Buying my first handgun

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Darin Nelson, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. Darin Nelson

    Darin Nelson
    Vancouver Wa
    New Member

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    I'm looking to buy my first handgun and have seen some pretty good deals on the for sale forums.

    1) As a first time owner, what should I look for if I decide to buy used?

    2) What are the steps I need to preform of I buy in Oregon and transfer to Washington?
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  2. B5Ben

    Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    For a handgun, it would be best if you buy in WA and avoid any shipping fees. Transfers can be done at most FFL's if you buy from a private party which I'm sure will have new models for sale as well.

    Be sure to get training and familiarize yourself with them and shoot friends guns to get a feel for what you like and don't like.
  3. Dyjital

    Albany, Ore
    Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    1. Find out what fits your hand most importantly. Check out a gun shop and fit test. You may find out that what you want doesn't allow you to hold it right.
    2. Find a range that rents guns, go spend $10/hr and some ammo to make sure you are comfortable with the recoil.
    3. Then if you know you want xyz firearm, I always purchase firearms that are complete. If it's a Glock, you should as a responsible firearm owner have the case it came with and all supporting documents. This means somebody took care of their firearm. Taurus; sure have the box etc.
    4. Things to look for varies greatly on the type of firearm. Revolvers you look for different things than a semi auto type.

    ah hell, I googled and this came up: to look for when buying a handgun.htm
  4. druiseeker

    Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2015 Volunteer

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    The first thing you need to figure out is what you want it for? Target Shooting? Home defense? Are you going to carry it? Will it be secure at home? Every firearm purchase should be well thought out. Handguns vary widely in purpose. Pistol or revolver? Sub-compact, compact, or full size? Does the ergonomics of the firearms fit your hand?

    If you don't have training with firearms, have you planned on getting training? Even if you aren't going to carry a firearm, an NRA basic firearms course or other similar basic firearms safety course is VERY important. Even if you aren't planning on carrying, a carry course is something you should think about as its a good place to get a basic introduction to local laws, ethics, and a place to ask questions. No one wants to be around someone with a firearm who is unsafe with it. Courses such as that are also a good place to get more experience with various firearms and ask questions about them.
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  5. Mikej

    Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer 2017 Volunteer 2018 Volunteer

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    Being relatively new myself, 'bout 5 years, I'll tell you what not to do when getting your first gun. Don't buy a sub-compact! Example, Ruger LC9, Keltec P11.
    Oh your going to get something like that eventually. You did say FIRST hand gun? That tells me there'll be a second.:) Little guns bite more than larger/heavier guns. Little guns can be a disappointment to a new shooter when it comes to hitting a target as they're harder to aim accurately. That Will come with experience though.

    I would also recommend a 9mm as the ammo is the least expensive of the centerfire hand gun cartridges. Go out and fondle a bunch. Talk to gun counter people, Sportsman's Warehouse has good people at the gun counter.

    The only gun I can think of to recommend would be a 9mm 1911. Rock Island Armory has one that's reasonably priced. They've got a classic single action (SA) trigger that's easy to learn, and plenty of weight to keep recoil low. And good accuracy with a 5" barrel.

    Good luck, learn a lot and have a lot of fun! One other thing every firearms owner should do.....Get yourself down to the the "Gun Room", on Foster in SE Portland, once you've got some experience, for an experience you won't forget! Do a search on NWFA for info!
  6. Liberty97045

    Oregon City
    Well-Known Member

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    I agree, the first thing we need to know is the purpose. I have been carrying since 1976 and that is completely different from buying a range gun. Also, what is your budget for the gun, for the ammo? Some calibers like 44 magnum are $0.50 per shot. Common military calibers like .45 apc and 9mm are easy to find (usually) and tend to be cheaper (economies of scale). If you just want to shoot cans when you're camping, a .22 may be the ticket.

    I find that full size autos like a 1911, Glock 17 or a Sig P226 are very fun and rewarding range guns. Large guns have their drawbacks for concealed carry. You have to dress for the gun which can be a problem in the warmer weather. For concealed carry I prefer smaller guns like a pocket 380 or a 5 shot .38 revolver that I can slip into a pants pocket.

    I suggest that you pay these people a visit and try several guns out to see what floats your boat.
    They have a wide variety of guns for rent / sale as well as an indoor range so you can try them out.

    One more thing. Several types of guns can be loaded for different purposes as well. For example, a .357 revolver can be a bit punishing and expensive but has great stopping power. It can also be loaded with .38s which are cheaper and better for practice. Some calibers are unsuitable for home defense if you live in a dense area. For example, a .44 mag will go through the bad guy, through the wall and into the apartment next door. A 44 Mag can be loaded with the lighter 44 special. There are also Glazer safety slugs to address the issue of over penetration. They are basically powdered metal and give up all their force and disintegrate on the first thing they hit.

