What is the best gun maker? And what is the best gun?


October 11, 2003, 09:08 PM

I'm a newbie as you can see, but out of these makers:

Heckler Koch
Smith and Wesson

Who are the best makers out of that list? I'm I forgetting a maker? What are each maker's best guns? I'm looking into getting a .40 or .45. But then again, I'm a newbie who doesn't know anything. I don't want a revolver.


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Jim K
October 11, 2003, 09:23 PM
If you are talking .40 or .45 auto, you need to add Kimber, Wilson, Springfield Armory, Inc., Auto Ordnance, Charles Daly, and a few others.

Only a few Luger .45's are made, by custom shops, and they are very expensive, so rule that one out. (Only one or two original Lugers in .45 are known to exist; price if sold would be in six figures.) Rugers are rugged and reliable but bulky. Of the ones you list, my preference would be Colt for the basic 1911 type, Glock or SIG for a plain carry pistol.

I will say that you will have to decide for yourself, and I think you need more experience before spending money. If 100 folks answer your question, you will get 200 opinions. There is no substitute for actually handling, and preferably firing, a number of pistols. You might be able to rent guns at a local range, or go to the range with a friend and try his guns. But in the end it is your money and your choice.

P.S. Don't rule out revolvers on the basis of something someone else said or wrote. Try those also.


October 11, 2003, 09:26 PM
Hi. Your question is way too broad. If you're a newbie, you need to handle and shoot a number of pistols, preferably with instruction included. Have you shot a handgun before? If not, you need to get a lot of practice with a smaller caliber, and professional instruction. Also: do you have a price limit? Will you use it as a CCW, or car/home protection? Competition? Sorry- I'm not trying to be hard on you; it's just that buying a pistol for the first time is both very personal, and a huge responsibility.


October 11, 2003, 09:28 PM
If money is no object - probably SIG and Heckler & Koch would be at the top of the heap.

In terms of solid value though, the Rugers and S&W's are good choices.

The rest of them fit somewhere in the middle.

October 11, 2003, 09:33 PM
Welcome to The High Road Tim.

No definitave answers to your question...
Or too many good answers.
Don't cross off revolvers untill you can make an informed decision.

Where are you ?
How old are you ?
And do you want to go try out an assortment ?


October 11, 2003, 09:41 PM
And what do you want to do with the gun (home protection, CCW, target, competition, etc.)?

October 11, 2003, 10:32 PM
I'm sorry for the broad question -

i have never shot a handgun before. I do not want a revolver because I think I will use it for home protection and CCW.

My price range it $1k and below.


Ala Dan
October 11, 2003, 11:17 PM
Ditto what my friend C.R. Sam said!:D

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

October 11, 2003, 11:45 PM
Welcome to the THR timmerk!

"Revolvers for defence, semi auto for offence" - C. R. Sam
I've been waiting for a chance to do that :p

I don't mean to be anything but sincere, as we all are on THR when a newbie asks a question. We don't know your experience level with firearms. We at THR are heavy into "responsible firearms ownership". When I assisted in teaching, we strongly advised a student to NOT buy a gun until after the class was finished. We covered the 4 rules, had the students handle and learn the various platforms. Then at the range , we let students shoot various platforms ( ie, revolver, SA, DA/SA, DAO) in various calibers, all steel, alloy and steel, polymer.

Many students did not end up with the first gun purchase being what they thought they would buy. Many people whom brought a gun, or worse bought one ahead of time, even more worse husband, BF, wife, daddy...had bought them what they thought the student needed...Couldn't shoot the gun. Didn't fit, too much recoil, couldn't reach controls.

Advise to take a class, shoot before you buy. With a good used revolver the rest of the monies saved can buy lessons, ammo, good holster, belt. For the price of a semi mag, you have bought a box of ammo.

Just thoughts, toward "responsible firearms ownership".

October 11, 2003, 11:46 PM
For years I carried a .45 auto as a work gun.
But, I nearly always also carried a revolver for if things got serious.

Now I carry revolvers concealed.
And have em handy for home defence.

But, my primary home defence is a shotgun.

