Recommend a first handgun?


October 30, 2007, 01:18 AM
Alright, I'm a poor 22 year old college student. I've been shooting other peoples stuff for the past several years, but only bought my own first firearm this year. (a ruger 10/22)

I'm slowly piecing together an ar15 build, and don't have a ton of money to devote to firearms. I currently live in North Dakota, where crime is nearly non-existent. At the end of this school term I will likely be moving to a larger metropolitan area, and am looking for a center fire handgun that will be reliable and affordable.

I'm starting the process for my CCW, but I don't have any strong desires to carry as of yet. (though a relatively smaller frame handgun capable of concealed carry may be a decent choice for future needs). I like 1911 style handguns (who doesn't?) but I haven't shot one.

Sorry this post is getting long... I like the availability of .22 conversions for 1911's, I've been thinking about the Rock Island 'Tactical' 45. But I'm not sure anyone carries RIA here.

Long story short. I would like to keep it under $400. The cheap hi-points do look quite attractive right now, but I figure I'd ask The High Road first. Should I buy a Hi-point now and use the $ saved for practice ammo, or the Rock Island .45 shoot it a little, try to save $ to buy a .22 conversion? What handguns should I look into? They don't have to be .45cal

:banghead::cuss: Im just confused, what am I not thinking of? HELP ME OUT GUYS! :)

If you enjoyed reading about "Recommend a first handgun?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
October 30, 2007, 01:27 AM
Poor college student. Home and self defense. First handgun. Bigger than a .22.

I know you want a .45, but that screams 9mm to me. You'll spend less on ammo, so you can shoot more often (a good thing) or you can get a nicer pistol in the first place than the HP (another good thing).

Sorry I wasn't more help on your actual question - whatever it was. ;)

October 30, 2007, 01:41 AM
yeah, wow. I came back and even I dont even want to read my post. I kinda ramble....

are there any guns im not thinking of between hi-point and $400? lol

October 30, 2007, 01:50 AM
have you shot a Glock23? its a smaller frame then standard (a beauty to carry) but a bit more punch then the 9mm. (better for defence) it also doesent jump outa your hands like the 45 can. also for a first gun?? its pretty much indestructable. you can get them in the high 4's

October 30, 2007, 01:55 AM
I've shot a friends Markarov a fair amount, ran a few mags through a Beretta 92, Hi-Point .45acp and a ruger 22/45 but thats my experience hand gunning. My friends just don't have enough guns!

October 30, 2007, 02:04 AM
Sounds like with your budget and reasons for wanting it, (HD/SD), a 9mm is what you're looking for. I would recommend a used Glock 17/19 or a S&W XD. Both a little more than $400 but worth the extra $50. otherwise I believe you'd be looking at a revolver. A nice CCW is a S&W 642 that shouldn't cost you more than $400 too.

I'd just stay away from Taurus, Rossi and other cheap guns. Buy quality.

October 30, 2007, 02:25 AM
are there any guns im not thinking of between hi-point and $400? lol

Stoeger Cougar ( Damn sight better than a Hi-Point. Good reviews too.


October 30, 2007, 03:47 AM
... first, Change friends. second, try the glock. i think you'll like it. its worth the extra $60... hey i know what being in college is like... constant decision between top raman and ammo.

October 30, 2007, 04:05 AM
I like CZ_52 for bad ass cheap pistol but the ammo may be expensive.

October 30, 2007, 04:28 AM
I like the Ruger P series. I recently picked up a P89DC and it's morphed into the primary HD gun. Wallyworld has 9mm FMJ for around 15 bucks per 100 rounds to practice with and a good box of Cor-Bon 115gr for HD. Anyways, I got the P89 150rds of practice ammo and a box of the corbon and came out right at 400 give or take 10 bucks.


October 30, 2007, 04:50 AM
Welcome to THR

Nothing wrong with being new or a beginner we all have been at one time in the same place.

For around $400 I would consider one of the options listed below

Used Smith & Wesson 6904/6906

Used Glock 23/22/19/17 many police trade ins can be had for very close to what you have to spend

Argentine built FM Browning High Power or Charles Daly imported ones

Walther P 1 (aluminum framed post war P-38)

Used Smith & Wesson models 19 66 13 65

Used Ruger Security or Speed Six

I would do some research on each one and if at all possible either borrow or go to a range that rents them and try out some of the different models side by side if they have them.

