advice for newbie (which gun should i buy?)

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by joshrain, May 25, 2008.

  1. joshrain

    joshrain Guest


    i just recently got my firearms license in nj.
    i don't know anything about guns.

    i am looking to buy a gun and would like to use it primarily at ranges. (cheap bullets, easy to learn and handle for a newbie) and self defense at home.

    which one do you think i should get? and if you have any advice for someone new to gun, i would like to hear. thanks and your time and input would be appreciated!!
  2. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    New York
    First off, josh, welcome to the forum. Lots of nice folks happy to offer newbie shooters advice. Let me be the first.

    Since you're a handgun virgin by your own admission, don't buy one gun. Buy two. A .22 LR to learn how to shoot with to start, ideally with the controls (magazine release, slide release, safety) located more or less in the same location as the larger caliber pistol you want for defense. Put a couple of thousand rounds through the .22 and learn how to make it do what you want it to, meaning putting the bullet where you aimed it. Only after you can do that every time should you move up to a heavier caliber pistol.

    Although some folks might disagree with me, I suggest you get your .22 with iron sights. No lasergrips, no red dot sights, no mechanical gimcracks. Get it with good iron sights (I think well of both the 3-dot variety and the white-outlined rear sight with a good front post). Good shooting habits will stand you in good stead if, God fobid, you ever have to draw down on a Bad Guy. Learn to shoot using ordinary sights before you start relying on gadgets.

    There is an alternative to buying two guns, however, provided the defense gun you want is a Colt M1911A1 in .45 ACP, aka "Old Slabsides," aka "the .45". That is to buy the .45, and also buy a conversion kit that lets you shoot .22 LR out of it. This would involve changing out the barrel, the guide rod, the recoil spring and barrel bushing, the slide and the slide release, which isn't as difficult as it sounds once you know the M1911 series pistols. The kit comes with one magazine for the ,22 LR rounds; I can't say how easy it is to find additional ones. But the advantage to this conversion versus the two pistol approach is you will become intimately familiar with your pistol, and its controls would be second nature to you. I think the conversion kit will work with any M1911 clone, but I won't swear to that. You'd want to talk to a gunsmith before you made a final decision.

    But back to the guns themselves, assuming you decide on two and not one plus the conversion kit.

    For the .22, I'd look at Ruger Mark Is, IIs and IIIs. I'd also take a look at the Walther P22 and the Colt and Browning offerings. If you decide you're a revolver shooter, there are some .22 revolvers out there, but they aren't inexpensive and generally are harder to find. (Note: it would help if we had some idea what your budget for the pistol was.) Get them with additional magazines, at least two and preferably three. It's much more fun to spend your range time shooting and not reloading!

    For the defense gun, you have to decide what you are comfortable shooting. Many police officers say, "It the caliber don't start with a .4, don't buy it." The 9mm Parabellum crowd disagrees, maintaining the new powders and bullets have put the performance of the 9mm cartridge on equal footing with the venerable 230 grain military .45 ACP cartridge. I even can agree to that - up to a point. What the mouse gunners don't tell you is to get that performance, you have to be shooting hollowpoint bullets loaded to +P pressures. Compare apples to apples, and the 124 grain FMJ 9mm bullet still isn't in it with the 230 grain .45 ACP bullet proven in a century of combat. And if you shoot .45 ACP hollowpoints, well, they make a big hole going in and a bigger one coming out. Please note that the Marine Corps never gave up their .45s and indeed are only now searching for a replacement for John Browning's masterpiece (a search brough on by their desire to have a more modern, higher magazine capacity pistol, not due to any fault in Browning's design).

    But if you were to pin me down and ask my opinion, I'd say buy one or another of the M1911A1 clones out there as your defense gun. New Jersey being one of the Peoples Democratic Republic states and being oppressive with their gun laws and parsimonious with concealed-carry permits, and with restrictions on ammo and magazine capacity, there is something to be said for the good ol' Army .45. If your budget permits, add a pair of lasergrips to it or a laser guide rod. In a life-or-death situation, it might make all the difference. If you have as much as $700 to spend, for that you can get a Rock Island Arms .45 and a set of Crimson Trace lasergrips. That would set you up very well for a first defensive handgun.

    Welsome to the wonderful world of shooting. Join the NRA if you haven't already done so, and practice, practice, practice! And do let us know what you finally decide to buy. We like to get the afterstory here.
    Last edited: May 29, 2008

  3. Just a suggestion . . .

    but I feel a .22 long rifle handgun would be the way to start.
    Millions of shooters have started with the .22 long rifle.
    Ammo is affordable, recoil and muzzle blast are just about
    zero, and a good .22 long rifle will last you through many, many
    thousands of rounds with only routine cleaning and lubrication.
  4. My Favourite was always the .22 Ruger Mk11 with 5 1/2 " bull barrel, master that then whatever takes your fancy will come easy.

