1st pistol


December 16, 2008, 06:44 PM
Alright, now first of all I know every gun nut has at least one 1911. They seem to be the be all end all .45. Tell me why 1911's are so damn great. I know why .45's are good, but I need first hand experience telling me that a 1911 is worth the extra $. I'm not that big a guy, so I'd probably want a slightly more manageable .40, but I've heard the round is unreliable and pops on it's own sometimes.

Also, what about a ppk? I'd love a small little gun like that as well but I hear that if they jam you're pretty much screwed in a life or death situation.

And what is a bersa, and is it worth it?

I want an all-purpose firearm, good stopping power, something that could even save me from the occasional mountain lion on backpacking trips and the like, but would also be good for target shooting or home defense. Compact is good, so I'd kind of like a Sig 229, but if a 1911 is more reliable, more accurate, and can drop more rounds quicker, then a 1911 it is. Also, cheap is good.

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December 16, 2008, 06:49 PM
I researched Bersa arms, and they seem great- but does a gun like Thunder 380 have complicated insides or are they reasonably simple to take apart and put back together?

December 16, 2008, 06:54 PM
Well, sorry, but I think I already answered my own question. I think I want a Bersa Thunder 380. If you've shot them before, give me some experience- does it recoil up like a beretta, or back like a glock? And I'd still like to know if you guys think 1911's are the best .45's you can buy.

If ther is any reason not to buy a bersa, please tell me.

December 16, 2008, 06:55 PM
There's nothing wrong with a Bersa, though I'd look to 9mm minimum. Unless you want to carry concealed, I'd stay away from the very small pistols. Go to a gun store with a good selection, or better yet, a range that rents guns. Go play with them, find what feels good at the right price then come back and ask our opinion.

December 16, 2008, 06:59 PM
The 1911 IS a great pistol... but you have to see if it is a good fit for you.
I have a fullsized Rock Island Armory Match. List is around $600.
My wife has a High Standard Crusader Compact 1911, it was around $430.
These are both great 1911s and have amazing warrantees.
My experience with the .40 S&W is that is actual has more perceived recoil than the .45. More snap to it.
Better is going to be up for argument.
The 1911 will have 8+1 with the proper magazines, you CAN get a high capacity 1911 that holds 14+1... but you need to be sure it fits you and your needs.
I could carry any reasonably priced pistol... reasonably for me is up to $1300-1500.
I choose to carry a $600 1911.
Why? I shoot it well, I trust the round, and I trust the pistol.
There are MANY different ways to choose a pistol, you can spread sheet it and toss out the ones that dont meet your specs, you can listen to opinions, you can choose to go for ones that were awarded gvmt contracts, you can choose what feels good, etc.
I think using a little of all of the above is the best idea.
It doesnt matter how great the pistol is, if you cant hit with it... it may as well be a brick.
If you dont trust it, you wont carry it.
If it isnt comfortable, to an extent, you wont carry it.
With ANY autoloader, if it malfunctions when you need it most... you could end up dead... this is one reason many still carry revolvers. I still do with regularity.

This is an important and very personal decision.
My suggestion, hit the gun shops and see what feels good.
Make a list of the ones that seemed to fit your hand the best and point best.
Then, try and shoot the ones on your list.

Good luck.


December 16, 2008, 07:10 PM
I don't think anyone builds what you are looking for. Take the mountain lion out of the picture and 9mm, 357, 40, and 45 will all work fine. The PPK is a 380 and if you realize the limitations, can be a good self defense round but not my first choice. The Wather makes a PPS that is chambered in 9mm and .40 s&w that is a fine firearm.

SigSauer's are some of the most reliable guns I have shot but the 229 is not that compact.

The 1911's are classics. They can be very unreliable depending on what kind of "upgrades" are done. On the other hand, a properly maintained 1911 is as reliable as anything and more accurate than most, they just don't take abuse like Glocks or XD's will.

