Tips for a Lefty? Just bought my first handgun


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geerlingguy
February 22, 2012, 11:28 PM
I'm a southpaw (though I can shoot with either hand, I'm left-eye dominant and like the feel of shooting with my left hand better), and I just bought my first handgun (Ruger SR9c, SS slide).

Thanks to advice I found here and elsewhere, I grabbed some Hoppes #9, a cleaning kit with bore brush, patches, etc., and cleaned it, then lightly oiled the surfaces that needed oiling, and I plan on taking the gun to the range with a friend tomorrow and putting through ~200 rounds.

I've already tried this model (SR9c) at the range once, and I've used a friend's Glock 17 gen 4, Ruger LC9, and a few revolvers, but my being a lefty always seems to be an issue, in one way or another. For example:


What's the best way to handle the slide when holding the gun left-handed?


Right now, I have to switch to a right-handed hold to lock and unlock the slide (especially since the slide is quite tight/snug, probably due to the newness of the gun).


Where's a good place to get a holster for a lefty?


I don't have my CCW permit yet, but I plan on taking a class soon (my wife wants to go too—but it took a while to convince her to let me get a gun!), and I'd like a good IWB or OWB holster. Didn't know if there were specific shops that do a better job for left-handers.


Any other tips for a first-time gun owner?


I'm just excited to get to go to the range and try out the gun! I have a small gun bag, bought an extra 17 rd. magazine (17+17+10 = fewer reload breaks at the range), and I obviously have eye/ear protection. Bought some Federal ammo at Wal-Mart for $9.50/box of 50 (way cheaper than most gun stores in the area... $14-16/box), and some of those high-visibility sticky targets for more fun than plain paper.

(Aside: Why do most people seem to hand-load all the ammo into their magazines rather than use the loading assist tool? I find I'm way faster, and my thumb feels way better, if I use the tool while reloading).

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allaroundhunter
February 23, 2012, 01:44 AM
1) To lock and unlock the slide, use your trigger finger.

2) There are lots of places to get good holsters, midwayusa.com is a good place to start. (Here (http://www.ruger.com/service/holsterChart.html) is a compatibility chart)

3) Take an NRA basic pistol class!


(4. Some people feel emasculated using a loader)

2wheels
February 23, 2012, 05:36 AM
Even as a righty who is basically useless with his left hand, when shooting left handed I'm able to use my trigger finger to push up on the slide lock lever to lock back the slide. I can release it with my trigger finger too, though I prefer to use the overhand method to release the slide (I grab the rear of the slide with my support hand, pull back and release).

Might take some practice, but it's definitely doable.

Hangingrock
February 23, 2012, 08:43 AM
You could have done yourself a favor and purchased a semiautomatic pistol which is ambidextrous.

An example of that would be an S&W MP series pistol with slide-stop/release on both sides of the frame and a reversible magazine release. The S&W also has the optional ambidextrous external safety levers.

That said there are different ways for a lefthander to manipulate the control functions. The best recourse would be to seek competent instruction.

rm3482
February 23, 2012, 08:52 AM
Even as a righty who is basically useless with his left hand, when shooting left handed I'm able to use my trigger finger to push up on the slide lock lever to lock back the slide. I can release it with my trigger finger too, though I prefer to use the overhand method to release the slide (I grab the rear of the slide with my support hand, pull back and release).

Might take some practice, but it's definitely doable.

^^ I second that. I have chosen to use a gun that fits my hand and shoots well and then teach myself how to use the right handed gun properly. I personally am against converting to a left handed gun only for the reason if I had grab someone else's gun to use I would want to be able to use it as flawlessly as I have learned to use my own through practice. I'm just weird like that though. I purchased my holster through crossbreed holster and have been very pleased.

Fiv3r
February 23, 2012, 01:01 PM
The SR9 was my first handgun:) Good choice. I ended up getting rid of mine (not a C model) simply because i was getting some barrel peening that I did not think was as cosmetic as Ruger said it was. I think they got all of that fixed as it was 2 or 3 years ago that I had mine.

However, I too am a southpaw and shoot a Glock mostly. Honestly, I just use two hands to manipulate my gun if it's just plain ol' fun target practice. I don't mind. When I do any defensive drills, I train using the slingshot method. Basically, I can shoot with my left. Tap and rack with my right hand. Drop the mag with my left hand, insert a new one with my right and use my right to let the slide fly to chamber the fresh round.

For me, working the slide release is a low stress job that only comes into play when I want to inspect the gun or clean it.

Far, far more crucial to have an ambi-safety if you are using a firearm that generally requires use of a manual safety like a 1911. This is also another reason why a Glock works for me.

