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Have a S&W 40 - Need training and ammo education

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by tluxtele, Feb 28, 2013.

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  1. tluxtele

    tluxtele Member

    Feb 28, 2013
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Hello All,

    My father-in-law gave me a S&W 40 for Christmas last year. For months it just remained in it's box with a lock through the barrel. I have recently gotten more interested in it and want to learn. If I'm going to have a gun in my house I want to know everything there is to know. Here are my first questions.

    1 - I want to enroll in some sort of basic handgun class. Before riding a motorcycle I took a basic riders course. I need that for my gun. Are they all the same? I've searched around online but I don't know enough to know what I'm looking for. I want to become more familiar/comfortable and learn basic things like how to take care of it/clean it, etc.

    2 - Can someone point me to something to help explain ammo to me? At this point I've bought a few boxes of target ammo. To be honest, I didn't know there were differences until recently.
    --- Do brands matter?
    --- What's the deal with the grain count?
    --- If I were to get some hollow points for home protection what do you suggest as a decent amount to have on hand? Are the hollow points at Walmart worth buying?
    --- For someone who would maybe get to do some target practice once a month, how much target ammo would I expect to go through?

    I recognize there is a current shortage of ammo. It doesn't freak me out or cause me to hoard. I'm so new to this I don't know what is normal.

    3 - I wouldn't mind getting a concealed carry permit in the future. I don't feel the need right now. What is a "reasonable" time for getting familiar with my gun and all before even considering this?

    I'm sorry if these are questions that get asked all the time. I will continue to search and if I find my answers I'll delete them in this thread.
  2. RON in PA

    RON in PA Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    S.E. PA, USA
    You need to hook up with a local NRA affiliated gun club that runs basic marksmanship courses.
  3. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

    May 24, 2007
    Brandon, Florida
    Find a local club or an NRA-sponsored class. There are plenty safety and introduction classes around.

    As for the other...

    Brand itself doesn't, but the particular line of ammunition does. Any of the big names make some decent stuff. I'm generally a fan of Federal and Cor-bon, because they don't (AFAIK) make the cheap wal-mart stuff that Remington and Winchester do. Even their inexpensive styles have a history of law-enforcement use.

    I'm not knocking Remington and Winchester. Heck, I have a box of el-cheapo Winchester JHP from wal-mart in reserve. It's certainly better than FMJ, but hardly my first choice. I'd get Gold Dot or Federal HST if possible, but there are a hundred worthwhile rounds and a .40 full of basic hollowpoints wouldn't make me feel underprotected.

    The grain number is the weight of the bullet itself. If velocity is the same, a heavier bullet will penetrate deeper but recoil harder. Alternatively, it's common to find lighter bullets with relatively similar recoil. I'm a fan of mid-weight stuff all around, but I don't own a .40.

    As for the amount of ammo to keep on hand, that's completely up to you. 100 rounds a month may do you. I know people that will go through a brick of .22 at a go. I try for at least 100 from each gun I take, when I get the chance.
  4. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2002
    South Carolina
  5. Mikey2201

    Mikey2201 Member

    Feb 22, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    I am new to guns too. I took the NRA Basic Pistol Class in December and it was very good it answers your question listed above. Plus you get to shoot;)
  6. golden

    golden Member

    Aug 28, 2007
    Start with internet


    The NRA is a good source. You may also want to look for local trainers with a resume that includes working as a firearms instructor/trainer for a large law enforcement agency.

    Ask for referrals from clients previously trained. Remember, a person may be a great shot, but that does not mean they are a good trainer.

    Also ask for a training agenda. How long will the shots be? How much ammo will be needed? Are there any physical requirements? Are they willing to work with a novice and train you from the beginner level?

    Also, check to see if they are familiar with YOUR WEAPON. You should not have to use a caliber or gun the trainer wants you to use.

    I would avoid military style trainers, the military is not geared to defense or civilian carry and the responsibilities that go with it.

    NOTE: A retired senior military officer I spoke with recently did not think much of handgun retention training. His view was that the target should not be allowed to get close enough to need it. That is one difference between military and law enforcement training.

    As for .40 S&W ammo. I would go for either a premium 180 bullet like SPEER Gold Dot, REMINGTON Golden Saber or FEDERAL Hydro Shok or a light weight hollow point like the FEDERAL 135 grain jacketed hollow point.
    Both of these loads will have less recoil than the 155 and 165 grain high velocity ammo.