    Some helpful links
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015
  7. PlayboyPenguin

    Vancouver, WA
    Well-Known Member 2016 Volunteer

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    Make a list of all the guns that interest you. Then try to at least handle or, if possible, shoot each of them. Then make your decision in four easy steps.

    1. From that list eliminate any guns you would not actually carry with you at all times. It doesn't matter how powerful a gun is, how much capacity it has, or how accurate it is if you leave it at home.

    2. From the guns you will actually carry eliminate all with which you do not shoot your best. Hitting your target is the single most important factor for self defense. It is better to hit once with a .380acp than to miss a dozen times with a .45acp when things get bad.

    3. From the guns you will actually carry and you shoot well eliminate any guns of lesser caliber. If .380acp is all you can handle that is fine, but from the guns still on the list choose the most powerful. Once you hit your target you need to stop your target. You will want the most effective caliber you can handle well.

    4. From the remaining guns that you will actually carry, you shoot well, and are the optimal caliber eliminate the lower capacity guns and choose your favorite from the guns remaining. Once you have a gun you will carry, you shoot well, and is as powerful as possible it is always good to have as many rounds as possible. Just don't sacrifice any of the previous factors for capacity. It doesn't matter how many rounds are left in your gun (or how many times you missed) after the bad guy kills you if you fail to hit them with a sufficient caliber to stop them.
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  8. DuneHopper

    Break These Chains
    Th1S iS H0w wE R1s3 uP! Silver Supporter

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    I go through this allot with Family, some reason they think I am the gun-guru. Which I am not but if your gonna get a title by your family its not a bad one.

    What is seen as a first few things are as follows for newer users.:

    1. Comfort, if you are carrying a gun any length of time no matter what kind that will eat at you.
    2. How loud is too loud, many people by a smaller gun thinking it quieter, I have shot .380's just as loud as a 40 or louder. If you have to use it might want to factor in that, get as large as you are comfortable with.
    3. Application if you carry one to hike, as opposed to city may vary on minimum caliber needed. Come across a bear with your .380 might hurt him more if you threw it at him.
    4. Price, don't scrimp. don't be a cheap arse, going cheap will reward you in failure. There is a reason in my opinion why there are Jennings, High Points, Glocks and Sigs in same caliber priced hundreds apart and often comes down to reliability and quality.( my opinion)
    5. Easy to maintain, many like revolvers for this reason they are easy to maintain. So get one thats easy to care for, chances are you will stay up on care if its easier to do.
    These are my thoughts for new users, just my opinion.
  9. bakersman345

    Camas wa
    Well-Known Member

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    The advice here is really good. I recommend the renting, and feeling at sportsman's.
    --for me the question if a "first" handgun and "if you can only have one" are the same answer.
    ----GLOCK 19----- 15 rounds of 9mm per mag, small enough to conceal, large enough to use for "combat" use, extremely simple to operate, safe, good trigger, light recoil, super reliable and highly customizable.
  10. Mark W.

    Mark W.
    Silverton, OR
    Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    To answer your question as I read it.

    If you want to buy a used handgun in Oregon but live in Washington. After paying the Seller for the pistol.
    Your seller will have to deliver the gun to a Washington FFL most likely by having a FFL in Oregon ship it $$ Then you will go to the Washington FFL pay his BGC fee the sales tax and then if you pass the BGC and any other hoops WA. has you will get the Pistol most likely having spent way more then the sale price listed by the time it is done. Typically since good used pistols have very little depreciation compared to their new price. It can at times cost more to buy out of state used then NEW!

    IMHO you will be money ahead to either buy used in State or just buy new.
  11. Certaindeaf

    SE Portland
    Well-Known Member

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    It all depends on if you're weak and arthritic and blind and only have $100 and want to buy your first gun out of state. Am I following on correctly?
    They sell guns in stores. Knock yerself out.
  12. DeanfromOregon

    Amateur Ascended Master Platinum Supporter

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    Let me ramble a bit.

    My first handgun was a glock 17. I got it for a variety of reasons. I took it to the range and struggled with figuring it out by myself. I could not make a "group" of holes on the paper and considered a hit to the torso area of the target a success.

    My second gun was a glock 30. More of the same. I think I actually loaded a cartridge into the magazine backwards and didn't realize it until it malfunctioned. I think I did this more than once.

    I had no idea what I was doing really; no mentor, no advice, just a lame handgun safety class for two hours. I had my chl but I only carried once; I had dinner in the bar at Outback Steakhouse in Tualatin and I carried the 17 in a fanny pack holster.

    Gradually grew frustrated. The guns rode around in a bag in my trunk and I meant to shoot them, but didn't really because the only place I knew of was the place in Jantzen beach.