As for holsters, well the internet is filled with southpaw options:) I generally make my own out of leather since I dabble in the hobby, but pretty much every manufacturer out there makes something to accommodate "Sinisters".:evil: Today, I'm sporting a nice Blackhawk paddle holster for my G21. Comfy, easy on and off my belt, and way secure as it has a button that will release the pistol only of you draw it correctly.

Ryanxia
February 23, 2012, 01:44 PM
One thing to consider on future purchases is just because a gun is ambidextrous doesn't make it the ideal option. I have a Springfield Armory XD and the mag release is ambi, although my thumb doesn't quite reach to where I can drop the mag without adjusting my grip, so I use my middle finger of my left hand to drop the mag. I recently picked up a Glock 19 (after swearing to never own a glock) and the mag release is so smooth that I prefer doing it this way (and am used to it) than having an ambidextrous one.

bigfatdave
February 23, 2012, 02:35 PM
What's the best way to handle the slide when holding the gun left-handed?overhand, stop messing around with the lever unless you want the slide locked open
corneredcat.com/Rack_the_Slide

Where's a good place to get a holster for a lefty?I'd start with CrossBreed, KHolster, Tucker Gunleather, Comp-Tac, etc etc
look for a design that puts the clips OFF of the gun and will securely attach to the belt
also get a real gunbelt (BeltMan makes the best belt I have ever owned, there are others but I'll just pimp BeltMan today ... read and follow the sizing instructions carefully)


Any other tips for a first-time gun owner?
Shoot more
Get a .22 that somewhat mimics your carry gun if possible
Shoot more
Don't worry about getting the perfect gun" on the first try, there is no end to the compromise combinations in handguns and no gun is perfect for every application
Shoot more
Get a long gun or twelve, start there with a .22
Shoot more


I don't have my CCW permit yet,Fix that, there is no reason to delay. Don't think that your required class is real training, that comes after ... mandatory requirements are about paperwork, good CC classes are rare, just get it done as cheaply as you can

but I plan on taking a class soon (my wife wants to go too—but it took a while to convince her to let me get a gunGo to the class, take the Mrs, let her pick her own gun after shooting as many models as possible ... and don't post a thread about what gun you should get her, there's a sticky with everything you could possibly want to know about why buying someone else a gun is a terrible idea.

Aside: Why do most people seem to hand-load all the ammo into their magazines rather than use the loading assist tool? I find I'm way faster, and my thumb feels way better, if I use the tool while reloading
dunno - sometimes it is "just one more damn thing to take to the range" and sometimes I forget it.
It is easier, particularly for doublestack magazines. If you want something really easy, look into the "maglula" or "uplula" for centerfire pistol mags, and the "ultimate cliploader" for .22 pistol mags (some of them, at least) ... I will not buy another .22lr pistol that doesn't work with the "ultimate cliploader", even though it is obviously a magazine loader, not a cliploader.

Fiv3r
February 23, 2012, 03:06 PM
Oh and I should add the SR9 is the only gun I have ever owned that pretty much required me to use the loading tool lest I nearly break my thumb trying to get the 16th and 17th round in there.

Those SR mags are pretty dang type. My P89 only has a 15 round mag, so I don't know if it's the mag themselves or just the fact that you're trying to squeeze 2 more rounds in there.

geerlingguy
February 23, 2012, 05:01 PM
Thanks for all the advice, especially wrt using the trigger finger for the slide lock. It's definitely not a huge deal, and in a defensive situation, I hope I won't need to lock the slide.

However, there were a couple double-feeds at the range today that did require me to lock the slide and pop out the magazine, so if that happens in a more tense situation, I still want to be able to operate the lock more quickly than fumbling around switching hands!

Thanks also for the holster suggestions—so many to choose from! I've had a PDA or phone 'holstered' on my hip since high school, so I don't think it'll be too hard to use the SR9c with the 10rd mag if I get the right holster. I just wish there were more selections I could try before I buy—all the online ones that seem great aren't available in any stores around here.

The SR9c performed well at the range today, with one stovepipe, 2 FTF (one was a double feed, other seemed to just not have a firing pin hit... weird?), and a REALLY hot barrel after sending about 225 bullets downrange. The slide is already a lot easier to operate after firing a couple hundred times—the first few times I opened it, it felt like I was pushing against a rock... and the metal grip serrations almost cut my fingers! Now it's a little easier, and the trigger's feeling a little more loose too (in a good way).

Gonna clean the gun really well tonight, and look into some STL-area CCW instructors!

