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First handgun

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Lynn17, Dec 22, 2012.

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  1. Lynn17

    Lynn17 Member

    Dec 22, 2012
    Hey everyone, just joined here. I've been thinking of investing in a hand gun for a while now. I'm a 24 year old female, and I'd just like something more than my EMT utility knife around for protection just in case. When I finally learned how to shoot last summer, I shot a 9mm and a .45. The 9 was way easier to shoot for my wrists, but I was surprisingly much more accurate with the. 45. I've yet to shoot a 22, but I feel it may be a more practical gun for me (although not as fun out at the range ;) ) as far as concealing or keeping around. I was hoping for some opinions on the best and most practical option. Plus, I just want to keep learning about firearms! What do you guys think?
  2. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 7, 2006
    Texan by birth, in Colorado cause I hate humidity
    Lynn, first off, welcome to THR!

    If I were you I would see if there is a local range or club that has a lady's day and attend. The indoor range here does ladies only classes and has the ladies shoot different styles and calibers or handguns so they have a better idea of what works for them.

    You have shot a 9 and 45 before so that is a start. If the 9 is easier for you to shoot then I would start there, accuracy can be learned. Or it could have been the firearm was not a good fit. The key is finding something that fits you well and you are comfortable with using.
  3. Apple a Day

    Apple a Day Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    +1 what Robert said. Try a few things. Shooting the same round from a compact gun versus a full-sized one can be very different experiences regarding felt recoil and accuracy. Some stuff just fits better than others.
    I'm kind of partial to the .38 Special myself.
  4. Atbat82

    Atbat82 Member

    Nov 20, 2012
    22's are great for plonking at the range and can be a lot of fun to shoot. Plus they're cheap to practice with. However, most people will tell you that they fall short in the self defense arena. I tend to agree. If it owns the only gun you could shoot well, then maybe, but as long as you handle a 9mm or 45, I would go that route.

    Welcome to THR! There's a ton of good information here.

    Sent from my iPhone
  5. Deer_Freak

    Deer_Freak Member.

    Dec 20, 2012
    North Carolina
    Make sure the gun you select fits your hand. Many women buy a pistol with a stock that is to large for their hand. When you hold the pistol your trigger fingertip should lay on the barrel end of the trigger guard.

    I live near a Federal prison. Lots of women in the area work at the prison. If they make contact with prisoners they are required to qualify with a Ruger P95 once a year. The Ruger is a wonderful pistol but the hammer spring travels the length of the grip making the grip to large for women. They qualify with the Ruger but none of them are happy about it. I own a P95 myself.

    My wife has a concealed carry permit. Women are faced with challenges concealing weapons men never consider. Robert mentioned shooting with a group of ladies and that is a great idea. A local range has a ladies group that meets twice a month. They have certified female instructors that give lessons for free. I take my IDPA lessons from one of the female instructors. They are highly qualified!
  6. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    SouthEastern FL
    Hi, Lyn (from a fellow EMS-er!) There are countless options available, and you probably won't be able to make a choice based on what you read here. But, you'll get many good recommendations regarding what to at least go and fondle.

    A .22LR pistol, in the right hands, can be a formidable defensive weapon, definitely superior to your rescue knife (I probably have the same knife!) But, as has been said, there are options that are "better than good." If you're looking for something that will be fun at the range, effective in a self-defense role, and reasonably easy to carry, the 9mm is pretty much going to dominate the category. But remember some basics:
    Too big = poor concealment.
    Too small = poor hand fit.
    Too heavy = uncomfortable carry.
    Too light = unpleasant to shoot.

    The ultra-light 9mm pistols are the easiest pocket-rockets to carry, but the least fun at the range. There are good compromise-guns from Kahr (PM9 and CM9), Ruger (SR9 and SR9C), Taurus (700 series and others), Bersa (Thunder 9 and BP9CC), and a boatload of others. Try browsing here: www.best9mm.com.
  7. Bovice

    Bovice Member

    Sep 27, 2009
    "Hi Lynn!" *flexes*

    You say you shot the .45 accurately but the 9mm was better for your wrists. Do you remember what make/model the .45 was? You can almost always find a version of that chambered for 9mm. That would be my starting point if I were you.
  8. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    Jan 16, 2012
    Wet Oregon
    How do you know how fun or un-fun a .22 is if you haven't shot one? Also, many .22's might not be "practical for keeping around or concealing". Many are about as heavy and half as large and can cost many times more than a new hunting rifle.
    Perhaps the 9 you shot was a small one.. there are a lot of maybe's in the world.
    A thing that's not a maybe though is to first figure out what you want that gun to do/be able to do for you, find/source that gun and then learn how to use it well.
  9. wrench

