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Discussion Starter #1
In a few months, I look to be getting my first handgun. I'm a college student, so I’ll be on somewhat of a tight ammo budget. Before I go on a search for a gun, I want to find a caliber that I can afford to shoot (using cheap practice ammo) and one that contains enough power to be used for home defense (obviously with more expensive and reliable ammunition).

The way I see it, I've got 3 options:

.357 mag revolver-
.38 special for practice and .357 mag for HD. Sometimes loading magazines can be a pain. I wouldn’t have to worry about magazines with a revolver. Also, I’m not sure how common misfeeds are when you use cheap ammo with semi-autos, but a .357 mag revolver wouldn’t be subject to this type of problem.

9mm-
I've heard this stuff is pretty cheap (4 cents/round cheaper than the practice .38 special on CTD), but I've also heard that it doesn't have much knockdown power. This is probably my least favorite option at this time, but I'd be interested in hearing some 9mm fans chime in with their take.

.45 acp-
1911 anyone? This is probably the most expensive out of all of my options. Knockdown power really won't be an issue with a .45. Also, the cheap winchester .45 practice ammo for sale at CTD is only about 5 cents per round more expensive than the winchester practice .38 special. Again, I’d like to hear from the experienced shooters how the cheap .45 feeds in their guns.

I'd like to go to the range once a week, but since this will be my first firearm, I'm not sure how many rounds one would typically fire in a normal day at the range. How many rounds do most of you folks put through your weapons in a few hours at the range? If it’s only a couple hundred/trip, I might be able to justify the .45.

Any input and discussion is greatly welcome. Also feel free to educate me on other economical calibers out there. I would also like to mention that I’m only interested in getting 1 handgun right now. So please, no suggestions for buying a cheap plinker AND a boomer.

Thanks in advance for any comments and suggestions!
 

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In my opinion, you are well served with a reasonable .357. You'll have all the knockdown you need for defense and .38 reloads are dirt cheap. :D

Of course... my preference is .45 - but the fact is... the .357 will stand by you! :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Paul F. said:
In my opinion, you are well served with a reasonable .357. You'll have all the knockdown you need for defense and .38 reloads are dirt cheap. :D

Of course... my preference is .45 - but the fact is... the .357 will stand by you! :wink:
If you don't mind me asking, what makes you prefer the .45? I'm trying to weigh my options and decide what's best for me.
 

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I would agree on the .357 magnum. you can get a good used wheelgun for really cheap if you keep your eyes open. .357 magnum is very versatile. 38spl dirt cheap for plinken, good hot loaded .357magnums for defence. If ya get a pistol with about a 6 inch barrel you could even use it to hunt with, if that strikes your fancy. .357 can take deer at moderate ranges and if you are a good shot. if you go to look at used revolvers, check the barrel, a worn out barrel is much harder to change on a revolver than an auto. and check for cylinder play/slop.
revolvers are typicaly simpler than autos, little easier to operate and maintain.

(edit) (I was gonna suggest getting a small frame .357 so you could also carry concealed but then noticed you are in Illinois)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Asylum Keeper said:
(edit) (I was gonna suggest getting a small frame .357 so you could also carry concealed but then noticed you are in Illinois)
:lol: Don't rub it in!

After I graduate there's a good chance I could end up in Iowa. If i'm able to carry at that point, I'll invest in a small revolver for CCW. From what I can tell, small revolvers can't really be beat for CCW.

I'm not really that interested in hunting deer. I doubt i'm patient enough for that sort of thing. Just out of curiosity, do you know if there is a pistol season in Illinois?
 

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ElMonoDelMar said:
Asylum Keeper said:
(edit) (I was gonna suggest getting a small frame .357 so you could also carry concealed but then noticed you are in Illinois)
:lol: Don't rub it in!

After I graduate there's a good chance I could end up in Iowa. If i'm able to carry at that point, I'll invest in a small revolver for CCW. From what I can tell, small revolvers can't really be beat for CCW.

