My first gun was a Norinco T-54, in 9mm. I still have it, and still like it. But it directly didn't lead to my collection tendencies; although in reflection it may have indirectly. Like many of us, I like to research "my stuff" and find things to learn and like about them. I do it with cars, with cameras, etc. I wanted to like this Chinese gun (it shoots okay, but I wanted to find things that made it interesting). So in doing that, I became knowledgeable about surplus, especially Combloc guns. Makarovs and the like. No-nonsense, reliable weapons priced right. This eventually led me to get one; a gun that 'succeeded' my Tokarev design. That way I would have a pair that related to each other. This was the fateful desire that started it all: a FEG PA-63. I got the Tok at a gun show. It was in 9x19, so I would buy a box of 9mm at a time, at Walmart or similar. The FEG- in casually looking at stores, I never saw them at the time, so I began to learn about online purchases. This brought me to Auction Arms, which is now Gunauction. I don't even know if Gunbroker was around then. But I looked at the auctions, and started to see the prices- that FEG was the "right lineage", it LOOKED cool (to my amateur eyes it looked like a James Bond Walther!!), and it was cheap- under $150, which was less than my brother's Bersa 380, itself considered a cheap gun. So I bought it, in an exciting and fun transaction without any problems. Little did I know, it was my gateway! Buying it online, it introduced me to that market, and the potential of it compared to the local shops. To this day I see people asking if buying online is 'safe', having never done it. Being an obscure caliber, I didn't have much luck finding it on the shelf. So again, this led to buying online- ammo. But hey, they charge shipping, so I can't just buy a box. Get a case, so that extra cost is spread thin, ... and suddenly I have "a lot of ammo" Hey, I have a lot of ammo at hand, I may as well go to the range more. Before, I just randomly did it to make sure I could shoot somewhat effectively, but now I've got 1k rds staring at me. I should make it worthwhile, instead of just putting it away to eventually get lost. Hey, shooting is getting fun, and I have a lot of ammo at the house. And I see OTHER guns in this caliber, for CHEAP (real Makarovs, P64, etc). For under $200, I could add 1... these SURPLUS guns are neat. They shoot great, they have a history to them interesting to learn about. What other surplus guns are there...? Combloc guns are neat, but I'm an American ... let's start looking at US and NATO guns too. Hmmm; online browsing of auctions... used CZ 75 pre B; combloc heritage, 9mm NATO rd, and the more I research the more praise I find of this pistol. Like, legendary status, from guys (Col Cooper) that appear to be big names. I see I can get one for $300, a little more than I could a Mak, and it's the more common caliber. Let's get one... Wow (and now I am fully infected with the bug). CZ 75 is a fantastic pistol, and remains to this day my personal favorite. And it was the gun that broke open the floodgates- Online purchase from Cole's Distributing. For those that ever bought from them, you know they had the cheapest prices on imported stuff. I made several more purchases from them, just due to price... On of these was a FEG HP clone. This checked a ton of boxes- the Hi Power was a legendary pistol in it's own right, the clone got me 'into the platform'. Bought it from Cole's again, price was just over $200... can't beat that with a stick. And it being a FEG was actually interesting, since I already owned one. For a company that I'd never heard about in a country that I thought was obscure (Hungary), they sure did make some respectable guns. Ok, now I have 9mm NATO, let's explore- duty guns. Beretta 92, Sig P226, ... Star 30M? Daewoo DP 51? Zastava CZ99? All of these were floating around online, at the pricepoint of $300 or less (except the Sig, it took a LONG time but I finally got one there); all were/are in holsters of military folks, all shared the same ammo. No more trips to Walmart for a box or 2, I needed cheap cases to stay stocked. I needed more range time to be proficient, and see which ones I can shoot the best. S&W 3rd Gen- not military, but was police, and definitely in line with the designs of those above. And again, cheap to get online. And it all traces back to that fateful decision to buy that PA 63 online... What's yours?