Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Range Report: New Handgun Shooters

Grrr I wrote one, but Netscape/Blogger ate it. I'll replace this with good stuff later when I'm in a better mood.

UPDATE: OK lets try this again.

I shot a Browning Buck Mark during my trip to the range this week. The gun is .22 long rifle and it had the problem of all range 22s: dirt. I had several failures to extract the round that resulted in "stovepipe" jams. I had several failures to feed the next round off the top of the magazine. No failures to fire though. My guess is that the grit and dirt in the gun were just slowing the slide motion down and throwing everything off. I need to get around to buying my own Buckmark.

The trigger on Buckmarks is nice and I shot ok. Just ok. I even got a compliment from one of the guys shooting in the next lane over. But I need to dry fire more because I'm either pulling the gun right or jerking the gun down. Or both.

The real interesting thing was that there were several new shooters at the range. One was a couple looking to burn up a $100 gift certificate they had been given. The other was a guy just looking to get into shooting. This is a perfect opportunity to give my standard advice for new handgun shooters.

If you are unwilling to train frequently you really shouldn't be shooting a handgun. Handgun shooting is physically complex and involves coordinating lots of little physical movements. Buy a shotgun or rifle if you must have a gun. If you have to have a handgun, but don't want to train buy a revolver. They are simple, reliable, and easy to learn. Double action is quick but inaccurate. Single action takes longer but has an easier trigger pull for better accuracy. A Smith and Wesson .357 magnum is a great choice, shoot .38s for practice and .357s if you need to defend yourself.

If you are willing to train, then join a shooting range with a good rental selection and free rentals for members. This will save you money in the long run. Shoot through their rental selection and see what you like.

You will eventually want to buy your own gun. My first suggestion is a 22 pistol. .22lr is cheap so you can shoot a lot, but range .22s usually aren't cleaned often enough to be completely reliable out of the rental case. Your own .22 will help get you lots of trigger time. If you want a handgun with more stopping power for home defense, then go with a 9mm automatic. You have an idea about which one from your adventures in the rental case. 9mm is the cheapest of the major calibers to shoot, but it still packs an adequate wallop with good ammunition. Good ammunition is key though. You want hollowpoints for defense with 9mm, but test them in your gun to make sure it is reliable with them. Hollowpoints are expensive though, so once you have made sure your gun is reliable (a few magazines full with each magazine should do) switch back to standard full metal jacket.

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