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Author Topic: Single Action vs. Double Action Semiautomatics
MonsterZero
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posted 12-14-2000 12:36 PM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
What are the advantages and disadvantages of double action semi-automatic pistols compared to single action pistols? Why are old double-action pistols such as this Browning preferred by certain users?
Isn't a single-action modern Glock easier to operate, clean and so forth?

[This message has been edited by MonsterZero (edited 12-14-2000).]


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tony draper
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posted 12-14-2000 12:43 PM     Profile for tony draper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Presumably a double action doesn,t have to be carried with hammer cocked and safety on to be ready for instant use,
Its a long time since i have had anything to do with hand guns, and the only double action semi i had any experience with was a walther p38, if i remember correctly it could be holstered with a round chambered, safety off, all you had to do was draw the weapon and pull the trigger.

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MonsterZero
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posted 12-14-2000 12:51 PM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
So, double-action pistols are safer to the user in most circumstances.
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tony draper
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posted 12-14-2000 01:45 PM     Profile for tony draper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
WOAH, there M Z its thirty five years since i dropped a hammer on a live round, things have probably moved on since then.
Modern hand guners may throw their hands up in horror,in fast draw combat shooting in my day, the single action semi was carried holstered with a round chambered, the hammer cocked and the safety on, the weapon was drawn presented and the safety slipped and the round let loose.
The double action was holstered with a round chambered, safety off , the main prob with the double action was a much longer and heavier trigger pull, and tended to move about more as you triggered the round, but only on the first shot, on the p38 the next round was chambered and the hammer cocked by the action ready for the next shot.
But hey, like i say theres probably lots of better qualified people here to advise you.
Ps, I never liked the p38

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Bill Hewett
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posted 12-14-2000 02:17 PM     Profile for Bill Hewett   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Concur with Tony.
I started my USMC service with the ol' Colt .45 automatic single-action and always shot high expert. But I prefer the current service-issue Berretta double-action.
However, if I were buying today for personal/home defense it would be the Glock G18 or the Walther P99 (or perennial favorite 'James Bond' PPK) 9mm double-actions.

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Rick.50cal
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posted 12-14-2000 02:24 PM     Profile for Rick.50cal     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote

Well, I have used quite a few different pistols, for probably about 5,000 rounds.

The two I have the most experience with are the Browning Hi-Power 9mm, single action, and also the Glock 9mm, which I own, which is very similar to a single action but without a manually operated safety (maybe you could call it a 1 1/2-action ).

I have also used many double action revolvers by S+W and Ruger, as well as a Sig Saur P226.

My preferences are in exactly that order, from the best with the HiPower (good consistent trigger), Glock (little longer travel but very consistant), DA revolvers (much more dificult to get good hits at speed, but although the trigger is much longer, it's usually very smooth and consistent. Plus you have the option of using it like a "cowboy gun" by cocking the hammer manually).

The one I like the least is the DA/SA P226 semi-auto, as the trigger is not consistent pull length, and requires another weird movement for making the pistol safe to put back in a holster again. Many cops have found this out the hard way that right after a high addrenaline incident, and end up shooting their foot or leg. One poor guy (I'm sure he was a very competent cop, but under the circumstances, anything can happen, and usually does) actually shot himself two times in a row, because the instant extra adrenaline from shooting himself the first time, forced his gun back into the holster again. The problem? His finger was still on the trigger the whole time!!!! Talk about having a really bad hair day....

There is also some debate from police circles about the benefits of having a manual safety, because the number of cops who got shot by criminals using the cops' gun, are far less likely when the manual safety ended up preventing the dumb baztardz from actually being able to shoot (quite simply it took enough time that the cops were able to draw their backup gun and then shoot or arrest the evildoer).

Anyways, getting back to the single action issue, this is the reason the Hi-Power and Colt M1911 .45 are both still in full production despite being nearly a century behind in technology, and almost all of those sales are to very experienced profesionals, mainly ex-military (especially for the HiPower) or competition shooters, and many experienced law enforcement (not the average ones, but the ones that are very skilled, and know something about weapons).

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Rick.50cal


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Rick.50cal
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posted 12-14-2000 02:28 PM     Profile for Rick.50cal     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I dearly wish I could have bought the Hipower to add to the Glock, but I did not have the money to do both. At that time, the Glock was at a monsterous premium in Germany due to the upcoming Dessert Storm fighter bomber pilots buying every 9mm they could.