Shop around for an FFL who is willing to order for you for a small fee.
Be patient but diligent and check:

You may also want to pick up a copy of shotgun news or have your dealer order the catalogs from CDNN investments Southern Ohio Gun and J & G in Arizona

There are good deals to be found out there with luck preparation persistence and being ready when the right deal comes along.

Best of luck and always think safety first.

evan price
October 30, 2007, 04:55 AM
Best bet for a first gun on a tight budget:

Your budget isn't so tight you should be hitting the Hi-points right away. Not that the Hi-Point is a bad first choice, it is what it is, you get what you pay for and that's all, it's a great budget SD gun. Not what I would want to carry, though.

IMHO I would scout out all the gunshops in the area for trade-ins. For $300 you should be able to find yourself a pretty decent "high end" pistol in used but good shape. Police trade-in guns are great bargains. Around here you can find Ruger "P" series, S&W semiautos, etc. for under $300 with a little looking.
I see Springfield XDs for $349 often. When a "new" gun comes out there are those who rush right out and buy one and then realize they don't like it, so they trade it in for the next "new" gun. I've found almost new "used" guns this way for deep discounts.

If there is a Gander Mountain near you they have the SIG/Sauer P225 (actually, W. German P6 police pistol) for $349. It's a single-stack 9mm, kinda large for its mag capacity, but it is SIG reliability and accuracy for cheap prices. Conditions vary from very holster worn to mildly holster worn, most were carried around for years and shot a few times if ever. A good deal for a great gun in your price range. Sigs also have a very CCW friendly decocker and safety design. You won't find a better gun for as cheap.

9mm ammo is the cheapest out there right now and likely will continue to be for some time unless you want to get into reloading.

Failing that, you could always look at revolvers. I know you like the idea of a .45 but again, you can find a used S&W Model 10 for under $250. It may not look pretty but it would be a solid, heritage-quality firearm with a nearly hand-fitted lockwork and S&W's trademark smooth trigger. .38 ammo is not as cheap as 9mm but it's close if you buy online.

Most entry-level 1911 style pistols will have features that as you become more familiar with them will make you unhappy. MIM parts, junk mags, etc.

My best advice is get SOMETHING and get to the range, often. Get used to shooting with something cheap like 9mm and then move up to .45 when the funds are available.

If you really want a .22 caliber 1911 style check out the Ruger 22/45 pistol.

October 30, 2007, 05:11 AM
Hey Rapidfire.
If your looking for a first gun under $400. You may wont to look at getting a used hand gun.I would go with 9mm its alot cheaper to shoot then a 45.
I have a XD 9mm and I realy it.I think you would too. But there are alot of good guns Ruger,SW,CZ and Glock if you can go to a range and rent the guns your thinking about getting so you can see if you like shooting it.
I was thinking about a .22 conversion allso but after reading and talking to alot of peaple I found out alot of the conversion do not work well and the cost of them. By the time you buy a conversion kit and put it on you could have payed for a .22 pistal and now you have 2 pistals :what:
Good Luck and let you know what you get.


October 30, 2007, 05:30 AM
Where in ND do you live?

I'm in Minot. I've only got a couple .357's and .22's, but my buddy Josh has a CZ75 in 9mm you could probably shoot. I think he got it for like $399 at Sportsman's Loft. I have access to a few other guns as well, but I don't think any of them are in the price range you listed.

October 30, 2007, 05:57 AM
Okay, heres my .02
In your price point I have to argue for you to check the used market, and I think you may be looking at a revolver more so than an auto. Lots of good Rugers and such in that price point. I'm not familiar with ND's pricing, but I've seen just about every make of ruger revolver go for around 390 used here. A good DA revolver in .38 could be your answer. I'm going to deviate from standard THR doctrine and state that I do really like the .38 Spl. Its cheap ammo, low recoil, and good accuracy.
As for that price range...try going to and searching due to your price point. May be surprised whats out there. I think the firestorm guns stay under that price and are in various cal. Bersa also makes some .380's under that point.
I have a hi-point in .40, I took it on due to a friend needing some quick loot and not willing to just accept the money from me. It shoots well enough for a SD/Combat gun...but you wanna be aware of their MASS. Suckers are outright heavy. Its a boat/truck gun, there is no CCW with it, it would tug your pants down if not make you walk with a strange gate.

October 30, 2007, 07:53 AM
I'd go with the RIA or a used Springfield. A 1911 was my first pistol, and I've never regretted it for a second. Can't imagine it any other way in fact.

