First Handgun, Practice with 22LR version


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Doc7
January 20, 2013, 08:33 AM
Hello all!

As someone who likes shooting, but am not a "hunter" except for planning to visit the squirrel woods with a 22, I want to focus my limited budget on firearms from a defensive standpoint. To that end, my next purchase is a Mossberg 500 for HD and then I want to look into the world of CCW, which I can do in my 2nd home state, even though I cant in my primary residence of NJ. For purpose of discussion i also plan on taking several safety classes, including defense specific mindset/legal issues and implementing non-firearm layers of protection and behaviors, so let's leave that aside and I will go to my main question. Reloading is also an interest of mine so cost savings in ammo are available.

I have been reading that a 38 special snubnose (or a 357 etc) is not a good "first handgun" because it is less than pleasant to practice with as frequently as necessary. However, what if i approach it from this angle?

I will be renting from a place that has literally dozens of CCW-type handguns and trying out many. If i find a 38 special i like, lets say an S&W or Ruger, and pick up both that revolver AND its 22LR cousin in the same barrel length (of which it seems that S&Ws and Ruger LCR and SP101 have available), could i implement practice techniques that overcome the less-optimal snubnose 38 as a first/only gun?

For instance, dry fire practice frequently with the 38 (keeping sights on target with a dime on the barrel etc), practice with a lot of rounds of 22LR with same sight picture and barrel as the 38, and practice a few cylinders worth of the 38? This way, caliber/recoil doesnt keep me from live-fire practicing with the 38 special "EDC" gun, though i still shoot it. I feel like i could get hundreds more rounds of sight-picture practice in this way, similar to an Appleseed for rifles.

So let me know please, if the advice about snubnose revolvers being poor first gun choices changes if i simultaneously get a similar snubnose 22.

Thanks!

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rswartsell
January 20, 2013, 09:09 AM
Recoil isn't the only factor making 2" revolvers a difficult choice for beginners. Decreased sight radius and the comparatively stout double action trigger pull usually encountered also combine to form a shooting experience that will amplify any flaws in revolver shooting technique. This at a time when you are just learning revolver shooting isn't considered optimum. Developing a flinch in anticipation of nasty recoil would be a concern, but so are developing correct trigger control, grip and quickly acquired sight alignment.

Everyone is different and if .22 2" works as described for you go for it. Most feel it would be easier developing good habits with 4" and above but there is certainly room for individuality.

MrBorland
January 20, 2013, 09:25 AM
Yes, if you can swing it, getting a CF revolver and it's rimfire counterpart as an understudy is an excellent idea, IMO.

Since you're also interested in reloading, though, another idea might be to skip the rimfire revolver for now and work up some very light .38 practice loads.

Kleanbore
January 20, 2013, 09:36 AM
A couple of thoughts...

Rim fire handguns are great , but for defensive practice with a snub you are going to have to shoot it double action only; you do not want to train in the single action mode. A DA only snub is likely preferable, both to eliminate any discussion of single action operation and to eliminate the possibility of having the hammer spur snag on clothing.

Most snubs have a rather heavy trigger pull, and because of the need for reliable ignition, RF revolvers generally have a heavier hammer spring than the CF versions, and it is therefore more difficult for many of us to shoot them well.

Dry fire practice is a good idea, and if you have a set of Crimson Trace laser grips, you will be able to "call your shots" very effectively when dry firing. My wife tried that, and it was very effective in raising her skill level in live fire.

You will likely find that practicing with a .38 snub is not pleasant. I have both arthritis and tendonitis, and fifty target rounds through a Model 642 in one session has an unpleasant after effect. Might I suggest and all steel version. The effects of recoil will be mitigated, and you will likely find the gun more controllable.

I would stay away from .357 loads, because the blast and recoil makes rapid, controlled follow-up shots more difficult.

After you have become proficient in terms of presentation, grip, and trigger control, focus on speed rather than group size. If you develop the ability to empty your revolver into a small paper plate at seven yards in just over one second, you will have everything you need except more capacity should you need it.

Started out with a Model 642, but I later changed to a compact 9MM semi-auto for primary carry for three reasons:

I found it easier to control it because of the lighter, shorter trigger pull.
I like margin provided by the additional capacity.
I found a Ruger SR9c less punishing than the 642; that may not be the case with a steel version.
I hope you find this useful.

