Advice for a prospective gun owner

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by hokiemojo, Sep 29, 2012.

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  1. hokiemojo

    hokiemojo Member

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    Hello everyone,
    I'm obviously new here, so I'm looking for some advice. I live in central virginia and am looking to purchase my first firearm. I'm leaning heavily towards a 12 guage shotgun since it would provide home defense and I could learn to hunt with it in the future as well. Some additional considerations are that I'd like the gun to be affordable and possibly be useable by my small wife (that might not be realistic).

    My research so far has me considering the Mossberg 500 or the Remington 870 Exp (surprised?). My problems begin here. I've never fired, or even handled, a real gun. I don't know anyone that I consider to be an experienced gun owner. What should the first step be? Should I be signing up for a class or going to the shooting range to try a couple of guns out?

    A shooting range near me has the following classes:
    http://www.colonialshooting.com/content/classes-events/

    They also have gun rentals for $20/hr (assuming shotguns are included as long rifles, which I think they are).

    Finally I'm concerned about safety. While that certainly includes the courses I'm trying to learn about above, I also wonder about storage. DO I really need a safe if I get a shotgun? I've got two little kids and that is a major concern for me. While I plan to educate my kids, I'd also like to eliminate the chance for them to get to the gun at all? It seems that a safe costs as much as the guns, if not more. I've seen some alternatives, but none of them seem to be good if you need to be able to get to your weapon quickly for home defense.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts. To summarize, I'm a newbie with zero experience, is apprehensive about his first experiences (buying and shooting), and is looking for good advice on how to proceed with all safety considerations in mind.

    Thanks for anythign you can help with. If you guys have any woodworking questions, let me know. I can probably point you in the right direction with that stuff. I know a lot more about that (-:
     
  2. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    Before all else welcome to the forums!

    My opinion, and your thread will get plenty of opinions is that you have the right idea. That being to start with some formal education and some planning for your conditions. From your link I would start with Home Firearm Safety then worry about follow up. The people who teach this material for the most part love their work and are happy to share their ideas and thoughts tailored for your specific situation and conditions. Firearms for home defense should be selected based on environment for a good part in my opinion. I don't live in your house or neighborhood, I don't even live in your state. I have no clue what, if any local laws would apply but a local instructor will.

    Be it a shotgun, rifle, handgun or a bazooka or flame thrower (just kidding) it is important to understand not only safety but which firearms are suitable for what.

    I would start with the basic course and once in there ask questions of the instructor, then ask more questions. Get your wife involved, very involved.

    Just My Take
    Ron
     
  3. tryshoot

    tryshoot Member

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    Welcome to THR. Safty is number 1. You do not have to have a save, but need to be where you are the only one that can fire it. My home def. gun is not in safe because it takes 3 min. if calm to get in. Handgun beside bed is in pistol vault with 4 didgit code that is accessable very quickly. That gets me to my shotgun. 12 ga shotgun is the right idea. I have (2) 500 and a 870, I prefer 500 because price of opt. are less and all three of them are completely reliable.
     
  4. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    Start by getting an inexpensive .22 rimfire rifle, and practice with that until you're totally comfortable shooting. Then you can graduate to something more "serious" like a 12 gauge shotgun. The kick and noise of a 12 gauge might startle you as a first-time shooter.
     
  5. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    If you look up clay target clubs in your area (the trap/skeet kind), many will have rental guns, or you might just sk folks - many are nice enough to let you try a few shots through their guns to give you an idea. Personally, I find a shotgun to be a lot for someone new - I agree with getting a .22 and doing a lot of inexpensive shooting practice before moving up to guns with a loud blast and a lot of recoil
    Taking one of the basic gun safety courses offered by clubs and the NRA is also a good idea - for both you and your wife. You might find out you may prefer a handgun for HD
     
  6. critter

    critter Member

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    Can't go wrong with the Remington 870. Very versatile, very durable.
     
  7. TAKtical

    TAKtical Member

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    Take a class if possible, to learn how to safely operate your firearm. Some ranges will offer private instruction for a small fee so you could ask around about that. In my opinion, you should have a safe to lock up your firearms when you leave the house. I dont know your situation, how old your children are, or the layout of your home so its hard to give advice about how to keep your gun in a safe place but still have easy access. When I had children in my home and my primary weapon was a shotgun, I kept it on the top shelf of the closet in the master bedroom with no round in the chamber.
     
  8. olafhardtB

    olafhardtB Member

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    Think about a 20 gauge, just as good for defence as a 12. I am pushing 70 and have given up on 12's. A good 22 rifle will do a pretty good job of what you want. I reccomend: Ruger 10-22, Marlin 60,Henry leveraction. I'd get the 22 first, a 22 is so much fun many become cherished. They will kill tin cans and every living creature from hogs to frogs I shot with a 22 either dropped or ran away.
     
