Best Pistol for rookie?


October 7, 2007, 10:37 PM
Hello all...2nd post here.

I know the board will be all over the map on this one...but:
What would be a good FIRST gun for me. I am 6 ft,200 lbs.,south paw...looking to use it at the shooting range here in Los Angeles.

I think I am leaning towards a 9mm.

My budget is up to $1500.

Thanks for the help.

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October 7, 2007, 10:40 PM
you will get a million opinions.

Thats a great budget...but you can do great in the 5-700 range and save the rest for some training and ammo.

Try a whole bunch of pistols and see what fits for you.

I like 1911's best, but also own and shoot Glocks, Sigs, and Berettas! - all in .45 and 9mm. Only round I am not fond of is the .40

good luck!

October 7, 2007, 10:41 PM
get a $300 used 9mm and $1200 worth of ammo

October 7, 2007, 10:49 PM
I'd go for a revolver myself but if set on a semi-auto, the 1911 is good (I know you said 9mm but I think you'd appreciate the extra power of the .45).

October 7, 2007, 10:55 PM
I am open to a .45...what is the power difference?

It looks like I can rent a variety of guns at the range to get a feel for
what I like.

Kimber looks nice.

October 7, 2007, 10:59 PM
Look at the Springfield Armory XD series. You can get them for $500-$600 and use the rest for training, range time, ammo, etc. I like revolvers, too, but if you are looking for an auto you can't go wrong with the XDs.


"Phydeaux, bad biscuit!"

October 7, 2007, 11:00 PM
I may not own a pistol as of yet, but I've fired quite a few. There's no reason to buy that expensive of a pistol for any purpose. You're a beginner so I believe the last thing you should be worried about is "One Shot Stopping Power" because it's all a lie anyways. The 9mm is an excellent choice, and you're already leaning towards it. Your biggest concern at the moment is getting your bullets to actually land on the target, and grouping. 9mm is extremely cheap compared to the .45ACP or any military caliber. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with the Glock 19, Phydeaux's choice is a good one too, just go with the one that is more appeasing to you.

Leif Runenritzer
October 7, 2007, 11:03 PM
Get something that fits your hand:)

October 7, 2007, 11:03 PM
The best pistol is the one you're most comfortable with and no one can answer that question but you. Find a range that rents guns and shoot as many different ones as you can. Eventually, you'll figure out what you like best. Also, take a handgun shooting class or two to get some good experience with handguns.

October 7, 2007, 11:30 PM
I will tell you like I have told everyone else, buy a .22LR for the first handgun. Trust me you won't develope a flinch(hard to over come for some people), you can shoot it all day long and there quite fun for just all round plinking. So if you can bring yourself to buying a "dinky":neener: 22 for the first gun you won't regret it when you move up in calibers.

October 7, 2007, 11:30 PM
First buy a .22 to learn how to shoot correctly then buy a S&W M&P 45. The M&P 45 will cost you just under $500 real world price. The .22 auto will cost you anywhere between $300 and $500. That will leave you plenty of cash for ammo, targets, cleaning and safety supplies.

October 7, 2007, 11:31 PM
Check out the CZ SP01

October 7, 2007, 11:59 PM
I am open to a .45...what is the power difference?

The .45 is a very fine handgun. IMHO - the best. It has sufficient defensive power and it also has a great base of support to help you improve your skills through competition.

My recommendation...

Sequence #1:

-Buy a Browning Buckmark or a Ruger .22 semi-auto with a 5-8" bull barrel.
-Buy 1000 rounds of .22 ammo.
-Shoot said 1000 rounds of ammo at 10-25 yards.

After will be a better pistol shooter than 99% of the population. You will have some knowledge and credibility about pistol shooting and know what and do not like about a semi-auto pistol, targets, shooting range, loading, sights, etc.

Sequence #2:

-Go to a local NRA Bullseye Pistol Information session. Do a Google search on "NRA BULLSEYE" and your local ranges. Many will have weekends dedicated to attracting new shooters.
-Go watch an NRA Bullseye event - talk to the folks there. Talk to the people putting it on and the shooters after the event.
-Buy a 1911 .45 (I like the Colt :)) and start shooting NRA Bullseye.

A 1911 .45 - Colt/Kimber/Dan Wesson/Springfield/etc. and a .22 Browning/Ruger semi-auto. You cannot possibly go wrong.

