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How do I begin to shop for a self defense firearm? Tips please!

I'm a younger guy, nobody in my family really owns any sort of weapons and very few of my friends do. With all of this craziness going on and whatever laws looming, I want to purchase a firearm to protect me and my fiancée in case I ever need to before it becomes much more difficult to. I'm drawn to shotguns however a simple yet effective and good quality handgun would make the most sense for my situation. I'm not sure whether to shop online, go to a local gun shop, go to Wal-Mart or what (I live in PA). Could you helpful people point me in a good direction to find out what sort of handgun and features would be a perfect fit for me? I have no knowledge of brands and technical qualities but I don't want to be ripped off. Reference websites, stores, recommended gun models, etc would all be a huge help. Thanks!

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Thanks everybody!

I just took notes on everything that you all have told me and I will be going over it and making an informed start to my firearm search now.

To the various questions, I am primarily looking for a home defense weapon that I will likely occasionally use as a concealed carry weapon. The shotgun will be a later purchase after I am more comfortable with firearms in general. Its going to be a busy holiday weekend of researching. Thank you all so much!

Out of state firearms purchased here must be shipped to an FFL in your own state for transferred by your local FFL to you.


glock model 23 40 caliber

A shotgun has quite a kick and can make you develop a flinch reaction if it is your first shoulder fired weapon. Learn to manage recoil on smaller calibers. Although, for home defense, a shotgun doesn't have to be very accurate. In a hallway, a shotgun will rip a guy in half.

You are young, you mentioned a fiancé, I assume kids might be in your future. I have little kids too. This is why I like my Glock 23, my kids can't rack the slide so they can't chamber a round if they get ahold of it without my knowledge. Of course, I've trained even my youngest how to shoot, it's just requires more strength than they possess. This means I can keep my gun more accessible without fear of my kids doing something stupid. Glocks don't really have safeties to sort out in a dangerous situation and the absence of an external hammer makes them comfortable to conceal. Also, cleaning is a breeze. No special tools required and it can be stripped down to just a few pieces. The 40 caliber round will render incapacitation in less time than a 9mm round. Opt for hollow point rounds for defense and include them in your practice so you can find a brand you trust when it comes time to defend yourself.

Finally, learn your state and local laws and get your ccw as soon as you can and carry everywhere. Except schools because you can't have one within 1000 feet. When you sleep, it's under your pillow or nightstand, the rest of the time it's in your holster or concealed. Each state is different about open carry, conceal carry, and vehicle carry. You can usually google your states' revised statutes to find out what is legal, don't just rely on what others tell you. Learn if you live in a no retreat state, etc. For example, here in NV, you don't have to flee your home if that option is available. Bare fear is not enough to justify homicide, it has to be reasonable fear. Learn what is justifiable so you don't end up on the wrong side of the law. Finally, if you do shoot someone, shut the hell up until you have a lawyer. Legal action often ends up putting people behind bars because they said something that damned them. Basically, at the point that a cop has you standing in front of his car, that is your cue to stop talking to them. Suspects stand in front of police cars, everyone else stands by their own car or in their own car.


Me too

The only firearm I have ever owned, is the .22 rifle my dad gave me for my 12th birthday. I have been thinking a .357 magnum revolver with no external hammer.

1. The .357 magnum round is very powerful, but the revolver will also shoot the less expensive 38 Special bullets (for practice).

2. Revolvers virtually never jam.

3. No hammer to snag on a pocket or whatever.

4. No safety to fumble with.

5. Does not have to be cocked before firing. (Some semi-autos must be racked before the first shot.)

It makes sense to me. If (shudder) a guy ever actually needs to use the gun, the heart will be racing and tunnel-vision will have set in. Best not to need to disengage the safety or cock the gun.

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"Fully half the quotations found on the internet are either mis-attributed, or outright fabrications." - Abraham Lincoln

Ĵīɣȩ Ɖåđşŏń

"Fully half the quotations found on the internet are either mis-attributed, or outright fabrications." - Abraham Lincoln


Yes, your logic is sound. A .357 revolver is a great choice. If it is going to just be in your home in a safe or drawer, I would not worry about the hammer-less version. I would also make sure to get a decently long barrel. If you are not going to conceal it, the longer barrel will do two things; make it more accurate, and make it heavier meaning it will have less kick.

