A question for gun people?

Hi everyone, I'm looking to buy my first handgun for self defense, target shooting, and possibly handling vermin and small to medium game. I really love a particular style of handgun, one with an elongated barrel. My favorite examples of this style are the Astra 1921, Ruger MarkIII line (excluding the "standard" style one), and Red Nine Mauser C96. Here lies my problem, though. I know everything about bladed weapons, but next to nothing about firearms other than that different ammunition does different damage, jammed weapons are useless, and that antiques are obscenely expensive and sometimes impractical. I need a weapon that is, above all else, reliable, effectively lethal, and in the style that I like (with the longer, non-tapered barrel). I would prefer something that is not terribly difficult to maintain, though I'm ready to learn how to care for any tool I own.

I really appreciate the help, everyone. Now as for the guns I mentioned above, the Mark III line fires .22 rounds, which are poor defensive rounds I hear. The Astra and Red Nine fire... Luger 9mm I guess? I really don't know... But I'd like a gun that loads fairly common, easily accessed ammo.

Thanks to anyone who helps, I'll be sure to give a "Best Answer" to the most helpful.

-The honorable warrior's true aspiration is to one day lay down their weapon for good.


Perhaps I should have clarified that I know pretty well how to operate and fire guns, including pistols and such. My family and my girlfriend are all pretty into firearms and I'v shot pretty often and go hunting, I just use whatever they loan me and recommend. Gotten to be a decent shot with rifles especially, but this is my first time BUYING. Thanks though, keep the answers coming, and thanks to those already in.

9 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    One gun can not do it all. But I will help......

    Based on your styling tastes & needs, try these.

    The Kel tec PMR-30 http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/pistols/pmr-...

    and the PLR-16 http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/pistols/plr-...

    For defense? http://us.glock.com/

  • 7 years ago

    Wow, those are relics. I had to look up the Mauser to make sure I was thinking of the right thing and find out about the Astra.

    So, first things first, You're right that the Ruger MkIII is underpowered to be a defensive weapon. Great plinker, great tarket gun, not so good for defense.

    Second, the other two have both been out of production for over 50 years. The last Astra was made in 1946, and the last C96 was in 1961. There's some problems you'll run into with guns like that. In many cases, you will need a gunsmith that knows the weapon to do any repairs. They aren't the most user friendly.

    Also, the C96 was available in a variety of calibers, while the Astra was 9mm Largo. Good luck finding that anywhere. So, on caliber availability alone, you have to eliminate the Astra.

    The main thing you want from a defense gun, is enough power to put down the threat, and something that's dead reliable. While they might not be as unique or attractive as something like a German Luger, Mauser, et al., the more common polymer guns like the Springfield XD, Glock line, Smith & Wesson M&P, along with other metal frame firearms like the Beretta 92/96, Taurus PT92/99, and the Colt 1911. Alll of these would be fantastic home defense weapons. All but the 1911 are available in 9mm and .40S&W options, and all are available in .45ACP. The 9mm would be the cheapest to shoot and with modern rounds, are plenty to stop an intruder.

    If it's any indication, many police departments use Glocks and the M&P, while the USMC uses the Beretta 92.

  • 7 years ago

    Your plan to start with a Ruger MKIII is perfect. You're right that it's not a defensive weapon, though it would be way better than nothing. Taking your Ruger to the range and getting practice will make you a better shooter. You really need to be a proficient shooter before you can effectively defend yourself with a gun anyway. The idea that a complete novice should get something with "real stopping power" is a dangerous fantasy mostly pushed by people who get their information online. In fact, you are always better hitting an attacker with a repeated steam of .22 rounds than missing with a .45 and not being able to take a follow-on shot.

    Once you feel competent that you can shoot quickly and accurately with a handgun, either sell the Ruger and get something more powerful, or keep the Ruger to continue with your inexpensive practice program.

    On another note: I do buy guns based on style. Given the choice between two different guns that do the same thing equally well, I will get the one that I like the looks of. When style cuts your choices down to just a few guns, none of which are ideal for your situation, it's probably time to broaden your search.

    I have a Ruger MKII that I shoot all the time. It might be the gun that gets the most rounds through it that I own. I also have a Beretta 92 that might be a good second choice for you, though there are many full sized 9mm pistols out there that work as well or better.

    For hunting small game, you probably want a .22 rifle.

    For medium game, you will need something like a .223 or something similar.

    No one gun is going to cover all your requirements, but that's how many of us got so deep into this sport. It's fun and addictive finding the perfect choice for a particular job that looks cool and feels right in your hands.

  • 7 years ago

    Common ammo: 9mm, .40 cal, .45ACP. I'd go 9mm or. 45 ACP

    Hand guns:

    CZ 75 9 mm luger

    Beretta 92 fs 9mm

    Glock 17 or 19 9mm

    Sig Saur p226 9mm, 357 sig, .40 cal

    Glock 21 .45 ACP

    Colt/ S&W/ Kimber/ Springfield armory/ Para ordinance 1911 .45 ACP

    Hard to say which will fit you but go to a range and give some a try ans see what is comfortable.

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  • Joshua
    Lv 5
    7 years ago

    Lose the attachment to any particular style of gun. You're basing your criteria on a particular look that has nothing to do with the firearm's function. I like .357 magnum wheelguns; I like the heft of them, the look of them, and something about wheelguns clicks with me. I carry an XD45, because semi-auto pistols present tactical advantages that are more relevant than what I like or dislike. Own a gun you like for a range toy; own a gun you can trust for a tool.

