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Thread: Need Some Advice Selecting A Handgun

  1. #1
    Regular Member Jack House's Avatar
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    Need Some Advice Selecting A Handgun

    Will be buying a handgun next month as a sort of BDay gift to myself. Budget permitting, I will also go through the hassle of getting a CHL.

    Now personally, I want a P99AS 9mm. However, I'll be lucky to have $600 to spend.

    That's where you guys come in, I have no idea what to even begin looking at. It'll be my first gun and as much as I'd like to believe otherwise, my knowledge on guns is largely non-existent.

    What I need from you are suggestions, what do you think would be a good pistol for me and why? It'll most likely be the only one I'll be able to buy for a good long while. Ammo should be inexpensive as well.

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    Well, if you are looking for something new, I would maybe look into a Sig Pro. It's a good quality weapon and fairly affordable. I have seen them new at Academy for $499. The 2022 in 9mm would be cheap to shoot. The downside is that it won't conceal very well. If you don't mind getting a used gun, maybe you could look into a 1911. You really can't go wrong if you go for a name brand like Colt or Springfield. Actually, you could probably get a new Rock Island Armory 1911 and stay in your budget. I don't have one but I have a compact 1911 made by the same people, Armscor and it runs smooth. Most people that own a Rock love em. The downside would be .45 is a little more than 9mm.

    If you're wanting a wheel gun I think an LCR might be a good compromise. Lightweight, .38 special would be cheap to practice with and it looks like it would conceal well. I plan to add one to my collection when finances permit. If you can find one at the right price, also check out the Ruger SP101. .357 can be a little pricey, but you can practice with .38. It's pretty tough so you could use it for CC, home defense, or a range toy. You might want to check out texasguntrader.com too. Anyway, that's the best I can come up with off the top of my head right now. Maybe the best thing to do would be to head to a couple of gun shops and get your hands on a few? Maybe then you'll get an idea of what you're looking for.


    -Gruu

  3. #3
    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    Your $600 will limit you some, but not severely. And since you also mentioned the cost of ammo is a consideration, that would tend to point you towards pistols chambered in 9mm. For that money, you might want to look at a Glock 19, an XD9 Springfield Armory, or an M&P9 Smith and Wesson. You should be able to find any of these for under $600, especially at gun shows. Of these three, the least complex and easiest to work on is the Glock and of these three, I would vote for the Glock. However, all of them are worthy of your consideration.

    Try to find a range in your area where you can rent guns to shoot. Either that of a friend who is willing to take you to a range and let you fire some of his handguns.

    Good luck to you and let us know what you finally decide to purchase.
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

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  4. #4
    Regular Member me812's Avatar
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    If it's your first gun, I recommend a double action magnum revolver of at least .357 caliber for the following reasons:

    1) DA revolvers are simpler, and therefore safer. There's no hidden chamber for rounds to go disappearing into, which is probably the number one cause of accidental shootings.

    2) DA revolvers are simpler, and therefore easier to use. There's no safety or hammer to be fumbling around with. They're the ultimate user-friendly firearm. When you're awakened by something going "bump" in the night, you won't have to do anything except pick it up, point it and pull the trigger.

    3) Revolvers work, period. They don't jam and are not sensitive to varying ammo pressures.

    4) A magnum revolver will allow you to shoot cartridges of many different power levels. It's like getting several guns in one.

    5) 125-Grain JHP in .357 Magnum is widely considered to be the gold standard of handgun stopping power, with a one-shot stop rate of 96%. This is a revolver round.

  5. #5
    Regular Member Superlite27's Avatar
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    The first thing to do is familiarize yourself with different action types of handguns and finalize what type you feel most comfortable with.

