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Advising a friend on first handgun

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by swampcrawler, Jul 9, 2013.

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  1. swampcrawler

    swampcrawler Member

    Jun 3, 2013
    Ok general that's easy. Glock/Springfield/sig 9mm. At least that's my generic first hand gun recommendations.

    But this guy has a thing for 1911s. He grew up shooting his dads (not sure what brand or anything) and for him nothing beats the feel of the 1911. Seems like someone els may have said that once on a forum somewhere. :)

    Our other gun nut friends keep pushig him for a glock due to the simplicity of them. I on the other hand am thinking if the 1911 feels right, and has some importance to him, get one.

    Learn its quirks, how to care for it, ect. I don't really mean for this to be yet another glock vs 1911 thread, more of a "is there any reason for a newbie to absolutely without a question avoid a 1911"

    Looking forward to your thoughts.
  2. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Nov 15, 2008
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    What does he mostly want to use it for?

    And if left alone and just simply "used" many 1911's can be very reliable. There's a bunch of them at our local Rent-A-Gun range and when I was working part time with them the 1911's were pretty much as reliable as any of the other guns.... Glocks included.

    The funny thing is that the Glocks suffered from regular breakage of the small hair spring on the slide stop lever. So they were actually down for parts on a pretty regular basis. This still had them available for use more of the time than some of the brands but it wasn't an uncommon thing to see one or two of them sidelined while waiting for this same part time and again.

    Oh, if it matters the 1911's that stood up the best were STI's. Later on they got a couple of SIG 1911's. I was the RO for a group at the time that managed to break one of the SIGs. The link lugs tore out the base of the chamber on the barrel. To be fair the gun had been a popular option for many months and likely had as many rounds down the bore in that time as most owners could put thru it in a decade or more.

    Up to the point of failure both the SIG's worked flawlessly. So the rumours that 1911's can't be reliable are simply old wives' tales. The rumours undoubtedly come from the simple fact that 1911's seem to attract he tinkerers. And once they start trying to "improve" the guns THAT is when the troubles start.

    Bottom line is let him buy what HE wants. Guns are mechanical devices. They ALL have odd troubles of various sorts so there's no magic pill option.
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    IMO: A persons first handgun should be a .22 RF, revolver, or target type semi-auto.
    There used to be cheap .22 ammo available for extended practice sessions almost anyone could afford..

    They won't be scared into a life long flinch by the recoil and blast of a centerfire before they can learn how to accurately shoot a handgun.

    Even the championship level match shooters revert back to a .22 to unlearn bad habits and get back on track to winning matches again.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking too it!!

  4. Mitlov

    Mitlov Member

    May 14, 2013
    A Ruger P95 has controls pretty much identical to a 1911, but is far cheaper and more idiot-proof/novice-proof/low-maintenance. A friend of mine is a 1911 enthusiast but uses a Ruger P95 as his cheap gun in the quad; I've shot both and I loved the Kimber 1911 but I'll likely get a Ruger P95 for myself because of the price and the reliability reputation.
  5. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

    Jan 8, 2011
    He should get what he wants and learn to use and maintain it properly.
  6. Twiki357

    Twiki357 Member

    Jan 26, 2011
    Prescott Valley, AZ
    What ColtPythonElite said.
  7. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    If price is an issue take a look at the Springfield 1911's. They are well built but the price is fair. (in today's market)

    BADUNAME2 Member

    Apr 22, 2003
    Alger, OH
    Let him get what he wants. If he wants a 1911, do you really think he'll be happy with one of the plastic fantastics? Get one from a reputable maker, and he should be in good shape.
  9. 2wheels

    2wheels Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    My first handgun at 19 was a 1911, I turned out just fine.

    It's certainly slightly more complicated than something like a Glock, but it ain't rocket science. If your buddy is a reasonably intelligent guy, he'll be just fine too.
  10. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Take him to the range, have him rent several options and pick which he likes to shoot best.
  11. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Central Fla
    You can lead a horse to water but you can`t make him drink. Seems as if his mind is made up.
  12. JTQ

    JTQ Member

    Apr 6, 2009
    NW Florida
    I haven't heard that before. I suppose they both have a trigger, slide stop/release, mag release, a hammer, and a safety (Ruger has a safety/decocker), but to say the P95 and 1911 have controls that are "pretty much identical", is quite a reach.
  13. swampcrawler

    swampcrawler Member

    Jun 3, 2013
    Well, looks like essentially everyone thinks the same way I do. My first (and other than 22s,) my only handgun is my HK 45. Was it easy to pay for at 18? Nope. will a glock or Springfield do the same thing? Probably. But I bought what fit me and havnt regretted it for a second.

    Looks like I get to help a friend choose a 1911. :)
  14. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Apr 24, 2007

    If your friend is interested in starting out with an M1911 type pistol, maybe suggest he get a .22LR conversion assembly for it as well. Of course with the ongoing ammo shortage still prevalent in many areas, this may be a moot point for the time being. But eventually ammo availability will return to normal and then he will have a less expensive way to practice with his new gun.
  15. aarondhgraham

    aarondhgraham Member

    Sep 28, 2012
    Stillwater, Oklahoma
    My thoughts are so mixed on this,,,

    Revolver vs. semi-auto is the biggest question.

    I work at OK State University,,,
    I take a lot of newbies to the range,,,
    They always ask me what would be a good first handgun.

    Invariably they all say they want one "just like the one we shot that day."
    But that could be any of 15 or so handguns I commonly take.

    I almost always recommend a good .22 handgun to them to start out with,,,
    My reasoning is that you must practice a lot to become proficient,,,
    One can't get the needed practice if ammo is too expensive.

