Need Advice on First-Time Gun Purchase : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

I am seriously considering purchasing my first firearm. I feel that time is running short, considering the new gun-control laws, and I feel I may never get another chance. I don't really know anything about guns. Where and how would I get one and how much would it cost me? This would be used for home-protection. I do not hunt.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

-- Samantha (, March 21, 2000


See if there's a gun range nearby that offers instruction. If you don't know how to handle a weapon, you're probably better off without one. Make sure that they will provide the gun for the class. You also may be able to rent different types to try out before you buy one.

-- Mikey2k (, March 21, 2000.

I would suggest that you go for a smith and wesson .38 special. This is the minium small round I would use to defend my life with. It is an excellent fire arm, and you could leave it lieing in your hiding place for it, for years. Then pick it up and pull the trigger, if the first round didn't go off because it was old. Keep pulling the trigger untill one of them goes off. A revolver will not jam as an semi automatic will (and I own both).

And please do take the fire arms class, or get some one who is really familuar with hand guns to teach you how to use and care for the weapon.

"As for me...I shall finish the Game"


-- Shakey (in_a_bunker@forty.feet), March 21, 2000.

If you are as Novice as you present yourself. I suggest you get a gun. and go to a Firing Range. You might be surprised, at your Fellow Gun Shooters. Grandma's, Teen Kids, Dads. I was surprised. Someone think an immature Army of Kids, can overtake the Salts? Owning a gun, is not presently against the Law. I have no conflict with the local Law Officials. But I might wake up, tomorrow morn, with a deadly snake on my steed (it has happened before) and I need to have a Gun to shoot that bugger (and the Right To do So) Snake Be Gone! Snakes are a scary and evil looking lot, who would deprive me of my right to shoot that thing, who values animal life,over Human. So Be It, for your life.

-- Gun Shooters (, March 21, 2000.


Disregard what Mikey said.... he doesn't know much anyway....

Buy a 357 mag wheel gun (revolver).... Shakey is right, but only to a point. You can run 38 specials in a 357 mag, but they won't stop a drug crazed fool..... a 357 mag will put a 300 lb, 6'4" on his butt, 10 ft back from where he Was standing, if you are using the right load.... practice with the 38's, then get used to the 357's... it does have a kick, but you get what you pays for :-)

-- Netghost (ng@no.yr), March 22, 2000.

Depends on how big you are, and how big your hand is.

I'm fairly small, and I learned with a .38 Ruger.

Attitude = higher caliber.

When I'm scared I can handle a .50 mag with a hot load.

If you're new, start with a .22.


-- Laura (Ladylogic@....), March 22, 2000.


True to a point, but my 68 year old Mom, and my 74 year old Dad can handle a 357 mag, or a sawed off 12 ga...... with no problems.... just takes practice.

I usually practice with a 22...... then use that knowledge/experience for the real thing..... but then..... I'm a gun nut :-)

-- Netghost (ng@no.yr), March 22, 2000.

Samantha is a girl's name. I suggest she start off with a .22, period, end of my discussion.


-- Laura (Ladylogic@....), March 22, 2000.

Samantha is a girl's name

So what?.... like the mugger will care?.... Are women less competent than men?... be real :-)

-- Netghost (ng@no.yr), March 22, 2000.

Thanks everyone for the feedback. It is truly appreciated. Now if I can just figure out where I would get it and how much it would cost me.

-- Samantha (, March 22, 2000.

I don't know what the right gun is for anyone else but I'll tell you what I have. I've had a Ruger 10/22 rifle for years. It's light, handy, and easy for anyone to shoot. Not great for stopping power but 10 rounds will do some damage.

I bought a short barreled Mossberg pump shotgun ("riot gun") a couple of years ago because I think that's a better home defense weapon than the Ruger. It took some time at the range getting used to it but I'm pretty accurate and fast with it now. It's a really scary looking weapon and every bad guy knows the sound of a shotgun racking.

-- Jim Cooke (, March 22, 2000.

Samantha, I know that USA is proud of its laws that allow almost free access to weapons of all types. We do not have that freedom here in New Zealand, so our choice of weapons is rather limited. However there are still a few of here who do have experience with a wide range of firearms, and have learnt how to use them effectively.

