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First Time Gun Buyer Experiences for Home Defense

First Time Gun Buyer Experiences for Home Defense

Posted on Jan 9, 2012 by Paul White

Recently my wife and I were talking about home defense.  Now that we have baby we tend to take things a little more seriously.  We got into the discussion of guns, and she voiced that she would feel more safe if I had a gun.  Considering how bad the economy is, and if we get a republican in the white house that cuts off the welfare for the poor, there is likely to be an increased threat of crime.

Texas is one of the most Pro Gun States in the Country.  You don't need any special permits to own a gun.  There is no waiting period. You just go to a gun store, fill out a form, they run a quick background check, and 5 minutes later you can walk out the door with you new gun.

This Article is to share my experiences of going from No Gun, to owning a Glock 17.

The mind of a First Time Gun Buyer

The last time I shot a gun was in boy scouts for my shotgun merit badge.  I was probably 12 years old at the time.  My other gun experiences were shooting a .22 Rifle ( boy scouts again ), and then my dad took me out with a military friend of his who had a license for automatic weapons, and I got to shoot a tommy gun.  These were the only gun experiences I had ever had.

Glock Storage Case

Handguns were new to me.  Naturally my only exposure to handguns was through Movies, TV, and the occasional YouTube Video.  When you don't own a gun, certain brands still stick out in your mind.  Glock, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Colt, Remington, Beretta.  Even though there are many different brands of guns, these names tend to be well known by Non Gun Owners.

Asking Friends and Family about handguns

I had a couple a friends who were gun owners and I asked them their views on the various brands and cartridge sizes ( bullets ). One of my friends is a retired Police Office. He said his work gun was a 9mm, and recommended to stick with a 9mm.  His reasons were ammo is cheaper, and available, plus the recoil is light.  I was leaning towards Glock due to their reputation for reliability.  He told me that he would guess that 70% of Law Enforcement Officers carry Glocks.  His advice was to get something that was confortable to shoot, and not so powerful that I couldn't keep my shots in a tight group during rapid fire.  It was great advice.

Online Research about handguns

When you venture online to research the various handguns, you are sure to find lots of opinions.  The consensus I got was Glock is just about the most reliable handgun you can buy.   This is after watching dozens of YouTube videos, and reading forum threads.  Naturally the guys online discussing guns were long time gun owners.  Their opinion was bigger is better.  Larger Calibers such as the 45 ACP will unleash some serious stopping power on the unfortunate home invader.  This whole discussion got me wondering what is the most power cartridge for a handgun ( non magnum ). 

What is the Most Powerful Handgun Bullet?

Now keep in mind I am not including those monster revolver rounds like the 500 Magnum.  I am focused on traditional 1911 style handguns.  There are quite a few choices when it comes to stopping power.  .22, .36, 9mm, .40, .45, 10mm.  That is listed in order from least to most powerful.  Yes the 10mm Auto is the most powerful round you can fire in a handgun.  Naturally my ego got the best of me and that put my focus on buying the most powerful glock for my home defense purposes.  This puts me with either the glock 20 ( full size 10mm ), or the glock 29 ( subcompact 10mm ).  After searching the internet and watching plenty of videos about the Glock 20 and 29, I was pretty sure that I wanted a Glock 29.  Powerful yet small enough for concealed carrry ( If I decided to do that ).

What Handgun is best to defend against Bears?

If you are able to place your shots accurately then any gun will do.  If accuracy is not your strength then a .45 ACP or 10mm would help.  To take out a bear you will need to put a bullet right in its brain, which means you need a shot to go right through its eye.  Unless the shots are perfectly placed the rounds might not penetrate the thick skull.  Simple unloading your entire magazine into the bears body will do you no good.  Yes the bear is dead, but he doesn't know it yet, and he will continue to rip your arms off for the next 15 minutes unit he finally dies of internal bleeding.  Your best bet is to aim for his mouth / face, and save the last round for yourself in case that doesn't stop him.  Its better than living through a feeding tube the rest of your life.  This was the consensus I got form reading many forum threads around the web.  If you want the best Glock for personal defense ( for both 2 legged and 4 legged creatures ) , the Glock 20 ( 10mm) would be your best choice.

