First Handgun

42!

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Wow......never thought I'd get so many useful replies. Life got in the way yesterday and I didn't get a chance to reply until now. Thought i'd only get one or two responses. Great stuff guys--thanks! A lot to digest, but I see many people agree to get some hands-on before making a decision. That makes a lot of sense. Just didn't realize that was an option.

I'll look into those places and all the recommendations!

At first I thought you were kidding about not expecting a big response, then I saw you post count [grin]. Welcome to NES.
You could ask what color the sky is and get 1000 responses, some would even be on topic. NES is a helpful, sometimes brutal, crowd, and there is a lot of great information here...if you can get the search to find it [wink]
 
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I am glad to see that this thread has lots of useful information in it, and as always, there is also some advice that I would strongly disagree with.

Let met start with a bit of introduction. I am an RSO for my gun club, and I am also an NRA certified instructor. As an RSO, I get to see a lot of new shooters with their handguns, so I have quite a bit of experience with what works well and also with the questions and problems that new shooters have.

I have some strong opinions about first handguns, but before I get to that, I want to talk about a more important issue that comes first. For a new shooter, the most important issue is training. Where you will get training and from whom is more important than what handgun you choose. Introductory level courses are an excellent idea, and for many people a few hours of one on one training can be invaluable at the beginning. Ideally you would get exposed to different types of handguns in a training situation before choosing one. Unfortunately, finding good training and good trainers is not always easy, but it is available if you look. I am not going to make any recommendations in this area, but if you are interested, you could ask here or start another thread.

The advice to rent and try lots of handguns before you choose one is excellent advice, but if you are not guided by some training experience, it may be hard to make useful comparisons. For example, are you well familiar with the different types of handgun actions and their associated pros and cons? Are you familiar with how to properly grip a handgun? This is an important part of assessing how each pistol fits your hand.

With those things said, I can offer one piece of advice about choosing a handgun which I believe to be a fact. That is: some people do OK with a centerfire as their first handgun, and other people really struggle until they put in a bunch of time with a .22. This does not have to do with how big or strong or manly the person is. Different people just adapt to shooting differently. Eventually, everyone who works at it learns to shoot defensive calibers acceptable, but the learning curves can differ a lot.

When it comes to actually choosing a handgun, the most important factor is understanding the compromises you are making. For example, larger and heavier handguns are easier to shoot, but they are harder to carry. Less powerful handguns are easier to shoot, but may not be effective for certain purposes. And handguns with the best triggers may require the use of a manual safety. The best choice depends on your individual requirements, so there is no one right answer.

However, there are still some good general answers, and here are mine. For anyone choosing a first handgun, I recommend either a full size .22 or a full size 9mm. These are the easiest and least expensive guns to shoot. For a .22, the best choice available in Mass is the Ruger Mk IV or any of the older Ruger Mark pistols. All of the smaller polymer .22s are less satisfactory as a trainer. For a 9mm, I recommend a striker fired pistol with a consistent trigger pull on every shot. From the choices available in Massachusetts, the H&K VP9 is a good one to try. They are well made guns and their triggers are decent out of the box. The VP9 is by no means the only reasonable striker fired auto, but you should definitely include it when you are trying different guns. You should also be aware that one of the advantages of the VP9 is its replaceable grip panels which can be configured to fit a wide range of hands. You will probably not be able to switch the grip panels on a rental gun, but you should still be aware of this feature.

If you really need a gun which is small enough to carry, then you may need to look at smaller guns like the S&W Shield or the Walther PPS. But these smaller guns are much harder to shoot than a full size gun, and I really prefer to see people get them as a second or third gun.
 

Varmint

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The advice to rent and try lots of handguns before you choose one is excellent advice, but if you are not guided by some training experience, it may be hard to make useful comparisons.

I recommended Granite State and a training class, but he's right, definitely do the class or classes first. The times I rented guns before I knew how to shoot were not very informative, and also biased me against some guns, which either I didn't know how to shoot, or were bad samples (beat-on range guns with bad sights).

Sig Academy's classes are world class. The only problem is Handgun 101 you'll only shoot like 50 rounds - fine if you're a complete noob, but an expensive day for only 50 rounds. In Handgun 102 you'll learn to shoot from a holster, so you probably don't want to be a complete noob.

Sig supplies all the guns, holsters etc. I think ammo is free in 101.
 
