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Buying my first handgun - help needed!

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by RadekSkylark, May 8, 2016.

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  1. RadekSkylark

    RadekSkylark Member

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    Hallo guys.

    I'm from Latvia and I'm currently in the process of getting my CCW license - I really hope I'll get it.

    I've been thinking about what handgun to buy as my first handgun. It will be used as a self defense weapon - will try to carry it 99% of the time. As the process of getting CCW here in Latvia is quite expensive and as I'm not sure I want to invest a lot of money into my first handgun (as I have no experience with guns), I was thinking of going for some kind of budget handgun.

    For now my options seem to be:
    1) Makarov 9x18 - huge amount of used weapons - costs about 80$ for one in normal condition and around 100-120$ for one in really good condition;
    2) Walther PK380 9x17 - used around 310$, new around 460$;
    3) SigSauer P230 9x17 - used for around 230$;
    4) S&W MP9 Shield 9x19 - new for 750$;
    5) Walther PPX 9x19 - new for 670$;
    6) Walther CCP 9x19 - new for 710$
    7) Glock 42 9x17 - new for 680$;
    8) Glock 43 9x19 - new for 785$;
    9) Glock 19 9x19 - new for 785$;
    10) Glock 26 9x19 - new for 830$.

    9x18 and 9x19 ammo costs pretty much the same (maybe 9x18 a bit cheaper, but not much). 9x17 is a bit more expensive than previous two.

    The main question is - should I even think about anything else that Makarov for my first CCW considering that I would like to stay on budget and also the differences in the prices of the guns available at local shops?

    If I should, could someone please share their thoughts on which of the listed guns I should be looking for and why should I invest in it, when comparing the huge price point difference between Makarov?

    Of course all good advice is welcome!

    Thanks!
     
  2. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    RadekSkylark

    Welcome aboard! From your Top 10 list I would think a used Makarov or a SIG P230 would make for a great entry level CCW. The Makarov is a tried and true design and solidly built. The SIG P230 is very well made gun and a great buy if you can get it used for $230. Any of your new gun choices (Glock, S&W, Walther), are all dependable and make for effective concealed carry guns.

    If there are any gun clubs or gun ranges available where you are I would try to see if there is any way to try out as many of the different guns that you can.
     
  3. RadekSkylark

    RadekSkylark Member

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    Thank you for replay!

    Could you please elaborate on Makarov vs P230? What would be the main pro and cons to both guns and how should I compare them to decide on which to buy?

    P.S. I have few ranges where I live and I will call them up to see what handguns are available to them for shooting (testing) so I can get few rounds of with different guns to see how they feel.

    Thanks again!
     
  4. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    RadekSkylark

    My brother has an East German Makarov that I use to play around with and I was very impressed with its overall fit and finish. The metal polishing and bluing were comparable to that of a few major American manufacturers and the gun itself was very solid and reliable. May not be the best choice for concealed carry because of it's size and weight; probably better suited with an OWB holster.

    A friend of mine had a stainless SIG P230 which I also spent considerable time with and I likened it to being the Rolex of .380s. Very close tolerances in terms of it's construction and finished to perfection. A bit smaller and lighter than a Makarov but not quite pocket size, the P230 would make for an excellent concealed carry gun along with a quality IWB holster and belt.
     
  5. drec

    drec Member

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    Are there any gun ranges nearby that might be able to try different guns? What about gun safety classes that might have guns that you can try? It might be worthwhile checking these ideas out.
     
  6. golden

    golden Member

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    Sig 230

    I would say go with the SIG 230.

    I am prejudiced on this, as a I have a SIG 230 in 9x18 ULTRA (not MAKAROV) and 2 x SIG 232 in 380ACP. I think the 232 has the better grip, but the 230 will do. It is an easy gun to shoot, which not all 9m.m. pistols are.
    I shoot the GLOCK 26 and do not wish to shoot it again. I also used to carry a GLOCK 19 on duty and think it is an excellent all around gun. I would still carry it if allowed by my agency, we went to the .40 caliber.

    The GLOCK 42 is an outstanding carry pistol and is my choice for off duty carry, but you list it as twice as expensive as the SIG 230.