I used to have a .357 Ruger SP101. It was great except that it was a snub-nose. I couldn't' shoot very accurately with it at all and I am a qualified navy sharpshooter on the pistol.

"Be a listener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially on politics." -Thomas Jefferson

Here's a good start:

Watch this:

5 guns every american should own...

And then start watching reviews of firearms and tactical equipment from guys like this:

Same here.

I'm also from Pennsylvania and planning my first firearm purchase. (But I'm very near Ohio and might cross the border to buy there instead.

I'll be following this thread. Thank you all for your input.

might save a trip

If you purchase from a licensed dealer then, according to current batfe guidelines, they will ask you for ID and should not sell to you unless they are in the same state as your ID/residence. (In short, out of state purchases are currently against the bastar... uh batfe guidelines.) If it's FTF, then there is no requirement for ID etc. and there should be no problem (as long as the alphabet soup crew is not monitoring the transaction). In any case, it is the licensed sellers to whom the guidelines are applied.

Why Own Guns? Because It's Educational and Fun

I know that many of our colleagues here at the Daily Paul are staunch gun owners and would vigorously resist any attempt to be disarmed by the government. God bless you all.

Gun ownership is repeatedly condemned by the media and the entertainment industry because of its association with violence. Firearms are portrayed as tools of crime and they must be kept away from the general population.

I grew up as a young man with shotguns and long rifles in our household. Self-defense is key against tyranny and gun ownership is critical in defending our families, ourselves and the American way of life. But owning a firearm is about more than just self-defense. There is a whole world of enjoyment to experience with owning a gun: skeet shooting, trap shooting, pistol competition at your local gun club, hunting wild game, trading guns with your friends, making your own ammunition and acquiring a collection of guns to pass onto your children when God calls you up to the 'big gun range in the sky'.

There is something exhilarating about a firearm in your hands as you look down through the gun sight or scope, squeeze the trigger and hear the report of gunfire in your ears. Moments afterwards the smell of gunpowder confirms that one round is on its way to the target. It is a manly sensation and also appreciated by women, many of whom are excellent sharpshooters in their own right.

Guns are solid not flimsy. A good quality firearm will last a generation and they hold their monetary value in the free market. Learning how to clean your weapon is critical to its expected performance and regular maintenance means years of service. Owning guns is a great investment.

Why own firearms? Certainly for all of the reasons stated above but also; it sets us apart from the rest of the world who deny themselves the pleasure of gun ownership. It is how we identify with our past and keep our heritage alive.

What connects the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, freedom, and liberty together? Gun ownership, the right to keep and bear arms. To allow that to pass into oblivion is to lose part of who we are as a people.

Death2urking18, go get your gun and have fun. You’ll be joining the rest of us who already embrace a wonderful American experience.


If you are not from a family that owns firearms, you will be the leader in your family for the future.

Go to a local reputable gun dealer, one with a shooting range, and sign up for a gun safety course. They usually cost $50-75 for 2 hours of instruction, you will get to shoot their guns. TAKE YOUR FIANCE with you if you can.

They will have a lot of info for home defense options. DO NOT make the internet your only source for firearms knowledge. There is no substitute for experienced human contact with this subject.

Since the 2nd amendment is under attack, getting involved with a gun club will provide continuing training and education, and you will find that law abiding gun owners are some of the most sensible people we have in our society, and being a part of that will enhance your education and enjoyment of shooting sports.

All the handgun recommendations here are good ones, also, check out the Walther PPQ. (If you can find one, it could take months)

Also, if you have cable, Mondays are lock and load nights on the Sportsman channel, and home and personal defense is a part of their programming. Worth DVR'ing.

Good luck, PA is a more gun sensible state that most of it's neighbors, so you should do well.

How about this?

Like America, firearms is more of an idea than a physical part of reality. It is also a culture. It's more important to become a part of the culture than to purchase something.

Put the icebergs of gun control out of your mind. Don't purchase based on that. We've already hit the iceberg. The question is what to do about the sinking ship. Assume guns and the gun culture will persist. Then you can start to be a part of making sure that is the case. Don't worry. We are not going away.

