Monday, January 28, 2013

Help A Friend (of a Friend) Out...

Got a good one today folks. My #1 blogdaughter has a friend looking for their first pistol. I'll let them tell you about their quest:
Hi Nancy, this is [friend]. I figured the “9mm shopping” would get your attention! I’ve been wanting to get my own 9mm for years, but until now have just lived vicariously through my brother’s handgun collection. We’re thinking of getting a gun before it gets too difficult or expensive to purchase one. I’ve talked to 4 different friends and family members and gotten about 50 different opinions on models, but here’s what we’re looking for… A common make/model with readily available accessories; reliability & ease of use more important than pinpoint accuracy; will use for plinking, range firing (cheaper rounds) and home defense (with burglar-killer rounds); hoping for the $500-650 range; expandable for later laser/light accessories; mid-range size (not really interested in concealing); something that [significant other] would be comfortable firing. 

I’d be the primary user, but it can’t be so big & bulky that [significant other] can’t work the action when needed or that recoils so much that she’d never want to go to the range. Price rules out HK and probably other fancier offerings. Glock comes to mind given their reputation – maybe the Glock 19 if it fits [significant other]’s hand. The Glock 17 I’m sure is too big, and the 26 is too small for me. Other than getting 50 suggestions to look at Browning, Sig, Taurus, Ruger, Smithfield, etc. etc., all I’ve done is visit the new KG gun shop to see their offerings. (While I was there, they sold their only Glock and can’t keep them in stock.)

Anywho, do you have any specific recommendations on make/model to consider or avoid given the wish list above? Also, any suggestions on where to purchase? Local shop, Greentop, Bass Pro, mail order, etc.? I don’t want to spend 2 months shopping around for the best price, but I don’t want to be taken advantage of as a “newbie” buy either. I HATE negotiating, but is the price advertised at gun shops the price only newbies pay, or are you expected to barter (groan!) as with a car purchase? So many questions….
Okay, so we know the parameters:
  • Common make/model
  • Reliability more important than supreme accuracy
  • Used for plinking, home defense, not so much concealed carry.
  • Price range $500 - $600
  • Mid-sized.

If the Glock 17 is too big and the 26 too small, the answer seems pretty obvious: Glock 19. The Smith & Wesson M&P9 might work; it's not quite as large as the Glock 17; the Ruger SR9 is about the same size; I wouldn't rule out the compact versions of either the M&P or the SR series. If they can find a used model, the SIG SAUER P229 might be worth looking into as well. The good thing about the mid-sized guns is that you can back them up with the full sized gun's magazine.

Beyond the Glock/SIG/S&W/Ruger offerings, the 9mm offerings become a bit more, well, specialized. Kahr offers a few medium-framed guns - like the TP9 - but they're on the pricier side and have fewer aftermarket accessories. Taurus has come miles beyond where they used to be, but have focused more on the concealed carry models than full size. Beretta has the PX4, which might be worth looking into, but again, there are going to be far fewer holsters/accessories when compared to the Glock or M&P.

As for the question of where to buy, I am a HUGE fan of supporting the local gun store. Box stores tend to sell firearms as part of a larger overall business; there are excellent employees to be found, but quite often are spread much thinner than at a dedicated local gun store. That said, there's also small local shops that seem determined to stay in business only through the model of never sell anything, that way we don't ever have to order anything. Talk to someone in the area (like Nancy's friend has with Nancy) and find out the good local shops.

Generally, and I speak only for myself and the local shops here, new gun prices are not negotiable. Where you can find deals, though, are on the consignment firearms - often, an offer close to the asking price but ~ 10% less will be taken, especially if the gun has been sitting in the shelf for any length of time. Granted, this is not applicable right now, as it's a seller's market, but in general I have found this to be true. Another place to look is in a local gun forum's classified section - I've purchased a number of firearms from local enthusiasts here in MA and found a number of great deals.

Anyone have any other suggestions for Nancy's friend?

That is all.


wrm said...

I've shot Glocks, I don't like Glocks, but when someone says "I don't know what to get" I tell 'em to get a Glock.

That, as you say, is all.

Brad_in_MA said...

What about a Beretta 92? Might be a bit large but otherwise fits the other requirements.

Lupis42 said...

As much as I like the Beretta 92, if the Glock 17 is too big, the 92 is too big.

In places that aren't MA, the Springfield XDs have a solid reputation, and the CZ 75 variants are pretty excellent in my experience.

Other respectable options for a 9mm shooter include wheelguns (Smith or Ruger for DA/SA, or the Ruger Blackhawk convertible) - though the light/laser options become more limited there.

If you can't decide, buy a used Glock 19. The 500 rounds you put through it to determine if you like it will have effectively no impact on it's resale price.

Ancient Woodsman said...