    The 155 grain hollow point is the only load I use in my .40 caliber pistols, but I am used to the recoil and only use full size guns like the BERETTA 96.

    Good luck,

  7. tarosean

    tarosean Member

    Oct 22, 2010
    Chapel Hill, TX?? If so I can recommend someone in Bryan/College Station that did an awesome job with my wife.
  8. Texan Scott

    Texan Scott Member

    May 2, 2012
    The Texas Hill Country
    Go online and find an NRA basic course near you. Take it. They can answer your questions knowledgeably and authoritatively. Learning to use the gun safely and effectively.

    Until then, focus on locating all the target ammo you can get your hands on. Hollowpoints and grain weights aside, a .40 caliber bullet is a .40 caliber bullet. If you can handle it properly, a pistol full of target ammo is still a very viable defensive weapon.
  9. tluxtele

    tluxtele Member

    Feb 28, 2013
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I wanted to give an update.

    First, thanks for all your help and pointing me in the right direction. I looked around at different classes and clubs. Then I found out that a lot of guys in my church own guns. One of them has taken me to his club and taught me a lot. He took things pretty slow but it was really good. I've also learned to field strip it, clean it and lube it. I'm feeling much more confident.

    This club has a number of classes. I plan on taking a few of them. I've also put my name on the waiting list for this club. Might take a few years though based on their current wait time.

    As to my ammo question... the only thing I've been able to find has been WWB at Walmart. But I haven't had a hard time finding it. I have plenty to last me a while. I guess once the panic dies down I'll be able to try different ammo and find out for myself if I can tell a difference.

    Anyway, thanks to you all. I appreciate it.
  10. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Nov 15, 2008
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    All trigger time is good time and training. If you like what you found about your Glock so far then look into some of the handgun sports hosted by the clubs in your area. Attend a few as a spectator/helper and see if it's something you would like to try. If you find one or more of these events to look like fun then you'll get your practice and play time fit together. And any of these sport events will give you more than enough trigger time to become very familiar and confident with your gun.
  11. bottom shelf

    bottom shelf Member

    Dec 24, 2008
    Near Raleigh, NC
    Greetings Tlux, and welcome to the forum. I'm an NRA Pistol instructor, and live about 20 miles from Chapel Hill. Maybe I can help. PM on the way.
  12. cuervo

    cuervo Member

    Jan 12, 2005

    Maybe a little late....

    I'm not sure what there is right around Chapel Hill, but if you have the time to go to Raleigh, check out PDHSC:
    and their basic handgun course:

    They have an indoor range so they can go right from the class room to the range for practice.

    You can probably find something a little closer in Durham or maybe Mace Sports in Mebane if Raleigh is too far for you. Just about any gun shop should be able to refer you to a place that has a basic class if they don't offer one themselves. Just verify that the instructor is NRA certified.

    As for ammo, try various brands to see if there is a particular type your pistol likes (or doesn't like) to function reliably. This is usually more of an issue with hollow point ammunition than ball ammo, but many brands of .40S&W have a flat nose whether it's ball or HP, so it's best to be sure.

    How much you shoot each month comes down to what amount of practice you need/want and how much you can afford. 50-100 rounds per range trip is typical for practice ammo. Since HP is more expensive, you'll probably shoot less of it but shoot enough to insure that whatever you buy works well in your gun.
  13. Tipro

    Tipro Member

    Feb 15, 2012
    I'll just briefly address the only point no one else seems to have focused on - the concealed carry permit.

    First, securing the permit. In NC we have an all day classroom meeting and then a brief range session, plus your licensing fees. This is nothing to worry about, and if you have been taught the basics by a friend or NRA course (which it seems have you, in learning basic operation and field stripping), you are more than prepared for this.

    Remember now that the permit does not obligate you to carry your weapon - it simply gives you options. For instance, in going to the range, you no longer need worry about where or how to store the gun to be in compliance with the somewhat vague laws we have (is it good enough to put the pistol in a bag on the bag seat? Does it need to be in the trunk? No one seems to know). It also means that you are good to go if you ever wanted another handgun, and you wouldn't have to go through the process of getting your purchase permit.

    And last but not least, you would be legally able to carry if you ever wanted or needed to.
  14. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    Now that sounds like a great place to start. (and probably finish too) "bottom shelf", don't forget to sigh him up with the NRA. We need all the help we can get these days!
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