    wrench Member

    Jan 23, 2004
    Greetings, Lynn, and welcome to 'The High Road'.
    I'm a female shooter, I love shooting pistols, rifles, and shotguns. I second the notion of finding a female shooters group near you, another option is an NRA basic pistol class.
    If you feel comfortable giving us an idea where you are, some of us may be able to suggest some options?
    Before you buy, try to shoot as many pistols as you can, some ranges have rentals where you can try before you buy. Many shooters are eager to let a new shooter try out their guns as well. Admire someone's pistol at most ranges around here, and you're likely to get a reply of, 'would you like to put a mag through it?'
    .22 pistols are wonderful to build skills, most would agree that 9mm and up are better for self defense.
    Here's a good website for some info as well:
    Good luck, have fun, feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
  10. Lennyjoe

    Lennyjoe Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Southwestern Ohio
    Welcome aboard! Good information above on all of the posts so far.

    Us THR members are a very diverse group and most are more than willing to help out when asked. I've gotten with several new THR members and given them a hands on experience in my area.

    We've also put together a mentor list in the hunting section, as an example of our communities desire to help out when asked.

    Feel free to interract with our members for advice or hands on help, either here in your thread, or by PM if you want to be a bit more discrete.

    Again, welcome aboard.
  11. DNS

    DNS Member

    Sep 8, 2009
    west Texas

    My wife loves her 22lr Beretta Neos and she can empty the ten shot magazine acurrately and quickly with what amounts to no recoil. For her its been a good choice and she's comfortable and confident with it.
  12. Ramone

    Ramone Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Tidewater VA
    I would recommend giving some serious thought to a Kahr- either the PM9 or the CM9.


    9MM is 'enough gun'

    the CM9/PM9 is small enough to conceal, but not so small as to be difficult in recoil,

    the PM9/CM9 has an *excellent* trigger for a Double Action

    The CM9/PM9 has a slim, well designed grip (which is me assuming you have medium to small hands)

    The difference between the PM and CM is mostly finish details. I own a PM9, a friend has a CM9- I don't regret having spent a bit more, he wishes he had spent the US$100.00 to get the PM, though he's happy enough with the CM
  13. SamWitch

    SamWitch Member

    Dec 14, 2012
    Hi, Lynn! I'm a female with small hands and I use a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard. I have never shot anything else, and I do quite well with it.
  14. otasan56

    otasan56 Member

    Oct 20, 2011
    Hartford, VT
    Hello Miss Lynn. I highly recommend the Glock 19 to you while you can still get it with the 15-round magazines. The gun is light-weight and is highly reliable. And with the right ammunition (+p+ 115gr JHP) it hits very hard. :D
  15. rswartsell

    rswartsell Member

    Mar 4, 2008
    North Carolina
    At least get some trigger time with a good .38 revolver. You should pick one or the other (revolver or semi-auto) based upon what is right for you. I wouldn't eliminate an entire category without a good tryout first.
  16. tuj

    tuj Member

    May 2, 2011
    Welcome. All shooters should have a .22 pistol. Consider a 9mm with a 22 conversion kit.
  17. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    Unlike a lot of internet "authorities" that will tell you what you need I'd prefer to tell you how to find out what will work for you as an individual.

    Since you're not interested yet in having a variety of handguns from different families (Glock, 1911, CZ75, ...) the best thing to do is find out what family you point naturally so you don't have to buy a lot of different guns finding out what you shoot best.

    Since you've been pointing at things since a small child there's a natural characteristic to you pointing. That can translate to the angle between the grip and the barrel of a handgun because there's an angle between your pointer finger and the core of your palm when you point. If the "grip angle" corresponds to that angle between the finger and palm you'll be much more likely to point the handgun more naturally/accurately/and with more stability.

    Pointing the firearm more naturally means that you'll be more accurate with sighted fire since you won't have to put more effort to bring the sights into alignment and you'll be able to handle recoil from the handgun because all of the structures in your hand and wrist and forearm will be more aligned to absorb the recoil. Being able to handle more recoil then means you'll be able to shoot more powerful calibers with greater control and comfort.

    The unfortunate thing is that it takes experimenting with the different families of firearms to find out what you point. The lucky thing is that you can speed the process by handling them without firing them and finding out which points to the point of aim without firing them initially. You'll need a Glock, 1911/XD, CZ75 and a Sig available. The first thing is to handle each and learn the best high one hand grip on each so you have a comfortable solid grip before ever pointing/aiming it. Once you get that grip you'll need to stare at a small point roughly 30 ft. away. This will sound silly to many, but your vision seems to collapse into a tunnel and that point becomes all you see. You need to do this with a safe point 30 ft. away. If you're in a gunshop the best point to focus on is the intersection of two walls and the ceiling since it is presumed to be a safe point of aim. The third thing you need to do is to imagine a rod sticking out of the barrel of the pistol and instead of sweeping the gun into alignment with the corner you must lift your elbow and then shove the rod into the corner as if you're skewering something in that corner.