I'm not really that interested in hunting deer. I doubt i'm patient enough for that sort of thing. Just out of curiosity, do you know if there is a pistol season in Illinois?
no clue on the pistol season. But Iowa isn't much better. carry permits are issued on a discretionary basis, its up to your local sheriff if he wants to give you a permit or not, so good luck with that!!
 

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Actually it depends on the size of the barrel to your gun. Magnum rounds are more powerful in longer barrels because of slower burning powder, so if the barrel is only a few inches long the .357 Magnums would be a waste. If you get some .38 Special JHPs for defense that should be just fine for what you need.
 

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If you don't mind me asking, what makes you prefer the .45?
It's what I grew up on. I've used it all my life and both believe and depend on it. :wink:

After seeing the Euro pee-pee cartridges in combat, on the street and in the ER... I want none of that. If you can't go with a John Browning in .45 - the .38/.357 is a great way to go. Believe me... what you first learn on and become reliant upon will remain your favorite. I've watched alot of good men have to try to go from the 1911 to a Glock and been miserable. :?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Paul F. said:
Believe me... what you first learn on and become reliant upon will remain your favorite. I've watched alot of good men have to try to go from the 1911 to a Glock and been miserable. :?
The first gun I ever fired was a S&W .357 magnum. Too bad I don't know the model because I really liked how that gun shot.

Justin_Thompson said:
Actually it depends on the size of the barrel to your gun. Magnum rounds are more powerful in longer barrels because of slower burning power, so if the barrel is only a few inches long the .357 Magnums would be a waste. If you get some .38 Special JHPs for defense that should be just fine for what you need.
When I was looking at revolvers, I thought the 4-5" bbls looked nice. Would it be worth it to shoot magnums out of barrels of that size?
 

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It might be, but Magnums are pretty expensive and the recoil can be pretty harsh. You might want to stick with .38 Specials since they're easier on the wallet and your wrists.
 

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You've answered your own question, then. I would go to a good dealer and "feel" every S&W he had until you found "the gun." By the way, fully powdered wadcutters in a .38 are a devestating man-stopper. My neighbor loads them and they reek havoc in a gel test. :wink:

While Magnums will not reach full potential from a 2" barrel, you will find they are still more "powerful" at the muzzle than a .38 special. Now, that said, they are not massively improved, so you must decide if the additional "punishment" is worth the small added advantage. :wink:
 

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When I was looking at revolvers, I thought the 4-5" bbls looked nice. Would it be worth it to shoot magnums out of barrels of that size?
yes

its always a trade off, barrel length vs. bullet velocity
it can be helped a bit by using light bullets, different powder ect.

I think you would be very happy with a medium to large frame .357magnum, in the 4 to 6 inch barrel range. Wally world has the winchester "econo pack" bullets, 38spl 100 rounds should be under $20. magnum loads are not "that" expensive and they will not hurt your wrist if its a good sized gun. "cheap" magnum loads are around $17 for 50 rounds, and good defence loads are about $15 or higher for 20 rounds.
Surf www.midwayusa.com for ammo prices
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the input.

Regarding magnum loads, I'm really not too worried about my wrists. I find it very pleasureable to touch of .357 mag rounds. (Take that as you will :lol: )

I went to K's Merchandise and looked at some of their revolvers. For about the same price as a S&W 686 I can get a Beretta 92FS in 9mm. I think those berettas look pretty secksy compared to a S&W revolver, so the jury is still out for me.

Also, I got to thinkin'... I'll be purchasing a remington 870 before I get a pistol. If anyone tries to break into my apt, they'll have to make it past the 12 ga. before I even think about using the handgun. So maybe 9mm won't be that bad.
 

