First pistol purchase

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by jdinger29, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. jdinger29

    jdinger29 New Member

    Sep 1, 2011
    Northern Minnesota
    I am in the process of researching my first pistol purchase. I am looking at a pistol for home defense and for range shooting. (No competitions, just target shooting.) Yesterday, I headed to a big box sporting goods store so I could look at as many pistols as possible. I also hoped to get some advice. I have been leaning toward a S&W SD40. I asked the man behind the counter to tell me why I should spend $100 more for the M&P. He gave a very good argument that the M&P was a mission quality piece and you would never see a police officer carrying a SD. While I would agree with that I also think that I will not be using my pistol in the same manner as a police officer which sort of invalidates his argument. Next, he told me (unsolicited) not to "waste my time on a .40 but to get a 9mm". When I asked why he said "They'll do the same thing and the 9mm ammo is cheaper." This is where a red flag went up. Looking at the data a 9mm won't do the same thing, the .40 has more stopping power. Am I wrong? When it comes to my family's safety I am not concerned with $5 or $10 savings on a box of ammunition. I would really appreciate some advice from the folks here. Thanks.
  2. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    SW Fort Worth
    Have you fired many handguns before? If not, I would recommend going with the 9mm as your first; you're going to go through alot of practice ammo and the recoil of the 40 is much snappier than a 9 or even the 45acp IMO. I do think the M&P is a good choice, but may/may not be the best for you. Did you compare the guns in your hands and see how they fit your grip? Is there a range close by that rents handguns that you can try out?

    More questions, but I'll let ya reply to those first;)

    I'll also add that the 9mm will do just as an effective job with proper ammo and aimed shots as the 40 will in the vast majority of cases. More controllable recoil is a + when you're in a defensive situation. Delivered energy isn't everything; there are alot of factors to consider and most of those are determined by the most likely scenario that you'd encounter.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

  3. rcairflr

    rcairflr Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2011
    Wichita, Ks
    Here's my opinion for whatever it's worth. The odds are that you will never have to use your gun against another human being. So based on that, the most shooting you will do is at the range. 9mm ammo is much less expensive than .40 ammo.

    If you ever need to use your gun to protect you and your family, the 9mm will do the job. Granted, it doesn't have the stopping power of a .40, but it will definitely do the job.

    For home defense ammo, buy good quality home defense rounds and never, never, never use reloads. For me, I use what the local Police department uses (Speer Gold Dot).

    So, my vote is for 9mm unless you really want a .40. Good luck in your choice and whatever gun you buy, don't buy cheap junk, buy a quality, proven firearm.
  4. Airdale

    Airdale Active Member

    Mar 31, 2009
    N.W. Arkansas
    Spent a lot of time deciding on caliber and ended up with 9mm. Lots of different bullets available, 124 grain JHPs Or 147 grain JHPs will certainley do the job (I carry 147s as do many LEOs). Buy a quality pistol no matter what caliber. I carry a Springfield XDSC and EMP, both quality pieces.
  5. 6x6pinz

    6x6pinz New Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Mesa, Az
    I believe what the previous posters are trying to tell you is that if the ammo cost less you will shoot the pistol more. More practice equates to better shot placement (hopefully), familiarity with the firearm all if which really takes the caliber out of play. A well placed small round is far superior to a large caliber miss.

    If you consider the average SD engagement occurs at between 7 - 10 feet you will not find much difference in performance between calibers.

    Purchasing should be based on what fits you best and you enjoy shooting. Most of you cheaper firearms are not as much fun to shoot simply because you have to fiddle with them to make them work. After all a very nice, expensive pistol stuck in a drawer somewhere is no match for a shooter comfortable/capable with his Bersa at the ready.

    The pursuit of the firearm is actually one of the funnest parts of firearm ownership so enjoy it.
  6. jdinger29

    jdinger29 New Member

    Sep 1, 2011
    Northern Minnesota
    Thanks for the great replies! To answer a few questions: I have not fired a lot of handguns. I have fired a few rounds from a .45 revolver and a ton of rounds from a .22. I know that they are different but I do have quite a bit of experience with long guns of various types. I did hold a fair number of pistols when I was shopping yesterday and the S&W were the ones that felt the best in my price range. It seems that there is a low opinion of the SD line on the forum but I really like the way it felt in my hand. The M&P I held was a .45 though, so that could explain why I liked the .40 better (I am smaller guy) If there are any S&W SD owners out there I would love to hear from you. Thanks again for the responses.
  7. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    SW Fort Worth
    I'm 5'7" and 155#, so not sure if that's "smaller" in your opinion, but I can handle a full size P220 without any problem. Get what best fits your needs and then put in the proper range time and instill good habits.
    I have never been a fan of any SW semiauto; but don't let that steer you away from one if they're comfortable for you. They are not bad guns, just not what I prefer.
  8. The Duke

    The Duke New Member

    Mar 11, 2006
    NW Louisiana
    A 9mm with the right ammo, Double Tap 147 or Gold Dot 124 , etc..will work well enough for defensive use...Plus 9mm is easy to shoot and easy on the pocket book for training ammo...Some first time buyers go too heavy on a caliber that has too much recoil for them to control...They cant shoot their piece well and the muzzle blast and recoil affects them in a negative way, resulting in discouragement and little or no practice.....Learn on 9mm and up gun after you have mastered the 9mm...Practice, Practice, Practice.. Take some gun handling and self defense shooting classes and by all means, have fun...:)
  9. jdinger29

    jdinger29 New Member

    Sep 1, 2011
    Northern Minnesota
    WW: I am smaller... well, at least in terms of height :) Duke: That is about what I needed to hear. Thanks. You guys have been great. I have been very hesitant to post on other forums because it seems the n00bs get flamed. I appreciate the thoughtful responses from everyone.
  10. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    SW Fort Worth

    We only flame those who buy new guns and then don't post pics; just keep that in mind :D:D

    The site owners and mods do a great job in keeping this forum a place you can sit down and enjoy with your kids at your side and where differences in opinion can be discussed in a civil manner.
  11. Chinook

    Chinook New Member

    Welcome from another forum noob Dinger! And this is THE place to discuss arms. Everyone here is absolutely honest. Sometimes honesty isnt really nice, but at least most folks here have a great attitude. Hope you find the right handgun, and the right caliber too! Let us see whatcha end up with, and give a range report when ya have time! Hahaha!
  12. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    I agree with ever thing that has been said in every post EXCEPT this one little statement. Why do you say this?

    Ninety five percent of the ammo I shoot are reloads, I trust my reloads more than factory loads. I know how they shoot and that they will go bang every time I pull the trigger. I practice with my reloads and I load my own self defense rounds and I keep reloads in my carry guns.
  13. BETH

    BETH Well-Known Member

    Jul 10, 2009
    :dance:and i want pictures or u will be in trouble
  14. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I think he is refering to the posibility of a law suite for using reloads. Though it has never happened, as far as I know, the posibility is still there. I reload, and will use those reloads in my guns while at home, but I do not carry them in my CCW hand guns.
  15. Double D

    Double D Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    North Florida
    I buy the gun I want and not the gun that costs less to shoot. Buy whatever floats your boat and buy a 22 for plinking. I dont care if 9mm goes down to 5.00 a box. I am going to shoot my 45s as much as I want. Thats what I like and thats what I shoot.
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