BCRider
February 23, 2012, 05:18 PM
Were they actually double feeds or did it fail to properly extract and eject an empty casing but tried to load a fresh round? Empties should eject out with some amount of energy in an arc that pushes them out a good two feet or more. Brass from my CZ hits the ground about 7 to 8 feet over to the right. But that's a little much. But a good minimum is that it should arc out a good two feet and land 3 to 4 feet to the side. If it doesn't then something is draggy in the slide or the recoil spring is too stiff compared to the power of the ammo you're using.

geerlingguy
February 23, 2012, 05:33 PM
I forgot to look; it may have been FTE, because I don't remember seeing more than one full cartridge fall out when I popped the mag and dumped what was in the chamber. I'll have to keep my eye on it in the future, though!

I'm not disappointed with the gun at all, though. I think it still needs a little more break-in—some of the parts feel stiff compared to the range rental SR9c I used last week, and most people say it takes 300-500 rounds before the SR9c feels right.

BluesDancer
February 23, 2012, 07:06 PM
What's the best way to handle the slide when holding the gun left-handed?
I manipulate the slide two ways as a lefty. First way is slingshotting it to chamber a round. Second is to partially draw the slide back for an administrative check to see if the gun is loaded. I don't really manipulate the slide any more than that.

Any other tips for a first-time gun owner?
Sure. If you have a button mag release on the left side of the gun (made for right hand shooting), use your trigger finger to press it. You may have to modify your grip ever so slightly in order to accomplish this, but I actually feel a mag release on the left side is an advantage for lefties (more than righties) if you know how to work it.

Also, obviously most guns are for righties. While it may be odd for southpaws, make rightie-friendly designs WORK FOR YOU if possible. See above example reg. mag release.

harmon rabb
February 23, 2012, 09:14 PM
best advice i can give, and i'm a lefty: LEARN TO SHOOT WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND. we live in a righty's world. adapt to it. 99% of guns are designed for righty's -- so learn to shoot right handed. simple as that.

when i first started shooting, shooting lefty would've felt more natural. but i knew the reality of the gun world, and just shot righty all the time. now, shooting righty feels natural, and my shooting ain't bad at all these days.

geerlingguy
February 23, 2012, 10:59 PM
best advice i can give, and i'm a lefty: LEARN TO SHOOT WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND. we live in a righty's world. adapt to it. 99% of guns are designed for righty's -- so learn to shoot right handed. simple as that.

when i first started shooting, shooting lefty would've felt more natural. but i knew the reality of the gun world, and just shot righty all the time. now, shooting righty feels natural, and my shooting ain't bad at all these days.
The tough part about shooting as a righty, not so much with handguns, but more with shotguns and rifles (long guns), is that I'm left eye dominant.

I'm still considering shooting my handgun righty, as my groups are pretty much the same left and right handed (I'm ambidextrous in a strange way... write only left handed, play sports *mostly* right handed, etc.). But either way I go, I have plenty of improving to do! I have 8-10" groups at 7 yds...

rm3482
February 24, 2012, 12:42 AM
I would still shoot left handed if that is what's comfortable for you. I would just learn to safely manipulate your right handed gun with your left hand. Then every gun will be manipulated safely with your left. Just my two cents.

GLOOB
February 24, 2012, 12:51 AM
Being left handed is a blessing in disguise. Too many handguns have "ergonomically" placed race-gun controls that can cause jams and unintentional magazine dumps.

Autolycus
February 24, 2012, 06:32 AM
I would suggest a training course for you and your wife. And practice will make things come more naturally to you.

Hangingrock
February 24, 2012, 12:39 PM
best advice i can give, and i'm a lefty: LEARN TO SHOOT WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND. we live in a righty's world. adapt to it. 99% of guns are designed for righty's -- so learn to shoot right handed. simple as that.

The more recent designs in semiautomatic pistols are more accommodating to ambidextrous usage. There are more rifles and shotguns that are now available that are designed for left hand usage.

geerlingguy
February 24, 2012, 01:27 PM
The more recent designs in semiautomatic pistols are more accommodating to ambidextrous usage. There are more rifles and shotguns that are now available that are designed for left hand usage.
One of the main reasons I chose the SR9c, besides how much I liked the size and feel of the gun, was that all its controls (except for the slide release/lock) are ambidextrous.

Besides locking the slide, I feel quite proficient with the controls on the gun, though they're all a bit 'sticky' right now (I need to put a few hundred rounds more downrange before they'll be looser, supposedly).

But for handgun shooting, I'm definitely still considering shooting right handed, or at least practicing both ways. I've found that it pays to be adaptable. For handguns, since I use the isosceles stance, the only difference when switching hands, as far as I can tell, is trigger feel/control... it's a slight bit different depending on which hand I'm using.