Now, get ready to spend about 400 frn. Go buy yourself a Ruger 10-22 at a sporting goods store (Dick's, Cabella's, Bass Pro Shop,...anywhere, even (spit) Walmarts). That will be around 200 wfrn. Google "tech sights" and get yourself a pair (about 70 wfrn). Yeah, that was sort of a pun. Get some studs and 1 1/4" swivels (outdoor research makes a nice set) and a GI web sling. The rifle will come with one 10 round rotary magazine. Get three more and a box of 500 rounds of .22 long rifle ammunition. You shouldn't be paying more than 30 wfrn for it. Ask for a "brick." Get a pair of ear muffs and some safety glasses. Read the owners manual for the rifle. If you can find a range, go there, and learn how to load, unload, and discharge the rifle (safely).

If you've done this correctly, you have now assembled a "liberty training rifle."

Then sign up to attend an Appleseed marksmanship clinic. There are several each year in PA. This is the first, best, and safest means to prepare yourself for buying a hand gun, shot gun, assault rifle or whatever you need for self-defense. You'll never regret the purchase, and these little LTR's are doing more for liberty right now than any 1000 meter tack driver---which you will also eventually need to purchase ;)

For your first gun, unless

For your first gun, unless you have unusual needs, get a 9mm pistol of a reputable make. Unless you have experience indicating otherwise, the guns "everyone" who use them daily are moving towards, are striker fired Glock type actions, with no "safety" requiring operations beyond pulling the trigger, and with the same, fairly light, trigger pull for every shot, first to last. As well as a double stack, high capacity magazine.

The above qualities make training easier, and shooting more consistent, which means you'll become a better shot. The guns with these qualities include Glock, Smith and Wesson M&P, Springfield XD and Ruger SR. Try them all, and see which ones fits your grip best. Also, try them with a Crimson Trace laser grip attached. The lasers make hitting what you aim for in high stress situations easier, as well as making training more interactive. If properly maintained, which require little more than a battery a year or so, they are at least as reliable as the gun they are attached to.

Compared to shotguns, handguns are much, much easier to use even in home defense situations. Clearing house with a long barrel sticking out in none of you, for anyone to grab, is hardly beginner friendly. I'm not saying shotguns are bad, but handguns are just so much more versatile. They're also much easier to bring along should things be bad enough that you'd like a gun somewhere outside the home as well. And instead of being half competent with both a shotgun and a handgun, it's better to first become competent with the latter, and then, should you feel the need, get a shotgun to complement it.

What part of the state do you live in?

I'm in Pa. and the Game Commision has ranges throughout the state. They just recently changed the law to have individuals who use the ranges also be required to have hunting licenses. My suggestion would to first find a hunter safety course which is given by the game commission. It will thoroughly instruct you about fire arm safety. Making acquaintances at these class's will more likely than not afford you the opportunity to try out different weapons. Each individual will have their own preference and no two individuals or circumstances are identical. I used to have an old 5 shot 38 special for a bedside companion. Thinking I was doing her a favor I went out and purchased a 9 MM semiauto S&W for my wife. She hated it and felt much more comfortable with the much older, and alot cheaper, 38 revolver. In retrospect, the 38 did make a much larger hole than the 9 MM.

There are no politicians or bankers in foxholes.

Find a gun shop with a range

You may have to drive some, but it's worth it. My advice is to try a bunch out. But since this is your first gun, I would advise a revolver. They are safe, and nothing can go wrong with them. They won't misfire or fail to fire. You won't have to worry about the safety or whether you accidentally left one in the chamber when you dropped your magazine. You will be less likely to make a mistake with a revolver, especially if you are new to guns.

"Be a listener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially on politics." -Thomas Jefferson

Don't register your gun!

Don't register your gun!

juan maldonado

I went to a gun shop that has an outdoor range

They set me up with several handguns and let me try them all - wound up with a Taurus Judge - shoots both 45 bullets and shotgun shells. I've read good and bad about that model but if I'm nervous, I figured I'd prefer the shotgun shells to single bullet.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know Peace." - Jimi Hendrix


"I figured I'd prefer the shotgun shells to single bullet."

Plus depending on the barrel you could also use slugs.

"What if the American people learn the truth" - Ron Paul

FN five seven

If you can find one. On the ban list and will only go up in value.
Very little recoil and very accurate.
pistol of choice for the secret service.

