looking for first handgun!


September 9, 2009, 11:03 AM
I want to get a handgun. something low maintence because I am a begginner. needs to be under $1000. something with knockdown power that wont take my hand off. (not very big hands) any suggestions?:confused:

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September 9, 2009, 11:15 AM
From your list of requirements, my recommendations, except for "knockdown power" since handguns aren't normally powerful enough to knock people down...
Also, it depends on whether you are going to carry or not regarding the size you should get.

- Glock 17 or 19
- Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm
- Springfield XD 9mm

- Ruger or Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum or .38 Special

September 9, 2009, 11:32 AM
I'm about 4 months ahead of you on that question. Best response I can give is
go to the range and rent, rent, rent till you find the one(s) that feels best. I also would suggest starting with a .22 and 9mm until you get "used to" the "kick" before you step up to a .40, .45, etc.
My daughter has settled on the Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm, and I'm still shooting a bunch of different .40's.
The Glock 19 and 23 are nice, compact carry/range guns to start, for ME!

September 9, 2009, 11:44 AM
I subscribe to the school that generally a .357 revolver such as a K frame, or Ruger GP100, or similar is a great first gun. Whatever fits your budget and hand... You can buy factory loads to do everything from practice/plinking with little recoil (.38 wadcutters) up to big hard cast .357 rounds for dangerous critters with everything in between.

It is probably the most versatile caliber.

September 9, 2009, 11:52 AM
Since you are setting a thousand dollar limit, why not get a used S&W .38 Special and a less expensive but reliable 9mm like a Ruger SR9. For a total of 850 to 900 bucks you can get both a revolver and an auto. Neither gun is a heavy kicker. Of course, a .22 might be indicated as well.

September 9, 2009, 11:59 AM
CigarGuy has hit upon it, find out what fits you and you'll know much more about what is the "best" gun for you.

How well a handgun fits has a huge influence over how well a new shooter does with the gun, how much recoil the new shooter is comfortable with and how enjoyable the shooting experience is. The better the fit the more recoil can be comfortably managed and the more accurate the new shooter is.

You can search for handgun fit here at THR or you can go to corneredcat.com for a good "article" on how to fit a handgun.

Go to a range with a wide range of rental choices and find what points naturally for you and that has a comfortable grip width and reach to the trigger. Try it out in progressively larger calibers starting at 9mm to see how much recoil is comfortable. Now you have an idea about the type of handgun and caliber you're going to be most comfortable with starting out.

You may find that a relatively inexpensive CZ-75 is a perfect fit or a 1911 or even a revolver, but get what fits instead of what someone on the internet or in a gun shop tells you to get without regard to fit.

September 9, 2009, 12:11 PM
Mooching from friends is better than renting. Not all places will let you switch from one gun to another without charging extra (maybe if they are charging you for a lane + ammo anyway). Rental guns tend to vary in upkeep and cleanliness. A grimey gun will give you a false impression. If you live by a clean, cheap, well-managed gun shop, then renting is ok.

If you are going to rent, try talking to the manager. They might agree in advance to waive the rental fees if you buy a new gun from them afterward.

My opinion-
a 22lr autoloader (to learn good technique and have fun)
a Glock 19 for self-defense.

September 9, 2009, 12:34 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // I agree with renting till you find something you like.

You can't get any simpler than a revolver.
Imho 6" + barrel for hunting ;
4" - 6" barrel is best for HD/ Target,
3" and under for CC

I used to shoot 44. mag but now prefer 357/38

Ammo is slightly cheaper and 38. rounds are fairly plentiful in almost any flavor you/you firearm like. 357 rounds are another story.

If buying used check the tips in Revolver sticky on how to check out firearm.

If mainly target 22.lr and 9mm are probably least expensive to shoot and easiest rounds to find.

It does save money in the long run to rent or borrow several types. You also have the added benifit of KNOWING you have made an INFORMED decision. Informed by your own hands, brain and shooting style.

Hope you enjoy the search and find whats right for you.

