New to owning a handgun and wanted advice for one


October 21, 2003, 06:31 PM
I do a lot of fishing in remote areas of WA state and was wondering if anyone can give me some advice on hand guns that might keep me safe from bears or cougars...heck Bigfoot for that matter...;)

any good sites for how to clean them and maybe what the laws of handguns are in WA state......not sure if I need to have a conceal permit or how to go about getting one.......would prefere to carry it outside my body maybe on upper arm since I wade a lot in the water and don't wanna get it wet.

Thanx all


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October 21, 2003, 06:39 PM
First, ask the local shops about classes for safety and general shooting instruction.

Then you can probably ask the instructor for guidance on a gun. Or maybe the local hunters.

October 21, 2003, 06:41 PM
great thanx

October 21, 2003, 06:46 PM
First take a safety class. Then my advice would be get a small caliber handgun like 22lr and learn to shoot reasonably well. Then worry about a bear gun. No sense of having a big bore handgun if you can't shoot reasonably well. If you are a rifle or a shotgun shooter stick with those untill you get some practice with a handgun. But if you must have a handgun for bear 44mag would be my thought for a minum safe caliber and that would be loaded hot.

October 21, 2003, 07:08 PM
would prefere to carry it outside my body
I should hope so! :what:

October 21, 2003, 07:13 PM
What Peetmoss said! Get a .22, learn to safely handle it and shoot it well, THEN get a bigger gun.


October 21, 2003, 07:20 PM
.22 revolver to start and learn but if you "absolutly need" something bigger right now (and will learn how to use it safely) then a .357. You can load it for big game (cats, ?bear?) or if you're on the banks and you have poisonious snakes there, you can load it with snake shot.


October 21, 2003, 08:08 PM
Dann ..... may I suggest - spend some time playing with the board's search facility ..... maybe select one forum (handguns perhaps) ..... and think up some keywords relevant to you original question.

Believe me .. this is a common question and there is LOADS of info you can dig up ... be patient ... and read.

But for starters as said above ...... get a .22 to get ''handgun familiar'' ... then upgrade to bigger cal .. and tuition is useful too if any available round your parts.

October 21, 2003, 08:15 PM
I don't disagree with those that recommend a .22 first. That's great advice because it's easy to shoot, ammo is way cheap and hopefully you will shoot it often and learn to shoot it well. Those skills will transfer to centerfire handguns. It doesn't matter what kind of .22 you get, just get one that works.

That all said, I realize that some people don't have a lot of money to spend on multiple handguns. IF you can only afford to get one gun right now, I recommend a large frame stainless steel .357 Magnum with a 4" to 6" barrel. They will shoot .357 Mag. and .38 Special. These big guns are pussycats with .38, plus it's cheap ammo and an absolute ball to shoot.

However, don't even think about buying any .357 Mag. ammo until you've put a bunch of .38 special down range. Once you are safe, comfortable with the gun, can get 'em in the 10 ring with .38, then you're good to try some .357 Magnums.

Don't forget to pick up that .22 later though.

October 22, 2003, 12:59 AM
thanks for all the advice guys.....I am not actually new to weapons......I was in the militarty and have fired .45s and 9mm hand guns...had to qualify with them and have also had to shoot the m16 also....I grew up shooting 22 rifles but was just trying to get some advice on them.....I still would like to take a safety class like some of you have said to do.

again thanx


October 22, 2003, 02:42 AM
Since you are going to carry it while fishing and not actually hunting you will need a WA State Concealed Pistol License (CPL). There is no provision for open carry, but if you're backing a bear gun while out in the "wilderness" there should be no problem IF you have the CPL.

Just contact your local County Sheriff or City Police Department. They will give you an appointment for a fingerprint session and you go from there. It's $60 for the original CPL and it's good for 5 years. Since WA is a shall issue state you should have your CPL in 30 days or slightly less if you qualify.

I don't know where you are but there are lots of good ranges around Snohomish & King counties.

And by the way.....

Welcome to THR!

October 22, 2003, 08:34 AM
I am not actually new to weapons......I was in the militarty and have fired .45s and 9mm hand guns...had to qualify with them and have also had to shoot the m16 also.... In that case, take my post and everywhere that I said .357 or .38, change it to .44. ;)

October 22, 2003, 10:39 AM
I'm in Olympia

October 22, 2003, 11:10 AM
1st off, welcome to THR! Secondly, since it's your first handgun, I'd recommend something you can do alot of practice w/o much expense. Go w/ a nice 357 magnum revolver & shoot 38 specials. Then after you've gotten some experience & skill w/ it, move up to a 44 mag or 454 casull.

October 22, 2003, 09:43 PM
I'd say go with a 9mm -- Beretta 92FS, Vertec, compact type M or L, etc. Glock, Sig, H&K -- whichever is most comfortable. Ruger GP 100 or SP 101 can be fun too. Get the .357 and shoot .38's....:D

Standing Wolf
October 23, 2003, 12:13 AM
As one wolf to another: welcome to the High Road!

October 23, 2003, 12:47 AM
thanx again brother wolf.....:)

October 23, 2003, 12:48 AM
when you say Get the .357 and shoot .38's....are you meaning us .38 bullets for the .357.....??

new and

October 23, 2003, 04:32 AM
Yessir.... you can fire .38s out of a .357 ..... but not vice-versa!

Welcome to THR!

Jim March
October 23, 2003, 06:46 AM
OK, let's clarify some things:

When we talk about a "caliber" like 38Special, 357Magnum, 9mm, 45ACP, etc. we're describing not just the bullet width, but the physical size and shape of the case, the overall length, the max powder charge and other matters.

