Help choosing my first pistol.


September 21, 2006, 12:51 AM
Hey all, I'm from Los Angeles and I'm going to be purchasing a pistol for home defense (I live in the hills and we have yotes that regularly come down in packs), target shooting, and for protection while camping and doing outdoors activities. Not to mention that I'm not exactly in the best area of town (Highland Park in North LA).

I'll be taking my permit test this weekend and would like some help deciding on a good pistol with the ability to add attachments, preferably with a picatinny rail.

My budget is roughly $600-800 and here's the list of guns that I'm interested in:

Beretta 92
Beretta PX4 (.40)
Springfield XD Ported (.40)
Walther P99 QA (.40)

These are the pistols that seem to get the best reviews in regards to functionality. And of course, I can't have an ugly gun :P Any other good suggestions are welcome. Hope you guys can help.

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September 21, 2006, 12:58 AM
Do we have to pick from those four? You already know those provide good hand fit?

I take it glocks are left off b/c of ugly factor? Or have you had a chance to hold/shoot one yet?

September 21, 2006, 01:17 AM
i've actually not fire a single one of those. i'm going to the range this weekend after taking my test to really get a feel and decide. however, i have held the p99 and it fits my hand well. i have relatively skinny fingers and the ergonomics work well with my grip.

the glocks aren't totally left out. but i hear from a lot of gun enthusiasts that they're overrated? not sure if that's true or not. and i'm open to all suggestions, whether they're on my list or not. but i'd like to stay within my budget.

September 21, 2006, 01:23 AM
Yeah I'd try a few things out first before definitively ruling anything in or out. In my opinion you get alot for your money with GLOCK (or xd) in terms of reliability, toughness, capacity/size&weight, etc; but p99 has a huge following too- only problem is you want to spend $800. If your budget was about half that, I could help you out :neener:

September 21, 2006, 01:29 AM
do elaborate on the budget. i'm open to all suggestions.

September 21, 2006, 01:43 AM
What he means is that $800 is plenty to cover your pistol purchase.

Not sure about CA, but in Texas new Glocks can be had under $500, ditto for most of the other models you mentioned.

CA does have some kinks in that you can only buy new or import guns that are on the DOJ's approved list. However, you can still order pistols from a wholesaler like if they're on the DOJ list (by _specific_ model, any variants must be separately approved). Deliveries from wholesalers have to be delivered to a Federal Firearms License holder (FFL) in your area, who will charge you $15-25 to do the paperwork for you, though in CA it's more like $40-50.

Main advice: don't worry too much about models until you've tried how they fit your hand. Then try renting and shooting the ones that fit best, and see what you like. It does little good for everyone to say "Oh, Brand X rocks", and then you try it in the store and find it really blah in your hand.

So, you want a semi-auto in 9mm or .40. If you plan to carry it, get 4" barrel or shorter, otherwise longer can be good for target/'yote shooting. I like 9mm because it's cheap and I dislike .40 recoil. Only you can figure out for you if you like .40 recoil.

Not trying to be unhelpful, just that most of your question really has to be answered by you. Go to the store, fondle a lot, rent and shoot if possible. Use the "Search" button on THR to research models that you like, and then make your decision. HINT: there are easily 20-30 "correct" answers that are equally good. As long as what you pick isn't ludicrously impractical (Desert Eagle .50, tiny little pocket .25), so long as you're happy you'll be fine.

Good luck,


September 21, 2006, 01:44 AM
CZ 75 is among the best, and not expensive.

September 21, 2006, 02:00 AM
Springfield Mil-Spec or Springfield Loaded .45acp

Kimber Custom II or TLE II .45acp

I'm partial to 1911's though

September 21, 2006, 02:34 AM
Someone in the for sale section is selling a used HK USP .45 w/ 3 ten round mags for only 575! I think that's a heck of a deal for a great great gun. I'd definitely hold one first though, as the grip can be big for some people.

Josh Aston
September 21, 2006, 03:27 AM
And of course, I can't have an ugly gun :P

Beretta 92
Beretta PX4 (.40)
Springfield XD Ported (.40)
Walther P99 QA (.40)

That narrows your list down quite a bit. :D

September 21, 2006, 03:57 AM
Okay, look, do yourself a favor and go to San Gabriel Valley Gun Club this Sunday (around noonish). It's off the 210 FWY, exit Irwindale. There should be at least a few of us from THR shooting. I can bring out a few pistols for you to try before you take the plunge. PM me if you're interested.

