I am complete new to gun ownership and will be purchasing a gun within the next 7 days due to a spate of home burglaries in my neighborhood.
Do you have any advice for someone new to a gun?
I am thinking about getting a Glock g17 9mm. Does it have a safety? A friend of mine says it doesn't.
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April 25, 2009, 09:49 AM
My best advice is:
1.) Make sure that you are very comfortable with the function of your handgun.
2.) Since you are new to firearms, I'd recommend getting instruction that will teach you both gun safety and usage.
3.) Practice with your handgun.
I've read too many stories of Accidental Discharges. PLEASE consider the firearm loaded at all times. Do not aim at anything that you are not planning on shooting... EVER. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.
Buy a QUALITY holster. I prefer Galco's Summer Comfort for my Glock 19 and 1911. I've actually worn out and replaced one of those holsters.
I'll think of more on my second cup of coffee.
Oh yeah... next one:
Join the NRA and/or other Gun Rights Organizations.
No Glocks have what I personally would call a safety. They have a trigger "safety" but it really prevents something that would potentially snag the trigger from firing the handgun. As I see it, anything that would apply enough force to pull the trigger likely has enough mass to depress the trigger safety.
But this hasn't stopped me from carrying a Glock 19 for the last 15 years with no incidents.
Revolvers don't have a "safety" either. The best safety is the human being carrying/using the handgun.
April 25, 2009, 09:59 AM
wow, lots of advice! not necessarily in this order. get training! practice, practice, practice! brush up on your local gun laws, you do not want to use deadly force unless you have to. if you do use it, and the circumstances are not right, YOU will end up IN JAIL! if you have kids (or others that may be curious about the gun) you will need a way to secure it. a gun vault or something similar is a very good idea. since you have not bought the gun yet, and you plan to use it for home defense, you may seriously want to think about something with nite sights, or a laser. a good small flashlight can be very usefull also (to make sure it isnt someone you love stumbling around in the dark). and, DO NOT GO OFF HALF COCKED! no, not the gun, YOU! don even think you are going to be a hero. taking someone elses life is nothing to be taken lightly! no matter what the circumstances. i am sure others will post many other idea's for you. but seriously, get some training!
April 25, 2009, 10:44 AM
Find a local public range that offers rental guns and go shoot a variety of guns from various MFG. and of various calibers. If you have a buddy who shoots ask them to go with you and see if you can shoot their guns. I know if a non shooting friend of mine asked me I would gladly take them to the range and let them shoot my guns if they wanted to buy the ammo.
I would also suggest that for home defense nothing is quite as well rounded as a pump shotgun and they are fairly inexpensive.
si vis pacem
April 25, 2009, 11:38 AM
Learn the laws of your state and municipality. Internalize the Four Rules. Treat the firearm with respect. Remember that the biggest safety on a gun is its handler. Read the Bill of Rights. Practice! Practice! Practice!
Also, I recommend considering a pump action shotgun for home defense. Here in Atlanta we have a veritable wonderland of burglaries, and the 12 gauge gets a whole lot of respect.
April 25, 2009, 11:50 AM
First of all, Welcome!
I agree with everyone's advise about getting training (some places it's mandatory) and Practice, Practice, Practice!
BTW, Glocks DO have safeties (a total of 3), but they are internal and cannot be manually engaged (except the trigger "safety"). Go to the Glock website or any of the Glock posting boards if you want more info about them.
April 25, 2009, 12:14 PM
Yes, arm yourself, but do a mental check first. Would and could you actually shoot someone keeping in mind you should shoot to COM (center of mass) which will probably result in death? If you aren't sure don't arm yourself with a firearm. If you decide to get a gun after thinking of this, follow the good advice above.
April 25, 2009, 01:11 PM
Welcome to the forum.
I'll emphatically second the idea of renting and/or borrowing guns until you find the right fit. You can read about a gun, learn the qualities you want, and pick the perfect specimin. But until you actually hold it, point it, pull the trigger, you won't know if it will work for you. Unless you already have lots of experience with a Glock g17 9mm, don't assume it's what will work for you.
I learned this by experience. Last year I acquired, by inheritance, my first handgun - an S&W Model 642. It's an amazing gun. I fell in love with it at first site. I fell instantly out of love at first shot. Turns out, much to my surprise, I really need something larger and heavier.
