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I am looking to buy my first hangun. The main use will be for home defense but I would like to do some target practice as well. I would like something that my wife could handle as well.

I guess the first thing I would like to know is the pros and cons of pistols and revolvers? What would be a good caliber.
What is a good quality brand to look for. I prefer American made products.

Thanks for your help.
 

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Revolvers are simpler to operate and generally more reliable than autoloading pistols. Other than that, it all comes down to personal preference. Either one is deadly in the hands of a proficient shooter.

If you are new to handguns, I'd recommend starting with a .22 rimfire. The only way to become proficient with a handgun is to shoot it.... LOTS. Some qualified instruction is also a good idea.... if you can't come up with any, here's the next best thing:

http://www.bullseyepistol.com/chapterf.htm

Also, as you spend some tiume at the range, you'll have the opportunity to see (and probably try) other handguns, as well as BS with the guys about the pros and cons of various makes, models, amd calibers. Once you have a better feel for what you would like, it's time to go shopping.

I have a pile of revolvers, both SA and DA, in everything from .22 rimfire to .44 Magnum. For autoloaders, I have a couple Ruger .22 pistols and 3 1911s, all in .45 ACP. My personal preference for home defense is a 4" Smith & Wesson M19. For considerably less money, the Colt Trooper or Trooper Mark III is a fine revolver.

For currently produced American products, Ruger and Smith & Wesson are the big revolver producers. Ruger sells both SA and DA revolvers, while Smith sells only DA. A Ruger revolver lacks the refinement of an old Smith, but is well-designed, and tough as a Sherman Tank. Aside from the recently introduced "Classic" series, I much prefer to buy older, used S&W revolvers rather than the new ones.

Autoloading pistols currently produced in the U.S. - Smith & Wesson, Colt, Springfield Armory, Ruger, Kimber, Wilson Combat, and a whole bunch of others. All produce good quality firearms. There are a few producers of cheap pistols.... avoid them.
 

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i would hope you would do some target practice since its your resonsibility to be able to handle the weapon properly.

good luck in your search for American made guns. there arent alot anymore. Ruger, S&W is all i can think of.

also, since your wife will be using it too, you MAY have to settle for 2 different guns.

Autoloaders can malfunction and if you decide to get one, both you and your wife will need to learn how to clear malfunctions. Its just part of owning one. You may not like it, but it will be necessary since you will never know when a malfunction will occur.

Revolvers are more simple in operation but you will have a more limited round capacity. Even a revolver can malfunction but if its still working, all you would have to do is to pull the trigger again. As with the autoloader, you should learn how to load/unload the revolver using minimal steeps and keep your eyes on the target as much as possible.

I would look for a gun rental range in your area and do some testing of their guns. keep in mind tho that some ranges dont take good care of their guns so some autoloaders may malfunction alot. the idea is to get a feel of whats out there and what you may lean towards getting.

in terms of calibers, i would look at 9mm, 40 and 357. one thing nice about the 357 is that you can shoot 38s if you choose. However, the other way isnt recommended.

there are some good used guns out there now, but unless you know what to look for, you can get screwed. or unless you know of a trusted smith that is willing to evaluate them you could go that route.
 

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Good advice already given.

A couple of questions that may help in giving you a more defined search. What is the budget you plan to spend on your firearm? While this is your first handgun have you shot handguns before?

If possible find a range that rents pistols and shoot a few to get a feel for what fits you best. Even if you have to drive a couple of hours to a range that rents it is well worth your time.

Smith & Wesson and Ruger make fine handguns and seem to have a model for just about everyone. Revolvers are easier to operate and maintain but are limited to the number of rounds they hold. In most cases the 5-7 rounds should be enough if you know how to fire the pistol well. With practice semi autos are a fine choice, they are more complex but not to a level that they are difficult to shoot or maintain. Most semi autos will provide a higher capacity of ammo between reloands and reloading is far quicker if you purchase an extra mag. I own both revolvers and semi autos and could make a case for either. It comes down to personal choice.

Best advice is to take the time and find a pistol that fits you well and then shoot on a regular basis to improve your skill and expereince with your firearm.
 

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Difficult to give you an answer without some additional information, however if the gun is to be used by more than one person, you should pick a gun that is easily used by the least experienced person. For most, that is a revolver in a medium caliber like 38/357. I suggest a 4" barrel and grips should be selected to fit the smallest hands. The 38/357 caliber allows you to learn with light 38 loads and work up to whatever level you want in 38+p and 357 magnum. The price of ammo is about as good as it gets these days for centerfire ammo.

There is nothing wrong with selecting a semi-auto as long as you and your wife are willing to put in the time to learn to shoot, clear jams, reload and understand all the functions of a semi-auto. I have been an NRA instructor for over 20 years and the vast majority of my students were beginners who quickly learned to shoot a revolver. Many were overwhelmed with the manual of arms for a semi-auto. If you pick a gun your wife likes to shoot, you will have a shooting partner. If you don't, you will have an observer.
 

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Advantages of a Revolver

1. I don't have to chase my brass at the range.
2. I don't have to bend over my fat belly to pick it up.
3. I don't have to check to see if it's the right caliber.
4. I don't hit my neighbor in the next booth, or myself, with spent brass.
5. I don't lose (misplace) magazines.
6. I don't have to load magazines, and my thumbs are happy.
7. I don't have to clear jams.
8. I like making the guys shooting the wimpy 9mm guns jump when my .357 or .44 mag goes off!
9. I've been through the "spray and pray" phase in my younger days, and now rely on shot placement to get the job done.
10. You don't go through your ammo as fast, and you get to enjoy more time shootin'.
11. I don't have to remember how to take the blasted slide off and disassemble the gun to clean it. Too many pieces.
12. I don't have to put all those pieces back together.
13. Cleaning a revolver is easy, and they are all the same.
14. It takes three seconds to disassemble a single action revolver, and you've only got three parts: frame, cylinder, and pin.
15. The grip is always a nice, comfortable size because you don't have a magazine running through the middle of it.
16. You can completely change the looks and feel of the gun by changing grips: rubber, wood (so many to choose from), ivory, micarta, smooth, checkered, finger grooves, gunfighter, etc., etc., etc.
17. And not only is it "All American" but it's intimidating as hell when you pull out a N-frame S&W, or a Colt Anaconda, or a big mama Ruger SA or DA revolver. Something about a revolver just says, "Bubba, I'm about to put a hole through you big enough to park my pick up."
18. When pointed at someone, they can SEE that cylinder full of ash trays 'bout to come their way, and they'll believe that story about the pick up.
19. I know my .41 mag, .44 mag, .357 mag, .44 Sp., or .45 Colt will accomplish #17. The only automatic round that will do the job right is the All American .45 ACP (thank you John Moses Browning). I hear the 10mm ain't half bad, and S&W makes a revolver for that, too.
 

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Don't buy until you try. Don't buy because it looks cool. Don't buy unless you intend to practice.
 

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Sackett posted his question in November 2009. Don't you folks reckon he has made up his mind by now? :?
 
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