22-rimfire
January 20, 2013, 09:36 AM
Any practice with a 22 translates to being more proficient with the more powerful gun. There is more to shooting than recoil issues.

2" or snub nosed handguns are more difficult to shoot accurately. Just takes practice.

If you are on a limited budget, I would probably go with a steel framed 38spl snubbie and learn. But the 22 will help you develop good habits.

I guess it depends on at what distance you believe you should be "accurate" with a snubbie (concealed carry) handgun. For me... it's 7 to 10 yds. I can almost throw rocks at that distance and hit a man-sized target.

Doc7
January 20, 2013, 10:15 AM
If I make the decision to concealed-carry, making sure I do what I can to have the right tools including for practice is definitely part of how I would plan on saving up. Therefore even a quality S&W 317 22LR in barrel length equal to a high caliber revolver I would budget for (have wedding present, gift, and OT money all coming up).

The first poster touched on a concern which is worry that a snubnose of any form may lead to bad habits. Is this generally the case, or if I work hard at developing skill at the smaller pistols (22lr and 38spl snubs) will it translate to even better skill at the longer barrels?

I guess I worry that if I get and practice with a 22LR that is different manual-of-arms than my desired carry piece, and/or different barrel length, the practice won't be as effective as a "nearly identical" counterpart. Does one need "three" guns - a longer barreled practice piece, snub practice piece, and carry gun? Then we would definitely be going into the multiple-years of cash savings mode. As with my rifles, once again I find myself wishing I had parents who stuck a 22 in my hands at a young age!

Can you also please explain why I would practice in Double Action Only vs regular DA/SA mode?

Kleanbore
January 20, 2013, 10:49 AM
Posted by Doc7: Can you also please explain why I would practice in Double Action Only vs regular DA/SA mode?This article (http://www.snubnose.info/docs/daovdasa.htm) addresses the subject rather well. FYI, toward the end of the era of police service revolvers, many departments had the SA provision removed from their issue revolvers, or ordered DA revolvers that could not be fired in the single action mode, for the reasons cited in the article.

The concern about unintentional discharge under stress is what has driven many departments to have heavier trigger pulls specified for their Glock semi automatic pistols.

MedWheeler
January 20, 2013, 10:53 AM
DA-mode is how you will be shooting in a fight or defensive situation. That is why you'll do your "combat" practice/training in that mode. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing some "fun" shooting in SA-mode, but it's not how you'll typically operate the gun during its intended use (defense.)

There is no need to go DA-only in revolver selection but, with a snub, there is little, if any, need for SA-operation. You're not going to be taking sniper-shots with that little 1.88-inch pipe.

And, yes, I firmly agree that a similar rimfire counterpart to one's defensive (or other purpose) firearm is a great training supplement. I use a Kel-Tec PF9 for defensive carry. My Taurus PT-22 doubles as its training buddy.

Airbrush Artist
January 20, 2013, 11:32 AM
Whatever You decide a 38 Special is one of the Best CCW Revolers that has every been made,Its pretty much a Consensus by a Lot of Gun owners,I started with Mine and It remains my Firearm of Choice, 1,000's of Former Police Officers from back in the day cannot be wrong.. ,It is correct They have a Serious learning Curve but "whatever" you learn or start out with Practice is the key word..Everyday if possible till you know it .Then practice some more.I carry My Colt 38 Detective Sp. every day with full assurance I have what I need ...One things for sure do get discouraged and Sell it...

Doc7
January 20, 2013, 11:56 AM
I might not be as knowledgeable about the terminology as I thought. Doesn't "train for DA only in SD situations" only count for the first shot, and in most "real life" situations firing multiple shots is likely, which would be in SA? I don't see any reference to single action in the article except for a pre-cocked gun, so maybe I don't 100% understand the difference between DAO, SA and DA/SA.

skidder
January 20, 2013, 12:43 PM
I didn't think my 22 LCR would help me improve my 38 snub shooting, but it has. The biggest difference for me is DA only. With the cheaper ammo and no SA, I've been forced to tackle one of my weaknesses. Now when I grab my 2.25 SP the instinct to cock the hammer is slowly fading away.