To paraphrase Harry Potter, "the shooter doesn't choose the gun, the gun chooses the shooter."
ps: I learned a great deal just by reading hundreds of forum posts in "General Gun Discussions" and "General Handgun Discussions." Lots of food for thought there.
April 25, 2009, 01:44 PM
Most gun ranges I have been to offer an inexpensive "Introduction to Gun Safety" class of some kind, which includes firing one or more range-owned rental guns. Take the class. If you like the environment, sign up for a couple private or group home-defense-oriented classes, and use the expertise of the instructors to help guide you in your decisions. You will get lots of free advice for the asking.
I'd definitely do this before making a purchase decision. Try not to get married to a weapon acquisition before you have deeply explored the situations you are preparing for with professional guidance. It's not really about the gun, and locking in a preconceived desire too early can harm the training process you are about to commit to.
(Also: A danger in this path is that too great a concentration on the weapon itself as a fetish object -- and guns are very seductive objects -- can lead to poor decision-making that actually puts you and your family at greater risk. If you ever find yourself asking your instructor "When can I draw?" instead of "When do I have to draw?" you may have lost sight of the main goal.)
And did somebody already say practice, practice, practice?
April 25, 2009, 02:25 PM
I recommend that you read
"IN THE GRAVEST EXTREME - The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection"
by Masaad Ayoob
This will put the "fear of God" in you. If you ever have to shoot someone, nothing good will come of it. At best, you and your family will be no worse off than if the event/attack never happened. But, we hope, you'll be alive and not badly maimed. That's better for you than if the attack was successful (for the attacker) but much, much worse than if the attacker had never attacked. This is reality.
There are other good and interesting books. Also lot's of legal and political stuff to understand before you "deploy" a gun. A good start would be to read this web site, the whole thing, not just the book page (http://www.gunlaws.com/persafe.htm).
Having spread all that negativism on heavily, I must say that by Natural Law you have a duty (not a right, not a privilige, but a positive duty) to defend yourself and your family against aggression. There is NO WAY that in all situations you can rely upon the government to defend you, no matter how much some individual law enforcement personnel want to do so. In fact, to rely upon government to protect you in all situations is anti-rational. You cannot be a "reasonable man" and hold to that opinion. And our US Constitution, recognizing that reality (and also the reality that the government itself could be a primary threat), gives you your Second Amendement (2A) right to keep and bear arms (RKBA). The other thing the Consitution inherently recognizes is that free, productive human life and lives are valuable. This is the primary point of disagreement between normal people (you and I) and anti-gun types.
April 26, 2009, 12:41 AM
First, a hearty thanks to all of the advice you have given me. I will be sure to use the advice. I openly admit that I don't know anything about owning a gun. Yet because of that; I am committed to getting trained, practicing, and following the right rules/procedures/protocol with military-like discipline.
Thanks again and feel free to provide more information.
April 26, 2009, 12:43 AM
By the way, I will let you all know what I decide to get. I will be going to a shooting range within the next few days and then make some decisions. With the 3rd house on my block being burglarized in as many weeks, I have no choice but to make a good decision as expeditiously as possible.
April 26, 2009, 12:58 AM
Always a good read:
April 26, 2009, 01:20 AM
Being new to gun ownership, one of the first things I would suggest is to forget everything you've heard or seen about guns on TV. Go to the range, talk to gun owners and get a real feel about gun ownership, safety, and responsibility. Secondly, it can't be mentioned or stressed enough, practice and train, train and practice, as the others have already stated. In addition to the getting a gun, have you considered other measures, like getting a dog or a burglar alarm? If you can keep the bad guys out of your house to begin with, you won't have to use the gun. Never having to use the gun except for fun and practice is always best.
Regarding the Glock, it's a very good handgun in my opinion. The 9mm is a fine round. I prefer the .40 cal over the 9mm, but that's personal preference. Many prefer the .45 or .357, again, it's mostly personal preference, any of those rounds will cause a bad guy to stop and reflect upon his actions.
April 26, 2009, 01:21 AM
Competant professional instruction, not your cousin, but a pro NRA certified instructor in a classroom setting, best way to start. Second, the advice to try before you buy is outstanding - rent, and find what you like and works best for you. there
April 26, 2009, 10:43 AM
Welcome to THR, Blitz! The G17 is a fine pistol for home defense. As you'll come to discover, the Glocks are either loved or hated by many on these boards. The G17 was my first handgun and is the one I use for home defense. It does have safeties, but not the kind you "flick off" when you're about to shoot, as you were probably expecting. It has internal safeties that are all disengaged automatically when you pull the trigger. I like this configuration because you only have to remember one rule -- finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot.
