Advice on my first handgun


December 3, 2012, 05:52 PM
Hi all...

I am relatively new to handguns and am looking to purchase my first. I have fired six different guns (with my grandpa and range rentals) at various times but by no means do I have an idea as to what I would like to purchase. My goal is to develop sound fundamentals. With that said, it seems as though a .22lr is absolutely the way to go. Beyond that, I am hopelessly lost. From what I've seen, people seem to have good things to say about the Ruger single six, ruger mkiii, s&w 617, browning buckmark, and so on. However, I don't know if I would be better off with a semi auto or revolver. If I went with a semi auto, would something like the buckmark be good for practicing or would I be better off with something like the sig mosquito (that looks more like a "normal" gun... if that makes sense)? I think if I went revolver (which I have never fired one), I think I would like to have SA capability in order to avoid a long/heavy trigger pull, if possible.

I suppose I am looking to hear any and all opinions. Whether it's just one of those "whatever suits you" things or if there are pros/cons to each, I'm all ears.


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December 3, 2012, 06:36 PM
Are you just loooking for something to plink and target shoot with? If so then yes I recommend a .22LR but I personally don't own one so I won't recommend one. I will say that I know people Ruger MK II/III's that like them.

For an all around gun the can also be used for SD, and is easy enough to carry I would recommend a Glock 19. A 9mm is about the next best plinking gun for cost of ammo. Hit up a gun store with a big selection, and just look and handle some of the guns to see what you like is what I recommend.

December 3, 2012, 06:41 PM
The choice of a revolver versus a semi auto 22 is strictly a matter of preference. I own both and love shooting them. I've been shooting for many years and the 22 is the best and cheapest way to learn all the mechanics. Another thing to keep in mind is that good 22 will last forever and provide you with hours of fun. Whatever you start with, besure to get a decent one that has a good reputation for accuracy and trigger pull. That said, my choice for a first gun would be a S&W model 617 (or a nice used model 17). Good luck and enjoy whatever you decide to buy.

December 3, 2012, 06:51 PM
Thanks for the responses. Just to clarify, this gun will be strictly for plinking. I suppose it would be there if, God forbid, I was in a self defense situation, but that is not what I have in mind for this purchase.

December 3, 2012, 06:59 PM
Hello TJM22 and welcome to the forums...

Forgive me, I am a bit confused. You indicate that you've fired 6 different guns, but do not list them. You name 5 guns you want opinions/information on... but going back to the first comment, you don't say that you've test fired any of them.

So... with that in mind, what exactly have you test fired at any length, and what, if any are your preferences at this time?

Next, what do you have an interest in, that you have not yet handled or shot, but intend to?

I'm not trying to be difficult, it's just that you are new here and a relatively new shooter, so before someone convinces you that their favorite .22 should also be your favorite .22... let see if we can provide a bit of objective knowledge before you or a relative drops coin on your first, in a hopefully long line of shooters. ;)

December 3, 2012, 07:00 PM
I love the 22 for plinking! Definitely a good choice on your part. I think you're going about learning in the right way. Learn the proper fundementals first before jumping in with both feet. I personally like the Buckmark pistols and have always had good luck with the design. Another choice would be the Ruger Mk II or MK III series of pistols. I am not a big fan of the Sig Mosquito. Several of my friends have owned them and they always have problems. The Mosquitos seem to like the premium ammo. My Buckmark and Rugers all shoot fine using bulk 500 rd brick ammo. Choose your flavor, but i like the copper washed federal champions myself.
The Ruger SR22 has a large fan base and in general the pistols seem to work well.
.22 ammo is really dirty and after awhile the actions start to gum up and require cleaning, same as any other firearm. I have found dry lube works the best to keep things slick longer.
Enjoy reading about all the different pistol designs and find the one that calls to you. Don't be afraid to buy used and save yourself some money as well.

December 3, 2012, 07:28 PM
Of the .22's I listed, I have handled none of them. I was merely pointing out that those are guns of which I may have interest due to their reputation. Sorry for the confusion.

