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Semi-auto handgun suggestions.

4478 Views 23 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  melu
Hey All,

My wife and I currently have two 357 revolver handguns, but I have always wanted a semi-auto handgun.

Any suggestions on brand/caliber? Anything I should look for or stay away from? Keep in mind, I haven't researched this at all yet.

My only requests would be that
1) it is something my wife could learn to shoot (nothing too big)
2) it could be carried concealed if we ever wanted to get the permit (MO just passed it)

Michael B.

PS- Nice site Rich.
PPS- My leucistic pines finally hatched!!!
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This is like asking a parent which child they love more. :D

I guess the place to start would be with price range. What budget constraints do you have to work with??

If the two of you are already shooting .357s then caliber shouldn't be much of a factor.
Yeah, like asking which is the best automobile to drive..... ;)

Best thing to do is to go to a decent gun shop or a gun show and handle a few. See how they feel in your hand. Bring it up quickly to eyelevel and see if the front and read sights line up immediately. How's the trigger pull feel to you?

Generally quality costs more. Generally you can see and feel quality. Are you going to carry it? How much is a RELIABLE gun worth to you? Ask around, but NOT to someone trying to sell you something.

Thanks for joining in here......
Which auto?...........

If you can shoot the guns side by side, you'll be able to make the decision much easier.
I bought a SIG 230 and a Colt Mustang Pocketlite both in .380 and shot them side by side. I found the Colt fit and felt much better in my hand. I used that as my criteria for which one I'd carry even though the SIG seemed of a higher quality.

If you can't shoot them, do as Rich suggests and handle as many as you can to get a feeling for which one fits best.
Clint's correct the Colt is a great gun! I also have the Sig 226 .40 cal and never carry it. I weight out my risk based on were I'm going and either go with a Walther .22, Colt Mustang or Colt Pocket 9. All are good guns, the mustang I've had the most misfires with and the Walther is picky about ammo.

You can't have the best of all worlds though. Either size, comfort, price or enjoyability while target shooting will suffer. All of the above are poor guns for plinking if you ask me. I'm also not a huge fan of autos for C.C. and just haven't found a wheel gun I like to carry yet.

Anyway, good luck, it's always tough finding the "one gun" and that's why most of use have so many.

Thanks all for the replies.

I'll head out to some of the shops around here soon and take your advice to see how they feel.

I have also read some of the other threads around here that have been helpful. I'll probably being posting questions in those threads to try and learn a bit more.

Adam: why don't you like autos for CC? The revolvers we have Ruger 357 long barrels are great, but a bit big to carry for me...

-Michael B.
Any hand can be trained to any grip

at varioius times in my career I have considered the SA revolver, DA Smith revolver, Woodsman, M39 Smith, P35 Browning, 1911 to all have the "perfect" grip. What matters is how fast you can get the gun out and firing, how fast you can hit, how fast you can get repeat hits, and how hard you can hit. Factory 380 ammo doesnt' hit ENOUGH harder than a 22 to matter any. Head shots are still required in order to have any realistic expectation of stopping a serious attack. In fact, a Stinger from a .22 Rifle hits every bit as "hard" (160 ft lbs) as does the short barreled 380, with factory ammo. 85 grs at 850 fps is typical "performance, when you really CHECK it, on the chronograph. That's a pathetic 140 ft lbs., and probably no real expansion in flesh, once the hollow cavity is "plugged" by clothing debris.

Nothing says that whatever auto pistol you buy has to be the only one you EVER own, ya know. Get a .22, a $100 electronic shooting timer, make yourself a good Kydex rig, and get some real ABILITY with a handgun. until you can do something with a .22, there's no point in popping a centerfire cap (except on primer only wax ammo) Work at it until you can toss up a pair of soda can's, make a concealed belt draw, and hit both in midair. The cheapest centerfire ammo that's worth a hoot (9mm luger) is 10c per shot more than the 2c per shot 22 ammo. 6x as much shooting, for the same cost, means real skill, real fast. If you have the money, I suggest an alloy compact 1911, in 9mm, with a .22 conversion unit. Wax ammo, however, works far better in .45. .45 ammo costs a lot more than does 9mm ammo, and it beats up the gun more, too. A $200 lide group and ejector turn a $500 alloy commander into a .45 Commander, you know. I recommend a used, "fully loaded" Spld Armory model. That means it's already got all the smithing modifications done.
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I'm speaking from the standpoint of Michael not wanting to spend a boat load of money to get what he wants.

