Wanting to buy my first gun and need some advice

Hi everyone,

I am looking to buy my first firearm. I grew up in the Seattle area and spent most of my youth as an active Boy Scout. Consequently, I had lots of opportunities to shoot rifles and shotguns at scoutcamp.

I have never owned anything but a BB gun. But now that I have a family of my own and am worried about their safety, I would like to purchase a firearm for self defense. I would also like something that I can take to the range and help my wife and daughter use to work on their skills.

I have been to the range a number of times in the past year, having gone with some friends of mine who own various rifles and pistols and have a pretty good idea of the types of guns I would like to buy. This is where I need some help and sound advice. I am considering a few different guns and could use some help:

1. The classic Ruger 10/22

My friend has let me use his Ruger 10/22 which I absolutely loved. It brought back memories of scout camp when I was younger. I think it is a great rifle. My wife has used it and enjoyed shooting it too. I've been told it is a tank and can handle a lot of abuse. If that is true, I think I wouldn't mind purchasing a used one unless someone has a good reason to buy new. Also, since I am also a student, money is fairly tight so I'd like to know that I am getting a good deal. Does anyone have an idea of what is a "good" price for a used Ruger 10/22? My friend said about $100-$150 sounds about right, but I think that might be a little low in our market here in Seattle. Walmart sells them. Should I buy a new one there? Are there advantages/disadvantages?

2. Ruger SP101 Revolver (357 mag)

I love to take my family backpacking and we try to get up into the woods every opportunity we have. But in recent years, I have began to become concerned about my safety in the backcountry. From bears to cougars to wierd naked hikers, I have encountered a number of less than savory creatures in my years. I'd like a gun that is fairly lightweight, compact, foolproof, and durable to use for home defense as well as defense while on the trail in the backwoods. I have been admiring this gun recently and figured it would have enough power to stop or deter any creature that I might find (two legs or four) here in the pacific northwest. Now, I know I need to go try it out at the range to make sure it is a good fit for me, but I have been eyeing the hamerless version since it would draw fairly easily and not get snagged. So, is this a good gun to purchase used? And if so, what is a "good" price?

3. Springfield Armory XD9

So, this is the gun I fell in love with at the range. I enjoyed shooting it and so did my wife. It fit my hand well and just felt good. In addition to the .357, I think this would be an excellent gun for home defense. I have noticed that Springfield put a thumb safety on the .45 version and I think if they put that same safety on the 9mm, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Although my wife enjoyed going to the range with me, with kids at home, my wife is a little nervous about having a gun in the house. So I know that having an extra level of safety would be a good thing. Does anyone know the likelihood that SA would put a thumb safety on the 9mm version of the XD?

So, these are my questions. If you have any advice that you'd be willing to impart - either on topic or off, I am all ears.

1. The 10/22 is an excellent rifle for training and maintenance of shooting skills. I can't advise on the price range, but I'm sure there are many on here who can.

2. Ruger revolvers (particularly the SP and GP) have a reputation for durability and reliability even if they aren't the most polished product coming off the line. The argument you'll get here is that a handgun, while better than nothing, is not the tool of choice for fending off large wildlife. Of course, they are much, much easier to keep on your person than a rifle or shotgun. If you're carrying it for defensive situations, where adrenalin pretty much negates recoil issues, you may as well go up to 44 magnum. A revolver is probably more practical because it won't go out of battery if you have to jam it into the hide of an attacking animal.

3. Excellent reputation regarding the XD9. If this is a defensive firearm, then go with it if you shoot it well. A large-caliber, high-powered miss is still a miss.

As for the thumb safety I can only offer my personal view:
You can be just as fast with a external-safety gun as you can with any other as long as you train with it. Once your muscle memory includes disengaging the safety when drawing, it becomes a non-issue. I chose to go without external safeties because I've developed good trigger discipline (keep your finger out of the hole until it's time to shoot) which is something everyone should do anyway.

If you're going to teach your kids how to shoot this gun, then the "added safety" is pointless because your instruction will include teaching them how to disengage the safety. XDs and Glocks are designed to endure a considerable degree of abuse without unintentionally discharging a round.