  9. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee Member

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    I have to agree with earlier posts. Start with a .22 rifle until you get the basics down. Take a course on gun safety, NRA or State Hunter Safety courses are affordable and easy to find. At age 5 I let my children begin shooting a .22 after careful instruction and supervision the whole time emphasizing SAFETY at all times. It took away the mystery of guns and since safety was constantly ground in (any violations and you lost shooting privileges for three trips but still had to go), as they grew, if they saw one in any way displayed/handled improperly or inappropriately they were taught to quickly and discretely leave that area. My children are grown up and all CC (3 boys,3 girls), which makes me feel a little better about personal safety. Now I'm starting to teach my Grandchildren, and we're doing it the same way. Always start small, .22. Get used to the feel, sound (use hearing protection) and safe handling. Get to know other knowledgeable shooters at classes and events. Take your time and gain knowledge and experience, you may find then, your next purchase to be well informed, purposeful and done with confidence.
     
  10. 230RN
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    230RN Member

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    All good advice, but nothing's been said about your diminuitive wife and recoil.

    Aguilar makes little shorty shotshells, but they might not feed in a pump shotgun. They are available from MidwayUSA.com and I got some at a gun show:
    255579.jpg
    Some of these shorties are available in light buckshot loads.

    The downside here is that sometimes they don't feed well in pump shotguns without some modification of the shell elevator, which I'm sure you don't want to get into. It's a gun-by-gun variable, so you have to have a gun in the first place to try them out.

    Federal also sells 7/8oz 1200f/s loads* in regular-length shells which are meant to be low recoil, and Winchester used to sell Featherweight loads or something like that, but I haven't seen them around lately. But that might be a local thing.

    One thing about recoil, shotgun or otherwise, is that many new shooters, in anticipation of the kick, tend to hold the buttstock away from or very lightly against their shoulder. This actually increases the perceived kick. The gun should be held tightly against the shoulder. So be aware of that.

    Welcome to the board and the shooting community!

    Terry, 230RN

    *Recoil ("kick") in any particular gun largely depends on the weight of the projectile and the velocity with which it is thrown out of the gun. These loads contain only 7/8ths of an ounce of shot (very light) and low velocity, 1200 feet per second, hence the low recoil.

    REF:

    http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/255579/aguila-minishell-ammunition-12-gauge-1-3-4-5-8-oz-7-1-2-shot-box-of-20
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  11. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    On track but not quite totally accurate - there are two types of recoil - actual and perceived. Perceived is also known as "kick". ACTUAL is a simple math equation involving the weight of the payload, the velocity of the payload and the weight of the gun. PERCEIVED is how you think it feels - this has to do with action type - gas, semi, pump, o/u, etc. and more importantly FIT. How a gun fits is crucial to success and if you and your wife are not similar in size and stature there will be an issue. What will fit you will be too large for her, if you fit her, it will be too small for you. While it will be a little easier for you to adapt yourself to a smaller gun, it will not be ideal - and in an actual SD/HD scenario when your heart is racing and confusions reigns supreme, do you really want another thing to focus on?

    You two should also read www.thecorneredcat.com - lots of great ideas about using guns for protection - written by a woman and good for both men and women to read
     
  12. hokiemojo

    hokiemojo Member

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    thanks

    I just wanted to say thanks for all the advice. There is certainly lots to think about.

    I particularly liked the comment that the instructors of the courses are pretty enthusiastic most of the time and that I might get a lot of good personal advice. I hadn't really thought about that.

    As for my wife, I don't really anticipate us both using the same gun. I was just trying to think of how we'd handle the difference. I think each getting a seperate one is unlikely because I don't think she'd commit to that. I'm just trying to figure out how to address it. I don't want an emergeny to pop up and her reach for something that isn't appropriate for her.

    Anyway, I'll let you know what I come up with. Thanks again for all the great advice. I've really enjoyed reading all your discussions over the past 6 months or so.
     
  13. Stevie-Ray

    Stevie-Ray Member

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    That was going to my suggestion as well. Nothing wrong with a 20 and a lot right with it, especially for first shooters. This is of course if you're set on a shotgun.
     
  14. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    Except that, in most cases, the 20 weighs a pound or more less, so recoil can actually be higher than a 12; the 12 has more choices available for about every possible situation you would use a shotgun for. Again, proper FIT is paramount - and FIT involves more than LOP
     
  15. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Member

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    Hey Hokiemoji, welcome to THR.

    I would take the $50 "home firearm safety class" first. It will expose you to multiple action types, and give you at least a rudimentary understanding of each. Then I'd try to rent a comparable 12-ga and 20-ga pump, not a "youth model" of 20-ga because as oneounceload says, the lighter weight can actually increase perceived recoil.