    If you're looking for a dual purpose outdoor/self defense handgun, you're going to be hard pressed to find one. Handguns of the size to ethically take game are hard to conceal for CCL and fire cartridges that are heavy for a self-defense load. For self-defense, you're usually looking at 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP in a semi-auto delivery system fed by detachable box mag. For a hunting gun, you'd be looking at a .357 or .44 magnum revolvers with 4" or longer barrels. There's some overlap between them, but you'd be shooting less common ammo like .460 Rowland or 10mm. You're going to have to make a compromise in one direction or the other.

    I'd recommend you get some time behind a pistol before you actually purchase one. Ask your buddies with guns if they'll take you out to the range (chip in for the ammo) or find a firing range that rents out pistols and try a few. Try different calibers and types of handguns and pick one that fits you in a caliber large enough to do the job.

  • 7 years ago

    IF you can find a place to try before you buy DO SO.

    THEN buy the one you are happy with and shoot well with.

    .22 is good for learning and target and possibly vermin.

    9 mm, or larger, is good for defense.

    For a handgun, I believe that .357 magnum is about the smallest legal for game hunting; but a rifle is better for larger game.

  • 7 years ago

    As others have pointed out, your intended roles for a handgun are not easily fulfilled by a single handgun.

    I'll quote your own words and try to address your concerns.

    Quote: "... self defense, target shooting, and possibly handling vermin and small to medium game."

    Quote: "... But I'd like a gun that loads fairly common, easily accessed ammo."

    Self Defense is most often defending yourself from human attacks, but it may also include warding off wild animals.

    Some popular Handgun cartridges for use against humans are: .380 ACP, .38 Special, 9x19mm (a.k.a. 9mm Luger/9mm Parabellum), .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum.

    Some popular handgun cartridges used for hunting: .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum (and the list continues onwards with cartridges too large & powerful to be chambered in a handgun that is small enough & comfortable enough to carry concealed everyday.)

    Target shooting: Can be done with any cartridge you can afford to use and at any shooting range where it is acceptable to use them.

    There are cartridges that offer lower costs and produce less recoil which are economical to shoot and allow a person to continue practicing for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued.

    The most economical and least tiresome cartridge to shoot is the ".22 Long Rifle" and a variety of handguns & rifles chamber it.

    Among centerfire handgun cartridges, the 9x19mm is the next best contender for low cost & versatility, followed by the .38 Special and other cartridges according to their price and performance.

    As for the amount of shooting a person can practice before becoming fatigued, it depends upon the recoil force produced by the cartridge and how heavy the handgun is (heavier handguns reduce perceived recoil better than lightweight handguns) and the techniques and stamina of the shooter at that point in time.

    To borrow some martial arts philosophy from Bruce Lee, the best way is "the way of no way". Therefore, I suggest you empty your mind of preconceived notions about handgun looks & style and concern yourself with learning which tools are going to be most practical for you to use in your anticipated situations. The difference between a self-defense tool and a "range toy" can be life or death.

    Handguns are like clothing: They must fit the wearer, meet performance requirements and satisfy personal preferences.

    Here's a helpful article about trying on handguns and determining how well they fit in your hands.


    Given your stated criteria I suggest you shop around for two handguns.

    One can be chambered for 9x19mm and will be a self-defense tool capable of warding off humans and wild animals up to the size of wolves & cougars.

    The other can be chambered for .22LongRifle and will serve you for economical target practice and can harvest rodents when necessary.

    Be assured that you will practice and train with both.

    And be aware that firearm collections tend to grow to accommodate available space. ;-)

    I suggest trying-on as many handguns (pistols and revolvers) as possible (because it is fun and educational).

    Also, for the ones that really catch your fancy, be sure to ask the store clerk to demonstrate how to take-apart and re-assemble them to evaluate which ones meet your criteria for simplicity and ease-of-maintenance.

    For example: The Colt M-1911 is a good "average" standard to use for complexity and ease of cleaning. By comparison, the Springfield XD series of pistols are simpler and much easier to clean.

    Another way to "try before you buy" is to take a handgun class for beginners. The knowledge and experience you gain will help you decide for yourself which handguns meet your needs best.

    NRA Education & Training http://www.nrahq.org/education/training/index.asp

  • 7 years ago

    It's very difficult to recommend a particular hand gun to someone else. The reason: hand guns are like underwear and only you can determine which one you are comfortable with.

    Right now, it sounds like you should focus on getting a .22LR pistol, so that you can learn how to shoot. Then, you should go take a Firearms safety course. You should be able to find one through a firearms dealer, local gun range, or you can contact the NRA for certified instructors in your area.

    After you have taken the class and practices with your .22LR pistol, you may be able to go to the local gun range and rent a series of firearms, to help you determine which one is right for you.

    Generally, the answer to what gun is best for me is: the one that that you feel comfortable holding, comfortable shooting, can manage the recoil and get back on target quickly, and the one that you've practiced enough to become accurate with.

    Grip comfort is very important, as is you comfort level with the firearm. While I may believe that the Beretta 92FS to be the perfect 9mm pistol, you may find the grip to be too large, the frame to be too bulky, and the pistol to be too heavy to handle. You may find a Glock 27 to be perfect and I may find it to be too small, to large of a caliber (.40 cal/.40 S & W), and the recoil to be too snappy.

    Once you spend a fair amount of time shooting firearms, you get a feel for what you like and don't like. Like I said, kind of like underwear-only you know which kind you like based on criterion that you have set.

    Good luck!

  • akluis
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    based on the style restrictions I'd have to say I'd recommend a surplus Walther P38


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