Pistol World Forums banner

Pistol help... What kind and caliber?

7009 Views 16 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Pistolero
I am looking to buy a pistol. I want a semi auto. I have looked on the internet at the Glocks, Smith&Wesson M&P, and Springfield Armory XD. I am in the early shopping stages. I have not even gone to hold any of the pistols. I am just trying to get an idea of a type of gun and caliber. Seems like the .40 caliber is pretty popular. I want this pistol for protection and for shooting at range for fun. I don't want something with so much recoil that it is a hassle to shoot but enough power to get the job done. If you have any pistol or caliber recommendations let me know... Thanks!

1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Im in the same situation you are. Im going with the 9mm Xd. Not much recoil the 9mm is very cheap to shoot alot for fun and with the right rounds and good shot placement it should be good enough for home defense from what i've learned so far.
Thanks for the info... The more I look at the ID the more I like it. I like all the safety features also. I am very gun oriented and have about 6 long guns. I have shot several pistols but it is now time to join it the fun. I just want one that will be fun to shoot and not terrible on recoil and would like to stay in the $600 range.

Are you going to carry it concealed or just keep it at home and take it to the range? 9mm is the way to go for a cheap to shoot centerfire. +P or +P+ 115 grain loads are no slouch for defense. If you are going to carry it, a more compact model is in order. If it is just for home and range use, full size guns are nicer to shoot and typically more accurate. You should consider also buying a good .22 lr pistol. Browning, Ruger, and S&W make good affordable models. I am not that crazy about DA/SA autos. I have a H&K USP and don't shoot it that well. I like single actions better, just because of their triggers. I want a Browning Hi Power in 9mm for a range plinker. Don't overlook a 1911 style pistol either.
Before saying anything else, I have to wholeheartedly agree that getting a 22 LR handgun in addition (or even instead of) to the 9mm is a decision you should look closely at. The guns themselves are relatively inexpensive and ammo is down right cheap compared to other choices. The more rounds yoou can put through a gun, the better of a shot you will become. The .22 LR will allow you to shoot often and inexpensively which makes for a better shot.
I think your choice of pistol is a good one, I have the 4" Service model XD in 40 S&W and 45 ACP. I've also had the XD 3" sub-compact and 5" Tactical models in 40 S&W but decided they weren't needed. The Service model is not all that big and even if you are going to use it as a carry gun, it isn't hard to hide if a decent inside the waistband holster is used and some very slight thought as to what you wear is taken. The trigger on these are striker fired like a Glock (but incredibly nicer in my mind) so it is consistant from shot to shot. As much as I like the 1911 (Colt automatic style handgun) and Browning High Powers, I don't think they are the best gun for starters. They all seem a little more problematic as to cleaning and lubing than the more modern designed service type weapons. This means a greater chance of problems when used. I've had several 1911s and a couple High Powers and all have had some sort of quirk in this regard. Once identified and taken into account, they work much better. Those who have a bit of experience often identify these problem areas quickly and without thinking so don't even realize they have done this.
Though I have a few smaller sized handguns, I much prefer the standard size models for all round use. They are longer in the grip which makes for much easier control as you can fit all your fingers on the grip to control the gun. Many subcompacts have finger extensions that can be added to the magazine to increase grip length but then you are into full size gun territory in size without the added rounds. I'd rather have the option of extra rounds and decide for myself if I want to load that many or not. The barrels are also slightly longer which makes accuracy better up to a point.
Summing it up, I think getting a handgun in 9mm for protection and general use is a good choice and fully back up the notion of adding a .22 LR handgun to the stable. By shopping around you could get both for close to the $600 mark you stated and might be able to bet it if you can find a used gun or two. The Gander Mountain closest to me (it is better than an hour even if I speed) recently had a sale on S&W 22A pistols in 22 LR for $200 and an XD40 (I know its not 9mm but as a price example) for $380. With the sales tax here, that would put you under $610 for both pistols. Of course there are the accessories like cases, holsters, cleaning equipment and ammo to add but one can start off cheap and build from there.
See less See more
When it comes to concealment, its the length of the grip that is most problematic to me. Standing upright, my USP conceals fine under a loose fitting un-tucked shirt. I have a very nice Milt Sparks Versa Max 2 horsehide holster for it. Its when I move around or bend over that the grip juts out of my shirt and anybody that is looking can tell that I am carrying a gun. That said it is still the gun that I keep loaded in the night stand at home. I just don't carry it much. I may not win a match with it, but I can hit center mass and 14 rounds of .40 S&W is reassuring.