The 22 LCR gave me the kick-in-the-butt I was needing.

MedWheeler
January 20, 2013, 01:11 PM
Doc7 writes:

I might not be as knowledgeable about the terminology as I thought. Doesn't "train for DA only in SD situations" only count for the first shot, and in most "real life" situations firing multiple shots is likely, which would be in SA? I don't see any reference to single action in the article except for a pre-cocked gun, so maybe I don't 100% understand the difference between DAO, SA and DA/SA.

Doc, revolvers don't leave their hammers cocked after a shot like semi-automatic pistols do. The recoiling slide of a semi-automatic pistol is what leaves the hammer cocked (on models that have a hammer that can be cocked.)

One must manually cock the hammer on a revolver for each shot one wants to fire in SA-mode.

Some revolvers are single-action-only, such as those based on the Colt Single-Action Army 45. Others can be found that are double-action-only, such as the Ruger LCR. Most offer both mechanisms of operation.

You are right, though, when referring to a DA/SA semi-automatic pistol, such as the Beretta 92. The hammer can be lowered to rest, and the first shot taken from that position. But, remaining shots (unless you lower the hammer to rest again manually) will be fired with the hammer left cocked by the slide, and will have the lighter trigger pull.

Doc7
January 20, 2013, 01:26 PM
D'oh! OK, thanks!

BCRider
January 20, 2013, 01:42 PM
Normally I'm a huge fan of .22 guns for practice and plinking. But in your case if money is tight and you want to get into reloading in any event to stretch your shooting dollar then loading up some mouse fart training loads for a .38 is very doable and would be a totally viable alternative to buying a whole separate rimfire gun. "Target" loads of 2.9gns of Bullseye behind a 148gn HBWC are VERY soft to shoot and would be no problem at all to use for lots of practice with no hand stress even in a lighter gun.

One aspect to consider with compact carry revolvers is the sights and point of impact for different ammo. It doesn't serve you at all well to buy a .357Mag gun then shoot only .38Spl out of it. The hits are going to print much higher than your aim point.

So if you have tried and decided that .357Mag shot from a light carry gun simply is not for you then shop for a gun which is intended to shoot your choice of ammo and has the sights regulated for some suitable ammo that you can tolerate.

Another aspect of this is that there's a limited variety of ammo loads which will cause the gun to rise up to the same amount by the time the bullet leaves the muzzle and thus will hit at the same aim point. One such combination for .38Spl is 158gn LRN powered by a proper load of powder and the previously mentioned wadcutter load. The wadcutter load is a slow and lower power load but it closely matches the point of impact of the classic 158gn LRN .38Spl round. So it becomes a great option for training with a lighter kicking round.

You can also minimize the recoil effect on your hands by replacing the stock grips with an option which fits your hands well. A proper fit in the hand spreads the recoil energy out into more of the hand so no one area gets hit hard. This can go a long ways towards reducing the shock stress and eventual pain and fatigue from shooting the more powerful ammo. I know that switching grips on one of my .44Mag revolvers allowed me to be able to shoot a full box at a time where before I'd had enough by the time I'd shot two cylinders worth. So don't discount the value of grips that fit YOU well.

Finding such grips can be an adventure as it has nothing to do with quality or brand name. They may look like hell and be cheaply made. Or you may need to bite the bullet and pay a small king's ransom for them. But either way if they fit your hand really well then you'll find that the gun becomes easy to shoot even with rounds which were previously too hard hitting to endure for long.

OptimusPrime
January 20, 2013, 01:51 PM
Go for it Doc. The more you shoot, the better you'll get, period. You can read a book about how to swim for 20 years or you can jump in and give it a try. Start at the shallow end of course, and that's exactly what a 22 is. Go have fun.

22-rimfire
January 20, 2013, 08:26 PM
I shoot many of my DA revolvers mostly in single action. But in a self defense situation, you are not going to be able from a practical point of view to do the single action thing.... you'll be nervous, maybe scared to death, and in many cases it only takes the slightest touch on the trigger to touch off a cocked DA revolver. I think in practice, you are better off buying a DA only revolver, probably in 38spl and leaning to control the DA and hit what you are aiming at (more of less).

