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I need some advice on a 9mm and .40

5973 Views 15 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  rockman22
I am buying my first 9mm and a new .40 for my husband for Christmas. He and my dad have taught me all I know about handguns and I've shot a lot of them but I still lack the knowledge to buy one myself. We will be taking our handgun safety course together next year so I want to be comfortable with my gun by then. For my 9mm I was looking for something compact, low recoil, nothing too finicky (I've heard the Berretta takes a lot of care) and for a small hand. For the .40 I would like a very nice, accurate gun for medium hands that a fireman would be impressed with (husband = fireman). Please give me some advice!
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Welcome to shooting and to our little corner of the interweb!

If you have small hands, I would highly recommend looking at the CZ 75, the SIG-Sauer pistols, and a 1911. All can be had in 9mm, and all come in compact models. Or, if you are of a sixgun persuasion, I'd highly recommend looking at a Ruger or S&W double action revolver. The grips on them can be a bit smaller, since you don't have to wrap your hands around a magazine. I've had one girlfriend drool over the SIG, but most of the rest of them preferred revolvers and 1911s (the 1911 has a single stack magazine, which makes the grip slimmer). I've never known a girl that couldn't shoot a 1911 well (even the .45ACP ones!). As for recoil, since you specifically want a 9mm, the issue will come down to the weight of the gun. A heavier gun will recoil less, a lightweight one will recoil more.

For a fella with big hands, the Beretta 96 is actually a good choice. There is nothing hard to take care of on them. They were developed as a service pistol for the military, so they made them very easy to field strip and maintain. They do have a very big grip on them, so a guy with big hands might like it. I used to have one myself, but I got bit by the 1911 bug and got rid of it. It never failed to function perfectly once in all the years I had it, though. Not once. I'd trust my life to one in a heartbeat. I'd also recommend looking at the HK USP series, the SIGs, 1911s, and some medium-large frame revolvers (you can get all different kinds of grips for sixshooters). He might even like the CZ 75. I sure like the feel of 'em, and I've got some big hands.

The best way to go about picking one out for yourself is to browse around the different manufacturers and make a list of a couple of pistols that interest you. Go to the nearest place that has a large selection of guns. Hold every one that you have on your list, if they have it. Get a good feel for what your hand likes. If it doesn't feel good in your hand, cross it off the list because you'll NEVER like it. Be sure to see what all else is in the cabinet as well. You never know what you might find, and you just might fall in love with it. One thing I learned from my years as a salesman: 85% of people looking for something specific will go home with something entirely different. You should definately bring him along so he can do the same. That way you'll get him something that he'll definately like.... otherwise it'll spend a lot of time in the safe at home.

Once you get it home, read the manual cover to cover, word for word. Then take the pistol out of the box, and read the manual again while holding it and looking it over. Field strip it and clean it thoroughly, and then read the manual again. This ensures that you know where everything is at and how it goes together before you go shoot it. I go through the same routine every time I get a new one. It's good to know EVERYTHING the pistol does and how it does it before you ever put ammo in the thing.

You both might want to look at a Browning/FN Hi-Power as well. It is seen as the "improved" 1911, though I don't see how you can improve on what is already perfect :wink: . The HP certainly does feel good in the hand, though.
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I would recommend the SIG - there are a variety of models - but the SIG 226 comes in about 7 models ( in 9mm, .40 or .357 sig ) personally I like the P226 Stainless in a .40 S&W. For a smaller hand - the 229 or 239 - might fit you better and again in a 9mm or .40 S&W. In all 3 models there is a SAS verison -nice wood grips - and a good look.

All of their models are around $1,000 for the most part - and you get a lot of gun for the money. Dept of Homeland security did a lot of testing about a year ago - and really put the SIG 226R and the SIG 226DAK thru some serious tests - and it won easily (although the H&K did well too apparently).

On a different level I like the SIG 226 X-Five in a .40 S&W - it's a great competition gun, adj trigger, stainless, wood grips - nice gun but about $ 2,500. It is available in 9mm as well - but I think it's a better gun in .40 S&W (and a gun I'll keep forever).

