First handgun?


March 31, 2004, 12:32 AM
Hey all I am new too these boards and wanted to get some feedback.

I am going to be turning 21 in the great state of "Kalifornistan" and will be purchasing my first handgun. I have taken the courses on safety and properly handling a handgun.

I am leaning towards buying a .40 handgun. I know Glock makes a good product but what else is there? Any ideas for a first time handgun owner/operator?

Take it easy.

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March 31, 2004, 01:10 AM
i'm in a similar situation (spending my time these days considering what should be my first handgun purchase). personally, i'm planning on a .22... i want something cheap to buy, and cheap to shoot, and that means .22lr. learn good habits with it, too - few people pick up a flinch from a ruger mark II ;)

/me goes back to researching

March 31, 2004, 01:19 AM
Im not sure the benefits of going with a smaller caliber weapon over a larger one in the early stages of learning how to shoot a handgun.

I have a slight time constraint in that I am starting the police academy and will be using 9mm, .40, and .45 handguns. Id guess owning one in advance and having a working knowledge of it would be beneficial.

I really like Glocks and have heard nothing but great things about them. They dont have a safety though, right? Would that be a downside for a person who is trying to learn all the proper ways of handling a handgun? I really dont mind prices so that isnt too much of an issue for me.

I just want a handgun that is user friendly and easy to learn on.

March 31, 2004, 03:21 AM
To be honest how can you judge the benefits of something when you have no working knowledge?
The .22lr will allow you to learn to shoot easier and quicker than a larger caliber. After you have master the basics of shooting then moving up to larger calibers and dealing with their recoils will be far easier and quick to pick up. A lot of shooters today start with large calibers, but truthfully they would be better shots and would have learned quicker and cheaper with a .22lr.
First learn to shoot. On the average, most LEO's aren't very good shots. That should tell you how much emphasis is placed on training and practice.

You can get your chosen Glock and the .22lr conversion kit. Install the kit and learn to shoot with the .22lr then when you are proficient with it change it back to the designed caliber and learn that. Revert back to the .22lr kit to solve shooting problems that will pop up from time to time.
One day you will realize the virtue of the little .22lr and purchase you a handgun chambered in that cartridge.

Glocks do have safeties, but they are not very forgiving pistols. Light triggers and the manual safety is on the trigger face. Not a very good design I think. A true DA/SA pistol may be a better learning platform for you.

March 31, 2004, 08:16 AM
When I got my first gun, I talked with many people and got many opinions. However, the opinion I listened to was a LEO Range Officer. He told me that my first gun should be a wheel gun.... To be exact a S&W 686 .357...

Easy to use, great for learning....
Fun to shoot at the range...
Cheap Ammo (.38's)....
Move up to a more powerful caliber (.357's)....
Great for Personal Protection (mostly home, thought I do have a rather large IWB holster for it)...

Just my .02..... but I was happy and moved up to an automatic about 6 mons or so later (the Ruger P89 at the time)....

now I have 1911's, Sig's, etc... But in a place of honor in the safe is that first 686......


March 31, 2004, 08:39 AM
If your local gun shop has a range then I bet they rent out used guns. I would go by pick out a few different models and see what you like the best. Once you have the model the just pick a caliber. I myself only get 44mag, 45acp, 9mm, 357, or 22lr. The three guns I would recommend trying are the H&K USPc 45acp, Glock 30, Sig P245. They are all great for shooting, home defense and CCW.

Enjoy your new gun,

Lobotomy Boy
March 31, 2004, 08:49 AM
What Denmark suggested used to be true--.38 was the cheapest ammo--but these days it costs about twice as much as 9mm ammo. Since you are going to be using an autoloader in your professional career, I think you might as well learn to shoot using one.

Since you are going into law enforcement, you will have the opportunity to own numerous guns in your career so you needn't look at whatever gun you buy now as a lifetime commitment.

If money is tight, which I assume it is for a student, the most economical route is to get a Ruger P95. You should be able to pick one up new for around $310. Take the money you'd save buying a future family heirloom like a USP or Sig and spend it on ammo and range time. A proficient shooter with an inexpensive Ruger is a lot more effective than a collecter with a vault full of unused 1911s, Sigs, HKs, and Beretta safe queens. Given your choice of careers, your life could very likely depend on your becoming a proficient shooter.

