$3,000 to start my collection...

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For $3000.00 you can afford to invest in a nice Sig Sauer 9mm/ .40cal sidearm with proper holsters, a nice LOADED AR-15, and a decent shotgun. Get ammo and accessories with the rest. Don't forget to consider secure storage.

As this appears to be your first excursion into the realm: Brand new is not always best, you will get more, and don't a be a cheapskate when quality knocks on your door.

Several firearms ago, I weighed every excruciating detail, today it is either a good deal or it isn't. Some dealers/ sellers simply do not want to sell their wares, they just want to talk a lot and compete for brag position. Good luck.
Start with a quality .22 pistol and .22 rifle. Shoot them alot, figure out what types of shooting you are interested in. Spend time in gun stores and more importantly, at the range. Talk to people, they will probably let you try their guns. Figure out what you really want before you plunk down your hard earned money.

At this point, you may not even know whether you prefer handguns or long-guns. If you don't, this advice is even better; but it's great advice either way.

Most important thing I'd say, as others have, is don't let the money burn a hole in your pocket. Make sure you know what you want, and you'll be happier for it.
Quality over quantity, eh? I'm not a semi-auto guy, so let's talk lifetime-quality revolvers.

You can go S&W 686 in .357 Magnum for home defense, along with the 617 in .22lr for targets and training. They balance the same and the 617 is a great trainer for the 686. But you'll likely pay over $1200 for the pair.

You can also go Ruger with the SP101 in 5-shot .357 and 8-shot .22lr. This pair is just as sturdy as the Smiths if not more so, and will set you back less than $900.

You can also find some excellent-quality older Smiths that many feel are superior to the current offerings, and often can be found for $300 - $600 each. This is a good route to go if you like classic blued steel or nickel. The K-frame .22 and .38 Special revolvers are especially nice. Total price is variable depending on condition, but expect to pay between $700 and $1100 for the pair.
Nice Predicament

This is my first post OR reply, so I'd ask the experienced people to please excuse me if I add anything inappropriate.

Are you in an area overseas where you can purchase firearms and complete the proper paperwork/procedures to import them back as part of your military orders? On one of my deployments, I worked as a Turkish interpreter and assisted a number of people in purchasing Huglu shotguns and other firearms.

Find out if others in your unit are buying anything, and get to know someone who's the MOST familiar with doing transactions in your area IF POSSIBLE. Check regulations and do it the right way. They will know what's worth buying in your area, and you'll have the opportunity for a much better souvenir than some of us came home with (carpets, copper, etc.) Good luck!

Thanks for your service!
Every shooter should have a Ruger 10-22 as a baseline. After that, anything goes...

A .22 rifle, yes. Specifically a 10/22? Not so much. Not everyone likes them, often for very good reasons.

I wouldn't own one if it hadn't been given to me. Frankly, it'd be about my second to last choice for a .22 autoloader.
A true collection reflects the taste of the owner, not the recommendations of his friends. All of the suggestions above are good ones, but they may not resonate with you.

Buy guns that appeal to you, that make your heart sing when you see them, that make you want to pick them up and fondle them when you crack open the safe door.

If you need a gun for serious self defense, your military training already tells you what you should have. But I suspect you are wanting to go a different direction. Don't neglect beauty for the sake of utility...and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That's what will make it YOUR collection.
I applaud your decision to go for quality over quantity, I believe it'll stand you in good stead.

Being as though uncle sugar spent a fair amount of effort training you, it'd make a whole lot of sense to stay with an AR for your main weapon. However wanting to be able to hunt deer suggests another caliber larger than 5.56. I suggest making an AR carbine in 6.8 SPC the cornerstone of your collection. The 6.8 caliber is decently popular and is proving to be a good deer/pig/predator (both 2 & 4 legged) round. Top it with iron sights and a low power variable and you'll have a terrifically versitile weapon.

The next weapon I would recommend would be a service size pistol for target & home defense. Personal preference rules here, but I think a good quality .45acp would offer terrific versitility. The new FNP .45 tactical set up that allows for an optic has really caught my eye. Not a CCW piece by any stretch of the immagination, it would be wonderful as a holster weapon.

Lastly I would have a pocket gun for CCW, the Ruger LCR would be my pick due especially to the excellence of it's trigger.

You note the absence of a .22, you already know how to shoot, a .22 would allow for cheaper practice, but I'd want my primary weapons first. A shot gun would be nice, but I'd want the other three weapons first.