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ToddDubya

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I can't add much that hasn't already been said, but I don't think your first gun should be a "do all" gun. I'd start with something that's fun to shoot. A compact carry gun would work at the range but it'll be less fun to shoot and more frustrating trying to get good groups. The Beretta 92FS and Sig 229 that have been mentioned are solid shooters (almost too easy to shoot) that you can enjoy forever. Once you're comfortable, you can add a carry gun to the collection. Whether you think so or not, you'll probably end up with a bunch of guns to fill a bunch of niches.

Shooting a bunch of guns is definitely a good idea. Take notes on comfort, controls, etc when shooting a bunch of guns. "Hate the trigger, slide mounted safety is annoying, slide is easy to rack, grip is super comfortable".

Happy shooting.

P.S. I find the Sig p938 to be surprisingly comfortable and accurate to shoot. I would not get a j-frame as a first gun.
 

ipscdrl

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Yes, from Cambridge. I'd ask if you recognize the handle, but this is the only place I use it.

Sorry, just seemed like such an obvious troll handle. [laugh] My bad for judging a book by its cover.

Welcome aboard NES and to the shooting sports. Highly recommend a Ruger or similar .22 auto pistol to start. Get the basics of trigger squeeze, (don't pull) and sight alignment down first with inexpensive ammo.

Good luck.
 

AHM

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If starting with a target pistol makes sense for you, here's how we found ours

The first thing you should do is get a 22,and train with it.I would not go to any larger caliber until I get proficient with the 22.When you have that worked out go to a larger caliber,and get some training in carrying a gun.

If you choose to take the advice to start with a .22:

I wanted to eventually carry a 1911.

I knew that .22LR ammo pricing permits far more practice
than practicing exclusively with a carry piece of any caliber.

(The average price per round that I've paid for .45ACP
is more than four times that for .22LR.
And that factor of four is to buy FMJ target .45 -
not JHP self-defense ammo which costs at least 1/3 more).

The 1911 chambered in .22 I had my eye on isn't even on the Mass. retail sale list.

I didn't know enough about .22 conversion kits for 1911's to even consider looking. And I wasn't holding my breath until a used .22 1911 appeared on the private market.

I knew that the Ruger Mark series is the most popular target .22 pistol.
And then I found out that Four Seasons stocked the Mk III 22/45 variant,
which share virtually all innards with the vanilla Mk III,
but has grip angle and control placement/operation identical to the 1911.

So that's what we use for practice and plinking.

The current equivalent is the Mk IV 22/45.

People customize these pistols like they customize Honda Civics.

It's a target pistol - too big to conceal
(not that anyone but mobsters carry .22LR).


If you want to jump right into your carry piece,
the above is no help.

In that case, finding some way to try using many, many models is the best advice.
Rental ranges will get you to a state of confidence in your choice much faster than haunting your gun club range with a Bucket o' Bullets and asking to try every new piece that come out of someone's car trunk. People will be glad to let you try (especially if it's with your factory ammo), but it'll take forever.
 
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I would start with a carry pistol that you can get a caliber conversion kit for. I started on a Glock 23 with the 9mm conversion kit to start. 9mm is pretty cheap to shoot and is a good carry ammo by itself, I carry it .40 now because I don't want to have to use more then one shot.

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DarthRevan

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I carry it .40 now because I don't want to have to use more then one shot.
Your first mistake was not getting a 45 seeing as they don't make a 46 a in pistol caliber, cuz you know, bigger is better amiright?
[rolleyes]
Just use as many as it takes to stop the threat
 
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Your first mistake was not getting a 45 seeing as they don't make a 46 a in pistol caliber, cuz you know, bigger is better amiright?
[rolleyes]
Just use as many as it takes to stop the threat
Hey, if it's good enough for the feds, it's good enough for me

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DarthRevan

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Hey, if it's good enough for the feds, it's good enough for me

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You need to update your sources. They're all switching to 9mm.
Not that I would personally use the government as a standard but to each their own.
 

ToddDubya

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Your first mistake was not getting a 45 seeing as they don't make a 46 a in pistol caliber, cuz you know, bigger is better amiright?
[rolleyes]
Just use as many as it takes to stop the threat


Some of you people are so damn literal lol

You need to update your sources. They're all switching to 9mm.
Not that I would personally use the government as a standard but to each their own.

Off to find a single .gov agency that isn't switching to 9mm...

[troll][devil]
 

EddieZoom

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Sig Sauer P229 is my suggestion. The all metal gun absorbs most of the recoil. Pleasure to shoot. I am a DA/SA guy at heart.

I own a 229 and love it as well...but *first* handgun...I don' t know DA/SA can be a bitch, more controls to mess with (decocker), expensive.

