Start with a .22?

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by TranterUK, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    On a recent trip to the US an old issue re surfaced, when teaching handgun, do you start with a .22?

    Some say yes, every time. Sight picture, trigger control and grip can be better taught without recoil.

    I have to say no, recoil is part of the equation and anyway, one can start with a mild .38spl rather than go straight to a .45acp or .357.

    Opinions anyone?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2008
  2. Yup, strong ones, Tranter. :D I still say the .22 is the place to start, especially with female shooters. No chauvinism is intended by that remark, by the way. It's simply that relatively few females are introduced to shooting as children in our culture. I don't agree with that, but it is still the case. Yet, even with inexperienced male shooters I think the .22 is the place to start. It has been my experience, though others may have had a different experience, that teaching the fundamentals is far easier and more effective without the added factor of recoil management in the equation, at least initially. When I teach a new shooter, male or female, I always begin with a .22, then progress upward in power as the shooter is ready to handle a bit more. I've found that many are ready for a bit more power very quickly, in which case I normally introduce a 9mm auto or a .38 in a K-frame revolver. Those weapons add the factor or recoil, but without that recoil being excessive and daunting.

    As I see it, many new shooters are somewhat intimidated by firearms at first and fear that shooting them will "hurt." Well, it will if they start out with a large caliber handgun like the .45 or .357 mag. Just my $.02 worth. :D

  3. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    Indeed Pistol, I would never suggest someone should start with a .45 or .357. They could quickly develop a flinch that would take several years to overcome.

    There are some that say a shooter should not progress to a larger calibre until they can shoot a .22 proficiently. Hard to argue with, but I still think a mild .38spl in a typical 4" K / medium frame is as good a starting point.
  4. It works well with some, Tranter. I have taught a few who did quite well with the .38 right from the beginning. One of them was a female, I might add. :D With a .38, I prefer to use a 6" barrel in a K-frame (a Mod 15 to be precise) rather than a 4" though. The extra weight seems to dampen the recoil a bit, and that helps keep the student from flinching so much. It also helps to use handloads because I can load them down to whatever level I think the student can handle. Three grains of Bullseye makes a nice practice load for a newbie. ;)
  5. Thomas_1

    Thomas_1 New Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    Fenton, Missouri
    Start out with the smaller caliber, you don't want this to happen :)

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  6. happyhunter42

    happyhunter42 New Member

    May 29, 2008
    Halfways from anywhere in Texas
    The first pistol my daughters ever fired was a ruger blackhawk in .357 firing .38spl rounds. My youngest loves to shoot the ruger loaded with .357 rounds. She says it got more boom.
  7. BlkHawk73

    BlkHawk73 New Member

    Jun 12, 2003
    I'm also a firm believer in starting with a .22lr. The ease of shooting it (low recoil, low noise) helps it be a less intimidating cartridge to shoot for a beginner. That helps build confidence which without confidence the interest drops off quickly. Gotta keep a beginner's interest up. The inexpensive cost of the ammo is a big plus as it allows a lot more shooting for just a small amount of money. Practice makes perfect and with practice comes confidence. Confidence keeps interest, and interest keeps the sport going.
  8. Danwin22

    Danwin22 Active Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    longwood, Florida
    Put me down for starting out with a .22.

    I've seen too many people dealing with bad recoil flinches with a 357.

    Once you get the basics down with a .22 you can probably deal with a larger bore and not develop bad flinch habits
  9. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    I will vote for the .22 LR in almost every case.

    I do have one friend I introduced to shooting this past summer. He had very little interest in the .22 rifle I had out, but he instantly fell in love with the 12 gauge. (After firing one shot, his eyes lit up and he asked how much it cost.)

    I would consider starting him out with something a little more powerful, but it would probably include a good bit of dry firing along the way, and I can't imagine a .22 wouldn't be involved in the process, anyway.
  10. swanshot

    swanshot Active Member

    Jun 4, 2003
    Perth western australia
    ok Tranter, an interesting insight here (for me as well)
    I ran a group for first time women shooters. We started out with .22's, both rifle and pistol. When they were confident with them we let have a go with mild .38 loads. All good.
    At the end of the shoot we let em have a go at anything we had with us.
    They had shot "take home and put on the fridge targets" earlier, and wanted targets from what we called the "unlimited class". I'm not kidding now, most of the best targets came from things like full on 9mil and 357 loads. There was even a reasonable target from a 44mag fired by a woman I'de have said was too small to handle it.
    They (women) never cease to surprise me, that's why I love em.:D:D:D

    Me? after years of shooting a 357mag I'm waiting on my lic for my first ever .22 pistol (Ruger Mk1)
  11. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest


    On the .22 thing, I have to agree if put on the spot then .22 is the best way to start.

    I however was first taught on a 9mm (9mm handgun, .22 rifle) and I guess for better or worse you stick to what you know. I have often wondered if I would have been a better pistol shot if I had started with a .22? I am at best average. I will never know, having had very poor instruction in the UK at the beginning. Pistol, target, shoot that way....
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2008
  12. PPK 32

    PPK 32 Active Member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Frickin, Illinois
    My vote is with the .22. A person's success in learning a new task, is by breaking down that task into small sub, tasks. Cutting out a variable that can be introduced later, will insure that person is able to perform that task. Therefore, in the learning process a beginner does not have to deal with issues such as recoil, loud noise etc. you insure that they are more likely to be successful. Not all learners are the same, but you need to drop the learning "baseline" to a target audience--those that have never operated a firearm. Some learners will thrive on challenge, and want that kick and big boom as soon as they can get it. Great then ya take it up a notch. Sorry to go "college" on ya but this is what I have learned. My 2 cents and then some:D
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  13. oscarmayer

    oscarmayer New Member

    Jun 24, 2008
    i started both my daughters on 38 specials one took to it right off .the other didn't like it at all. after calling her a sissy i broke out a 22 and she liked it much better and learned to shoot pretty well. now she has grown up and carrys for work a 9mm sig and can out shoot me ( ageing eyes i suspect) the "older girl" now keeps a loaded 357 in her house for protection and goes to the range once a month to practice. i suspect it's all a matter of personal choices.i've been assigned the task of taking the g-kids to the range and have them learning on 22's one is 12 and the other 10. the 12 year old after being taught on a H&R top break "sportman" wants to get a webley 38 S&W he likes the top break guns. so next time out i'll let him use mine and see if he's up to being up-graded. hope he doesn't discover i own a top break scofield in 45lc
  14. lead

    lead Well-Known Member

    May 16, 2004
    Alot of people are starting to shoot at a later age, not as kids. Too many grow up without an exposure to guns. I think a .22 is a good way to learn loading, handling, sighting, and marksmanship.
    I also tend to think that a single shot is still a good way to start. Worry about "emptying the clip" later. Learn to aim, take your time, make your shot count.
    I learned on my own. I grew up in New Jersey and never had access to a gun. I was in my late 20's before I owned a gun of my own(an old Mossberg .22 rifle).
    It makes a difference if you have someone to show you the ropes, but I still feel a .22 is the best way to learn the skills you need.
  15. Tranter, if you want to start a newbie on something larger than a .22, you could always consider something like this:


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