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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a question that I've been really mulling over in my head the last couple days, and I'm looking for any input or insight from those who may be more experienced or knowledgeable on the subject than me.

My situation: I'm a 23-year-old male from Washington State. In about five months, I'll be quitting my job and traveling the country, living and sleeping in my car, bringing my only possessions (some quite valuable) with me. I'm more or less planning on this lasting for a fair length of time--maybe a couple months, maybe more. I'd like to be able to defend myself adequately in any reasonably likely scenario. Getting carjacked, robbed, attacked outside of my car, or anything else of that nature. I'm thinking about getting a semi-automatic pistol for this purpose. However, I have almost no experience with or knowledge of guns. I went to a range yesterday and shot off about 50 rounds with a few different 9mms, and that was my first time ever shooting a gun.

The question: Is a semi-automatic pistol the right choice for self defense, given my circumstances (assuming proper training, practice, and choice of gun/ammo)? If yes, what type of pistol should I look at--or more specifically, what caliber? Is a 9mm what I should be look at? Specific brands? I was recommended the Ruger SR9, but I've also read good things about Glocks. I'm 6'1" and have bigger hands, but want something as easy to use as possible (quicker with less recoil), while still being compact and concealable. The recoil of the 9mm made me a little uncertain about how easy it would be to shoot accurately in a self-defense situation, but maybe I just need more practice. I'm reading that .22s are pretty weak.

I'm also on a budget. Won't spend more than $400, and the cheaper the better (without sacrificing quality or practicality).

Any insight into these questions would be greatly appreciated (honestly).

Edited to add: Just did a quick look into whether a CCW from my state of residence would be applicable in other states, and this seems to be a big variable. Any insight on this? Does it throw a pretty big wrench into any plans of traveling with a concealed gun?
 

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Traveling through multiple states with a firearm has a tremendous number of potential problems, not the least of which is legalities. As you are just becoming aware, not all states allow reciprocity and even at that, some areas within a state have different laws as there is no state wide pre-emption laws which allow the state statute to take precedence over local ordinances. So, it may be legal for you to carry within a state but a particular city or state may have a different rule that supercedes state law. The variables can be mind boggling to say the least. Other states do not allow any sort of reciprocity or even carry, others require the gun to be "concealed" (and there are multiple rules on what that means), while even others allow open carry but not concealed. Then there are exceptions as the laws may apply only to residents of the state and not visitors. Then too, what is legally defined as "self defense" can vary from place to place with differing requirements needing to be met before one can use lethal force.
That is not to mention any requirements to transport a firearm, some allow the carrying of loaded and uncased weapons in the vehicle in some areas for some purposes while others will require the gun to be unloaded, cased, and placed in the rearmost part of the vehicle to be legal at any time. Sleeping in the car can be interpreted as traveling, even though it is parked and the motor not running.
Then there is the problem of being a traveler with no local address or ties in the event of a problem as you will very likely be incarcerated until any and all problems are sorted out. That leaves your possessions in the custody of an impound lot if you are "lucky" and out on the street if you are not.
One may be tempted to keep Mace, a stun gun, club, or knife handy for protection but they can also have regulations regarding them and put you crosswise with law enforcement when encountered (and you definitely will).
any endeavor such as this is fraught with risks as well as rewards. It is up to you to assess and weigh out these risks and determine what is acceptable to you.
You must balance the risks of being directly robbed with that of having the car broken into while you are away from it with the likelihood of meeting up with an officer and having you and your car checked and finding you have possibly been improperly carrying a firearm. Couple that with the potential inaccessibility of the gun during a time of need where you may have a means of protection but not be able to use it.
Carrying a gun accessible in time of a need is a real pain in the posterior as there are so many laws that can apply and they can vary so much. It is not like hunting where carrying a gun is so much easier as unloading it, putting it in a case, and putting it the trunk is nearly universally accepted. Again, it is up to you to determine the risks involved, what is acceptable, and what alternatives/options you wish to employ. Then you have to live with the consequences, good and bad.
 

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Carefully read what uglydog has written. If you are going to carry across several states, you better know the laws, and how they apply, for every one you plan to travel through.

The question: Is a semi-automatic pistol the right choice for self defense, given my circumstances (assuming proper training, practice, and choice of gun/ammo)?
Maybe yes, maybe no. Really depends on personal opinion. I really like double action revolvers. They don't give up a thing to semis IMO.

If yes, what type of pistol should I look at--or more specifically, what caliber? Is a 9mm what I should be look at? Specific brands? I was recommended the Ruger SR9, but I've also read good things about Glocks. I'm 6'1" and have bigger hands, but want something as easy to use as possible (quicker with less recoil), while still being compact and concealable.
Personal choice again. You really need to actually shoot any models you are considering.

The recoil of the 9mm made me a little uncertain about how easy it would be to shoot accurately in a self-defense situation, but maybe I just need more practice. I'm reading that .22s are pretty weak.
Practice will help you master the recoil.

9mm is the minimum I would consider for personal protection. I'm much more comfortable with .45acp or .357 mag. Neither would be called light recoiling, but can be mastered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: re: Need advice: First time shooter & buyer

uglydog said:
Then there is the problem of being a traveler with no local address or ties in the event of a problem as you will very likely be incarcerated until any and all problems are sorted out. That leaves your possessions in the custody of an impound lot if you are "lucky" and out on the street if you are not.
Excellent point here, thanks for pointing it out.

And very informative and insightful post overall, I really appreciate it. Everything you said makes perfect sense. I'll probably pass on buying a gun for all those reasons and more. I do have some knives, a couple of which I could bring with me. And I may buy some mace as well.

Thank you both for taking the time to offer responses.
 
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