    Pump shotguns are always touted as the ultimate HD weapon because they are simple, but they CAN malfunction, and the person using them can also short-stroke the pump cycle and have problems, so make sure you are proficient with it before you plan to depend on it.

    Also, re: your wife, I think it will be tough to get a shotgun that fits both you and your wife. Considering shotguns that fit me at 6'-3" with lanky arms, don't always fit my male friends who are 6'-0" with normal length arms...it really depends on your geometry. So if you hope to go shoot clays together (comfortably), that may not happen. If you just want her to have a competency with it "just in case" then she can probably manage just fine if practicing with some reduced recoil loads. But it won't be ideal.

    I have a Mossberg 500 and my friend has an 870. Both good, reliable pumps, but different controls. Just take a look at each at the store and see if one is more intuitive to you, and go with that.

    Good luck, and have fun! Just because you are becoming a gun owner for a very serious reason (family protection) and will take safety very seriously (I hope!) doesn't mean you can't have a ton of fun along the way.
     
  16. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Member

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    Also I would add, I bet you could find someone to meet up with you at the range and bring a few guns along. If you cover the cost of their range fee and ammo, you could try a lot of guns this way. Gun owners always seem to be thrilled to introduce others to the sport. If you are comfortable with that sort of thing... Try the virginia gun owners forum, maybe too. THR is a great resource but sometimes local is good too.
     
  17. 230RN
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    230RN Member

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    oneounceload remarked,

    I'm well aware of the difference. I just didn't want to go into detail, which involve other things like firearm fit, mechanical action, "adrenaline level," and so forth. That's why I added "kick" and put it in quotes and parentheses.

    Thanks for the additional info, though, and for pointing out the Cornered Cat site. which is excellent. :)

    Terry, 230RN
     
  18. gojuice101

    gojuice101 Member

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    I take it from your original post that you're in, or at least near Richmond. I'm about an hour north of you, up here in Spotsy. It's always nice to see a fellow Virginian here.

    Anyway, I agree with most others that a .22 is a good way to start. For me personally, I think a 12 Gauge would be a lot of gun to handle for a first gun, although its certainly doable. Many new shooters, at least in my experience, tend to not work well with the amount of recoil that shotguns and higher caliber rifles put out, so I find its best to start with a small gun like the .22 to get a good grasp on the fundamentals. However, to each his own.

    A class may not be a bad idea, especially if you have zero experience. That will give you a good grasp on the basics, and especially safety which is obviously very important.
     
  19. olafhardtB

    olafhardtB Member

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    I am 6ft 4in and wear a 39 inch sleeve. I have never found " fit " a problem,but then I don't shoot at moving targets because I usually miss. Every thing these skeet and trap boys say is probably golden if you if your going to shoot skeet and trap ; however for defence I don't worry about it. A friend offered me a long barrelled Stevens double for $100. I applied a hacksaw and a slipon recoil pad to it and it's ok. I think recreational and defence guns are better kept separate YMMV.
     
  20. valnar

    valnar Member

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    I'm one of the few that don't believe a shotgun makes a good home defense weapon. I couldn't imagine shooting one indoors.
     
  21. Apple a Day

    Apple a Day Member

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    Hokiemojo,
    If you end up near Yorktown give me a buzz and I'll take you to the range to try some things out. Good luck with thatever you choose!
     
  22. ProShooter

    ProShooter Member

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    Hokie - Please contact me and I will be happy to assist you with any firearms safety training that you need. We offer the best firearms training in Richmond and I would be happy to offer any advice that I can. I think that our Basic Firearms Safety class would address many of your concerns.

    Jim
    www.ProactiveShooters.com
     
  23. Ranger Roberts

    Ranger Roberts Become a THR contributing member!

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    There are other options out there besides getting a safe. Something like this http://www.shotlock.com/Details.asp mounts to your wall and is easily accessible. If you only have one gun or one gun that you want accessible to you very quicky, but not to your kids it is a viable option.
     
  24. gym

    gym member

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    Your first firearm should not be a 12 gauge shotgun. Get you license, some training, and then decide on what you shoot best. Shotguns are not the kind of gun you want as your only weapon. A handgun that you can carry, if need be, 24/7 if need be. Not something you have to go running to get if someone comes crashing through the door. Shotguns are very destructive weapons in unskilled hands, you can take down a wall without seeing what's behind it. You also need training in the use and operation of a Pump shotgun, or I gaurantee that you will forget to pump it after you fire it. Get a hi capacity pistol, something in the 9-45 caliber range, that is simple, point and shoot. The shotgun should be your 3d purchase.
     
  25. checkmyswag

    checkmyswag Member

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    This is a fascinating position because it can only happen once. Thinking back...my first gun was a 10/22 (22LR small semi auto rifle).

    But that wasn't for defense. I don't know if any gun is appropriate for defense unless you're trained with it.

    Go shoot some IDPA or other handgun matches. They often have loaner rigs.
     
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