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seeking advice on owning my first handgun

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by gonepostal42, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. gonepostal42

    gonepostal42 New Member

    Sep 19, 2007
    hello all...i have read with amusement the 45 vs. 9mm debate...i lean toward the .45 because i'm 6'4", 250, and about to be a personal bodyguard for a living. A while back, i was a bouncer at a strip club, and the ex-marine armed security dude swore up and down that the .45 in any iteration was the best there was. It's been awhile, but the biggest I've ever fired was a Desert Eagle .410...plenty of kick to it, but nothing i couldn't handle. Here's my question--i need a sidearm that is reliable, reasonably concealable, and will strike fear into the heart of my protectee's meth-head ex boyfriend...price is no object, as it is being paid for by my employer. I'd love some input from someone who's not trying to sell me anything.

    Thanks, guys...
  2. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 19, 2006
    First, welcome to THR. Advice to start with is worry about the hardware later. Right now you need software. Given your very near future line of work get some training. NRA Basic Pistol course or a similar beginners intro course at your local range is where you should start. You need to learn what fits you, what points naturally for you, and what you shoot well. After that you'll know the firearm platform you want to go with, and you can then worry about caliber. Anything from a .38 Special or 9mm on up loaded with quality defensive ammo will do just fine. You also need to get to professional advice on the laws in your jurisdiction; what are the requirements for use of deadly force, what do you need to do to carry legally on your person and in your vehicle, etc. There's plenty of quality hardware out there in wide range of prices, but right now you need to learn how to use it with utmost skill. Stay safe and keep asking questions.
  3. WVMountainBoy

    WVMountainBoy Member

    Apr 11, 2007
    West Virginia
    Man, you've got so many options its not even funny. I have a generic answer for this question and thats "Go shopping, hold some weapons and pick what feels good in your hand. Then spend a lot of time practicing with it" but since you're actually looking for recommendations I'm a fan of Springfield. I own several of their pieces and haven't had any issue. The XD line is comparable to Glock pistols in most key areas, but add the grip safety, which I like, you also get the loaded chamber and cocking indicators, which in the dark can let you know the gun's readiness by mere touch.
    As for my two cents on the power/cartridge debate. I work for a police agency, I'm not an officer but I do help compile reports so I see the end results of weapon usage beyond just what I know from my personal experiance. The .45 hardly ever fails to stop someone when you do your part. The 9mm fails more often than the .45, but its still a very small percentage of the time that the 9mm doesn't do its job with good shot placement. Using what I know and putting some scenes together in my mind about what a body guard detail would involve I would more recommend the 9 mostly out of over penetration thoughts and a 9 is lighter recoiling so you can follow up as necessary. I know many will rebuke that claim, but I own both and me, personally, can do better with rapid fire strings with the 9. I'm 6'4 and 300 lbs.

    All that being said my recommendations are a Glock 17 or Springfield XD9 I own one of each and neither have never failed to fire after thousands of rounds.
    They are dead comparable in price and reliability, and if you like the feel, I doubt they'll ever cause a second guess.
  4. WVMountainBoy

    WVMountainBoy Member

    Apr 11, 2007
    West Virginia
    I was typing while ugaarguy was posting, I agree with him and feel silly for not mentioning the same, know your local statutes and get all the training you can
  5. sm

    sm member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Between black coffee, and shiftn' gears
    Software Not Hardware

    Agree with ugaarguy's post.

    I have been one that used BodyGuards, in a work.
    THE skill sets were reading people, places and things.

    I would recommend contacting SouthNarc and taking instruction from him and his folks. IIRC, SouthNarc is scheduling with Tom Givens at Rangemaster in Memphis, TN in the near future.
    This would be an ideal training opportunity.

    I use the term "Street Smarts" to describe how I was raised, in a work, that Security is paramount.

    Reality is, some places are "sterile", meaning NO firearms, due to Regulations, and Statues. Reinforced by metal detectors, wands and being patted down.

    Areas such as Gov't owned buildings, and Airports, and even legal signage stating NO CCW.

    Defensive Driving is another useful skill set.

    Guns are fine and dandy, once one actually shoots a variety under qualified instruction to access and find out what that individual actually shoots best with - and BUGs.

    Then again knowing for instance the "3+1" SouthNarc teaches, which are the signals one is about to have their butt kicked, is a real good skill set to have.

    Avoid trouble, leave when trouble shows up, and if one cannot leave, knowing how to effectively use a variety of tools, including a firearm, to get out of trouble.