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ahh. very cool. you will be very happy with a Remington 870. IMHO,12 gauge shotgun is the best weapon for home defence.what type ya gonna get? If its just for home defence and range fun, may I suggest the 870HD. It has 18inch barrel, synthetic stock and a factory 2 round magazine extension for a total mag capacity of 6, so combat loaded it will hold 7.
9mm is great for plinking, bulk ammo is cheap, fun to shoot. I'm not a big fan of using 9mm in a serious defensive role, but with good ammo it will do the job. If you want a pistol simply for plinking and "punching paper", I would also suggest something in .22LR
$15 will get ya 500 rounds of American Eagle ammo(clean for the money), $11 will get you 550 rounds of the bulk Federal stuff (not a fan of that stuff, very dirty).

does all that help, or just make you more unsure of what you want? :D

(edit) you can get kit to convert Beretta's and 1911 to 22LR
http://www.22lrconversions.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I plan on using my 870 mostly for skeet. I'll probably get the 870 synthetic w/ the 28" bbl. I live by myself so if my place is broken into, all I have to do is stay put and guard one door. I won't have the problem of trying to clear my apartment with a 28" bbl. If I get married and have a family, I'll consider buying an 18" bbl and tactical light for the old 870.
 

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Slowly, but surely, the world is beginning to realise that 9mm is not the way to go. The US military is abandoning the cartridge, the Brits are talking about it and Israel is talking about it, as well. There are shooters who swear by it... but I am skeptical as to whther it has to do with effectiveness or the fact that they've sunk so much money into it. Go with the .357 or a .45... and that's my two cents. :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Do the springfield XD's used GAP?

I could probably afford to buy an XD, but there's no way I could afford .45 GAP.
 

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I second Asylum Keeper in buying a .22 LR as a first handgun. It is so inexpensive to shoot that one can not justify not shooting due to ammo expense. It is the pentultimate beginners gun artly for this reason. The low recoil also helps tremendously in learning proper grip and trigger control which is crucial regardless of caliber or gun type. A 22 LR may not be the best for self defense but there are are a couple of true sayings; "I would rather be missed with a .44 than hit with a .22" and "the best self defense gun is the one in your hand when needed". I feel the best course is to learn the basics correctly then make the decision on what gun type, caliber, and model you wish to get. That Beretta 92 isn't all bad, 9mm with a good expanding bullet is not something to dismiss out of hand and one can get a .22 LR conversion kit for them for about the price of a good .22 autoloader. Then you have the ability to practice cheaply with the same gun as you may rely on for self defense. After all, in all things shooting related placement is much more important than size.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Asylum Keeper said:
ElMonoDelMar said:
Do the springfield XD's used GAP?

I could probably afford to buy an XD, but there's no way I could afford .45 GAP.
SA now offers a XD in 45ACP
Do you know if they've got that on their website? I was looking around and couldn't find a 45ACP model.

uglydog said:
I second Asylum Keeper in buying a .22 LR as a first handgun. It is so inexpensive to shoot that one can not justify not shooting due to ammo expense. It is the pentultimate beginners gun artly for this reason. The low recoil also helps tremendously in learning proper grip and trigger control which is crucial regardless of caliber or gun type. A 22 LR may not be the best for self defense but there are are a couple of true sayings; "I would rather be missed with a .44 than hit with a .22" and "the best self defense gun is the one in your hand when needed". I feel the best course is to learn the basics correctly then make the decision on what gun type, caliber, and model you wish to get. That Beretta 92 isn't all bad, 9mm with a good expanding bullet is not something to dismiss out of hand and one can get a .22 LR conversion kit for them for about the price of a good .22 autoloader. Then you have the ability to practice cheaply with the same gun as you may rely on for self defense. After all, in all things shooting related placement is much more important than size.
I'll be using my 870 for HD if it comes down to it. Also, I don't want to buy a .22 because I don't really enjoy shooting them. The ones I've shot have jammed too often and you spend a lot of your range time trying to clear those jams. Also, I'd buy a CO2 pellet gun to practice the basics before I'd buy a 22.
 
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