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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am putting together a seminar for those considering purchasing a firearm for the first time. Since that was a *long* time ago for me, I need everyone's help.

If you haven't yet purchased a gun, have purchased your first gun recently, or have helped someone with a first time purchase, please post the questions/information that helped you/them arrive at your decision.

Note: If you are uncomfortable posting publicly, feel free to message me privately. Your identity and your concerns will be kept strictly confidential.
 

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For myself, although it wasn't recent, I was looking for a dual purpose gun for CC that would be enjoyable to shoot at the range. So I was concerned with the thickness and the compromise between recoil comfort and overall size. When I was looking for a nightstand gun, I wanted something larger.

For my petite wife, the number one focus was weight and bulk because I knew she would be more likely to carry a gun if it was easier to do so. The whole "guns should be comforting not comfortable" didn't fly with her.

Also for a small woman, the ease of trigger pull, the possibility of limping wristing, and ease of racking the slide became apparent. With some of my guns, my wife has a problem racking the slide. She can do it, but she has trouble. She can always unload a revolver, but DA triggers can give her problems. She can effectively cock the hammer on the DA/SA guns we have owned. Right now an LCP is her ostensible carry gun (if she would carry it) but a S&W Model 10 is her bedside gun.

So if a person is not intending to routinely carry on person or train frequently, a larger than snub revolver might have some advantages over a semi-auto pocket pistol.

Also, our original home defense gun was a Remington 870 with conventional wood furniture and a slug barrel. I had to replace the stock with an adjustable one just so my wife could effectively shoulder it.
 

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Member Georgia Carry
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How I arrived at my first gun:

I was looking for something in a police caliber for self-defense that would hold at least a dozen rounds in the magazine. Something that had what I considered to be a standard barrel length of 4" that was still concealable without too much trouble. And something that was reliable. I also wanted something that looked nice, so I had to squint a little before buying it.

I bought a 1st Gen Glock 23 twenty-six years ago... and still have it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Excellent point Matthew. First timers need to hear about children and storage.

Thank you again for keeping this issue on our minds. You are saving lives.
 

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Deplorable bitter clinger.
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I've sent this via email to several friends, and given this advice in person to a number of folks.

Here is my general advice, take it or leave it.

1. Go to the good name brands first: S&W, Ruger, Glock, Sig, FN, HK, Walther, Springfield, Beretta, CZ, a few others. (But don't discard the value brands like Taurus/Rossi, Charter Arms, Kahr, Keltec, Bersa, etc)

2. Figure out the role you want filled. Concealed only? Home defense only? Both? That will guide you to size/weight of the gun.

3. Consider caliber. I recommend the basic minimum of 9mm or 38 spl if revolver. But .380 pocket pistol is fine too...just recognize you are giving up some performance there, it is basically 2/3rds of a 9mm. Want to go .40 S/W or .45? Try it. But try not to go to lower performance calibers like .22 LR, .22 Mag or .25 ACP. Those guns are better than no gun, though.

4. Select and handle lots of guns, revolver and semi auto. Make sure you like the way the grip feels, make sure you are comfortable with operation (slide especially), ammo capacity is ok (5 round snubbie vs. single stack auto 6 to 8 round vs. 12 to 17 round double stack mag) Do NOT go automatically to revolver because it's "easy". Maybe no slide and operation is simpler...but you then have to learn how to shoot a double action revolver effectively. Revolvers are a great option, but they require work and training, too. Most semi autos will have better triggers than any double action revolver, keep in mind.

5. Shoot the 3 or 4 or 5 guns you have narrowed to. Borrow them, or more likely, rent them at local gun ranges. Make SURE you are comfortable with live fire operation and especially recoil. Don't focus too much on marksmanship at this point. Bonus if you are accurate enough and can get on paper consistently.

6. Pick and buy your favorite, and you may have more than one. Shop around, gun prices will vary, sometimes a lot, by store.

7. Realize that the gun YOU pick, is almost surely not the right gun for your spouse. He/she will have to go through this entire process for themselves.