The .22 is the key. Master a .22 pistol and you're set.

By The Way -- Your .22 pistol is also the BEST survival weapon (plus a good knife) available. Think about can carry a .22 pistol and 1000+ rounds in your pockets...or in a very small bag - compared to the trade-off for higher-power rounds. Those extra rounds could keep you going in a survival situation for YEARS.

October 8, 2007, 12:07 AM
See what fits your hand best. Normally, I'd recommend a revolver as a first handgun, but it sounds like you have an auto in mind. 9mm is a great first choice for caliber. Not that expensive to practice with, and with the right load, it's more than capable of SD/HD duties.

I'm partial to Beretta 92s and CZ 75Bs. Very fine handguns, and well under your price limit. Plenty of money left over for practice ammo and range fees.

Whatever you choose, be safe and have a fun time with it!

October 8, 2007, 12:15 AM
Welcome to THR.

Second I would and did get a Glock 19. IMHO the best 9mm ever made. Reliable Accurate and Practically Indestructible.

You can get one NIB from Turners for $550 and a little more at Martin B Redding in Culver City.

I'd go to a couple of ranges and choot a few maybe you'd like the XD or another gun. Try The Firing Line. They are in Northridge & Burbank and have many guns to choose from. Aslo check out the LAX range

October 8, 2007, 12:16 AM
I like that you are leaning towards the 9mm, it's a good universal pistol round with excellent firearm characteristics associated with it. Plus, I'm willing to bet that it will still be in use in another 50-100 years.

I suggest that you pick from the more recent "classic" 9mms that have "been there, done that" so to speak. They have ironed out the bugs in the design, are used extensively in police or military service, and have an outstanding service record.

-Glock 17
-Glock 19(compact version)
-Sig P226
-Sig P228/P229(compact version)
-Beretta 92F
-CZ 75b(or bd if you prefer decocker)
-CZ 85b(good for lefties)
-CZ P-01(compact version)

I actually recommend that you lean towards the compact designs because they are the most versitile. They offer the best combination of compact design without compromising barrel length and grip size too much. The other models I listed are standard service sized pistols.

October 8, 2007, 01:04 AM
I'm still pretty much a rookie myself, but ita that a .22 and something larger/more practical/more fun, plus ammo. I've been alternating between a Ruger Mark II, a Ruger Blackhawk .357mag, and a S&W model 59(?) 9 mm. The combination of guns are all helping me work on different skills. Plus, you can blow through several hundred dollars of centerfire ammo trying to hone a skill that you could've figured out with $6 or so worth of .22lr.

Plus, it lets you switch off when one gets really overheated.
Plus, it never gets boring :D

October 8, 2007, 01:07 AM
glock 19 or xd service model in 9mm. plenty of mags and ammo. they make great guns for everyone, beginer to the most advanced, they are easy to use, clean and maintain. no manual safeties, just point and shoot and that to me is a great concept especially for the newb's, but i enjoy that aspect as well, as all of my carry guns are of that variety 2 of which being xd's.

then go attend some trainning.

October 8, 2007, 01:13 AM

First, get a Ruger MkIII or a Browning Buckmark .22LR pistol . . . add some sound instruction to help you master the correct grip, stance, breathing and trigger and sight control. Add a pair of good earmuffs too, then practice, practice, practice until you conquer any tendency to flinch . . . and until you can really shoot well.

Then, rent a bunch of guns, or have your firearms instructor expose you to a range of firearms for you to consider.

Purchase one that FITS your hand too!

Don't rush into a centerfire automatic without learning how to shoot well first with a .22 . . . or there's a fair chance that you'll never be much of a crack shot.


October 8, 2007, 01:15 AM
A rimfire .22 in the type action you think you want in a centerfire....

October 8, 2007, 01:16 AM
Tvst*r, do you plan on using this handgun primarily for target practice or self-defense? The answer to this question will influence the answers people provide. Incidentally, welcome to THR.


October 8, 2007, 02:32 AM
Target only.

October 9, 2007, 01:28 AM
For a $1500 budget and a first handgun, I don't think I would suggest just one. You don't need the best for your first, just something reliable and accurate that feels good. .22lr is probably the best caliber for a new handgunner in order to get in a lot of cheap practice, and even if money is no object the recoil on the .22 is very low so you are less likely to develop bad habits (jerking, flinching). You also should get something in 9mm, .40, .45, .38spl, .357mag for home defense.