Visit from Father-in-Law ( Gun Expert )

My Father-in-law was visiting us.  I told him I was thinking about getting a gun, and that was all he needed to hear.  Minutes later he had found a gun show that was happening tomorrow.  So Saturday morning I would spending with my Father-in-Law ( John) shopping for a gun.  First you have to understand who John is.  John likes vintage classic cars, he likes cigarette boats, and he likes firearms!  He has a very extensive collection of guns at this house, and travels with a small arsenal in tow. 

The gun show was at the Pasadena Convention center.  Cost was $8 to get in, and there was probably over 100 booths.  Lots of guns to look at.  This was my first time holding a handgun.  Interesting enough there was only two glock 29 in the whole show.  Price was a little steep ( $547 ).  I held it, it felt good.  I wanted to buy, but then I started to come to my senses.  Here I was about to buy a gun I have never shot before.  I had nothing to compare it to.  So I told John that maybe we should visit a gun range to try out a few before making a purchase.  That set in motion our afternoon plans. 

Shooting at the Best Shot Gun Range

After a search on google we found the address for a local gun range.  We visited the Best Shot Gun Range in Friendswood Texas.  It was about a 20 minute drive from my home.  We walked in and were greeted by friendly staff.  The price to shoot was $14 for a lane, and $7 for each additional person on that lane.  They have everything you need.  Ammo, safety glasses, ear protection, and various guns to rent.  It was $6 to rent a gun, plus the cost of Ammo

John had brought two of his handguns.  A Colt 45, and a 1911.  I shot the 1911 first.  It felt good. Not too much power.  Then I tried the 45. much more power, but still very manageable.  Then we rented a Glock 17.  The Glock 17 is a full size 9mm semi automatic handgun.  The first few shots were strange. Mostly because the Glock's have such long trigger pulls, when compared to the 1911.  But after I got used to the trigger, I was doing pretty well.  However my concerns were that a full size gun like the 17 would be too big for Concealed Carry, plus I was easily handling the 9mm round.  So I checked out what other Glocks they  had to rent, and they also had a Glock 27 ( subcompact 40 ).  Since I was still wanting a Glock 29 ( 10mm ), and both the 29 and 27 have the same subcompact grip, I felt that I should try the 27 to make sure it was manageable. 

Experiences with the Glock 27

If you have medium to larger hands, your pinky is going to hang off the bottom of the gun.  I didn't think very much of this.  So I loaded up a clip, and took a few shots.  What I noticed was the short barrel of the 27 with the .40 round caused the gun to lift really hard when you fired it.  I guess not having all that extra mass  at the end of gun makes a big difference.  What I also noticed was the gap between the magazine and the gun would pinch me every time I fired.  This was very annoying ( and painful ), to the point that after about 12 shots, I wanted to be done.  I know there are also extensions you can get, but I am worried that the gap between the extension and the gun will still pinch me. 

Rethinking a Subcompact Glock

After shooting the 27, I had a new appreciation for a grip that my entire hand could fit on.  If I didn't like the 27, then I surely would not like the 29, which is basically the same as a .40, except with a double stack powder charge.  So at this point I am focused on full size Glocks only.  Unfortunately the only full size they had in the rental display was the glock 17. 

9mm cartridge ammo

Considering the Cost of Ammo

Another factor I had to take into account was the cost of ammo.  The larger the bullet the more expensive it was to shoot, plus some rounds like the 10mm are not stocked at very many gun stores.  If you buy in bulk you can 9mm ammo for about 19 cents per round.  While 10mm cost 60 cents per round.  Remember to get comfortable with a gun you are going to need to shoot thousands of rounds and practice. Having a large caliber handgun isn't worth it if you can't quickly and accurately place your shots.  Below is a chart I put together which compiles data I pulled from various online stores.  These prices represent the cheapest you can buy these rounds for. However remember all ammo is not created equal.  Some rounds of the same caliber will have heavier bullets, and different designs ( hallow point ) which are designed to flower upon impact.  From what I have seen the cheapest bullets usually are round tip with steel casings.  These rounds might be ok for the shooting range, but when it comes to something you can count on you are likely to buy more expensive rounds for your home defense needs.  There are also Special Home defense round that are designed to not penetrate through multiple sheets of drywall, helping preventing any collateral damage to people in the next room.  However these round scan sometimes cost as much as $2 each in the 9mm caliber.  The cheapest to fire is the 9mm, mostly because its the most common handgun round.  The 22LR (RimFire) is also available for handguns ( though not Glocks ), and these rounds can go for as little as 2.9 Cents each, but in this article we are going to focus on rounds with stopping power. 