    Before the ammo shortage I had no problem recommending any of several semi-automatics,,,
    Ruger Mk or 22/45/ Beretta NEOS, Browning Buckmark, Bersa Thunder 22, or the S&W M&P 22 to name a few decent choices.

    These guns all run well with quality ammunition such as CCI Mini Mags,,,
    But now with the ammo shortage you can't find the good stuff,,,
    And even though these are good brand name guns,,,
    None of mine run well with cheaper bulk ammo.

    So that brings us back to revolvers because they will run anything you can fit into them,,,
    The problem there is that new S&W revolvers are extremely expensive ($700 plus),,,
    The new model of Ruger SP-101 is cheaper but still expensive ($550 plus),,,
    There are the Heritage, Chiappa, or Puma SA cowboy guns ($175 plus),,,
    But if one wants a DA/SA gun that only leaves Charter Arms.

    I recently purchased a 4" Charter Arms Target Pathfinder,,,
    That gun cost me $348.00 brand new in the box,,,
    It's not the finest gun in the world but it works.

    In it's fit and finish it can't hold a candle for my S&W's,,,
    But for the price point that it's designed for,,,
    It seems to be a reasonable choice.

    My 4" model has almost exactly the same frame size as a S&W J-frame,,,
    The one I have has more inherent accuracy than I can use,,,
    The trigger and action is smoothing out with use,,,
    And it will shoot any ammo one can find.

    The day I can walk into Wal Mart and buy CCI Mini Mags for $6.49/100 pack again,,,
    That will be the day I happily start recommending semi-auto's again,,,
    But until then I show newbies my Charter Arms pathfinder.

    It's a gun they can afford to buy,,,
    As well as afford ammo for.

    Now some will slam me for my thoughts on this matter,,,
    They will say that there is no sense buying a cheap gun at all,,,
    But in my case we are talking mostly about poor-but-honest college kids,,,
    My thinking is to get them started shooting/learning as inexpensively as is humanly possible.

    There is plenty of time for them to research different guns whether for sporting or self defense use,,,
    My thoughts are to get them shooting with a handgun of reasonable quality/price,,,
    They can plan to buy a dream gun when they have gained some experience.


    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013
  16. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    The Land that Time Forgot
    I do not believe a first handgun needs to be a .22lr. The first one I shot was a 44 mag, and the first one I purchased was a .357 mag. Anything smaller than a 38 special is now boring to me.

    ColtPythonElite nailed it with
    If he buys what others have talked him into, and not what he wants, he will not be happy with it, and will just end up getting a 1911 later. The truely important part is, LEARN THE GUN, and all of its proper handling.
  17. travisd

    travisd Member

    May 19, 2011
    South Dakota
    If hes shot a 1911 before, I'd say go for it if he really wants one Although I don't currently own one anymore mine was my favorite handgun. I wouldn't recommend a Ruger P95. I had one as my first center fire pistol and it was terrible no matter what I shot through it/ how I shot it and the plastic grip just felt cheap. Would jam probably half the time and wasn't terribly accurate. I got it fixed and sold it right away. Much better guns out there IMO. I have owned several pistols since then and have been very pleased with all of them. I would compare it to a Walther P22 i owned before it. Wouldn't work no matter what i fed it. Go for the 1911!
  18. almherdfan

    almherdfan Member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Wild, Wonderful, WV
    So many things to consider: economics, maturity, personality, access to range (practice), experience with other pistols/revolvers.

    If young, limited experience, lower budget, .22LR is the way to go.

    If older, experienced, $$ to spend, the 1911 is GTG.
  19. s4s4u

    s4s4u Member

    Dec 18, 2007
    My first auto was a 22/45, because I wanted a 1911. My second auto was a 1911. If I'd had the money at the time my first would have been the 1911. What is so complicated about a 1911? They are simple guns. The rimfire conversions make it easy to have both on a single platform. Glocks aren't for everyone.
  20. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

    Feb 3, 2012
    $700 will buy him a 1911 in .45 with a .22 conversion kit. Mine is flawless with all the .22 I have run through it and the switch literally takes 1 minute.

    I love revolvers and have a bunch of them but if he likes a 1911 he is not going to be happy with a wheel gun as his only gun. If he is in love with the 1911 then he is not going to be happy with a Glock as his only gun so go ahead and buy the 1911 with conversion for the first gun since that is what he wants.
  21. vamo

    vamo Member

    Mar 18, 2012
    Only reason I can think of to avoid a 1911 as a first gun is the expense of 45 acp. If thats not a deterrent and he likes 1911's then thats what he should get. I personally prefer 9mm, because its cheaper and I know I won't shoot as often if the ammo costs too much.
  22. Mitlov

    Mitlov Member

    May 14, 2013
    Yeah, in retrospect, I shouldn't have phrased it that strongly at all. I was thinking first and foremost about the physical safety and placement thereof. But you're right, the guns aren't identical, one obvious difference being that you can fire the P95 double-action.

    I do think that transferring between a P95 and a 1911 would be a LOT easier than between, say, a Glock 17 and 1911 (due to the safety and the exposed hammer), but yeah, I shouldn't have said that the P95's controls were identical to the 1911's.
  23. BLB68

    BLB68 Member

    May 18, 2008
    You say he grew up shooting his dad's 1911, then asked:

    So, is he really a "newbie"?

    I see no reason for him to avoid a 1911 if he likes shooting one. He's already familiar with them, and if he hasn't been into shooting for a while, it won't be hard to train him on one. Remember, the military trained many, many men and women on a 1911 as their first handgun. It's not hard to master the manual of arms.

    Finding one that works well straight out of the box and doesn't cost an arm and two legs may be a bit harder, but should be doable.

    I've been eyeballing the Ruger, after reading a lot of positive reviews.
  24. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Frozen North
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