I also like the 1911 models - and there are a variety of models from Kimber, Wilson Combat, Les Baer, SIG, etc - depending on what you want to spend. I'm not a big fan of the lower cost Kimbers - but I think Wilson and Les Baer make some of the most accurate and most durable guns on the market. In the Kimber lineup - I like the guns out of their custom shop ( Gold Combat Stainless II, the Raptor models, etc but they're only available in .45 ACP). Kimber does have the stainless gold match II in a .40 and it's a nice gun as well - but the offerings from Wilson Combat are significantly smoother triggers and more durable (in my opinion). There is nothing wrong with the relatively new SIG 1911's (revolution series ) but again they're all .45 ACP caliber.

I also have a kimber tactical Pro II model in a 9mm - and it is a gun that a person with smaller hands enjoys shooting (and it's a little lighter ) - but even at $900 I still had to do a full trigger job on it to get it to feel right for another $150. It's a nice gun now - 4" barrel - but I think the SIG's are a better value right out of the box.

Go to a range that rents guns - and shoot a variety of them - if you can before you decide. If I could only have one semi-auto handgun - it would be a 1911 model Wilson Combat - in .45 ACP. Something in a .40S&W like the Sig 226 X-Five is another favorite. My 3rd favorite is a Les Baer monolith 9mm - another 1911. Then the SIG 226 stainless .40 in a carry gun. All the rest, I enjoy and shoot, but these are the 4 semi-autos that come out of my safe the most often and go to the range - then I reach for some of my old Smith & Wesson revolvers in a variety of calibers. The others get left behind a little more often.

Have fun with the process.
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As far as 1911s go, I've always had good luck with Springfield. You can find them for a decent price, and they're good pistols.

Man, they must be killing you on prices over on the west coast, BigDog. I can get those SIGs pretty cheap over here in the 10-ring of the country.
Welcome to Pistolworld!

My personal experience is that the Israeli Military Industries "Baby" Desert Eagle imported by Magnum Research is an excellent pistol for recoil, reliability, accuracy, price and many differently sized hands. It is available for $400-$550 depending on your area and can come in 9mm, .40 and .45acp. Mine is a 9mm and the seven people I've let shoot it all loved it. It breaks down very simply, almost exactly like a 1911 so cleaning and maintenance are easy too. It is available with 15 round mags or 10 if you live in an oppressive state. :wink: The "Baby" designation is a marketing thing and nowhere to be found on the gun so guys don't have to worry about being laughed at. Not that I would regardless.

The only thing I dislike is the slide mounted safety. I find that it is right where I grab the slide when I check or load the gun.

I would also say that the Browning High Power is an excellent gun but sadly I don't currently own one. Sigs are known for their reliability but with a price to match. The Sig P226 didn't fit my smallish hands right but it shot better than I did.
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Technically, the name of the "Baby Eagle" is the Jericho 941. That might help locate one better. It's almost a copy of the CZ 75, from what I've seen (though I could be wrong on this). But yes, a very fine pistol either way.
I don't mean to sound offfensive, but I have to ask if you have ever shot a 9mm and what was it? Any experiece you have had positive or neg will help us give you some ideas. Also have you shot any revolvers, and if so what caliber? As you can tell, there are alot of choices out there.

Also what is the intended purpose for these purchases. If you or your husband plan to carry these guns, then the recommendations would be vastly different than if they are to be taken to the range every two weeks for recreational shooting.

Also I'd give a price cap on what you thought you would spend to get a "nice 40cal". Also what you thought you might spend on your purchase would be helpful. Does Made in the USA stamped some where mean anything for you? all feedback will be helpful

best of luck
This will be a concealed handgun that we shoot at ranges. I have shot a ".22" revolver, beretta 9mm, ruger 9mm and my dad's huge .45 revolver, I'm not sure what brand it is but he's had it forever.
I'm more of a rifle person but I now live in the middle of no where and work by myself in a pipe yard so I need to have a gun I can carry with me all the time. Apparently the Mexican Mafia is targeting young women as an induction and I live 45 minutes from ciudad acuna and piedras negras.
I would put the price cap at $1000.
I have shot a lot of other pistols throughout my lifetime but all I can remember is the caliper, thats how I decided I wanted a 9mm. I've been going to the range with friends and found that the 9mm is easiest to shoot "from the hip" at the target. I've been shooting all my life but I'm now at the point where I want my own guns, not my dad's and not my husbands!
I'll let the other guys cover the $1000 40s&w, but as for your 9mm I'd consider one of these.


