Just had my first range experience.


November 29, 2008, 06:40 PM
I recently went target shooting with a co-worker at his gun club and had a blast. That was two weeks ago, and I've been reading everything I have time for since. I shot his Taurus 9mm, Ruger .357 revolver, and his .22 target pistol. There was a couple other guys at our 25 yd. range who saw I was new and wanted me to try their guns which included Glocks, a couple 1911's-can't recall brand, and one each of an AR-15 and AK-47. I reaaly enjoyed the entire experience.

Anyway, now I am considering getting some formal gun training even though my buddy is an ex-cop and spent a long time covering all the safety aspects. I want to get a lot of time in training and safety, and practice.

Also, I want to purchase my first handgun, but want to rent some models first and try them. My short list includes:

SA new XDM Model in 9mm

SIG P226 9mm

Stoeger Cougar 9mm

CS P01 9mm

My interests are: Home/Personal Defense, Range shooting

Price range up to about $800.

Question I have is----what is the ideal barrel length given my interests in home/personal defense and becoming a good shot through lots of practice time? I probably would at some point go for a carry permit, but that is later on when I am better trained and more knowledgeable, and would get a small pistol for that. I am an older guy (60) on the short side with small hands.

Later training and interests would be in getting a shotgun and rifle to complete my personal defense package.

Any help/feedback is appreciated.


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November 29, 2008, 06:58 PM
Since carry is not really an issue, a 226 or full size glock in 9mm would be a good high quality start. Good Luck and keep us posted.


November 29, 2008, 06:58 PM
Personally I feel if the gun is going to be home defense/range gun then you will want the longest barrel available in the gun that fits you the best. You have a great idea to rent and feel the guns first to decide which one is right for you and you will probably find the gun you like in a 4-5 inch barrel. That said I would also budget for a 22lr pistol. It pays for itself with the cost of ammunition and is probably the best way to learn handgun/rifle skills.

Now to the inevitable questions that will come up.

What caliber : Really any service caliber from .38sp.+P or 9mm and up is good depending on your personal preferences. I choose 9mm because ammo cost allows a lot of practice, quality LEO only ammo has it on par with the other calibers, low recoil allows fastest follow-up shots and highest round count in the magazines.

Ak or AR : AK rules. They are both great and have bonuses to the others shortcomings but I love an AK. A russian converted is a 2 to 2 1/2in MOA rifle if you do your part and can even be better with handrolled ammo. If I was in the Army I would be fine with an AR but if your alone without an armorer and supplylines I choose the AK. plus it's cheaper for the gun and ammo and needs no real maintenance.

November 29, 2008, 07:53 PM
Thanks for the fast response and tips. So---you are saying that a 4" barrel would be OK???---Because that is mostly what I have been considering. That's a good idea to get a .22LR pistol, too. If that is what I do, then I'll go for a less expensive 9mm--probably not the Sig P226---More likely the Stoeger or XD/XDM.

November 29, 2008, 08:01 PM
For home defense I would go with either a 4 or 5" barrel.

I have heard good things about the Stoeger, since it is just the Beretta Cougar's old tooling. Also lots of great reviews of the XD.

I like my Browning Buckmark for autoloader practice on the cheap, I think I paid $280 or something.

Whatever you decide to do I'm glad you had a good, safe time at the range with your co-worker and it introduced you to firearms.

Have fun and be safe!

November 29, 2008, 08:13 PM
Just read the barrel length on the Stoeger Cougar is only 3.6", so I'm going to rule that out, since 4" is the minimum that is being suggested here.

Odd Job
November 29, 2008, 08:26 PM
There was a couple other guys at our 25 yd. range who saw I was new and wanted me to try their guns

That's the spirit, nothing better than sharing!

November 29, 2008, 08:50 PM
I was very impressed with the guys at this club range who were more than willing to help me with safety/handling tips, and encouraging me to try their weapons of choice.

November 29, 2008, 09:37 PM
the 22 is great to get going on, and great to go back to for trigger time on the cheap.

you can start with this and see if you can rent the 'finalists' on your list too, so that you choose what fits you best.

i have a full-size HK USP .40 and i'm looking at the XD in the 3" subcompact now, so i keyed in on your thread. also considering the glock 27. and small HK - all of these are 3" barrels, too short for what you want, but it comes down to trying what you're gonna buy.

i bought the HK to be my full-size HomeDefense/target gun and love it, 4.25" barrel, and being fullsized, less recoil than the small ones, so you're on the right path.

i'm leaning to the XD and your XDM looks impressive (i like the idea of the trigger safety like the glock yet the round-in-chamber and hammer position notifications) so if you start with your .22, in 30-60 days when you make up your mind, maybe your budget will be back up to Sig/XDM levels :)

you may be able to find one of these under $250 used


November 29, 2008, 10:28 PM
First of all, congratulations on getting into the sport, pastime, obsession we call gun ownership.

Training is a good idea for someone who did not receive this kind of education in the home or from close friends. Training can be fun, easy and a good pastime in and of itself.

