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BuckJM53 said:
Regarding a gun for your wife, since there are so many variables in addition to height & weight, I would recommend that you find a reputable gun store in your area (one interested in your business for the long term) that will take the time to evaluate her needs, and who has a wide variety of guns that your wife can handle and rent/shoot if possible. If you care to share your general location, the Ohio contingent here may be able to assist with a referral.
This is the best advice.^^^

The relationship between the size of a handgun (full size, compact, sub-compact, pocket pistol) and ease of shooting is counter-intuitive. The larger the frame, the easier it is to shoot.

For example, the difference between a 9mm Full Size and the newest 9mm sub-compact single stacks. A 9mm round will produce the same energy regardless of the handgun from which it's fired. The larger frame firearm has more mass to it to help mitigate recoil energy than a smaller one. To make up for the decreased mass, the smaller pistol uses a stronger recoil spring. This makes racking the slide takes a stronger movement. The larger frame has a longer sight radius, aiding in aiming.

You said that your purpose was "home/personal defense". My opinion...

If the handgun is going to be home defense & you're not going to conceal carry, buy a full size, polymer frame, striker fire, 9mm pistol that best fits your hand. If possible rent the gun. What feels in good in the hand while static, may feel completely different under live fire.

If the handgun is going to be for home defense & you plan on conceal carry, buy a compact size, polymer frame, striker fire, 9mm pistol that best fits your hand. If possible rent the gun. What feels good in the hand while static, may feel completely different under live fire.

Why 9mm? Because it's one of the most affordable center-fire ammo calibers. Less expensive ammo = more trigger time. You only earn better shooting skills through practice. Also when used for home defense, tritium night sights & a light/laser accessory are extremely helpful.

Again, this is my opinion you do what you feel...

Since you're both new, please consider enrolling in a NRA Basic Pistol course. The instructor will take you through the basics of safe firearms handling & basic shooting fundamentals (grip, stance, sight picture, trigger press). After the basic course, you can try to hire the instructor for some one-on-one time. Tell the instructor that you're looking to buy your first gun, and if he or she has different guns you can try out during your paid instruction session. After that, see if there are any courses beyond basics that you are interested in taking.

As I mentioned earlier, practice makes perfect. Ammo prices can make frequent practice sessions cost prohibitive, even with 9mm. Sometimes ammunition availability can make frequent practice sessions impractical. My best advice for a new shooter is to purchase a Ruger MKIII or Ruger 22/45 .22lr pistol. While the .22lr pistol will not teach you how to mitigate recoil, it will let you practice the basic fundamentals of stance, grip, sights, and trigger press. When applied properly, the basic fundamental skills will let you shoot any handgun well.

.22lr ammunition can be purchased in a 550 round "brick" at your local Wal-Mart for about $20 (in my area). The low cost of .22lr ammunition provides frequent & low cost practice. Warm up with the .22lr to work out the kinks, then transition to the center fire pistol.

You can buy a single MKIII or 22/45 to share.
 
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