What the previous posters have said bears repeating: Most important is how a particular gun fits your hand. If it fits better, it'll usually shoot better for you, and that's what you ultimately want. What works for one guy may not be the best fit for someone else. It does end up being a rather personal choice. Good thing is, there are lots of great offerings at or below your price range, so you get your pick.

My two cents: Form follows function. IOW, looks be damned, get a gun that you shoot well. Period. Most of the offerings from the big makers will be reliable and accurate--don't get caught up in the "X vs. Y" tribal mentality often found on these boards. If it's your first gun, I'd suggest either a 9mm or a .357 wheelie (you can shoot .38 special through it for practice). One of my first pistols was an HK USP .40, and it took me quite a while to get over the flinch I got from that caliber/gun combo. Same thing happened to my buddy (whose first pistol was a Glock 23). 9mm and .38 special are both relatively mild in terms of recoil, and ammo's comparatively cheap, too. If it's gonna be an all-around gun, get either a compact sized auto or a 4" wheelie.

Rather than ramble on and on, I'd suggest you do two things: 1) Use the SEARCH function. Lots of good info here. 2) Come out and shoot with us this Sunday.

Welcome to THR, btw. :)

s&w 24
September 21, 2006, 04:09 AM
Take bam-bam 31 invite it's the best way to make an informed choice. Other than shooting a bunch of guns I'd try to stick with 9X19 of 357 cause they are cheap to shoot. Take a look at the CZ 75 and the taurus 1911 clone. If you are not carrying the pistol feel free to get an all steel gun. They have a bit more wieght to soak up the recoil.

September 21, 2006, 04:15 AM
Beretta 92FS or HK USP. Go check out LA Guns in West Hollywood, much better service than Turner's.

September 21, 2006, 04:42 AM
i'll definitely take you up on that offer, bam-bam. i'll send you a pm now.

September 21, 2006, 02:14 PM
Why a ported XD? If you ever did use it for home defense the flash would be blinding to both you and the bad guy. Not to mention the noise. I personally wouldn't get a ported gun unless it was something like a S&W .500.
Just IMHO though ~Nathan

September 21, 2006, 02:39 PM
I'd also avoid the ported for home defense...or anything else for that matter. I like the px4, but it wouldn't be my first choice for home defense, especially if I could spend up to $800. I'd likely go with a HK USP in a .45 with $800 and completely for home defense. If I thought I might want to carry sometimes, I'd get either a compact USP or a Glock.

Bazooka Joe71
September 21, 2006, 07:26 PM
You can choose alot of nice guns in that price range. But do yourself a favor and get a full size 1911, because your gonna get one eventually anyway.:D


Why a ported XD? If you ever did use it for home defense the flash would be blinding to both you and the bad guy. Not to mention the noise. I personally wouldn't get a ported gun unless it was something like a S&W .500.

Blue .45
September 22, 2006, 05:20 AM
Has anoyone recommended a Sig? Those are also in your price range.

September 22, 2006, 08:46 AM
Agree with those who say try before you buy.

Any pistol by the quality major manufacturers - SIG, Glock, Springfield, Kimber, Baretta, HK, CZ (not a comprehensive list) - is going to be pretty much just as good as any other by objective criteria and all will serve for home defense. All the features and differences mostly boil down to individual preference. In order to find out what your individual preferences are, you need to do some shooting - the more the better - before you buy.

A great way to get that shooting experience and learn what is important to you is to take some professional instruction. Find an NRA certified instructor in your area and do a couple range sessions. It will be well worth the money and save you a lot of pain if you develop good habits to begin with, versus trying to cure yourself of bad habits later on.

September 22, 2006, 08:52 AM
dude get a benjamin. it might take a little longer to reload for follow-up shots in a self defense scenario, but if you pump it the full 8 times for the first shot, you won't have to worry about follow up shots. I'm talking 10gr at 500fps!

September 22, 2006, 09:01 PM
I hope for the future of mankind you are joking...