    One young lady , bodyguard, petite thing, can flat drive a limo, or any vehicle, she can smell trouble from a distance, prefers a .44 Special for Primary and BHP/1911 for BUG.
    Then again she can kill someone seven different ways with a tongue depressor.

    Software first.
  6. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 28, 2005
    Lewisberry, PA
    If things got to the point you're using the gun on a protective detail, you really screwed something up.

    The gun is not a magic talisman used to scare off evil. Perhaps your employer would be willing to spend the money on something just basic for the gun, and use the rest to finance some good training.
  7. MaterDei

    MaterDei Senior Member

    Sep 23, 2003
    I totally agree with the training suggestion but don't think that is what you want to hear.

    Guns are not meant to strike fear into people, they are meant to stop people. In that regard the 45 is an excellent choice. Find a good instructor and let him help you with the firearm purchase.
  8. gonepostal42

    gonepostal42 New Member

    Sep 19, 2007
    thank you all for your suggestions...I have worked in security in every capacity but the firearms part--i highly agree that if you even have to draw the weapon, things have likely gotten out of hand, and that's a worst case scenario that i doubt realistically will ever happen...BUT...in the event that a certain m.f. breaks his restraining order or there's some random bad guy in a 7-11, i guess i was looking for a recommendation on the most relaible and perhaps personal preferences from an unbiased source...CCW license and appropriate training are in progress...and we live in AZ, which is right up there with Texas as far as supporting the 2nd ammendment. As far as defensive driving, I'm pretty good to start with, but there is a section about that in one of the security training courses I'm taking...and let's just say i didn't always live on the respectable side of the law...I've seen some pretty dicey situations before and I have always been able to use diplomacy effectively. But again, there's that "what if" factor...which is why my employer wants me armed. So, to put it another way, are there any models of weapon that anyone would advise against?

    thanks again...
  9. Michigunner

    Michigunner New Member

    May 14, 2005
    This has been an excellent thread.

    I have 10 great hand guns and plenty of holsters. Perhaps that suggests more time should have been spent renting and trying out guns at the range.

    Many consider the Glock 19 to be the most popular 9mm in the world. It has a capacity of 15 + 1 in the chamber.

    You could safely load Gold Dot 124 grain +P and never look back.

    For what it's worth, I believe that police most often carry the Glock 22, which uses .40 S&W ammunition.

  10. crankshop1000

    crankshop1000 Member

    Apr 17, 2007
    Some people still believe that the mil spec 1911 is the finest combat weapon ever made.I share that opinion provided the owner trains enough to be proficient.Something related to fear and common sense kicks in when looking down the business end of a .45. Add a red laser dot for maximum effect.
  11. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    Good advice from everyone.

    I want to reemphasize that you need to find what handgun fits you and points naturally for you. Once you find that out then any quality firearm will do. Look at Pax's site for a detailed explanation (with pictures and diagrams) of how to make sure that a handgun fits you.

    With your size you should be able to handle almost any double stack large caliber handgun comfortably. Then it becomes primarily an issue of grip angle to match you.

    As to guns to avoid? I'm not sure how to respond without making assumptions about what you know is junk already. Stick with major American/Canadian and European manufacturers. H&K, CZ, Sig, Browning/FN, S&W, Glock, Springfield, Para, Kimber, etc. They will provide good handguns. Just find what fits and go with that and get some intensive training.
  12. tydephan

    tydephan Senior Member

    Nov 7, 2006
    Huntsville, AL

    UGA and others have touched on the most important aspect, which is training and mindset.

    You have acknowledged their thoughts, so I won't repeat what they have said, other than to say I agree with them.

    With that being said, I highly suggest you find a range near you that rents handguns and try out several different options.

    Some of the others around here can correct me if anything below is inaccurate:

    Sounds like you have focused on autoloaders, so we'll leave revolvers out of the discussion for now.

    With that being said, you have some options as to how they are constructed, which greatly effect comfort when carrying, rust resistance, capacity, etc.

    Polymer guns are my favorite. They have a polymer frame, that can take a lot of abuse and show little signs of it. Most polymer frame guns have a high round capacity.

    Some of the more common Polymer guns are:
    Great gun. More expensive, but expense doesn't appear to be an issue here. H&K features ambi controls, if you are a lefty. Their 45 is a very popular choice.
    Glock made the polymer pistol popular. The Glock 21 is a good choice in .45cal. Most people are either hot or cold on the Glock pistols. Newer generations have a molded grip that doesn't fit some people's hands. Other people complain about the grip angle, saying it hurts their wrists when firing. No matter the opinion, it is hard to argue that the Glock is one of the most reliable and popular handguns for personal and executive protection.
    Smith and Wesson
    Smith has a new polymer offering in .45cal. The M&P45 (military and police) is a nice gun. The M&Ps have interchangeable backstraps that help you custom fit the palm swell to your hand. These are very very comfortable guns, but their reliability has yet to be proven because they are fairly new on the market.