P.S. don't tell anyone but S&W support is outstanding ( if you ever need it) .Definately worth the extra change for S&W. Did I mention I vote S&W?

September 9, 2009, 12:52 PM
I'd suggest a 4" DA 357 revolver (Ruger, S&W, or Taurus). You can do just about anything with it and it has a wide range of power levels in ammo commercially available to suit your skill level and needs. If you learn how to use a DA revolver well everything else is easy.

R.Ph. 380
September 9, 2009, 01:25 PM
I carry a Bersa Thunder 45 UC Stainless everyday. Accurate and reliable to a fault, I trust it 100%. While the Stainless is no longer available, The Matte,Duotone and Satin Nickel are and they carry great both IWB and OWB. List for about $350.00 and you've got 650.00 left for ammo and Holster costs. Best of both worlds.


PS: Might look here for further info: www.Bersatalk.com

September 9, 2009, 04:26 PM
Mooching from friends, indeed -- or renting. Either way it's well worth the time and expense to ensure that you find the right gun for you. And the only way you'll do that is by testing, testing, testing. Be patient, be open-minded, and pretty soon you'll find a gun that best fits your hand and eye.

September 9, 2009, 05:14 PM
I've only owned my guns for a few months and was recenty in your position as what to get. After browsing here and having a long chat with some friendly folks at my local gun shop, I settled on a Beretta U22 Neos for my first. Had it for about a month and put about 2000 rounds through it.

Once I was comfortable with that I purchased a Beretta 92fs in 9mm. After a few hundred rounds through that I picked up my latest which is an EAA Witness Match in .45ACP. Also had the shop install a laser on the factory rail. It now resides in the biometric safe next to the bed.

Of course, others have made excellent suggestions here as well. But the route I took worked well for me. Having the .22 to learn with was very helpful.

September 9, 2009, 05:28 PM
there are many options out there for way under that price range. i suggest that you buy one of the ones listed below, and take a training course. what you get from a good training course will pay foward 100 fold in your preperation for using that tool in defense of yourself or someone else.

i suggest
sa xd (mine has over 16,000rds and still going strong)
glock 19

can you tell that i am a poly gun fan? i am why? they work. all though there are also many handguns out there that will do you just fine that aren't polymer. more than anything you need a gun that you are comfortable with as you will inhherantly shoot better with if you are comfortable, something that is accurate enough at realistic defensive ranges, and 100% reliable.

the gun that you use or have is not so much what is the most important and it falls into the last of the 4 prong approach under gear of the mindset tactics skills and gear, the gear that you are using is less important than the 3 before it, this and the fact that you stated "knock down power" is a couple of the reasons that i suggested that you get professional training, so you can get that mindset tactics and skills you need to win the fight. as well they will be able to dis spell alot of the common misconceptions about things that people have heard or believe that are simply not true. as far as knock down power, you want to have a handgun/ tool that you can shoot accurately, to get the hits that you need and get them fast, the goal is to achieve the most damage to the central nervous system as quickly as possible to stop the threat. generally in the high center chest region of the tgt. as well professional training will bring to light alot of factors that you might not have previously considered. that can not only assist you in the fight but the aftermath that will follow.

for info on great courses to take, or instructors send me a message and i can talk to you all about it.

i have been shooting/ training in the military/ civilian sector for a while however i can never get enough from training and i will continue to train and take courses as much as time, money and the army will allow me. i will never be good enough and i will continue to train for the fight of my life until i die.

i don't want to hijack the thread no more than i have, so if you or anyone else has questions about training, drills to conduct( i have a book that i comp elated with hundreds) , courses to take, instructors, or the importance of training let me know in an email or message and i will help you out.

September 9, 2009, 07:02 PM
Purchase any of several semiautos, CZ75, SIG, Glock, etc with a .22 conversion kit.
This will permit you to practice at low cost with your "serious" gun.

It is not buying guns that is expensive. It is shooting them that is expensive.