    My favourite pistols were 1/ .22 Ruger Mk11 as above; 2/ CZ75 in 9mmP; 3/ Dan Wesson in .357 (various barrel lengths) and last but by no means least #4/ colt Series 70 Gold Cup in .45acp.

    Currently, due to our crappy UK gun laws, I have two BP (Rem 1858 reps) muzzle loaders in .44, .22 Buckmark & .357 Taurus both with 12" barrels.
  5. I agree that a 22lr is a great way to start. A Ruger MK series for auto pistol or a single six in the revolver platform. It is not ideal for HD, but better than a sharp stick.
  6. rascaldog

    rascaldog G&G Addict

    For cheap practice you can't beat a 22 autoloader. Lot's of fun. As noted above Ruger's are excellent also take a look at the Browning Buckmark, they are available in lot's of configurations. For self defense I would probably go with a 9mm, reason being ammo. It is pretty cheap allowing you to practice more, which to me is more important for a beginner than stopping power. You can also get some +P ammo for home defense. And besides you might as well face the facts. If your'e like most of us 2 ain't gonna be enough. Welcome to the gang.

    Forgot to add. Sig 225/P6 German police trade ins are a best buy right now. Can be found for around 325.00.
    Last edited: May 29, 2008
  7. SilverRun

    SilverRun G&G Enthusiast

    I would go with a good polymer frame 9mm. I personally like Glocks, but being new to handguns, I would suggest something with a manual safety like an H&K USP or a S&W M&P. Yes the .22 is best to learn with, but it is not worth a crap for self defense. And, yes there are better choices for self defense than a 9mm - mainly anything that starts with .4, but the 9mm is an excellent compromise. It is low recoil, cheap to shoot (relatively speaking), and still good enough for personal protection with the right loads. Good all around pistol caliber.

    You may want to go to a local shooting range that rents guns for use at their range, and try out several makes and models until you find one you like. Whatever feels the best is likely what you will shot the best.
    Last edited: May 29, 2008
  8. squirrelblaster

    squirrelblaster G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

    eather get a 22, or get a cz75 in 9mm its a great gun and you can also buy a"kadet" kit for it which will covert it to 22lr!
  9. mosquitofish

    mosquitofish Guest

    Rugar MK II or III i 22 Lr, good place to start. Next I would look at a 38 spec. revoliver. or a 9mm Beretta or CZ.
  10. Turbo

    Turbo Guest

    I would suggest that you fire a plethora of range weapons before you buy. Then attempt to make an informed decision using the information collected here, and combine it with your personal experience with the range weapons.
  11. my first pistol was a cz-52 ! but i would now tell someone to get a walther 22lr pistol.
  12. Hey Josh,
    Did you get your Firearms ID or a Pistol Purchas Permit?The other folks not being from New Jersey may not know the problems in this state when you want to purchase a gun. First you have to have your FID, with that you may purchase rifles and shotguns, it also allows you to buy ammunition and transport firearms provided you're over 21 yrs old. You will need a pistol purchase permit or if you have to go to the State Police for the permit, a Permit to Purchase a Handgun If you want something for home defense yoou really need an inexpensive shotgun a Mossberg 500 can be had around here for $125. Your range gun ? depend on your proficiency if you're a gun person then you have to find out what is happening close to home. If you have a group that shoots Light Rifle then get a Ruger 1022 or inexpensive bolt action 22 with a scope. I say the Ruger because you can upgrade it to an H-Bar, trigger parts can be had to lighten it and all sorts of add ons to enhance it. I picked up a Remington 597 with an H-Bar and a scope for less than it would have cost me to buy a 22 scope, the barrel and stock. ($125), it has a good trigger so I'm waiting to sell to 1022 right now or use for a trade in.
    If the group shoots High Power an inexpensive way to go to begin with would be one of the european surplus guns Mosin-Nagants, K98s or K-31s the nagant being the least expensive for the gun and ammo. 8mm Mauser is kinda scarce at least ammo you don't have to use windex or soap and water to clean the gun with. I don't know how much the Swiss ammo is for the K-31.
    Where do you live I may be able to "hook" you up with a range to shoot at if you don't already have one. A good thing to do is jooin the NJ assoc. of R&P Clubs. The dues aren't that muck and will give you the ability to purchase guns through the CMP CMP Home or recommend a gun shop that won't treat you like a POC or take advantage of you.I travel from Atlantic City to Jackson and to Quentin and Cape May for Cowboy Action. If you want I have a spare set of guns I'd let you use for a Cowboy match, although equipment can get expensive my now spare set I bought all used and still cost me about 1200 bucks to get started. I like that game because af the friendship and comradery everybody has not so with some of the other games I've gone to. There's always a gamer or two with anything you get into, but there's always someone willing to loan you or give you ammo if you run short, loan you equipment if they have extra. Not so with other groups they seem to be a bit clanish and if you're part of the clan you're hit.