My thinkin....autoloaders for offence and revolvers for defence.

tis a personal thing.


(Edit...RE1973....we did it again. :) )

October 11, 2003, 11:49 PM
Ok I got it backwards...same idea, back to the lessons huh Sam? :D

:D edit, yeah Sam we did...

timmerk...basically it works like this, If I post then Sam...and many others here at THR...forget my advice and listen to them...;)

October 12, 2003, 12:29 AM
Hmm, ok, I won't cross out revolvers then.

How do I find out about classes? Do they let you try lots of guns out? How much do they cost approx?

I live in AZ.


October 12, 2003, 12:51 AM
re1973 speaks rite too.
Just tha so often lately we post at the same time, sayin the same thing.:)

Tim.....you have PM comin in a sec.


October 12, 2003, 01:26 AM
Welcome to THR!:D

Beretta and it's 92FS

October 12, 2003, 02:22 AM
The 92FS Berrata looks too big.

As for the Sig - do they have an English website to look at?

Would this be the order, from best to least in gun maker's then?

Heckler & Koch

I know it's hard to generalize, but I'm talking in general terms, anyhow. Where would you place Smith and Wesson? Are their guns any good?


October 12, 2003, 03:40 AM

The best way to go about it is trying as many as possible. But unfortunately that just isn't possible for most people. All the manufacturers you mentioned are top notch although there are certain models that are generally well regarded.

Stick with the full size models for they "tend" to be more reliable, more accurate, and easier to shoot for most shooters. That means you'll enjoy shooting it more and you'll get more out of it. Colt M1991A1, Beretta 92FS, Glock 17, SIG P220/P226, and H&K USP are all "safe" bets. S&W autos are generally good but they are not as popular (at THR) for various reasons. I'd suggest a 9mm pistol (for many many reasons) Unless you have an immediate need for CCW stick with the full size models then go to more compact models. Out of these models get the gun that most appeals to you. That could be just the way it looks or the name. And make sure it fits your hand. Trust me, they are all well made and the little minutaies of each particular model (that we discuss in THR) isn't going to make much of a difference right now. Whats more important is the time and money you spend on practice, ammo, and of course SAFETY.

Here's the American website for SIG Sauer:


October 12, 2003, 08:45 AM
Glad to see you're considering a revolver now. While I own both types, I'm a revolver shooter at heart. Don't rule them out simply because of capacity. Otherwise you'll depend on "spray and pray" rather than concentrating on shot placement.
As far as classes go...look in your local yellow pages (under guns). Contact some local ranges/clubs. Somebody there will likely be able to help you. The costs are broad. I've taken classes that cost $40 up to $1000. All depends on who, where, what. If you've never fired a handgun before. I'd suggest buying a smaller caliber (.22) first to help build skills and confidence. Then you can purchase a more suitable defense model later. For this route, I'd suggest one of the Ruger MKII or 22/45 models. They're very affordable, dependable and just plain fun. Also, with a $1K budget, you'll still have plenty of $ left to buy any of the other brands you mention.
What gun is better? All depends. Even your second list is too broad. All the big gun makers didn't get big by making junk. I'm not a avid fan of Walther, S&W, Beretta and some others but they still make quality models. Rugers are generally over built (strong), affordable, yet may lack the fancy details of others. Beretta, i think, is as popular as it is because of gov't contracts and people wanting to be like the military. If you go that route, look at Taurus. Same basic design with a frame mounted safety more affordable. Walther, I've never handled. I like the older modles but the new styles just don't appeal to me. Sig & HK...I own two HKs (USP & P7M8) and love 'em. Have never had a malfunction with either. The USP can be a bit large for some hands. I've also shot the Sig series a bit and have also never experienced any problems with any of them.
Best of luck!

October 12, 2003, 09:12 AM
Would this be the order, from best to least in gun maker's then?

Heckler & Koch

It's really hard to say. What makes a gun or gunmaker "better"? Is an HK better than a SIG? You could argue for days about that: A USP feels cheaper than a 220ST feels cheaper than a P9S feels cheaper than...

