Looking for opinions - c&r guns as first owned guns


May 22, 2011, 01:18 PM
Hello All,

The common statement of "Long time Reader/Lurker, first time poster" here :-)

After visiting the ranges and using rental guns for a while (50% off via livingsocial/groupon offers ;)) - and kinda getting a feel to what I might like (single stack vs. double stack magazines, etc) - I think the next prudent choice is to go ahead and buy some guns :-D

The only issue is that I'm fairly frugal/cheap/poor - after much research on the forums - I came to the conclusion that the ideal starter gun would be a Yugo M57 Tokarev - Ammo is seems fairly affordable (when it can be found), C&R so I can have it shipped to my door without all the running around and fees (assuming my yet to be sent out C&R application is approved) and its 200 bucks...270 if I want to get the hard chromed version from Classic Arms (thinking the hard chromed version would be a better idea considering I live in humid South Florida?)....might also get a M91/30 Nagant rifle for $75 - thinking it might be fun to shoot a bolt action rifle? :-)

Just wanted to see any opinions on this route to buying a first gun. Also looking into getting a .22 like a Mark II or Buckmaster - but will have to go to an actual store and haggle or do the run around with online shopping and a dealer...don't see any "affordable" .22 C&R pistols out there....

Thanks in advance,


If you enjoyed reading about "Looking for opinions - c&r guns as first owned guns" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
May 22, 2011, 01:21 PM
Don't forget the Makarov PM. The East German and Russian military ones are C&R.

May 22, 2011, 01:45 PM
Just keep in mind that a C&R gun is probably not going to be anywhere near ideal for home defense or carry purposes - a Tokarev certainly wouldn't be. There's also been some rumblings about 7.62x25 surplus ammo drying up; I still have plenty (for my CZ-52) so I haven't gone looking myself to verify, but be aware.

If you're just looking for something fun to take to the range and gain familiarity with weapon systems, a C&R would be great! Mosin-Nagant rifles are a fantastic value and the ammo is still cheap as well - just make sure you have somewhere to shoot that will allow them as the muzzle blast is quite impressive and the ammo will often be considered "steel-core" by management even though it's not.

C&R pistols are also a great value. Makarovs have started to show up again, and I don't think I've ever read about anyone being unhappy with theirs. Tokarevs and CZ-52s are also great values. If you want something that you can find ammo for at Walmart, you can try looking for a Walther P1; this would also be better for home defense as 9mm hollowpoints are ubiquitous (although you'd have to see if the gun would even feed HPs).

Hope this isn't information overload! In a word: go for it! :)

May 22, 2011, 01:51 PM
You will spend many more times the cost of a handgun in the purchase of ammo. Might as well get your money's worth from a first gun. .22 rimfire is cheap, available is made by a ton of companies, it's reasonably accurate (some ammo is very accurate), and it's a gun you will always come back to for cheap fun and good practice. Good ones are available on line. There is a lot of help here to point you in the right direction. My dad left me a High Standard Supermatic .22 pistol. It goes with me to the range every time. I just purchased another High Standard on line, and I have .22 conversion kits for my 9mm handgun. Extremely versatile and cheap, what's not to love:)

May 22, 2011, 02:01 PM
Furncliff brings up a good point too - if you're okay with a rifle as a first gun, .22s are cheap to buy (and cheap to feed). If you're set on a handgun, you'll have to pony up a bit more for the firearm itself, but you'll still have the benefit of cheap ammo (and no danger of the supply ever disappearing).

May 22, 2011, 02:17 PM
I would go with something besides the Tokarev as your main gun. Ammo is getting increasing difficult to find and more expensive. If you absolutely want something C&R get a Makarov instead. Good luck getting ammo easily at a local shop for cheap too. I would suggest you buy something in caliber widely used in the US. A used S&W police trade-in can be had all day for under $300 even with a FFL transfer fee. The .38spcl ammo can be bought anytime and anywhere. Replacement parts are another isssue. My best suggestion would be look through the auction sights and forums for a good deal on something you cam buy ammo for locally. Lastly, that "cheap" ammo can get just as/if not more expensive with shipping added to the price.

