My Dad's first gun...... please help!


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460Kodiak
February 16, 2011, 10:24 PM
Ok, lets open a can of worms. My dad is a non firearm user, and has recently expressed a desire to learn to use a handgun, and this is strictly in a home defense situation. Carrying a concealed gun is illegal where my parents live. I told him to get a 12 gauge, and he insists that he wants a handgun.

I say, get what you want, because then you'll practice with it. So thus far my suggestion to him has been to get either a full size Ruger or S&W in .357, and put a laser on it. I feel the .357 is the best balance of economy for target practice (38 specials), home defense cartridge power, and ammo capacity (especially if you get a S&W 8 shot).

My dad is a big guy, but getting a bit to old and out of shape to really defend his home without a gun on hand. I know, if your home is that unsafe, then you should move. Well do to the care of my elderly grandfather that isn't an option right now. On the note of his size, he has some big meaty paws on him, so please don't suggest a S&W Bodyguard or carry sized gun. He needs a full size handgun. (In fact I sugested a Desert Eagle in .357 or .44)

My father is also cheap, so if the ammo costs him too much, then I know he won't practice with it. So ammo costs is a factor. He tends to fumble with things do to the size of his hands, so I'm thinking a revolver is the simplest and safest option.

I showed him a Judge, and he liked it, but I have personal doubts as to the quality of the Taurus company due to the problems that two of my friends had with brand new revolvers. So maybe the new S&W Govenor is a good choice. I admit though, being a handgun shooter who strives for precision, I am reluctant to suggest anything as sloppy as a .410 bore revolver.

I'm just looking for suggestions and for people to point out if I am neglecting anything in my suggestion to him. This is the only gun he is probably ever going to buy.

They do plan to move to a heavily black bear populated area some day as well, so I'm concidering the future as well. Is a .357 with heavy hard cast bullets enough in that situation?

Thanks all for any wisdom you care to share with me.

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Flatbush Harry
February 16, 2011, 10:33 PM
I would recommend a 4" Ruger GP100 or S&W 686 or 686+ in .357 magnum. Your dad can begin with range/target loads in .38 spl and work up to using .357 magnum or .38 spl +p. Both revolvers are strong as anvils and will offer nearly unlimited reliable service and have outstanding ability for practice. I have more than 2,000 rounds of .38 spl through my 686+ and trust it completely. My first choice of a defensive handgun is my 5" S&W mod 29 with .44 spl loads using a 429421 Keith bullet handloaded to about 850-900 fps. While I have carried a 1911 for more than 40 years, if I think I'll need to rely on it, I go to one of my revolvers at home at night.

My preference and YMMV.

FH

NavyLCDR
February 16, 2011, 10:34 PM
http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_766382_-1_757893_757767_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y

bannockburn
February 17, 2011, 07:15 AM
If cost is a factor maybe consider a used S&W K frame in .38 Special; something like a Model 10, 15, 64, or 67. Usually priced less than a comparable .357 model, but still very effective with the right SD ammo, and less expensive to practice with 148 gr. wadcutters.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
February 17, 2011, 07:58 AM
I once owned a brand new Ruger SP101 snubby.

That was a nice gun, in 357 Magnum, that would most likely fill the bill of requirements for your dad. He can shoot .38 Special Defense loads (DXP?) out of it if he chooses, or go to 357. At least he can learn to shoot it with the calmer loads and work up to the more powerfui loads.

As for his large paws, he can get other grips for the gun if what comes OEM does not suit his large hands. Heck, he can get several different grips and try them all, then sell the others off if he never uses them and/or if whoever inherits this gun will never use them.

Wedge
February 17, 2011, 10:41 AM
He wants a handgun, he's cheap.

Used S&W Model 64. He probably won't ever pay the money for .357s so why bother, just go 38.

yeti
February 17, 2011, 12:13 PM
Go for a nice K or L frame and stick a set of Jordan Trooper Stocks on it. His mits can't be much more oversized than Bill Jordan's paws were so that should cover his needs.

Dr_B
February 17, 2011, 12:37 PM
For home defense, the shotgun is king in my opinion. Load it with buckshot. If you prefer a handgun, Ruger's GP 100 or SP 101 are tough and reliable.

MICHAEL T
February 17, 2011, 12:57 PM
Get a new or used 38spl. 357 not needed If he ever fired one inside house he would never fire again. people been using 38 a long long time.
I will not use a shot gun it my house to big to tote around and they still need aimed even at close range . Pistol much better .