    Do you prefer a 1)double action only revolver.....where all you do is pull the trigger to **** and release the hammer, or a single action? 2)double/single action revolver where you can pull the trigger for double action, yet still **** the hammer with your thumb for an easier single action trigger pull? 3)single action pistol where you must rack the slide to chamber a round and the weapon is cocked and must be carried on safe? 4) DA/SA pistol that has a decocker allowing you to safely lower the hammer on a chambered round letting you fire the first round double action, but consequative rounds single action? (I might as well add 5)single action only revolver, although I don't reccommend it as a carry piece as it requires you to **** the hammer before firing)

    Once you find which action you feel the most comfortable with, drop into a good gun shop or local firing range if available to handle several different makes and models. A good gun shop will have clerks that won't mind letting you handle the firearms and will provide info when asked. A bad one will have clerks that will act put-out by having a customer who actually wants to touch the firearm before forking over a lot of money for it. They will also offer unsolicited advice about what you should do, what you should buy, and how you should shoot. Go find a good gun shop if this happens.

    Make a personal list of features that you desire and ones you don't. Many times it becomes "give and take" with features. Do you like a thinner grip? A single stack magazine that holds the bullets one on top of the other is thinner, but holds less rounds. Want more bullet capacity for more rounds? A double stack magazine staggers the rounds to hold more, but has a wider grip.

    Figure out your priorities and go to a good gun shop to handle your choice. A firing range that lets you rent firearms is an excellent way to see how you like before you buy.

    What about holsters? Have you decided on how you feel the most comfortable? Do you like your firearm straight up and down, or with a little forward cant? Is it easier for you to carry at 2 o'clock? 3 o'clock? 5 o'clock on your waist? Or, do you prefer shoulder carry or Mexican (cross draw)? Inside the waistband (IWB) or outside (OWB)? What is the availability of holsters for the particular model you intend to carry? Although odd, you might choose the Tokarev for your carry weapon only to find it impossible to get a IWB holster for it since it's fairly uncommon. Keep an eye on holsters when you select your firearm. If you're watching price, you might find the money you save on an uncommon firearm you prefer is offset by needing an expensive custom made holster to carry it in the manner you prefer.

    Some recommendations?

    Although I have no personal experience with them (and don't really want any as I'm an XD fan) a simple Glock is a decent choice. You'll have no problem finding a holster in any style, they come in almost all calibers, they're simple to operate (Hey, they let cops carry them!) and they're fairly reliable.....most the time. The only thing that I don't like is their safety for a first time carrier. They're striker fired, so it's the same as a 1911. Pull the trigger = "BANG". Sure they have "trigger" safeties. (In my opinion, these aren't safeties as you have to have your finger on the trigger to fire them. Well DUH! This is how negligent discharges happen in the first place!) I'm sure you can find one for $400-$500 somewhere, leaving you a little to spend on a decent holster.

    I don't know about pricing, but many folks like Sigs. I know they have a reputation for toughness, but I believe they might be a little pricey for what you've mentioned. I'm pretty sure I've seen them around $500 every now and then. Good gun from what I hear, though.

    You'll hear no objections from me about XD's or XDm's. Although they are striker fired, as well. Pull the trigger = BANG.

    I'm also a big 1911 fan, but for a first gun, they take a little getting used to. Many newcomers have a problem with "condition 1" carry. For inexperienced folks, carrying a cocked pistol seems strange, but they're pretty much the same as a Glock or XD since: pull the trigger = BANG.

  6. #6
    Regular Member The Wolfhound's Avatar
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    Helping you select...

    Do a little research. You have somewhat decided on a cartridge, now you need to wrap your hand around as many pistol butts as you can. Fit to the hand is essential to good shooting. Taking your budget into consideration visit a gun show or at least your local gun shop. Find out what feels good in your hand. Pick out a target and aim at it. Close your eyes for 10 seconds and open them to see if you are still on target. Then lower the weapon close your eyes and raise it back to the target. Is it near your target or has it shifted? A natural pointer that fits well will be near your aim point. Find a range with rentals if you can and try out some of the ones that fit both hand and budget if you can. Local Open Carry folks who have the weapon of your choice are known to share at the range so there is another option too. Time spent on your selection will make your choice better for the years you own it.
    Last edited by The Wolfhound; 07-15-2010 at 08:55 AM.