Having said all that, I like revolvers a lot. I carry a revolver. A revolver saved my life. A J frame Smith in the pocket is worth its weight in gold when you find yourself facing an armed assailant who has the drop on you. Concealed carry is a bit of a paradox. You want it hidden from view, but readily accessible. It is very hard to do both sometimes. Very often we trade access for concealment. When an unexpected attack happens, a pistol on your ankle will be just about as useful as a pistol at home in the safe. You aren't going to be able to get to either. I carry a J frame in my front pocket in a Safariland model 25 pocket holster. It doesn't work in all my pants, but jeans and cargo pants are good.
See less See more
For concealment, good capacity, reliable, fun to shoot, stopping power. It would be hard to beat a Glock 19, 15 down 1 up of 9mm.
A Glock or XD will be a good "starter". You have realize, in your quest for pistol perfection, you will end up with a 1911. :lol:
Thanks for all the help and advice fellas. The more I think about it the more worried I get about safely handling a semi-auto pistol. I know that all guns and all pistols are dangerous and must be treated with the utmost respect. I am starting to think that a single action revolver might suit me best. I am a very experienced shooter when it comes to rifles and shotguns but have not handled pistols much. I know that I would be safe with a pistol but if say my wife was to handle it or if someone else was to handle the pistol I would feel better with a single action revolver. I have also been very fond of the Ruger Vaquero Stainless steel revolvers. They are a beautiful gun. This way I would be able to hunt with the revolver also if I got a 357 and could shoot 38 specials for practice. What are yals opinion on this gun? I know I just went from one category to another but I feel that I would get more use out of the revolver and would be a little bit safer. Would my wife be able to shoot the revolver loaded with 38 specials? Thanks

See less See more
If it's for home defense as well as plinking, I'd recommend a DA revolver over a Single Action.... especially if the Boss is going to use it.

A .357, as you noted, will let you practice with .38 Spl.... less cost and less recoil. Check out a Ruger Security -Six if you can find a clean used one... one of the most undervalued sixguns out there. Other options ... a S&W Model 19 or Ruger GP-100.
The single action pistol went out of vogue as a defensive weapon around 1900 when double action revolvers and semi-auto pistols became reliable. Single action revolvers are rather complicated to operate in a self defense situation where one has too much else on their mind. There is also the problem of accidental/unintentional discharge once the hammer is cocked, either through stress or being startled or by accidentally lowering the hammer to uncock it. That is why no police department has taught single action shooting since about the early 1960s. Cocking the hammer also requires one to loosen the grip on the gun to cock the hammer with the thumb. This may lead to loosing the gun if you should be required to use it while in a scuffle.
The double action revolver would be a much better choice as you would only have a long, somewhat heavy, trigger pull to deal with. A problem with them though is that a number of women find the reach to the trigger to be too great with some stocks and the same long, kind of heavy pull is more than their hands can do without a fair bit of strengthening.
If you are dead set on getting a single action to hunt with, the Ruger Blackhawk would be a much better choice. Mainly, the sights are adjustable rather than a groove cut into the topstrap. This allows for one to better adjust the sights, making it easier to hit the target and also allows for better long range accuracy. I have one of each and for anything requiring accuracy, I reach for the Blackhawk.
I still think a semi-auto pistol is the best bet for all round self defense and the worry regarding its "safety" is greatly exaggerated. After all, look at the number of police officers who have them and the number of accidents they have despite the minimal training most get. Cops are not "gun guys" for the most part (I am each so have a decent idea of whence I speak) and look at a gun as a necessary tool of the trade. A simple safety talk and refresher with some periodic range time is all that is needed for general safe handling and operation.
If hunting with the gun is important and not just a means of justifying a different gun, then a revolver would be fine. If you are looking more towards a self defense gun, then look hard at an auto. The vast majority are no different than a revolver in operation so if you are comfortable with the one, the other hould be no different.
See less See more
Now that I think about it uglydog, you got a good point. If I got the single action it would pretty much be for looks. I think that is basicly why i like it so much. Just because it looks good... Hmmm.. That is why these forums are so great. You get educated answers that help in decision making... Thanks fellas... I try to research for a while before I buy a gun. SInce it is a pretty good investment I want to make a good decision. Since I am looking at all angles now, you fellas got any good 1911 models I should look at for around $600. I don't want to spend much more than that. What do yal know about the spring-field gov 45? Oh yeah, I like the stainless steal... If yal know of a few in this price range let me know. I might go hold a few of them and check them out.