Shadow 7D
May 22, 2011, 02:20 PM
like he said
don't forget
OVER 50, so lot's to .22 out there.

If you want a mak, consider the CZ82, more pleasing to modern sensibilities,

May 22, 2011, 06:02 PM
9mm...They are fun and cheap to shoot....Although you'll probably have to put more than one out to be a man stopper....they are a great cheap and reliable first weapon. Just my 2 cents.

May 22, 2011, 06:27 PM
First off, in considering a C&R gun as a first firearm, brings to mind one of the primary pursuits of C&R firearms as collecting. Buying one other than one you come across in an LGS will cost you the same transfer fee as any other firearm, unless you get your 03FFL prior to purchasing it. As an 03 holder, I would have to agree with what others have said, that the 7.62x25 ammo seems to have become very sporadic, and you will want to shoot your purchase a LOT more than likely! 9x18 Mak ammo seems to be more widely available, the CZ82 running less than $200 in many places.

For a first and possibly only firearm purchase, I would recommend any of several affordable semi-auto's firing the popular 9mm Luger ammo, available pretty much everywhere that sells ammo and a decent enough pistol can be found for well under $400 new. I pay $10.99 for 50 rounds of 9mm at a local sporting goods, Walmart it runs around $13.99 for 50.

May 24, 2011, 11:54 PM
Thank you all for chiming in!

This first gun was intended mostly to just be for fun. Intended use would not be for CCW (was thinking a Ruger LCP later down the line)...maybe for home defense if needed, but initially just want a gun thats fun to shoot, cheap/easy to feed and not a .22 (I love .22s, but the wife thinks shooting them is "cheating" :-p) though will probably get a .22 near the same time anyway

Upon your thought provoking inputs - I have reconsidered the M57 as a first gun purchase - the ammo availability of late is the ultimate killer .... at first I was really attracted to the hard chrome finish (I live in South Florida - and stuff just starts corroding sometimes...and if I needed to, it would be good to take out on the boat in saltwater), it is a single stack (both the wife's hands and mine are small....hers extremely small :-p) it looks really fun to shoot, the really cheap ammo costs ($.08 vs $.18 for 9x18, and $.20 for 9mm)

Now kinda looking at the Walther P1, since it uses 9mm and it has a single stack magazine (going to assume it should fit smaller hands well?). Opinions?

I am open to other ideas as well - doesn't need to be C&R, but will be looking on the used market. Ideally something:
- for smaller hands
- preferably semiautomatic (wife thinks revolvers are outdated)
- larger than a .22
- Not something with a whole lot of recoil - don't want the wife to flinch too much

Also it seems FFL/background checks in my area (fort lauderdale/pompano beach area) is around $30 - any recommendations for a place that is lower?

Thanks again,


May 25, 2011, 02:10 AM
The p1's grips are way bigger than they have any right to be, and the DA pull is terrible. I wouldn't recommend it for someone with small hands. The tokarev pattern guns are fun little pieces, and the cz82 is a dream- it's been my car carry gun for three years now.

May 25, 2011, 02:25 AM
Unless you're set on a handgun, also consider a shotgun.

You should be able to find a Remington 870 new for around $350, or used for around $200-250, if you look around - and a pump shotgun is one of the most versatile firearms you can possibly own. With a simple change of ammo, you can go from cheap clay-dusting plinkster to serious HD gun and many roles in-between.

If I could only own one firearm it would be a 12-gauge pumpgun.

Shadow 7D
May 25, 2011, 02:49 AM
I'd actually point you to the CZ 82, it's about the same price ammo wise as 9x19, but is really easy to shoot,
the Beretta Cougar, or Stoeger- same gun, on the same machinery, just made in Turkey instead of Italy, large metal frame and mechanics make it a soft recoiling gun.