    In 2010 I got serious and decided to learn to shoot. I joined Tri County since it's close to my house. I realized the glocks did not fit me well at all. I went to a gun shop with my bag of glocks and some old revolvers I had from my grandparents and they bought them off me. I wanted a .45. Didn't know what 1911 was, just knew I wanted that colt .45 because you could customize them and I could make it fit my hand.

    dry fired them all and went with the one that felt the best to me, it wasn't a colt. I had it tweeked over the years but I have 40k rounds through that gun and its basically just a stock gun. Nothing special, but very reliable. I've never had an issue that wasn't attributed to my then novice reloading phase.

    Having that one weapon that's durable, reliable, and predictable means a lot to me. I can field strip it and reassemble it in just a couple minutes whereas it took me 4 hours when I tried it for the first time.

    That first 1911 kind of chose me. I traded in all of my other guns to afford it. That gun is the one that's by my nightstand, it's the one I prefer to carry, and I shoot it pretty much lights out.

    I have tried to get there with other guns that I own. I carry a few different guns now based on the season and what I'm wearing. I have been through a lot of guns, but I only keep the ones that feel right.

    So my advice would be to handle every gun you can, read all you can, shoot all you can. For me the 1911 resonated because of it's longevity and I took a shot because it felt right in my hand. Your mileage may vary.

    In the interest of full disclosure I have a Glock 17 again. It is my third one and I kept buying and selling them. I was determined to master it so I made it fit me. Did the same for the Glock 21, got it for backpacking because of the capacity. I have an XDS that I carry at work and a springfield pro that I really really love but it's still #2.

    Just bought a Sig because I'm determined to master the whole DA/SA thing and the decocker. The jury is still out but if I keep it I'll redo the sights to my liking, get an action job, thin grips, and a short trigger.

    I have had literally twenty different pistols over the last several years but these are the ones that I'm sticking with.

    Pretty much. Good luck on your adventure!

    Oh and to answer your questions: 1) just buy a new one, too many variables when you buy used. I've had some real nice ones but there have been a few stinkers, 2) You will pay double the FFL transfers plus some shipping.
    Darin Nelson likes this.
  13. 41Slinger

    Harrisburg Oregon
    Well-Known Member

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    Center fire
    Single action revolver
    Double action revolver
    Hammerless revolver
    Single shot pistol
    Single action pistol
    Double action pistol
    Double action only pistol
    Some have a safety, some don't.
    Some have a decocker, some don't.
    The list goes on and on. The point is all of the above information is invaluable to a new shooter and even us who've been at this awhile should still be learning. Below is a perfect example.
  14. clearconscience

    Vancouver, WA
    Gold Supporter Gold Supporter

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    Find the gun you want and buy it.
    Don't look for one because it's a good deal. That good deal never seems too great after you buy a gun you don't like.

    Go to a range where you can try out a couple pistols and get a feel for them, the operations, the grip, all that.

    Your better off looking at all angles. What caliber you want, how much are mags and accessories, concealability, etc.

    You have to buy from an FFL and go through the BGC so find the gun you want and look online too. You can probably find the gun you really want online for a great deal that would rival used prices.
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  15. PDXSparky

    Keizer / Hillsboro
    Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    ^ This 100% ^
  16. Doc In UPlace

    Doc In UPlace
    Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    1. Buying a used gun is an advanced activity, best undertaken after you've been in the sport for a number of years. No way could we cover even the fundamentals in an online forum.

    2. Don't buy from out of state at first. Buy locally, where you can easily drop in for service, upgrades and advice. Along with the training mentioned above find a good range where you can practice, practice, practice.
  17. No_Regerts

    Silver Supporter Silver Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    When you mention your desire to buy a gun to your buddies and one says, "I got a Hi Point I'll sell you for $500", kick him in the junk....hard.
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    Beaverton, OR
    Well-Known Member

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    Go to Cabelas and hold every gun you think you would like and find the ones that feel good. Write down all the names, then go home and spend alot of time on YouTube researching and finding out what features you like. Then order online.

    Practice, train and shoot alot. In all honesty, as you learn more about handguns and what you like, you will probably end up trading or selling your first one for something you like more. Thats the fun of it. There are so many options it is hard to pick the perfect one the first time. Unless you choose G19.

    But why stop at one.....
  19. No_Regerts

    Silver Supporter Silver Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I have gone back and forth with this, but generally, I carry a full sized pistol. BUT, im 6'4 with a longer torso and I can hide a full grown gun. It makes it easy fore because my duty weapon and everyday carry gun are the same.

    HOWEVER, if I didn't carry a gun at work I would carry a mid-sized/compact gun like a Glock 19, Glock 23, Sig P229, CZ 75 Compact, or CZ P07. They are easier to hide, still have 13 to 15 round capacity, and seem to point quicker than a larger and heavier gun.
  20. transittech

    Well-Known Member

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    Like others have pointed out, dont start out with a lightweight gun. The first handgun my wife ever shot was an LC9. Bad decision on my part. She shot it about 3 times and was done. I should have rented a Ruger MarkIII, or the like for her.

    Shoot it before you buy it.
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