Here are the guns that I have experience with:
Walther PP (.22)
S&W Model 41 (.22)
Beretta 21 Bobcat (.22)
Beretta 84 (.380)
Beretta 92 (9mm)
Taurus 100B (9mm)

Basically, what I am looking for is any info you could provide from your personal experiences with .22's. For instance, if you've owned a buckmark and markiii, which did you prefer? Why? Is one picky about ammo? Did you have issues with one? etc. etc. Also, what do you believe the pros v cons are of semiauto v revolver for my first handgun? Just things of that nature. I am kind of looking for a starting point in my search.

December 3, 2012, 07:30 PM
sound advice here: i like my buckmark and my single six pick one you won't be disappointed

December 3, 2012, 07:49 PM
Basically, what I am looking for is any info you could provide from your personal experiences with .22's. For instance, if you've owned a buckmark and markiii, which did you prefer? Why? Is one picky about ammo? Did you have issues with one?
Thanks for the clarity. Of everything you've actually fired, you fired one of the finest .22 pistols ever made... the S&W Mod 41. If that's on your list of "buy guns" then not only are you financially better off than first considered, but unless you want to drop quite a bit more money on a Euro target pistol such as the Walther GSP/SSP, Sig/Walther Hammerli, Benelli MP etc etc, you won't get a better .22.
If you came across a Browning Medalist in good condition, that would be most excellent as well.

Now, on the other hand, if your budget is considerably less than the price of a Mod 41 or Medalist, I'd also lean towards the Ruger Mk or Browning B-mark .22s. Heavy barrel, target sights... which ever one feels good in your hand.

Oh, almost forgot, don't be afraid of the Ruger take-down process. If it causes you to pull hair, there is a kit available by Majestic Arms ( that makes take-down a breeze.

December 3, 2012, 07:50 PM
I had a Walther P22 that worked perfectly (unlike many). I enjoyed it and it was very unforgiving of poor shooting habits (which is great for developing skills). However, after several thousand rounds, I sold it and purchased a Browning Buckmark. While the Browning may not look like a traditional auto pistol, its ergonomics, weight and balance are much more similar to a full-size centerfire auto pistol. If you were able to find a SR-22/ Mosquito/M&P 22 etc, that worked well for you, it would be a perfectly viable option for obtaining good pistol skills, but I think you'd enjoy a Browning or Ruger MK because, as your skills develop, the pistol will "keep up." It will be very accurate and when you're good enough, it will still perform to your expectations, where a smaller, lighter gun becomes less viable as an accurate hunting/plinking/target pistol, because they may not offer great accuracy when you've come to expect accuracy that matches your skill level.

As far as revolvers go, they're just plain cool. While the ergonomics are way different than an auto pistol, a revolver can teach you the fundamentals of pistol marksmanship as well as anything.

Regardless of your choice, you're DEFINITELY on the right track using a .22 to learn on before moving to a centerfire.

December 3, 2012, 08:18 PM
I have a beretta 21a and would not recommend it as a plinking gun. sights are hardly visible, and the short barrel extremely accurate. I got a chance to borrow a buddys walther p22 the other week and really loved the look and feel of it along with it shooting real accurately.

Black Knight
December 3, 2012, 10:09 PM
There is nothing wrong with a 22 to help develop the basics. If your gun is going to double as a defensive handgun I would like to recommend a good medium frame 38 Special or 357 Magnum Revolver. Don't let the word Magnum scare you. The 357 Magnum will also fire the 38 Special. The 38 Special with wadcutters is a mild recoiling handgun that can be mastered with a little proper practice. With +P ammo it is a very respectable defensive handgun. In a 357 Magnum revolver you also have the use of a wide range of magnum rounds that can be used for antyhing from target shooting to hunting medium/large (white tail deer) sized game.