October 30, 2007, 10:38 AM
I'm with eldon519, the but would go with the SA milspec over the GI model. The RIA are reliable too. The CZ 9mm would be a good choice with less recoil. Bring a bore light with you.:)

Black Knight
October 30, 2007, 11:46 AM
I see you are looking for a semi-auto pistol and many others have given good advice on them. I would like to suggest you not overlook a good revolver. My recommendation in this area would be a S&W K-frame in .38 Spec or 357 Magnum. Another I would recommend is a good Ruger. You can a find Ruger Security Six fairly inexpensive. Some consider them the ideal revolver. While I am a Colt and S&W guy I regret passing on a couple of the Security Sixes I was offered many years ago. If you consider handloading (to allow more practice ammo) I found the .38 Special a very easy starting point. Good luck with your search.

October 30, 2007, 12:21 PM
Congrats on the 10/22, it is a very fine gun.
For your first handgun, you can't go wrong with a .357 wheelgun.
It will give you the ability to shoot .38 special, .38 special +P, and .357 so that gives you flexibility. You won't be disappointed.
Later on, you can jump into the autoloaders with preparedness.

I purchased a used 9mm Hi Point C9 for $100, and can't really get over it. It is just a good little pistol. It has never jammed, not once, and it gets abused at the range, believe me. I hesitate to speak of it because some people will rip me seven ways to Sunday for having one, but it really is great. I do like higher quality pistols like the 1911s far above this Hi Point, but so far, it has exceeded all my expectations.

October 30, 2007, 12:31 PM
Originally posted by Glockshocknawe: have you shot a Glock23? its a smaller frame then standard (a beauty to carry) but a bit more punch then the 9mm. (better for defence) it also doesent jump outa your hands like the 45 can. also for a first gun?? its pretty much indestructable. you can get them in the high 4's

In general a .40 S&W will have much more kick than a .45 Acp. Especially the Glocks which have a polymer frame.

If your looking for a good first handgun I would suggest a Glock in 9mm or perhaps a Sig 228. I would stick to the 9mm as it is a good round and is cheap to shoot.

October 30, 2007, 12:43 PM
Welcome to THR.
If you aren't 100% set on an auto, I'll give you the same advice I give everyone who asks me about a first handgun. Medium frame, .357 magnum revolver, like a Smith model 10, Ruger GP100, Ruger Service Six, etc. .357 Magnum loads for defense, .38 special for fun and cheap practice.

October 30, 2007, 12:44 PM
The fact that you are willing to tinker a little makes your options better. If you are willing to be crafty enough to build your own AR, then it's not that big of a deal (with a little guidance) to customize an entry level 1911. I have never had a part failure due to MIM parts or anothing like that, but if you wanted to upgrade them with better parts and springs, it's no big deal.

I use a Ciener conversion kit on my Kimber 1911, and it's great, as long as I blast it our with gunscrubber every 200 rounds or so, and I use hot ammo. (Mostly stingers and velocitors.)

I would also direct you to a full-size Glock. USED. A Glock is probably the only pistol I would buy used without much concern, if any, and if you decide you don't like it, you can always get rid of it for a much smaller loss than you would take on a new one. For years, I carried a G-22, and I had a Advantage Arms .22 kit for it. It was ok, it occasionally spat hot lead traces on my hands as I fired it. Looking back, the only thing I really don't miss about the Glock is the gooey trigger, but even that is mostly a question of discipline. Advantage Arms makes .22 kits for all full and mid-size Glock frames.

.22 kits are great, with a couple of understandings. The full size slides, even the aluminum ones are heavy, and you are going to be better off with higher quality, hotter ammo. Just because you CAN shoot the cheapest .22 you can find to spend 1/10th on ammo doesn't mean it will work very well. All the kits I have seen require about a 500 rd break in to function reliably.

Also remember, as a tinkerer, the 1911 and Glock are the two simplest pistol designs to detail strip.

October 30, 2007, 12:49 PM
+1 on the springfields... i have 2 right now (XD 9 SC and .40 service). The .40 is actually for sale, $380 shipped to FFL but i digress... The .40 ammo is probably a little too $$. you'd do better and shoot more w/ 9mm.

Couple thoughts:
- Do you have a gander mtn near you? mine has european police trade in Sig P225's for $349. Hard to beat that.
- Taurus handguns are pretty reasonable. I've only shot one and liked it. do some homework b/c there are ones to buy and ones to avoid.
- Bersa/Firestorm Guns: I have the thunder .380 and love it. .380 is a little pricey compatred to 9mm, too. Look at the Firestorm Thunder 9mm. Nice gun.