March 31, 2004, 08:54 AM
I'll probably get flamed for this.

I'm not sure that getting anything right now is such a good idea. If you are indeed about to enter the police academy you need to be very careful you don't teach yourself bad habits that will hamper your instruction and ability to qualify at the academy. They will expect you to handle and fire your firearm in a specific manner and if you learn something different now you will have to unlearn it at the academy.

If you are intent on getting one anyway and since cost is not an issue I would recommend you get a .22 AND whatever kind of gun you will be shooting at the academy. In a perfect situation the .22 would either be a conversion kit for the full sized version or a 'cadet' version of the full sized weapon.

Along with the weapons you should find an instructor who is either on the force you are joining or is familiar with their techniques so that he can instruct you properly. If he is on the force and teaches on the side he might end up being your instructor at the academy! A real benefit! At a minimum you can score points by dropping his name to your firearm's instructor.

Good luck!

March 31, 2004, 09:00 AM
If you're going to be able to practice a significant amount of time between now and entering the academy and budget is a concern at all, a 9mm will probably cost about half as much to shoot as a 40 and if you're new to guns, you're less likely to develop a flinch based on actual recoil as opposed to blast. On the other hand, many folks flinch as a reaction to muzzle blast and in my experience 165 and certainly 180 Gr 40 ammo is often quieter than 115 or 124 Gr 9mm.

Usually I recommend a CZ or an EAA in 9mm as a first auto loader but going into law enforcement, I can see reasons to recommend a SIG or a Glock.

Overall, my gut reaction is to say a used G17 or G19...

March 31, 2004, 11:10 AM
Sorry Majic, I thoght I made it clear that I wasnt forming an opinion but rather posing a question. I said "Im not sure" indicating I dont know a darn thing and it just seemed like a plausible question to me. You are definately right though, I dont know much.

It was suggested at some point that waiting until I actually shoot at the academy could be more beneficial. Would it be a better idea to purchase the same type of gun I will carry on duty and just become familiar with it? Know how to clean it, operate it, and anything else I might need to know?

March 31, 2004, 11:29 AM
Welcome to THR. You have picked a good place to add to your education about handguns. Lots of good info here. As to your questions---

I am leaning towards buying a .40 handgun. I know Glock makes a good product but what else is there? Any ideas for a first time handgun owner/operator?

Glock makes a good product as you suggest. Others that make good handguns in .40 include SIG, S & W, CZ, and Ruger just to name a few. The four that I mention vary significantly in price but are all reliable weapons and I would suggest (if at all possible) trying them out to see how they fit and feel for you.

If cost is an issue the .40 may not be the best place to start as 9mm ammo tends to be less expensive.

A .22 is always a good place to start to learn the fundamentals of shooting such as grip, stance, sight acquisition, trigger pull, etc. The basics can be learned and improved upon with less cost as .22 ammo tends to be very inexpensive. Once again, there are a number of good brands from which to choose. Personally, I would recommend a Ruger as they are reliable and exceedingly well built.

If you can begin with lessons from a qualified, professional, shooting instructor it would be a great help. Learning the right way to shoot (like golf) is much easier than trying to unlearn the bad habits that an individual alone tends to pick up. Hope this helps. Good shooting;)

March 31, 2004, 04:59 PM
A .40?

The various Glocks, SIGs, HKs, Walthers, and S&Ws are all good choices.
Add the Rugers in 9 and 45.

The SA XD gets rave reviews, but I don't trust em as much as the above guns yet. Visit some rental ranges where ya can try some; no telling what you will like best.

Get what ya like, or flip a coin and like what ya get. ;)

March 31, 2004, 05:03 PM
Sig 226

You'll thank me later!;)

March 31, 2004, 05:38 PM
I really like Glocks and have heard nothing but great things about them. They dont have a safety though, right?