I'd get a .22 of some kind (maybe a Ruger but they can be hard to take down) and a lot of .22 ammo.

Then, shoot everything you can at the rental range. What they don't have to rent, try to handle at a gunshop. Handle and shoot as many different guns as you can to see what YOU prefer. Don't just check out the autos, check out the revolvers too (there are some great revolvers out there, a quality revolver tends to be a little less than a comparable auto, and they are great beginners guns)- you just may find you like them.

If you decide you like 1911s, SIGs or HKs I'd set about an $800-900 limit. Otherwise, go for something reasonably good and learn on it, and save the high end gun for later. Something like a Ruger P95, CZ 75B, Taurus, used SIG or Glock, etc. would be a good first gun.

Try to keep it under $300 for the .22, under $500 for the service caliber gun (and get at least a "mid-sized" pistol like the SIG 229, CZ PCR or P01, Glock 19, or Taurus PT911 or get a full-size, for now you should skip the small CCW pistols), and spend the rest on ammo and training. If the $1500 is just your gun budget and you have other money for a lot of ammo, put the rest to training. SIGArms Academy, S&W Academy, Front Sight, etc. are great facilities, if you aren't close to them and can't take a few days off work, find a private NRA instructor in your area for some 1 on 1 training.

Then after a year or so, spend the real money once you have a better idea what you like in a gun, and know more about guns in general. You'll probably appreciate it more then anyway.

October 9, 2007, 01:35 AM
First of all, welcome to THR :Cool:
Secondly, what is your experience level w/ firearms / handguns?
As a beginner, I would probably recommend a nice 4" revolver in 357 magnum and practice using 38 specials. If you have some knowledge of what you're doing, I'd recommend something like a HK USP/USPc or P2000 in 9mm. If you're looking for something in a metal frame, either the 92fs or the SIG P228/229/226 or maybe even a 225
Good luck on your quest ;)

Brian Dale
October 9, 2007, 02:30 AM
I'm a big fan of getting a .22 revolver or auto. They're good for learning to shoot well. It's very useful to be able to shoot a lot without the distractions of recoil and muzzle blast. These distractions happen at a deep, physiological level; it matters not how tough you are, and recoil-and-blast sensitivity don't match body size or type. The ammo cost helps, too.

The real reason is that .22s are so much fun.

chaim knows a lot, but I don't recommend the same $300 limit that he does for a .22 handgun. If (for example) a beautiful, old Smith K-22 revolver speaks to you and it's $400+, well, they'll never get any cheaper. As for the rest of chaim's's no surprise to find him expressing it better than I do. Again. ;)

If you choose to start with a .22, then you'll be able to send a lot of rounds down range before you select your center fire handgun. It will serve as a useful basis for comparison as you evaluate other guns. Then, if you're like a lot of us, you'll never stop shooting .22s, whatever else you may add to your collection in the future.

Oh...and Welcome to The High Road. :)

October 9, 2007, 10:41 AM
The other members have given great advice. start with a .22 learn how to shoot then move up. If you want a range gun only stick with a .22 and 9mm. They are cheaper to shoot. I can get 550 rounds of .22 for under 10 bucks. Also the 9mm for 50 costs about 7 bucks when you can find it on sale. the .45 runs me about 12 bucks per box.

When I started shooting handguns a few years ago I started with a 9mm. I bought a Beretta PX4 Storm. The design of the pistol fit my hand well and it has different back straps to fit larger or smaller hand grips. It came with two 17 round mags. It also has a manual safety/hammer decocking lever. So once you rack a round in the chamber you can flip the lever and the gun decocks and cammot be fired. To fire flip the lever back up and fire.

I have enjoyed the pistol and my g/f loves it as well. Very light recoil and accurate. I have put at least 5,000 rounds with out any problems with the gun. I did have a few ammo related problems, but it was cheap ammo.

The gun is easy to clean.

For a .22 I would look at the Ruger MKIII's. yes they can be tricky to clean, but once you do it a few times it is simple. And they are not ammo picky and fun to shoot. I took mine out last weekend and shot up 300 rounds without any issues.

All of the major brands are good.

Once you pick what you RENT them if you can. Spend the extra $ to test them out. I bought a pistol once and hated it.