I would shop around and check out the .22's, they vary from esoteric disassemble - S&W 41, Ruger MK series, to pretty much like every other browning design.
maybe a CZ 75 Kadet, it's a .22 on the 75 frame, you can buy a 9mm 75, then purchase the Kadet kit to convert it to .22.

Main thing is try to shoot the gun first, cause you are going to get something, that later on you will think 'why did I get that'

Also I would say a Tokerav, I like the M57 because the grip angle and longer frame fit me better, but the ammo has dried up, However they still are a steal, and new ammo is made, just more expensive, and more ammo will show up, eventually...

May 25, 2011, 03:25 AM
I have a C&R. I have a couple of CZ52's and a CZ82. I have done some things to one of my CZ52's that makes it a dream to shoot. I also have a 9mm Luger barrel for it, so if the Tok ammo gets harder to find, I can always use 9mm. You can get new 7.62x25 ammo in hollowpoints. I'm thinking I'd also like to have one of the chrome M57's too. A few years ago they had Rock Island Armory 45's in hard chrome. I got one and it's a beauty. I could kick myself for not getting one of their CZ52's in hard chrome when they had them.

May 25, 2011, 04:54 AM
Just keep in mind that a C&R gun is probably not going to be anywhere near ideal for home defense or carry purposes

Gord - There are A LOT of C&R elgible guns that are perfect for home defense. Did we forget the 1911 is 100 years old this year? An early 1911 in original configuration should be eligible for C&R. Same with an early Hi power (they're 76 years old this year). Neither would be cheap, but just because it's C&R doesn't mean it won't get the job done. I'll agree about the tokarev though. There are better options out there.

May 25, 2011, 05:20 AM
dupe = please delete

May 25, 2011, 05:24 AM
Glad to hear you're reconsidering the Tokarev. I have one, and it's very cool and all, but not a good first/only gun, especially as the ammo seems to be drying up.

If you want a milsurp carry pistol, I'd go with something that shoots 9x18 -- either an actual Makarov (http://www.jgsales.com/product_info.php/handguns/makarov/p/bulgarian-makarov-9x18%2C-w-holster-very-good-condition/cPath/16_151/products_id/4118) or a CZ-82 (http://www.jgsales.com/product_info.php/handguns/cz-surplus/p/cz-82-czech-9x18-makarov-military-pistol%2C-very-good-condition%2C-one-mag-c-r-/cPath/16_155/products_id/3050), preferably. Ammo is readily available and not too expensive: Brown Bear is still under $10 for a box of 50 last time I looked. For small hands, the Mak is preferable -- the 82 is a double-stack, and correspondingly hefty in the grip.

As mentioned, Walther P1 is not a good choice for the small-handed, and AFAIK they don't feed hollowpoints well.

For a first gun, I strongly suggest a .22: Ruger MK II/III (http://www.ruger.com/products/markIII/firearms.html) or 22/45 (http://www.ruger.com/products/2245/index.html), Browning Buck Mark (http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/family.asp?webflag_=006B&catalog_=B&content=Buck-Mark-Pistols), or, if you want something more concealable, Bersa/Firestorm (http://www.bersa.com/firestorm-firearms/firestorm-380-22-semi-automatic-series.html). You're not going to find any milsurp .22 handguns because .22 isn't a military caliber. There were some .22 military training rifles, but handguns? Not so much.

But if you're going for one and only one handgun, I (almost) hate to say it, but I'd look for a Glock in 9mm (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZAervPTtvo): either a 19 or a 26. Ammo is cheap (but not as cheap as .22), they're virtually indestructible, they're easy to shoot, you'll have plenty of choices for holsters, etc. If I could have only one pistol, that's what it would be.

EDIT TO ADD: You know you're going to end up with more than one handgun anyway, so really what you're deciding here is what to get first. :neener:

May 25, 2011, 07:01 AM
First of all,

No gun fits every need. You can't hunt bear with a .22 and there's not much use in shootin' targets with a shotgun. That being said.........

