U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- You can choose ANY round and make a case for it. Do you want REAL penetration? .41 mag, you want penetration in an auto? .357 Sig. Do you want conceal-ability? A .32 or .25 will do you best.
So as an old experienced NRA instructor, with a bit more gray in my hair than I like to think about I’m going to tell you a secret. It’s all crap. Pick the gun that best fits your hand in the largest caliber you can COMFORTABLY handle.
People have different size hands and length fingers. Hand strength varies. Personal centers of mass are different and affect how we react to recoil. These things all effect shot placement and follow up. While I have my views on .45 Vs. 9mm, the simple fact is two to the chest is better than a miss and a through and through that grazes the side regardless of the caliber you select.
For a 1st-time gun buyer step one, go to the range and rent and shoot EVERYTHING. From a Shield to a Glock to a 1911 to a GP101. Try them all. If you don’t have free available instruction, pay for it. It’s your life we’re talking about. No one cares about it more than you and the ones you love.
I have two students; they took this all to heart. Took the full NRA 1st steps course, joined the local range and over the course of a month or so shot everything I owned and everything they could get their hands on.
J, He shot as a kid, and this was re-introduction to handguns after a 30-year break. His hand size leads him to a 1911, and his body type and hand strength make the gun a 9mm. He can shoot the gun in .45 he’s just a bit more comfortable with the 9mm. Regular practice and a clean gun are now part of his life.
K, is a woman executive in the entertainment industry, and after shooting a dozen guns in all different calibers, she chose a GP 100 in 357. The first four rounds are .38 special the last two are .357. The guy at the gun store informed her she needed more rounds and should buy a Glock. She asked how many rounds did she need? This woman has ice water in her veins, and she practices regularly to remain sharp with her selection.
This leads us to the last two important issues.
Practice…Practice… Practice. Join a gun club and make new friends shoot once a week. Be competent with your firearm, keep it clean, and store it properly and safely. With the right to own a gun comes the responsibility to be safe and proficient.
Second be careful who gives you advice. I’ve seen gun store salespeople start the conversation with “Which Glock would you like, most people buy a model 19… let me get you one…” My hands are a man’s XL, but a Glock is a bad fit for me, my G34 was dremeled down to get close to fitting my hands.
Just because a man or woman works at a gun store does NOT mean they know about fitting a gun to a person or how to help them make the right choice. A new shooter will have no idea how a gun should fit in their hand and buys from ignorance.
One last story and a warning– At a basic NRA class a year or so ago a young woman said that she had just bought her gun and asked if she could shoot it as part of the class. I asked what she owned, and she pulled a brand new Glock 19 out of her purse. (Yes, we had all the usual no firearms in the classroom warning in the announcement and on the doors.) Made sure she was not touching the trigger and gently took the unloaded pistol. She proudly announced to the room “IT’s a GLOCK!” asked if I owned one like it. I said no, my striker fired gun was a Springfield. She looked crushed and asked, “did I buy the wrong gun?” I’ve since replaced the Springfield with a Glock.
But this story carries with it a warning, as an instructor you are to help a student make a choice that is right for THEM, not to validate your decision in the choice of a firearm you made. Hear that Glock-fan boy. As an instructor leave your ego at the door.
A gun that fits the hand and the biggest caliber that the shooter can manage are what matters, not the brand or caliber chosen.
About Don McDougall:
Don McDougall is an NRA instructor and member of the Los Padres “Friends of the NRA” committee. If he’s not at the range you will find him setting the record straight with on gun issues and gun safety onAmmoLand Shooting Sports News.