Good luck on your search

October 9, 2007, 10:43 AM
RENT them if you can.
+1000000000. It's great to try them out beforehand - you may find that you like something you wouldn't think you'd like.

Something like an XD or Glock would be decent for a newer shooter. They're reliable, relatively inexpensive (especially if you buy used!), and have a variety of calibers in which they can be chambered.

October 9, 2007, 11:06 AM
If you're willing to spend $1500, get a .22 (I prefer the Ruger MkIII or the Browning Buckmark), whatever pistol fits your hand the best and then spend the rest of ammo. I'd suggest a 9mm for your first centerfire pistol because the ammo is a lot cheaper and thus you can practice more. So I figure $800-900 for the guns and then you can pick up 2000 rounds of 9mm and a few thousand rounds of .22. That will definitely give you a very solid base.

October 9, 2007, 11:56 AM
Take a few NRA classes ( basic pistol for one), rent guns and pick what "feels good".

the rest will work itself out with practice.

October 9, 2007, 06:35 PM
Some good advice here, especially on the recommendation to start with a .22. One thing to add, though, is that a .22 isn't only for beginners:Experienced shooters often go through 30,000 rounds or more per year, so shooting a .22 is one of the ways to be able to afford the habit. The basics of marksmanship are the same, whether you're shooting a .22 or a .44 magnum. Consider these 2 scenarios:

1. Buy a centerfire (say 9mm) pistol, go to the range once a week and shoot 100 rounds each time. Over the course of the year, you'll have spent around $1500 ($500 gun + $1,000 ammo) and shot 5,200 rounds.

2. Buy a centerfire and a .22 for $500 each. Go to the range once a week and shoot 250 rounds of .22 and 50 rounds of 9mm. Total cost after a year is about $1,780, but you'll have shot over 15,000 rounds - 3 times as many, for just a bit more money. After the 1st year, the difference swings in favor of scenario 2 even more. To me, it's a no-brainer.

As far as which .22, the Buckmark and Ruger have been recommended, and I think they're fine. If you really want to splurge, check out a S&W Model 41. Of course, rent before you buy.

Someone recommended an older K-22 revolver. There's a lot to be said for revolvers, and becoming proficient with one. The K-22 would be a fine choice. Plus, it'll hold its value.

Good luck!

October 9, 2007, 07:00 PM
Thanks Brian. I've learned a lot on these boards. I've learned a lot from ignoring experienced people on this board, making a mistake, and finding they were right. I've learned a lot from spending a lot of money on guns and buying and selling about 30 for my first couple years finding what I like and don't. I've learned a lot from renting guns at the range. But I don't really know all that much yet (I'm not Art, Sam, and some of our other more, umm, senior members).

don't recommend the same $300 limit that he does for a .22 handgun. If (for example) a beautiful, old Smith K-22 revolver speaks to you and it's $400+, well, they'll never get any cheaperOK, you have a point here.

OP, if you find a nice K-22 spend what you have to (within reason), otherwise stick under $300 on the .22. A K-22 is one of the classiest .22s out there.

October 9, 2007, 07:12 PM
I see you are from Santa Monica - thats where I work.

Which range are you going to go to?

You do know that California limits Pistols to 10 round magazines (unless you have one you bought with higher capacity magazines before the ban- which if you are buying now means you don't have and cannot buy or bring into Cal.)

So 9mm or .40 or .45 are all good choices. If you are really only going to target shoot get a .22 less noise, less recoil and the paper target is just as dead as if you hit it with a .45.

October 9, 2007, 08:18 PM
Have you shot a gun before?

October 9, 2007, 08:40 PM
Get a .22 rimfire.
Learn the basics of sight picture and trigger control.
Rent others till you find what you like.

October 9, 2007, 08:59 PM
There's a lot of good advice on here, but I might suggest that if you have experience with other guns (shotguns from hunting etc.) then you might not need the .22 to start.

If you're getting into shooting for the first time, the price and experience you'll gain from the .22 is paramount to you being safe and enjoying the sport. Why learn range etiquette with a $1000 pistol that costs you $30 every time you hit the range?

I started with a Taurus PT92FS in 9mm. Great, reliable gun that doesn't cost much to buy/maintain and it's easy as pie to strip and clean. Low recoil, pretty gun with simple, effective mechanics. One of the best guns I've ever owned.

