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Reader asks – gun recommendations February 3, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Domestic Church, family, Society, technology, the struggle for the Church, true leadership, Virtue.

A reader sent me the following request concerning what kind of firearm I would recommend for someone starting out.  I hope he doesn’t mind, but since my own experience is fairly limited I thought I would open the query up to the readers who can make their own recommendations.  Here ’tis:

I am finally getting serious about arming myself, in no small part due to your recent post and some others by Father Z.  Can you recommend a good dealer for both a handgun and a long gun in the Richardson/Plano area?  What about shotgun vs rifle? My brother (a police chief in a small town in Illinois) suggests the former for home defense, but if the crap hits the fan I think it’s wise to have both. Any favorites you’d suggest?

As far as where to buy a gun in the area requested, I suggest Gunmaster on Ave. K in Plano, just south of Spring Creek, near the old Wells Bros farm store.  They usually have a good selection of new and used guns but may be a bit light on handguns.  For a lot of new handguns, Cabela’s or some other big box might be the best alternative I know of.

But what kind of gun to get?  That’s a difficult question.  There are so many out there.  My initial inclination is to go semi-auto in a long gun and hand gun.  Don’t mess around with a revolver.  You know I like Russian-style guns.  I think they’re great for beginners because they take abuse and will function even if you don’t clean them so well.  But price range is a really important consideration.  And not just the price of a gun, the price of ammo, too.  That’s another reason I like SKS and AKs, the guns are equal to or less than many competitors and the ammo is generally substantially cheaper.  So maybe start with a used SKS and see how that goes.  Those don’t require magazines, you feed 10 rounds in through the top with stripper clips and you’re ready to go.  A good quality used SKS can be had for $300 range today.

Other options in semi-auto (again, knowing your price range would be very helpful, prices below new):

AR – a billion varieties, all kinds of calibers prices from generally $600-up
PTR91 – US-made semi-auto version of the HK91/G3.  Generally $900-up.
Ruger Mini-14/Ranch Rifle – .223 (same as AR), lots of people swear by them, not always as customizable as an AR, a bit more expensive ($700 – up)
M1A – I’d love one.  7.62×51 NATO (.308 Winchester).  Very rugged. Based on M14 design.  But expensive. $1000-up

One benefit of an AR for new gun owners is the low recoil.  An AR-15 clone in .223 kicks waaay less than an AR in 7.62×39, and that can really help new shooters stay on target. I just happen to prefer a larger round with greater penetration, so I put up with the extra recoil.

Military surplus – If you’re willing to go with a used guns, aside from the Russian types and derivatives you can get excellent former military rifles.  M1 Garand would be high on my list, but ammo is expensive and sometimes hard to find (you cannot use regular .30-06, have to get Garand-compatible ammo), and for bolt-action, Mosin Nagant is a great gun and can often be had for less than $300 (and ammo is incredibly cheap), also Lee-Enfield, Mauser K98 (these two can be found cheap but ammo may be high due to rarity)……

As far as handguns, again, price is a big factor.  I originally thought I wanted a .40 or .45, until I looked at the ammo prices.  While 9 mm may not have as much stopping power if you’re dealing with someone all cranked out or, inexplicably, wearing armor, the ammo is waaaay cheaper.  And there are a million good handguns in 9 mm.  I chose an EAA Witness in 9 mm for myself. That was about $350. I know people who have Springfield XD or XDM 9 mm and really like them, but I didn’t like their feel in my hand that much.  I do have one beef with the Witness, after quite a few rounds the hand grips can start to come loose.

My wife got a Bersa Thunder .380.  .380 is another fairly inexpensive handgun ammo, though its stopping power is even less than 9 mm, for the most part.

Shotguns are great for home defense, and again, there are tons.  You can go pump action or semi-auto.  Prices vary widely as does quality. I’m not much of a shotgun guy.  But I would tend to agree that while a shotgun is great for home defense in a normal, relatively peaceful law/order type scenario, if things go to crap a rifle would probably be better.  Shotguns are terribly limited in range.

