Considering Your First or Second Gun
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Considering Your First or Second Gun

This is a discussion on Considering Your First or Second Gun within the General Gun Talk forums, part of the Gun Forums category; This is geared primarily for those out there who are cruising the internet and looking for advice on a first (or maybe second) gun don't ...

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  1. #1
    Gun n00b Squid's Avatar
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    Considering Your First or Second Gun

    This is geared primarily for those out there who are cruising the internet and looking for advice on a first (or maybe second) gun don't go Cheap, don't go less than 9x19 (9mm Luger), and don't go tiny. This is not to say that there are not pistols chambered for 9x17 (.380ACP) or 9x18(Makarov) or .38spcl that are not effective self-defense pistols, and it is not to say that there are not good pocket pistols (i.e. snub nosed revolver, LCP,or Polish P64). It is to say that I would advise against going for anythingunder 9x19, and anything smaller than a Glock 43. Also, don't for anything much under $400 (NIB), unless you catch a sweet deal on S&W M&P 9mm Shield or something along those lines.
    Why? Because those little pocket pistols are easy to carry, but hard to shoot. Hard to shoot equals less likely to put in proper range time. Failure to put in proper range time makes you a risk to all of those people around you that you don't mean to shoot - and you will be held legally liable for shooting people you don't mean to shoot. You need a properly sized pistol for your first gun. And if you go cheap, then you probably won’t really be happy with the purchase and you’ll neurotically search for that perfect carry gun. Save yourself a lot of grief and money - get yourself a good holster and just plan on belt carry at first. Fill that holster with a good single stack 9x19. The Glock 43 and M&P Shield come to mind, but Kahr, Springfield, and Walther also make some good guns. There are a bunch of other less expensive options out there, but you’ll probably be disappointed with the fit and finish, as well as the feel and the trigger pull. Heck, you'll probably be disappointed with the overall quality of the gun. Sure, you only paid $300USD on the gun, but for about another $100USD (maybe less) you could have got a really nice gun – one that you’ll be really proud to own, one that will last and be reliable, and one that will leave you feeling properly armed for life with just that one gun.
    Guns chambered for 9x17 or 9x18 are probably gonna give you enough juice, and there are quite a few of them that are really well made.You can find quite a few examples in those categories that probably would allow you to rest assured that you probably have that one good gun that you could probably stake your life upon. The Walther PPK/S, SIG P230/232, Glock 42, Bersa Thunder .380, and Makarov come readily to mind. Having worked as a correctional professional for nearly 20 years I know that most thugs would be readily deterred by a couple of 9x17 or 9x18 slugs. However, having worked as a psych tech in a large county jail for nearly two years now, I know that there are quite a few thugs that are so mentally disturbed (or decompensated, in the technical jargon) that anything less than a 9x19 slug or two isn’t gonna dissuade them from doing you or your loved ones harm. OK, they might not even be dissuaded by anything less than a top of the line .45ACP slug or two – but your chances of inducing a bit of pain compliance is greatly improved if you go for 9X19 over 9X17 or 9X18 – and that is greatly improved if you go for a pistol that has a barrel length of three inches or more… and that generally rules out anything that is easily carried in a pocket.
    However, to make it all really work you need at least a single stack 9X19 with a three inch barrel that is gonna fit your hand properly, is gonna be quick to deploy and bear on target, and is gonna have enough heft to allow for quick follow-up shots. If you’re like me, you’re on a limited budget and you want a gun with not much more than a thumb safety, as-well-as a tolerable trigger, and decent sight picture. It also has to be reliable, it has to be easy to conceal and carry (in other words, it’s slim) and it has to be easy to maintain. For me, this rules out anything other than a Kahr, Glock, Smiff, or a Walther. Double stack you say? The same considerations lead to a Glock or Smiff. Doesn’t Taurus make some guns that fit the criteria I’ve outlined? Yes they do, and they do it for less. I’ve got a PT111 Gen 2 that isa very reliable gun. However, I really don’t like the trigger pull, the fit and finish is not up to par with Glock or S&W offerings, and the magazines don’t seat as firmly and it rattles. Sure, I saved a few bucks - but I got a gun that left me