Hope this helps.
Here's what I have.

Remington 597. Very accurate .22 semiauto rifle. Excellent for general inexpensive shooting. Good for training and sharpening shooting skills.

Springfield M1A Standard. One of the best semiauto high powered rifles. A lot of fun to shoot. Also really neat to shoot in Vintage Military Rifle matches.

Smith & Wesson M&P 40. Of all the handguns I've ever shot...this is my favorite.

I also have a Ruger stainless GP100 .357 with 6 inch barrel. Fun to shoot, but big and heavy. Although, I did teach my 14 year old granddaughter to shoot it. And...with magnum loads. She had no problem.
Since you're already comfortable with the XD and you're lookin' for a gun that is "fairly lightweight, compact, foolproof, and durable to use for home defense as well as defense while on the trail in the backwoods" and your also considering a .357 wheel gun, maybe a XD .357 sig would be right up your alley. You get the kinetic power of a .357 magnum with the recoil and (similar) capacity of a 9mm. And for the backwoods, you might wanna invest in some Bear Spray; I've heard it's a major deterrent.
Here are my two- (or three-) bits. My opinions are free and probably worth what you pay for them...

1) A .22 lr rifle is a good first gun for many people. Easy and cheap to shoot - allows you to spend lots of time at the range. This would also be a good gun to teach your kids to shoot on.

The 10/22 is a great gun and you should be able to get one at a good price - they sell for around $200 new at Joes/Big5, so I don't see why you couldn't get a used one cheaper. You might also want to look at a Marlin 60.

If you're only going to get one gun, and home/self defense is your goal, this wouldn't be the gun to get. However, if you're going to get more than one gun, you'll end up getting a .22 sooner or later, so this would be a good choice.

2) If you plan to shoot much .357 through the Ruger, you might want to consider a GP 100 over the SP 101 as this is larger and should be easier to shoot. Recoil can be very, er, brisk through the smaller revolvers. It should be fine for shooting .38spl.

I actually think a full-size 4" .357 revolver (like a GP 100) is a good first handgun for many people because it's easy to understand how it works, easy to check whether it's loaded, easy (and cheaper) to shoot with .38spl, is generally reliable, etc., etc., etc.

In addition to the GP 100, you may also want to look at one of the S&W K- or L-frame guns like a Model 66, Model 686 and so on.

In regard to your concerns about animal attacks - I've spent a fair amount of time in the woods and have never felt threatened by a wild animal. Unless you're wandering around Kodiak Island, I'm not sure you need to "load for bear". People - now, that's a different story.

3) If you like the XD, then get one. I'm always of the opinion that if you find a gun you like & are good with, you should get it - internet opinions be damned. I've shot one a few times and they seem to be good weapons. 9mm is also relatively cheap to shoot. I actually think this would be a fine gun to carry with you hiking - they're durable & reliable. Depending on size, it may also be lighter than a revolver.

In regard to your concerns about the extra safety, I doubt it would make much difference for whether your kids are safe or not. Kids can figure out things and I wouldn't rely on safety to keep them from harm.

Speaking of kids, if you are going to have guns in the house, make sure to educate them about their use and risks - I think the NRA has a good "Eddie Eagle" program for this. It's also my opinion (others may disagree) that if the gun isn't under your immediate control and supervision, it should be locked-up. Most guns come with a cable lock - use it. Even a cheap locking gun cabinet is better than nothing.

Good luck - let us know what you decide on!
Sun 195 has some good options, but I must add that I like the idea of a safety on an automatic pistol, the XD is a good gun and maybe you can get one in 9mm. The safety is just that a, "safety" and your thoughts about it make sense. Better to have one in my opinion, especially with kids around. A pistol picked up by a child and played with before you can get to them that has a real safety can give you those few moments to intervene. I do not consider the trigger set-up on Glocks, EX-D etc. as Safetys, more of an adverising gimmick that people have bought into. A true safety is a switch that shuts off the weapon from being fired, period. There are many nice automatics out there with safetys. Take your time and look at some more. 9mm ammo is cheap and a good round to practice with, large variety of ammunition from easy shootingf stuff to hot stuff. My wife actually likes the hot Cor-Bon 115 gr stuff. Bill
If this thread goes on long enough you will see a list of every possible gun, and soon it will divert into what is "my favorite", to exclusion of every one you listed.