If you do decide on a handgun for personal protection then definitely go with a magnum for straight out stopping power. Do not consider a .22 or anything smaller as it will harm, but won't stop a determined attacker. A handgun, though is best for personal protection away from home. If you are only concerned with protection in or near the home then I would strongly suggest a shotgun. You do not have to be super accurate, and the sprayed charge will stop almost anything.

The final choice of weapon is up to you AFTER you have learnt a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of all types. But one piece of advice that my old arms instructor passed on to me may save your life some day. Never point a weapon at another person unless you intend to use it. If you do have cause to point a weapon, then don't waste time with giving warnings or asking time wasting questions, just squeeze the trigger, and keep on squeezing the trigger untill there is no longer any threat.

-- Malcolm Taylor (, March 22, 2000.

Samantha, Ruger makes a nice easy to handle SP101 model.38/.357 caliber revolver that fits my hand well and is easy to shoot. It's not too heavy or too big, if you want to go for a concealed carry permit, it is a good size to fit in a gun purse or fanny pack. The price in a 1995 issue of Gun Trader's guide is $270.

-- Ma Kettle (, March 22, 2000.

As usual, Jim Cooke is the voice of reason. Perhaps the best firearm for learning basics is a small .22 rifle. The ammunition is inexpensive and the recoil is virtually nonexistent. The mechanics of firing a rifle are simpler than firing a pistol... at to achieve any degree of accuracy.

The Ruger 10/22 costs about $150. The "clip" is a 10-round rotary feed. For someone with modest hand strength, the clip can be slightly challenging. As a semi-automatic, a new round is chambered with each shot. While the Ruger 10/22 is an excellent firearm (I have one myself), it may not be ideal for a beginner.

I think you are better served by a "tube" feed where you can simply drop the cartridges in. (Easy on the thumb). While semi-autos are convenient, I think the beginning shooter is well served by a pause between rounds. In my opinion, one of the finest .22 caliber rifles is the Winchester 94/22. This is a lever action weapon with good "out of the box" accuracy. The lever (or pump) actions seem easier for beginners than the traditional bolt action. Unfortunately, the Winchester runs up to $400... a bit steep for many folks.

In the $100 to $150 range, you'll find many serviceable bolts action .22s. Marlin makes a decent bolt action rifle, though the model number escapes me. The Ruger 77/22 is excellent, particularly in stainless steel. The stainless steel is unattractive, but more forgiving on the maintenance side... though you should buy a good cleaning kit and use it frequently.

Learn to shoot, and shoot well, before you decide to purchase a "self defense" weapon. Then decide if you are willing to kill another person. You'll want to have this internal debate before you take up arms. A firearm is only a tool. Like any tool, it is simply an extension of the person using it. If you had never picked up a hammer before, you would not expect to use it with the same skill as a journeyman carpenter. Despite the "Hollywood" perception, a firearm is not easily mastered. It takes skill and practice and practice and practice.

Unless you are willing to shoot on a weekly basis, save your money and buy a great alarm system or install better locks or buy a dog... well, you get the picture.

-- Ken Decker (, March 22, 2000.

Have to add that the initial comment by mikey above is helpful and practical advice. That is how I learned from a gun range co-owned by some police officers who gave an instructional course on safe gun handling and use as well as the laws within the state of residence. Great resource.

-- Ma Kettle (, March 22, 2000.

Good point about the internal debate, Ken Decker. I agree that it is the first thinking that needs to be done and resolved when considering self defense issues.

-- Ma Kettle (, March 22, 2000.

I'm going to weigh in with the posters who suggest trying before you buy. Check your Yellow Pages for a list of gun shops that offer instruction/gun ranges (ditto), or hunt clubs. I found that after six weeks of instruction that I still wasn't comfortable with owning a gun, but I at least learned how to handle one safely.

There are other things that can be used to ward off a home invasion, but I think the best defense is living somewhere where the chances of having to defend yourself are low.

-- (, March 22, 2000.


The decision to purchase a gun is only a little lower on the confusion and stress scale than purchasing a house. If you have never owned a weapon or been around other people who own weapons, it can be quite a daunting task. There are every imaginable configuration of pistols, revolvers, shotguns and rifles in the market.