And pretty much impossible to

And pretty much impossible to get ammo for.....

Unless one already has the basics taken care of, something that exotic is probably best left to others.

First off,

go to your local gun store and ask to see and hold some, whether it be pistol, shotgun or rifle.Get a feel which one feels good in your hand and do research on the gun you choose before buying it.Depending on your budget look to spend between 350 to 1000 for any of the three.For home defense every firearm should have a flashlight mounted to it so keep that in mind.Get some training with the firearm from a certified instructor so they can show you how to manipulate the gun properly, and always practice safety.

A Local Gun Shop

especially one with a range, will generally provide better service.
They are all pretty much packed right now and you may find yourself on a waiting list. Look for the local shops and if one isn't as helpful as you like, don't be discouraged. Just go try another. Your best bet would be to find one that also provides concealed carry training and licensing assistance. Even if you don't intend on carrying, the training is extremely beneficial and highly recommended. You will learn how to effectively and safely handle your firearm as well as the laws specific to your area. Know your laws.

A couple things: How much

A couple things: How much experience do you have with guns? You say you lean towards a shotgun but could also go with a pistol. If you don't have much experience, find someone with those guns or go to a range and you can usually rent. You need to find out what type of person you are. I prefer all guns haha. But most people usually have a preference (shotgun, pistol, rifle).

Then what you're needs are...

If you want a gun for just home defense and home defense only, definitely go with a shotgun. A nice shotgun to start looking at would be a Remington 870. Most popular shotgun of all time so its been through the trials and affordable at $350-$400.

If you want a gun to take with you in a vehicle and for home defense, a pistol is the most logical choice. And this is going to be preference. There's a whole 1911/Glock debate out there and if we're not talking carrying it on your person, I'm siding with a 1911 to defend my home and vehicle. It's a .45 compared to a 9mm of a Glock or a Sig, so you're getting a little more oompf! It doesn't hold as many rounds 8-9 compared to 12-14 of a Glock, but I only need 1 round to neutralize an attacker and 2 to terminate them. If you like the comfortability of more rounds, that's fine. But FBI reports show agents can put multiple rounds in a drugged up attacker and still be in danger (and that's with .45acp). So that's why I prefer more stopping power in the home defense and vehicle carry option, it's most likely a 1v1 situation anyways. Again, this is preference and I would reccommend firing a steel bodied pistol and a polymer pistol to figure out what YOU like.

If you're looking for something to conceal carry, I would make this a completely different purchase. Technically you could carry a full size 1911, but that'd be uncomfortable. You can carry Glocks, but FOR ME, I want smaller. I'm a steel-bodied pistol guy, I would go for something like a Walther PPK or a revolver. But the Ruger LCP and LC9 are big CCW sellers. They're very affordable. Again though, I reccommend this to be a seperate purchase from a home defense gun.

I'll have a Rem 870 at home. 1911 in my console. And a PPK holstered. :)

Home defense only? Definitely get a shotgun.
Home defense and something to bring with you while in a vehicle? Definitely a pistol.
Conceal carry? You need a second gun. My ideal CCW gun would not be my home defense gun. You can definitely use a CCW gun for home defense, but there's just obviously better options is what I'm saying.

Steel-bodied pistols: 1911. Range $400-650. Cheap 1911s (sub $550) you need to stay away from. EXCEPT Rock Island Armory. I've shot them, and I can't believe you can get a GI model for $400 and a TAC for $450. It's a $600 gun. Besides that, you'll be shelling out a lot of cash for a 1911.

Polymer pistol: Glock. Smaller round than 1911 but holds more and definitely cheaper to shoot. Also you can get good Glocks for $500. Again, this depends on your preference of steel or polymer pistols. And your comfortability with more or less rounds and 9mm or .45.

Shotgun: Can never go wrong with a shotgun as your first gun purchase. Much easier to grasp the general skill of one than it is a pistol. But if carrying in your vehicle is a strong desire, its cumbersome and depends on the state you live in.

Research: Polymer pistols, full steel pistols (Glocks and 1911s are the biggies), home defense shotguns, conceal carry (LCP and PPK are good places to start comparing/contrasting and also revolvers). Best thing to do is take your research and advice to the range and finally test it out!