The wheel guns for me are maybe just a mental thing. With an auto, mainly the small autos they're not the most dependable firearms. If you have a 6 round mag and the first one stove pipes you're out of luck till you clear the jam.

With wheel guns if one fails to fire you just pull the trigger again. There is very little that can go wrong with them as there are less then half the moving parts.

While it's true the .380 has about a 60-70% one shot stop compared to about 35-40% with a .22 Stinger who cares? Use the gun you shoot best and if that's a .22 or .380 fine. We can't all carry a .357 because it's got the highest stopping power.

Like I tell me wife, you're better hitting somebody twice with a .22 then missing them 10 tims with a .40 cal.

I use a formula:

Number of times I've needed a gun in my life X Area I'm going to be in X My age = Chances I'll need a gun.

I base the gun a carry on that and since I've never needed a firearm for protection yet I don't see a need to carry, say, my Sig .40
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Thanks for the reply. It was most helpful.

What you had to say rings true for me. I thought about it, and I probably will not apply for the CCW permit, simply because at this point, I don't feel I need it. Hence, the gun will be more for plinking around, and learning how to accurately shoot a semi-auto. Maybe in a few years I'll get the permit, but who knows.

So, I had a few moments last night, and stopped by a gun shop close to work. I took a look at a Walther P22, and a Ruger MKII.
I have to say that I liked the way the Ruger felt. My other guns are mostly Ruger's and they have never given me any problems. In fact, my wives 357 is from her father who had it for years, and I believe it is just an older model of mine (GP160).

I also talked to a friend up here with a few larger semi autos as well (a .40 cal, 9mm, and .38 I believe). Over deer season he is gonna bring them all down and let me give them a whirl to see how they feel and shoot.

As for the $$, I'll have to admit that I've shot my wad on animals this year, hence price is a factor. The MKII was listed for $225 at the one shop I looked last night.

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You mentioned liking the Ruger so I'm going to assume you have bigger hands then I do as I've never been happy the feel of any Ruger autos.

The best auto I can suggest however (even more so if you have small hands) is the Browning BDM. It's a 9mm (cheap to shoot), can be had at a very low price for the quality and can be switched from SA to DA with just the turn of a screw. It also has 15 round mags floating around.

That BDM was from what I've hear was designed under a
development contract between Browning and the US Secret

Here's a link to one I just saw:

They almost always seem to sell around $300 and for that price in my eyes are a steal. The gun just never caught on but try to find one and give it a shot (pun intended), I honestly haven't seen a nicer gun at that price.

Thanks again:)

It looks like a nice gun.

One question:
SA=single action
DA=double action. Right?

What is the physical difference. I know my GP160 is a double action, but I guess I've never really paid any attention to it...
Course I haven't shot it in a while either.

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You're correct! The main difference is weather you put two shots in the floor at night when you think somebody broke into your house but it's really a cat that jumps out and scares you!

All kidding aside, with SA two things happen when you pull the trigger, the gun fires and the slide cocks the hammer on it's own. This allows your next trigger pull to be very light, on some guns with trigger jobs maybe a half pound trigger pull (that's a guess as I don't know) making it very easy to fire by mistake if you're shocked by something and you jump.

With DA the only thing that happens is the gun fires when you pull the trigger. The hammer then returns with the slide so when you pull the trigger it brings the hammer back with the trigger pull causing the pull to be much higher (and safer for the most part), say in the 7 pound range.

This of course is an easy way to explain it for autos and many autos have the first trigger pull as DA then the rest as SA so there's a little safer in the above situation.

With a wheel gun that's SA you have to cock the hammer with your finger for each shot as pulling the trigger alone does nothing. This is mainly found in older revolvers and guns used for action/cowboy shooting. However of them all this ranks about the highest on my list as I find them the most enjoyable to shoot.
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I also own a .357 mag, 4" brl revolver. A good dependable gun.

But the 9mm auto would out perform it any day of the week.
I have fired hundreds of rounds through it. I have yet to have
a clip jam. I think 25% of the time it can be a poorly made auto.

75% of the time its poor maintenence by the owner, Clean it well,
oil it, and don't shoot with a limp wrist as it can affect the ejector
mechanism and cause jams.
I would firmly have to disagree with you!

I have shot tens of thousands of rounds through both and autos do jam from time to time. You may have shot 5,000 rounds in an auto with only one jam (that would be amazing) but with a wheel gun you wouldn't even get that out of 50,000 rounds.