Lastly, talk to some of the glock people. i know there are .22 kits for some of their guns... Springfield XD should have one out soon.

Good luck!

October 30, 2007, 03:04 PM
A used Ruger P-97 is the first thought that comes to mind.

I'd also second the 9mm as a first choice. After having owned .45's, .357's, and .40's, the only caliber I have right now is 9mm and I'm actually OK with that. It won't do some things but it will do what I need a handgun for pretty well.

My suggestion is to shoot as many different handguns as you possibly can. The main reason I have owned so many guns is that I sort of worked my way through them looking for what I wanted. In the process it cost me a lot of money.

A good starting point if you're willing to forego the .45 ACP requirement might be a SIG P-225.

One thing you SHOULD NOT do is let any of us tell you exactly what to buy. Guns are very personal and none of us can pick what will suit you best.

October 30, 2007, 03:06 PM
I shoot a G23 quite a bit and the recoil is wicked. I would stay away from that as a first gun. +1 on the XD9-SC. I love mine. Whatever you get, I would recommend that you make it an easy to carry weapon. You also want to go with 9mm since it will be more affordable to shoot and you definitely want to take your first gun to the range as often as you can. Go to your gunshop and handle an XD SC or one of the smaller Glocks in 9mm.

October 30, 2007, 03:22 PM
Been there, done that.

Save yourself a LOT of money, don't buy a .45 as your first handgun. I bought a 1911 as my first. I in no way regret the purchase, just bought a 9mm a little afterwards cause I couldn't afford to shoot it all the time.

While I don't own one, brand new CZ75's go for not much more than $400 new, and owning a CZ rifle, I have no reason to doubt that they are an excellent deal. It will probably be my next handgun purchase. The SIG 225 that has been mentioned is a nice gun for the price, buddy got his on sale at Gander Mountain for $325. Very good shooting gun. Other than that, used Glock/XD should fit in the price range as well, if you care much for polymer guns.

October 30, 2007, 03:32 PM
Ruger P95 or used Glock. Either in 9mm (.45 is too pricey for that budget).

October 30, 2007, 04:49 PM
I'd warmly agree with the recommendations for:

Medium Frame
.38Spl or .357 Mag
4" Barrel
Smith&Wesson Model 10/Model 19 kinda thing or Ruger Security-Six/101 or 100
Look for a clean, used piece

$400 can buy you a really top-shelf revolver! Let the good times roll! :D

October 30, 2007, 05:15 PM
I would be on the look out for a used 9mmL from any of the major manufactures. Smith, Glock, Sig, Springfield, Ruger Would all do you well. I would try to find one I liked. Even investing in a (I KNOW PEOPLE ARE GOING TO YELL AT ME) Highpoint for the times being. If you want some protection and a plinker.

October 30, 2007, 05:22 PM
When I was a poor college student the first pistol I bought was a Smith and Wesson SW9C. I bought it because I wanted a glock be they were like $100 more than I wanted to spend. So I got the Smith new for like $450.

It worked just like the glock, no jams or problems. But for some reason I still wanted a GLOCK.

So several years later I sold the Smith and bought a GLOCK 23C and a 9mm conversion barrel.

so I have the equivalent of 2 GLOCKS in one for around $700.

Learn from my mistake. If you have $400 just wait longer and save a few $100 more. Once you get in the $500-600 range you can get a NEW high quality autoloading firearm that will last a lifetime. Other than revolvers I have never seen a high quality S/A for less that $400.

If you just have to have it NOW go with a used GLOCK.

Hope this helps

October 30, 2007, 05:23 PM
As stated in a previous post: Ruger GP100 and or Ruger SP101

October 30, 2007, 05:41 PM
wow, thanks for the welcome and all the good advice.

James, Im from the Bismarck area.

We dont have a Gander Mt. here, my choices are a Scheels all-sports, a place called 'gun city' (the guys seem nice), and 4-5 pawn shops.

Actually until this thread I was opposed to a wheel-gun. Now im starting to come around. What about S&W 642's? or would the smaller frame make shooting less of a 'pleasure'? Also Im not sure I quite get the .357/.38sp interchange yet. You can shoot .38sp in a .357 rated chamber, but not .357 in a regular .38 chamber right?

Im really attracted to the XD 9 std. and sub compact models. ( i like the idea of the grip safety/trigger safety combo)

I know you cant tell me what gun to get and be done with it. But I appreciate your opinions and it helps me in my research/selection process.

Thanks for the help guys!