wanting more. I still carry it, but if I was to go back in time and reconsider that purchase I would not go with the Taurus. I would save the extra bucks and go for a Glock 19 or an M&P Compact. The same applies to my SCCY. I think that it is a higher quality gun than the PT111 G2, and I prefer the heavier DAO trigger pull cuz I’m an old revolver guy. However, it feels like I’m holding a brick and I don’t much care for the texture of the polymer frame and grip. Reconsidering that, I’d definitely go for a Glock 19 or M&P Compact. The SCCY is now my truck gun. What about the Glock 26? It’s definitely closer in size to the PT111 G2 and SCCY and has much better quality, but the feel of the grip – even with pinky extender –turns me off. No amount of quality matters if I hate the way it feels.
    Hows'bout magazine capacity? Double or single stack?They both have their merits, so you really need to consider your threat level.Sure, realistically a group of three or more thug could assail you. That’s not a far-fetched scenario. However, some feel they have to be prepared in case an ISIS-inspired terrorist cell storms the local shopping mall, or in case of an even less likely threat like a gang of meth crazed zombies with a bad case of ‘roid rage bring down a fire fight in the Wally World parking lot. Trying to arm yourself for every possible scenario is a fool’s errand, so do some honest and realistiic threat assessments. A person who has to deal with the reality of living in ahigh-crime neighborhood in Houston has a much different reality than a guy likeme who lives in rural Johnson County. Certainly we face many of the same threats, but at far different levels. If you live in that Houston neighborhood you might want a double stack pistol and a spare magazine or two. I probably won’t ever need more than a single stack pistol (with a couple of spare magazines).
    If you’re the Houston resident and you’re on a tight budget, then you might have no choice other than the PT111 or SCCY at first. Go for it, then save for a Glock 19 or M&P compact and retire the cheaper gunto your car or truck. (Two guns is better than one, anyway). Budget not so tight? Just go for the Glock 19 or M&P Compact. If you live in lower crime area and you’re on a budget? Still go for the PT111 or SCCY, then go for a good single stack 9mm. Why? Because most of the single stack budget nines are crap.Yezzir, I said it. Some swear by the Keltec and Taurus offerings, but I know more people who actually bought them and wind-up swearing at them. I’ve firedboth the Taurus and Keltec offerings, and I don’t like them. Both of the guns I fired felt cheap, and both had reliability issues. Some people might have lucked out with either the Taurus or Keltech offerings, but I would advise anyone from risking the purchase.
    So why, then, is an inexpensive double stack superior toan inexpensive single stack. Physics. Making a full-sized revolver into a snub nosed revolver is relatively easy. It’s just a matter of optimizing ammo t omeet barrel length. Automatic pistols cannot just have the barrel shortened.There is a complex interplay between power and moving parts on a pistol, and unless done exceeding well (which requires some pretty advanced engineering and machining, which then leads to an increase in cost) you run a serious risk of aweapon that may be unreliable or that will not last. This is why it’s not as expensive to make a reliable compact double stack as it is to make a reliable subcompact single stack. In either case, the trick is to make a good trigger. This part of the reason why high dollar pistols like SIGs and Kimber’s cost so much – of course, their levels of construction are also far superior. Pistols by Glockand S&W run the middle of the road because they have triggers that don’t quite measure up to the quality of a SIG, but are still very good. They also use polymer on the frame. Some lower end SIGs also use polymer, but their triggers are still superior.
    This leaves you with some calculations to make. What is a realistic assessment of your threat? How much gun do you really need? How much are you willing to pay for it? Should you buy that Taurus 708 or PT111 Gen 2 because it’s less expensive, or should you save just a bit more and go for a Glock or Smith and Wesson product? Only you can really answer the first questions.When it comes to the second question I would advise going with 9x19 because you can get some serious firepower in a gun sized for easy concealment and carry. When considering the third question, however, I’d caution you to save your pennies and go for the better quality. You won’t regret it, and you’re far more likely to find that one gun that you can use for multiple roles – that one gun that may wind up being your only gun. A gun that you’ll be truly proud to own.
    Last edited by Squid; 06-11-2016 at 11:46 AM.

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