    The priced difference you listed is the best reason to get it. I think it is a much better weapon than the MAKAROV. The SIG usually has a very good trigger.

    The other guns cost quite a bit more and if you decide that you are not into shooting, you have put down a lot of money. On the other hand, you can always upgrade.

    Good luck with your choice,

    Jim
     
  7. RadekSkylark

    RadekSkylark Member

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    Thanks guys for advice. So I'll try to see if I can get to shoot with both Makarov and SigSauer P230 at a local range to see which feels better... although I have no experience shooting, I hope I'll be able to at least feel which one seems better in my hand.

    Thanks alot once more.
     
  8. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Since you have limited experience with handguns do some research and read up on gun safety so you don't shoot yourself of someone else accidentally.

    The Makarov is a good quality military sidearm that's a bit dated now. For the most part it operates the same as the Walther PPK's of WWII vintage. Its main disadvantage is limited magazine capacity. It also requires a bit more attention to use safely with a manual safety. Its double action/single action system and the needs to be taken off full cock after cambering a round to be carried with hammer down in double action mode as there's no cocked and locked option. Its safety will decock the weapon when engaged. The Makarov have a free floating firing pin with no pin block and there have been cases where they have discharged when dropped when a round is kept in the chamber.

    There is always the option to carry the gun with empty chamber. That requires a loaded round be racked into the chamber when one needs the weapon ready, a step that decreases the speed that you can pull and fire your weapon should that be important in a situation.

    The SigSauer P230 is similar in many respects to the Makarov but has a firing pin block to prevent discharge when dropped though its has no manual locking safety only a decocking lever to render the gun ready with round chambered for carry in double action mode.

    Modern pistols like the Glocks, S&W Shield and Walthers you list have mostly passive safety features most that don't require any application of a safety switch or decocking lever and have active firing pin blocks that prevent discharge if the gun is dropped. The only way these guns will fire is if you pull the trigger. To keep the gun safe, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Always read the manual and understand the operation of your firearm and how it works.
     
  9. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    I'd feel just fine carrying an actual Makarov pistol. I have one from Bulgaria, but any from the former Communist-Bloc countries (USSR, East Germany, Bulgaria, and China) should suit similarly. The Polish Radom P64, also in 9x18mm Makarov, is also a solid choice, but can be unpleasant to spend lots of time shooting as its grip is so small and thin.

    CZ pistols also make good choices and, being from your part of the world, would also likely be less expensive than the western European or American choices you have listed. I have a model 70 in .32ACP (your 7.65mm Browning) and would feel fine with it as well.

    It really does seem that Makarov pistols, or pistols chambered in the Makarov caliber, are going to be readily-available there, more so than here, and quite affordable. As an example, a Bulgarian Makarov in excellent condition would go for about 3/4 of what a Glock 42 would here. You won't go wrong staying in the budget world of those "more-homegrown" choices. They are very well-respected here as well. I have a Bulgarian Mak, a CZ 70, a .22LR pistol from Hungary (a rimfire version of the PA-63), and a Romanian Tokarev TT-33. I'm looking to acquire more of those eastern-European all-steel pistols.

    The main trade-off would be having a heavier gun.

    Good luck..!
     
  10. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator

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    Welcome to THR, RadekSkylark!

    I don't know much about most of the pistols on your list. In fact, of all of them, I've only ever owned or shot one of them, the G19. That's pretty high on the price scale that you've posted, though. It looks to me like pistols take a pretty good jump in price when you move from 9x18 to 9x19. I don't know enough about ballistics to know whether you should try carrying 9x17 or 9x18 as a concealed carry weapon. What I do know is that there's about a $500 price difference on your list, and you could put that money towards training and practice, which may be more useful than the difference in ballistic performance.

    Aren't XD/XDm/XDs pistols also built in Croatia? If so, it may also be worth you time to look at them, as well.

    I'll also join the others that have suggested that you try to find a range and shoot a few of the guns on your list. There's really no substitute for that.
     
  11. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Is the CZ82 (VZ82) available in your part of the world at a reasonable cost? This would be a more modern 9x18 pistol with a higher capacity magazine. I find that it is only just a bit larger than the Makarov, but would be easy to conceal either IWB or OWB.
     