If it were me, I’d probably get a lower-priced AK/SKS/AR clone and a 9 mm pistol.  If you want high quality like Glock or Kimber you’re going to pay for it.  A 9 mm “automatic” can go from under $300 to well over $1000.  Glock’s are good (I’m not high on the safety) quality and are in the $500 range.  If you have some experience with firearms or want more power then an AK instead of the AR.

Maybe the requester could give us some more details, like price range and level of experience.  Readers are welcome to respond.


1. Frank - February 3, 2016

Thanks for posting my query.
I have fired a .38 revolver, .45 ACP, small-caliber rifles and single-barrel shotguns in the past, in target and hunting situations, but I would not claim any real expertise beyond having hit some targets. I’ve never shot trap or skeet.
I am willing to pay the price for a rifle and handgun with real stopping power as long as the ammo is readily available. $1000-$1500 for a premium long weapon is within my range, no pun intended, but if a less expensive model works well I don’t feel a need to overspend! I would like a decent handgun I can carry easily in my car or in a shoulder holster after I get my concealed carry permit.
Your recommendations are very helpful and all further advice is most welcome!

Tantumblogo - February 3, 2016

In that price range, a whole world opens up. AR’s chambered in 7.62 or .300 Blackout, M1A, PTR91, really good AKs, the DSA FN FAL clone……really, just about anything.

A few comments – 7.62×51 NATO (.308) kicks like a mule. Much more than 7.62×39 AK round. It’s a full caliber military round. You might have a hard time maintaining sight picture while rapid firing. Just a consideration. But stopping power is tremendous.

I’ve always thought 7.62×39 was a good compromise between .223 and the .308. Much more stopping power than .223 but more controllable than .308. .300 Blackout, though, is another good option, as is .270 or 6.8 mm. ARs are available in all those calibers.

Handgun wise, if you feel comfortable with .45 and can afford a M1911 clone those are awesome. But I tend to prefer more rounds in a mag to greater individual round power. My EAA carries 17+1. A lot of 9 mm have that many rounds. Most .45s ‘only’ contain 9-11 rounds.

Training is really key. Under stress, study after study shows you will default to your level of training. You wont’ suddenly “play up” when under stress. So, shooting lots is really key. That makes ammo price pretty important. If you have the resources, God bless you, get what you like. For me, I went with 9 mm because the ammo was about half the cost of .45.

2. rlutgen@cox.net - February 3, 2016

In reading your posts about how we need to arm ourselves with guns, my question is, what do you think may happen that we are going to need so many guns? My husband doesn’t understand this either. Help us to understand your reasons. Aren’t we to put all our faith and trust in God. For me as the reader of your posts and respecting your views, I just don’t understand this arming ourselves so abundantly. Thanks for your response and God Bless!

Tantumblogo - February 3, 2016

Me? I live in a bottom quintile zip code for income and crime. Break-ins have occurred on my street in the past 6 months. As for what I own, I have a very moderate collection, my great-grandfather’s .22, three hunting rifles, a hunting shotgun, a handgun for my wife and I, and then 3 sporting rifles. It’s readers who laugh at me for only having 10 guns.

I do think it not a bad idea to have stockpile ammo in case some disaster strikes, the probability of which is low but not zero. This can range from natural disaster, enemy attack, to a breakdown of civil society and something akin to civil war. It’s happened before in modern times, it could happen again.

But I’m not a big prepper. I don’t have years of food, a vault, a bugout shelter, etc. My wife and I are not real gung ho on the whole prepping thing, our conscience tells us we should observe Christian charity and share what we have should the worst happen, and trust in God that it will all work out.

But I think it very reasonable for heads of households to be armed and able to defend their families. There is nothing remotely un-Catholic in that. Most of the best priests I know have firearms.

Jana - February 3, 2016

Thanks for your response and clarification. May God keep us all safe and from any harm.

Baseballmom - February 3, 2016

“It’s readers who laugh at me for only having 10 guns.” Why TB, WHO would do a thing like that 😏.