First, before you do anything, look into a gun safety course. If they do not supply you with a weapon, you may have to purchase the weapon of choice or borrow one from someone. Take the safety course...

I understand this weapon will be primarily used for self-defense in a static location. IMHO, you are probably looking at one of two configurations:



The others on this thread have it right regarding a revolver being more "user friendly" than a semi-automatic pistol. You pull the trigger, it goes "BANG" (hopefully), you pull the trigger again, it goes "BANG" again from five to eight times, depending on the brand and model of the revolver. There are several different sizes, physically, of revolvers. From the tiny palm sized five-shooters, to the very large, and very bulky, "magnum" revolvers like the N-frame Smith & Wesson. A whole chapter could be written on just this topic alone. Realistic caliber choices for a revolver include:

.357 magnum, .38 special, 10mm., .41 magnum, .44 magnum.

Depending on your body frame size, you may want to limit yourself to the first three. Of those three, I would choose the .357 first. It is very effective at stopping a determined bad guy, plus like Netghost said, you can practice with the lighter and easier to shoot .38 special cartridges, and only shoot enough .357 to maintain your accuracy with the hotter round. By the way, .357 magnum and .38 special are the same diameter bullets. They both measure .357 inches. 10mm is also a potent cartridge. Its drawback is ammunition price and availabilty.

Expect to pay anywhere from $250 to about $600 for a decent revolver.

The other choice is a shotgun... Also depending upon body frame size, you might want to look at a 20 gauge shotgun as opposed to the "classic" 12 gauge. A 20 gauge round is very lethal at self-defense ranges, and does not "kick" near as bad as a 12. Manufacturers of quality shotguns include:

Winchester, Remington, Mossberg. There are other brands such as Browning, and Valmet, but they are quite a bit more expensive.

I would recommend the Mossberg 500 chambered for 20 gauge for most women shooters, unless the are tall and of large frame. They typically run in price from $150 to $300.

I hope this helps. Do your homework. Go check out a couple of books from the library. Go read a gun magazine or two. Research. Then, go to a reputable gun shop or two or three, and find what you like.

good luck,

scratchin' an itch...

The Dog

-- The Dog (, March 22, 2000. far as where and how you get one. Depending on your state, you will have to apply for a permit, first and formost. Go to your towns local police station and ask to apply. There is paper work you need to fill out, and they will ask for references (and they will write to those people with a questionaire..and those people MUST fill it out and mail it back) (at least that's how it works here). The entire process can take up to two months. You are then issued a permit, (cost me $25 bucks) and you can then shop for a gun.

As to where..sporting goods stores or gun shops (see your yellow pages) Both will have a selection. As long as you have your permit with you, you can handle the firearms, and see what feels most comfortable to you. My love is a Glock 23, easy for me to handle, I can shoot a few rounds without my hand getting too tired, you get 15 rounds to a clip, and it's kewl looking! I also have an SW .38 special, works just as well, but the constant reloading, ugh. AFter you have selected a gun, you will need to register it. That is done right there at the gun shop/store usually...they will take care of that for you. Just be sure you have your permit with you.

-- kritter (, March 22, 2000.


As Decker said, getting a dog is a great idea. If you are mainly concerned about keeping people from breaking into your residence, nothing beats a dog. Burglers have repeatedly stated that nothing deters them like a dog, particularly one that barks a lot.

If you choose to buy a gun and learn how to use it, it is quite likely that if you ever have to point it at an assailant, you will not have to actually shoot. But, you MUST be ready to do so if necessary!

Should you decide that you really want to buy a gun, you may want to also consider a modern double-action semi-auto pistol in .40 Caliber S&W. Traditionally men steer women toward revolvers, since they are simpler to understand and operate reliably. If you have a misfire, you just pull the trigger again to fire the next round.

I have been a lifelong shooter, beginning around 8 years old. After many years of experience, I have come to believe that the biggest chunk of lead that is manageable is more effective in stopping a bad guy than a smaller one at a higher velocity. I finally chose the .40 as the best compromize between bullet weight, velocity, and likelihood of hitting the target (across a cross-section of people).