I would shoot a variety of guns and calibers. I find that the 40 round in similar platforms has more recoil than a 45. The 45 is a much lower pressure round than the 40.

9mm is cheaper than almost everything else with the exception of .22.

As far as cheap being good? You do not need to spend 1911 money to get a good handgun. They are plenty of guns made my Glock, Springfield, Walther, Smith &Wesson and so on that cost way less. You will lose nothing as far as reliability or defense accuracy. But there is a point of too cheap. I would stay away from Hi point cheap. If you stay with your major brands you will find something that suits you.

Buy a 1911 because you like it. Don't feel like you need to spend the money on one to have a good gun. I bought a kimber because I like it. I still carry my GLOCK because it does everything a defensive gun needs to do.

December 16, 2008, 07:14 PM
What is a cheap, small 9mm or even .45 that might be more effective? What about snub nose wheel guns?

December 16, 2008, 07:19 PM
My wifes carry guns are the High Standard Compact .45 1911 and a taurus .44 model 445 snubby.
Both are good stoppers and not hard to conceal.


Jed Carter
December 16, 2008, 07:42 PM
It is my experience that a ppk in .380 kicks hard for such a low power round. Not a very comfortable range gun, not very accurate to only 10 yards and not as cheap to shoot as a 9mm. If you hike in big cat country then I would suggest a magnum revolver like a .357, revolvers are the most reliable handguns, can't jam, no safety switches to forget at the wrong time, and if they do happen to misfire, JUST PULL THE TRIGGER AGAIN!
Now for a complete reversal on my part I like semi-auto pistols, lots of bullets in a compact package... although most of mine are full size like the Sig 226 in .40 S&W, Glock 17 and 34 in 9mm and Glock 20 in 10mm. I would suggest the Sig 229 in 9mm for your first pistol a truly great firearm that is very accurate, and fun to shoot.

December 16, 2008, 07:47 PM
For a first or only pistol, I'd highly recommend a standard size or compact (not subcompact) autoloader in 9x19mm. Stay away from .40/.45 unless you have deep pockets or enough experience that you don't have to shoot much to become or remain proficient. Even .380 will cost more to shoot than 9x19.

Beyond that, the choice is yours. Ergonomics are a largely preferential thing, so what works for me or somebody else may not work as well for you. Moreover, shooting a pistol is one thing, but actually owning it is quite another. I've shot dozens of different handguns, but I don't know how any of them are to clean or live with on a daily basis, or how reliable there are over a given period of time, so the only pistol I can honestly recommend is the one that I own.

Also, if you can, try to shoot the pistol(s) you're interested in with the caliber(s) you're interested in before purchasing. I love the appearance, performance and ergonomics of my P229, but if I had to do it all over again I would have gotten the same pistol (or a P228) in 9x19 instead of .40S&W.

That said:

The PPK has a lot of natural appeal because it's an aesthetically pleasing gun with a lot of history (of course, Hollywood has done it a big favor as well). It's not a bad pistol, but it is a relatively ancient (i.e. quirky) design. A prominent example would be slide bite because the short tang on the back of the grip won't do much to prevent the webbing on your hand from riding up behind the slide. Quite frankly, I don't think the PPK has much to recommend it these days other than the cool look and ultra-slim profile - were it cheaper, I might change my tune, but given the price ($500+) there are far better choices out there - like the Bersa 380, or just about any compact 9mm up to that price range.

The Bersa Thunder 380 is very similar in appearance to the PPK, albeit larger and less than half the price. It's also a better design ergonomically. I don't think .380 is inadequate as a defensive round unless you expect to be shooting armored targets or bears, but it's certainly weaker than 9x19. You should know, however, that the Thunder 380 is actually closer in size to something like the Glock 19 than the PPK - thus, the PPK does beat it as a concealed carry pistol.

