for a living and has had plenty of training and practice, and get them to walk you through the range a few times, take you to a gunshow (best variety sometimes), etc.

Growing up I had my Dad (NRA Life Member, triple instructor), and other guys around, sometimes cops or troopers, and my Mom for that matter (she taught me how to shoot shotgun/trap). And we had a big back yard where we could shoot and shoot and shoot all afternoon if we wanted to. That helps. We reloaded our own stuff, and shot a lot of historical stuff, and taught folks how to use their new guns when they brought them over.

There's a steep learning curve with guns (to do it right), and lots of stray opinions, but it's ultimately worth it. You just never know when you're going to need an edge over an intruder or a mugger.

Mas Ayoob over at Backwoods Home magazine has a good column and blog you should check out. He's done articles on the best home defense weapons, and weapons for different needs.
     
 
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