Author Topic: General Thoughts for Beginners and the Perplexed  (Read 1320 times)

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General Thoughts for Beginners and the Perplexed
« on: November 20, 2012, 12:27:24 AM »
I've been shooting pistols (and rifles) for a long, long time. Here's some of the fruits of my experience, specifically aimed at the beginner and the unsure. If questions arise in your mind, feel free to ask them, of me or of anybody here.
• In my long years of experience, I have found that it is easier to learn to shoot well with a full-size, full-weight, .45 ACP semi-auto pistol than with anything else. The best of these is probably the M1911-type Government Model in its many guises and clones. In a full-size pistol, the .45 has the gentlest recoil, so it is the easiest to control, and a single-action (SA) trigger is also the easiest to learn to use well. However, a full-size, full-weight pistol is the very hardest gun to carry concealed. That gives you two options: First is Clint Smith's observation that a carry gun need not be comfortable, but it does need to be comforting. The second is that you may eventually need two different guns, a "learning pistol," and a carrying pistol. (See the next item.)
• Any pistol smaller than full-size is difficult to shoot well. The smaller it is, the more difficult it becomes, to be effective with it. This rule is true, independent of the perceived power of a pistol's cartridge. A small .380 semi-auto is as difficult to shoot well as a tiny .357 Magnum revolver.
• Avoid traditional double-action (TDA) semi-autos. It's difficult enough to learn trigger control in the first place, so don't complicate the issue with a gun that presents you with double-action (DA) trigger action for your first shot, and single-action (SA) for all subsequent shots. Some people prefer double-action-only (DAO) for concealed carry because it does away with the need for a safety lever, while others prefer SA and a safety. Make your choice from those two, and stick with it.
• A long barrel is not difficult to conceal. In an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, it just dives that much deeper into your pants. The hard part to conceal is the grip or handle. Further, revolvers are more difficult to conceal well than are semi-autos of similar size. The cylinder is the culprit; and also revolver reloads either bulge or are slow to use.
• The thicker grip of a large-capacity semi-auto pistol may be a bad fit to your hand. However, there is no trade-off or compromise in the matter: The primary consideration is that the pistol must fit your hand, and magazine capacity pales in comparative importance. It's easier to learn to shoot accurately and reload quickly, than it is to overcome a bad fit with your hand. And, thick grips are hard to conceal.
• Do not buy an expensive pistol, only to carry it in a cheap holster on a flimsy belt. Expect to spend at least $150.00 on the holster-and-belt combination, and $250.00 is even closer to the most appropriate reality. Don't forget to buy a reload carrier of some kind, and to practice its use.
• It is easier to learn defensive shooting and defensive tactics, both of which are equally important, from an experienced and adept teacher, than it is to try to learn these skills on your own. Good training is worth every cent that it costs.
• And, finally, set your mind to putting in lots and lots of practice time, both dry-firing and live. Skill and speed with a pistol comes only after a whole lot of slow, smooth practice. Do not go fast. Be smooth instead, and speed will come to you in time.   
retired leathersmith and practical shooter

"Qui desiderat pacem, præparet bellum."