They are small, reliable, accurate, and in the Stainless steel version recoil is not to bad, though "poppy" like most nines. they are managable for small hands due to the grip size. They are Double action only, so if that turns you off, then that would be a deal breaker. In a carry Gun I think that best, your either pulling the trigger or not. here's one one gunbroker

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewIt ... m=56813143

They have lots of configurations, Polymer frame, different finishes, barrel lenths, etc..

hope that gives you a good start. BTW I also like the Hi-power in 9mm, but it can be a little big for a carry gun, depending on a persons size and clothing. I "carry" a S&W model 37, five shot 38special revolver. Small, light, compact, lots of noise!

Best of luck..
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I would consider a small-frame .357 revolver recommendation.... if the .357s turn out to be too much to handle, the .38 Spl or .38 Spl +P are all available in excellent stopper loads, and can be fired in a .357 wheelgun.

Take a serious look at a .357 Ruger SP-101 in 2 inch or 3 inch. Throw in a speed loader if you're concerned about ammo capacity, though it's darn seldom when more than 1 or 2 shots are ever fired in an encounter.

edit.... a couple reviews:


Now that I know it's a CCW, I'd probably lean away from the full-frame autos now. The CZ 75 Compact would be worth looking at. Very trim. Also, as was mentioned before, a snubnose revolver is probably about the best way to go, particularly if you're a smaller person. They're pretty easy to tuck out of sight. I've been considering getting a S&W 642 for a while now. It's almost tailor-made for CCW.
Wired - my ball park prices might be a little high - but I always consider at least 1 or 2 extra mags - and unfortunately 8.8% sales tax - part of the price of the gun out here.

I didn't mean to be too casual about estimating prices. If you're a good customer to a shop around here, you can get a SIG for 10 - 20% over wholesale ( maybe 20 - 30% off of List Price ) depending on the model. My best local shop isn't the cheapest around - but the owner takes care of those of us that "add to our inventory" on a regular basis / goes the extra steps to fill special requests and special orders / makes sure we don't have to wait in line too long if we need the gunsmith to do something / and they'll hold some of the better stuff that comes in on consignment or trade so a few of us can take a look at it before it goes in the sales case. In a big
time " liberal " area like this, it works out ok - and I like helping my local guy keep his lights on and good knowledgeable guys behind the counter.
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Re: re: I need some advice on a 9mm and .40

BigDog said:
Wired - my ball park prices might be a little high - but I always consider at least 1 or 2 extra mags - and unfortunately 8.8% sales tax -
..... and a nice holster, and a couple boxes of ammo, and cleaning gear, and...... Okay, you've got me there :wink: . Once all the stuff that you "need" to get with a new sidearm, just about everything out there will run at least a grand. They get you coming and going :twisted: .
It's what makes America Great - but all the more reason to buy more than one gun in each caliber ........ to share some of that stuff. But I confirmed a couple prices locally on the SIG's 226 Stainless $ 850 / 226 X Five $2,150 / 226 Blackwater $ 925 / 229 SAS $ 825 ......
Remember, you will not carry a gun, whether on your body or in your purse or funny pack, unless it is light and compact. I found the slimmest and lightest 9 mm that I could find that still had a grip large enough to be comfortable and controllable to shoot. I ended up with a Kahr P9. As a double-action only gun, (with no hammer or external safety) it is simple. It is nice to carry, but accurate enough to enjoy taking to the range. I think the trigger-play and longer-pull add a level of safety too. There is a trade-off between light weight and recoil, but like any of the polymer/plastic guns, recoil is still manageable.

I love the slim grip and profile of the single stack guns. In my opinion, unless you are a big guy, the double stack/ high capacity guns are just too bulky for concealed carry. Besides, the stats will tell you the the average gun fight only takes a round or two of ammo. (My bedside gun is a full-size Beretta with 13 rnd mag....but it serves a different mission)

Good luck.
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personally if looking for a 9mm to carry i would keep my mind open to a good quality makarov. The East German Makarov is suppposed to be exceptionally reliable (the ak-47 of pistols), and can be had on gunbroker for between $300 and $400. And then there is my favorite part of eastern weapons. they generally have inexpensive ammo :)
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