So my answer is short, for HD, a 18" barrel 12 ga. shotgun with cylinder bore and a 5+ round magazine, such as a Mossberg 500.

The .22 rifle you mentioned would be a great choice for the missus and youngsters to learn on.

Wait on the pistol for awhile until the first two are in the bag.
I start young men out with bolt action 22s if they plan to be big game hunters. If you are just a plinker then a 10-22 will serve you well. However to learn good bolt tech you need a bolt gun that will function just like a centerfire bolt gun. You will learn to pick your shots well and run the gun in a hunting manner.

The Ruger sp1 is heavy for it's size. Backpacking is about weight and how to keep it down. I would rather carry a XD than a Ruger. Whatever you go with think safety first.

Long story but....I have most of what your looking at. I quickly became addicted to firearms after inheriting my fathers COLT 1911A1 in 1998. I took a couple of firearm courses in 99 to get up to speed and prepared and I first bought a Mossberg 500 for home defense.

I soon didn't like the idea of keeping a loaded shotgun in my house while I was at work and had visions of someone stealing it or using it against me. So I bought a big old gun safe to store everything in and then I realized if I needed to use it; it would take too long to get to.

I went to my local gun range <broken link removed> where you can rent guns to try out to see what you like, I eventually decided I preferred to shoot 45. and I really liked the XD45 so that's what I got. I also picked up a Gunvault.

I can access my handgun really quick and have it securely bolted to my floor in my bedroom. I feel pretty safe that I can access it quickly yet not for another person unless they use a large hammer or pry bar but that would take too long for most home break-ins. My wife likes to shoot the XD pretty much over everything else other than .22's which we have a few of now.

Hope that helps:s0155:
I had a .357 Ruger revolver that fit me perfectly and I was really good with it on the target range. After it was stolen, I replaced it with a Colt .45 semi-automatic, and was never comfortable with it nor a good shot, so it just sat unused. I recently sold it and bought another older Ruger revolver as that is what works for me. I'm now excited about getting back into shooting and this time it will include my wife as well. The point is, buy what you feel the most comfortable with as that is what you will enjoy the most, and become more proficient with.

With that said, I have to agree with another member that when it comes to home defense, the first weapon I will reach for is my short barrel 12 ga. pump shotgun.
Sounds like you're on the right track, but for my $.02 worth I might put some extra thought into two of the guns. Here are my thoughts:

1) Ruger 10/22 - excellent, .22 is CHEAP and you can get a lot of fun guns using this caliber.

2) Ruger SP101 Revolver (357 mag) - I went with the S&W 625 (-2?) because it uses .45 ACP - not exactly a "Bear" round, but it will detour a lot of wildlife AND I can use the .45 in a 1911 - I'm thinking of $$ of ammo and sharing ammo between guns here. But as pointed out, packing a SP1 around if you're day packing can get heavy... guess you take one less can of beans with for dinner, eh?

3) Springfield XD9 - consider this CAREFULLY. Like you, I love shooting 9mm. There is some debate as to what's the "best" CCW caliber. Personally - I chose the 9mm because i'm comfortable shooting this caliber, and it's pleantiful for shooting and cost effective. PPD uses Glocks chambered in 9mm as their issue weapon, so i figure in our market there will be pleanty of 9mm floating around. My friend prefers .40 and most out there will say carry .45 - I'm no expert myself.

Just think about what caliber you prefer to carry long term and stick to it so you can share ammo between any future guns you own.

I only run 3 calibers:

.45 ACP

This is so I can stock up when I find good buys and shoot cheap.
I do need a .22 though...


Everyone needs a "few" .22's since they are great first guns and wonderful practice guns for when you don't want to spend a fortune on ammo. :s0155:

Plus if you have spouse/kids/other family who has never shot before they are great starter guns for them to get used to the concept of what happens when the thing goes BANG.

I have three .22's myself and wouldn't get rid of any of 'em. :D


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