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    Go get your hands on as many as you can. Shoot as many as you can... try renting or borrowing...

    Talk to the local shops, have them break the pistols down for you so you know what you're in for when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.

    Find what feels good, then narrow it down by price and caliber. Personally I prefer .40SW over 9mm, but I carry a .45 so maybe I'm just partial to larger bullet holes?

    I wouldn't worry about concealment. I am not large, 5'10 170lb and I can conceal a XD45 Tactical under a light shirt in summer... get a good belt and holster, more important than the size of the pistol when it comes to concealment, IMO.

    Like polymer guns? Sig, Glock, Springfield XD or SW M&P... all fabulous guns, each different from the others but no better or worse, just depends on how it feels to you.

    Steel frame? I would go with a 1911 frame pistol in whatever caliber you like. Or, if you're going to stick with 9mm, hunt down a Browning High-Power. Those are probably the best shooting 9mm pistols on the planet... I prefer them to the Beretta but many swear by the 92.

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    Dear Jack

    It's hard to give you an honest answer since I really don't know enough about you, your experience level, etc. but that said I'll make a few assumptions and do the best I can. I know you want a Walther 99 4" barrel with full size grip in 9mm and want to spend less than $600 bucks. So I think value may be your top priority where you want every dollar to go towards the best gun. I have to first suggest you find a used Walther 99 that you can afford since that is something you all ready want. Try gunsamerica.com, gunbroker.com, or armslist.com for used guns. If I was in the market for a low cost polymer 9mm I would get myself a Kel-Tec PF9. I think it has perhaps the most value at the moment, but you do make certain trade offs and gains with a handgun of that size. For other guns like the Walther 99 that you should be able to find in your price range;

    $500 to $600 Glock 19, Springfield Armory XD, CZ-PO7, IWI Jericho, EAA Witness, Ruger SR-9
    $300 to $400 Smith & Wesson Sigma, Ruger P95, Taurus 24/7

    Out of this list, in my opinion, the Ruger P95 will have the most value. It is well made, kinda chunky, decent trigger, a little ugly, really reliable, accurate, dirt cheap, and backed by a major U.S. manufacturer. With a MSRP of $400 you can find them in the $300 to $350 price range. That means you have some extra money for a holster, gun belt, ammunition, additional magazines, range fees, cleaning kit, and so on. Firearms are expensive even after you pay for them.



    That said I never recommend a first gun be a handgun so do the right thing and get a .22 rifle first.

  9. #9
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    Ditto

    Quote Originally Posted by me812 View Post
    If it's your first gun, I recommend a double action magnum revolver of at least .357 caliber for the following reasons:

    1) DA revolvers are simpler, and therefore safer. There's no hidden chamber for rounds to go disappearing into, which is probably the number one cause of accidental shootings.

    2) DA revolvers are simpler, and therefore easier to use. There's no safety or hammer to be fumbling around with. They're the ultimate user-friendly firearm. When you're awakened by something going "bump" in the night, you won't have to do anything except pick it up, point it and pull the trigger.

    3) Revolvers work, period. They don't jam and are not sensitive to varying ammo pressures.

    4) A magnum revolver will allow you to shoot cartridges of many different power levels. It's like getting several guns in one.

    5) 125-Grain JHP in .357 Magnum is widely considered to be the gold standard of handgun stopping power, with a one-shot stop rate of 96%. This is a revolver round.
    I ditto everything said here. The .357 Magnum is a formidable round and if you want to shoot lighter loads, you can shoot .38 Specials in the same gun. I bought a S&W Model 19 in 1968 for the very reasons cited here and still find the reasons valid. Right now, I carry a Smith and Wesson 686 with a 3" barrel. In is argueably one of the most versitile rounds ever produced.

    I would look into the Ruger GP 100 with a 4" barrel. It is a solid, well built gun; albeit heavy.

