Help a first time gun owner pick a handgun

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Yabadaba, Apr 23, 2018.

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  1. Yabadaba

    Yabadaba Member

    Apr 23, 2018
    Hey there, this is my first day on the forum. I will be moving out of my parents place in roughly a year and living aboard a sailboat (yes, I know it's crazy). But I don't want to be out on a boat on my own where no help would be able to come for a while if I got into trouble. So I would like to feel secure in knowing I would have a way to defend myself. My fists wouldn't do it, I'm 5'8" and only 150 lbs. What would be a good hand gun for a first time gun owner interested in self defense? I was thinking of getting either a 1911 or a glock, although I am open to suggestions and more than willing to trust someone else's expertise on the subject since I know very little about guns.
  2. Dragon breath

    Dragon breath Member

    Aug 26, 2015
    Are you looking for a gun that you can concealed carry, or a gun that will be open carried /left on your night stand?
  3. toivo

    toivo Member

    May 27, 2005
    New York State
    For a first-time handgun owner I would recommend a Glock over a 1911: easy to use, easy to maintain, etc. But you might want to consider a shotgun instead -- something relatively weatherproof, like a Remington 870 Marine Magnum. That way you'll have less to worry about with regard to various jurisdictions and their handgun laws, and you'll have something that packs more punch than a handgun if you should need it.

    bc38, Skgreen, 9mmfan and 12 others like this.
  4. beeenbag
    • Contributing Member

    beeenbag Contributing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Grayson, Ky
    Welcome to the highroad!

    I think what it sounds like you are looking for is just a general "do it all" handgun, mostly for nightstand and "home/boat" defense.

    I would recommend something in the compact size, not sub compact and not fullsize, something glock 19ish size. You mention the glock already and the 19 probably be the most popular size glock out there. Its small enough that you could conceal it if you chose to do so, but also large enough to handle well and have decent capacity.

    There are many other makers of polymer striker fired weapons as well. I would urge you to look at the springfield xd series and the smith and Wesson M&p series, just a few examples of directly competing makers.

    What ever you decide, will doubtfully be decided right here. It is in your best interest to find a shop with a variety and be sure to at least hold and feel each firearm. If you have the option to rent and shoot the ones you narrow it down to, even better.

    Good luck!

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

    Mar 17, 2015
    Nostramo (in absentia), Segmentum Ultima
    For a first handgun I recommend a mid-small revolver in .357 Magnum such as a Ruger SP101 or Smith and Wesson 66.
    These are stainless, low maintenance, will never jam, and do not have any controls or safeties to learn.

    All .357 revolvers will also fire .38 Special ammunition. Start your learning curve with mild .38 rounds, and you can step up to progressively hotter ammo as your confidence increases.

    Smith and Wesson 66

    And welcome to the forum!
    bc38, brewer12345, entropy and 4 others like this.
  6. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Central Fla
    If I were you, I`d do a lot more home work on the subject. knowing something about hand guns leads to better questions.
    Simple as doing a search.
  7. Big7

    Big7 Member

    Jan 15, 2011
    Monroe, Georgia USA
    I'd go with a Ruger wheel gun all day.

    Taurus and the Ruger's are hard to beat on the smaller "auto".

    Glock is right in there if your hands are big enough.

    Bottom Line:

    Shoot what you can hit with, albeit a .22 or a Bozillion magnum.

    Just Sayin'..
  8. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

    May 24, 2007
    Brandon, Florida
    Good suggestions already. I'm a fan of a shotgun if you only have one gun and don't plan to carry.
    If you do, there are a bunch of good handguns. CZ, Glock, S&W, and some Taurus and other makers if you do research and check them out. Really, the only way to be sure is to stop by a range where you can handle them.
    Sight unseen? Can't go wrong with Glock or Ruger. I'm a fan of my Ruger SR9c for a basic carry-able pistol, and the stainless variety would be good on a boat. Worried about critters? The SR40 is the same pistol but in .40 for some more punch. Or grab a .357 revolver, keep .357 in it for animals, and replace them with .38 for town.
    And of course Ruger makes a bunch of .22 varieties, if you want something for target practice and aren't worried about a carry gun or bears and gators.
  9. Wisco

    Wisco Member

    Dec 13, 2013
    I’m biased toward Glock, but any of the major manufacturers make a good pistol of that style - S&W M&P, Glock, CZ, Ruger, etc. If you’re first inclination is an auto, I’d get one. Buying a revolver to start if you really want an auto later will just mean you buying an auto anyway. Same the other way - if you love revolvers, get one first.