I have never had to use a hand gun in self defense, but my mindset it to pull the trigger TWICE if I have to shoot. The same would apply to a semi-auto pistol. Twice... double tap. Practice this way.

Skidder mentioned owning and shooting both a LCR-22 and a LCR in 38spl. I think the pair certainly complements each other. I personally have a LCR-22 and a S&W 442 and I think shooting the 22 helps me with the 442. The 442 still stings when I shoot it with factory grips. But I pretty much seek only reasonable accuracy at self defense ranges of 7 to 10 yds. Beyond that, I may shoot just for the fun of it, but that is not the range I practice self defense shooting.

Steve C
January 21, 2013, 01:28 AM
Shooting a .22 DA revolver with any length barrel both in single and double action will do more to improve your proficiency with guns in general than anything else except some good instruction. Shooting accurately is about proper grip, trigger control, sight alignment, target acquisition, follow through, and developing a surprise release. All these things will be improved using a .22 where there is little recoil imposing itself on the psyche of the shooter. Accuracy is all about what happens before the round fires.

The .22 LR allows you to fire 500 rounds of practice for the same cost as 100 rounds of standard pressure .38 spl. But practice needs to be perfect practice, otherwise you practice imperfect method that produces poor results.

Buy a good DA revolver in .22 LR and when you get good enough with it get a larger caliber with barrel short enough to conceal in every day carry.

Manny
January 21, 2013, 03:59 AM
Hello all!

As someone who likes shooting, but am not a "hunter" except for planning to visit the squirrel woods with a 22, I want to focus my limited budget on firearms from a defensive standpoint. To that end, my next purchase is a Mossberg 500 for HD and then I want to look into the world of CCW, which I can do in my 2nd home state, even though I cant in my primary residence of NJ. For purpose of discussion i also plan on taking several safety classes, including defense specific mindset/legal issues and implementing non-firearm layers of protection and behaviors, so let's leave that aside and I will go to my main question. Reloading is also an interest of mine so cost savings in ammo are available.

I have been reading that a 38 special snubnose (or a 357 etc) is not a good "first handgun" because it is less than pleasant to practice with as frequently as necessary. However, what if i approach it from this angle?

I will be renting from a place that has literally dozens of CCW-type handguns and trying out many. If i find a 38 special i like, lets say an S&W or Ruger, and pick up both that revolver AND its 22LR cousin in the same barrel length (of which it seems that S&Ws and Ruger LCR and SP101 have available), could i implement practice techniques that overcome the less-optimal snubnose 38 as a first/only gun?

For instance, dry fire practice frequently with the 38 (keeping sights on target with a dime on the barrel etc), practice with a lot of rounds of 22LR with same sight picture and barrel as the 38, and practice a few cylinders worth of the 38? This way, caliber/recoil doesnt keep me from live-fire practicing with the 38 special "EDC" gun, though i still shoot it. I feel like i could get hundreds more rounds of sight-picture practice in this way, similar to an Appleseed for rifles.

So let me know please, if the advice about snubnose revolvers being poor first gun choices changes if i simultaneously get a similar snubnose 22.

Thanks!
Any easily concealed gun will be a poor choice for a first gun, but your plan of getting a .38 snub with a .22 understudy is a great way of doing it and I see no reason you can't do well. The ammo savings is tremendous, approximately 500 rounds of .22 vs 50 rounds of .38. To really make you training plan work I would highly recommend you look into a Crimson trace grip as well, which not only adds a huge edge for low light defense, but allows for NO cost training with NO ammunition expenditure that can be done anywhere, anytime. Yes there's an upfront cost, but the upside is well worth it IMHO.

I elected to go this way myself and am now the proud owner of two Ruger LCR's, a .22 & a .357 (which I'll shoot with +p .38's), both equipped with CT grips. I think this is the ultimate training & carry solution, though it is pricy. The feeling and operation of the two guns is nearly identical, though the .22 is very slightly lighter and has a slightly heavier trigger pull. The CT grip permits both to be shot to a greater degree of accuracy than you may believe such a diminuative gun capable of. If you can swing the cost I don't believe you would ever regret the expenditure and would be very happy with the results.

Doc7
January 21, 2013, 07:06 AM
Thanks for all the great advice so far, think I'm well on my way, now to save up the money for such an adventure including the rental fees before ultimate decisions are made.