Tantumblogo - February 3, 2016

Heh heh. Not that I wouldn’t mind having more. Send me $1000 and I’ll see that it’s well spent. My wife might prefer a new van, though.

Tantumblogo - February 3, 2016

And it’s just fun and interesting to me. I’ve always had an attraction for militaria and firearms so, it’s just a sort of hobby.

camper - February 4, 2016

There will be an economic collapse in America and around the globe because governments are blatantly ignoring basic economic principles such as:

Don’t get deeply into debt, public or private.
Don’t blow a bubble in the economy with your nation’s central bank.
Don’t make hiring workers any more difficult than is absolutely necessary.

Economic collapse this bad tends to lead to rioting. Think end of the Roman Empire without the borders changing.

3. camper - February 3, 2016

For those intent on staying in America (a big mistake) buying Boston’s Gun Bible is probably crucial to understanding firearms for the beginner. You don’t need to read the last ten chapters or so, but the first 25 are all pretty much important. Buy a $200 shotgun, a .40 Glock that is concealable, a cheap .22 rifle, and preferably an M1A for a rifle. You need the shotgun for home defense, the pistol (Glock) for travel, and the large caliber rifle for keeping order in your neighborhood in case there are riots. Read Boston’s Gun Bible for thorough explanations.

4. camper - February 3, 2016

Comment did not go through.

camper - February 4, 2016

Hey Tantum. Did my comment get lost?

Tantumblogo - February 4, 2016

Sorry was well and truly buried. Found it. Fixed.

5. c matt - February 3, 2016

A .40 is not bad, and a decent compromise between the 9 mm and .45. The ammo is more expensive than the 9, but not quite that much.

Another point – I love the Bersa, good quality and price, but other than the .380, finding after market accessories like magazines is difficult and expensive. The Glock may be more expensive up front, but you can pretty much find accessories for them just about everywhere.

Tantumblogo - February 3, 2016

Good points. I appreciate the input. And yeah there are good arguments in favor of shotgun, I was being very brief.

c matt - February 4, 2016

Thanks. Unfortunately, I learned those points the hard way.

6. c matt - February 3, 2016

But I would tend to agree that while a shotgun is great for home defense in a normal, relatively peaceful law/order type scenario, if things go to crap a rifle would probably be better. Shotguns are terribly limited in range.

Which is “better” really depends upon what situation you are likely to encounter if/when things go to crap. If range plays a greater role (out in open areas), then yes, the rifle is a better bet. In tighter places (inside the house, or even some built up urban areas) then the shotgun might be preferable as it forgives lack of accuracy much more. A lot depends on your individual skill level, and how much opportunity you have to develop said skills.

7. FL_Catholic - February 3, 2016

I have a Ruger SR9C, which allows me to use the “full-size” 17+1 mag or the “carry sized” 10+1 mag. Haven’t had any issues with it, although its a bit too big to carry unless your creative or wear baggy clothes! I’m looking at a .380 for my wife since the 9mm is too snappy for her comfort level and I would love to get one of the new American AK’s they’re starting to build in their new factory down here in FL. (If you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to check out their new catalog, its impressive. Looks like they took the best of the AK and the AR and put it together into one super-AK.)

9mm ammo is much cheaper than the .380,.40,.45, etc, and you can always get it in hollow-point for home defense. hit someone with enough of those and even body armor isn’t going to do much to help them!

My wife and I disagree on the need to stockpile ammo however. I’m much more convinced than she is that eventually there will be a SHTF point in this country, and as head of house I know I need to be prepared to defend my wife and home. Without enough ammo and training the firearm is useless.

c matt - February 4, 2016

The other factor to consider in the decision to stockpile ammo for a SHTF scenario is its trading value. Even if you don’t plan on firing all the rounds yourself, it would make a pretty good medium of exchange. Think about it – it comes in several “denominations” – .380, 9, .40, etc. is like a $1, $5, $10 bill, it is relatively easy to transport, it is fairly uniform and identifiable, and there is a large amount of it available.

