We’ve been sharing some gun safety information lately and hope that you have been taking the time to watch the videos or read the posts. If you have small children, consider watching this video with them. McGruff the Crime Dog tells kids what to do if they find a gun or if their friends find a gun. The National Shooting Sports Foundation recommends this video for kids in Kindergarten to 6th grade. If you share this video with your child, please post a comment and tell us how it went.
This is a horrible accident that should never have happened. Please, if you are going to carry concealed, get a proper holster. News article posted here http://www.wftv.com/news/28014137/detail.html?cxntlid=cmg_cntnt_rss
So far today we have covered tips for buying a home defense shotgun and discussed a home defense rifle. It’s time now to cover buying a handgun. Handguns are a very versatile piece of equipment when it comes to defense and with all the choices in action type, size and caliber, it can be hard to figure out what to buy. Again the first step is to look at purpose. Is this handgun meant mainly for home defense or do you plan to carry it concealed? There are many full size revolvers and semi-auto pistols that are very suitable for defense in either your home or vehicle. However, many find it hard to conceal a full size handgun for daily carry. For carry, there are many options for compact handguns, both revolvers and semis, as well as a variety of holsters to help you keep your weapon concealed.
Once you have decided whether you want a full sized or compact gun, you will need to figure out whether you want a revolver or a semi. As usual both have their pros and cons and we will discuss them here. I have and use both.
Revolvers – Revolvers are usually the best guns for new shooters. They are easy to maintain and are very reliable guns. The beauty of the revolver is its simplicity. It is as simple as point and squeeze the trigger. Very rarely do they have any mechanical issues and if for some reason the round doesn’t fire, the immediate action is to squeeze the trigger again. In a semi, this is not the case as any failure to fire will result in having to clear the weapon before firing can resume. We’ll talk more about that below.
Revolvers are chambered in many different calibers but a great place to start is the 38 Special. The 38 Special cartridge has been around for decades and was the issued caliber for many police departments for many years. It is typically easy to find and relatively inexpensive compared with other revolver ammo. Guns chambered in 357 Magnum will also shoot 38 Special. I recommend starting with 38 as 357 has significantly more recoil and is not an easy gun to learn on. My favorite manufacturers when it comes to revolvers are Smith & Wesson and Ruger.
Semi-automatic Pistols – Semis have some advantages over the revolver, mainly in capacity. Many semis have double stack magazines that can hold between 12 and 17 rounds depending on caliber and design. To operate a semi, you insert a loaded magazine into the gun, pull the slide back and release it to chamber a round. When the gun is fired, the force of the fired round forces the slide back, ejecting the spent cartridge case. A spring brings the slide forward, chambering a new round that is ready to be fired. It is a much more complicated design than a revolver and takes some strength to operate. Some people just do not have the strength to operate the slide on a semi, and for these people, the revolver is definitely the way to go.
Due to its more complicated design, clearing a jam or malfunction in a semi is not as easy as just pulling the trigger again like a revolver. The correct immediate action to clear the problem is to tap the magazine to make sure it is seated properly, rack the slide back, ejecting the old round and chambering a new one, and squeezing the trigger again to fire. This is an easy drill to learn but it does take some practice.
There are many opinions on what the best caliber is for a semi, and truthfully you can’t go wrong with a .45 ACP, .40 S&W or 9mm. All are readily available in stores and make great self defense rounds. However, for new shooters, I recommend the 9mm. 9mm ammo is as cheap as you will find and the cheaper the ammo, the more you can afford to practice. Practice is critically important if you want to effectively use your gun for self defense. The other reason I suggest 9mm is the reduced recoil and it has a relatively light recoil spring for operating the slide. 9mm pistols are easy to learn on and will be a very adequate defense weapon. Once you are familiar with the operation of a 9mm semi, you can move around to different calibers. I have experience with many different manufacturers of semis and can honestly say you can’t go wrong with the offerings from Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, Glock, Springfield, FNH, Beretta and others. The most important thing is that the gun is comfortable in your hand. Some ranges rent handguns and if you can, go try some out before you buy. Here at SheepDog, we are planning to write reviews on some handguns soon so stay tuned. We will also be covering some other first time gun buyer hints and stories so come back often.