October 30, 2007, 06:12 PM
You can shoot .38sp in a .357 rated chamber, but not .357 in a regular .38 chamber right?

Anything against the Makarov? You say you've shot one, it's probably not going to cost more than the Hi-Point, and they're pretty much indesctructable.

October 30, 2007, 07:22 PM
What about S&W 642's? or would the smaller frame make shooting less of a 'pleasure'?

I love the 642. I have multiple copies of it. One is *always* in my pocket no matter what else I may or may not have. It's perhaps the most useful of pocket handguns. But...

It just ain't fun to shoot. Ain't.

The things that make it a great pocket revo make it an awful range gun. It's light, it's small, the sighting radius is very short. It kicks, it's not really satisfying at 50 feet. It's not that great as a home defense gun either, IMO...

It's truly a one trick pony... but it does that one trick better than anything else.

October 30, 2007, 08:06 PM
Model 10s, 65s, 66s, 19s, 13s, and Lord knows how many other K-frames in .38 or .357 are, from my experience, a dream to shoot. With plain 'ol .38 specials, the recoil is just enough to know that it's there. You don't have to worry so much about proper grip, you don't have the slide chewing up your hand, and they're pretty darn powerful - and very cheap - usually $350 or less for fully working models with excellent finishes. I'm able to shoot as many rounds as I can afford without making my hand sore. SA trigger pull is a thing of beauty, and DA is very smooth.

Don't let the .357/.38 business get to ya. Caliber naming conventions range from antiquated to insane. Both rounds have the same diameter (about .355), only the Magnum is longer and won't fit into standard .38 special cylinders.

Many other options are available, though. The CZ 83 runs brand new about $350 - it's a doublestack .380 with a 12-rd capacity, and you might find the very excellent 9mm CZ 75 used for around $400. I think Beretta's PX4 in .40 S&W are available for that price as well, along with many others.

October 30, 2007, 08:13 PM
Bersa Thunder 9. $350 or so.

October 30, 2007, 08:27 PM
I stopped by the local pawnshop on the way home from class tonight. all they had were 9-10 hi-point's from $120-175, a sig p220 for $585, and a flintlock something or other. Not too much there, but i did replace my missing 13mm & 14mm 3/8 drive sockets & the guy said I could have them for free. :)

I'll try stopping at gun city and Scheels tomorrow morning.

October 30, 2007, 08:52 PM
S & W Value Series

You can find a variety of reasonably priced firearms out there. A 357/38 revolver is always a good start!

October 31, 2007, 12:55 AM
I say get a CZ
75B or 85 combat
Cheap* and reliable.

*dont know the prices in the USA though

October 31, 2007, 01:46 AM
I'm going to have push the Ruger P95 (or P89) on you as well. All 5 of my Rugers (P89, P90, P93, P94, P95) have all been great :)

actually my P95 was my first handgun as well ;)

October 31, 2007, 05:13 PM
Here You are: and

October 31, 2007, 05:29 PM
Nice score on the sockets. I would ask you to look at the Smith and Wesson Sigma series. A friend got a brand new one for $275 NIB. They come in .40 and 9mm. Some people complain about the trigger, but it is a great gun for the money. It isn't a 50 yard target gun, but it goes bang every time and hits what you aim it at.

October 31, 2007, 07:51 PM
I suggest that you stick with a .22 for the first gun. Whatever you choose in style or format. .22 is simple, cheap and won't increase the likelihood of developing bad habits.

evan price
October 31, 2007, 11:47 PM
FYI, check out AuctionArms and Gunbroker. THey are internet firearms auction sites kinds sorta eBayish. Great place to see stuff and get an idea of pricing.
Then there is CDNN investments and Bud's Gun Shop.

AIM Surplus has Star Model "B" 9mm pistols that are C&R eligible for $300!

November 1, 2007, 02:47 AM
I'd suggest a used Glock 17 or 19. The Glock Mags are ~$10 each from CNDD. Go for 9mm, its low cost and high speed. The 17 is very popular with LEO so easy to find parts and etc.