Not true. They have 3. It's just not what you think as a safety. One shouldn't rely on mechanical safties over proper handgun handling techniques. The Glock is about as close as you can come to a DA revolver in a semi-auto package. I really like the 19, but your needs and requirements may be very different than mine. The 19 (9mm) was my first handgun, and then I expanded into .45. I am now on the prowl for a Ruger KMK 512 .22 so I can learn better shooting habbits (I flinch with the .45) and shoot more for less $. IMO, the 19 makes a great gun, but I should have went down instead of up, or started with a .22. YMMV

March 31, 2004, 05:39 PM
If you're set on a .40 S&W, see if you can rent a Springfield Armory XD40 at a range. Cost-wise, you get a lot for your money, and Springfield Armory has a great warranty. Drop me a note if you want more info on them. I love mine, but you'll get a lot of recommendations on what to get. Get what works best for you, and if at all possible, try it out before you buy it, no matter what brand/model you choose. Noone can tell you "Brand-X" is what you have to get, no questions asked. It may not fit your hand, or aim as naturally in your hand, or you may feel more comfortable with a traditional safety, or whatever the reason. Remember, there is no perfect gun.

My first handgun was a .357 Magnum revolver, and that's not a bad way to go, either. Especially since, in California, concealed carry is less of an option.

Black Snowman
March 31, 2004, 06:37 PM
My 1st handgun purchase was a wiz-bang Glock 24P uber-pistol. Great gun, reinforced my good gun handling, and I haven't bought another Glock since. I just bought my 2nd CZ and plan on buying at least 2 more.

They fit and point better for me than any other gun I've tried. Don't lay out your hard earned money until you can at least heft a CZ. Great value, accurate, fab triggers once broken in or with a really basic "buff and fluff" trigger job. If they don't point well for you, look elsewhere.

I have the Glock, a Colt Delta Elite (1911 pattern 10mm), a Taurus 669 revolver, a Desert Eagle, a Buckmark, a CZ75B in 9mm and I just traded off my CZ 40B (the straight grip didn't work for me) but the guns I've grown to love are the CZs.

March 31, 2004, 07:01 PM
Having experience with the gun you will carry (or are likely to carry) makes sense, but in many instances, once you are an officer (possibly a reserve in some jurisdictions), you can buy certain guns at a significant discount... esp full-cap magazines.

My personal opinion is that super speed issues aside, what you learn with one basically full size pistol (Glock 17, 19, 22 or 23; SIG 226, 228, 229; XD9 or XD40, CZ75 etc...) is going to help you get going in the right direction. I've owned Glocks and SIGs and a Beretta... and I've found them pretty hard to get excited about... Mostly because they are boringly reliable and almost always combat accurate.

Personally, if I had no guns at all and I was going into a LE academy soon, I'd look pretty hard at the CZ PCR or P01... Simple preference... I like 1911s, BHPs and CZs... The CZs are the cheapest and the PCR/P01 makes the most sense as a carry gun. Once you are issued whatever you are going to be issued, then you can buckle down on that, but until then, what you learn on the CZ (or most any other gun mentioned on this thread) will transfer to whatever you will be carrying. I'd just hate to see you pay full price for something now only to be offered the same gun at $325 in the future.

Either way, good luck and welcome to The High Road. :)

March 31, 2004, 07:27 PM
You might consider a CZ-75 with the .22lr Kadet conversion kit. The pistol is only $399.00 and the conversion kit can probably be had for $200.00.

You get two handguns in one and both are the same, if you will. CZ makes a great pistol, the quality is very good. I think it's a good idea for for people to start off with a full size steel pistol anyway. A traditional single action pistol like the CZ-75 is tough to beat. Learn with the .22 portion and step to the 9mm or .40 caliber, whichever you choose.


March 31, 2004, 07:59 PM
When just starting I bought a lot of guns trying to find just the one best gun for me and found....there isn't just one perfect gun but:
Like many said, I'd try to find a range that will rent a few different types of guns and try them all before buying anything - then get the one that 'feels' the best in your hand and the one that you are most comfortable firing - if its uncomfortable the first will usually be pretty uncomfortable forever I think. And remember : pretty is as pretty does. I wouldn't even try a Glock for the longest time just because I thought they were so ugly - but learned that lesson the first time I fired one.
You will eventually find one that feels like going home - it will just feel right. The caliber is dependent on the use - for me, there's the .45 and then there's everything else (and that .45 is an STI).

March 31, 2004, 08:10 PM
i would have to agree with JeepDriver. Considering I turn 21 on Monday and will be picking up my first handgun as well. A Sig 226 in 9mm. I have shot it and a various amount of other handguns in different calibers, and it is by far the finest that i have fired and can't wait to pick it up. You can't go wrong with a Sig.