460Kodiak
February 17, 2011, 05:18 PM
Thanks for the suggestions all........... except for yours Navy LT. I hope that was just a joke. Many good opinions shared. As far as a Ruger SP101 goes, I let him shoot mine, and while he liked it, he said it is way to small for his hand, and I agree. If I'm going to suggest he get an SP101 and buy a bunch of different grips for it to find one that fits, then I think I would just suggest he go right to the GP100. I had him try on a S&W 686+ and he seemed to like it, but the price tag scared him a bit. I don't think he realized what a decent hand gun costs. That's a another reason I suggested he go with a Remington tactical 870, since they are cheap.

The suggestion about the .38 would work, except like I said thay are planning on eventually, moving to an area with a lot of black bears. I don't really think that 38 specials are going to do it for that job. In fact I am thinking about suggesting a .44 magnum.

Don't get me wrong guys, I think the 38 special is a fine cartridge, and I carry them in my SP101 on a regular basis when in a heavily populated area. (.357 for woods or HD) But like I said, I think this is the only gun he will ever buy, so I want to make sure he gets enough gun to cover all the possibilities.

Hmmmm.......... You know, he will never be living in grizzly land. Maybe a .41 Magnum would be appropriate. How hard to find and expensive is the ammo? I know nothing about the .41 magnum except the balistics involved. I don't own one myself. That should be plenty for a black bear though.

Please keep the suggestions coming.

Manco
February 17, 2011, 05:43 PM
I say, get what you want, because then you'll practice with it. So thus far my suggestion to him has been to get either a full size Ruger or S&W in .357, and put a laser on it.

Good suggestions and reasoning. I like the S&W 686 Plus (http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_764606_-1_757769_757767_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y) or S&W 627 (http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_765955_-1_757770_757767_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y) because they have an extra round or two of capacity, but the Ruger GP100 (http://www.ruger.com/products/gp100/specSheets/1705.html) is a real good gun, too.

Whatever your dad ends up choosing, a Crimson Trace laser grip would be the most practical laser sighting system, in my opinion, although obviously he should train first with the iron sights as a backup to the laser.

I feel the .357 is the best balance of economy for target practice (38 specials), home defense cartridge power, and ammo capacity (especially if you get a S&W 8 shot).

Personally, I'd suggest using a good .38 Special load for home/personal defense, and practicing with a similar-feeling load if possible. .357 Magnum would be better suited for defense against bears and such, in my opinion.

I showed him a Judge, and he liked it, but I have personal doubts as to the quality of the Taurus company due to the problems that two of my friends had with brand new revolvers. So maybe the new S&W Govenor is a good choice. I admit though, being a handgun shooter who strives for precision, I am reluctant to suggest anything as sloppy as a .410 bore revolver.

Eh, there are better choices (especially against bears).

They do plan to move to a heavily black bear populated area some day as well, so I'm concidering the future as well. Is a .357 with heavy hard cast bullets enough in that situation?

Since ammo cost is a factor, that pretty much rules out .44 Magnum (because of the cost of .44 Special ammo), but .357 Magnum is no slouch (especially the hotter loads). That said, one alternative I can think of that would cost a bit more for ammo but skew toward greater theoretical effectiveness against bears is the Ruger Redhawk (http://www.ruger.com/products/redhawk/specSheets/5027.html) in .45 Colt. You can have the cylinder cut for moon clips in order to be able to shoot cheaper, more pragmatic .45 ACP ammo for practice and defense against humans, and it will still be compatible with .45 Colt cartridges. The thing about the latter is that there are "Ruger-only" .45 Colt loads that can match or even exceed .44 Magnum performance, which should be quite effective against black bears (at least for a handgun).

Fuzzy7
February 17, 2011, 06:04 PM
Ruger GP 100.

J-Bar
February 17, 2011, 06:19 PM
I just cringe when I hear that a non-gunner is going to start out with a .357 or a .44 magnum.

Geez, learn safe handling and shooting techniques with a .22. That is not an overnight process. He will have to forget everything he has seen on TV and in the movies about gun handling, otherwise he will be a bigger menace to himself and family members than the supposed bad guys and bears he is going to encounter. I don't care if you buy him a .22 or borrow one, but get some good instruction and lots of range time with a .22 revolver before going to the center fires.

I really don't care how big his hands are...no one should start out with a .357 or a .44.

FatPants
February 17, 2011, 06:28 PM
I'm going to go a different route. I have big hands, and I admittedly am not a revolver shooter but I never know where to put my thumbs when shooting one.