Just my 2 cents, but the above is a collection I'd sure like.
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I don't think .22s are necessary, or even all that fun. I haven't owned one for a decade.

I also prefer quality over quantity. I would get a rifle, a pistol and a shotgun:
1.) AR-15 rig set up to reflect your interests. (My preference is range/hunting, so it is a 20" free floated with a scope on top.)
2.)Glock Compact, either 19 or 23. Both calibers have their virtues; 9mm=military, .40=police. (These can do CCW, IDPA, and USPSA.)
3.)Remington 870 rig, also set up to reflect your interests. (My preference is a 26"barrel with a wood stock.)

That should about do it for $3k.
1 22 Rifle (whatever you shoot best)
1 12 GA shotgun (whichever you shoot/manipulate the best)
1 pistol that shoots a service caliber and can be concealed if needed (go to the range and see what you like)
1 centerfire defensive/combat rifle/carbine (preferably something that has been proven over the years)
If it was me I would go with the AR.. This one


Probably add both a 22 and a larger caliber such as 6.8 upper.

This takes care of your rifle for Plinking, defense, and hunting. It also gives you the basis to just add lowers and make your collection go from one rifle to three.

If you shopped around that should leave you with about 1000 dollars. For somewhere in the 500-700 dollar range you should be able to pick up your particular flavor of decent, yet not top of the line handgun. That should still leave you with 300-500 dollars to pick up a nice Mossberg 500 or Remington 870.

All bases covered for around 3k.

As far as my ammo budget, If it were me I'd spend that on a reloading setup and components.
Thank you all for the advice!

I knew that my question would start off a firestorm of different opinions, but that's what I wanted because you all mentioned a vast array of firearms that I can now look up and obsessively research and compare and drool over and make lists of what I want only to change that list 5 minutes later lol...I am still not sure about exactly what I want, but as many of you suggested, I will need to actually fire a range of weapons before this is clear to me.

I do think I will get some sort of AR, because I am quite comfortable with that weapon system. Now which one...(I am liking that Colt 6920)

I also think that I will end up getting a Remington 870, some kind of .308 for that traditional hunting rifle (for some reason I don't like the idea of hunting deer with an AR...need something more "classic" for deer) and a HD handgun.

The best thing that I took from all your comments was to be patient, and to be honest, I needed that. I was definitely catching the purchase fever, and though I still have it, I think that I can fight it off before I make a hasty decision.

Thanks again, and I look forward to contributing to THR community!
I'd go with either a M9 , 1911 from wilson combat, or.. my favorite Browning Hi power. All three are good handguns and do well for personal protection.

Id go with a shotgun you feel comfortable with, be it semi auto, pump, double, or single.

I'd go with an AR, but not in .223. I prefer the 6.8 spc, but thats me. It'll do the job and it will have a very familiar manual of arms.
.22 pistol, .22 rifle, a 1911-sized centerfire pistol or smaller (revolver or semi-auto), a pump-action shotgun with interchangeable barrels) and an AR-15 (Me, I like 16" flat-topped receivers, but your YMMV).

The .22's will let you shoot for cheap, the pistol allows you to practice personal defense, the scattergun is for birds or deer or home defense, and the AR is because, well, BECAUSE. :)

Added guns would be a bolt gun with scope suitable for medium-sized game and bigger, and a smaller pistol for daily carry when you can't carry the bigger pistol.

I was gonna post my own reply but don't know if I could have said it better myself. Hawthorne2k's mind must run on the same frequency as mine.
To start off with my choices would be:

(For plinking and small game)
Ruger MK series .22 pistol
Marlin model 60 or Ruger 10/22 .22 rifle

(For home defense)
1911 (.45acp)
Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 (Also good for small game with shot or larger game such as deer with a slug barrel)

(for large game)
Remington or Savage bolt action in your choice of caliber

There are many LNIB used guns out there for a reasonable price. Depending on brand of 1911 and AR you choose you should be able to get all of these if you buy used.
I think this will be a good start since it leaves a little versatility and multi-tasking.

Glock 23 .40S&W with military discount 420$ (can change to 9mm or 357 sig with 100$ barrel swap), this is a good target pistol or CC piece and good to go for night stand duty.

Colt AR15 in 5.56 950$ It's a Colt, great for varmints with the right glass and great for home/ranch defense out of the box, closest thing to your issued rifle.