March 31, 2004, 08:22 PM
.38 Special does NOT cost twice as much as 9x19, at least not up here. You can get PMC .38 Special for about $10 and 9x19 for about $9.

I'd say just go with a handgun that has a long sight radius. Other than this there are so many factors to consider, from what kind of trigger pull you like to whether you prefer DA/SA or SA only, fat grips or thin, etc. etc.

Lobotomy Boy
March 31, 2004, 09:20 PM

Do you have a Walmart near you? If so, go and check the price of a Winchester Value Pack 9mm. Unless you have some freakish anti gun taxes, the price should be $11.96/100 or less. The prices you quote are for boxes of 50. Okay, I exaggerated. $18/100 ($9/50x2) for .38 special is not exactly twice as much as $11 or $12. Actually it is more like a 50 percent increase. But it still costs a lot more for .38.

March 31, 2004, 10:23 PM
If you insist on starting with the centerfire cartridge and know what academy you will be attending then to save on all the guess work approach them to find out what pistol they train with. Then remember you don't have to purchase a new handgun. Look for a used servicable model for sale that the academy uses and the savings can be applied toward ammo for practice. You may find that the issued pistol does not really suit you even though you learn to use it and can then later purchase another make/model of your liking for personal satisfaction.
Though cost seems to be no problem now, the actual price of the handgun is just the tip of the iceberg. Ammo, magazines, cleaning supplies, holsters, eye and ear protection, and other little essentials add up quickly in a short period of time.

April 1, 2004, 06:53 PM
Do ranges usually have a wide variety of handguns to choose from when it comes to renting? Id really like to be able to use the handgun I am going to buy before I use it. Also I want to make sure it fits my hands because they are really big.

Is it ever a problem having large hands when it comes to handguns? Does anyone with large hand run into problems finding a handgun that fits properly

Black Snowman
April 1, 2004, 10:39 PM
I have hands on the large side and I've been able to find guns that fit me very well. I tend to prefer the Witness and CZ 75 and 97 size/shape for autos. I made thicker grips for my 1911 pattern gun and it fits me well now too.

Some people with very large hands can run into issues with "hammer bite" and "slide bite" where the webbing of their hand gets up into the area of the moving parts of an auto.

You'll be able to find something and you can learn to deal with just about anything although you won't be able to shoot 100% of your potential.

As for rental selection it depends on the range. One range in town here rents an wide varity including SIGs, Kimbers, S&Ws, Glocks, and Rugers. Another range just rents Glocks and Ruger revolvers. The others don't usually rent at all. One seems to let you try their used guns although I can't confirm this. I just assume so since their used guns can be easily identified by the fact they badly need a cleaning.

Phantom Warrior
April 1, 2004, 11:22 PM
I started off my handgun collection with a Glock 23. A mid-sized, .40S&W Glock. Small enough to conceal easily, but large enough to shoot comfortably. Having a gun without a MANUAL safety also helps drive home the basic four rules, especially keep your finger off the trigger. But that's just me. I agree with everyone else, try stuff until you find something that fits your hand and you like. There is no reason you couldn't start with a .40 (I did), but I have to say that starting with a 9mm is a good idea. Cheap ammo equals more practice time for less money. A .22 to be able to practice way more for less money is also a good idea. $1 for 50 round is a very attractive proposition. And .22s are cheap. You could even get a 9mm and a .22. My $2*10^-2....

P.S. If you decide to go w/ a .40 (or 9mm, I guess) Beretta 92/96 or Browning HiPower would be options that haven't been mentioned. At least, I think they haven't....

April 2, 2004, 01:01 AM
Ive read here that Berettas are heavy in comparison to other handguns... is that true? I also see a lot of people commenting on lack of stopping power in the 9mm.

Something I have thought about is that I could purchase a 9mm and practice with it. I could qualify on the range with it and use it to get my feet wet. It may be better to get as much range time as possible starting out. If I have a 9mm from what everyone has said it is a cheaper round to buy. Nothing says I cant switch handguns once I am out of the academy.

Thanks for all of the help everyone... now... which 9mm do I buy? Beretta, Glock, Browning... or any other suggestions?