A few years ago,

a friend and I went out for tea and on the way home we decided to go to the local war surplus store to peruse the gun cabinets. While we were there we met two police officers who were doing the same so we asked them what they would suggest when it came to a self defense gun. They told us 357 snub nose magnums were ideal as they don't merely maim (allowing the enemy to come at you again) but they get the job done.

When I took the class on shooting, the man teaching the class was a three tour of duty Iraqi war vet who commented the snub nose magnum was a very good choice, for one thing it wasn't a semi auto and there was already much talk the government was going to attempt to ban them and the other reason he thought it a good choice was due to the same reasons the police officers suggested which was, it gets the job done.

I am a woman in my sixties weighing less than 100 pounds and while this gun has some kick, it is entirely doable. The shooting class is empowering, you come away feeling like you could actually have a part in protecting yourself and your loved ones. As Martha would say... "It's a good thing!" hahaha...

Jefferson's picture



I was talking to a friend on the way home here in Texas, and guns and ammo are disappearing fast, both here in the stores and online.
If you want the ultimate shotty which most likely could get banned from import if they pass/impose legislation, this one is reliable.

They could possibly double or triple in price. Who knows how it will all pan out?

Someone recommended below. They are reliable and competitively priced.
There is a buying frenzy going on right now that probably wont let up. People have been seeing this day coming for a while. They started buying even more guns when BHO was re-selectected. I mean "re-elected." It went into overdrive after the CT shooting.

For Home

shotguns or handguns will work. While I don't own a shotgun, the XD pistols from Springfield Armory are very good - go for the 45 but if you are on a budget - try the 40 or 9.

Ive got the XD 45 ACP, and my

Ive got the XD 45 ACP, and my wife has the XDS 45 ACP

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

For home defense, nothing beats a shotgun.

I have a Mossberg 6 shot 12 gauge riot gun I picked up for under $400 (but that was before the "gun salesman of the decade" was re-elected). It is pretty hard to miss with a riot gun, will disable or kill an intruder wearing heavy body armor, but will not likely penetrate the walls or ceiling of an apartment. I would not hesitate to take a shotgun up against an automatic weapon at ranges under 20-30 feet. Plus, the sound of pumping it will make even most diehard assailants relieve themselves. If I am "taking it on the road," I carry a "Chief's Special," hammerless revolver. It is easily concealable and "good to go". I keep an empty chamber as a safety, as it is easy to pull the trigger once, then squeeze off a round before an assailant knows what is happening. I would "waste a jacket" before taking a bullet by taking time to pull my weapon and a "Chief's Special" will easily fit in the pocket of a jacket or vest. Revolvers are easy to load and almost never jam. I cannot say that about any clip fed weapon I have ever used.
I have a 100 year old 32, but they also come in 22 and 38 caliber.
Whatever you hear about "stopping power," more Americans are killed
with 22s than any other round. In any event, gun stores with indoor ranges usually rent guns. Test fire a few before making a purchase.
You can buy a shotgun or rifle out of state, but you cannot buy a handgun that way. However, if your girlfriend is from a "gun friendly" state (say, Virginia), you can have her buy it. G. Gordon Liddy, a convicted felon who lost his Second Amendment rights, brags about the size of "his wife's gun collection".

The hardest part of "training" for firearms self defense is the willingness to kill without hesitation if you are certain you or a loved one is threatened. If you cannot get past that, save your money and hope for the best.

While I am not suggesting you break the law, may I mention in passing, you do not have a right if you need a permit.

The biggest drawback to a shotgun for home defense

is the barrel length. The barrel will either protrude ahead of you when you enter a room through a doorway or it won't be in a ready position to hit the desired target. This applies to a rifle as well. A handgun allows you to enter another room without advance notice and ready to fire at what you are looking at. Now if you had a sawed-off shotgun (which is illegal) . . .

Magna est veritas, et prevalebit. Truth is most powerful, and will ultimately prevail.

here ya go

Personally I am looking at either a smith and wesson m&p 9mm or a springfield XD 9mm or glock 17 lol. Cant make up my mind but I'm getting a 9mm because the rounds are cheaper than 45s are and I plan on going through a lot at the range before I get my concealed weapons permit.

Homeland security statement: patriotism is now considered terrorism.
I love shared it with everyone I know. If anything they realize its not just a red and blue idiot running for reelection.