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gambitking's avatar

Anyone have any tips for shopping for a handgun?

Asked by gambitking (4171 points ) February 3rd, 2014

I’m seeking to purchase a handgun for myself and my wife to use. Primary application will be home defense. We’ve both shot various firearms before, but this’ll be our first pistol.

Can anyone help me figure out what to buy? Here’s some criteria:

I want a quality, reliable gun that’s powerful but easy enough for ‘beginners’ to use. I prefer to stay way from .22’s, favoring either a .45 or .380. I’m looking for a semi-auto pistol, not a revolver. My budget is about $400 or less, although I’m willing to go up to $500 if it’s just an amazing deal or a particular gun that’s just flat-out too worthwhile to pass up but it’s in the 500 range.

So far I’ve looked at Bersa and Taurus, and will probably settle on one of those unless anyone here has a better suggestion and fits in the price range. Thanks!

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21 Answers

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I have a Smith & Wesson Ladysmith, 5-shot 38 revolver, hammerless. This is the preferred gun for women who are going to carry. You didn’t say if your wife was planning on carrying, but it is a good little gun to wear or put in a purse. However, it was about $700.

I also own a pink Sig Sauer mosquito, .22. So easy to shoot, but a .22 is not powerful enough to use as self-defense.

My military son-in-law has quite a few Tauruses. He says they are good, and he owns a lot of guns.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Ruger LCP .380 Centerfire, made for men and women and $379—$429, depending on model.
I think it looks awesome personally! 9.40 ounces unloaded, which is important when females are using.

http://www.ruger.com/products/lcp/models.html

gambitking's avatar

Just to clarify, we plan on having this for home defense, neither of us intend to carry it anywhere except in the car on rare occasion.

gorillapaws's avatar

For home defense you’d be hard pressed to find something more effective than one of these.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gambitking The weight is always a concern when a lady is involved, that’s all. I am more accurate with a long-barrel .357 but it’s too heavy for me so I get a couple shots and I’m out. You don’t want that with intruders.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I second the Ruger LCP.380.
Whatever you get make sure you are both comfortable with it, or get one that fits her and plan on getting another one for yourself when you can afford it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@WestRiverrat One all around, I want one so bad…lol

gambitking's avatar

@gorillapaws you’re not wrong, but I already have a dog. Also I can’t take the dog to the gun range and have a fun afternoon shooting it at targets.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@KNOWITALL That’s what I would say in .380. It’s a keltec p3at clone but done much better. Glock 26 with a mag extension to give it the feel of a full sized would be my recommendation. New they are just a smidge over the $500 limit though. Used could possibly be found for less than $500.

1TubeGuru's avatar

380 acp is borderline effective as a defensive round. if you insist on using a handgun to protect your home I would go with a 45 acp.i have seen the new 10+1 capacity Ruger SR45 selling for around $440.00 online ultimately.I would recommend a short barreled 12GA pump shotgun for home defense. over any handgun.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@1TubeGuru with the new ammunition available the .380 is no longer that underpowered. I am of the opinion that an ‘underpowered’ round that you are not afraid of is much more effective than a bigger bullet you can’t shoot well.

If I knew @gambitking‘s wife could handle the .45 I would probably recommend something else. Not knowing that I chose to err on the side of caution.

1TubeGuru's avatar

@WestRiverrat If they can go to a range that rents a variety of handguns so that she can experiment with her options then of course that is the best way to go. i prefer powerful rounds as to limit the amount of shots fired inside a dwelling that are needed to stop a intruder. 45acp is a inherently accurate round with excellent stopping power so it is one of my favorites.

josie's avatar

You can get used M9 easily for your budget. I have three of them.

I would not use a handgun as home defense however. You are not likely to hit any thing unless you practice a lot, and even then you are not likely to hit anything. It will make noise, and that is not a bad thing, but…

Most people who come into your house while you are there are probably high, or more stupid than a home owner could appreciate. I would suggest a pump action shotgun. Racking in a shell is all by itself a scary sound, and most doper/creepazoids will probably run away. If you really get around to shooting it, you can hit something pretty easy, and if you miss it won’t go through a wall and kill your wife.

Plus, guns should be locked up. In case somebody breaks in your house looking for guns. My guns are in a safe. If I needed one quick, I would be screwed.

My home defense weapons are a (wooden) baseball bat and a Ka-Bar knife. More than enough to do more than enough damage.

kritiper's avatar

First of all, decide if you want an automatic or a revolver, Then consider recoil and muzzle climb. My choice for a handgun for personal protection is a Walther PPK.

gambitking's avatar

@1TubeGuru that’s a good point about minimizing the rounds being fired in the house, I hadn’t heard that one yet while I’ve been surveying the forums, etc.

GloPro's avatar

I seriously recommend you try a Sig Sauer SP 2022. Choose 9mm or 40 cal. I thought I wanted a Glock 23, and went to a range that lent me several to try. The Sig SP 2022 really impressed me with ease of use and accuracy. I’m comfortable with guns, and a decent shot, but I found the grip (yes you can fix this, but right out of the gate) too wide on a Glock for my little hand. Didn’t find that to be the case in SS 2022 or the Kerr, or Wather PPK. Also the recoil and accuracy on the 2022 was great for me.
Try it. It’s Sig’s red-headed step child secret weapon. After-market parts are hard to come by, but you don’t really need any. Cheap, good for beginners, easy to use, comfortable handgun.

GloPro's avatar

@KNOWITALL and @WestRiverrat compare Ruger LCP .38 to Sig Sauer SP 2022? I shot the 40 cal, but if you have experience with 9mm, whatever. That was another gun I had recommended to me at the range on test day…

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Think about this, when it comes to home defence I would choose a12gauge riot shotgun with a 7.5 shot load, pistol grip and a riot barrel,with that weapon you have the room covered and strays are not going to go through three walls and kill an innocent neighbor ,and think about this as well a thug seeing a scared house wife waving a shot gun like that will f-off faster than one waving a handgun.( JUST THINK ABOUT IT)

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Home defense use FRANGIBLE ammunion.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@GloPro Haven’t used a SS, but Rugers several times. 9mm are fun, too. Like someone said, maybe let your wife hold a few or fire a few (Bass Pro?) and you can go from there. I’m certainly no expert, I just know that I’m not comfortable with a rife up by my face like , it’s just not instinctive for me, but handguns are.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@GloPro nothing wrong with Sigs, but Ruger just fits me better, always has.

Smith and Wesson, Glock, Walther and Steyr also have models in your price range, check them out too.

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