I'm going to recommend a Glock 17. Nice big full-size gun, no external safeties to fumble with, large capacity, and cheap ammo. Fits well In my big hands.

medalguy
February 17, 2011, 06:56 PM
I think a 357 is much too powerful to start with. I agree, get an inexpensive .22 for him to learn sight picture and safety on, then move him up to a .38. That's more than sufficient for home defense if he won't consider a scattergun. Start on a .41 mag or .44 mag? That's not a smart idea at all IMO. All that'll do is make him afraid of the gun.

bergmen
February 17, 2011, 07:20 PM
Ruger GP 100.
I agree:

http://inlinethumb58.webshots.com/48057/2408239820053667879S600x600Q85.jpg

http://inlinethumb61.webshots.com/35836/2411448600053667879S600x600Q85.jpg

http://inlinethumb36.webshots.com/48163/2884474790053667879S600x600Q85.jpg

Ruger GP100 in 4" or 6", blue or stainless.

Fire low powered .38 Specials to start with (and stay with if desired), move up to +P and then to .357 Magnum if desired or needed.

The advantages of a .357 sized revolver is it is bigger, heftier and has a full range of ammo strength.

Who knows, he may really like this gun, become an enthusiast and move up to the high powered loads in five years or so.

Dan

460Kodiak
February 17, 2011, 08:48 PM
I hear what you guys are saying about starting out with too much gun. I will encourage him to pick up a .22 so he can get more, inexpensive practice. I realize the importance of practice and the fact that a person is very dangerouse if not properly trained. That being said, I plan to work with him a great deal. Don't worry guys, I'm not going to tell him to buy a .44 and turn him loose on his own. He would end up killing someone, or himself. Now like I said, he only plans to buy one gun. I am hoping that he will develope an addiction like all of us, and buy a .22, but I can't guarantee that. That being said, I guess I am back to a .357 since you can fire 38 specials through it. And centerfire cartridges don't get much cheaper than that. I have expressed to him that a person needs to fire hundreds, and even a couple of thousand rounds out of a handgun before they consider themselves "proficient."

Also, let me clarify a few things. When I say that he is a non gun user, I mean he does not shoot guns on a regular basis, and he owns no guns of his own. He has shot many guns in his lifetime. In fact he was ranked quite high for his proficiency with an M14 while he was in the army reserves. Now handguns on the other hand, the only experience he has had is with my guns. I have taken him out shooting, and he has fired my Buckmark .22, my .40 S&W, my Bond Arms .410 Derringer, my Ruger .357 SP101, and even my S&W 460 magnum. He has shot full power loads out of all of them, and the only one that backed him down was the454 Casull and 460. This is of course, completely understandable due to the power of those cartriges, and a 460 would be an obsurd gun for him to buy anyway. So I don't think he would be scared of any gun.

Sorry, I'll be more clear in the future. Those are details I should have put in my original post. I do also realise that none of this changes the fact that a .22 for extensive practice is a very, very advisable thing for him to purchase.

Thanks again guys for all the great input. Please keep it coming!

I wish I had a picture of him shooting my Snake Slayer IV. LOL It looked like a .22 derringer in his hand. He didn't care for that gun much.

murf
February 17, 2011, 09:32 PM
sounds like he's the perfect candidate for a used model 28 s&w.

murf

bergmen
February 17, 2011, 09:45 PM
I just wish there were more choices in a good, simple DA .22 revolver. I wish the heck Ruger would come out with one, like a downsized nine shot version of their GP 100 or something.

Taurus has their Model 94 (which my wife has, and loves) but it has been back to the factory twice for repairs which knocks it off my list of acceptable guns.

Dan

billybob44
February 18, 2011, 12:25 AM
Thanks for the suggestions all........... except for yours Navy LT. I hope that was just a joke. Many good opinions shared. As far as a Ruger SP101 goes, I let him shoot mine, and while he liked it, he said it is way to small for his hand, and I agree. If I'm going to suggest he get an SP101 and buy a bunch of different grips for it to find one that fits, then I think I would just suggest he go right to the GP100. I had him try on a S&W 686+ and he seemed to like it, but the price tag scared him a bit. I don't think he realized what a decent hand gun costs. That's a another reason I suggested he go with a Remington tactical 870, since they are cheap.

The suggestion about the .38 would work, except like I said thay are planning on eventually, moving to an area with a lot of black bears. I don't really think that 38 specials are going to do it for that job. In fact I am thinking about suggesting a .44 magnum.

Don't get me wrong guys, I think the 38 special is a fine cartridge, and I carry them in my SP101 on a regular basis when in a heavily populated area. (.357 for woods or HD) But like I said, I think this is the only gun he will ever buy, so I want to make sure he gets enough gun to cover all the possibilities.