    There are lots of other choices out there for polymer pistols. To name a few without going into detail:
    Walther P99
    Beretta PX4
    Sig Pro
    Springfield Armory XD (very popular 45 version)

    Aluminum/lightweight metal
    Then there are the aluminum and lightweight metal-framed pistols.

    Sig Sauer
    Sig probably produces one of the most popular metal-framed gun series, the Classic P-series. P-226 is available in 9mm and 40cal. The P220 is similar in size and weight, but is a 45 caliber. These pistols are very popular among executive security personnel as well.

    Smith and Wesson
    Smith has some metal framed guns that are decent as well and can generally be found at reasonable prices.

    Smith also makes a nice line of lightweight 1911 style pistols in .45 that are reasonablity priced as well.

    Springfield Armory
    SA makes great 1911 style pistols. I own two and have been very pleased. If you're interested in a 1911, be sure to check out SA and S&Ws.

    The Beretta 92 (similar to the standard military-issued M9) is also a good duty weapon. I don't have any personal experience with it, but it's hard to argue with all the police departments who are using this weapon.

    Heavy Steel/Stainless Steel
    Then there are some frames, most notably the mil-spec 1911, that are heavy as hell. If I'm carrying a gun that is heavy, it will be a 1911. No further on this topic.

    So...there's a shallow primer on handguns.

    Now...you need to know about trigger selection, which is why my first recommendation of finding a range that rents is so important.

    Trigger actions
    There are several different types of triggers.
    Glocks and most polymer pistols, generally speaking, are DAO, meaning that you have a consistent trigger pull from the first round to the last round out of the tube. These pistols do not have hammers, they are striker fired.

    SA/DA (Single Action, Double Action) trigger is common on many of the aluminum and lightweight-framed pistols. These handguns have hammers, and can be manually cocked, placing the pistol in Single Action status. This means that the trigger pull is very light, when in single action. Typically, these pistols are carried with the hammer down, which allows for a very long first stroke of the trigger (double action - because as you pull the trigger, you are forcing the hammer back at the same time). When the round fires, the action of the slide automatically cocks the hammer for the next round, which leaves the gun in Single Action from the point forward (or until the gun is decocked.)

    1911's operate in Single Action. This means that the hammer must be cocked in order for the gun to be fired. However these guns have two safeties to negate the danger of running around with a cocked gun. They have a grip safety, which is naturally engaged when you grip the pistol. They also have a thumb safety, which needs to be deactivated manually before the gun can be discharged. Standard carry method for 1911's is "Cocked and Locked," meaning there is around in the chamber, the gun is cocked, and the safety is activated.

    Since the hammer on the gun is already cocked, the 1911 has a short trigger all the time - from first shot to last. Personally, I believe the 1911 has one of the best triggers of any handgun available. But you have to feel comfortable with the method of carry. Some folks do not.

    There are so many variables when it comes to choosing a firearm. The best thing to do is get your feet wet by handling them in a safe environment and firing the ones that feel the most comfortable to you.

    Whatever you choose to purchase, be sure to buy lots of ammo for practice. The best handgun in the world is useless if you can't hit anything with it.

    Hope these semi-random thoughts are helpful.

    Good luck to you, friend. And welcome to the High Road.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2007
  13. Zen21Tao

    Zen21Tao Participating Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Gainesville, Fl
    If you are going to conceal you may want to consider a single stack design, which I find more comfortable than a double stack and find prints less than a double stack. Two of my favorites for carry are the Sig Sauers (look into a P220 Carry or P245) and Kahrs. Also, if you like the 1911 design but want a double action, give the Para Ordnance LDA models out.
  14. Clipper

    Clipper Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Mt. Morris, MI.
    I'm surprised noone has mentioned a Desert Eagle in .50AE yet for maximum intimidation factor...

    But if you're going low key, maybe you want the ultimate in concealability. Pocket carry. In that case you want one of the ultra compacts like the kahr PM series or the Kel-Tec PF-9...
  15. Hauptmann

    Hauptmann Member

    Sep 2, 2007
    Welcome to THR. Calibers 9mm, .40S&W, .357sig, .45gap, and .45acp will all perform well with modern defensive ammunition. Gold Dots, Gold Sabres, Ranger Talons, Fed HST are good examples. As long as you are using one of the above calibers with one of the above bullet designs, caliber selection is ALWAYS secondary to good shot placement.