I strongly encourage you to take a basic handgun safety course and learn the dynamics of shooting, and get a feel for handling your pistol. Bring the wife too, and anyone else who may ever handle the weapon with your permission. If you have children in the house, I'd encourage you to invest in a quick-access gun safe like the Mini-Vault (http://www.gunvaultsafe.com/minigunvault.html). You can keep your weapon in a loaded and ready state, without worrying about the kids finding it and discharging it by accident. It only takes about two seconds to open. I have one of these and I don't have any kids.
Welcome to the wonderful world of shooting sports! Your wallet will never forgive you!
April 26, 2009, 10:05 PM
Step#1 - make your home less attractive to break-ins than your neighbors' homes.
Step#2 - realize that owning a firearm will not stop a burglarly while you aren't home, but may add another gun to the black market. If you are likely to be burgled, you really should secure/disable any firearms you own. Some will tell you that it isn't ethically your problem if someone steals your gun - and to a degree, I agree - but you certainly don't want an effective tool to get into criminal hands.
Step#3 - gun shopping! (see below)Find a local public range that offers rental guns and go shoot a variety of guns from various MFG. and of various calibers. If you have a buddy who shoots ask them to go with you and see if you can shoot their guns. I know if a non shooting friend of mine asked me I would gladly take them to the range and let them shoot my guns if they wanted to buy the ammo.Good advice there. Rent and shoot, borrow and shoot - what works for you will become apparent after a few sessions, allowing you to narrow down the possibilities. On a side note, I've even provided the ammo and safety gear for people new to handguns. If you do have someone ask you to purchase ammunition for a range session, be sure you know EXACTLY what they want you to pick up - take an empty box to match with the important parts highlighted if you have to. I'm not implying that you are incapable of purchasing ammunition on your own, but I can attest to the ease of getting the wrong thing when you are new to the ammunition designations.I strongly encourage you to take a basic handgun safety course and learn the dynamics of shooting, and get a feel for handling your pistol. Bring the wife too, and anyone else who may ever handle the weapon with your permission.Good advice there also, you may want to just take the CCW course as well, if available in your area.
Thinking of CCW, home defense guns are not necessarily CCW guns - each requires a different set of compromises. You can go as large as you like for home defense, but it has to be comfortable for all possible home defenders to operate. A CCW, on the other hand, needs to be concealable, but you get to have YOUR top ergonomic choice. While some people do manage to get one handgun to do both jobs (actually, 3 jobs if you count cheap range time), don't get hung up on "the last gun you will ever need" when looking for a first pistol.
April 26, 2009, 10:09 PM
Welcome! Good advice from all corners.
My additional pieces of advice:
1) Don't get overwhelmed. bite-sized pieces will have you with a gun and putting shots on target in a month or two, and you'll be saner than if you cram all this learning into a weekend.
2) Read up on the legal and moral/ethical aspects of self-defense. I strongly recommend In The Gravest Extreme by Massad Ayoob, available on www.abe.com and www.amazon.com
April 26, 2009, 10:41 PM
my advice to you is before you decide on 1 gun, go out and try it at a range. in fact, try them all. every caliber and every gun has advantages/disadvantages.
9mm have pretty high capacity, from 15 to 20 with stock magazines. But they are smaller bullets, and some think they aren't effective(not me, just some)
Then there is the .40. Crossover between a 9mm and a 45. Actually has more recoil than both in most situations. capacity of 10-15 I think is the most I heard on a stock mag.
45's are what alot of gun snobs think is the god bullet. meh. I have a 45, but not cause its supposed to "vaporize" someone from getting shot by one. pretty popular anyway, and it is slower which lowers the risk of going through someone and hitting another. At a gun show yesterday I saw a 45 with 15 rounds on a stock mag. Double stack.
semi's have 3 different failure situations. More bullets to shoot though.
Revolvers are also tricky. If you get one with a snub nose(short barrel) then it will have more kick. Revolvers have less shots, but have 2 failure situations. Round won't fire, barrel won't turn. If the barrel don't turn, you don't have a gun.
But seriously, go find one you are comfortable with. go test alot of stuff out, and do your internet research! After I researched I picked my 45 and got it at a decent price.