Cost of Handgun Ammo by Caliber and Quantity

The cheapest handgun ammo is going to be the .22LR.  To give you an idea of how cheap it is. I was able to buy a box of 550 rounds of 22LR for about $16 at Walmart ( in Texas ).  That averages out to 2.9 Cents / round.  If you want the most affordable gun to shoot, then get a handgun that uses .22LR  However 22LR has some drawbacks.  Its Rim fired, rather than center fired.  This makes it unsafe for double stacked magazines, as the friction between the rounds could set one off.  As a result all Hand Guns that shoot 22LR feature single stacked magazines.  The downfall is most 22LR handguns have a very limited capactiy ( about 10 rounds ) per magazine.  The other concern is the 22LR has significantly less stopping power when compared to a 9mm or larger caliber.  A good starter ( but not weak ) caliber to get is the 9mm.  That and its the smallest available on US Glocks.

Cartridge Sizex20x50x100x250x500x1000
.40 S&W$0.90$0.31$0.31$0.30$0.30$0.26
.45 ACP$0.92$0.36$0.35$0.36$0.35$0.32
10 mm-$0.50$0.50$0.50$0.50$0.50
.50 GI$1.55$1.55$1.55$1.55$1.55$1.55

On the above chart I am only focusing on cartridges for Glocks, The .50 GI works on the GunCrafters 50 cal upgrade package for Glocks.  There is also a 22LR upgrade package, but from the online reviews it has frequent jams and is not reliable, so I wouldn't recommend it.  If you want a handgun that shoots 22LR, get one that was made for it.

Saving money by reloading your old Brass Casings

For those people who are into recycling, it is possible to pick up your used brass casings and reload them with a primer, powder and bullet.  You have to get a special machine that will allow you to do this.  Its very tedious and time consuming, plus the savings per round is minimal ( maybe 2 - 3 cents per 9mm round ).  But if money it tight and you got a new Mini gun ( 6000 rounds per minute ), these savings can add up.  If you shoot with larger calibers the savings is a little greater, but still you have to be shooting thousands of rounds / year to even break even on the initial equipment costs.  Its not a bad idea if you have a bunch of buddies and all shoot the same caliber.  This would allow you to combine your money and buy the powder, primers and bullets in bulk.  However something to keep in mind  is you can't repack the same brass casing over and over again.  Eventually they will become damaged and they are no longer suitable for repacking.  I have read that you might get 3- 5 repacks at most from a single casing.   The brass itself is often free as gun ranges usually have plenty of used brass, that would normally be thrown away or recycled.  Brass is a pretty cheap metal ( $2 - $3 / pound ) so unless you have 10K + empty shells, taking them down to your recycling center and cashing them in might not yield what you expect.
Glock 17 Gen3 9mm handgun with Loaded Magazines and Speed Loader

Good Handgun for first time owners Glock 17

After trying the various guns I decided to go with the Glock 17.  Once I get comfortable with the 17, I might consider a subcompact for concealed carry, or even a larger caliber.  But for a good all around home defense gun the Glock 17 Gen 3 will work just fine.  I tried the Gen 4, but I didn't like the texture on the grip.  If you were going to shoot with gloves that is one thing, but bare handed shooting made the texture a little painful.  The total price was $551, and that included 3 magazines, Storage box, cleaning brush, speed loader, and Glock range bag.  Let me say that speed loader makes a world of difference.  Hand loading new stiff magazines sucks!

Glock 17 round Magazine


Anyway I hope these experiences help others who might be thinking of getting something for home defense.  My Advise, don't buy a gun without shooting it first.  Goto a gun range and rent a few guns before you decide to make a purchase. 

Glock 17 in Stoage Case with Magazines and Accessories

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Paul | Sep 13, 2012 12:39 AM
I haven't tried the Glock 34 yet.  I am sure its more accurate since it has a longer barrel.  I love my glock 17, but its a little large for CC.  Considering a Glock 30 ( 45 sub compact ).  Unfortunately the range I shoot at doesn't have any in the rental cabinet.  Might have to visit a different range to try one.
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