    Grasp the gun, focus on the corner until it is all you see, cock your elbow and shove the pistol into the corner you're focused on.

    Then look at the alignment of the sights.

    I'll repeat, only after you've shoved the imaginary rod into the corner do you look at the sights.

    If the sights align well on the point in the corner you've found the family of handguns you naturally point to point of aim of the pistol. If you notice that you have to lift the front sight or drop it to make the sights align you know you need to walk away from that family of handguns and try another. You may not point a 1911. You may not point a Glock. Quickly, though, you'll find which family of handguns you point into that corner that also has the sights aligned.

    I love CZ75s, but I point a Browning Hi-Power. A buddy loves 1911s, but he points CZ75s. My wife doesn't care and she points CZs also (some things just ain't fair:cool:). A friend of ours points Glocks and he loves Glocks (no accounting for taste;)).

    If you happen to point a 1911, but you want a double stack pistol you can find Springfields and Kimbers and STIs that fit your hand and reach to the trigger as well as the grip angle so that you find the perfect fit. If you point Glocks you won't have any trouble there since a Glock is a Glock. CZs, lots of CZs and CZ clones. If the single stack 1911 is the perfect fit then there are tons of single stack 1911s.

    If you want to start out with a gun that fits you so you don't have to make yourself fit the gun it is easily done. You just need to go where they have a CZ75, a 1911, a Glock and a Sig and try to point each one into the corner at the ceiling to find out what points for you.

    Knowing you point a 1911 or Glock or CZ save a lot of time and money. You can decide to purchase an expensive 1911 or CZ or an inexpensive version (Armscor offers inexpensive versions of both that have been surprisingly good). Then you can decide if you want to shoot 9mm, .40 cal, 10mm or .45 out of it and start shooting.

    Kathy at CorneredCat.com has further advice on fitting a pistol that addresses grip width and reach to the trigger and is a wealth of information on issues pertinent to all shooters and women in particular.
  18. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I'm going to mention one aspect of a handgun here that is to me one of the most important.
    Wether you choose a revolver or semi-auto, and whatever caliber you settle for , trigger pull is one very important factor (and to me the most important) when trying to accurately shoot a handgun.

    The gun can be reliable, and fit/point well in your hand, but if the trigger pull is long and/or crappy, you will have a real problem hitting anything.
  19. il.bill

    il.bill Member

    Dec 9, 2011
    FOID Land (Illinois)
    HSO has some great information in his post. I am looking forward to trying his instruction about shoving the imaginary rod into the corner and then looking at the sights.

    I want to emphasize the importance of actually test shooting the handgun that you decide feels and looks right for you, if possible. My wife really liked the way my Walther P1 felt in her hand while dry firing with snap caps, but the recoil of the 9mm ammo fired from the alloy frame pistol was uncomfortable for her. If you are not in a hurry and can take your time, you will find a handgun in a suitable caliber that just feels right for you.

    Good luck, and happy shooting!
  20. golden

    golden Member

    Aug 28, 2007
    How tall are you?

    Hello Lynn,

    After showing several people how to shoot and helping them with picking a gun, my first question would be how tall are you?

    Odd question, but height usually will tell how big a hand you have. If you are 5'2", like my ex-wife, a high capacity 9 m.m. may be to large. This is not a question of how tough or strong you are, but ergonomics.

    My ex-wife, handled over a dozen different guns, both revolvers and semi-autoes, before picking 5 for the range. Then she shot them and ended up with a mid size 9m.m., a SIG 225.
    I liked shooting the gun, so much, I bought another when she took the first one.
    My point is that without seeing or knowing much about you, it is hard to make an intelligent suggestion.
    If you are 5'9", then many more pistols will fit you well. Fit is important. Too small a grip means poor control and MORE FELT RECOIL.

    A nice feature of revolvers is that you can change the grip panel and customize the fit to your hand.
    The lenghth of reach to the trigger is also important.

    If you can, get someone you can trust, who is experienced with firearms AND GOOD AT TEACHING to show you several different types.


    I would not buy a .22 rimfire if you want to use the gun for home defense or concealled carry.

    the .25ACP and .32ACP are poor choices for new shooters. Ammo is not cheap and limited stopping power puts a premium on accuracy that a new shooter may not be able to produce during a self defense situation.