    If I could have only one gun it’d be a G19 or similar. Good capacity, rugged, do-it-all size, very easy to work on yourself.

    Whatever you buy, set aside enough money for a GOOD instructor for at least a couple hours, maybe more - a couple/few hundred rounds of good training. Nothing worse than starting shooting on your own only to realize 20 years later you have no idea what a good trigger squeeze/press is.
    NIGHTLORD40K likes this.
  10. gulogulo1970

    gulogulo1970 Member

    Jul 29, 2003
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I would get a Glock. I own a 1911 too but I just don't shoot it as well. Some would say they (1911s)have a bit steeper learning curve. That aside, if you only have one gun learn it backwards and forwards.

    But I would go to a range where they rent guns and try them out first. Glocks fit me but they don't fit everyone and some find they don't point naturally because of the grip angle.
  11. Kendahl

    Kendahl Member

    Apr 7, 2012
    Provided it fits your hand, a Glock 19 wouldn't be a bad choice. Personally, I would choose a Smith and Wesson M&P 9 M2.0 Compact over a G19 because it's a better fit for me. Some people like revolvers and they work fine unless you are facing several assailants.

    Before buying anything, I suggest you take an introductory handgun class that will expose you a variety of handguns. Many ranges teach the NRA's Basic Pistol Class. Ranges rent guns to try out.

    Down the road, it's worth obtaining a concealed carry permit even if you don't plan to carry concealed. It simplifies the legalities of gun possession. In some states, it exempts you from the NICS check when purchasing a gun.

    Since you intend your gun for self defense, buy and study carefully Andrew Branca's book, The Law of Self Defense. It's available from Amazon. Branca also offers classes on DVD and in person. I prefer DVD because I can take the information in small bites and repeat parts I don't understand.

    Also, look into insurance to pay your legal expenses after defending yourself. You need a lawyer to look out for your interests even when there should be no question about the legitimacy of your actions. The two most important details are that the program cover self defense by any method, not just firearms, and that it pay up front rather than reimburse you after you are acquitted.
  12. DeadFlies

    DeadFlies Member

    Oct 13, 2011
    Madison, WI
    First time gun owner? Until you know what you like, try not to spend a ton of dough. Something cheap and simple, like a Taurus 85 in 357. That’ll leave money left over for a holster and some ammo.

    Revolvers are rather more intuitive than semis, which seems like a good feature for noobs.
    NIGHTLORD40K likes this.
  13. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    I suggest to all newly minted gun purchasers these things.
    A) Decide what it’s primary use will be. Recreation? A .22 auto or revolver or .357/.38 revolver in 4”-6” barrel lengths fits a lot of scenarios. Defense/recreation? A 9mm, .45 or .40 poly gun (Glock, M&P etc) will fill this role nicely, as will the .357/.38 4” revolver.
    Defense/deer-hog hunting? .357/.38 w a 6” barrel, a .44 mag/Spl revolver or a a Glock or 1911 10mm auto steps up.
    Every Day Carry? From the 2” smith j frame to an LCP up to a duty-sized G-17 or 1911 model, the primary mode of carry and the skill of the person dictates what I would recommend.

    None of the above are exclusive, nor are they set in stone. They’re merely generalities that point you in a direction.

    B) Don’t just hold one, try to shoot one. If there is a range with rentals nearby, try to shoot a variety of guns and see what YOU like and shoot well. The gun store clerk may have a fanboy bias, and often your friends do too...and all of theirs might not jive with yours. Handling recoil or the ability to comfortably hold and accurately shoot a particular gun for me may be more or less easy to do than it is to you, but you will only know that after shooting guns in different calibers and styles. All in all it’s your money, spend it wisely and you’ll get a ton more enjoyment from it.

    C) What is your budget? There are inexpensive ways to go that don't mean it’s “cheap;” layaways, sales, police turn ins, etc. can make the pain of the initial buy a bit easier...and since becoming proficient is rarely accomplished with one trip to the range, the cost of ammo and range time for practice needs to be taken into account. ( The basic pistol course suggested previously is a great idea!)