I recently participated in a shooting class where there were a number of women that had never shot before. They were all trained (by a police officer) on double-action, semi-automatic pistols of either 9mm or .40 S&W and all became excellent shots by the end of the 8 hours of shooting instruction.

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), March 22, 2000.

A dog can be shot or maced, as two were recently in the news in a house invasion case. Alarms are fine IF there is electricity to run them, and your lines haven't been cut. Females cannot use other means of self defense as well as they can guns. And...none of the above is about to be outlawed by the Clinton and Brady clan. So, get yourself a gun while you still can. And as others have so well said, learn immediately from a reliable instructor on how to use it. The instructor will work with you on the matter of your inner feelings and whether or not you could/would shoot to kill to protect yourself.

Also, read all of Massad Ayoob's books. He was a LEO and has long instructed LEOs and private citizens on firearms and their use. You will find his and other books on Try Ayoob's "The Truth About Self-Protection," and "Stressfire." You should also read Col. Rex Applegate's "Shoot to Live."

There are many NRA-certified instructors around the country, and you can locate them by contacting the NRA, which will send you a list for your area.

The Smith & Wesson (referred to above as SW) .38 special is, according to my favorite instructor, the best weapon of choice for a woman, and has the stopping power she needs, and is entirely dependable. If your state allows concealed carry, then you will need the shorter barrel model, but it has more recoil than the standard model. If you wish the standard for home use and for learning/practice, since with less recoil it is more accurate, and can afford a second gun, you can have the smaller barrel for concealed carry.

If you join the NRA, you will receive a monthly magazine called "American Guardian," which has lots of valuable information. The last two issues had articles dealing with revolvers and concealed carry preferences.

-- I. Female Trained (I@shoot.well), March 22, 2000.

A few comments... I don't think anyone is an excellent shot after eight hours of training. And the conditions in real life are much different than on a shooting range. The vast majority of Americans will never be forced to use a gun in self defense. Hell, many law enforcement officers go a career without firing a shot in the line of duty.

In the long run, it is far more effective to deter criminals. The use of exterior lighting can be effective. Combine this with a dog and/or alarm system and most criminals will look for easier pickings. The stuff about burglars cutting power and phone lines is the nonsense of Hollywood. Criminals are generally lazy and choose the path of least resistance.

As for the endless debates on calibers and stopping power and wound channels... silly. A light repeating shotgun (20 gauge; 28 gauge or even a .410) loaded with light shot will knock the stuffing out of anyone. The light shotgun has the advantage of serving as an excellent hunting piece, if you are so inclined. Another benefit... you are less likely to kill a neighbor. A solid bullet can penetrate walls and injure folks in the next dwelling. Shot is far less risky.

The only advantage of a handgun is the ability to carry and/or conceal the weapon. I really don't think most folks need to wear a pistol around the house. (chuckle)

If I were introducing a new shooter to the world of firearms, we'd start with a nice, little .22 rifle. For instinctive shooting, we'd move to a light shotgun, probably a pump action. Food for thought.

-- Ken Decker (, March 22, 2000.

I must admit, the thought of having a gun you barely know how to use sitting around the house, especially a handgun, gives me the Deep Willies. Handguns are for carrying. If you don't expect to carry it around with you, then I agree with Ken that a .22 rifle or .410 shotgun is easiest to manage and quickest to become proficient enough with to defend yourself in an emergency. Your average burgler would have to be desperate indeed to challenge either one. Your chance of hitting anything you aim at with a snubnose .38 is quite small, even with 6 rounds, unless you're willing to practice a LOT.

My wife and I shoot as a hobby, and we practice with handguns a couple of hours every week. And we'd *still* defend the house with the .410 shotgun, given a choice. For all the handguns we own (quite a few by now), I notice the only gun immediately accessible to me as I sit here is a .22 rifle. I'm happy.

-- Flint (, March 22, 2000.

samantha -

don't worry too much about price. at the gun store, you will notice that cheap handguns are now available in 5-packs. you keep one, sell the others on the street. you'll more than cover the cost for your own.

of course, this would be illegal, but it doesn't seem to stop those who are of a determined sort (or economical; not sure which).

otherwise, great stocking stuffers.

-- david moore (, March 23, 2000.

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