I like my Kimber Custom II 1911. Basic, entry level gun. It shoots where I aim it and has been reliable with good magazines. The factory mag that came with it was junk, the Kimber mags I bought were junk. I bought some Wilson Combat 47D mags and everything was right. IIRC I paid $650 for it several years ago. Springfield makes some nice, affordable 1911s.

It's hard to go wrong with a DA revolver for home defense. The trigger length and pull can be uncomfortable at first. Lots of practice can cure that. I would look at a Ruger GP100 or a S&W 686. I prefer the Ruger.

A SA revolver could be used in the same situation, the hammer will have to be lowered if you don't shoot. This could increase the chance of a ND in a stressful situation. If it's all you've got it's fine, but there are better choices.

The SA really shines as a hunting firearm or plinker. I like to carry mine when in the woods walking around or scouting for deer. Once again, Ruger gets the nod. Either a Blackhawk or Super Blackhawk.

IMO, the best first handgun is a .22, revolver or semi. You can learn handgun marksmanship without the recoil or blast of a centerfire. Ammo is insanely cheap compared to centerfire so you can shoot much more for the same ammo budget. I currently shoot a Ruger MK II (notice a trend here :lol: ). I'm planning on getting a Single Six sometime. I started out with a Heritage Rough Rider. It was a surprisingly accurate revovler but the the safety and the habit of losing the screw that held the ejector rob shroud led me to sell it. S&W and Browning make some nice .22s.

I wouldn't worry about a safety on a semi. If a person can't learn the manual of arms with a semi, they probably shouldn't shoot any handgun.
See less See more
People shouldn't learn to rely on any gun's mechanical safety. A shooter should learn to safely handle any firearm. Its kind of funny that a 1911 is one of the most safety laden pistol designs around. Its got a grip safety and thumb safety. Some versions have a firing pin block. It is really difficult to discharge one accidentally. Its just when people see that cocked hammer, they get their panties in a bunch. Think about repeating shotguns and rifles, their hammers are cocked and locked, you just can't see the hammer. Even the .22 lr pistols we all love so much, are really single action autos. The hammer is cocked, but it is internal where you can't see it (on most). All that is there is that mechanical safety. Nobody seems to cry out that a Ruger Mark I/II/III or Browning Buckmark is unsafe. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. People can point out the shortcomings of any design. Safe gun handling will negate any of them.
See less See more
Thanks again for all the help. The more I looked at guns the more I changed my mind on what I wanted. I went from polymer pistols to revolvers and now to 1911 models. The SpringField Armory Mil Spec in Stainless Steel has really got my attention now. I went and shot a "Loaded" version in 45 ACP at Surplus City yesterday and it is a sweet shooting gun. I still like the polymer XD and the S&W M&P but the feel of the metal 1911 is very nice. The more you hold the guns the more you learn. I have read alot about them this week also.

i am trying to decide if i should buy a smith and wesson highway patroller in 357 mag or colt 1911 in 45 apc.

these are the things i am trying to consider when purchasing.

A,my gun will be used for fun and home protection.

B,having handled numerous guns today at my possesion aqisittion lisence course, the two mentioned were the most comfortable fits for my larger hand while not being akward like those 44mag hand cannons!

C,i am left handed left eye dominant (the sig was terrible to use Rolling Eyes )

D, i am poor lol! Razz Mr. Green

somthing i was wondering is if the 38 is cheaper bullets than the 357 mag or 45 acp (pratice made cheap! Very Happy)
See less See more
Yes, you can shoot .38 special in the .357. It will be cheaper to practice with those rounds than with the magnums or .45acp.
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.