My Little Friend

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Oct 2, 2014
I am 6'6" and my wife is 6'4". Our 6'5" son has been best friends with a neighborhood boy for about eight years now (they are seniors this year). His buddy is 5'6" or so. He is a nice kid and eventually we got friendly with his parents. The dad is 5'4" and the mom is barely 5'. We have become good friends. People get a good chuckle when they see us in restaurants and so forth, due to the extreme height disparity.

The father, Dan, heard that I like to go to the range to shoot handguns. He asked if he could come with me sometime, and so of course I brought him soon afterwards. He hadn't shot a firearm since he was in ROTC and enjoyed it very much. I have all kinds of small, light-recoiling handguns for my daughter to shoot, so I was able to break him in gently. His hands are small but not weak, and it turned out that his very favorite one to shoot is my Rossi 720 in 44 special. He ended up going with me about four times.

Recently he and his wife had a conversation and decided to buy a handgun to keep at the house. He already knew that he very much preferred revolvers to semi-autos, and asked if he could come over to examine some different revolvers. Luckily for him I have a bunch of them, so he got to hold just about anything that might have interested him. What he wanted was something that fit his hands well, was in an effective caliber for SD, long enough barrel to have fun at the range with, short enough barrel that it would easily fit in his glove compartment when they are on family road trips, and shoots ammo that is fairly easy to find and not too expensive.

After holding a dozen or more at my house he had a pretty good idea of what he was looking for. We went to a gun show yesterday and he looked at every single vendor. I was just along to buy some ammo. Dan is a very smart and decisive guy, so he didn't need me to help him make any decisions. Eventually he found something that he felt was perfect. There were several identical ones to choose from, so of course he bought the lowest-priced one.

At this point I thought it might be fun for the readers to figure out what they would have recommended, and take a guess at what he ended up buying.:)

He saw a used RIA with a 4" barrel and a nice trigger for $189. When he went back to look at it again it was already sold. He saw a 4" Taurus Model 65 for a good price, but he felt that the grip was just a little too large, and figured that the 4" barrel might not fit in his glove compartment. There was a very nice used S&W Model 10-6 with a super smooth trigger. The lady was asking $500 for it, and immediately offered it for $450 when he was examining it. I figured he could have gotten her down to $400 pretty easily, but he didn't want a 4", which is what it had.

In the end he decided on the one that I figured all along would suit his requirements best. He got a 3" Ruger SP101 in 357 magnum. He paid $512 for it. I guess that is an okay price. He didn't ask me to check that model out on GB or anything, and I had decided that I would give him plenty of room to make his own decision. I bought him a hundred rounds of 38 special target ammo as a "welcome to handgunning" gift. He is hoping that we can go to the shooting range next weekend so that he can try it out.

So what do y'all think? Was that a good choice for him?
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He got a 3" Ruger SP101 in 357 magnum.

First, he had the opportunity to try several guns as to form and fit, second he had you to share a knowledge base so he was off to a good start. Finally, I don't know of anybody who ever went wrong buying a Ruger SP101. So all in all? Yes, I see it as him having made a good choice. What is more important is he happy with his choice? I am not the one who is shooting the gun or bought the gun.

Can't go wrong with a SP101 - unless it's a DAO. I am not a fan of DAO's when a big part of the requirement is taking it to the range. Is it a DAO?
It has a hammer spur and fixed sights. He is pleased with his choice so far and looking forward to shooting it. My SP101 (a 4" model in 327) has a trigger that I find to be too stiff for my liking. He said that I am just spoiled and it is really not that bad. I haven't dry-fired his yet, so I am not sure how the trigger is. Hopefully it is better than mine.
I think that they were all decent choices. The SP101 is a good revolver - my only complaint with it for a new shooter - and one that will likely be changing between various 38 Spl ammo and 357 ammo would be the lack of adjustable sights.

I think that the 6-shot S&W Model 10 would be a great choice for a "does it all" first revolver, but the SP101 is built to be even more durable. Both are great. I think that you did a great job introducing a new person to the shooting community!
Very hard to argue with that decision.
I would prefer adjustable sights, but that's a small quibble.

The 3" SP101 does fall into that "just right" size. As long as he dosent try to pocket carry it's big enough for all his needs.
Thank you everyone for all of the kind comments. I have introduced many people to handgun shooting. I try to make sure that everything is very non-threatening and safety oriented. I think the most important thing is to start them out with 22's. Then they can move up to 32's when they are ready and really want to, then I let them keep going up to larger calibers one step at a time as they decide that they want to.

Dan was very smart about it. If he wanted to try a particular handgun and it turned out he didn't enjoy shooting it, he would set it back down after as little as one shot. Thus he has developed zero flinching and has had only fun, positive experiences.

Most of the beginning shooters I have helped have preferred revolvers. I have assumed that it's because their operation is more intuitive and simple, and because there is no slide moving back and forth that might nip a thumb or finger. It's certainly possible, though, that they are just subconsciously mimicking my own preference. It's definitely not because of the semi-autos I own. I have many different sizes and calbers, including some that are very soft-shooting. In addition to the 22's, people really seem to like shooting my Colt 1903 in 32acp. The Colt Government Model in 380 has also been very popular.

I very much enjoy teaching people to shoot. :)
Nice going, Tallball. My compliments to the new Ruger owner too-- I have the same revolver and it has always been good to me.
He (and you) made a good choice so long as the SP101's handle isn't too large for his small hand (and in this I'm thinking in terms of finger reach to the trigger). Also if given an option I would have picked a .38 Special because it's a pain in the behind cleaning out lead fouling from the longer chambers. The double-action will smooth out a bit with some dry firing.

Again, if the choice was available I would have also looked at a Ruger LCR/.38 Special/3" barrel, but in any case he came out well.
He very much likes shooting my Rossi 720, which I believe is just a little bit larger. He can do J frame easily, but a K frame is just a little too large - with the smallest possible grips he can shoot one okay (my pre Model 10), but he prefers them a little smaller. The SP101 is a very good size for him.

He handled the LCR, but thought it was too light - though he liked the trigger. He chose 357 on purpose because he felt that it would be heavier and thus have less recoil. I would imagine he will probably just shoot 38's out of it. I'll remind him to buy some cleaning supplies this week and will introduce him to the joys of scrubbing cylinders and so forth.

And now the camel has its nose in the tent! I would not be surprised if before too long he gets the itch to buy a similar 22 to practice with. He can use the excuse that he and his son can bring both revolvers to the range and thus do that much more shooting. It is a slippery slope. I must have six or eight or ten handguns that I purportedly bought for my daughter to shoot with me. By coincidence they are all handguns that I very much enjoy shooting myself! I have never met anyone who likes to go to the shooting range regularly and only has one handgun. He is doomed. :)
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It sounds like a fitting and well considered decision. Good on you for helping your buddy out.

And I bet you're right. I bet he'll buy his next handgun before the year ends.
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