September 9, 2009, 09:27 PM
Agreed with above, rent rent rent, shoot as big a variety as you can. Then pick what caliber you want, then decide whether you want a semi-auto or a revolver. Really think about what you want to use it for, home defense, plinking, for carry, sitting pretty in a safe, etc. Factor in bullet capacity, do you think you might want it to CCW later on and will that suit your needs as well as pistol size and weight?

I say don't worry about brands yet there are so many and so many models it can be overwhelming for a beginner. Find your caliber, handgun type, what size you want, THEN look at the companies that sell something that fits your needs. I know I'm gonna get some backlash here but don't get caught up in brand whoreing. Some people say metal frame guns are better some people say polymers are better, semi vs revolver, 9mm vs 357, etc, etc. Some arguements are valid while some are just opinions playing to THIER personal favorite. Some people swear by Brand XXX and some only buy Brand YYY and NEVER Brand WWW. Remeber this is YOUR gun, so it's your choice. When you figure out your criteria and focus is narrowed down to what you want, ask the plethora of knowledge of the guys here and you will get decades of experience and knowledge in some serious sound and reliable advice.

September 10, 2009, 02:20 PM
I got a CZ 75B a year plus ago, for
something in 9mm Luger as it's less expensive
than .45 ACP for the range - I find the 75B
very accurate, reliable, and easy to disassemble
/ assemble for simple cleaning A 75B is a
bit over $500, and the Kadet kit is a .22 LR
conversion for($325?) 00 a good learning option with
little cost for the ammo compartively speaking.

Handle one for size for your hands - put it at
hafl cock for the DA pull length as it would be
loaded.not with the hammer all the way down.

and hopefully you have taken or will take a course
for thorough knowledge and safety in handling a


September 10, 2009, 03:16 PM
Another vote to rent as many as possible until you find what is most suited to you. For under a thousand you can get a good centerfire handgun. 22lr for cheap practice of the fundamentals and also magazines and ammo.

September 10, 2009, 03:35 PM
I firmly believe that everyone's first handgun should be a .22. Most shooters can't afford a sufficient amount of ammo to learn to shoot well when buying center-fire ammo. I would suggest buying a .22 and a .357 revolver, and a good supply of .22 ammo. The skills of sight alignment and trigger control are readily transferred between the two. Good luck

September 10, 2009, 04:05 PM
You need to feel them all up and shoot some if possible.

My wife and I just purchased our first. We wanted something that could be concealed and do home defense for now until we can afford another.

I narrowed it down to the Taurus 709 slim, Glock 26, Kahr PM9, Ruger LCP, Taurus P111, Springfield XD Sub compact.

The Taurus 709 fit her worse than the Glock 26 and the 26 actually fit her fairly well but is a little big for a petite woman to easily conceal. The ruger lcp is very small so no issue there we just wanted a 9mm to start. I ruled out the springfield since I did not like it as much as the Glock 26 once I could hold them side by side. The Taurus P111 was ok but really is just a more econmical version of a Glock 26 or XD SC and cost was not my primary concern.

Then she put her hands on the Kahr PM9 and she said it was perfect.

My point is that I was surprised once she handled them. She has very small hands. I did not expect the 26 to work at all since it is a double stack and thought the 709 would be fine.

So, go handle some and see what you like. Everyone says it, but now after my experience with my wife, I am convinced that is the right answer.

September 12, 2009, 06:25 PM
ok what do you guys think, a Taurus 66 .357 Mag matte stainless steel finish or a Ruger GP100 .357 Mag stainless steel finish? both would be brand new.

September 12, 2009, 06:56 PM
I'd get a used smith 1st, the ruger gp100 second and the taurus 3rd. look hard at a used ruger too. they don't break or wear out so are a safe buy used.

Taurus gets a bad rap for having a higher percentage of lemons than other manufacturers, but I have had great success with mine. I have a ruger security 6 (predecessor to the gp100 and some {not me} argue a better gun) and it works great, but my smith has a much nicer trigger. GP100 and the 66 will sit differently in your hand, which did you prefer when you held them? If you're going to run 357 through the guns, you will enjoy a 6" barrel more, unless you decide to carry it. I"d recommend shooting mostly 38's. cheaper and more pleasant to shoot.