8. Don't forget to think of safety, ie, gun safe for the house, perhaps a small one for the car. Also, cleaning kit, ammo, holster purchase is another journey too.

9. Go get sufficient training, that equip you to effectively defend the home, and yourself/family if out and about while concealed.
 

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Lawyer and Gun Activist
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What Don said above.
I would add that most modern semi autos have excellent sights, big and tall and with colored dots or lines, while most revolvers have smaller, harder to use, all-black sights.

When considering a gun, evaluate the:

-1- sights
-2- trigger pull (weight, distance of travel, smoothness)
-3- grip/ hand ergonomics.
 

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My first gun (one I bought, new, from a store, after considering various models) was a 4" barreled but small-framed .22 revolver.
I figured that after I learned to get really good with that, including drawing from concealment, rapid fire shooting, and using speed loaders, I'd get another wheel gun in .38 or .357 for carry, home defense, the glove box, etc.

The factors I looked at for this first gun were:

Cost of ammo (I knew I'd shoot it a lot),
Practical accuracy out to 25 yds,
Decent sights (nobody had colored sights back then in the 1980's, but at least this .22 has adjustable sights),
Decent trigger (smooth but heavy DA, light and crisp in Single-Action),
Easily replaceable grips /stocks with a wide variety of aftermarket grips out there,
And
Similarity to the center fire gun I intended to buy next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Excellent information. I think I may have to expand my time window.
 

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I have always suggested going to a range and trying different rentals that appealed to the buyer. Racking a slide, loading, aiming, recoil, ergonomics are all factors in picking a gun that feels "right". Renting one is a good option to get a feel for a particular firearm. I suggest they go to the range with a friend whom may have experience around firearms, or just talking to the range master.
 

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I am putting together a seminar for those considering purchasing a firearm for the first time. Since that was a *long* time ago for me, I need everyone's help.

If you haven't yet purchased a gun, have purchased your first gun recently, or have helped someone with a first time purchase, please post the questions/information that helped you/them arrive at your decision.

Note: If you are uncomfortable posting publicly, feel free to message me privately. Your identity and your concerns will be kept strictly confidential.
I think this is a great thing you are doing. I imagine a great many of the students will be women. The only advice I would have would be not to allow somebody else (boyfriend, husband) to pick out the gun for her. Try several and see what works for her.
 

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This is how my friend helped me pick out my first handgun, and I've used it very recently and successfully to help other people pick out their first handgun for self-defense as well.

Make sure they know and follow safety rules

Find out if they want OC or CC or both? Maybe go over and discuss calibers with them.

Set a price range. Keep in mind.

Rule number one, make sure they know a proper handgun grip and stance.

First off I usually take someone to a gun show, not in order to purchase a firearm but in order to see and handle many different handguns in person, there are usually thousands of handguns that they can pick up and try to hold in person. Just walk around and see if there are any that jump out to the person. Then have them hold the handgun then let them actually point in a safe direction and see if the firearm has a natural point of aim, once you of course made sure that they know a proper handgun grip. Make sure that they are gripping the handgun properly when looking for natural point of aim.

Have them make note of the ones that feel very ergonomic and feel good in their hand, they like the look of the handgun, and it has a natural point of aim for them.

Make a short list of firearms and then you can help them or they can do it on their own to look on the internet to make sure that none of the handguns that they like are being recalled or have any other performance issues.

From there I try to get the person to make a short list of say three firearms, and a caliber that they think they would be comfortable with. Also you can help them on calipers that they may feel comfortable with.

Try to get them to make a short list of three handguns that they really liked and write them from top to bottom.

Then I take them to a handgun range that has those three hand guns, and we try all three handguns shooting at least a box of ammo through each gun. Then at the end we separate the targets out and we ask questions such as what felt most comfortable in your hand what caliber felt most comfortable as far as recoil and handling, and of course which one did they shoot better overall.

If they are only looking to purchase one handgun, and sometimes are confused between making the choice between the last two, sometimes I will take them to go shooting just those two last handguns, until they shoot enough that they know the one that they like and handle better.

Then I usually help them go on the internet and find the cheapest price for the handgun that the person likes the best.
 
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