    I am 6'2, 240lbs, and can benchpress 405lbs. My wife is 5'1, 115lbs, and can benchpress about 120lbs. She can handle .44 magnum loads with skill. Recoil is subjective and skill in firearms use is more important than size or physical strength. Being big and strong only helps you in hand to hand conflicts, guns always even the playing field and if anything give the smaller person an advantage over the larger......you're a bigger target. That being said, for off duty or concealed carry I use a Sig 239 in 9mm. For duty carry I use a Sig P220 .45acp.
  16. gonepostal42

    gonepostal42 New Member

    Sep 19, 2007
    thanks again, everyone, for your advice and concern...sounds like a lot of you are or have been in law enforcement, so i'll certainly take all of your opinions into consideration. I agree that no gun will do anything more than trip metal detectors if you aren't trained on it...so that's definitely part of the plan. From the research I've done, Phoenix has some good advanced weapons training programs...and we have the added bonus of being able to go out in the desert and shoot off asmany rounds as you want and not have to bother with finding a range ;)

    I'll keep you all posted on my progress...thanks again everyone for helping to break in this newbie...i especially appreciate the discourse on polymer vs. steel frame...my knowledge is still pretty limited, and it means a lot that a perfect stranger would take the time to go into that much detail.
  17. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Elder

    Dec 24, 2002
    Go to your local range & shoot the guns you're considering. I've noticed that what works great for one guy could be a piece of junk to another. Sure, the usual suspects need to be mentioned -- HK, SIG, Glock etal, but the most important thing is the firearm that works for you & devoting the time & effort in mastering your platform of choice. What's more intimidating isn't the size of the bore, but the operator behind it who knows how to use it! :cool:
  18. zeroskillz

    zeroskillz Member

    Jan 10, 2007
    Denton County Texas

    I think you're best bet is to hold as many as you can, and shoot the ones that feel like a good fit. Maybe hit Scottsdale Gun Club and rent a few models to see which you like the best. they apparently have quite the rental selection:
    SGC Rentals Link

    I've never been there, but I've sent a few firearms there for transfer, and my customers have told me they really like the place.

  19. sm

    sm member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Between black coffee, and shiftn' gears
    As far as the actual Hardware - the guns and all - keep in mind "we" are considered Old School.

    Bone Stock 1911, with the Gov't Model of 1911, USGI/Colt 7 rd mags with dimpled follower.

    Custom 1911 in 9x23mm, pretty simple and it fits the user.

    BHPs in 9mm

    Model 24 in .44 spl
    Model 19, 66, and similar K frame .357s.
    "We" feel the 3" RB K frame is the most effective combat wheel gun.
    Model 29 (especially for car guns), with full house .44 mag loads

    BUGs run from wearing an exact duplicate of Primary, to K frames, to J frames, to Colt Detective specials to the only poly gun used - the Kel-Tec P-11.

    One highly recommended "tweak" is a 14k yellow gold bead for front sight.
    This is a old gunfighters tool and affords one the ability to see front sight in all lighting conditions.

    Shotguns: Most are bone stock, no side saddle, no mag extensions.
    Ithaca 37 Riot, Model 97 Win, Model 12, 870, Super X Model 1 with a slug barrel, 1100s...Beretta 303, 390 and Stevens 311

    ARs and Lever Actions in 30-30 are real popular.

    Some "last ditch" guns include Beretta Jetfire, and NAA .22 mini revolvers.
    Holsters run from IWB, OWB, Shoulder, Belly-Band, worn around neck and crotch holsters.
    Custom tailored clothing to fit, and with built in holsters as well.

    For instance, a lady can wear a dress, conceal a Model 24, or 1911, or BHP and readily access if need - the holster(s) are part of the clothing.

    Case Bird & Trout knife, Buck 110, Case Mako Shark , and even Old Hickory Paring knives are used for edged weapons.

    Canes, from Stockyard "cattle canes" to Cane Masters, to Custom "dress canes" with solid brass handles.

    "Good" umbrellas are useful.

    Learn how vehicle trunks work, and how to actually break out of one.
  20. CWL

    CWL Mentor

    Jan 6, 2003
    You live in Arizona? Get some real training at Gunsite. As for what type of gun or caliber, you will notice that most gun trainers favor M1911 in .45ACP, then it's probably a Glock in 9mm or .40S&W. There is a reason why these guns are commonly preferred as wll as the calibers.

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