It worked out to about $900 US dollars, which is about double the price that they are now, ten years later.... a Hipower was about the same or more, if I remember properly.

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Rick.50cal


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MonsterZero
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posted 12-14-2000 03:27 PM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I am considering getting a 9mm High Power. I was looking at it in a store and comparing to other guns. What I did not like about it is the only one they had in stock was used and did not look pretty compared to the photos from the Browning site.

The HP is one of the all-time firearm classics, the European equivalent of the Colt 1911.


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tony draper
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posted 12-14-2000 04:03 PM     Profile for tony draper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Might sound like a wimp among you heavy caliber types ,but the weapon i always lusted after when i was young, was the colt woodsman, weapon of choice of the israeli spooks,
9mm .38.45 could only be used at the range .22 was plentyfull,and i could have taken it with me when i went camping, which i did in those days.
Did have the loan of a ruger single six once, enjoyed myself no end.

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Rick.50cal
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posted 12-14-2000 04:22 PM     Profile for Rick.50cal     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
The Browning HP was designed by the same guy who did the Colt M1911 (which was designed that year 1911), but is the updated higher tech ( ) as it was designed in 1935 , which is what the designation is. Part of the newer design was eliminating the beaver tail safety (deemed not needed), making a higher capacity magazine, and a few other things.

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Rick.50cal


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Dann
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posted 12-14-2000 04:49 PM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Having trained, and trained with a variety of law enforcement, I see many who prefer single action autos (specifically the 1911 pattern gun) over double action autos.

Amongst those "in the know," it is primarily because of the fact that on a single action auto, the first shot is just like the rest, and that can occasionally be critical. Something else to understand from an historical perspective, the 1911 and Browning HP (originally S/A), as designed by Browning, were for military use. This is a fine point: when a military handgun is drawn in combat, it IS going to be used! It's a last ditch weapon...and a military one at that. Traditionally military smallarms have all been single action in nature, that is the trigger performs a single action: dropping the hammer or striker. Note the pump action shotgun, M1 Garand, Mauser Kar-98, M1 Carbine, M-14, M16...all have single action triggers. Browning knew the advantages of a single action weapon.

For civilian use (defensively speaking), what I teach is this: the PERFECT DEFENSIVE use of a handgun, is when the handgun STOPS the attack WITHOUT having to be fired. Here is where, perhaps, a double action handgun has a small advantage: it is far more forgiving for any sloppy trigger-finger work than a single action auto. When a military combatant pulls his handgun, it's to shoot it. When a civilian pulls a handgun, he or she may not be shooting it. Grandma in the wheelchair or uncle Charley grabbing his gun from the drawer really do not want to have to shoot someone, but, ready or not, they have the gun to do it should push come to shove.

Does this mean I advocate less than perfect training and practice? NO! But, it does mean I recognize that the world is not perfect, and people goof.

Now, the choice. First, a single action handgun such as the Browning HP or a 1911 pattern gun require more training to be safe, and are far less forgiving for any mistake made. Double action handguns are inherently safer (read "foolish friendly"), but that first double action shot is tough to make fast AND accurate, and then there is the slight grip/trigger change to accomodate the rest of the shots which will be single action in nature.

Neither really has any distinct advantage (defensively speaking) over the other, if and only if, you as a shooter take the time to become proficient with the weapon you choose. Or, more accurately, any advantage the single action handgun has is usually outweighed by the myraid of other concerns and circumstances that will arise from such an occasion.

In competition, single action autos rule the day when speed is wieghted just ahead of accuracy, as in IPSC shooting. But, this is primarily because these competitors are being measured in tenths of a second, and that first double action shot could make or break you, from either a time or accuracy point of view. With a double action auto, you get either speed, or accuracy, but not both to the same degree that a single action auto will net for you.

On a last note, when training people or shooting in my club, I see many double action shooters thumb the hammer back before they start shooting the stage or practicing on the target.

I stop them, have them safely lower the hammer, and shoot their first shot from D/A. I say "You chose the gun, learn to shoot it right, or buy a 1911!"

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Dan

[This message has been edited by Dann (edited 12-14-2000).]