Mossberg 500 12ga 18 inch and 29 inch combo 315$, this can be used for home defense, hunting and three gunning.

Remington 700 in 308 with an average 10x mil-dot scope 1200$, great long range rifle and good deer rifle with a lightweight setup and a 3-9 scope.

That leaves 115 dollars for you to find a decent 22 rifle. I would look for a used Ruger 10/22 or a Marlin bolt action.
welcome to THR

an AR15 is a solid choice for dozens of reasons. Plan to spend $1800 or so setting up a good one. That includes $500 for an optic, $100 for a brake or FSC, aftermarket stock/grip (e.g. magpul), and a dozen magazines, sling, etc.

the used glock is also a good suggestion.

and a 22lr rifle. (i'm sort of partial to lever actions in 22lr as the rimmed cartridge feeds better, and the rifles are usually sleeker with fewer protrusions to snag on stuff, and they are still plenty accurate)
I do think I will get some sort of AR, because I am quite comfortable with that weapon system. Now which one...(I am liking that Colt 6920)

If you haven't handled a Colt 6920, be aware that the upper/lower hand-guard is a bit thicker (larger circumference) than you may prefer. When I was in Iraq (USAF), I was issued an M4 (believe it was Colt but I could be wrong), but the hand-guards weren't beefy, like they are on the 6920. IMHO, they're a bit uncomfortable; that's personal preference, obviously - and you can always change them out anyway.

The Bushmaster M4A3 Patrolman carbine has a slightly smaller circumference front hand-guard, which I find much more comfortable (and I'm fairly certain are the same size as the M4 I was issued in the Air Force). Note that the Bushmaster is $300 cheaper than the 6920 (Bud's has the 6920 for $1200, and the BM M4A3 for $900), and about half a pound heavier. I prefer the Bushmaster, but if you like the Colt 6920 and don't mind spending a bit more, I'm sure it's a great rifle too.

As far as aftermarket parts (grip, optic, etc), swap out whatever you prefer. I prefer the stock M4 grip over aftermarkets, and I love the M4 iron sights to the point that I wouldn't even want to equip an optic, but both the 6920 and Bushmaster M4A3 have a removable carry handle to leave that option open. One add-on I do love is MagPul's Angled Fore-Grip (shown equipped here) - a happy medium giving the user a balance between a straight horizontal grip offered by the stock hand-guards, and a straight vertical grip offered by a vertical fore-grip (neither of which is ideal, IMO).

Regarding M4 Slings: If you guys bought and use your own personal slings for your issued rifles, take your sling home with you. When I was there, our issued rifles came with cheap, crappy slings, so most of us bought our own and just put the issued ones in our lockers. Like a fool, I left my sling on my bunk in Iraq when it came time to head home, figuring the next guy could save himself a bit of money and use mine. I didn't figure I'd be buying my own AR anyway. Of course, now I can't remember what brand/model sling I had, and that thing was outstanding. So take it home with you if you like it - provided it isn't staying with the weapon, ofc.

I also think that I will end up getting a Remington 870, some kind of .308 for that traditional hunting rifle (for some reason I don't like the idea of hunting deer with an AR...need something more "classic" for deer) and a HD handgun.
The 870 is a great choice, as is the Mossberg 500. Personal preference there. There are a huge number of hunting rifle options, so take your time searching for the rifle you want. There are lots of things to consider there. I will advise you to at least be wary of current production Remington 700s. Just in case you haven't heard, Remington quality-control has been dropping pretty significantly in recent years, and owners have been having a variety of issues with newer R700s.

I agree with the recommendation to seek out a lightly used Glock 23, unless you've become infatuated with the M9. Note that the G23 will serve equally well for HD and concealed-carry, while the M9 may be difficult for you to conceal.
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All steel witness in whatever caliber(love my 9mm) and a few other different caliber slides for a variety of fun

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First off, for a pistol, I would recommend a Ruger SR9. Good gun. What I would buy is probably an M1911, and an M1 Garand. standard issue WWII firearms, proven reliability. Maybe an AR-15 and a Beretta M9.... also proven good guns.
Plan to spend $1800 or so setting up a good one. That includes $500 for an optic, $100 for a brake or FSC, aftermarket stock/grip (e.g. magpul), and a dozen magazines, sling, etc.

And to think, I thought my A2 was just fine with irons and standard grip/stock. You can easily get a functional AR for under 1k... optics are not required for a good, accurate, reliable gun.
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