Dangerous, Working On Armed

I'm thinking about purchasing a handgun. Never mind my reasons (though they're constructive), we have the 2nd Amendment & I'm not a felon, so it's my right!

Now, I've fired a .357 when I was younger (Ouch!) but otherwise there's no handgun experience I can claim. Being an average-sized guy, my decision is that a .40 would be the best fit for me: not too big like a .45 or .50 hand cannon but more power than offered in a 9mm.

I do have some experience with weapons. Let's see, I have a 20ga. Franchi, 12ga. Franchi, compound bow, training knives, a tactical folding knife, training handgun, bokken (wooden sword), joong bong (medium-length sticks) & dan bong (short sticks)...

I'll admit I suck with the sword.

Still, I'm looking for an informed opinion on good handguns in .40 caliber to purchase. Most of the magazines out there are full of self-congratulatory pieces on pieces. What is needed is honest input for such a big purchase. Cost is somewhat an issue but I have wiggle room.

What handgun would you recommend?


pamibe said...

Arthur and I vote for Sig Sauer or Glock.

We're partial to Sigs since we have them and they've proven to be outstanding weapons. Over 5,000 rounds through them, and not one jam.

Sig Pistols

How exciting! And congratulations on your new purchase!

Mrs. Who said...

Dude...I'm 5'. I have a .45. Go for it. You can find ammo can lesson the recoil.

But you definitely want more than a 9mm.

A Kimber is a beautiful weapon but a little more expensive. BUT it shoots beautifully and handles well.

I'll talk to BR...he has a lot more experience than I do (I grew up with a mother who was a GFW, so most of my experience with weapons has been since I met BR).

Hapkido said...

Pam: I was looking at a Sig. They are a bit pricey but I've always heard they are good. Maybe I'll ask Hock at the next seminar...

Mrs. Who: OK, but I want a firearm with standard ammo that won't knock me on my bum. I'm about 5'9" & everything I've seen suggests a .40 for me. I like the idea of balancing stopping power with recoil. My 20ga. is so light, high brass will kick like a mule...

Bitterroot said...

Hap - glad to hear you're going to flex your 2nd Amendment! ;)

Sorry for being long-winded, but a new gun owner in these days is something to be excited about!

Mrs. Who pointed me toward your question, and I have to agree with Pam on the Sig. EXCELLENT choice! Sig's design and engineering are hard to beat.

Glock, OTOH, doesn't give me the same sense of reliability. I can't say with any great authority - I've only fired one specimen in 9mm, and I wasn't impressed at all. I've seen 'em at the range, and I've noticed a LOT of pauses to clear misloads / jams. Conversely, I don't know that I've *ever* seen my Kimber miss a load no matter what ammo I feed it.

However, my biggest gripe with the Glock (and others similar) is the hammerless design and trigger safety / decock. They tout the system's safety, but it's still not as safe as my single/double action 1911, IMO.

I don't expect to talk you out of .40 if that's what you're most comfortable with (but I will pitch). .40 is a respectable caliber. If you were thinking about a 9mm, however, I'd be jumping up and down - and not just because of 9's mediocre stopping-power performance, but since it has already been targeted as one of the FIRST ammo calibers that will likely be banned or taxed out of reach by the new administration.

Which brings up one more reason I like .45, and the reason I will say don't discount it because it "sounds big." .45 cal has a long-standing military record and is used extensively for competitive sporting as well, and is therefore less likely to be targeted early as a "killer" or "street" load. .40 doesn't quite share that same bad publicity as .9mm, but it's purely a "tactical" load, and that elevates the likelihood for potential legislative bans.

In any event, the very best advice I can give is shoot BEFORE you buy!!

Go to a range where they rent different models, or go shooting with a friend that has a caliber or specific model you're interested in. Mrs. Who was very surprised to learn that my Kimber really is a pussycat to shoot - it has far less recoil than many guns using lighter loads, and it's still a compact all-around "carry" gun with .45's notable tremendous stopping power and limited over-penetration. (Seriously - it kicks only slightly more than my Beretta 92F!) Her Taurus subcompact .45 actually jumps a little harder, but that's the poly frame talking, and yet she handles it with ease (and possibly scores better than me... dammit!) :)

However, NOTHING in my collection kicks like the weakest carry load I have - the .380 Walther PPK/S. That little gun is as accurate as can be, and VERY concealable - even oozes James Bond style - but that little monster will tear your hand up! Last box of 50 rounds I put through it left my hand black and blue and sore for DAYS. Moral - don't judge a weapon's kick by its caliber...

Oh, and the second best advice I have to offer is, be prepared to spend what's necessary to buy QUALITY. There are reasons to buy inexpensive, but never for your primary carry gun. Remember, it may be called on to save your life. An unreliable weapon could get you killed. Further, a quality weapon isn't like a toaster or a car; with proper care, most guns survive multi-generational ownership. Consider it an investment rather than an expense.

Let us know what you decide - I'll be over here being excited for you with Pam, Arthur and Mrs. Who! ;)

Oh, and since Pam got Sig up, here's MY link to Kimber - specifically, Kimber's answer to low-recoil .45 cal. and thus the first weapon I would recommend:

Kimber USA Aegis II

Next, we'll talk about upgrades...

Bitterroot said...

Gah! My mistake - I guess I need to read more thoroughly... The Aegis is 9mm. (Really? A 1911-model .9mm? But why?? That's like... Blasphemy!)

It's been a while since I shopped Kimber - and they have sprouted all kinds of new models. Anyway...

Here's the Kimber I own.

And here's what I would buy if I were to do it again today.

Peter said...

I am mostly a revolver man, myself. There are certain advantages to the semiautos, those advantages are mostly for military use and (some) law enforcement. Those advantages do not exist for the civilian gunowner. A civilian who shoots more than five or six times in a gunfight will be dead from missing.

The Glocks are pretty much bulletproof. The main drawback to a Glock is that you should not shoot lead bullets in them, this will increase ammo costs. The Heckler and Koch autoloaders also don't do well with lead, though for different reasons.

A gun based on John Browning's 1911 .45 is always worth a look. Some are made in the .40.

The new Smith and Wesson M&P semiautos are getting pretty good reviews from actual users. They come in the cartridge you seem to want.

Please bear in mind that users do not seem to get the accuracy in .40 S&W than they do in other cartridges. This was first thought to be because other cartridges have been in development for decades, but the .40 is no longer a new cartridge. The .40s are mostly getting five onch groups at 25 yards, many other cartridge/gun combos are getting groups in the two inch range.

The biggest advantage to the S&W is the way one can replace parts of the grip so the gun fits the hand.

Having said all that, the best handgun for a beginner is a good, used .357 revolver. They are relatively cheap, if one wishes to sell them later they will not lose value unless abused. They function with any ammo, from the light recoiling .38 Wadcutters to the rompin' stompin' full .357 loads. After learning to shoot one of these one can go on to any gun desired. Or stay with that one. A man (or woman) with a loaded .357 is well armed, indeed.

The single biggest advantage of the double action revolver is that it requires almost zero care. Less than one in a hundred gun owners is a real enthusiast. There are revolvers that have lain in drawers for decades that still go BANG! when the trigger is pulled, even though the ammo is green with age.

Harvey said...

Hap - I sent Peter over here, and I just wanted to say that he's been shooting since before guns were even invented. If you need advice, drop him a line because he's got it, it's good, and he loves to give it.

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