Hmmmm.......... You know, he will never be living in grizzly land. Maybe a .41 Magnum would be appropriate. How hard to find and expensive is the ammo? I know nothing about the .41 magnum except the balistics involved. I don't own one myself. That should be plenty for a black bear though.

Please keep the suggestions coming.
I KNOW that this is a revolver section-BUT-What you describe is to be had in a Semi-auto=a Glock G-20--10MM. The G-20 is a Full Size auto, that would fill your Dad's hands well-The 10MM caliber is just under a .41 Magnum in overall performance, with 16 shots in the gun, you can drop in a Lone Wolf .40 S&W conversion barrel to shoot the less expensive, easy to find .40 S&W loads,all accessories,sights,holsters are easy to come by (same as a G-21-.45acp.)
With all this said you are looking around $500-$550 for the G-20, and around $125.00 for the .40 S&W conversion barrel.
This combo serves me well+should your Dad too...Just my 2c worth...Bill..

sixgunner455
February 18, 2011, 02:21 AM
Ruger Single Six or a S&W K22, and a used .38, or a .357 - GP100 or 586/686. Or a S&W 27/28 - depending on which gun frame size suits his hands the best.

K22 is a great revolver, but generally not cheap. Single Six is much less expensive, and still a fantastic, fun little gun to have around.

460Kodiak
February 18, 2011, 10:03 AM
Billybob, thanks for the suggestion. I am considering semiautos as well. I originally had this thread in the general area, but the moderators moved it here since it took a general revolverish turn. I really do believe in the philosophy that simpler is better when it comes to self and HD. That's why I've been encouraging my Dad to go in that direction.

He has shot my .40 S&W, and really liked it though. In the end, I want him to get something he really likes, because then he will practice with it. I have stressed this fact to him, and explained the importance of the concept to him. I have also expressed the fact that you can have your heart set on a certain handgun, you can think it is the coolest thing in the world, but if it doesn't fit and feel right in your hand, it is not to be purchased, because then it will sit in the case and never get fired. This essentially renders the firearm useless, because when you need it, you won't be any good with it. I think that a lot of his initial attraction to semiautos was television and movie based.

In the end he has to make his own decision. I am mearly here to guide and inform him of his options. If he decides on a S&W 500 though, I may possibly discourage him. LOL

Diggers
February 18, 2011, 01:19 PM
460Kodiak

To me a large frame .357 or .38 sounds like his best option. You said spending money is an issue for him so all those larger calibers are going to be pricey to shoot; at least 30 bucks for 50 rounds for .44s or .41s. A .357 or .38 will be more reasonable price wise to shoot 15 to 20 bucks for 50 rounds of .38 and a lot nicer to practice with too.

Getting him to buy a .22 to practice with doesn't sound very practical in my opinion and totally unnecessary. The whole idea that people need to start with .22's is kind of an old concept really. People can learn just fine by starting with .38s. or 9mm or even .40's. No need to spend extra money on 2 guns. (Unless he really wants to. :) )

I wouldn't worry about the bear thing. A .357 should be ok for black bears......but really the odds of needing that are so SO small it should not be a factor in his decision. IF he should move to a place where a problem bear actually is an issue AND Fish and Game or the PD doesn't move it or put it down, THEN you can talk him into a 12 gauge. ;)

Speaking of the grand 12 gauge. I was at the range yesterday, shooting my quarterly qualification, and was admiring the roughly 3 inch x 3 inch hole 00 buck makes in the target at 7 yards. :D Good Stuff.

sixgunner455
February 18, 2011, 02:40 PM
Diggers, I completely disagree with your position on the .22. In order to get good with a pistol, you must shoot. The volume of shooting required is "a lot" and "often".

No matter what the centerfire caliber you compare it to, bulk .22 LR ammo saves you money in the long run, even though you have to buy another gun (or a conversion kit, if you get a semiauto that has one available). Even reloading isn't as cheap as .22 LR.

If we say that a guy should shoot 2000 rounds before he can be considered truly proficient, that's 40 boxes of ammunition. At an average price of 18.00/50 for .38 specials, that's $720 (+tax, 8.9% here) worth of practice ammunition. Buying bulk .22 LR for 18/box for 2000 rounds = $65.45+tax.