Beretta, Walther, SIG, S&W, and HK have all made some truly first-tier firearms over the last decade or so. They've also made more "budget-oriented" guns and have even turned out a few absolute dogs. Remember, the P7M8 and the VP70 come from the same gun maker, so do the Performance Center 945's and the Sigma .380's.

October 12, 2003, 10:49 AM
I'm a newbie who doesn't know anything. I don't want a revolver. Hmmm...

Know what? Go to a range and try out several. Whatever fits you, that's your gun. No matter what we say, it's really up to you.

I chose HK's USP, but there are a lot of other equally great choices from the makers in your list. I wouldn't feel undergunned with a P226, 92FS, P99, P95, 4006, PT92, 686, or a GP100 in my hand. :cool:

October 12, 2003, 10:52 AM
While you can't shoot everything there, you might consider going to a gun show where you can handle a wide assortment of handguns in one spot. You can then narrow your search to what feels good in your hand and has the features you want.

October 12, 2003, 02:33 PM
Timmerk- if you want to learn how to shoot, and to do it safely, you should contact the NRA. Try their website. An NRA safety course will let you handle many handguns, under trained supervision, and you will leave with the confidence and ability that you need.


October 12, 2003, 03:03 PM
Vist http://www.nrahq.org/shootingrange/findlocal.asp?State=AZ and find a range that rents guns near you, and rent as many different types of guns as you can. We can tell you what we like until we are blue in the face, but it really comes down to what works for you.

October 12, 2003, 03:05 PM
You have already received some excellent advice from some really knowledgeable people. Read what they have written, give it some serious thought and then make your choice.

Let me give you something else to think about. Although you identify yourself as a "newbie" have you given any serious thought as to where your interest in guns might take you? Might you become a serious shooter; and ardent hobbyist, etc? If it looks like more than a passing interest then do some research (you have picked an excellent place to start) learn about and learn to use both pistols and revolvers. Above all else become a competent, safe gun handler/shooter. As I said, give it some thought. Good shooting;)

Mike Irwin
October 12, 2003, 04:22 PM
Which religion is best...

Which actor is best...

Which book is best...

Which car is best...

With some exceptions, there's really no such thing as "the best manufacturer."

It's too broad a question.

A better question, one that might bring you more joy in the long run, is to take the advice you've gotten here and go out, rent some guns, and find out what is best for YOU.

October 12, 2003, 04:26 PM
My 2 cents.
Buy a .22 pistol/revolver.
They're cheap to buy, cheap to shoot.
Get a membership at a local range.
Sign up for a basic pistol course, the NRA basic firearms in the home course is excellent.
Shoot at least 100 rounds of .22 a week.
Talk to people at the range, ask to handle/shoot what they have.
Explain your situation, I'm sure that most of them will be more than happy to help you out with basic gun questions, and to at very least handle what they are shooting.

Don't rule out anything until you have shot it, and find that it's not for you.

Don't let other people tell you what gun you want.
Don't let other people tell you what gun you need.

The same advice applies to caliber selection, manual of arms, and practice techniques.
Keep asking questions, keep shooting and handling other people's guns, and keep learning all you can.

After a while, you'll be cranky, opinionated, and informed as to exactly which gun, caliber, etc. , and won't settle for anything less.
Until then feel free to ask questions and learn from our mistakes, rather than to try to make them yourself.

Welcome aboard!

*Edit for grammar*
Also, the search function and the archives are a very good source for info that has been discussed ad nauseam.
Archives being the previous meeting place of most of the people you'll meet here, http://www.thefiringline.com/

October 12, 2003, 05:33 PM
Thanks everyone! These are some excellent replies and I am going to try a bunch of guns out first and take a few classes!

Thanks again!

Black Snowman
October 12, 2003, 06:26 PM
Listen to Caz223. If your range has rentals that speeds things up quite a bit as well. Around Kansas City rentals average $5 a session.

