Saturday, August 8, 2009

Handgun advice on .22s, 9mm, .357 Sig, .38 Super and .45 ACP

Got a gun advice question from Vinny (not the lawyer, I presume) and had the following Q&A:
I'm wondering if you could give me some advice on a few purchases I'm looking to make. First I need an accurate .22 for target shooting. i was looking at the Browning buck mark, the ruger Mark lll and the Smith & wesson .22A. All of these are in my price range. Is there one you would suggest over another? Will a 7" barrel give me much more distance or is a 5" ok for 50 ft shooting?

Next, I'm looking for an accurate, low recoil, fun to shoot semi auto for a tactical league. I was looking at the Taurus 24/Oss in 9mm, the smith & Wesson M&P in .357 sig or 9mm, or trying to find a semi auto in .38 super. I have a Kahr 9mm, M&P in .45, smith & Wesson J frame and a Ruger LCP. All of these guns barrels are to short and the .45 kicks just a tad bit too much . What would you recommend? Does the .357 sig in the M&P kick hard or will it be tame enough to get nice follow up shots quickly?

I appreciate your time. I'm big into rifles and shotguns, but the handgun thing is new for me, and I really don't have anyone to give me solid advice.
My response:
I think I can answer all your questions with two words: Smith & Wesson. I'd go with the S&W 22A over the Ruger or Buck Mark for at least a couple of reasons. The 22A trigger is vastly superior to the Ruger, which is just too darn heavy for good accuracy. The Buck Mark has a good trigger, but has the same problem as the Ruger, disassembly is so difficult most folks end up with a sackful of parts driving to the nearest gunsmith. Getting it apart isn't too difficult, but putting them back together is not for the mechanically challenged, like me.

Disassembly of the SW22A is fool-proof, even for this fool. Push the big square button on the front of the grip frame, lift off entire barrel and slide assembly. Clean. Replace slide and barrel assembly, push into place until button clicks. Done. On the other hand, take a Ruger or Buck Mark apart and you'll likely have miscellaneous parts and springs flying everywhere.

There's very little difference in accuracy between a 5" and 7" barrel, the only difference being the longer sight radius makes the job easier for the shooter. I personally do fine with a 5".

For tactical league shooting, I presume that means you've ruled 9mm out due to the power factor. I like .38 Super, but they're hard to find and usually expensive. I have two M&P .357s, the compact and the regular/Commander size. Recoil of either is a bit more than 9mm but not much. It's less than .40S&W and .45ACP, though .45 is more of a push, while .40 is all slap.

I'd avoid Taurus pistols like the plague. If you ever have trouble, and some models are a lot of trouble, customer service is practically nonexistent. Every other pistol manufacturer we sell at our store gives excellent customer service, but as the King James says, Taurus sucketh.

If you're not ruling 9mm out, the S&W M&P Pro is taking competitive shooting leagues by storm. It's a long-slide 5" barrel with a fiber-optic front sight and an improved trigger. We have them for $620 on gunbroker, but they're hard to find because of their league popularity.

S&W M&P 9 Pro Series 9mm Semi-Auto 5" Barrel Black

If you need the power factor, go with the regular size S&W M&P .357 Sig. Mine shoots like a dream and with the 4.25" barrel, Colt Commander size, it's called compact in every other pistol maker's lineup except Smith. It's small and light enough to carry concealed also.
Vinny then replied with some more questions:
I greatly appreciate your suggestions. What exactly is your shooting background? You're suggestions are actualy validated rather than a simple "because". Did yuo ever shoot the Beretta PX 4?
I replied:
Raised on a farm, hunting and shooting since knee high. U.S. Navy 1967-71, Vietnam War veteran, qualified with M-1 Garand and 1911-A1 .45 ACP. More recently, NRA-certified pistol instructor and N.C. Concealed Carry Handgun instructor. Currently employed as gun store salesman and photographer and writer for store, 385 guns currently listed.

No, I haven't fired a Beretta Px4 yet, but will do so at the first opportunity. The Px4 subcompact is very high on my ever-growing list of concealed-carry pistols I want to buy.
I suppose I could have filled in the gap a bit from my Navy discharge in 1971 to my NRA instructor status this year, but that's 38 years with a lot of shooting shotguns, rifles and pistols. I'm not a genuine expert like Clint Smith or Massad Ayoob, but I know enough to keep my booger hook off and bang switch until I'm ready to shoot and I hit what I shoot at most of the time. And I'm still learning at 61 and really looking forward to my first NRA pistol class Aug. 15.

And I do love to talk about guns.

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