    Also, avoid derringer type pistols.

    My floor or smallest caliber would be the .38 Special revolver, a six shot model like the SMITH & WESSON model 10 with a 4 inch barrel or the 5 shot RUGER SP 101 with the 3 inch barrel. Both are large enough to be easy to control and last a lifetime.

    Short barrel (snub nose) revolvers with 2 inch barrels are all the rage right now, but almost all use a small frameS and can be hard to control without some shooting experience behind you or proper training.
    Lightweight aluminum and polymer frames can make the control problems worse.

    My own choice is a .380ACP SIG 232 for concealed carry and a 9m.m. pistol for home or car.
    I have used many revovlers and semi autoes for concealed carry and settled on the SIG 232 "blued" model" in .380ACP. It is compact, very light, easy to shoot due to good ergonomics, sights and low recoil. I would not recommend it to a new shooter without firearms experience. I have been in law enforcement for over 20 years, so gun handling, gun maintenance and clearing jams are all things I am familiar with.

    For home defense, I like a 9m.m. pistol, preferabley with night sights and/or a rail light mounted on the gun. Great combination, but not very concealable with the light.

    I would strongly suggest that you try several different guns just for handling and then rent the ones you feel most comfortable with and shoot them.

    I STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST STARTING WITH EITHER THE .45ACP OR .357 MAGNUM. Both up the recoil and are more difficult to handle well without experience or training.

    You can get a .357 Magnum revolver and use .38 Special ammo in it to start working up the recoil threshhold, however the weight of a six shoot .357 Magnum may be more than you want and they will be hard to conceal.
    Always start with .38 Special ammo in a .357 Magnum, if you do not have experience shooting one. .38 Special "wadcutter" ammo is a good first load. It kicks very little and is pleasant to shoot, even several boxes at a time.
    Move up to standard pressure (NON +P load) and if that is ok, then move on to the +P .38 Special loads. A 125 or 158 grain hollow point bullet at +P velocities has been found to work quite well for police departments and even the FBI. I prefer the 125 grain +P for the lower recoil it generates. REMINGTON sells a 100 round box of +P .38 Special ammo with a 125 grain bullet that is reasonable to use as both practice and carry ammo. I get it at WALMART.

    Good luck,

    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
  21. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

    Nov 28, 2010
    Since you state that the 9MM was comfortable to shoot, I would stay with that caliber as it is fine with all the self defense rounds now available for it. You need to hold and shoot (if possible) various makes/models til you find one that fits good in your hand and a satisfactory trigger pull. You said the 45 was more accurate for you and they may very well make the same model in the 9MM.
  22. Black Knight

    Black Knight Member

    Jun 19, 2006
    Charlottesville, VA
    Welcome Lynn. Since you have already tried the 9MM and the 45 try to locate a range that rents guns and try different makes, models, and calibers. Many years ago I tried 2 revolvers, a 3" S&W 64 and a 2 1/2" S&W 66. Both had the same frame size and grips but the 66 felt better in my hand. The S&W 66 came home with me. Now My wife has that 66 for her gun. Remember that revolvers are out there that are very good for this purpose as well. A good 38 Special +P revolver is very good for personal protection.
  23. miles1

    miles1 Member

    Feb 23, 2011
    +1 to hso's advice!
  24. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

    Dec 1, 2005
    Central Ohio
    The advice to try several handguns and pick the one best for you is good. My wife is rather petite and it took some doing to get something she was comfortable shooting. Her hands aren't strong enough to cycle any of the semi autos she tried so she finally ended up with a Charter Arms Lavender Lady revolver in 38 Special she is comfortable with. Another advantage with a good revolver is they're less likely to jam than a semi auto. Recoil wise, she was OK with the 38 Special, 9mm Parabellum and even 44 Specials from my Ruger Redhawk. My step daughter ended up going with a Kahr K9.

    Also consider the fact that the gun is only going to do you good if you're actually carrying it. I would consider a 22 LR, 32 Auto or 380 Auto better than nothing at all. The Kel-Tec P3AT is small light and inexpensive. The Kahr P380 is a little heavier and a little bigger than the P3AT but still easily concealable, probably more durable but more expensive.

    Whatever you get, I would get something that will go bang immediately when you pull the trigger like a revolver or a double action only semi auto.
  25. Dr. Sandman

    Dr. Sandman Member

    Jan 20, 2010
    Northern Indiana
    How about a syringe full of sux or a ketamine dart for SD in EMS situations? You'll leave 'em shakin' and tripin'!!!

    Find a 9mm that you like and start with that.
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