How about a used Glock 17/19 (generation not important)...can't wear it out, never have to clean it.

+1 on the recommendation to try before you buy if at all possible.

Belong to a club...ask around, most members would be happy to let you try out thier stuff.
 
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Watch it with that talk.

OP wants advice on his first handgun,
and you tout a chambering that literally cooks an assailant.
OP there is also a Glock .22lr conversion kit you can get for practice but I recommend 9mm for training and .40 for carry. With Glock you can get all of that in the same gun and some over the counter accessories

EDIT: this is EXACTLY what I did (skipping the .22) I bought a .40 cal Glock 23, put in a barell to make it take 9mm, got a couple thousand rounds down range, then once I was comfortable with the wepon, started training and carrying with .40. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it worked for me.
 
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AHM

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OP there is also a Glock .22lr conversion kit you can get for practice but I recommend 9mm for training and .40 for carry. With Glock you can get all of that in the same gun and some over the counter accessories

EDIT: this is EXACTLY what I did (skipping the .22) I bought a .40 cal Glock 23, put in a barell to make it take 9mm, got a couple thousand rounds down range, then once I was comfortable with the wepon, started training and carrying with .40. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it worked for me.

For the record: Sounds like a reasonable approach.
 

BigAl23

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Listen to the advice above about trying firearms. You mention a CM9. It is a bit snappy and will take a while to get use to. I've fired a PM9 which is the more expensive version of the CM9. It is too small for my hand. I do however carry a P9. It's only a bit larger but the grip for me is great. It's very accurate. The Shield would be my next choice.
 

Wickedcoolname

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Everyone's first handgun should by a double action revolver in .22lr. It's the perfect gun to learn with and to master the fundamentals of gunmanship. No recoil, no muzzle blast, inexpensive ammo, potential for superb accuracy, etc.
 
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Hi All,

Newbie to the forum and to pistols. I have a little experience with 12 gauge and 22 rifles, but have only fired a 22 pistol for 1 mag (horrible 6" grouping at only 5 yards). That being said, I'm anticipating my LTC any day now (might be jumping the gun, pun intended, but doesn't hurt to ask), so I'm starting to think of a first handgun.

Looking for something newbie-friendly, yet something that will give a little growth space. Concealed carry size would be optimal, but I'm open to all advise. My initial thought was a P938, but I heard that 1911 style controls and SA firing might not be the best for new shooters. I also read that this tiny little gun can kick a good amount due to minimal purchase the grip affords. Then thought about 380's, but I see how divisive those are in terms of opinions on real world stopping power. I've landed on a CM9 as a good split of all factors: size, caliber, and room for growth as I get better. The long DA trigger sounds like a good idea too for someone as green as I am.

Would you consider that a good starting pistol? Seems like experienced people carry them as EDC, but would a new shooter be OK with one? Truth is, muzzle flip and recoil look a little intimidating at the moment, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.
 

fencer

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Everyone's first handgun should by a double action revolver in .22lr. It's the perfect gun to learn with and to master the fundamentals of gunmanship. No recoil, no muzzle blast, inexpensive ammo, potential for superb accuracy, etc.

I hear what you are saying, but f*** that. Everyone's first handgun should be something that will potentially save their life if necessary, even if they haven't mastered their technique.
My biggest bitch with this approach is what if you actually need a firearm and you decided to buy a 22 wheel gun, and that is what you have to defend yourself? Yes, in a perfect world you would learn to snatch the pebble from the masters hand before you carried, and I know that shot placement blah, blah, blah.
But I would be damned if there were people hovering over my casket saying " Gee it's too bad. In a couple of weeks he was going to buy a carry gun...."

OP - shoot some guns. Find one you like. Carry that sumbitch ( get a good holster and belt ) and practice your ass off. Take a class. Lots of good guys here on NES, and everyone speaks highly of Cloverleaf Firearms. Spend a couple of hours with Stu or a guy that knows what he is doing and you will be on paper. Then practice practice practice.

Not a member of a club yet? Shoot me a PM and I will take you to my club as a guest. I might have a few things you will enjoy shooting. :) And yeah, we can start with a 22. I will get you safe and on paper in an afternoon. You can also rent a lane at AFS - MFS and Manchester Firing Line.

I get the whole " Start with a 22 first!" approach. But really, recoil on a full size service pistol in 9mm ( Sig, Barretta,M&P etc.) is really mild for a full grown adult. Hell, my son started shooting my 686 at 8 years old with 38 special. Thing is a pussy cat.
 