April 2, 2004, 01:40 AM
I just made my first handgun purchase and picked it up on two days ago. After a lot of research and trying to balance price, I chose the CZ75 P01. I liked the CZ75 as well, but chose the P01 as I will soon by trying for the old CCW and I felt this would be a better carry.

I'd reccommend throwing the CZ line into your research basket.

Good luck!

April 2, 2004, 01:53 AM
I'd say you should just get a colt/springfield 1911, you'll just end up wanting one later anyways :D

April 2, 2004, 08:10 AM
Warpspyder, first of all, welcome to THR!

Next - let's cut to the chase. Forget all the favorite guns everyone's been recommending: we all have them (even me, strangely... :D ), but our favorites won't help you in your particular situation.

Here's what I'd do in your shoes. Find out what your duty weapon will be. Buy a good example of that weapon, either used or new (used can often be much cheaper, but not always: if the used price is within 80% of the new price, buy new and get the benefit of the manufacturer's warranty).

Then, buy a .22 conversion unit for that pistol. If it's a Glock, I strongly recommend the Advantage Arms unit, particularly their LE kit. This can take replacement sights, so that you can set up the conversion unit with the same sights as your duty weapon. By buying such a unit, you can practice with the same grip, trigger pull, sights, holster, etc. as your duty weapon - but at a fraction of the cost in ammo.

To begin with, buy 5,000 rounds of .22 ammo (which will cost you about $80 at Wal-Mart in bulk packs), and use it all! Learn trigger control, sight alignment, etc. Do this before you go anywhere near the academy.

Once you've got the feel of the gun, and are grouping satisfactorily at up to 25 yards, buy some ball ammo. in your service caliber and practice with that. (It might be worth thinking about buying the 9mm. version of your service pistol, rather than the full-caliber version, simply because, as other posters have commented, 9mm. ammo is very, very cost-effective. For example, if your service weapon is a Glock 22, buy a Glock 17; if a G23, buy a G19; if a Beretta 96, buy a 92; etc. This will save you money!)

If, by the time you get to the academy, you've put 5,000 rounds of .22LR ammo, and - say - a thousand rounds of ball ammo through your weapon, you'll be light-years ahead of the other recruits. However, when you get there, don't act like you know it all. Rather, be a polite, obedient novice, and let the instructors teach you to shoot their way. You'll be able to use all the prior trigger time, but learn good techniques from them. If you don't graduate at the top of your class for marksmanship, I'll be very surprised indeed! :D

Good luck.

April 2, 2004, 08:26 AM
Preacherman - that is an excellent post, and great advice.

April 2, 2004, 12:01 PM
Wow Preacherman... awsome post.

I think I will do just that.

Is a conversion kit hard to install? Does it require a gunsmith or can I do it myself being completely new to handguns?

So would I have to install the regular glock sights onto the conversion kit? I am a little confused on the whole sight issue.

April 2, 2004, 12:09 PM
I agree... preacherman's post got to what I was wanting to say but couldn't. :p

As for installing the conversion unit... look at it like this... Pistols are comprised of two primary units, the slide and the frame. On most guns, it is supremely easy to seperate these two units. The conversion basically replaces the slide and all it's contents. Plus the magazine but that's obviously easy to remove. The guy at the gunshop should be able to show you how to remove the slide in about two seconds. If not, the manual will.

If you end up with something like a Glock, SIG, Beretta or CZ, it's as easy as pulling the slide back so far and either removing the slide stop or flipping or pushing an actual take down lever. Then you just do the opposite to install the conversion.

April 2, 2004, 06:35 PM
One note, if after all of your .22lr shooting it seems as if you really can't get good groups then remember that all .22s are finicky about ammo. You would have to buy a box of each type on the market around you and test shoot them. The results can be surprising how your pistol would shoot groups with some rather well and others extremely poor.
This comes after you have learned your basic marksmanship and as you began to hone your skills. All firearms are ammo sensitive with each example prefering something that another would not.

At first just use the supplied sights. Then later change to sights of the same style that would be issued on the duty weapon. Except for exotic sighting systems the method of sighting will be the same. So learning with the supplied sights should be of no concern. Later for familiarity you can change the sights.

April 3, 2004, 12:39 AM
Is there any particular .22 round I should purchase or are the all pretty much the same?

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