November 2, 2007, 12:53 AM
Glock 17 or a beretta 92 fs

November 5, 2007, 10:52 PM
You can get a ruger p89 9mm for less than $400 brand new. Ive had mine for about four years and put 10,000 + rounds through mine and never jam, not even with cheap cheap ammo. Which good ammo isnt that much for it. You can get a 115 grain clear up to a 147 grain shells. plenty of stopping power. and affordable to target shoot to get use to it. Ugly but the most reliable gun I have ever used. Also very easy to feild dress and clean. Takes less than five minutes. Overall great gun for a great price. Now my dad ha the glock 9mm and it jams on cheap ammo like crazy and cost $100 to $200 more. Hope it helps. And if you have any questions about the different models of p89 or just about the gun ask. Keep shooting striaght:cool:

Blue .45
November 5, 2007, 11:49 PM
You can get a ruger p89 9mm for less than $400 brand new. Ive had mine for about four years and put 10,000 + rounds through mine and never jam, not even with cheap cheap ammo.

I've never had any problems with my Ruger P89 or P97. you will have a hard time finding a better gun for the money.

November 6, 2007, 12:17 AM
Go onto and look up Phoenix Distributors. Lots of options, good prices. Should not tax your $400 budget in the least and will expand your options quite a bit.

November 6, 2007, 02:02 AM
As you've discovered, don't close yourself off to a good .38 or .357 magnum revolver. You can find revolvers in great mechanical condition, even if they look rough from holster wear on the outside, well within your budget.

Don't forget to budget in the cost of magazines, a good belt and a holster if you intend to carry this gun. A good used revolver will keep you under budget, still allowing you to buy these items, and have a little left to get some ammo to shoot through it.

And in 10 years you won't feel like you bought something "on the cheap". you'll still look at it fondly and get a lot of use out of it. CDNN has a bunch of 3" K frames police trades - Model 64s and 65s - on sale right now. They are the most popular for what you describe as the role you're looking to fill. Take a look, and get the best quality you can afford whatever it is.

November 6, 2007, 04:40 AM
I can only recommend a used Ruger MkII or inexpensive S&W M22A for you. The ammo is very cheap and that will help you to get some trigger time. $200 should get you going.

It can always be sold at a later time with little loss and you can get a 1911 when you have the money, not just for the gun, but also for the ammo. You will not easily find a 1911 under $400 and have to add $230 to 400 for a .22 conversion.

November 6, 2007, 07:54 AM
I would also recommend a revolver. Normally I would also recommend it be a .22, for the cheap practice, but if you want a centerfire, I'd get a .357 with a 4-6" barrel. I will also recommend you look into a Ruger blackhawk, They're rugged, accurate and simple. The blackhawk convertible comes with a 9mm cylinder as well, so you can shoot cheap WWB ammo for practice. Automatics are generally more complicated to run and have more small parts to keep track of (and lose) while cleaning, and they're sometimes prone to be fussy and require some tweaking. I prefer to have a reliable go-to gun around until I'm sure of a new autoloader.

November 6, 2007, 06:32 PM
take a good look at a S&W, older model, all metal. Single stack M908 if you want to carry, double stack like a M59xx if you don't. Usually found at some of the online retailers for dirt cheap. I recomend these as they are quite reliable, and with factory mags and a clean gun malfunctions are non existent. Walmart winchester white box ammo runs perfect in them. check kyimports and cdnninvestments. If you want to get a lot of trigger time, you need to go with a .22LR, pick any gun you like/feel comfortable.

November 6, 2007, 11:46 PM
Look at the Taurus Millenium Pro 9mm...usually run around $300.

November 7, 2007, 12:13 AM
Here's a different idea...

If money is tight, and you plan on shooting a lot (which you should if you want to actually be able to hit what you point the thing at), centerfire ammo will make you even poorer.

My dad gave me some good advice on handguns...start with a .22 so you can learn good shooting habits that will serve you well when you do get a centerfire. If you start out with a centerfire and you aren't careful, you can teach yourself to flinch and anticipate recoil with every shot, making you a lousy shot.

I have a High Standard Trophy, which has a similar grip to a 1911, and I love it. High Standard has been reestablished, and they're making pistols again. Maybe try a Sport King or a Tournament? The price is a bit out of your range, but only by 8 boxes of .45 ammo, if you want to think about it that way.

Also, maybe you can give it to your son in a few decades...I think of my Dad every time I shoot mine.


November 7, 2007, 12:21 AM
I'm not sure if there are the same sporting goods stores here as they are where you live but Academy has a Smith and Wesson Sigma .40S&W or 9mm for $299. S&W has a deal right now where you get $50 rebate plus two free mags. If there are no Academy around you then you can find similiar deals on the auction sites listed. I didn't know about Auctionarms, awesome site.

November 7, 2007, 12:22 AM
A used glock 19 would be excellent for a poor college student. Cheap ammo and a great weapon.

November 7, 2007, 03:50 AM

$225 S&W .38spc Is this a S&W model 36? Im still learning so i cant tell.