Hangingrock
February 24, 2012, 05:42 PM
You have a lot to learn. That’s not meant to be a negative commentary on your status/abilities. With in reason your perceptions and abilities are going to mature over time. With out acknowledging it most people settle into their own level of incompetency.

geerlingguy
February 24, 2012, 06:07 PM
You have a lot to learn. That’s not meant to be a negative commentary on your status/abilities. With in reason your perceptions and abilities are going to mature over time. With out acknowledging it most people settle into their own level of incompetency.
I definitely agree there!

I've only shot maybe 5 times total (around 1000 rounds total) with a handgun, and only a few times with a shotgun (12 gauge), and I'm definitely not anywhere near what I'd call proficient with any type of gun.

I'm planning on taking a basic pistol course (have only shot a revolver once, so I'd like to learn/handle them more too), and a CCW course. I just need to find a good one in St. Louis.

Jaymo
February 24, 2012, 07:30 PM
I'm a lefty and I use my left trigger finger to drop the slide release and to hit the mag release.
I looked at the cornered cat website. her methods for grasping the slide look and feel unnatural as hell to me. Especially her overhand grasp. She has her thumb on the same side of the slide as her fingers, when you get a stronger grasp of the slide if your thumb is on the opposite side of the slide as your fingers. IOW, on the same side of the slide as the butt of your hand.
That's why we have opposable thumbs, for better/stronger grasping and better manual dexterity.

exavid
February 24, 2012, 10:29 PM
If you're a southpaw, as I am, shoot left if that's natural to you. You'll always be better that way. It's a right handed world as you well know but that doesn't mean we have to do things that way. I've done target shooting, hunting and qualified (expert M14 and M1911) in the Army shooting lefty. It really isn't hard, less bother than reaching over for a wrong sided rifle bolt. I use the over hand racking method on most of my pistols other than my P345 which is an easy slingshot due to it's size and recoil spring system. I practice left single handed, double handed, right single and double just to know I can do it if the need comes up. All in all I don't think it makes much difference.

Samari Jack
February 25, 2012, 03:13 PM
Were eye protection, especially when trying out a different gun. I'm a lefty as well and have had brass ding me in my forehead. Depends on the gun and how you hold it.

harmon rabb
February 25, 2012, 10:11 PM
btw, a walther p1 / p38 ejects to the left. they're reasonable on the surplus market now. if you're going to shoot lefty, i'd suggest picking one up as a shooter. in a way, they're the grand daddy of the beretta 92.

jeepnik
February 26, 2012, 01:32 PM
best advice i can give, and i'm a lefty: LEARN TO SHOOT WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND. we live in a righty's world. adapt to it. 99% of guns are designed for righty's -- so learn to shoot right handed. simple as that.

when i first started shooting, shooting lefty would've felt more natural. but i knew the reality of the gun world, and just shot righty all the time. now, shooting righty feels natural, and my shooting ain't bad at all these days.
This is the attitude that results in very few left handed firearms. I'm a southpaw, it may be a "right handed world", but I can and have beat it into submission.

There are revolver options that work for lefties. Single action and top break revolvers are fine. And, Charter Arms makes a left handed small frame .38 spl.

Sadly in autos, no one makes a left handed one any more. But, one of the main reasons is the attitude above. If we as left handed shooter would purchase left handed guns, more would be made. But the few that were made suffered poor sales and ultimately failed.

Glocks and similar semi autos work pretty well, but you still have to deal with the case ejection. On those, just forget about the slide release and learn to rack the slide if you run dry. Your right hand is already off the grip, so manipulating the slide isn't a handicap. Just add an ambi mag release and your good to go.

harmon rabb
February 26, 2012, 07:33 PM
This is the attitude that results in very few left handed firearms. I'm a southpaw, it may be a "right handed world", but I can and have beat it into submission.

There are revolver options that work for lefties. Single action and top break revolvers are fine. And, Charter Arms makes a left handed small frame .38 spl.

Sadly in autos, no one makes a left handed one any more. But, one of the main reasons is the attitude above. If we as left handed shooter would purchase left handed guns, more would be made. But the few that were made suffered poor sales and ultimately failed.

Glocks and similar semi autos work pretty well, but you still have to deal with the case ejection. On those, just forget about the slide release and learn to rack the slide if you run dry. Your right hand is already off the grip, so manipulating the slide isn't a handicap. Just add an ambi mag release and your good to go.
Or just learn to shoot left handed when you learn to shoot. You'll feel awkward for your first few times shooting, and that's it, after that it will feel normal.

This is far less effort than constantly having to adapt to firearms designed for righty's.