    You asked for advice and everybody on this forum is happy to provide it...so you have not heard the last. Let me just say others will have advice just as valid as mine. You have to be the one to sift through it all and decide for yourself.

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    I think everyone has give god advice, but it all comes down to what you prefer. Handling and firing as many pistols as possible before you buy can be very helpful, but also a pain.

    If money is tight and you need a gun that flat out works, is reliable and accurate, you might take a look at the cz 82. They come in the 9x18 makarov caliber, which is a little more powerful than .380, though not one of my favorite calibers for defense it has worked for years. They're cheap to practice with and very well made for usually less than $250 out the door.

    If your budget is less than $600, there are many great pistols to choose from. The glocks, XD's, Sig's, CZ's, beretta 92, S&W, ruger etc... are fantastic and readily available. If it hasn't been mentioned, save some money and buy a good holster, it makes all the difference if you plan on carrying all day. I love the comp-tac minotaur IWB holster personally it runs about $65 I think. HIgh noon makes a great IWB called the high noon for like $20 and I've been really impressed with it for the 2 years or so I've used one.

  11. #11
    Regular Member Jack House's Avatar
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    Just to address a few questions, comments and concerns.

    I've fired a .22 rifle before, it's about on par with firing an expensive pellet gun. I do believe that I am ready for something with a bit more kick to it, but I am not completely against a .22 pistol. While long gun open carry is perfectly legal in the great state of Texas, I would rather not have a rifle as my defensive weapon.

    As for concealing, I wear cargo pants alot and would most likely whenever I carry, as it would be a much more comfortable way to carry. As for the holster, I'll probably get an IWB. Though, I will probably buy a secondary OWB holster for when I go to Kansas and am able to open carry.

    Trigger types: Yeah, I already know about the various triggers types. I want a DA trigger. I'd prefer a DA over a DAO.


    Thank you for all the advice, guys, it is greatly appreciated.

  12. #12
    Regular Member Phoenix David's Avatar
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    I am of the philosophy 'as practical as possible carry the biggest caliber and hottest load you can control' subsequently my recommendation is to go with .45 ACP and carry some 230 grain JHP +P

    You in the ballpark of Glock, M&P, XDM/XD's, any of which will serve you well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix David View Post
    I am of the philosophy 'as practical as possible carry the biggest caliber and hottest load you can control' subsequently my recommendation is to go with .45 ACP and carry some 230 grain JHP +P

    You in the ballpark of Glock, M&P, XDM/XD's, any of which will serve you well.
    I agree here... though I would compare a 200 grain +P load to the 230's. Depending on the manufacturer the higher velocity will typically compensate for the lighter round and provide slightly improved ballistics.


  14. #14
    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    You don't have enough cash, but you chose a great gun.

    p99as is awesome.

    Initial cost is high, spare mags are expensive.

    If I ever get the money I'll have one.

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    You can easily find a used P99 at a show for 600 bucks. personally I've owned both, and I prefer the P99QA. I just like the DA trigger and always knowing what the trigger pull will be. very reliable. I also dont like the decocker on the AS. There's a reason this gun is WIDELY used in Europe by LEAs. You get what you pay for with guns. Always buy a walther if you can.

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    If you are buying this for concealment, buy a PPS. very similar to the P99, only you can carry it to the gym and no one will ever notice. "I go running with mine in tight workout shirts and shorts" Those you can get for 600 new.

  17. #17
    Regular Member KansasMustang's Avatar
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    Just me

    But I would not choose a 9mm period. While it's better than nothing it doesn't have the knock down I would want. I would save a little while longer and buy nothing less than a .40 cal. To CC I carry a Taurus PT140. I will maybe upgrade that to a .45 at some time. My brother has a Kahr .45 the conceal version and absolutely loves it. It's only drawback to me is it's a six round capacity.
    ‘‘Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.’’ Thomas Jefferson

  18. #18
    Regular Member Brent Evertz's Avatar
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    I own a Kahr pm9 which is my choice for concealed carry and I have a walther p99 which is what I use for home defense and open carry. I obtained my p99 used for $600 and my pm9 for $640 new.