September 22, 2006, 10:02 PM
Of your list, I have the most experience w/ the Beretta 92 and I'm not much of a 40 I vote Beretta 92 ;)

September 22, 2006, 10:16 PM
Lots of great guns out there, but for me, if I'm gonna spend $800 BUCKS, I'm thinking Kimber .45.

September 24, 2006, 04:08 AM
i have considered the sig p226, but it seems a bit pricey. i'm not sure how the prices convert, but the sig arms website quotes the prices at an average of about $1000+.

i've also not yet been able to take my test due to circumstances (preparing for a get together at my place for fight night), but i plan on doing it soon. hopefully, this upcoming week i'll have some time. i'm supposed to meet up with bambam and some other folks on sunday (today) to fire some pistols.

as for prices, do firearms tend to be less at a shop than what their websites quote?

September 24, 2006, 04:51 AM
Get an Auto in 45, a wheel in 357. but that's me. I'm itching to handle on of the new Taurus 1911's since my Mil Pros have been such champs. I'm sold on them until I get a dud.


September 24, 2006, 09:23 AM
Springfield XD Ported (.40)
There is my vote!
welcome to THR !

though you are gonna get many opinions from many different people you should really get the one that fits you best and the one that is gonna be the most comfortable for you to shoot. I have never shot the px4 storm only fondled one in indiana last year at thanksgiving while visiting, and i really liked it, it felt good in my hand and had the three dot sights that i like so much. now the berreta 92's i have alot of experience with, rom shoooting them as a kid to shooting them in the army, didn't like them then and i don't like them now! no experience with the walther p99, but they look mean! lots of experience with the xd and i am a very, very happy customer, they win my vote everytime! and good caliber choice .40 is awesome, don't listen to what everyone says, you don't have to shoot .45 to be cool!:) good luck and let us know what you decide!

September 24, 2006, 12:14 PM
I used to be a member of the revolvers are ugly, old, and stupid club. I obtained a SW K38. 2.5lb trigger, and can put a full cylinder into litterally one hole at 25 yards. What's not to like? Are you buying a gun to look cool to your friends, or are you buying one to shoot?

Seriously, a nice 357 mag revolver would be an excellent choice, and ultimately would be more amusing. If you can't hit it with 6 shots, 15 ain't gonna help you.

Also, there really aren't that many bad auto pistols. All the ones you mentioned are good. People are just going to recommend that you buy what they have because in some way it validates them.
I wouldn't hesitate to buy (if I actually liked it) a

Insert brand you like here

September 25, 2006, 07:47 AM
Missed you out at the range today, hyphen.

I brought out:

Glock 17
Springfield TRP Operator
CZ SP-01
Sig 220 ST
S&W 686P
Sig Trailside Comp w/ Ultradot

Off the top of my head, my buddies brought out:

Les Baer 1911's
Sig 226's
Sig 225
CZ 75b
HK P2000

I haven't even mentioned the EBR's, either. It was an off-list lower fest, boy!

Don't worry, we go out every Sunday.

Oh, and btw, Sig 226's don't cost $1000 (unless you're getting an Elite, an ST, or some other fancy variant). Go to or to get a feel for how much this or that usually runs.

September 25, 2006, 07:57 AM
i have considered the sig p226, but it seems a bit pricey. i'm not sure how the prices convert, but the sig arms website quotes the prices at an average of about $1000+.

Not sure what web sites that you are visiting but a standard, railed P226 should run in the $750 range from most on-line dealers. You can also buy a CPO for sub $600 most of the time.

I wouldn't buy a Sig.....after buying my first.......I bought 5 more in the same year.

It is an ugly addiction....... :D

FYI: The Walther P99 is a very nice handgun. I own 2. This gun really shines in 9mm with the AS trigger. The QA trigger doesn't allow for the very short, fast reset of the AS.

September 26, 2006, 03:58 AM
wow, awesome replies. thanks for all of your input everyone and thanks for the warm welcome. yeah bam, i gave you a ring but you didn't pick up. unfortunately, after i called you i fell right back asleep. had a long night. this sunday i cant make it but possibly the next. i'm also going to check out la guns for sure. again, thanks for all of the advice.

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