That isn't even touching the fact that you're not talking about a compact auto nor the fact that the one shot stop of a .357 is 10% higher if not more.

I'm not saying I would use a .357 for a CCW but I wouldn't use a 9mm either.

With Respect

It is not the first time I have heard the debate revolver vs. auto,
or harder hitting round vs. another.

Of course its quite true the .375 mag round has superior stopping
power, and I can't argue that obviously. If I were to use my .357
for ccw, I think it would get heavy, uncomfortable, and as its all stainless steel, darn cold against your person on a Minnesota
winter day. This is a gun not made for the light frames, I have tried them, they kick like a bronco.

Shot placement has more bearing on stopping for me.
While I never, ever want to find out first hand, I hear you know
you have been hit with a 9mm hollow +p.

Moreover, the weapon of choice for many covert operatives is
a .22 cal type Barreta, again shot placement is valued. As well
as concealibility.

As for jams in autos, stove pipes ect. yes they can and do happen
rarely. My point was it can be minimumized by keeping the darn
gun clean. Autos do have more moving parts and so demand
a bit more maintenence. I am very fond of my .357 revolver,
heck I still have it. And in the woods its my first choice.
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Well, we agree, I would much rather deal with a 454 Casull then a 357 Scandium and while both are little fun to shoot the Scandium is one of the hardest hitting handguns I've ever dealt with. To laugh it off and say oh it's just a .357 is not wise.

I've seen .22's take down 350 pound pigs with ease. I feel comfortable in all but the worst of situations with my Walther .22 as my CCW but I will say it's taken me a long time, many rounds and a lot of trying new rounds to find one I like and felt comfortable with. Even the Stingers were shooting poorly for me and I had to go with the hotter Aguila rounds to be 90% happy with the performance.

Even them for some odd reason I have to pull the trigger twice to get the 3rd round (always the 3rd round) to fire. Otherwise in about 1,000 rounds I've never had a stove pipe so I'm okay with it and feel it's trustable enough.
Agree! the .357 is one of the hardest hitting rounds
there are, very lethal. Only a fool would laugh it off.

However, in carry application, many variables exist.
weight, concealment, liability! A direct hit in a vital area
with a .357 is a good bet for a trip to the morgue for
its unlucky reciepient.

But, is that what you want in every case?
When to neutralize, rather than obliterate a threat
would have been more than enough. The old cliche'
goes I would rather take my chances with a jury of 12
than be carried by 6.

In a court room many do not always see it that way.
Even if you win a criminal proceeding, ther is virtualy no
limit to civil liabilities, $$$$$$$$$!
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if you are considering a lightweight carry auto with high reliability and a fairly powerful cartridge then i would suggest a true Colt 1911 model first. It's got one of the best reliability and durabilty records of any handgun. Sonething like a commander or officers in
9mm or .38 super. Not overwhelmingly powerful, but accurate, light, and reliable. SIG-Sauer pistols are awsome as well, but tend to ne quite expensive. As far a pocket pistols go the SIG230 is a Walther PPK take off with better tolerances. The Ealthers are great guns too. I have actually carried a stainless american in .22
as one of my backup pieces in the past. The compat Glocks are good carry guns as well, but i have short fingers (and stubby ones to boot!) so i dont find i enjoy firing the ultracompact Glocks.
I would steer clear of .32 autos unless they were of older vintage from reliable american or european manufactures. most currently produced .32's are little more than cheap belly guns. But a nice Beretta or Mauser .32 could be a suitable concealed carrier and could be had with a little digging in a local pawn shop. But, if you want some modicum of power in your weapon you'll probavly have to stay in the 9mm, .38 super, .357 SIG area. if the power level of the chosen weapon is not as key an issue as ease of concealment and use then i would advise staying with a .22. Smith & Wesson, Colt, SIG, Walther, Beretta, HK, and so all produce fine compact pistols with marvalous reliability in .22. and as we all know the .22 is one of the funnest guns on the market to own. Cheaper to shoot (just dont use that expensive match fodder common to the br-50 crowd), easy to shoot, safer to shoot in populated areas, and it is fully capable of stopping an aggressive act toward your person.
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Get the mini desert eagle it comes in a variety of different calibers but i would get the normal one with the 50 action express even though it would be a little big
A .50AE Desert Eagle as a carry gun? Maybe if you are Schwartzenegger (sp?), but for more normal sized folks you would probably walk with a slight tilt from the weight and size of the thing.

I would imagine it would be quite embarrassing to have your pants fall to your ankles when you stood up suddenly.
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