September 12, 2009, 08:36 PM
I'm no expert but I have heard that .45s have the most "knock down" power with manageable recoil. I have tried a .45, .44 magnum and a .357 as well as a 9 mm but I overall liked the way a .45 handled the best. I ended up going with an SA-XD .45 and have been real happy with it as my first handgun. The XD-45 seems a little big for a conceal carry gun, I may end up looking into a more compact .40 like a Karr when I end up getting a conceal carry permit.

September 12, 2009, 09:38 PM
For $1,000, I would get TWO guns - a .22 for practice and gun familiarity, and a centerfire in the same format - i.e. both revolvers, or 1911 style, or whatever

September 12, 2009, 11:48 PM
I heartily second the notion of getting both a .22 and a centerfire defense handgun.

There is no better way to learn to shoot IMO than by putting thousands of rounds through a good .22 auto or revolver.

September 13, 2009, 03:06 PM
Like the rest have said I would go with a .22lr like a Ruger MKII or a Browning Buckmark accompanied by an all steel firearm like the S&W Mod 10 or 686, BHP, GP100, 1911, or EMP.

September 13, 2009, 08:20 PM
IMO do not try a 1911. Its dangerous. After 1 magazine of .45 you will fall in love, then all other triggers will feel insufficient. I was about to hand money over for a XD or PX4, then i tried my first 1911 for haha's while a buddy of mine was testing a couple others, and i ended up with a Springer 1911 the next day.

but honestly, if you want to spend a grand you can easily get 2 guns. I would second the idea. Get a good centerfire for HD, then a .22 like a Neos to train with. I definitely regret getting a .45 first, then my .22. I could have saved a lot of money with my trips to the range.

September 14, 2009, 02:23 AM
I'm only about 2 months ahead of you SilenceIsGolden.

At my local range, I tried every gun in 9mm and most in 40 and 45 ACP.

I got my S&W fullsize M&P 9mm about a month ago and love it. It's the one that fit my hand the best and I liked the trigger the best. It's been super reliable so far and comes with 3 different sized palm grips. But there were several other nice 9mms that worked well too.

Shoot some 40 and 45s and then go back to a 9mm and it will seem like a piece of cake!

September 14, 2009, 02:25 AM
IMO do not try a 1911. Its dangerous. After 1 magazine of .45 you will fall in love, then all other triggers will feel insufficient. I was about to hand money over for a XD or PX4, then i tried my first 1911 for haha's while a buddy of mine was testing a couple others, and i ended up with a Springer 1911 the next day.

It's strange...I shot a Kimber 1911, .45 ACP and wasnt particularly comfortable with it (grip, trigger, kick), but I was incredibly accurate with it.

September 15, 2009, 07:01 PM
That's a good idea to paractice with a .22, I know that there are .22 conversion kits for Glocks, I was wondering if anyone knows of one for an XD-45.

September 15, 2009, 07:17 PM
.22 Buckmark or Ruger Mark III and a Glock 17 or 19. Then you will have some money to buy a little ammo left over!

September 15, 2009, 07:46 PM
I don't own any brand exclusively by a long shot! However, if I had to choose only one pistol for recreational shooting as well as self-defense, I would choose my HK P2000 or my HK P30 in 9mm. They each have adjustable back straps and the P30 has the additional luxury of adjustable side panels. They hold plenty of rounds. They are both as accurate as I can possibly be. They are low maintenance (check out this site http://hkpro.com/forum/showthread.php?t=104274&highlight=Break+P30
or http://hkpro.com/forum/showthread.php?t=51749&highlight=Project%3A+Break+P2000.
I also have the HK45C and it is just a pleasure to shoot. It has a choice of back straps and is the softest shooting .45 I have owned. Check out this site; http://hkpro.com/forum/showthread.php?t=70222&highlight=Project%3A+Break+P2000.
Only one man's opinion but to me, HK is a great product.