To answer the title question,
SSK single shots are just about impossible to beat for reliability and accuracy. :)

October 12, 2003, 07:02 PM
Also, I see that you're a THR forum newbie as well.
There are many very knowledgeable people here, and a few full of hot air and bullstuff.
I just hate to name names (I always leave someone out, and for that, I'm sorry.), but there are a few people who always seem to offer sage advice, and just generally are on top of things.
C.R. Sam, Mike Irwin, Ala Dan, Lunde, Tamara, Stephen A. Camp, and many others have helped me out immensely in the past, and if they offer up their advice, treat it like gold. Good advice seems to be in short supply in this day and age. Please don't be offended if you weren't included in the short list, if I had to list everybody that has helped me out, it would take a lot more time than I have.

October 12, 2003, 07:28 PM
For what is worth, when i started thinking about concealed carry and purchasing a firearm i didnt got to a gun store, i went shooting. I have a number of friends who collect and my father is very "into" guns. I must have shot roughly 15 models before deciding on what gun i wanted. My criteria was pretty simple, i wanted something that fit my hands, had a mild enough recoil that it wouldnt intimidate, be small enough for concealed carry and preferably be in 9mm.

I tried a glock, walther, makarov, beretta, 1911 and variouse others and after a while settled on a Beretta Cougar in 9mm. Of all the guns i tried it had the most "pleasent" recoil and fit my hands really well. Im a 120lb female however, and that is probably not the right choice for you. Shoot as many guns as you can get your hands on before buying, its no fun taking a gun to the range and realizing that you just spent a couple hundred on a gun you cant fire.:banghead:

If you dont have friends and family to help in your search then go to ranges that rent guns, its a little more spendy but well worth your time.

Baba Louie
October 12, 2003, 07:43 PM
Welcome timmerk,

Boy, ask a simple question... :D you'd think you'd get a simple answer, no?

As others have stated there are Several Categories and calibers worthy of consideration:

Plinking... some form of .22lr (cheap to shoot, easy to learn, minimal recoil, you'll practice a lot as a result) Ruger or Browning make good semi-autos in this category (as do others). Revolvers by S&W, Ruger are good.

Centerfire... both semi-automatics and revolvers... several calibers...

target shooting...(and self defense)... can't go wrong with a S&W Model 10 (Revolver) in .38 special with a 4" barrel, it can also help protect house and hearth and Cops carried them for years. Then there's the .357 magnum, developed back in the 30's. Its a .38 with a longer case, holds more powder and as such makes a bigger bang and these bullets travel a lot faster. Almost always a revolver (but for the Coonan and maybe one other no longer mfg type of Semi-auto) Cops carried these and loved them (some still do). Not exactly cheap to shoot, but they will take the .38 special round so you can shoot them on the cheap. Colt, S&W and Ruger make good ones. (as do others)

...also some form of 9mm (usually a semi-auto) as ammo is relatively inexpensive. Too many good makers here to list but middle of the road variety types would include Glock, Beretta, Ruger, S&W and Sig. Some cost more than others, some are ugly, some are clunky, some cost less, some feel better in your hand (tho not necessarily mine), some have fixed sights, some adjustable sights... Cops switched from Revolvers to hi-capacity wonder-nines in the 80's but the Clinton era hi-cap magazine ban kinda put the skids on that (tho Law Enforcement and Military can still buy new hi-cap mags). Uncle Sam uses the Beretta 92 (called an M9 in the military). The Luger was probably the most famous 9mm semi-auto.

The .45 has been around for awhile now and its a good one. If I was going to war, I'd want one (I have several). Costs a little more in way of ammo than the 9mm. Makes a bigger hole. Colt, Sig, H&K, Glock, S&W and others make them as do others. The grandaddy 1911A1 used to be only (mainly) mfg by Colt, but there are so many mfg of 1911's now you could write a book on them and there'd be another maker by the time your book got published. Its hard to go wrong with a 1911 in .45 acp

The .40 S&W (where to begin?) is a 10mm round sized to fit in a 9mm format firearm. Bigger than the 9mm, smaller than the .45 (about an 11 1/2mm) Beaucoup makers. Ammo is not really cheap. Lotsa Cops going to that round.

Hunting? Cowboy? Collecting? .44 magnum, .44 special, .45 Colt and others... mostly wheelguns.

CCW? Small is good. Kahr, little Glocks, S&W and Colts, Sigs, Berettas all make good smaller sized (whats the derogatory buzzword that HCI used "Pocket Rockets"?)