Next, if we are taalking general gun use and ownership, first I would reccomend a 22lr, either a pistol, rifle or both. I say this because good shooting habits come from lots of shooting. A 22lr can provide you lots of shooting for cheap and with little recoil penalty. Recoil can cause problems in learning to shoot well which take years to overcome.

After a few thousand 22lr shells go down range, I would reccomend a 9mm for similar reasons. They are fairly cheap to shoot, have low to moderate recoil, but also allow the use of the handgun as a security tool.

The XD is a great gun. I own the XD40 myself and have no complaints.

Then, you may decide security is really what you are after. If so, I would suggest really working up to a 40 S&W or a 45 ACP. Sure a 9mm is ok, but a 45 is much more of a sure thing. Also, around that time, it would be good to look at a 1911. The 1911 has lots of good and bad said about it, but it is generally, the most accurate, fastest, most reliable and most powerful security handgun around. Sure, there are guns which beat it in each of those categories, but it ranks very highly in each.

November 29, 2008, 11:00 PM
get yourself a remington 870 18" shotgun for home defense and an XD 9mm for range work.

No handgun comes close to a shotgun with buckshot for home defense.

Plus, you stay within your budget if you shop around!

November 29, 2008, 11:00 PM
I'm a newbie too, and incidentally had my first range experience today too (with my own guns, a Mossberg Maverick 12 gauge shotgun & a Ruger SR9 9mm), it was a BLAST! Being a newbie myself, I can't offer much insight, but from everything I have read and been told by people far more knowledgeable than myself, shotguns are best for home protection for a myriad of reasons. Congrats on your first time.... I know I'm itching to get back to improve my aim (and just to have fun).

November 29, 2008, 11:03 PM
The CZ's are great pistols, as well are the Glocks. You will not go wrong with either. Best thing to do it talk to your buddy and get some of his friends to show you their guns. Maybe even get a little range time on some of them to see what exactly you like.

November 29, 2008, 11:22 PM
Don't necessarily rule out the Stoeger cause of barrel length. Most modern ammunition has barrel length in mind and you won't lose much effectiveness until you go below 3in..
I thought you would end up with one because they are usually larger sized handguns which have more weight for recoil, sight distance for accuracy and full size grip. That being said if the Stoeger fits you and you shoot best with it than that should be your choice. It doesn't matter if you have an extra 75fps velocity if you miss your target because your not the best with that gun or don't like to practice with it.

I agree with a shotgun being better than a pistol for home defense due to accuracy and power. I use a Glock 9mm as a bed-stand handgun for bumps in the night than I'm checking out but if I know there is a problem I am shutting my door and calling the cops after I retrieved my 12ga.
This though has to do with your specific situation. I have a lot of practice with a shotgun, but it's also probably the easiest firearm to learn to defend your self with in a barricading situation. I also do not have any children or grandkids (yet) and don't worry about locking up my guns that defend the home. This will change and if I cannot find a way to have it locked yet accessible then I would not be undergunned with a Glock 9mm and two fifteen round magazines that will reside in a quick-access safe bolted to my

November 29, 2008, 11:30 PM
Barrels approximately 4" long on semi-autos seem to be the sweet spot between concealability, power, and accuracy. In revolvers, 4" barrels are typical, but 3" barrels seem to have a cult following. I like 3" barrels because the charge still gets good burn time and the gun still feels balanced. The shorter barrel is a bit more convenient to carry. The reason is how the muzzle area of the holster interacts with your pants. When you sit, your pants will exert pressure on the muzzle area of the holster. This will tend to tip the gun back, causing it to stick out so a bulge can be seen (we call this "printing"). A shorter barrel won't extend down as far and not have as much pressure by the pants as they curve around your leg.

The short answer: Glock 19 with 2,000 or more rounds of ammunition.

The Glock 19 is chambered in 9x19mm. This is a decent self-defense caliber if you use modern jacketed hollow point ammuntion. Practice ammo is still reasonably priced (currently $8.97 at Walmart for 50 rounds of Blazer Brass). 22LR slide conversion units are available from Advantage Arms.

It's a very good gun for concealed carry. Its overall height with a magazine is approximately 4.75" and a narrow slide. Combine these features with the backswept grip, the gun has a reduced profile. The slide is not overly long but has enough distance between the sights for good accuracy (I do recommend upgrading to metal sights). The gun's capacity is 15+1 rounds with a flush magazine (and it can use Glock 17 magazines).

The best feature of the Glock is the trigger. People whine about it frequently. Frankly, mastery is just a matter of practice. Swapping the disconnector with a 3.5# connector smooths things out a bit. It has a very short reset. The reset is very important, but you'll need to learn about it on the range.

You may want to look at other polymer framed guns such as the S&W M&P and the SIG P250. You will find, though, that the Glock 19 is very difficult to beat in terms of balancing capacity, concealability, and controlability. The SIG P250 comes close in terms of size and capacity, but the trigger resets all the way forward. The S&W M&P either is too tall or too short with a squishy reset (which can be mostly remedied with a trip back to S&W for trigger work). The XD has a bulky slide and a goofy trigger (I happen to prefer the XD 45 trigger, which seems different than that on their 9mm guns). The primary disadvantage to the XD is the grip safety (mess up your draw and you'll find out why I don't like it). The full size gun is very large; you'll need to investigate the various models.