    If you decide for the p99, i'd recommend the AS (anti stress) version if your going to use it for personal defense. I say this because the QA (quick action) version cannot be fired once you place the striker forward by pressing the decocker. If your okay walking around with a cocked weapon with a much lighter trigger pull then more power to you but I highly recommend that you DO NOT since the neither guns are equipped with external safeties. To get the QA version back into firing mode, you need to pull the slide back about 1/4th of an inch to lock the striker back or fully rack the slide. Either method for cocking the striker will prove unreliable for personal defense.

    Kahr pm9 is a wonderful double action only gun. It is light and small which are most preferred for comfort. Comfort is a huge factor because if you wear something that is uncomfortable, your not going to carry it with you all the time therefore leaving you vulnerable to attack. The kahr pm9 is so small you can fit it in your front pocket. It does also come in a .40 cal and .45 cal version but have had negative reviews on the larger size calibers only because of the amount of recoil and reduce ammo capacity (which is one less around I believe from the pm9's 6+1)

    I personally prefer a 9mm caliber. It might not be as effective as it's bigger brothers but I'll tell you, it will get the job done most of the time and with good shot placement all of the time. You have to balance between practical use and power. If your going to practice a lot (which is always recommended to make your a proficient shooter) then a 9mm will be perfect because of the cost of ammo plus range fees. If your wallet is fat and you can afford the larger calibers then go with those. Most of the time, people that have a larger caliber gun don't tend to visit the range as much because of the cost alone.

    Hope this helps a little.
    "What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms." -Thomas Jefferson

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    RE: Need Some Advice Selecting A Handgun

    Jack, I see you live in Bastrop. I live in Austin. A good way to find out what you would like for yourself, is to go to Red's here in Austin. You will be able to rent a handguns of different makes, models and calibers to try before you buy. They have two locations. Reds North in Pflugerville of 1825 and Reds South in Austin off of 290/71 West. You can find them on the Web at www.redsguns.com. Hope this helps you. Oh, just for you info, when you take the course to get your CHL you have to live fire at a range. If you use a revolver for the live fire, you will only be able to carry revolver. If you use a semi-automatic, you won't have any restrictions and will be able to carry either types. I recommend that even if you decide on a revolver, you use a semi for the course. That way if you change your mind later you will be set without having to retake the course.

    Charlie

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    Jack, I know exactly what you're going through here as I just went through the same dilemma about six months ago. Everyone here is throwing up your choice of a P99 (which is a good choice), or another similarly priced if slightly more affordable alternative, but there are also so many different factors. You should look at a gun that is as inexpensive as you can put your trust in and spend the rest on your holsters (probably around $120-$200 for both depending on what you buy), ammo (you have to buy practice ammo and I would recommend buying a lot, but you also need to buy a couple types of hollow points so that you can see what your gun likes and doesn't like and then buy more of that particular brand); after all of that, you're not going to want to sit at home and just look at your pretty new toy so you're going to need to save some money to go to the range a few times in the next few weeks to get more familiar with your gun.

    Now, because you live in Texas, I would personally recommend a Ruger SR9 Compact. The gun itself will cost you between $400 and $475. That will leave you enough to get your ammo and *hopefully* a holster or two. Mags are relatively inexpensive and you get one ten round mag and one 17 round mag with an extension on it so that it's a full size grip. This is just my .02 and everyone here has offered up great advice, but I do HIGHLY recommend saving money for the extras.

    Also, if you don't mind concealing a full size pistol, a look at the Ruger P95 is worth it. You can pick up new P95's for about $350-$375 and used for $320 or less (generally). Good luck and enjoy.
    Last edited by ZackL; 07-28-2010 at 01:14 PM.