Remember, a lot of guns are like cars. Sure you want the BMW with all the gimcracks, but those are all extra things that can go wrong. Sometimes a simple, bulletproof Chevy is the best option.

I'm now in the market for a .45, but that's just cause I'm in my 'bigger is better' modes. Don't let that fool you though...whoever on here said getting rounds on target is more important that stopping power is bang on...pun intended.

Best of luck to you, and enjoy the forums....lots of good advice around here.

October 9, 2007, 09:00 PM
Okay...thanks all..
Still leaning towards a 9mm or 45.
I plan to shoot at the LAX range.

October 9, 2007, 11:30 PM
If you're leaning toward a 9mm, then perhaps a CZ-75B, if it fits you. Then it is easy to pick up that .22 that everyone recommends. Get a Kadet if you want a separate pistol, with the same form factor, to practice. Or get the Kadet kit for a bit cheaper and just change slides for practice (and afford a bit more ammo).

October 10, 2007, 11:06 AM
I was in a similar place (I think). I rented a lot, and then bought a Ruger Blackhawk in 45 LC. I wouldn't recommend that caliber unless you are going to reload, but I would recommend an SA revolver. The mechanism seemed pretty simple to me - the trigger does nothing but release the hammer, and there's no issue of failure to feed, magazine quality, "limp wristing", etc.

I feel like there's a pretty direct connection between me and the hammer. I don't have to feel where the trigger resets, there's not a mile of creep, etc. My buddies all scoff at the "old school" gun, but it's been perfect for me. I have shot their autoloaders (Browning HP, CZ-75, and a 1911), and I just don't like them every much. Too much crap flying around an smacking into each other as I fire a round. :) All of that clanging and banging has nothing to do with learning to shoot, it's just an annoying way of moving the next round into the chamber. Gets in the way of a good clean shot, in my opinion.

I paid right at $415 for mine NIB, included taxes, fees, etc. I think a Blackhawk in 357 magnum will be about the same price.

I bought the gun to learn to shoot, and it has worked well. The targets have been moving back pretty steadily over the past year or so. Shooting free hand, I can keep all of the rounds on the black at 25 yards. That's not great shooting by any means, but I started at 7 yards, so I am getting better, and having a lot of fun.

You didn't ask about SD, but here's may analysis. I don't anticipate ever using it for SD, but if I did, I figure it would work about as well as anything else for me. I understand that there folks out there who have the tactical skill to take on multiple heavily armed assailants and use dozens of magazines in the process. I also understand that I am not one of those folks. :) If a bunch of bad guys come after me at once, unless they are incredibly incompetent, I will be dead.

If you don't want to learn how to reload, pick up a Blackhawk in .356 mag. You can start off with target .38 special loads, and work your way up.

One word about starting with a .22 - make sure that you rent and will enjoy shooting a .22 before you buy one. I don't find shooting a .22 to be as much fun as shooting a 45 LC. I bought a little Beretta Neos to take nieces/nephews shooting, but it just isn't as much fun for me as the Blackhawk. Don't know why - I am sure that Freud would say that I am compensating for other perceived (or real) deficiencies. :) No matter what the good Viennese doctor would say, I don't enjoy shooting the .22 as much.

The bottom line (for me) is to make sure that you enjoy shooting the handgun you buy. Doesn't really matter if it's the most effective way to learn how to shoot if you don't like it. Doesn't matter if it's not the most effective way to learn how to shoot if you really like it - if you really like it, you put the time in and become effective. Pick something that looks/feels like fun to you.


October 12, 2007, 02:58 PM
Spend half of it on training.

October 12, 2007, 04:03 PM
Take some of that $1500 and get some basic training in the shooting arts; it will make all the difference in the world.

All I can share is the two semi-autos that made me a better shooter and they're both in the two calibers you are considering:

H & K full-sized .45.....My accuracy, even with the first clip, was unconscious. Finest, most ergonomic and accurate handgun I have ever fired.

CZ 75 in 9mm.....same here; comfort, fit, and accuracy were off-scale

Two worth looking at.

PS - My first handgun was a .22LR Stoeger Luger replica. Wish I still had it. Although you don't need to start with a .22, getting one to practice with will make all of your other shooting better, plus you will find shooting a .22 is REALLY-REALLY FUN. I don't call myself the "22luvr" for nothing.

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