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For a novice getting into the sport of shooting I would recommend either a stainless .22 pistol with adjustable sights or a stainless .357 magnum with adjustable sights. First stainless is very forgiving if you neglect proper maintenance and retains a higher resale value down the road. Adjustable sights are very appropriate for a handgun that uses multiple loads of the same caliber of ammunition. A .357 can be loaded with anything from powder puff loads (great for introducing women to the sport) to something that could knock down a rhino at 10 paces. It can be fired with .38 Special quite easily. Both types of the above mentioned guns retain their value easily and cost less to purchase in the beginning of your shooting career.

Both .22 & .38 special are quite cheap & easy to shoot. They are great starter guns to build experience and knowledge with. Purchasing as your first handgun a plastic pistol that eats more expensive ammunition, and is more difficult to operate, is generally not the best choice for a new shooter and should be left until you have mastered basic shooting skills. If you really enjoy shooting, have no fear that whatever discipline you become active in you will spend more money on it, but it is better to make more expensive purchases with a good knowledge base behind you.
 

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A used, $250 or less Browning buckmark 4" "camper" .22lr. 22 ammo's hard to find and expensive now, but if you'll pay 18c a rd, it can be found. That's better than 60c per rd for 9mm, at least. They can always sell it or trade it later, if they become skilled with it and want to move on to a Star BM 9mm., which are also about $250 from J and G sales. I dont know where they keep finding those things! They;'ve been selling them for 30+ years now.

The BM is a helluva gun for the money. All steel, 7.5"x 4.5", 8 rds, 28 ozs, SA-only, accurate, reliable, nice sights, trigger pull, safety lever. Remove the mag safety, of course. Buy 2 of them so you have a spare mag and a spare gun, too. :)
 

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We had the Star BM for sale here a couple of years back for $249.00 and I actually considered buying one, until I went looking for additional mags which were non existent. Probably the reason no body buys them, plus the fact there are no after market accessories for them. A far better choice moving into a semi auto package would be a 9mm 1911 clone that fits aftermarket accessories where an individual could actually upgrade the pistol.
 
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Ruger 22 auto pistol, what ever model they have now. They always work. In a larger caliber, a model 15, 67 Smith. 67 is stainless so less to worry about. In 357, the 19 or stainless 66. Another good one is the model 617 22 Stainless. Only problem is they all are a little hard to find right now an kinda expensive. Smith also makes a cheaper 22 auto in stainless, not sure of model, 622 or something, they always work. Seen them cheap around here, even new not priced too bad. Just looked, SW22 is model, List price is $428.00 but seen in shops cheaper.
 

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Why would anyone choose a Star BM over a modern 9MM of which there are literally dozens to choose from? Someone whose head is back in the '70's. Melvin, I know you can't touch one, but the Hellcat and 365 outclass your antique by a wide margin. You can't even find spare magazines of which you really need five at least. I agree with the .22 and .38/.357 battery if the self defense gun is going to be a revolver, but I would do a .22/9MM semi-automatic myself. I was coaching my Friends Wife on the shooting basics and started with a S&W .22 Compact and then moved on to her gun, a S&W 9MM Shield. It worked out pretty good and she didn't develop that "jerk" to the trigger when she switched to the 9.
 
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