Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quest for the Holy Handgun

Sunday, my post on buying your first gun got picked up by (see the badge on the right) and I got a mini-boost in visitors and a few new comments. 

One such comment came from Mark who laid out a few of his favorite handguns and arguments for each.  I hadn't discussed handguns in my post, mostly because I haven't bought one.  I don't feel comfortable putting my advice out there for something I haven't experienced yet.

However, I am planning on making my next firearm purchase a handgun.  I laid out a couple of the guns I was looking at and I think it might help my decision making process to do a series of posts detailing each option and weighing the pros and cons.  I'm thinking it may help me narrow down my choices a little more than just reading countless reviews and forum posts.

The point of this post is to lay down some criteria.  The categories in which the guns will be judged and why said categories are important to me.  Here they are in current order of importance:

  1. Reliability:  The number one reason I'd buy a handgun is for defense.  A pistol that doesn't go BANG and shoot lead when you pull the trigger is useless.  Period.
  2. Price:  Major factor.  I just can't afford a $1000 pistol.  Just doesn't happen when you're saving for a downpayment on a house and working on commission.  I'll set a rough $600 limit but that's honestly too high as well without a few months of saving.  If only I could convice my wife I should open a credit card for guns......
  3. Capacity: It would suck to get into a gunfight with a couple of crackheads and run out of rounds.  I also would like to try out some shooting sports like USPSA and it seems like the more rounds you can carry in a magazine, the better. 
  4. Misc: Things that probably shouldn't matter but will probably have a say in the decision.  How the gun looks, the history of the gun or design, it's use by law enforcement and/or military, how easy it is to customize the gun and make it my own, etc.
Then there are a couple things that people factor in very much that probably won't make a huge difference to me:

  1. Carryability:  We can't carry in IL so this is currently a nonissue.  Even when things turn around here and we can carry, I don't don't think it'll be a big issue.  At 6'5" and 464lbs, I'm sure I can figure something out.  (Honestly this is something I've thought about and if I got a CCW license I'd probably carry in a shoulder holster since I sit on my ass in a call center all day. That's assuming my employer would even let me carry at work.  I have totally received death threats over someone's cable going out by the way.)
  2. Caliber:  Anything over 9mm will do it seems.  From everything I read, all handgun calibers suck compared to rifle/shotgun rounds for self-defense.  Once you get to a 9mm and above, it seems as though everything can get the job done.  If I were smart I'd limit myself to a 9mm to start since ammo is roughly 40% less expensive than bigger calibers. As discussed in my last gun post, cheap ammo = more practice = better marksmanship.  Noone ever claimed I was smart though.
  3. New vs. Used:  Honestly, I'd probably prefer used because of the cost factor.  If a pistol meets the reliability requirement, it shouldn't matter if it is used as long as it wasn't abused.
So there you have it, I'll be putting some popular firearms under the microscope over the next few months to see if I can narrow things down a bit.  Should be fun as my interests for different models kind of ebb and flow as I read different things about them or check one out at the local Gander Mountain.  Maybe this will eliminate those temporary longings and plant the seed for a more concrete decision.

So here's where I need your input.  What guns should I look at?  What was your first handgun (or what would it be if you were to get one?)

QHH Entries so far:



Team MiRketti said...

I haven't had much use for handguns in the past as I mainly use rifles or shotguns to hunt. I have thought about one for self defense but a shotgun is more noticable and useful unless you are in tight quarters.

Recently I have been playing around with a couple Dad has purchased. He has a Glock .40. It's not very accurate, but is fun. He also has a black powder pistol. It is very accurate and very fun. It holds six rounds and I could see myself shooting a turkey with it.

I'm just starting to get into guns myself and have found your posts interesting and useful. Keep up the good work.

Savage said...

Try starting with a semi-auto .22 pistol, like a Ruger or Browning Buckmark. They are fairly affordable and really cheap to shoot. Hone your skills with one of these then get into smaller carry pistols. Snubies and small autos are harder to shoot.

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

I have shot a number of hand guns through the years from .22 to .500. Finally a few years back I purchased a new Ruger KP95PR15 15 +1 round, 9mm in stainless steel. I could not be more happy with this purchase. At retail cost now at $424.00 stainless and $393.00 blued you will get a ton of bang for your buck. At one point I could disassemble and re-assemble the entire gun in 20 seconds.

Figure out what you need the gun for and then get to a dealer and try out several makes and models.

Next purchase Ruger Super Red Hawk Stainless in .44 Mag. I want mine for bear hunting. :)

Good luck!

Mark said...

TM - A black powder pistol? That's legit. It would be sweet to see somebody open carrying that thing. Or a single action revolver, cowboy style.

Savage - I definitely want to be able to shoot .22 but I was thinking of a conversion kit for whatever gun I look at. Do you have an experience with those?

Rabid- I'll add the Ruger to my list of guns to check out. I'd love to have a monstrous revolver in .44 mag someday too. Probably not the first gun as I'd have absolutely no practical reason to sell my wife on but someday. :)

Savage said...

My brother has a Kimber .22 conversion kit for his Kimber. It works great. Kimber, Colt, and now Ruger make Fantastic 1911 pistols. Ruger makes awesome guns. Check out their SR-9. 9mm is still affordable, and the SR-9 is a really good gun.

Tonto Rambler said...

I agree with savage .22 pistol is a great start for mentioned reasons. Here in Arizona any non felon can carry whatever gun, without a permit. I have been going small Keltec .380, it fits in front pocket of shorts. The favorite though is my colt .45 model 1911. I carry it outdoors here for bears and mountain lions, it keeps them away only seen a few. I would try shooting several differnt styles before buying though, that way you no what your getting.