  12. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    I paid more than double that price for my SIG P230SL so I highly recommend that choice. Very well made and a great concealed carry piece.

    My%20.380%20ACP%20SIG%20P230SL%201_zpsy7a2hmza.jpg
    My%20.380%20ACP%20SIG%20P230SL%203_zpssfdmzxya.jpg
    My%20.380%20ACP%20SIG%20P230SL%204_zps8inofvvu.jpg
     
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  13. spazzymcgee

    spazzymcgee Member

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    Given the price at which you can get the Makarov and Sig P230, they are by far the best value. I would go with a Makarov based on what you're getting for the price. The Sig will be more refined, but performance will be about the same.
     
  14. M-Cameron

    M-Cameron member

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    if you have a steady and consistent supply of 9x18.......youd be a fool not to go for a makarov....especially at those prices.


    i had a makarov and loved it, the only reason i sold it was because the supply of 9x18 in my area was spotty at best.
     
  15. RadekSkylark

    RadekSkylark Member

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    Thanks for all the replays ;)

    drec - yes, there are few ranges I could check which might have some of the guns listed . I will definitely call them up before buying anything.

    Steve C - I have checked gun safety video (proper loading and unloading as well as safety at range) and also have checked Mike Seeklanders videos on youtube/vimeo for some guidance. As for the round in the chamber - we are not allow to carry like that by the law - we must carry without a round in a chamber and if gun has external safety it must be enabled, and only when you think you'll need to use the gun you may disable external safety and load the gun. So from this aspect the safety against unwanted discharge of Makarov vs P230 is not a big concern to me (at least that what I think).

    Spats McGee - the jump in the price from 9x17 and 9x18 to 9x19 is mostly because those 9x19 are available only as new guns. Of course there are maybe few used options, but only big guns (like Jericho 941 F stainless 9x19, Beretta 92FS, Walther P88, Taurus PT92, Sig Sauer P226, P228). The pistols I've listed are pretty much what is available locally. Everything else would need to be imported. Probably it is not such a hard thing to import a gun from European union... it would of course be some additional costs but maybe it would be worth it...

    Sistema1927 - there is one CZ82 for sale at this moment, it costs 115$, although I have no idea what is the condition of that gun. In general CZ82 appear for sale every now and then.

    M-Cameron - 9x18 are available at every shop and their price is the cheapest between all of the 9 cartridges listed (at the cheapest shop 9x18 (Barnaull FMJ for 0,25$/pc) at the same price 9x19 (Magtech FMJ), but at all other stores 9x18 are a bit cheaper - not much though). Makarov's have been service guns for PD's and other internal force units for a long time in the past, so we got a consistent supply of guns as well as ammo.

    Just as info - we are not allowed to carry hollow point ammo - only FMJ.

    As for carrying, I work at a office and usually was wearing long sleeved shirts, pretty much the type you were with suit. It seems that I will have to change my wardrobe a bit to adjust for CCW. Anyhow it seems that my best bet is IWB carry, so that is what I'm set on using at this point of time (of course when I buy my weapon).

    I really appreciate all advice given here! For now I'm pretty much set on Makarov, though I will definitely consider that one Sig P230, if it will still be for sale when I get my permit.

    P.S. Is there option for quoting in this forum?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  16. Bobson

    Bobson Member

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    Yep. Hit the little button at the bottom right of the post you want to quote. Pressing it will take you to the Quick Reply text box at the bottom of the thread. Make sure to press the "Quote message in reply" button just below the text box. Just type your reply in the text box and hit "Post Quick Reply."

    If you only want to quote part of someone's post, do the same thing, but click "Go Advanced" instead of "Post Quick Reply." Then go inside the text and highlight/delete whatever part of their text you don't want to include in the quote.
     

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    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  17. owlhoot

    owlhoot Member

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    I have owned or currently own all but one of the pistols on your list. All are worthy candidates.

    Considering the price differences the Makarov is the obvious choice. The following are observations and opinions based on my experiences with my Makarov.

    The gun is very reliable. I don't recall ever having a failure to feed or eject even when using the cheapest steel cased ammunition.