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I would honestly pass on the Kahr. listen to what some of the other guys said and try to get to a range to rent different guns to see what feels most comfortable to you. I personally would recommend a glock 19 as they are simple firearms with a very easy manual of arms to learn with a consistent trigger pull. 9mm is cheap to shoot and has minimal recoil. take a training class right off from someone that has some creds, learn the basics correctly and that way you wont learn bad habits. no semi-auto pistol caliber is a man stopper so don't get too worried about caliber choice way too many people get wrapped up in all that LOL. shoot as much as you can but train correctly to learn muscle memory and a solid skill set.
 
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Small guns are hard to shoot, especially for those who don't shoot often. I would look at the LC9s if you want a single stack pistol. It has a safety and a nice trigger.

If you want a doublestack, look at Taurus PT111 or S&W SD9VE or Ruger 9E. These are low cost, but decent fuller size pistols.

As for .380, it has enough power to do what needs doing, but the issue is so many of the pocket .380's are so tough to shoot. I'll keep my LCP's, but I'm looking at adding a .32 ACP to my pocket gun armory because recoil is supposed to be very reasonable. Point being don't write off the .380 or .32 as underpowered. They can kill if you put it where they need to go to do it.
 

PaulR

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P938 is a great choice.
SR22 was my first gun, but like you say I grew out of it quick, but still a really fun plinker.
I carry a P238, had it before the 938 came out, would have bought the 938 if I had it over again.
 
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I hear what you are saying, but f*** that. Everyone's first handgun should be something that will potentially save their life if necessary, even if they haven't mastered their technique.
My biggest bitch with this approach is what if you actually need a firearm and you decided to buy a 22 wheel gun, and that is what you have to defend yourself? Yes, in a perfect world you would learn to snatch the pebble from the masters hand before you carried, and I know that shot placement blah, blah, blah.
But I would be damned if there were people hovering over my casket saying " Gee it's too bad. In a couple of weeks he was going to buy a carry gun...."

OP - shoot some guns. Find one you like. Carry that sumbitch ( get a good holster and belt ) and practice your ass off. Take a class. Lots of good guys here on NES, and everyone speaks highly of Cloverleaf Firearms. Spend a couple of hours with Stu or a guy that knows what he is doing and you will be on paper. Then practice practice practice.

Not a member of a club yet? Shoot me a PM and I will take you to my club as a guest. I might have a few things you will enjoy shooting. :) And yeah, we can start with a 22. I will get you safe and on paper in an afternoon. You can also rent a lane at AFS - MFS and Manchester Firing Line.

I get the whole " Start with a 22 first!" approach. But really, recoil on a full size service pistol in 9mm ( Sig, Barretta,M&P etc.) is really mild for a full grown adult. Hell, my son started shooting my 686 at 8 years old with 38 special. Thing is a pussy cat.

I did the .22 revolver route. When I told the gf (now wife) that I was thinking about buying a 9mm she responded "Oh you wanted to buy a man's gun?"

I do think there is some value to what you said about starting the collection worth a full size defensive caliber one.

Of course thankfully I never needed a defensive caliber gun to defend myself yet so I have been able to grab a few to fill that role in the interim. Though along the way I have found that the 9 I bought is the most uninspiring gun I own and hasn't made the cut to get to the range since my wife last went with me (one could even say it's been relegated to being a woman's gun).
 

headednorth

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I have a PM9 (just a different version of the CM9 afaik) and tbh Im not so crazy about it other than its tiny and disappears in my pocket. Cons are its tiny, uncomfortably small to the point where I feel like Im holding on to it with 2 fingers and a thumb. Can be a bit snappy. As you mentioned it has a long trigger pull which Ive literally had nightmares about where Im trying to pull the trigger and it just keeps going back and back endlessly with no bang.

I guess Im going to repeat what others have said here which is to carry the biggest gun you feel comfortable about being able to conceal. My first carry gun was a Ruger sr9c. Not too big, not too small, similar in size to a Glock 19. Also good advice to shoot a lot of guns before you spend your money on one. Youll know nothing about what feels good for you by looking at ads in magazines or listening to people online tell you what they like. Shoot a bunch of different calibers, sizes, makes and models, revolvers and semi autos and decide what feels good. Probably a good idea to stick with a common caliber just so that its easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

You probably feel like you want to jump right in and buy but I can say from experience that its better to take your time and experience a bunch of different guns first and decide for yourself what works for you.
 
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