April 26, 2009, 11:17 PM
Above, rbernie pointed you towards Cornered Cat... excellent advice. When I was new to guns (not that long ago!), Kathy's site was one of my most valuable resources. Still is.
Learning how to properly "dry fire" will be a great help to you in learning how to get a proper sight picture, pull the trigger, and follow through. This page (http://www.corneredcat.com/Practice/dryfire.aspx)at Cornered Cat will lead you through the dry firing procedure.
April 26, 2009, 11:32 PM
The Glock is an excellent choice. I have several Glocks and like them.
I wouldn't worry too much about the safety or lack of a safety on the Glock. Just keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Simple.
After you get the gun, read the instuction manual. Then read it again. IF there is none, they are available via the internet and probably Glock's website. Haven't checked.
Learn about gun safety. Learn to shoot what you are pointing the gun at. Learn.
Shooting a handgun accurately is harder than you might think. Practice. Take a friend who shoots with you and go shooting as often as you can afford for a while.
Hope you can find ammo. If you limit your looking to Walmart, you are likely to not find much. Hit the small gun shops and buy.
Get yourself an extra mag or two.
Get a case to carry it to the range in if you don't have a holster.
April 30, 2009, 10:12 PM
First, thanks again for all of the help and information you have given me. It's really good, sobering, and an important reality check.
Indeed, I have taken steps to make my home more secure and a more difficult target.
After spending the entire week or so thinking about it, trying different guns, and getting a feel for them; I decided to purchase the Glock g23 (.40 caliber). I like the way it feels in my hands. It's not too big nor too small.
There is still much to learn about it and I plan on going to the range, taking a course, and becoming knowledgeable and very comfortable using it.
Let me know any thoughts you may have about the Glock g23.
April 30, 2009, 10:27 PM
My first pistol was a Glock 17, It was a good gun for me and the only thing bad I could ever find about it was there was one particular brand of Ammo that it didn't like... thats about it.
Shot thousands of rounds through it and carried it with me through most of my travels around the Western US....
April 30, 2009, 10:33 PM
It hasn't been stressed enough IMO so I will say it again, learn the laws from a reliable source. LEO are not always reliable, they have a macabre sense of humor and may jokingly say something like "make sure you drag them inside after you shoot them", or "make sure you never shoot them in the back." A friend of mine actually got this type of advice from a local yokel and being a yokel herself actually believed it. Pistol craft is the easy part, shooting someone is something else.
April 30, 2009, 11:12 PM
Jeff Cooper said something to the effect of
'a man is not armed just because he has a gun any more than a man is a musician just because he has an instrument'
Take a basic firearms course.
Regarding handguns. They are hard to shoot accurately over any distance and don't have much power at all. The reason handguns exist is because they are small enough to be carried on the belt or in a pocket.
If you don't plan on carrying the gun in your pocket or on your belt, then please consider getting yourself a nice pump action shotgun or a nice rifle instead.
Check out the Beretta Storm Carbine, but honestly, a pump action shotgun is hard to beat for home defense.
May 1, 2009, 12:36 AM
Find a friend who you can go shooting with to learn the ends and outs. Someone responsible.
If you choose to use a glock pistol or any other firearm for that matter and you are a novice. Consider having the magazine loaded and inserted but leave the chamber empty.
You can chamber a round relatively quickly.
Treat a firearm as if it is always loaded even if you know for certian it is not.
Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction or at a target you intend to shoot.
Consider what is behind your target.
If you decide to use a long arm I would consider something with low recoil if you are a novice. Even a 22 automatic would be okay.
The reason I would suggest that type of rifle is because it is a good caliber to practice with to develop your marksmanship and will develop a level of comfort with firearms.
The most powerful gun in the world will not help you if you cannot hit with it.
May 1, 2009, 06:53 PM
Please consider a 12 gauge pump shotgun for home defense. It is a far superior choice over a handgun in many ways, not least of which is killing/stopping power.
A handgun is useful for carrying on your person. More convenient to carry than a shotgun.
Here's the best single resource for information for a new gun owner:
May 1, 2009, 07:04 PM
And the single worst source for information on guns is all the Movies and TV shows you've watched all your life. 99% of what you see on the screen is complete fantasy. There are no guarantees in firearms and in shooting someone. In real life unexpected outcomes are the rule and not the exception. Guns are not magic wands that make people do what you want or that kill reliably or instantly.
The more you learn and the more you practice the better your chances.
PS Welcome to The High Road. Be welcome and ask many questions.
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