Well, you can see the dilemna when you ask "What is the best maker/gun?"

The safe and best answer is, get one of each eventually. Then you tell me.

Spend a weekend looking back through the threads here and on The Firing Line, spend a week or three shooting and asking obnoxious questions at the range and at gun stores. Check out prices at www.gunsamerica.com to see what costs what, new or used.
Let us know whatcha get whenya get it.

And did I say Welcome? I like simple questions timmerk, keep it up. Just don't ask which is better, the 9mm or the .45?


Bullet Bob
October 12, 2003, 08:35 PM
For 1K, you can get a great used S&W Model 17 .22 for about $300.00, so you can learn to shoot affordably, and still have enough left over for whatever you decide is best for you in a bigger calber.

October 12, 2003, 08:38 PM
Do you have a link for the SW model 17? It's not on their page that I can see.


Baba Louie
October 12, 2003, 09:43 PM

Look for the Model 617 (the 6 means stainless steel)



edited to add link from GunsAmerica
might be more than $300 as you can see.

October 13, 2003, 12:30 AM
You mention some fine makers that make some fine firearms. The thing is that the performance of the firearm is also dependent upon the shooter & how well that firearm fits that person. Granted some guns will generally be made to a higher standard & withstand more punishment but as long as you buy from a quality manufacturer, you'll be okay w/ your selection.

October 13, 2003, 12:47 PM
I think you also are leaving out quite a few fine makers. It really all comes down to what you feel most comfortable with. I would certainly suggest as others have to take some time trying out everything you think you might want. You will find some of them just don't work for you.

IMHO, I would suggest checking out the CZ 75B. The 75b offers you a stone cold reliable 9mm on a very proven and often copied platform. If you get one of the CZ 75b's you can also get the Kadet Conversion Kit for about $200 more. This will allow you to shoot 9mm and .22 on the same platform.

So for $1000.00 you can get The CZ 75b, the Kadet Conversion Kit, about 5000 rounds of .22, 1000 rounds of 9mm, a nice holster, and probably even take an NRA basic handgun course.



October 13, 2003, 12:52 PM
CZ offers several other options such as the P-01, 85b, 97b, the 83 and several others.

October 13, 2003, 12:54 PM
You can also check out the CZ website at: www.cz-usa.com


October 13, 2003, 03:36 PM
Even though this is a broad question with little data to base an answer on, I will attempt to do so.

Get a 9mm. It's a good caliber for a newbie, cheap for practive, easy to shoot and effective. If you want a CCW, guns in this caliber are plentiful and small enough to carry.

Now that you have a caliber narrowed down, you need to pick up and feel each gun. Glock, SIG, Beretta, Kahr, etc are all good brands. With your budget, you won't have to skimp and pick a bad one.

For a revolver, a .38/.357 of course. S&W is my preference since you have the budget. Model 66 is a good one for shooting.


October 13, 2003, 06:27 PM
I apologize for my forum mates. Welcome to the THR. As a newbie you are expected to provide ammo for the next forum shoot.

The question you just asked is perhaps the second most devisive question you could have asked. The first being, "Big and slow vs small and fast."

You are a NEWBIE! That is a term of honor because it means you have the opportunity to do it right. So many of us did it the hard way. So many ways to do it hard. Things like buy the biggest caliber and ingrain the mother of all flinches into your brain. It takes years to overcome that particular mistake.

You may start wanting to throw lead down range. Sooner or later that will pass and you will want to get good. By that time all your mistakes will become evident because you practiced wrong. Shooting is like golf. You can pick up the fundamentals but you will never achieve your potential. Put yourself into the hands of a professional and listen to what he // she says. Shoot a variety of platforms. Spend a chunk of money shooting your way around a rental board. Pay attention to the price of ammo because that is the major cost of gun ownership. Example: 9MM goes for $5.000 / 50 rounds while .45 ACP goes for $14.00 / 50 rounds and .22LR goes for $10.00 // 550 rounds.

Another thing. One gun ain't never enough. You will figure out there is fun in having different platforms and calibers.

Good luck and good shootin'.

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