How does Crimson Trace help with training while dry firing without letting it become a crutch to not learn to properly use the irons? I see it recommended a lot.

MedWheeler
January 21, 2013, 07:13 AM
The laser helps in dry-fire because you can see what happens to the dot when the hammer drops, or even during its rearward travel. This can tell you if you're pulling to one side or the other (a sign of poor finger placement on the trigger), or pulling downward (a sign of anticipating recoil.)

Another way to watch for recoil-anticipation is to load a spent case along with four live rounds in your revolver at the range and give the cylinder a spin before closing itso you don't know which chamber it's in. Watch what happens to your muzzle when the hammer drops on the spent case to see if you're over-anticipating recoil; a downward thrust of the muzzle means you are.

MrBorland
January 21, 2013, 07:49 AM
The laser helps in dry-fire because you can see what happens to the dot when the hammer drops, or even during its rearward travel. This can tell you if you're pulling to one side or the other (a sign of poor finger placement on the trigger), or pulling downward (a sign of anticipating recoil.)

The front sight tells you the same thing. Personally, I'm not a fan of regularly using lasers for practice for the reason Doc7 stated.

Doc7
January 21, 2013, 09:34 AM
I've read around and it does seem like it has its purpose in dry fire practice (which will be the majority of my practice time as the "backyard range" I can use for free all day every day is at a occasional-weekends home). I like the hammer-activated ones that require use of the irons and provides feedback upon trigger pull, but the Crimson Trace seem to have their purpose in "real life" situations as well. It all will be dependent on how the grip feels etc as well, too early for me to know any of that stuff. For now, the focus is on getting some hands-on experience with the various guns at a rental range. The range only has an Airweight DAO model 642, but they also have a Model 60 which is a 38 spl with the same weight as the model 640 (stainless steel DAO), so I'll be able to know the differences in recoil between a 15 oz gun and a 23 oz gun after that experiment, and what a DAO revolver trigger pull is like, relative to 1911s, Glocks, Kahrs, etc. At this point I only know one thing for sure - whatever I get will be purchased as a "system" with a 22LR counterpart, and I think I know that I'd prefer a DAO revolver instead of a compact semi.

BLB68
January 22, 2013, 03:00 PM
See if you can rent an LCR, or otherwise try one out. (Perhaps finding a fellow shooter local to you who will let you fire one.) They have very nice triggers, better than most stock factory triggers.

Manny
January 22, 2013, 03:29 PM
I've read around and it does seem like it has its purpose in dry fire practice (which will be the majority of my practice time as the "backyard range" I can use for free all day every day is at a occasional-weekends home). I like the hammer-activated ones that require use of the irons and provides feedback upon trigger pull, but the Crimson Trace seem to have their purpose in "real life" situations as well. It all will be dependent on how the grip feels etc as well, too early for me to know any of that stuff. For now, the focus is on getting some hands-on experience with the various guns at a rental range. The range only has an Airweight DAO model 642, but they also have a Model 60 which is a 38 spl with the same weight as the model 640 (stainless steel DAO), so I'll be able to know the differences in recoil between a 15 oz gun and a 23 oz gun after that experiment, and what a DAO revolver trigger pull is like, relative to 1911s, Glocks, Kahrs, etc. At this point I only know one thing for sure - whatever I get will be purchased as a "system" with a 22LR counterpart, and I think I know that I'd prefer a DAO revolver instead of a compact semi.
A centerfire with an as close as possible duplicate in .22lr is the absolute best way to go IMHO.

As to the CT laser becoming a crutch, it only will if you let it. What the CT excells at is a visual confirmation that you're training properly, with a good smooth trigger stroke and not developing bad habits, all without firing live ammo or needing to go to the range. The off switch can deactivate the grip in an instant for unassisted training if you fear creating dependance.

I was a pretty good handgun shot upon a time, but my abilities have diminished with lack of practice and compromised eyesight. Getting the the LCR with a .22 trainer and CT grip has helped me make HUGE strides towards regaining proficiency again.

I recommend the LCR family unreservadely, IMO they're the ultimate CCW handguns available today. Smoth trigger & action, very corrosion resistant and great ergonomics. It may not have the pretty of an S&W, but I think it beats it in funcuality three ways from Sunday.