I have a buddy like you. Refuses to adapt. He recently paid out the arse for a left handed AR (kind of cool that such a thing exists, really). He gets smacked in the face by shell casings of various guns. Has to learn odd ways of pushing mag releases and slide releases. He's always fighting something.

Just doesn't seem to be worth the effort.

edit: note that i suggested a walther p1 / p38 above. it ejects to the left, and you can get them for under $350 on the surplus market right now. definitely the best milsurp choice for a lefty shooter.

87Theworld
February 26, 2012, 08:12 PM
I'm a lefty and left eye dominant. Everything feels a little weird when your new and learning. I never use my slide stop on the m&p just slam in the mag and the slide closes. I have never been hit with brass in my head yet from shooting a rifle idk how that happens. I shoot my sks and ak-47 no problems. The only thing is taking off the safety and using the bolt action on the sks. but For shotguns the Mossberg 500 is very lefty friendly the safety and controls can all be used without ever taking your eyes off the target.

The hardest thing has been finding guns that fit my small hands. The beretta 92 is too large for my hands. 1911 are very customizable for lefties also everyone should have one :)

Hangingrock
February 27, 2012, 08:07 AM
I don’t like to make generalizations but I believe that with in reason that left-handed people or more adaptable than right-handed people. Left-handed people live in a right-handed world.

The right handed person is most likely never forced to adapt to a difference as their world is set up for them. People emulate their instructors. Since most instructors and students are right-handed the left-handed must either emulate or transpose.

I often hear stories of left-handed individuals claiming to operated right bolt action rifles better that right-handed individuals. Most likely the comparison is invalid because the right-handed person isn’t properly manipulating the bolt action and is withdrawing the rifle from their shoulder as they work the action.

exavid
February 27, 2012, 01:06 PM
I've owned a lot of firearms since I started shooting in 1955. All but two of them were right handed. All of the handguns were. The two left handed guns I owned were a Savage 110L 30-06 and my new Stag Arms AR15. (Stag makes most all of their rifles in left hand versions). I always shot lefty and was lucky in when I was drafted because in 1964 the Army didn't care which side you fired from. On bolt action rifles it's not all that much slower to reach over for the bolt handle, with levers there's no difference, and with auto loaders it doesn't make much difference. I rarely have problems with shells ejecting at me, most go to my right. I do shoot with handguns with my right now and then just to keep in practice but not for target work. If you look around you can find quite a lot of left handed long guns. Not as many as in days past but they're out there. As for adapting to a right handed world and trying to go righty, fuggetaboutit! A lefty should stay what they are. It's a mistake to go with the right handed tyranny! Rise up for your handed-ness, never give up!

harmon rabb
February 27, 2012, 09:49 PM
I don’t like to make generalizations but I believe that with in reason that left-handed people or more adaptable than right-handed people. Left-handed people live in a right-handed world.

The right handed person is most likely never forced to adapt to a difference as their world is set up for them. People emulate their instructors. Since most instructors and students are right-handed the left-handed must either emulate or transpose.

I often hear stories of left-handed individuals claiming to operated right bolt action rifles better that right-handed individuals. Most likely the comparison is invalid because the right-handed person isn’t properly manipulating the bolt action and is withdrawing the rifle from their shoulder as they work the action.
eh, there's more to it than that. and i can say this as a lefty with a bunch of lefty family members. there is pretty much no thing as a true lefty. there IS such a thing as a true righty.

most lefty's i know do some things with their right hand. me, i use a mouse, shoot, and use scissors with my right hand. the shooting was intentional; the mouse and scissions were something that just came naturally as a kid, and i'll just assume that's how i'm wired. heck, my left arm seems stronger, but my right bicep is noticeably larger. also, when doing a test to determine which eye is dominant, it always comes out as my right eye being dominant, which really makes no sense.

so, yeah, lefty's are more adaptable, but that's because at least most lefty's are to some degree ambidextrous. most righty's aren't the least bit ambidextrous. it's not an apples to apples comparison.

my step son is 16. he's a lefty. but he still can't quite figure out which hand to shoot with. for the most part, he shoots right handed, but he always tries doing everything left handed too. he's a pretty decent shot, and shooting with left or right doesn't seem to affect him much. just another example of crossed up lefty's and how we're a lot more adaptable. i make it a point to NOT share my views with him on this (that he should give up and not try to shoot lefty), but i'd say that 8 times out of 10 if you hand him a gun, he'll shoot righty. i try to treat him like a man in areas where he's earned it, and i trust him with guns more than 90% of the idiots at the range, so he's earned the right for me to stfu and let him figure it out for himself :D

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