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MonsterZero
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posted 12-14-2000 04:59 PM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
So the Browning High Power is single action? I'm confused. I thought anything that has a hammer that can be thumbed back before firing is double-action.

[This message has been edited by MonsterZero (edited 12-14-2000).]


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Dann
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posted 12-14-2000 06:04 PM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Monster,

The original Browning HP is single action.

Here's the definition:

Single Action: the trigger does just one thing: releases the hammer or striker.

Examples:

Colt Single Action Army (traditional cowboy gun)

Colt 1911 45 auto

Browning HP

AR series rifles

AK series rifles

German Luger

A Double Action mechanism: where the trigger both pulls back (c0cks keeps getting deleted!) AND releases the hammer or striker.

Examples:

HK USP

Beretta M9

SIG Sauer 228 and series

Glock, though to me it still qualifies as a single action, it is imported as a double action and is technically so. The trigger does indeed move the stricker back a little before releasing it.

Smith and Wesson revolvers like the Model 19, 29, 686 etc

Smith and Wesson autos

Hope this clears it up!

Si Vis etc

Dan


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ATC
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posted 12-15-2000 10:39 PM     Profile for ATC   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Are the Sig Sauer 225/226/228 still the weapon of choice for the secret service, batf, etc? And are the double-column mags restricted for law enforcement only?
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Skoonj
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posted 12-16-2000 08:00 PM     Profile for Skoonj   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I concur with Dann about definitions, etc. Competitive pistol shooters tell me they prefer single action, even though they have to carry it holstered with the hammer cocked and the safety on. They say it's perfectly safe, and I have to agree with them, though I've never fired a 1911.

It's that appearance of less safety, I think, that has many police agencies choosing double action. Hammer uncocked LOOKS safer, and I think that's true, it is safer. My own agency, the Collier County Sheriff's Office, requires all deputies to carry double action pistols only. No single action. They may carry a revolver, and a few do.

Remember, most police agencies don't have decades of experience with the M1911. When choosing a pistol, they are leaving the world of the revolver, and so there isn't a wealth of institutional knowledge on the single action weapon. They haven't used them in action, and would have to satisfy themselves on a variety of issues, including safety, before using them. In agencies where the weapon is bought by the officer, not supplied by the agency, they don't want some carrying one type and others carrying another, when there are major differences in handling.

Skoonj

------------------
Excelsior, Fathead!
--Jean Shepherd



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Dann
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posted 12-18-2000 10:37 AM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Skoonj is 100% correct.

ATC, I do not know what all the Federal Law Enforcement are carrying, but I believe that the FBI is currently carrying SIG Sauers in 40 Smith&Wesson. I do know they looked at Glock.

As for double row, or high-capacity magazines: Federal law says that any magazine manufactured after (I forget the year) cannot lawfully be sold to civilian shooters; so older, high capacity magazines can be bought and sold.

California, on the other hand, in her infinite wisdom, has banned the sale of ANY magazine that holds more than 10 rounds after Jan 1, 2000. While it IS lawful to own magazines that you bought prior to the law taking effect, ownership can no longer be transfered within California.

My thoughts regarding California gun laws, and most gun control laws in general, require use of language that is not appropriate for this forum to adequately express my feelings on the subject.

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Dan


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Bill Hewett
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posted 12-18-2000 12:28 PM     Profile for Bill Hewett   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
One point of CA gun law I always found peculiar Dan was being able to carry a handgun in a vehicle as long as it was in plain sight on the seat next to you. I used to check my sidearm out of the MCAS El Toro armory and drive, via public highway, over to the Helo station in Santa Ana (Tustin) to use their range at lunchtime. It always seemed bizarre to me, but that's the law (at least in the mid-late 70's). I trust a carry over from the "wild west" mentality. I also believe it is still legal to wear a sidearm in plain sight in AZ or NM (local county governance of ordnance).
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Dann
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posted 12-18-2000 01:29 PM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Bill,

Good to see you...

I'm not sure of current Tx and Az law, but yes, UNconcealed and loaded carry is legal in MOST counties.

In California, I am familiar with the "in plain sight" rule of having an unloaded firearm on the seat next to you. HOWEVER, I think its been changed: now they want any handgun or "assault" rifle (rifles and shotguns exempt from this) to be carried in a locked container not accessable to the driver.