  21. #21
    Regular Member Archangel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KansasMustang View Post
    But I would not choose a 9mm period. While it's better than nothing it doesn't have the knock down I would want. I would save a little while longer and buy nothing less than a .40 cal. To CC I carry a Taurus PT140. I will maybe upgrade that to a .45 at some time. My brother has a Kahr .45 the conceal version and absolutely loves it. It's only drawback to me is it's a six round capacity.
    To those who say 9mm doesn't have enough power I say: Ever been shot by one? I have and I can tell you... it SUCKS. In my case it was a ricochet into body armor which is why I am still here. A frontal shot in the same spot with no vest and I would have assumed room temperature.

    More people have been killed by 9mm than almost any other cartridge. It has more than adequate power, is accurate, and allows for quick follow up shots. Ammo is plentiful and CHEAP, which encourages more frequent practice. Always a good thing.

    I carry a Springfield XD Compact 45 most of the time, but I also carry an XDsc in 9mm. My wife carries a Browning Hi-Power in 9mm or her Springfield XDsc 9mm.

    Best advice? Try a lot of guns at the range and go with the most powerful caliber you are comfortable with and can get good hits on the target with. Consistent hits in the A-Zone with a .380 or 9mm beat lots of misses with a .40 or .45 any day of the week.

    Practice. A LOT. Practice drawing from your concealment rig. If you carry for defense, look up a local IDPA group and shoot a few events. Don't worry about speed. Practice being smooth. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
    Last edited by Archangel; 07-29-2010 at 02:49 PM. Reason: text added

  22. #22
    Founder's Club Member thebigsd's Avatar
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    My first handgun was a Springfield XD in .45ACP. I can't tell you how much I love that gun. I still carry it quite frequently. It come with some cool accessories and is definitely within you price range. Once you decide what gun you want look for it on Gunbroker because 99% of the time you can get it there cheaper than any local gun store.

  23. #23
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    A .357 packs a punch. Unless you try shooting one first and get used to it I would suggest and revolver thats a little more forgiving. A revolver chambered in .38 is what I suggest. But...... a .357 also can shoot .38 special rounds. If you get a .357 and practice with .38 rounds and chamber .357 for defensive rounds.... well.... You've got yourself a manstopper to say the least.....

  24. #24
    Regular Member me812's Avatar
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    But...... a .357 also can shoot .38 special rounds.

    Yes, and that's exactly the beauty of a magnum revolver. It can shoot cartridges of many different power levels with recoil from everything from mild to wild. If he finds the blast and kick of full-house magnum loads to be too much, he can load it with .38 Special (or .44 Special or .45 LC or what have you) for personal defense - and in the meantime practice with hotter loads until he gets proficient enough to use them.

    The "perfection" concept didn't start with Glock, it started with the magnum revolver, IMHO.

  25. #25
    Campaign Veteran Cavalryman's Avatar
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    I'm in the camp with the guys that recommend a .357 magnum revolver for your first handgun. It is, in my opinion, the single most versatile chambering by far. It can be loaded with small shot for rats and snakes all the way up to stuff that will reliably stop a black bear and everything in between. You don't get a lot of rounds compared to a semi-auto, but real gunfights are rarely protracted and with practice, a revolver can be reloaded very rapidly. I'd recommend a medium-frame double-action like Smith and Wesson or Ruger. A medium-frame revolver with a 4" barrel can be easily concealed by almost anyone in a good holster.

    There's a lot to be said for semi-autos, and my everyday carry gun is a Wilson M1911 in .45 ACP, but that's because I own a truckload of guns and I can change handguns according to my plans. If I were forced to get rid of all my handguns but one, the one I'd keep is a medium-framed .357 magnum. If this is going to be your only handgun for a while, go with versatility. BTW, for self-defense the 125 grain .357 magnum hollow-point is rated very highly as a crime-stopper. Some experts rate it the cartridge most likely to make the miscreant cease hostile activities with a single shot.

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