Hoppes Love Potion
January 23, 2013, 02:13 PM
I would also recommend the LCR. The LCR grips absorb recoil better than the standard rubber boot grip on most J-frames, making the LCR-38 the easier platform for many shooters. And the LCR-22 is quite a nice plinker and training companion for the centerfire LCR.

aarondhgraham
January 23, 2013, 04:41 PM
I am a true fan of rimfire/centerfire pairs,,,
I currently own seven pairs of guns,,,
4 in semi-auto and 3 in revolver.

One of my pairs consists of a S&W Model 36 in .38 Special,,,
The other gun is a S&W Model 34 in .22 LR,,,
Both are S&W J-frame revolvers.

http://www.aarondgraham.com/lwat/handguns/17-velma_velda.JPG

I believe I'm a pretty darned good shot with the Model 36,,,
I attribute that fact to a lot of cheap practice with the Model 34,,,
I would never have been able to practice as much as I did with .38 Special ammo.

The downside to this plan is the cost of a second handgun,,,
Take for example the Ruger LCR that you mentioned,,,
The .22 and the .38 versions list for $529.00,,,
That's a whopping $1,058.00 in cash outlay.

Range fodder .38 Special runs about (a conservative estimate) $25.00 for 50 rounds,,,
Let's say it takes 1,000 rounds to gain some proficiency with a new handgun,,,
That's about $500.00 for .38 Special ammo,,,
That's less than $50.00 for .22 LR ammo.

Shoot the .38 LCR very much and you would have paid for the second handgun in ammo costs.

Now don't get me wrong here,,,
You can't learn to shoot the .38 by shooting the .22 exclusively,,,
But you can gain proficiency faster and cheaper by shooting a combination of the two.

My personal routine is to shoot a 50 round box of .22,,,
And immediately follow it with 5 rounds of .38,,,
Lather-rinse-repeat as often as necessary.

I don't always ration my ammunition so precisely,,,
But I usually shoot 3-4 boxes of .22,,,
and a half a box of .38.

My point is that my experience has been that owning two identical guns as a rimfire/centerfire pair allows me to shoot more and shoot more often.

I do this with my Bersa Thunder 22/Thunder 380 and my CZ-75B/CZ-75B Kadet,,,
I'm pretty darned good with each of the platforms,,,
I attribute it to the cheap .22 practice time.

Just for the heck of it I am attaching a .pdf file for you,,,
As well as anyone else who might be interested,,,
It's a list that I and many others compiled,,,
Of rimfire/centerfire pairs of guns.

Some are not made anymore and hard to find,,,
Many are not made anymore but can be readily found,,,
But a whole lot are in current production and easily found for purchase.

Good luck whatever you decide,,,
But know your original thoughts do have merit.

Aarond

.

Doc7
January 24, 2013, 12:44 PM
So from the last several replies, believe I am reading that a .22LR, even as a snubnose version (identical to my "main" 38 spl gun IF that's what I pick after some rental time) will be a good first handgun and I should be able to train appropriately, as opposed to getting a longer barreled 22 to learn on before a snubnose and then eventually a snubby carry piece in a bigger caliber.

foghornl
January 24, 2013, 12:58 PM
I only have 1 DA revolver, a snubby RG-38Spl, so no matching rimfire for cheap practice.

On the other hand, I have a .357 Vaquero, a .357 Blackhawk, and a Single-Six so, I DO have a rimfire for cheap SA practice, or when I want to "Cowboy Shoot"

rswartsell
January 24, 2013, 08:00 PM
First foghorn, no offense intended. But an RG? Don't you mean you don't have ANY double action revolvers?

BCRider
January 25, 2013, 09:59 PM
Doc, ANY trigger time is good time. And if you want to carry a snub nose at some point practicing with a snub nose .22 isn't a bad thing at all.

You obviously can't duplicate the recoil but there's a lot of stuff you CAN do for valid practice. For example, if you're able to draw from your usual concealment and shoot at your usual range then doing so with the .22 even for that all important first draw and shot is still fully valid practice for your center fire gun.

What WILL be missing is the follow up shot practice. But even there I would want to practice with two shots. Just space them a hair with the .22 to better simulate the center fire shot timing.

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