December 3, 2012, 10:25 PM
I would definitely stick with the .22 if plinking is what you are looking for. And that is the best way to learn the trade and shoot a lot. You can't go wrong with a MKII/III or a Buckmark or a S&W revolver or most any of the others from reputable companies. It's all personal preference. You'll have more issues with occasional finicky rimfire ammo than you will the guns themselves. My suggestion is shoot them if you can or at least hold them and pick the one YOU like best. I chose the MKIII 22/45 because I liked the grip angle and 1911 type feel of it. You may like something a bit different. Honestly, if I were to do again today, I might go with an actual 1911 style .22 like a Colt/Umarex, Sig or GSG. I kind of wish a bit that I had gone with something more like a "normal" semi-auto as you mention in your post. I get what you are saying. Maybe would be good for you to check out some of these 1911 types.

December 3, 2012, 11:47 PM
Thanks guys. I really appreciate all the responses. For me, I'm leaning towards Ruger 22/45 Lite. Who knows... I'll have to see how it feels in the hand and what not.

December 4, 2012, 12:04 AM
If you would like an semiautomatic pistol, and you have the cash, get a conversion kit. I have one of these for my wife's Glock.

If going for pure fun, I really enjoy the single six. My mom has one - they are a hoot.

December 4, 2012, 02:18 AM
I have a lot of 22lr handguns. I have also sold or traded a lot of them also. For the most part, I have never hand a semi-auto 22lr that I have been satisfied with. On the other hand, I've kept every 22lr revolver I have ever owned, and I like them all.

This is a personal preference.

The 2 semi-autos that I haven't owned yet, that I have interest in are the Beretta 87 (non-target) and a Ruger Charger.

If I were to choose a single 22lr revolver to own for everyday/plinking use, it would be the Ruger Single Ten. This is a revolver that is built to enjoy the heck out of it, and still be solid enough for when your children pass it on to your grandchildren.

December 4, 2012, 08:40 AM
Get a Ruger pistol, not a revolver. You don't want to set yourself up for a disappointment, do you? :cool: The Rugers are reasonably-priced, accurate and reliable.

December 4, 2012, 08:41 AM
I'd get either the Glock 17 or 19. They are good for plinking (9mm is cheap) and self defense. I have my G17 with me 24/7. :D

December 4, 2012, 11:21 AM
Ive had good luck with shooting the GSG, fit the hand pretty well. Loved my last gun, EAA tanfoglio witness in 9mm/.22 I had very few issues with the .22 slide and zero issues with the 9mm. Two guns in one, cant go wrong. Mine was the full sized all steel, so not the greatest carry gun.

CZs kadet is supposed to be very good

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December 4, 2012, 11:50 AM
As others have said, the choice between revolver and semi-auto for your purposes is purely personal. Pick whichever one appeals to you. That said:

Semi-Auto: There are lots of choices, but I think they really boil down to two; the Ruger MkIII or the Browning Buckmark. Both are great target pistols and fun plinkers, available in several different configurations. IMO you won't find a better semi-auto .22 than these two for less than $1000
Revolver: There are less options for a revolver, especially if you want a new gun but for my tastes there's just one choice; the Smith & Wesson Model 617. Its not a cheap gun, but you can't really do better. I'd say the Ruger Single-Six (or Single-Ten) is a close second, if you are satisfied with a SA-only gun.

December 4, 2012, 12:06 PM
A couple of thoughts:

-Nothing wrong with learning on a .22, except, maybe, that it is harder to practice by dry-firing.

-One downside to an auto for your first handgun...hard to put dummy rounds in to see if you are moving when the shot breaks, which is common with most beginning handgunners and is a serious detriment to accuracy.

-Spend a little more for accuracy, you'll appreciate it as you get better. If it was going to be an auto, I'd be happy with a S&W .41, a Ruger Mark II (bull barrel), a High Standard, Browning Buckmark, or Colt Woodsman. Some of these would have to be a used gun.

-On the revolver side, I'd pick a S&W K-22, or a Freedom Arms 97. I have never been satisfied with the accuracy of the Ruger or Colt single actions in .22, but will admit to a small sampling.