December 16, 2008, 07:54 PM
Definitely try some pistols before you settle on one. With the wide range of platforms, tasks, and calibers you're throwing out there, I don't think you know what you want. If you don't know what you want, we're just throwing ideas randomly. Please don't take that as me being nasty, that's not my intention. It's kind of like buying a car: decide what you need it to do, narrow it down to a few models in your price range, do a little reasearch, then do some testdriving.

Go out and take an intro level class from a professional instructor that includes some live fire with different firearms if possible. If not, try finding a range that rents and take along someone you know that can help you along.

If you're just getting started, a service sized 9mm like the Glock 17, Smith M&P, or Springfield XD is easy pisol to learn your way around, as close to guaranteed reliable as you can get, reasonably priced, and inexpensive to shoot. Keep in mind the smaller the pistol, the harder it is to shoot well and the more it's going to recoil in the same caliber.

In my experience, your first firearm almost never turns out to be the "perfect" firearm. After you shoot for a while, you'll figure out on your own what you like and dislike.

December 16, 2008, 08:49 PM
You just have to shoot one. You will either go "ho hum".....or fall in love.

December 16, 2008, 09:31 PM
I bought a Bersa Thunder as one of my first center fire pistols. Accurate, reliable, pretty sharp recoil.

I also bought a 9mm CZ75BD and put the Kadt Kit .22 conversion on it. Great combo. Shooting the same frame and trigger with 9mm and .22 gave me more shooting for less $. More fun, practice and improved accuracy. The Kadet will also fit on the compact PCR or the P-01. My P-01 is the gun I take with me all the time.

I've been on the mountain and in the woods with cougars, never shot one. I prefer a .204 Ruger or better, but would take a 9mm over a rock any day.

I spent a lot of time with 9mm and .40 before moving to the 1911. I shoot 1911 most of the time now, and have a nice Ciener .22 conversion for the same cheap practice on the regular frame. Also got a 9mm 1911 which is cool.

December 16, 2008, 10:38 PM
I love 1911's, anyone knowing me knows that. And in 45 ACP. Built a few, have a few. They can be very reliable if built right or not tinkered with. But for a general handgun for your wilderness walks, target shooting and home defense, it is difficult to beat a good adjustable sight 357 Magnum revolver. You can shoot 38 Specials, full magnum loads, loads abound for just about any need you may have. And handloading opens even more doors. If you got an L frame Smith and Wesson or Ruger GP100 or Security Six, you'd not be wanting.

If you are hooked on a semi auto, the Ruger P90 is a great 45 ACP, accurate, utterly reliable, affordable and you can't hurt it.

December 17, 2008, 07:38 PM
Would you feel underpowered with a 9mm handgun in a self defense situation?

I live in Cali, so I can only have ten bullets at the most in a gun.

December 17, 2008, 07:41 PM
Would you feel underpowered with a 9mm handgun in a self defense situation?

I live in Cali, so I can only have ten bullets at the most in a gun.

December 17, 2008, 07:47 PM
Would you feel underpowered with a 9mm handgun in a self defense situation?

not at all.....10 rounds of 124 JHP in a G-26 work real well

December 17, 2008, 09:50 PM
I wouldn't feel underpowered nor undergunned with "just" 10 rounds of 9mm. There are some very good 9mm rounds out there.

December 17, 2008, 10:44 PM
I want an all-purpose firearm, good stopping power, something that could even save me from the occasional mountain lion on backpacking trips and the like, but would also be good for target shooting or home defense. Compact is good, so I'd kind of like a Sig 229, but if a 1911 is more reliable, more accurate, and can drop more rounds quicker, then a 1911 it is. Also, cheap is good.

My suggestion; Ruger SP101 in .357 with a 3" barrel.

December 18, 2008, 08:11 AM
go to a gun shop and try out their rentals. any gun shop out there with rentals should at least have a glock 19, a compact 9mm pistol. start from there.

9mm is what you want if you want to go all purpose and low cost.