Is this a good deal?

November 7, 2007, 04:17 AM
Looks like Tecumseh said it best on page 1. I fully endorse his statement.

If your looking for a good first handgun I would suggest a Glock in 9mm or perhaps a Sig 228. I would stick to the 9mm as it is a good round and is cheap to shoot.

I am a married, full-time employed, part-time college student. I couldn't be more serious - go with 9mm. Buy a .45 once you have graduated and have the money to spend if you want to, but if you want to be able to do any amount of shooting in the meantime, you will want to be shooting 9mm.

Having rented and tried and shot many handguns in my own personal quest for what was best for me, I fully support buying a used G19 or P228. Both Glocks and SIGs are at the top of the 9mm auto food chain (along with HK). The HS2000 (aka. Springfield XD) is also a reliable polymer alternative to the Glock, as is the Smith&Wesson M&P9.

Rapidfire, Here is what you need to do.
1. Search around your local area to find a FFL dealer that charges the least for a FFL transfer. I found a FFL dealer in the town south of me that only charges $10 per transfer. I have been able to save hundreds of dollars with the freedom that having him available gives me to take advantage of good online deals.

2. Decide upon 1-3 different handguns that you determine will work best for your purposes. Don't purchase a gun on hearsay alone. Try to handle the gun before you buy. Check to see if there is a local shooting range that has rentals.

3. Once you have a reliable, low-cost FFL dealer to work with, keep an eye out for good deals on quality firearms at,, gunsamerica, and especially in the classifieds on gun forums like here at,,,,, and many many others.

4. Once you find a good deal online for the pistol of your choice, contact the seller, and make the purchase. Have your FFL dealer send the seller's FFL their information. Have it shipped to your FFL. And you get to pick it up from your FFL shortly thereafter. I cannot express how much money you can save and how much larger your selection can be if you allow yourself the ability to buy online and have a gun shipped to your FFL. - And this is coming from an area that has a ton of gun shops.

Now in terms of number 2. What handgun to buy - like I said, I personally think Tecumseh hit it spot on. I bought a refurbished 2nd Gen G19 for under $400. My last purchase was an excellent condition SIG P228 for $430. Good deals exist on the internet - you just have to have the patience and diligence to find them.

The G19 is IMHO the best Glock that Glock makes. It is the perfect compromise of weight, size, and capacity. Most range rentals should have one available to rent. Glocks are one of the most reliable autos on the market. Naysayers give them bad press, but be sure to actually shoot one before you judge it. For a long time I didn't like Glocks - and actively argued against them. Once I actually shot one and shot very well with it, my opinion dramatically changed.

The SIG P228 is arguably the best 9mm SIG that SIG made. I have both the P226 and P228 and love them both equally, but if conceal carry is going to be possibility, I would go with the P228. The P228 was recently discontinued by SIG, but there are still plenty of used P228s around. It is equally as reliable as the Glock, but you will have to maintain it a bit more as the SIG finish is not quite as rugged as the Glock Tennifer. It is also known as the M11, the military designation. Needless to say, the SIG P228 has a deservedly cultish following much like the G19 and HK P7. Many gun enthusiasts would agree that the G19, P228, and P7M8 are the 3 top of the very best, all-around carry 9mm handguns on the market. The P228 has a stamped carbon steel slide and arguably has a more perfect balance over the also terrific P226.

For mid-size to compact conceal carry around $400 - it doesn't get any better than a G19 or a P228.

SIG P228

Glock 19

November 7, 2007, 05:14 AM
I know you like the idea of a .45 but again, you can find a used S&W Model 10 for under $250. It may not look pretty but it would be a solid, heritage-quality firearm with a nearly hand-fitted lockwork and S&W's trademark smooth trigger.

Here, here. A used model 10 was my first handgun. At $250, the beginner will have a hard time finding more bank for the buck - considering the cost of ammo. I call it a gateway gun. It's a lot of fun, but may lead you down the road to heavier things :)

November 7, 2007, 08:27 AM
Centerfire... suitable for concealed carry... under $400... 22 conversion a plus.

How about a CZ 75 compact? Used it'll come in under $400, new, somewhere around $450, I'm not sure about the Kadet conversion kit.

November 7, 2007, 08:49 AM
Ruger 22/45, low cost and feels like a 1911.

November 7, 2007, 10:28 AM
I started (this time around) with a Ruger Blackhawk 45 LC for $399 (plus tx).