Some/most of these are kind of pricey, you'll have to judge that trade off yourself. Quality does hold its value should you decide to sell. My $.02, dvnv

December 4, 2012, 12:23 PM
The Ruger Mk II or III are great guns. But they do have that swept back grip angle which works better for single handed bullseye shooting more than it does for a two handed balanced isoceles triangle modern action shooting stance. Not that it can't be made to work but the angle of the grip is going to teach you to flex your wrists more. Then later when you add a more regular style center fire handgun to the collection you'll likely find that any fast "up, sight and shoot" drills will see the front sight being pointed well down until you adapt.

To avoid this you might want to stick to a grip angle which is more similar to the more regular center fire options. .22's such as the 22/45, Buckmark, S&W 22A and others are examples of this direction.

Your eventual center fire guns are not going to be that light unless you favour polymer framed options. Because of that you may want to get used to a little more weight now by avoiding the LITE style guns made mostly from alloy. The steel guns will give you more practice and develop the moves for quickly moving from target to target in a match style setting without overshooting the aim point. And for slow bullseye shooting and plinking for accuracy a little weight aids in steadying the aiming. The only really big advantage that I can see in very light guns is factors such as smaller kids being shown how to shoot, packing in a holster during woods walks or some other sort of factor where a little more weight becomes a hindrance. Lighter isn't always better contrary to what some may suggest.

Old judge creek
December 4, 2012, 01:03 PM
OK, here the "two cents" worth of an old man with 61 years of hand gunning experience (I'm 70) and I'v been an NRA Certified Instructor for the last 30 years. And lemme tellya, my two cents worth is just that.

My first handgun was a single action 22 revolver I got when I was nine years old. I learned the fundamentals with it and then (I think) Dad sold it, but the only handgun in the house was his issued 1911.

A 22 revolver is a GREAT basic learning tool. But these days, conventional wisdom leans toward starting out with the action you intend to shoot "later" - whatever that means.

The fact is anyone under 16, I start off will probably begin with a Ruger Bearcat for the first several lessons (and I have 13 grandkids and 3 great grandkids).

That said, I really like the Ruger 22 autos. My favorite, and the one I have, is a 22/45. I'd suggest the "standard" weight" as opposed to the light weight version.

I also strongly recommend the Ruger Single Six 22/22magnum because its so versatile for a host of real applications. I have four of them - one in each of the manufactured barrel lengths. Frankly If I could only have two handguns, a Single Six would be the second one.

If you feel the need to "go faster" or start off with something more powerful, I'd recommend a 357 Magnum revolver - of either Double or Single action persuasion.

If you are looking for a handgun for the sole purpose of Home or Personal Defense, then you might consider a semi auto. I spend a lot of time in the wilderness and for the last several years the biggest concern is the need for personal defense, NOT wild animals.

If you elect to learn with an auto... I suggest you select the 9mm as the caliber to learn with. As for which guns? Man, thats why they make chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and seventy-leven other flavors.

BUT if you heed no other advice please consider this: When you need a gun... you NEED a GUN!!! Don't buy anything but quality if there's any possibility that you might need to depend on it for either you or your family's life.

I used to carry revolvers exclusively for their versatility. Then, one day in the high desert an occasion arose where only the presence of firearms prevented bloodshed. From that time on, I (and my friends as well) carry only 45 autos into the high desert. My two favorites were my Kimber and ParaOrdnance 1911s.

Five years ago I finally gave in and tried a Glock 30. It's now my #1 personal defense sidearm and I recently added a Glock 19 (9mm) to my battery because I'm not getting any younger.

IMO Glock is indeed all it's hyped to be.

So there ya are - food for thought. Just keep in mind that I'm no expert - just well experienced.

o Unforgiven o
December 4, 2012, 01:35 PM
The whole point of starting yourself on a .22, is to familiarize yourself with shooting. Most people who do this eventually will want to get a larger gun once they feel comfortable with their .22. What I'm trying to say is there is no wrong platform to choose. If you see yourself getting in revovlers than starting on a single six or a 617 makes sense. If you plan to buy a modern semi you would be far better served with a MkIII or buckmark, or maybe even something more "normal" like a m&p 22, siq mosquito or a P22. So once you decide which genre of firearms you want to pursue, picking your favorite gun in that category will come easy.