The best luck we had with trying to outfit numerous hand sizes with one firearm was the SIG P229.

Get one in 9mm for that price range either used or certified 'pre-owned'. Later might pick up the .22 conversion for the same.

Another thought -with quite the detailed reviews over at Gun Nuts Media - is the P250 platform. Although it doesn't have a .22 conversion yet, it would allow for numerous frame sizes with just one gun purchase, is quite less expensive than the classic-framed SIGs, and would also allow for caliber changes as the budget permits.

Lastly, if the price range is suppposed to be inclusive of accessories (holsters, light, etc.) then maybe something durable & reliable like the Ruger P95.

Anonymous said...

It's all about the feel and features. The XD9 has that nice "Round Chambered" feature that you can even feel in the dark. The Px4 has an active safety. Don't forget 1911 9mm variants, that hold fewer rounds but are single stack, smaller gripped.

Dave H said...

If the weather holds off I'll be picking up an MP40c today. The M&Ps come with several different backstrap covers so you can customize the fit. But I haven't heard any suggestions here I'd disagree with.

With the choice of firearms available today (panic buying excepted), it's probably easier to list what models to avoid. I like my LC9 but its long trigger and energetic bark may put off a beginner. (It's not exactly a plinker anyway; it's built for close-up work.) So I'd recommend staying away from subcompacts and pocket 9s.

Jay G said...

For me, personally, I'd suggest they try out four guns:

Glock 19
Sig P229
S&W M&P9 and compact.

The M&Ps may be able to be customized with the backstraps; the full size with the small might be sufficient for the SO while the large might work for the OP.

The SIG has the advantage of easily changeable grip panels, so that different grips can be swapped out as well - Hogue's mono-grip works really well here.

All choices come with an accessory rail (although the M&P compact's is on the small side), so light/laser/etc. are possible. Also, Crimson Trace makes grip lasers for all four models, and the LightGuard is available as well for a combination that's hard to beat.

Joat said...

I've got to second on the CZ 75, it's a steel gun so you get the changeable grip panels. If you get a standard safety model you've got the option of cocked and locked carry with the shorter trigger reach. That said I'd recommend a Glock or a M&P, but it's best if they can find somewhere to go shoot them and pick based on what fits and they can shoot well.

Wally said...

I'd say Glock 19, CZ75, Sig 239 (may not fit the price point new) and Kahr P9.

JD said...

I love my M&P. Good gun, lots out there and you can change the grip to fit your hand. . . they even give you three sizes in the box no extra $$$

JD said...

Should say I have a full size 9mm, not sure if you can change grips on the compact. . . Jay do you know?

Wally said...

Outside shot, just outside of the bounds.... Makarox 380 double stack ?

Dave H said...

JD: The M&P 40 compact comes with several backstrap covers that change the grip size. I would presume the other compact models do also.

Skip said...

My wife likes our new CZ P-07.
It came with two mags for $585 out the door.

Mike W. said...

Walther PPQ. The original one, not the brand spanking new M2.

cryptical said...

I'm going to go with the Glock 19. The gen 4 has interchangeable backstraps, accessories are readily available and it just works. You'll want night sights or aftermarket sights for it, though.

Unknown said...

Where are you guys finding new Sigs and Kahrs for $500-650 new? It's not going to happen at a local store, and doubtful it would happen in MA at a chain store.

The S&W M&P9 is a great hand gun in your price range, IF you can stand the stock trigger. I wouldn't buy this unless you try it first and don't mind the stock MA compliant trigger. It makes the firearm basically unusable in my opinion. Some people like it though. If you bought it and switched the triggers out it would go over your $650 limit.

I think the Glock 19 is a good choice, also I like the above mentioned CZ models. Also check out the FN, FNS-9 or FNX-9. My wife shoots mine just fine. They feature the removable back straps like the M&P series and are in your price range. They also come with the best stock mags I've ever received with a pistol.

Disclaimer - I don't own the CZ, but I have shot one. I do own the S&W and the FN, and yes, I replaced the S&W trigger with an aftermarket (Apex) kit.

I love these advice posts where someone asks for a gun in a certain price range and everyone recommends firearms $200-300 over it... if this continues we'll be telling the poor person that only an STI will do!

Ed said...

Aside from the SIG P229, you may also find the stamped steel slide SIG P228R, both in 9mm, that have a .22 LR conversion slide, barrel and magazine available for plinking.

If I was truly worried about size in the hand and unconcerned about the .22 LR conversion, the more compact, lower capacity single stack magazine SIG P239 in 9mm would work. A 7 round .40 S&W version of the P239 is also available.

Michael in CT said...

A used Steyr M9-A1 if it's legal in MA. Points better then a Glock or M&P, fits small hands well, points better then anything I have picked up, including the H&K P7M8 & Luger.