$300 or so for a used Single Six, or less for an H&R, plus some .22 ammo? That's what most people call a bargain. .22 means you can shoot as much as you need to, as much as you want to, as often as you want to, and you don't have to worry too much about it affecting your budget. And you can keep using that bargain ammo for the rest of your life. I don't have any idea how many tens of thousands of rounds I've put through my first gun, a Ruger MKII Standard pistol, but I can tell you that I consider it a free gun now - because the cost of the pistol, plus all that ammo, have saved me so much money over the years in comparison to centerfires. I paid $179.00 for it 16 years ago. Made my new wife so mad, cause we really couldn't afford it. But I could shoot it as much as I wanted, and it really didn't matter after that to our budget. Even today, it's her favorite gun, and gets more mileage with her, the kids, nieces and nephews, my "guns are scary" sisters, and friends who want to learn, than any of my other pistols, rifles, or shotguns - because the report is low, the recoil is almost completely negated by the weight of the pistol, and the ammo cost is negligible.

Yeah, you CAN learn on a centerfire. That's a given. Question is, can you afford to? I wouldn't be near the shot, and shootist, I am today without my .22, because I simply could not have afforded to shoot enough.

Guillermo
February 18, 2011, 03:06 PM
generally speaking, everyone should shoot the most powerful gun that they are competent with.

Because he is "cheap" I would buy a police trade in 686, 4 inch

He can shoot 38s. It is easy to shoot and he can quickly get to where he can put all of them into a pie place at 10 yards in 3 seconds.

It is also versatile. He can shoot 357s which are very good at eliminating a threat.

Good luck

Diggers
February 18, 2011, 03:46 PM
Sixgunner,

Sure, don't get me wrong, shooting a .22 a lot will develop skills and is a cheap way of doing that. HOWEVER, many people do start shooting with the actual caliber they are going to use for SD and learn to use it just fine. Thus starting with a .22 and working up to larger calibers isn't necessary. I'm saying it does not have to be done using the caliber step up method.

Probably, starting with a .22 is a really good way to start kids off shooting, being smaller and having less grip strength, but adults can deal with .38s just fine.


The situation the OP stated here is a gun for SD and only one gun. Buying one gun to learn and practice with and a second gun for the actual intended purpose of SD (which of course, he would also have to practice with) does not sound like it's in the mix.

billybob44
February 18, 2011, 03:57 PM
Diggers, that is the "Dig"--The OP says that his Dad wants only one "Do All" gun.
Man-I want to go to Heaven--BUT--I don't want to die???:neener:

aHFo3
February 18, 2011, 03:59 PM
Don't forget the single action Ruger Blackhawk or Super Blackhawk.

Also it sounds like you guys are prime candidates to start handloading if you don't already.

LKB3rd
February 18, 2011, 08:57 PM
Since he doesn't plan on carrying it, a full sized 4-6 inch .357 should be mild enough with .38 special to start on.
Do you have a .22 you could loan him? Because it's true, it's a lot easier to learn good habits in the first place than to have to unlearn bad habits and then start over.
However, .38 out of a full sized revolver is pretty mild as well.

Hondo 60
February 18, 2011, 09:52 PM
A 44 magnum sounds like a good candidate.
He can also shoot 44 specials out of it.

But again, the price tag is gonna be prohibitive.

Good luck - I hope you find the exact gun for your dad.

AJumbo
February 19, 2011, 01:51 PM
I've never been sure why everyone thinks a snubby is an entry-level firearm, or why any handgun is a good choice for a novice shooter who intends to use it for home defense. Have you considered hooking your dad up with a shotgun?

sixgunner455
February 19, 2011, 02:03 PM
First post, AJ - dad says he "wants a gun for protection", son says "let's go get you a shotgun," dad says "I want a pistol."

I don't think shotguns are all that for newbies anyway. Great, devastating defense weapon in certain static situations, but a bit difficult/awkward to answer the door with one, don't you think?

OP's dad was in the military, so he's more familiar than most with using a long-gun. Makes me think that he's got enough experience to be able to say what he wants for himself.

460Kodiak
February 19, 2011, 04:43 PM
Yes, as sixgunner pointed out, I did suggest a 12 gauge, but he wants a pistol. The main reason for this is that my parents have two grandkids running around 3 days a week. He is concerned that if he has a shotgun, he will be placing it way out of harms way, and thus start ignoring it in the top shelf of his closet. We all know that in a home invasion, or night time break in situation, time is of the essence. So my recomendation to him is if he wants a pistol, then get one of those biometric safes, put it next to your bed, and open it every night when you get into bed.

I do agee though, a 12 gauge is probably a better option, but that is not what he wants, that is not what he will buy, and if I convince him to buy that instead of a hand gun, he won't practice with it. That will render the gun useless in my mind.

451 Detonics
February 19, 2011, 06:02 PM
I am with most of the others...a good used .357 is about the best bet, I like L-Frame S&Ws but nothing wrong with a Ruger GP 100 either. What would be really nice is if you got him some basic home defense instruction or barring thata copy of Ayoob's "In the Gravest Extreme".

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