There was a time when I knew all the relevant gun laws, but now they've changed so many every year I just cannot keep up.

When I get to the legal aspects of my class, I am very quick to point out that I am NOT a lawyer, and a lawyer must be consulted for the most up to date laws that have been enacted.

Si Vis etc

Dan


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MonsterZero
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posted 12-19-2000 09:49 AM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Dann, would you recommend the Beretta 92 series pistol to a junior firearms enthusiast such as MonsterZero? Is that a good choice for a beginner? (about to take a basic pistol class) Thanks in advance for reply.

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Skoonj
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posted 12-19-2000 10:18 AM     Profile for Skoonj   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
MZ, what would you like to do with this pistol? Concealed carry? Home security? Competition? Plinking? Hog hunting? What you intend to do with it makes a difference in what you select. Also, are you about average or better in male musculature (if you have a very thin wrist and arm and small hands, you might want to avoid, for instance, a compact .45 like the Glock)?

Skoonj

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Excelsior, Fathead!
--Jean Shepherd



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MonsterZero
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posted 12-19-2000 10:45 AM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skoonj:
MZ, what would you like to do with this pistol? Concealed carry? Home security? Competition? Plinking? Hog hunting? What you intend to do with it makes a difference in what you select. Also, are you about average or better in male musculature (if you have a very thin wrist and arm and small hands, you might want to avoid, for instance, a compact .45 like the Glock)?

Skoonj


I'm a rather muscular and strong male at 5 feet 11 inches and 200 pounds.

I need the weapon for having some fun at the range.

I will not need it for self-defense in normal circumstances; my neighborhood, occupation and habits keep me away from trouble, but of course would want to challenge any sucker that breaks into my apartment or something.

I know I definitely want a 9mm semi-automatic of standard, not compact size. I don't want a caliber .45 becaue I don't hunt elephants and I because I heard most .45 pistols have a vicious twisting recoil.

I went to a gun store and played with this Beretta 92 (never fired it though) and it seems to fit really nice in my hand.

[This message has been edited by MonsterZero (edited 12-19-2000).]


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Dann
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posted 12-19-2000 10:52 AM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Monster,

While Skoonj is absolutely right with his questions, and with all due respect to him, how about this:

The Beretta is fine. If you like it. While Skoonj is correct that you should look at a gun with respect to its purpose, this also sounds like one of your first handguns, and you are learning.

Worry about "use" later; buy another gun down the road, or sell your first one to get a better one.

Is the Beretta my first choice? No. Is it Skoonj, or anyone elses? Don't know, BUT: it does not matter. Get what YOU want, what YOU will shoot best (they are, after all, usually the same).

One thing about the Glock, by the way; from a technical standpoint, I feel (opinion only, based on experience both in use and teaching), that a double action auto is going to be better than a "single" action auto which the Glock most resembles. (Remember, it is technically a D/A, but it FEELS more like an S/A).

I say this because the Beretta has 1) a manual safety, and 2) is double action and therefore more forgiving to mistakes.

If you have the chance, borrow or rent several handgun types and decide for yourself.

I have seen people start off with all kinds of handguns with great success (Glocks included!), and some keep what they have, many move to different models as they learn. I used to recommend revolvers for first time handgun buyers, and its still a good idea. But, the problem is that everyone seems to want an auto...and people usually buy what they want. So, go for it!

Get some experience, take some classes, as you do you will "fine tune" what you want a handgun for, and it is then that we can discuss different handgun models and your particular needs/wants/desires. Please feel free to ask more questions, too.

Si Vis etc

Dan

[This message has been edited by Dann (edited 12-19-2000).]


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Dann
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posted 12-19-2000 10:55 AM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MonsterZero:

I know I definitely want a 9mm semi-automatic of standard, not compact size. I don't want a caliber .45 becaue I don't hunt elephants and I because I heard most .45 pistols have a vicious twisting recoil.

[This message has been edited by MonsterZero (edited 12-19-2000).]



Monster,

LOL! While the 9mm has less recoil than a 45, there is no "vicious twisting recoil"!

9mm is fine, 40 S&W is fine, 45 is fine....they all do the same thing be it defense, hunting, plinking, target shooting: they punch holes.

