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Discussion Starter #1
I have never owned a handgun before but am picking up my new GP100 6" barrel tomorrow. Once I spend some time familiarizing myself with it, reading the manual, etc., I will soon have it at the range.

I sort of assumed I would send a lot of rounds through it at relatively short distances, just to get used to it. Then should I sit down at the bench and sight it in? I've never done that either. I'm told these guns are really accurate right out of the box, just wondering if someone has some advice as to how to best get accustomed to it. (like take 20 shots at X distance, move it back, etc.)

Thank you.
 

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I, personally, don't much believe in shooting a handgun off a bench. The few times I have tried it, the gun will shoot to a different point of aim than it will shooting off hand. If you have never owned a handgun before, the best way to learn would be with a good .22 caliber. As you have already purchased a GP100, I would suggest starting out with standard pressure .38 Specials, maybe even full wadcutters. These have very little recoil, and are very accurate. Then move up to .38 Special semi-wadcutters, and finally, +P loads. Then, clean your gun's cylinder very well and shoot some .357 in her, again going from target loads up to the full house magnums. And make very sure you wear hearing protection. I think you have the right idea about distance. Start up close and work your way back to further distances. I usually shoot at 7, 15, and 25 yards, and sometimes even as far back as 100 yards just for fun. You will be suprized just how far a handgun will shoot accurately. I can routinely hit gallon milk jugs full of water at 100 yds with my Super Blackhawk .44 Mag. The main thing is practice, practice, and practice some more. Dry fire the gun when you can't get to the range.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, that all sounds good. I have eye and ear protection, I've been going to the range periodically with an old Model 94. And I've shot a lot of other guns off and on my whole life, but growing up my Dad just wasn't a handgun guy, mostly rifles and shotguns. My office is right near the NRA headquarters range, so I will have plenty of opportunity to practice.

Just to be clear: is it always important to clean the cylinder thoroughly when switching from .38 to .357?

7 yards seems really close! But I know when I'm standing there the first time it will feel farther away.
 

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I haven't had any issues with not cleaning when alternating .38s and .357s. After a range day, I usually clean the cylinder the same every time, weather I swapped ammo or not.

I think the worse that could happen if you didn't regularly clean the cylinder would be the 38's would gunk up the cylinder making .357s hard to load/unload.
 

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Just to be clear: is it always important to clean the cylinder thoroughly when switching from .38 to .357?

It depends on how many .38s you shoot through it. I have just shot a few and switched to .357s with no problems. However, if you shoot a bunch of .38s it will sometimes leave a ring around the cylinder which must be scrubbed out, otherwise the .357s will have a hard time going all the way in. I am like Keith, I personally have never had a problem with it, but I keep my guns clean. I think most folks that have had problems with this shoot .38s mostly out of there guns and never clean them, and then when they want to shoot .357s they find out they wont go all the way in.

7 yards seems really close!

It is kind of close, but most times a violent encounter will occur very close. 21 feet is a good place to start at.
 

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When I am practicing defense firing, I take into consideration the average size of the rooms in my house. If I walk up on an intruder in my house, I want to be comfortable firing at a close distance. I do practice drawing and firing on silhouettes that are 5-10' away.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, I understand now about the .38/.357.

I just realized I put this topic in the wrong forum. I was reading the 'Range' forum earlier and thought I was still there when I posted this. But everywhere I go on this site I get friendly and helpful advice, and I appreciate it.
 

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What's the best way to get used to a new gun?
Shoot it!
Seriously, all above are good advice. 7yds is close but will build your confidence that you can hit something and will tell you how close the sights are to where you are looking. I prefer to try 15yds with a new shooter, and get closer if they are having trouble.
You should have shot your television a couple hundred times practicing the trigger pull and sight alignment mentioned to you earlier on other posts.
Between 38 & 357, the reason to clean the cylinder is if you are having problems getting the longer .357 cases to seat completely due to a crud / lead build-up in the cylinder from the shorter 38 round. Otherwise I don't bother cleaning while out at the range. But I always bring the rags, solvents, brushes and a compact cleaning rod in my range kit, as well as basic tools.
It's really a lot of fun to go out with a friend, especially if they are already shooters.
Just be aware of your surroundings and practice good safety rules at all times.
Sighting in on the bench with bags is fine, and helps to eliminate some of the shooter factor if your hold is consistent. Once you are familiar with the weapon and comfortable you have trained yourself in good shooting techniques, get off the bench and shoot which ever way you enjoy the most. While you should always practice good shooting techniques, the main thing to to enjoy yourelf and have fun.
Buy a couple boxes of the Winchester cheap stuff and use it to practice with, suggest the 125gr jacketed. I wouldn't even worry with 38s unless you are flinching or having trouble controlling the guns recoil. Then report back here and tell us how big the grin was on your face! Any questions or problems, be sure to post them too. And action pics are appreciated by all!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Jimbo! If I have to shoot the TV a couple hundred times before I hit the range I better tivo The View...

I look forward to the .357 grin, but am definitely getting a box of .38s for my wife, who also wants to get to know the gun so it doesn't scare her. The reaction to THAT first shot will make a nice action photo!
 

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Seriously.....a gun is like a woman...except it will never turn on you...handle it...fondle it-feel it in the dark-open it, close it, rub it-load it-unload it till you know every sound it makes-till you can anticipate the sounds and feel of the hammer rising and falling...like a horse-learn it...know its every action and balance. When you can carry it all day without noticing any discomfort-when you can feel totally at ease eyes open or closed...you know the gun. Now when you shoot it-begin with what you will carry-.357 or .38 makes no difference-you must learn to place the one you choose easily and quickly-no hesitation because of the recoil-nothing matters but putting the bullet where it needs to be...I believe your target should be head-sized at ranges of 15' or so-so that you could stop the thought processes of the threat before he can cut the throat of a loved one he's holding in front of him...how gruesome...and how likely......I am very convinced that if you are 100% comfortable and familiar with your weapon and can shoot that well-you can trust your life and your family's lives to what you can do with it. I can't tell you a thing about target shooting or hunting with it-but how to use it to be alive and healthy I can do...
 

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EddieF,
For cleaning powder crud from .38 Specials out of a cylinder, I like using Hoppe's Tornado brushes. They are stainless steel, supposedly will not scratch, and they remove lead fairly well. Enjoy your new toy!
 

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Practice, practice, practice! I like action targets. Falling plates, pepper poppers & pop up's are fun. Paper targets & cardboard are good for checking your accuracy. Like sheepdog say's, become intimate with your firearm. It will be the most loyal friend you will ever have! Good luck EddieF, & welcome to the forum.
 

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Clean it and lube, shoot the heck out of it. Use some 38 spl, 38 spl +P and 357 mags. Have a small cross tip screw driver for rear sight adjustment, adjust it to the ammo you will mostly use.
Have much fun and be safe.
 
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