Don't get a 1911 for your first gun. It's an afficionado's gun and you should know what you're doing first. Read these:


The 1911 trigger is second to none...if tuned properly. The problem is the implementation of the gun by modern manufacturers. They tend to deviate from the standard and sometimes lack quality control. Be prepared to send it back for work. Everyone on this forum will swear up and down that their 1911 has never jammed...until they write up a complaint and swear they'll never buy Brand X ever again ;)

November 30, 2008, 07:53 AM
Thanks for all the tips~

It seems the best path is to get the .22lr pistol and once I have the initial training course, spend lots of practice time with it. During this period, I will then get opportunities to see and try lots of other handguns and will be able to get the one that fits right for me as a defense weapon.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I do not have 20-20 vision, even with my glasses on. It's more like 20-40 with right eye dominant. I was looking at getting some good night sights installed.

Will this change my choice of defense handgun? Any suggestions on the night sights?

November 30, 2008, 07:59 AM
You'll be able to install nightsights on any handgun your likely to get and which one is best again will bring a flood of personal choices but are all acceptable unless they are a knockoff or no-name brand.

Good luck and enjoy the range time, it's the most fun I ever had learning stuff.

November 30, 2008, 05:55 PM
I really enjoy my P01. You might also be interested in a CZ75BD

November 30, 2008, 06:32 PM
Good for you for getting into a great sport. It's great fun to get out with a buddy or two and hit the range for a while. We usually either start or end the trip with lunch at a nearby restaurant.

I too would recommend a .22 at some point, preferably early on, for fun and practice.

Have fun and stay safe.

December 1, 2008, 12:49 AM
I'll offer this perspective. I paid $210 for my .22 pistol. I pay ~$40 for 100 rounds of decent .45 ACP ammo. So for just 500 rounds of .45 I have a pistol to practice with using $12 for 500 a box ammo.

Maybe the dollars and cents of it are not a concern for you, but it's the almost same fun shooting a .22 as it is a bigger and more expensive round.

December 1, 2008, 03:11 PM
I'm really new to shooting as well but just from my first couple of months I'd have to strongly support the call for getting a .22 as your first gun and then get a 9mm from there.

I went with the 9mm as my first gun just because the opportunity to get it came up while I was still trying out different guns at the commercial range I shoot at the most. Certainly not a single regret about this (CZ SP-01 Shadow) but the costs for ammo are mounting quickly. So now there's a nice .22 on order. In the meantime I'm filling in shooting time between magazines of 9mm with two magazines of .22 shot from one of the range's pistols.

It has not only proven to be far cheaper this way but I've found that with the lesser kick of the .22 I'm able to concentrate on the shooting process. It's really helping with unlearning any bad flinching or "anticipation" pulling habits that I was finding I have with the 9mm.

The reason I went with the 9mm as my first gun was also my intention to get into IPSC and IDPA this coming year. Punching holes in paper is all good fun but the chance to run around and shoot targets at all sorts of ranges and situations just looks like far too much fun to pass up. Youtube is loaded with vids of IPSC and IDPA action. Check it out and join the fun. Arguably it's also good training for what could occur in a bad situation if you ever did have to use it for home defense.

Plastic or steel for the guns is the question that's left. Only YOU can answer that based on shooting a few. I had the chance to shoot up around 8 or 9 different 9mm's and soon decided I didn't like the light feel of the plastic guns. But I'll never carry (other than in an IPSC match) so these are range guns only and weight isn't the issue it would be if it was a CCW issue.

Bottom line is that one is NEVER enough. You have the big grin already and got to shoot a few options so you KNOW in your heart that this is the TRUTH! ! ! ! :D Just give in to what you know will be and plan on 3 to 5 to fill in the different "missions" right from the get go and there'll be a lot less personal angst involved..... :D

December 2, 2008, 05:42 PM
"Bottom line is that one is NEVER enough. You have the big grin already and got to shoot a few options so you KNOW in your heart that this is the TRUTH! ! ! ! "

How right you are. Thanks for all the input!

December 2, 2008, 10:16 PM
for $800:

Grab yourself a Ruger MK II or III that's comfy for you and pick up a Mossy 500 for HD.

As you grow more comfy pick up a larger caliber handgun. The .22lr will be great since ammo is dirt cheap and it's a great gun to bring other newbies into the fold with :)

February 22, 2009, 05:30 PM
Well ---- I ended up with a CZ P-01 9mm. So far, I've had two range visits and about 600 rounds thru it. It is extremely accurate, although I am not. My instructor has validated the accuracy with his shooting it. I can do OK at 15 yds. with about 6 in. groups. My first goal is to do OK at 25 yds, then I plan to research some better visibility sights as I am having trouble seeing the stock sights.

Thanks, folks, for all your help.

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