If we want to get into terminal ballistics (just what a bullet does when it impacts), let me know.

Si Vis etc

Dan


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MonsterZero
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posted 12-19-2000 10:59 AM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Dann, what particular revolver do you recommed to your students for their first gun?
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MonsterZero
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posted 12-19-2000 11:07 AM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
To tell you the truth when think about my first firearm purchase it's a real struggle between common sense and male machismo. Common sense tells me that a revolver is easy to operate and maintain and if you want to check if its loaded all you need to do is to look into the drum. I fired one with my sister's boyfriend and it did give me this feeling of toughness and security. At the same time the other voice tells me a semiautomatic so much more "manly".

[This message has been edited by MonsterZero (edited 12-19-2000).]


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Bill Hewett
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posted 12-19-2000 11:18 AM     Profile for Bill Hewett   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
The Beretta 92 may be overkill (pun intended) for your stated purposes MZ. However it is an excellent first/last weapon. Take Dann's advice tho' and try several before you decide; the better gun shops will let you do this, similar to the better golf shops.
I'm still partial to the Walther P99 tho'. http://www.saftek.com/firearms/walther.htm http://www.geocities.com:0080/Hollywood/5727/guns.html

[This message has been edited by Bill Hewett (edited 12-19-2000).]


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Dann
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posted 12-19-2000 12:25 PM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Bill,

ANYTHING Walther is nice!

Monster, any revolver, really...but I am trying so hard to avoid recommending anything in particular! Handguns are personal things, and they cost a few bucks. Get one you're going to like, or at least feel that you're going to like.

If you change your mind, a relatively new gun should trade in at about half it's purchase price (negotiate with the dealer prior to purchase...) and sell to a private law abiding citizens for easily 3/4 of its purchase price.

Let me know what you decide to do!

Si Vis etc

Dan


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MonsterZero
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posted 12-19-2000 12:33 PM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Dann, the problem I have with revolvers is that they are sold in a bewildering number of calibers and their variations and I know nothing about revolver ammo...Just tell me what caliber would be optimal for me in terms of performance vs. ammo cost.
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Dann
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posted 12-19-2000 12:38 PM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Monster,

Ahhh! Gotcha. Best bet might be to get a 357 Magnum, because it will happily fire the less expensive 38 Special round.

However, please don't let me dissuade you from getting an auto....

Si Vis etc

Dan


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MonsterZero
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posted 12-19-2000 12:43 PM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Thanks a lot Dann and I apologize for being so pushy.


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Dann
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posted 12-19-2000 12:52 PM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Monster,

No worries...

Over the years I've been instructing and running a tactically oriented handgun club, I've tried to do the best for new and seasoned shooters alike.

I find that the best path to knowledge is sometimes a little self-discovery!

If you'd like to post your email, I'd be more than happy to stay in contact with you that way; or we can use these bulletin boards. You probably have a whole host of questions, and I am more than willing to give you my best answers or at least point you in the right direction for the information.

Si Vis etc

Dan


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MonsterZero
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posted 12-19-2000 01:08 PM     Profile for MonsterZero   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I really appreciate your offer Dann. My e-mail is [email protected]
Right now my biggest headache is not being able to sign up for any classes here in Illinois. I went to the NRA web site and my search resulted in this information

The problem with Mr.Ostrander is that he never picks up his phone and does not reply to phone and e-mail messages. I e-mailed the appropriate department of the NRA to find out about his whereabouts but so far my chances of getting started with some professional help are not very good, unless there are other non-NRA training programs available.

[This message has been edited by MonsterZero (edited 12-19-2000).]


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Dann
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posted 12-19-2000 01:27 PM     Profile for Dann   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Monster,

Let me tell you a thing about NRA Certified Instructors: everyone is one. And, most are just regular people with regular jobs, that took the certification course for one reason or another.

Not to belittle NRA Certified Instructors, because I am one! And, the course is pretty good.

How often do you get out to California? I'm doing another Intro to Tactical Handgun in January....

Kidding aside, keep looking for an instructor; what about your local gun ranges? If they do not actively promote an instructor, there may be one who regularly teaches there.

I'll be emailing you, and we'll discuss this some more. Feel free to keep this thread running to; there are a lot of firearms knowledgable people here.

Si Vis etc

Dan


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