For pure shooting fun on a budget, C & R guns are hard to beat! Of course there are expensive C & R's. And you could use a Tokarov for a home defense gun (although there certainly better options.) But I agree with what others have said, consider the CZ 82 makarov. And by all means pick up a 91/30 mosin/nagant. They won't last for ever and they are still dirt cheap (well under $100.)

If you are worried about ammo costs, why not set yourself up to do a little reloading. My whole set-up (not including the dies) cost under $90. I reload for all of my milsurp C & R guns at a cost that's a fraction of what it would cost for factory loads. I even reload for my Mosin/Nagant, giving me a super accurate load with much less recoil then the standard military round.

About C & R...... I still don't have one and most of my guns are C&R. I still may get one some day, but while it's easy to have a gun shipped to your door, you will need to keep accurate records and you are more limited if you choose to sell some of you collection. $30 seems steep for a transfer so shop around. Check with pawn shops as well as gun shops.

So whatever you buy, be safe and have fun!;)

May 25, 2011, 01:20 PM
Thank you everyone again!

The heads up about the P1's grip being larger than it looks is very helpful (also the notes about it being a not-so great shooter). This probably wont be the only gun purchased, but I'd really hate to buy something, find out it is not so great and have to get rid of it later.

As for the Glock recommendation - even though we had the opportunity to put 100 rounds through a Glock 19 and it felt easier to handle than the Beretta 92 orthe XD9 - the grip was too wide. A single stack gun (other than the P1) should solve this issue?

I know the safe ("everyones gotta have em'") purchases are a .22 and a shotgun (kicking myself for not getting a Saiga, when they were 400 bucks). I'll probably get a .22 soon, the shotgun later, as I want something fun to shoot on the range to get the wife more interested in shooting. - so for now shopping around her constraints, then later hopefully shop around to build a more complete "collection" :-)

Any comment or speculation of 9x18 ammo future availability? Out of the 9x18 pistols which would you say have the smallest grips?

As for .22s does the difference between a 5" and a 7" barrel make that huge of a leap in accuracy?

Thanks again,


May 25, 2011, 01:36 PM
Tell your wife she's wrong about revolvers being obsolete. If this gun is going to be used for outdoor recreation, a revolver is the hands down best choice. I keep a wonder nine by the bed and a large bore revolver for the wilderness.

That said, if you want a nice thin 9mm semi-auto pistol, look into the Kahr series of handguns. The CW9 would fit all your needs and a used one MIGHT be within budget.

The new Ruger LC9 is suppossed to be nice too. The only one I handled had an EXTREMELY difficult slide release though.

Lastly, as I mentioned earlier all that "cheap" ammo isn't so cheap after you pay shipping on it. Unless you buy ALOT of it at one time. YMMV

Good luck.

May 25, 2011, 02:27 PM
As someone else said there are many good choices of C&R pistols for home and self defense. Just to list a few:

Certain Makarovs (Pistolet Makarov like those from E.G.)
Walther P-1
Argentina 1911 imports
Lahti 9MM
Luger P-08 (Yes they are reliable and do really shoot real 9MM)

I am sure I am forgetting many.

May 25, 2011, 03:10 PM
As much as I love all of mine, C&R's usually have some quirk that keep them from being a good "all around" gun.

Most of them are at least a little bit older, so certain things are "styled" differently on the old guns. Several of them use the "heel" style mag release rather than the side button. Several also tend to be chambered in somewhat oddball calibers where they go more expensive after surplus dries up.

That said, it's ALSO the case that virtually all of them tend to be very, very reliable. Most are surplused military or police guns. Those guys can overlook comfort or nice to have features, but when they need a gun to work, they need it to work.