The 38Special is a VERY old caliber, dates to 1895. It is therefore bigger than it needs to be (originally designed for old-fashioned black powder which was weaker) and isn't a very potent round. Modern 38Spl fodder is loaded mild in case somebody shoots it in grampa's 1905 model or something. There's a "+P" type (extra pressure) that's safe to use in more modern 38Spl guns but it's still not a lot more heat in case, you guessed it, somebody sticks it in an antique (it may harm the antique, but it won't turn it into a hand grenade).

OK, cool.

In 1937, people realize they needed more power :). So the 38Spl case was stretched by 2mm to create the physical dimensions of the 357Mag, along with specifying a LOT more power on the 357. The goal was to end up with guns (357) that can safely shoot older/weaker kinds of ammo (38Spl, 38+P), but make the new hot 357 ammo too long to fit in, you guessed it, grampa's 1905 model :p.

Therefore, any 357Magnum gun you buy can also shoot the far milder 38Spl and 38Spl+P stuff. Which ranges from very mild target ammo that in a big gun won't recoil hardly at all, to 38+P which is snappy enough to use for personal defense (but do NOT shoot a black bear with it!) to a variety of power levels of 357 ranging from "medium hot" to "whoa!".

The very best heavy hardcast max-power hunting loads in 357 can be used for self defense against BLACK bear. Repeat: BLACK. Against Griz, it's way marginal unless you're one hell of a good shot and can plant one right on his nose, which is the weak spot for all bears.

Cougars on the other hand are nowhere near as tough. More or less any reasonable personal defense load usable on humans can put kitty in a world 'o hurt. Good 38+Ps can stop 'em; a good 357 will screw it up but good so long as shot placement is reasonable (read: blow a hole in his paw and he'll try and eat your butt).

Next point: you're going to need a double action revolver for this task regardless, and here's why:

First, it's a "grab and go" proposition, there's no funky controls, it's just "grab, point, pull trigger". When a bear is charging, that's about all you'll be able to cope with.

Second, the sort of bullet that can stop an AngryCritter[tm] is hard and solid with a big flat face...sometimes called a "wide flat nose hardcast", or some forms of jacketed soft points are good too. Point is, these bullet shapes don't feed well in semi-autos even if you buy one of the relatively rare and expensive autos that have enough power, such as the 10mm.

Third, revolvers capable of big power can also shoot milder stuff, because a revolver doesn't use the energy of the round to load the next one. Autos on the other hand have a MINIMUM required power level to mechanically operate the gun. So if you buy a 357, you can start out on mild 38Spl fodder that isn't going to give a newbie bad habits. If you want more gun and step up to the 44Mag, there are 44Spls that are relatively mild - esp. in a larger 44-size gun. With the crazy-hot 454Casull, which starts to be enough for Griz or Polar bears(!), it can shoot mild 45LC fodder. Buy a potent auto and "potent" fodder is all you can shoot.

Fourth, price/performance: a revolver costing about $400 such as the Ruger GP100 (a good mid-size 357 that can still handle very hot hunting fodder and is an EXCELLENT choice for 48-state woods carry with a 6" barrel) will give you more bullet energy than any auto costing this side of $700+. Good 44Mag revolvers can be had for about $500ish (Ruger Redhawk, etc.) and the power level can't be touched in an auto without spending SERIOUS loot up near $1,200 or more (Desert Eagle).

Upshot: the GP100 is a good general woods/personal defense gun so long as Griz isn't the issue...or both S&W and Taurus sell equivelent sized 357s. Ruger has a strength advantage though, if you're going to practice down the road with some "heavy wilderness survival loads". With the right holster, even the 6" barrel versions can be concealed-carried "on the street" with a CCW permit, or used as home defense...these are often cited by experienced folks here as "the one handgun that can do it all".

Final thought: 38Spl is the cheapest centerfire practice fodder you can get, often as low as $8 for a box of 50 (practice grade, the kind you'll shoot the most of..."good stuff" will run more, often up to $14 for a box of 20). 22LR on the other hand is WAY cheap - typically $12 or so gets a "brick" of 500. So lots of people buy 22LR guns that are similar to their "main gun" so they can do lots of economical practice.

Baba Louie
October 23, 2003, 09:52 AM
Fishing? What kinda fish and in what season?
Boating, wading or from the bank? Do you drive or hike in? Around water obviously, think Stainless instead of Blue.

Look for Police trade in S&W 65 & 66's for a good value arm in stainless. Or a Ruger GP-100. Since you have shot Beretta's and Colts nothing wrong with one of those either for cats. Bear on the other hand...throw a fish or two at em and ease away quietly.

I know Jim March said 6" and I do respect his knowledge but depending on type of fishing and amount of gear on ya, I'd be inclined to go with a 3" or 4" in a shoulder holster carry.

Heck, even a Mountain Gun in .44, .45 or .357 since lighter is gooder for carrying.

Shooting a lot is another story.


Jim March
October 23, 2003, 02:23 PM
The deal with 6" is that 357 is still marginal on black bear. It'll do, but you need all the "oomph" you can get...and the longer barrel drives the bullet faster.

If I knew the black bear in my area ran 200lbs or less (not uncommon in some parts, I might go with a 4" or even 3" barrel. But...some places, 600lb blacks are seen often enough that...well, I'd *really* want a 44Maggie, but a 6" 357 isn't THAT bad.

Ruger just discontinued a variant of the GP100 that has a 6" barrel but a smaller "underlug"...basically, the barrel is abnormally light in weight, and it handles/balances like a 4" gun but with a 6" tube. Really slick. You can still find 'em used or new/unsold, as they were just discontinued. Other than the barrel difference, parts are all the same so the discontinued thing isn't a downside.

Here's a full-lug version:

And the semi-lug:

It's all about barrel weight. The semi-lug will recoil a bit more, but is lighter to carry and has a wonderful light "feel" to it.

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