December 4, 2012, 02:14 PM
Your leaning towards a 22/45 Lite is probably a wise option.

December 4, 2012, 03:29 PM
If, like many, your first pistol will be your only pistol (at least for awhile) I'd suggest not getting a .22LR for starters.

Adding one later, to hone one's skills cheaply, is a great idea, I just think that one might do better starting with a larger caliber.

December 4, 2012, 07:08 PM
Welcome TJM. Nothing beats a .22 for learning the fundamentals, so congrats on picking a caliber already. Next I would recommend going to a gun shop and comparing revolvers and semis to see which you like the best. I like both but prefer the semis.

If you decide to go the semi route, I would suggest either a Ruger MK or Browning Buckmark. I have the Ruger 22/45 and it is a fantastic gun to learn on, practice, or just have fun with. I would however say that the Lite version is most likely an unnecessary cost with not much upside for a first gun, but that is your decision.

Good luck and again welcome.

Crunchy Frog
December 4, 2012, 09:28 PM
When I got interested in handguns "back in the day", the revolver was king. I started off with revolvers and for my first .22 revolver I was deciding between a Ruger Super Single Six or a S&W Model 17. I ended up buying the Smith and still have it today. Either would have served.

I'll give two general recommendations. First, that your first purchase be a .22 caliber, and second, that you buy a top quality gun. It is not only a good "starter" gun, it is one that you will never outgrow and can always appreciate. Even if you handload your centerfire ammo, the .22 long rifle ammo is less expensive.

I still appreciate a good revolver but I often recommend, for new shooters, a Ruger Mark II/Mark III or 22/45, or a Browning Buckmark. Both are reasonably priced, accurate, well made and supported in the aftermarket (holsters, sights, etc.).

About a year ago I started shooting Steel Challenge with a .22. I like the Buckmark but ended up buying a Ruger .22/45 for a couple of reasons. First, the Ruger can be dryfired without fear of damaging the chamber. In Steel Challenge the RO directs the shooter to dry fire the gun at the end of each stage (after showing clear) to confirm that the gun is empty. The Browning does not tolerate dry firing as much. Second, I needed five magazines to shoot Steel Challenge. The Ruger came with two, the Browning with only one, and the extra magazines were less expensive with the Ruger.

Good luck with your purchase.

Droid noob
December 4, 2012, 09:47 PM
I own the Ruger SR22 and love it. The only malfunctions have been from crappy.

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December 4, 2012, 10:21 PM
Single Six or Bearcat.

I shot 22lr pistols for years before stepping up to a .38 special. I never picked up the dreaded flinch and i attribute it to the lowly Single Six. 22lr revolvers help you to focus on accuracy too instead of clearing jams since semi-autos are usually ammo picky and revolvers will shoot anything.

December 4, 2012, 10:37 PM
Here are the handguns I own:
.22 ruger mark iii 5.5 bull barrel
.22 ruger single six 6.5 stainless
.22 ruger single six 5.5 blue
.22 ruger sr22
.380 cz 83
.380 ruger lcp
9mm cz 75b w/ kadet kit
9mm cz 75compact
9mm cz 2075 rami
.357 ruger Blackhawk
.45 rand Remington 1911

I would start with a Ruger Single Six, probably with the 5.5" version. It is just a very versatile, safe, easy gun that will remain useful for the rest of your life. Happy shooting.

December 4, 2012, 11:00 PM
My suggestions would be for one of two older .22's

1) Colt Woodsman
2) S&W K22.

These are, IME & all that, the best of their kind without getting into really serious money. Both will only be found used (though the S&W 617 is the K22's decendant and would be acceptable) and both will be a bit more expensive than some other options. OTOH, both are of very high quality and worth every penny. The only real choice point is semi-auto vs revolver. I'd get the K22 personally, but then again, my wife already has a Colt :)

Good luck & enjoy!

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