    Which ever way you go I wish you the best of luck. If you are in the Atlantic City area, private mail me we can hook up for coffe or something.


    HARDERTR Guest

    I would say, get a gun that won't frustrate you right away. If you plan on spending most of your time at the range, accuracy will keep you interrested. A short barreled ANYTHING is going to be harder to shoot accurately than a pistol with a 4 to 6 inch barrel.

    Like most of the guys are saying, a Ruger MK II or III would be a great choice in a 22 auto. So would a Single Six (and you get the 22 magnum cylider to boot). BUT, none of these guns would serve well for self defense, and they limit you to plinking/target shooting for the most part.

    If you would like to start off with something a little bigger, I would suggest a 4 to 6 inch revolver (Smith, Taurus, Ruger) in 357 magnum. You can start shooting 38 special, which is relatively cheap, then move up to 357 if you ever get the earge to. My second pistol was a Smith 686. I would say 80% of my shooting with that pistol has been 38 special. Mostly because it's cheaper to shoot, but also because "it just feels right". For home defense, it's pretty hard to beat 38/357 revolver.
  14. Like others before me have said. You should start with a .22 LR. I would get a .22 revolver. Preferably Ruger sigle six. Which with the .22 mag cylinder you could use for home defence.
  15. joshrain you sure did leave the door wide open when you didn't spesifie a handgun, rifle or shotgun.

    My suggestion will be a 9mm semi-auto pistol and a semi-auto 22 rim fire rifle.
    Both can be bought with out to hard of a hit on the wallet.

    Marlin, Savage,Mossberg and Ruger have quiet a line up of excellent wallet friendly semi-auto 22 rifles.
    So go take a look at these rifles at there websites.

    If you are willing to spend a little more money a pistol will be one of the best investments you will ever make in your life. None of us expect to become a victim of a crime.
    But today our chance's are greater that we will and a pistol is a wonderful deterent if that should happen to you.

    I'm going to recommend a Bersa in 9mm, KelTec 9mm and last a Hi Point in 9mm.

    You will have a blast at a shooting range with a 22 semi-auto rifle and loaded with hollow points it would be a good but not great home defense gun.

    If you learn to handle a mild mannerd 9mm pistol thats holds usually more ammo than most other pistols you will do some serious harm to an intruder.

    Lastly shop till you drop when you go to buy and never pay retail, you can have your cake and eat it to if you shop for the best deals.
    Good Luck ...A.H
  16. Semi-auto handguns are harder to learn with. Starting out you need a gun that you can just point and shoot. There is likely no better gun for a beginner than a .38 spl revolver. One will do everything you need for a gun to do. The ammo is fairly cheap, it's far better than a .22 for defense. You can learn both how to shoot a gun single action and double action. Very many ranges carry .38 reloads. They're pretty easy to carry concealed. Your first gun needs to be reliable, easy to operate and easy to shoot. If a .38 revolver doesn't shoot, go bang, it's ususlly very easy to see why and to fix.
  17. Mr Mike I have to disagree with you inregards to a semi-auto being harder to learn with.
    If the grip feels good in the hand there might not be a nickle worth a different's in either one.
    I've owned both and the semi-auto atleast is best for me.
    Please do not take offense sir...A.H
    Last edited: May 30, 2008
  18. SwedeSteve

    SwedeSteve Freedom Zealot Forum Contributor

    As you didn't state how much you have to spend, i.e., 1 or 2 guns, auto vs revolver, etc., I would agree with Cyr that an auto with a 22LR conversion kit would make a handy way to go. I know they have them for 1911-style autos, as does Beretta and the EAA Witness.
  19. Ive taught 10 people to shoot. None ever shot a handgun or a rifle before. 9 out of 10 liked the Smith and Wesson .357 681 the best. Get a S&W 681 or 686 which is the same thing. You will love it.
  20. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    Enjoy your new shooting. Welcome to Guns and Game !!! A gun's a tool much like a hammer. I'd suggest a .22 like a Ruger MK 3 to do the target practice, and a Revolver for CCW/Home defense like the GP-100 in .38/.357 Mag. The .357's tough to beat. Buffalo bore makes some decent ammo, as does Cor-bon.