    The gun is easy to shoot well. Recoil is very mild. My pistol shoots to the point of aim at 25 meters. The gun is surprisingly accurate.

    Give it a try. Learn to shoot with it, if you decide at a later date that you would prefer another choice, you can make the change without loss on your initial investment.
     
  18. jbj

    jbj Member

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    OP - cost and ammo selection are big factors, but I tell most first time buyers to go by feel as much as anything. If the gun doesn't fit your hand right, you will have a more difficult time shooting it well.

    As for having to carry with an empty chamber, the Israelis used to carry that way, and had a 'slingshot draw' technique that was faster than you'd imagine
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rGD2j9ks38g
    Not my 1st choice, but with a lot of practice, doable.

    Speaking of practice, getting used to having a gun on your body all the time takes practice, as does drawing, firing and then making the gun safe and reholstering. Dry-fire practice in your home is an invaluable way to gain the muscle memory for safely handling a gun (cheap too!).
     
  19. RadekSkylark

    RadekSkylark Member

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    Thanks for shearing this video!
     
  20. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    RadekSkylark, one more thing: Since you'll be carrying with an empty chamber, the Makarov pistol will be a single-action weapon only for you, meaning the hammer will be cocked for any shot you fire. So, before holstering the weapon for carry, go ahead and cock the hammer with your thumb and carry it that way; it will make the slide much easier to rack should the need come up (this assumes no legal requirement to leave the hammer "at rest.")
     
  21. RadekSkylark

    RadekSkylark Member

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    Yeah... we also need to carry with hammer down!

    To be specific - we need to carry with safety on, without round in the chamber and with hammer at rest. So basically if we'll need to use weapon we'll need to disable safety and rack the slide to chamber a round.

    Thanks for advice, though!
     
  22. antiquus

    antiquus Member

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    I'm a bit of a Mak fan, I've owned several, currently I own a Chinese PM and a CZ-82. The CZ is built like a tank, designed for 20% overpressure ammo and very smooth, a great design. The PM IS a tank, the one I have is all forged construction, but PM's were designed to be abused, are simple in design, and tough. Other Mak chambered guns are the FEG PA-63, which is an aluminum frame and the lightest Mak chambered gun, and the Radom P-64, the smallest Mak gun. Both are solid. Radom P-83 may show up also, but has no real advantages over a PM, but at a good price is worth it. A PM for $80 would be an incredible deal here, and allow you buy a lot of ammo to practice with.
     
  23. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Under those conditions, I would get the Sig P230.
    It doesn't HAVE an external safety so that is one less step in making the gun ready to fire.

    I don't know if you are allowed to loiter around gun stores and shooting ranges, but if you can, get acquainted with active shooters and make friends. Shooters are usually very helpful. If you were here, I would let you shoot my guns and introduce you to people with others.
     
  24. MIL-DOT

    MIL-DOT member

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    I agree with the recommendations to go with the less-expensive Makarov or Sig230. But, I also concur with the suggestions about looking into the semi-local CZ's and XD's (but, the Glocks and Walthers are also from relatively close by, and they're pretty expensive, so there may be no deals on them, in which case I'd just go with the Sig or the Makarov.)
     
  25. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    Everything in a handgun is a compromise.

    Less powerful rounds such as the 9x17/9x18 have less recoil than the 9x19 when shot from size guns.

    Small guns (Mak & SIG) are easier to conceal than double stack guns like Glocks.

    Larger guns with bigger grips are more comfortable and easier to shoot accurately than small guns.

    My point is what are the most important things when carrying in your country? Are your laws very strict about you not accidently showing "flashing" your gun such as when you reach for your wallet at the checkout counter?

    Makarovs enjoy a very good reputation here in the States. Being restricted to FMJ ammunition there is little difference between the 9x18 and 9x19. On the other hand seeing how you are restricted to FMJ choosing the gun that holds more them may be a better idea.

    Personally I like Makarovs. I use FMJ ammunition in mine for deeper penetration.

    However as I am not restricted to how many handguns I can own (other than busting the budget) when the weather is cooler requiring a jacket I carry a larger size pistol.
     
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