    Have fun with your quest, and realize there are as many great (and not so great) suggestions and opinions as there are firearm models. Do your homework, try some out, talk to folks and read reviews, and then make your decision. :thumbup:

    Stay safe!
  14. Jack B.

    Jack B. Member

    Mar 15, 2017
    Welcome to THR. If you are unfamiliar with hand guns go to a range that rents guns and try some. Find out what you like. If you are just going keep it onboard I like the shot gun idea. The #3 post by toivo is a great idea especially if you are in salt water. Being around water all the time corrosion is something you must think about. A defensive shotgun is what I have use for home defense.
    jmace57 likes this.
  15. Milt1

    Milt1 Member

    Jan 4, 2014
    For new shooters, I'll always recommend a revolver over a semi-auto pistol. The reason for this is the safety factor that's inherent with a revolver. When you load a revolver you're either swinging out the cylinder to load or, if it's a single action revolver, you're loading each chamber one by one. There's no mystery as to if the revolver is loaded or not because you have an easy visual by swinging the cylinder out again, or, if it's a single action you can easily rotate the cylinder to check. If it's a semi-auto it's a different story because you're removing a clip from the pistol and loading the clip. You're now taking the clip and inserting it into the pistol grip of the pistol. In order to make the semi-auto ready to fire you have to pull the slide back and release it which forces a live round into the barrel. Now here's where it gets interesting: too many people assume that by removing the clip that they've rendered the pistol inoperative but that isn't the case because there is still a live round in the barrel. This is a situation (live round in the barrel) that's easy to forget by a novice handgun owner. That live round can only be ejected by either firing the pistol or pulling the slide back to eject it.
    My advice is unless you know that you're going to shoot a least twice a month at minimum to stay familiar with your handgun pick a revolver. Good luck and welcome to THR.
  16. edwardware

    edwardware Member

    Feb 23, 2010
    I think you'll be most helped by an Intro to Pistol course. If you don't know someone willing to take an hour or two, then find a local indoor range and ask. You'll be much better prepared to choose and use a handgun after receiving a bit of basic instruction and a tour of common firearms.
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  17. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

    Apr 8, 2009
    If it's primarily for defense, and it's going to be kept on a boat, I would recommend a long gun, and one that is not likely to give you corrosion issues. If recoil is not a huge deal to you, a Remington 870 Marine Magnum or a Mossberg 590 Mariner would be cost-effective, terminally effective, and not raise any legal questions virtually anywhere firearms are legal in the U.S.

    If you want to carry it concealed or open on your person, I would recommend an all-stainless revolver like a Ruger GP100 or a Smith and Wesson K-frame with a 3-4" barrel. With a good holster, these are perfectly comfortable to carry (I have a 3" Ruger Speed Six in an IWB holster right now- it's perfectly comfortable, and I'm 5'10", 160 lbs). The stainless will give you good corrosion resistance.

    An equally good option would be any modern semiauto pistol in 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP with a stainless slide or a carbon steel slide that has a very good coating on it. I would recommend 9mm on the grounds that it is effective, capacity is maximized, recoil is minimized, and factory ammunition is the least expensive of all the service calibers, so you should be able to shoot more for the same money. That's important for someone new to handguns.
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  18. 2ndtimer

    2ndtimer Member

    Apr 4, 2011
    SE Washington State
    I agree with the other posters in the Glock 19 recommendation. For versatility, economy of ammo, reasonable stopping power and ease of operation, the basic 15 shot 9mm compact Glock can pretty much serve any reasonable task appropriate for a handgun. I have had mine for about 20 years, and it serves as my primary personal defense tool.
  19. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

    Dec 8, 2016
    The Haymarsh, MI
    Welcome Aboard!

    Doesn't seem crazy to me. :thumbup:

    Living on a sailboat seems like a wonderful first home. I am unsure if you meant that you would be on open water, or in a marina, or port. I would consider moored in a marina the same as being in an apartment. As such would suggest to rent many pistols to see which one fits your hand, what level of recoil you can tolerate and honestly what looks good to you.
    As for being alone and not having help come, on the open water or moored in some nice alcove spotted while skirting some shore. A shotgun would be a much preferred weapon, I think. (I only have a little hydro plane, so I don't know.)

    With every shot would be nine pistol caliber projectiles, at magnum velocities. When there is no help coming, there is no reason to pull punches.

