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Giving advice to someone looking for a first semi-auto pistol

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by CarbineWilliams, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. CarbineWilliams

    CarbineWilliams Active Member

    I recently got into a conversation with a coworker (who had been playing computer games for a long time but had never had experience with real weapons) as to what should be his very first pistol. He had had a lot of people suggesting things, such as .22 pistols etc. but I thought I had something to contribute being a former M1A1 tank gunner and long time shooter. I'm also looking to see how this experiment in pistol training works in order to introduce my GF to weapons other than my .45 revolver.

    My recommendations (money not being so much an object for him) were:

    1) Any Beretta M9 series. I'm assuming the Berreta .40 SW use the same action as the M9. I can't say enough about how easy to understand and maintain these Beretta's are. I can field strip one of these M9's in less than 30 seconds on a bad day, down to magazine spring out. I've trained dozens of otherwise non-gun-user soldiers in the operation and use of this pistol and they can all get it and hit it. Really accurate as well. I have to say that I must have fired 2K rounds out of M9's and cannot remember a single misfire or malfunction. Damned shame they don't make them in more powerful calibers, but I think it's a great first pistol and very appropriate for a first semi-auto pistol.

    2) Browning Hi-power 9mm. Wonderful, wonderful weapon and uses 9mm so nice and cheap to practice with. To my mind, a lot harder to learn as a first semi-auto pistol than the Beretta. But, it looks like a 1911 which gives it some cool points and it gets a lot of respect points at the range.

    Now, I've had a Ruger fluted-barrel 10/22 target pistol but I have to say that while it was a brilliant shooter it is way down on the list of pistols I'd recommend for a first time shooter. Disassembly of the pistol always felt like a battle, and that's got to be one of the defining factors in getting someone comfortable with shooting and maintaining a weapon (being able to easily maintain it).

    Anyone else got some good suggestions?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  2. skipsan

    skipsan Well-Known Member

    One of the Glocks would seem appropriate, assuming the newbie would be happy with a pistol with absolutely no soul.

    9mm or .40SW. Relatively inexpensive--$500ish. Ultra reliable out-of-the-box.
    Easy take-down.
  3. TarDevil

    TarDevil Well-Known Member

    What does he wanna do with the gun?
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Browning Buckmark .22.

    Anything SIG.

    Springfield XD or XD-m.

  5. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

    IME takes a big hand to shoot comfortably; few people love the safety.
    Can be expensive; otherwise, no argument.

    What does he want the gun for? If it is "to learn to shoot," then IMHO there is NOTHING close to a .22 pistol. Best by a mile.

    If it is primarily for SD/HD, then a 9mm makes sense.

    Glock. What was that? Did someone hear something? :uhoh:

    Glock. :D
  6. CarbineWilliams

    CarbineWilliams Active Member

    Well, Browning Buckmark seems like a great suggestion. However, I think .22's in general are out of the question. You and I and the rest of us know that a .22 is a damned fine weapon and TBH a very versatile home defense weapon:

    'Hey, intruder... i just kneecapped you... how's that feel? I got a sh*tload of rounds left. I could take your other knee... how about the ankles? I could start piercing other vital organs... you want a headshot? we could do that... your choice... you want to leave my house now?'

    When I was a kid I used to make some sweet mercury-tipped .22 rounds out of CCI hollowpoints by dropping some mercury out of thermometers into the well and capping it with lead I melted from .177 pellets. Great home defense/impress your friends rounds(check your local listings for legality).

    No, he's looking for a firing range weapon. .22 is great for actual but in terms of stress-relief on the range I'm thinking of recommending a Springfield XD or a straight 1911 .45.

    Skispan: yeah, think Glocks are not complex enough for him. he's eyeballing Colt 1911's but I know he's never worked with one. Maybe any Glock C model just because of the cool flash out of the top.

    Big hand: OK, safety: Well, he's a programmer by profession like me and we do love complexity so the more the better and TBH I trained some pretty dumb Privates on M9 with no problems.

    LOL I may have to have to buy a Ninety-Two to show him how great they are (and I'll have an excuse with GF to keep one).
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  7. HDCamel

    HDCamel Well-Known Member

    That made my day.

    Learning on a more complicated firearm (like a 1911) has it's benefits too. You can get most of the mechanics/manuals of arms down all at once instead of the stepped learning process of DA revolver, safe-action semi, DA semi, SA semi that people often take.