I wouldn't suggest 45 LC for a poor college student unless you want to reload. But a Blackhawk can also be had in .357 mag/38 special for the same price.

If I was looking for an autoloader in that range, I'd be looking at a Stoeger Cougar.


November 7, 2007, 11:12 AM
+1 on the Glock 19.

November 7, 2007, 10:28 PM
under $400, a Stoeger Cougar, as mentioned early on, is a good one. The only problem is extremely limited accessories. Still, I like mine. The Ruger P89 is in that range also, but seems more blocky.

A bit more cash and you're in the service weapons. Glock, M&P, XD...They're all good. Find the one that fits your hand and rent some if you can to get a feel for how they shoot.

I know squat about revolvers, so I'll leave it at that.

November 7, 2007, 10:56 PM
Any decent .22. Learn with that and then graduate to something bigger.

November 7, 2007, 11:03 PM
My first handgun (at age 22 poor and and in school) was a XD in .45 acp tactical, it was $517? out the door.
So I vote the XD an whatever form you chose, best for you.

November 7, 2007, 11:15 PM
If you're thinking of something that can be used for concealed carry my suggestions are:

1. S&W 642 or 638 38 Special +P revolver. Ammo for practice is cheap and it's a gun that will be unlikely to ever want to sell when you eventually expand your collection. Having it be your first will make it that much more special to your grand-kids. New they run $379 - $399. has them for $385 delivered right now.

2. Kel-tec P-11 if you want a semi in 9mm. Reliable, less than $300 new, and puts 13 rounds of 9mm +p in the same size package as the 649.

November 7, 2007, 11:25 PM
Glock! whichever fits your han the best. I like a .40

Ed Ames
November 7, 2007, 11:58 PM
I strongly agree with the advice to get a .22 first, but I'll throw this out as an alternative.

First question: How much more do you have for all the other stuff that goes along with getting into handgun shooting? Ammo, range time (if you need to buy that in your area), bags, cleaning supplies, and so on?

If your total budget is $400, today, I'd suggest a surplus CZ-82 (about $200) and 1000 rounds of 9mm mak (another $170). Add another $30 for other "gotta have" accessories like a cleaning kit. Your $400 is spent and as you get bigger and better pistols I don't think you'll regret a dollar of that $400. The CZ has a very nice trigger, is surprisingly accurate, can be used for home defense and will work for concealed carry in a pinch. It's about the best deal going at the moment.

Or, if you had more money set aside for ammo and the $400 was just for the gun, get the CZ-82 and a used .22 pistol.

Just a thought.

November 8, 2007, 02:32 PM
My first gun was a ruger GP100 4"
I dont think your 1st handgun must be a .22 but if you want one I like the browning buckmark.

Given all of your parameters I would suggest a 9mm gun or .38 special used but in great condition. I wouldn't be afraid to pick up a used Glock or Sig or even XD if the price is right. Take your time and the right deal will fall in your lap.

November 8, 2007, 08:00 PM
I would go with a used Glock 9mm - either the 17 or the 19. Like others have mentioned, the .40 Glock 23 has vicious recoil with hot loads. I would avoid that one.

If you decide you want a .40 caliber, look into a police trade-in S&W 4006. They are all steel and the weight makes them more controlable than other

November 8, 2007, 08:32 PM
.22 Long Rifle maybe?? Glock, g19 or g23. Great weapons. Glocks are Simple. Outstanding quality for the money. All the rest of the advice above is great stuff too.

November 8, 2007, 08:55 PM
My first handgun was a Beretta 92FS 9mm. :)

November 11, 2007, 10:25 PM
As you mentioned future CCW, I'd go with a compact 9mm, such as the Bersa Thunder Ultra Compact. It feels great in the hand and is ultra reliable.

November 14, 2007, 01:25 AM
Well, my vote would go to the S&W 642 or a used SA XD9 SC. They would both be affordable to shoot, easy to maintain (read real easy), and great for CCW.

November 15, 2007, 04:07 PM
I went the "Cruffler" route or CRF or Curio, Relic Firearm route. For me it was the CZ-52, I might get a CZ-82. While both might need a little bit of work, they will be nice little inexpensive pistols to own. The only weird thing about them would be their ammo. Anyways good luck

November 16, 2007, 11:52 PM
My first gun was a CZ75B 40cal. It was an excellent gun, but once I tried a 1911, I can't go back. I'm in love with Kimber 1911's! I did, however, just buy a revolver that is fun to shoot too.

If you enjoyed reading about "Recommend a first handgun?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!