    This does not cover personal protection while about town, where a pistol would be easily taken ashore, without raising eyebrows.

    A pistol course is a great thing, as having a guitar doesn't make one a musician.;)

    Things to think about, anyway.

    Good winds to you.
  20. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

    Jan 29, 2017
    Central Virginia
    welcome to the forum.

    As for your question. What is your budget? Will you be sailing to foreign ports? Or even to states such as Maryland, Mass, Ca, that have strict gun laws?

    I'd suggest you do some research and think about the factors that will impact you. I'd then suggest you take a gun safety class. Go to a range and try out various guns.

    As for your size. Don't ever think that someone small can't defend themselves. My significant other is only 5'2" and 100lbs. Years of hanging out while my son and I took karate classes and practicing with us has taught her many techniques. And if you think she can't hurt someone 6' plus you'd be very wrong.

    Anyway, self defense isn't just having a gun or taking martial arts classes. It's a combination of factors. The most important is situational awareness. Knowing where you are, what is "normal", what isn't. Being aware of who is around you, and such. Locks, dogs, alarms, etc all can help. But at the end of the day the most important tool in your self defense is your brain.

    So learn all you can. Learn about guns, but also learn how to be safe.
  21. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    The Sig Mk 25 and the Sig M11A1 are internally phosphate coated to withstand marine environments. Both in 9mm. That's what I carry:

    M11A1_zpspipwsqhp.png [​IMG][/IMG]




    frogfurr likes this.
  22. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    South Eastern Illinois
    Tell us what role you expect this new handgun to play.
    Self defense.?
    Shark patrol.?
    Concealed carry weapon.?
    Nightstand drawer gun?
    Initially im thinking a 9mm glock or similar with a rail and weapon light.

    For some reason, i cant get the thought of a shotgun blast through a fiberglass hull out of my head.:what:
  23. homers

    homers Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    revolver 357
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  24. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Birmingham, Alabama
    For a first defensive pistol I would go with a Glock 19 or a S&W M&P Compact 2.0. They have a simple manual of arms, simple disassembly and maintenance, are relatively accurate and are very reliable. If a manual safety is important to you, I would lean towards the M&P. Both should be ok in marine environments with proper maintenance.

    For defense I would stay away from a revolver. I love wheel guns, but from a purely defensive viewpoint, a semi auto gives you almost three times (!) the amount of ammo without reloading, AND reloads are faster and simpler. Also note that handguns are not generally considered fight stoppers - there is a VERY good chance that you'll have to shoot someone multiple times in order to stop them. Then you have to worry about their friend(s) that they brought along with them.

    Also, I would recommend getting a good holster for your gun. Regardless of whether or not you want to carry it, a holster will protect the trigger and prevent the gun from firing while it is holstered. All of my loaded pistols are sitting in holsters, even when they're on the nightstand. Think of it as an added level of safety. Considering you are going to be on a boat, I would recommend a kydex holster.

    The next part is a little dependent on exactly what you're doing (are you living on the boat in a marina as basically a floating apartment or are you actively sailing the boat to foreign ports?). If you're in an area where piracy is a concern, you may want to consider a distinction between what a pistol can do (protect you after bad guys are on the boat), and what a shotgun or more preferably a rifle will be able to do (protect you from bad guys before they get on your boat).

    A shotgun bridges the gap nicely as buckshot can be used at short range and slugs can be used for longer range (never use birdshot for defense). A rifle will get you more range and better terminal effect than a pistol, but if you're traveling to US ports in restrictive states you may have issues.

    Defense of a boat at long range has a lot of factors beyond even normal home defense considerations (least of which is are you in international waters or territorial waters, and the legalities of bringing weapons into foreign ports) and I'm not well enough versed in the topic to speak to it. However if I was on a sailboat out in the middle of nowhere with no help coming, I would want some way to defend the boat before the bad guys actually got on the boat. Ideally both a pistol and a rifle.

    I know this is a handgun forum and a handgun question so I won't go deeper into the rifle side.
    Demi-human likes this.
  25. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

    Apr 8, 2009
    This is a big deal especially if you're tooling around Florida and maybe thought about going to any of the small islands. Even the US Virgin Islands have very strict laws regarding firearms, and there are so many countries with strict laws to keep track of down in the Caribbean that you really ought to be careful.
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