December 18, 2008, 08:13 AM
Ok ill be the evil guy that mentions the Sigma. Its cheap, was very reliable with real ammo (steal case stuff would jam every other round), and feels good in the hand for a $300 dollar gun. Its mag holds up to 16 plus 1 in the hole. Overall I like it better than a glock (weird personal bias), you can get em in 9 or 40. if you have $400 look at a 3rd gen Smith. They come in 10mm, or .45 which might make you feel a little safer, id have no problem with a 9mm (its what I carry) but id feel safer with a 10.

December 20, 2008, 10:42 PM
I was under the impression that a .22 is sufficient for self-defense and that it can kill a mountain lion or bear but you folks seem to be saying it isn't. Isn't 100 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy enough for this? Also, if you're looking for a 1st pistol and low recoil a .22 would be better. The 1911 is my favourite design but it comes in .22 also.

December 20, 2008, 11:30 PM
Going after a bear with a .22 is a good way to become bear poop.
With... and this is #1... "PROPER SHOT PLACEMENT" almost anything that shoots can be deadly.
A larger and/or more powerful cartridge is a better idea... IF you can hit with it.
Shot placement, then power.
If you are comfortable with the pistol, and have confidence in it and the round... you have a better chance of hitting with it.
I know that a .380 can be deadly.
I know that for some people a LCP is a viable option for carry.
No way in hell could I carry one.
It disappears in my hand.
It would draw blood every time I fired it.
In an emergency situation there is a damn good chance you have to fire it right after grabbing it... without much time to adjust your grip if it isnt right at first.
This is one reason I preach for people to look for what fits and what feels right.
Many people go for what the "in crowd" suggests... or what hides the best... or what has the most power...
None of that is worth squat if it doesnt fit you and feel right.


December 21, 2008, 12:15 AM
A .22 is not a reliable stopper for much beyond largish racoons and possums. It put such fare on many a table in days past, and continues to do so in some rural areas. But ask anyone who ever hunted squirrels and rabbits with one how far they had to track down even a raccoon after being shot by a .22 and then ask yourself if that would stop a man with adrenaline in his system from hurting you before any debilitating effects took place.

I shoot and carry 9mm or 38+p. My wife shoots .38's and .357's and carries the same. For all first time owners who are looking for an "all around" gun i always recommend a 9mm auto or a .357 revolver both in a medium size frame of whichever model fits their hands and pocketbooks.

December 21, 2008, 01:21 AM
Based on your requirements, I'd stay away from the 380s. Shoot a mountain lion with a PPK or Thunder and you'll only piss it off.

My suggestions would be a nice 9mm autoloader or a nice 357 revolver. But for now, sounds like you need to hit a range and rent as many guns as you possibly can find.

As for the 1911, yes, it is a classic and everyone should own at least one. 45acp is an awesome round but quite expensive compared to the venerable 9mm (same with the .357).

December 21, 2008, 02:47 AM
I wasn't suggestng hunting big game with a .22 but in a self-defense situation with a dangerous animal it would be at close range and the usual .22pistol has a 10-round clip and you presumably would be aiming for mortal areas. Would this not do the trick?
Also, I'm talking in terms of practicality, price, low noise, and low recoil.

December 21, 2008, 01:06 PM
If you don't care about ccw, what about competition pistols like the glock 35? Are there any other downsides to a longer barrel like that besides just size and weight?

December 21, 2008, 01:10 PM
Are there good, compact, 9mm revolvers?

December 21, 2008, 01:13 PM
Yes there are, they are called 38 specials:neener::neener:

December 21, 2008, 04:11 PM
Also, cheap is good.

If you're talking about Honda versus BMW, I'd agree with you. But when you're talking about a piece of steel that may well save the lives of you and your family, I humbly disagree!

Get yourself a Kahr PM9 for carrying around, and a Sig P229 40SW to protect the homestead. Good luck!

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