Just personally, if you were insistent on getting a C&R gun for GENERAL PURPOSE use, I'd say the CZ-82 is your best bet. It's moderately high capacity, reliable, good double action pull, all the controls are where you'd expect them to be, and the round (9mm Mak) isn't available in most local stores (and it's overpriced in every gunshop I've found it in), but it's easily available online.

My personal advice though: get one of those $299 S&W 5906's that CDNN has on sale. Find the cheapest transfer guy to you and you won't be out much. Since FFL's can receive USPS shipments, I've found that though I still use my C&R a lot because, well, I want to :), for places that will ship USPS it's often cheaper for me to have it shipped to a local FFL and paying $15 to transfer it than it is to pay UPS 2-day Air rates to have it shipped to my house.

I will say though that for the person that want a DIRT CHEAP handgun that doesn't intend to shoot it a lot, it's hard to beat the Nagant revolvers. You can get 2 of them for the price of a darned Hi Point and they're solid all-steel guns.

May 25, 2011, 03:16 PM
9x18 will be around and it'll remain cheap. I've only seen mil-surp 9x18 ammo once, and I bought up all they had, which was only 5 boxes. I usually buy brown bear and silver bear at under $10 a box, and that's production ammo. In stores you can expect to pay 20+ a box, so at those disparities in price it's worth it to buy online. I usually get 500 rounds at a time for about $100-110 with shipping or so, mixed silver bear JHP and brown bear FMJ. Though, to be honest, I don't know why I buy FMJ at all since the price is only like $1.00 off at most sites.

The actual makarov would have the smallest grips, but the cz-82 is far more ergonomic. Try to handle both. Though the cz is fatter, it's still smaller than a glock, and contoured very well. My mom and girlfriend both like the feel of mine, and both have very small hands. That being said, the girlfriend prefers a revolver.

See if you can convince your wife to shoot a few revolvers with varying grips. She may find she really likes them. I have to say I think it's a little funny we're talking about lugers, tokarevs, 1911s, and makarovs, but not revolvers because they're outdated :neener:

You may also want to look at some of the browning designs like the 1903 or 1908 pocket hammerless. Small, very thin grips, very comfortable, in a light recoiling .380 or .32acp.

May 25, 2011, 03:23 PM
The actual makarov would have the smallest grips, but the cz-82 is far more ergonomic. Try to handle both. Though the cz is fatter, it's still smaller than a glock, and contoured very well. My mom and girlfriend both like the feel of mine, and both have very small hands.

+1 to that. You probably won't find a CZ-82 in your local gun shop, but you might find a CZ-83, which is the same thing except new production, .380 chambering, and a lot more expensive. See if you can check one out in person to see if it fits your lady's hand, and then if it does, buy an 82. I have a Glock 26 and a CZ-82, and the Glock feels much more "blocky." The CZ grip is more rounded and... ergonomic.


The heads up about the P1's grip being larger than it looks is very helpful (also the notes about it being a not-so great shooter).

The P1 grip isn't fat side-to-side, being a single-stack, but it is long front-to-back. That makes it a long reach around. But to clarify, the P1 is a great shooter with the right ammo. It was designed for ball, not hollowpoints, and that's what it works best with.

May 25, 2011, 07:34 PM
Thanks for pointing out the S&W 5906 deal going on. It's almost exactly what I am looking for - All around stainless, 9mm, reasonably priced :-D .... It's a double stack though :-/ .... I'll see if I can find any posts about it's grips in comparison to the Glock 19 (though its backstrap looks kinda large) - if it turns out its a bit smaller - I may jump on it!



May 25, 2011, 09:02 PM
Maybe one of the Ruger P-series? IIRC several of them are single stack, they're modern production, shoot cheap 9mm (or .40 or .45, but most I see are 9mm) and there are a bunch of 'em around for $250-300 every time I look.

They have a reputation for being built like a brick outhouse, much like a lot of the other stuff that Ruger puts out...

If you enjoyed reading about "Looking for opinions - c&r guns as first owned guns" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!