    Sort of like learning to drive on a stick shift.
  8. chrt396

    chrt396 Well-Known Member

    I have two of those empty souless machines..but THAT is a great description of a Glock!
  9. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Well-Known Member

    Get one that fits his hand and has the features and safety type he wants. Any of the well-known manufacturers IMO.
  10. CarbineWilliams

    CarbineWilliams Active Member

    "If I had twenty dollars for every time I've been held at knifepoint, I wouldn't have been stabbed by that guy for not having any money. "



    This feller is kind of small but I think he could handle a Berreta M9 OK. We do have one range nearby that 'rents' pistols and I am damned sure they would be happy to let him try every pistol they have once they see how much green he has in his wallet. I guess that is the best test. You know what? I bet you guys a gentlemen's bet that he ends up picking the M9 over the 1911 or the Glock!

    (I may eat my words someday, that's why I choose them so wisely)
  11. allaroundhunter

    allaroundhunter Well-Known Member

    Glock 17/19, M&P9, XD service/XD(m) 4.5 9mm

    I would definitely stay away from anything in .40 S&W for a first pistol. All of the .40 S&W pistols I have shot have been harder to control than any comparably sized .45 ACP

    Then he just doesn't have good taste in guns ;)
  12. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Well-Known Member

    I would recommend something like a Sig 226 or 229, or maybe a 220 if you want to go with .45. Very good reliability and similar takedown to the M9, and plenty of levers and buttons for the programmer inside you to enjoy :D
  13. toppy

    toppy New Member

    My neice is a professional when it comes to firearms. I would bet she will say a Glock for sure. If fact the entire family have glocks. Three borthers and father and husband. Myself I have allways wanted a 44mag. Price the ammo first and see what would cost the least for target practice. Good shooting and keep safe.
  14. majortoo

    majortoo Well-Known Member


    The reasons I enjoy this forum involve both the civility and the common sense. ;) There are many good suggestions for the newbie. Self empowerment may be a key element. Give the persons your pros and cons, and let them make the choice. (Damn! I wish someone had explained this to me before I bought a bicycle for my wife!)
    Warm regards to all.
  15. majortoo

    majortoo Well-Known Member

    Just have to say one more thing: please make sure you identify the H&K P7 as one of the possible choices. It has so many positive elements: 9mm is relatively inexpensive for practice; the P7 is VERY safe; the P7 is very accurate; the P7 is very reliable; the P7 is all steel and very cool! Used ones are available for reasonable prices.
  16. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

    A .22 is out of the question as a range gun. I guess I don't understand.
    So, he's a small guy with big hands? :D
    There's different types of complexity. Do you usually write 15 lines of code, when you could have done the same thing with one line?

    If you like complex safeties, get one of those HK/Taurus doohickies that decock AND let you carry cocked-and-locked. Or get a P7 and let him contemplate that a bit. The Beretta/S&W safety is usable and teachable; it's just way harder than it "needs" to be--just like those 15 lines of code!

    Of course, if you've already made up your mind...;)
  17. Pupulepete

    Pupulepete Active Member

    My brother was the same guy, but a lawyer. We both got into pistols as a bonding thing. He ended up with an XD9 and I now have a G17 and a P226. The breakdown... we both really appreciate the Sig, I LOVE the Glock, he owns an XD9 :D

    We've put at least a thousand rounds through each at this point. As a relative new guy I appreciate the simplicity of the Glock, but that only came after picking up the Sig. (I got it for a project of sorts.) From the sounds of it 1911's are a labor of love/money. I'm not sure I have the stomach for it.

    Of course all are 9s... What is recoil?
  18. Wanderling

    Wanderling Well-Known Member

    Glock is the easiest to learn on.
  19. NG VI

    NG VI Well-Known Member

    You said money isn't a prime concern, so I'm going to recommend the best option yet.

    A CZ-75B and a Kadet kit to go with it. 9mm is a substantial enough caliber that he can have fun with it and it's the single most efficient defensive pistol caliber, the Kadet .22 kit is amazingly well-done, very accurate, same frame as the centerfire pistol so the time he spends on it is more meaningful in total skill development, both are impeccably reliable, and there are plenty of sexy grips he can add to it, make it all pretty.

    That would cover range and defense uses pretty completely, and if he gets a carry permit later, CZ makes some excellent compact models that can also use the Kadet kit.
  20. NG VI

    NG VI Well-Known Member

    As I've gotten more familiar with shooting I have gotten less and less enamored of buttons and levers and switches, I started out with a USP .40 and loved all the different ways to make it be and different noises and interactions I could have with it.

    Now I view them as an unwelcome nuisance, and I honestly prefer a good DAO trigger to a da/sa one.

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