Mr Kablammo
September 20, 2009, 01:09 AM
In regards to the OP, since you did not state a definite purpose, such as CCW, and you are in God-forsaken NYS then I have to assume home defense. On that inference I recommend either a .40 cal semi-auto with a rail: H & K USP, Walther P99, SA XD, Glock 22, Sig P226, S & W M & P, and so on. Or a revolver in the 38 special/357 magnum caliber suited to laser grip accessories: S & W Model 27/28, Ruger GP 100.

September 20, 2009, 03:52 AM
ok what do you guys think, a Taurus 66 .357 Mag matte stainless steel finish or a Ruger GP100 .357 Mag stainless steel finish? both would be brand new.
for your FIRST hand gun purchase, you don't have to get the biggest (magnum) gun or spend anywhere near a $1000.

a used Smith & Wesson is a very good quality firearm. J & G sales has several S&W model 64, .38 specials for sale, at a reasonable price. if the hand grips, that come with the gun, don't feel comfortable, you can get a good used pair of different grips ( wood, hogue, pachmayr) on ebay for $10 - $15.


September 20, 2009, 11:21 AM
If I had to own just one gun, I'd get a S&W M&P 9 compact or a 357 magnum/38 special revolver (i.e. S&W 686).

the XD-9 and full sized M&P 9 are pretty sweet too.

But as many are suggesting, try out several and pick what strikes your fancy.

The S&W 686 is sure easy to shoot well.

September 20, 2009, 05:11 PM
A couple of additional points from the previous posts. I do agree that trying as many guns as possible before buying one is clearly the way to go. Is there a shooting club near where you live? I find that most of us love to help new people get interested in the shooting sports and are only too happy to let them try our guns to see if they like them. Some times you have to provide the ammo, but in our club my experience has been that even that is often provided by experienced members to help the "newcomers" make their choice.

(1) If you are a true beginner, it is not only about learning how to shoot. How much time do you want to spend learning how to clean and maintain your gun? If the answer is "as little as possible", then I would recommend a Glock. Glocks are not particularly pretty but they are highly reliable, and exceedingly simple to take appart and put back together (you can learn it in under 5 minutes, and do it in under 2 minutes after 2 or 3 tries). They also cost about $ $ 550 to $ 600 for most models. Heckler & Koch pistols are also very easy to take appart and reassemble, and many models are reasonably priced under $ 1000. Guns from S&W and Rugers can be far more complicated in this regard and some models are substantially more expensive (I should know; I own a lot of handguns of different brands and calibers...... far too many, according to my wife).

(2) You did not directly say what you want the gun for. Ideally a .22 is a great first gun to learn how to shoot, but if you want it for self-defense AND PLAN TO BUY ONLY ONE GUN, then a larger caliber would be advisable. Withou going into too much detail, for self defense at home or on the streets, a high velocity high penetration caliber (like .357 mag) is not necessarily a desirable choice. With the proper ammo, a .40 or .45 would be best (in my opinion), IF you can find a gun in one of these calibers that you are truly comfortable with. A 9mm or .38 special are OK, with the right ammo, although I do not like them much for self defense (just my own personal opinion - many people disagree with me on this).

Shoot safe and have a great time,


Erik M
September 20, 2009, 05:19 PM
I recommend a .357, but you should start out with regular .38 loads in it. A .22 is good for a beginner, but it will leave you wanting more if its the only gun you invest in. By buying a .357 you can step up into +p .38 loads and then on to .357 loads.

September 20, 2009, 05:51 PM
Find a used Ruger P series pistol, like a P89 in 9mm. They're not sexy like a SIG or a 1911, but they're built like tanks and are reliable like the sun coming up.

September 29, 2009, 11:09 PM
My p89, my first weapon actually, was a wonderfully reliable weapon and fun to shoot.

OP what did you choose?

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