8. skeinster - February 3, 2016

“Most of the best priests I know have firearms”.

And one was discussing a good handgun size with a lady parishioner in the breezeway when I needed to borrow a key to the sacristy.
Things that make you love being a Trad.

9. Sir Louis - February 3, 2016

Another argument for a shotgun in home defense is that the shot is very unlikely to carry through a wall and endanger your neighbor. If you have a handgun for the home, consider fragmentation rounds that will stop the perp but won’t blow through a wall. This is more important if you live in an apartment.

My wife and I both carry Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380s. Not a lot of stopping power, but eminently concealable. I used to carry a Glock 27 (.40 cal) but it proved bulkier and heavier than I could get used to. I now have it in a holster secured to the driver’s seat of my sedan.

Frank - February 4, 2016

Many thanks for all the thoughtful replies. God bless all here!

10. Deus Vult 19 - February 4, 2016

It’s all preference. Go to an indoor range, and they’ll help you out with trying a myriad of firearms, for a fee of course.

The Glock is the AK of firearms. It doesn’t matter what you throw at it, it will work. Period. The lack of a physical safety is the loss you deal with in order for to have that peace of mind (which is in fact far from peace of mind for most folks). I’ve got a G19, and I love it to death. One caliber (which has not gotten a shout out) is the 5.7. It’s got very low recoil, with high capacity, and it will penetrate body armour with no problem (not like that’s a common threat for most folks, but just saying).

If you’re open in the $1000 range for rifles, the AR platform is great. AK’s may be cheaper, but the controls are not as user friendly (anything can be customized though). My personal rifle is a MAGPUL Bushmaster in 5.56NATO. Ammo is abundant, and the round is much faster and more accurate than the AK’s 7.62. IF YOU DO BUY AN AR, for the sake of reliability, make sure that it runs a piston driven receiver. Much more reliable, less cleaning.

A cheap pump action shotgun will handle anything that goes bump in the night at home. Stuff it full of 00 Buckshot & Slugs (alternating), store it on a quick release gun rack (high up if you have kids) collect $200 and pass Go!

That being said, when buying, caveat emptor. If it looks like junk, feels like junk, it probably is. Try different models out, see what you like. Gun shows are great places to just look and handle just about anything out there, including some neat pieces of history.

11. Sobieski - February 4, 2016

Ruger makes nice firearms for the money. You might consider a .22 for practice in both a pistol and a rifle. Some consider the Ruger 10-22 as the ultimate survival rifle. Their semi-autos in 9mm, .40 and .45 are reasonably priced. I prefer .45 ACP.

Shotguns are fairly inexpensive. You might consider a Mossberg 500. There’s a variant that has both a hunting length barrel and a shorter, defense length barrel.

For ARs, you might want to look at Colt or BCM in terms of good quality, military grade brands. Smith & Wesson seems to be good as well and less expensive.

Here’s a video on good firearms to have:

Tantumblogo - February 4, 2016

I have two 10-22’s, one a tactical model and one a regular. I’m a big fan. But others passionately insist .22 is not a real survival round. But even if the holes are very small, 25 of them will tend to add up.

12. Sobieski - February 4, 2016

Forgot to mention that you can’t go wrong with Springfield in terms of their XD and 1911 pistols. Their M1A rifles are nice as well if you want a larger cartridge, but kind of heavy.

13. Chris Gleason - February 4, 2016

I’m not claiming any expertise, but a tiny bit of experience and an opinion or two. I like the previous mention of a pistol and something like an Ar rifle. In a home defense scenario, (as I imagine), space and maneuverability might be critical. I like the option of being able to be nested in a tight corner with a pistol, if needed. No question, you could clean house with 5 rounds of buckshot, but I’d rather have less weight and more rounds. No need for a long barreled rifle inside a house or a back yard. Seems like a 16″ barrel max. The pistol is a good start. You must be able to lock it up and retrieve it quickly. Make sure you can obtain it and operate it in the dark.

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