My Very First Gun – A Revolver
I am very fortunate in that I have access to a large array of firearms – semi’s, revolvers, carbines and all calibers. I tried many firearms and soon began to have favorites that I enjoyed shooting. It was one day that I went shooting with a friend and tried one of his revolvers that I fell in love with the Ruger GP100 revolver. I decided right then and there that I had found my first handgun.
Why did I choose a revolver for my first handgun? The first and foremost reason is that they are basically fail proof. I know that semi automatic pistols can fail and although I have been trained to recognize and deal with both, I didn’t want to HAVE to deal with it. I have been at the range a few times when my gun misfired. On those occasions, I raised my hand and sought the help of a range safety officer because I did not feel confident enough to deal with it myself. I live with a firearms instructor. I have sat in on the Beginner Handgun course many times. I know the correct procedures in dealing with these malfunctions, but as a new shooter, I’d rather not until I was completely comfortable shooting a handgun.
Revolvers don’t misfire. Well, no, actually they can misfire but the only reason a revolver would misfire is because of bad or old ammo. You will never have a misfire with factory loaded ammo. Also, should you have a “misfire” with a revolver, the correct procedure is to simply pull the trigger again.
Semi-Automatic Firearm Malfunctions
I don’t mean to scare anyone off semi-automatic handguns but there are two reasons that a semi-automatic can malfunction – the first is cartridge malfunction and the second is mechanical malfunctions. Cartridge malfunctions include case head separation, duds, and squib loads. Mechanical malfunctions are: failure to feed; hammer follow; slamfire; squibload; or a double feed. For more detailed information about these malfunctions visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firearm_malfunction
For all these malfunctions you need to understand how to “safe” your firearm. Of course, if you are shooting at a range, you can always avail yourself of the Range Safety Officer if you are unsure on how to safe your gun. All this being said, don’t let this scare you from buying a semi-automatic handgun. Educate yourself about potential malfunctions and how to deal with them and you will be fine.
I choose a .357 magnum revolver. The number one reason was self defense. The .357 magnum caliber is a “very effective” round and the beauty of this caliber in a revolver is that you can also shoot .38 caliber – a cheaper round to practice with. The .357 magnum revolver is the only handgun which can shoot two types of ammo. To learn more about this round visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.357_Magnum.
Easy to Clean
It is important to keep your guns clean. Every time you shoot your gun, a film of residue is left behind through the barrel and the barrel’s circumference becomes minutely smaller each time you shoot. The residue left behind consists of not only powder residue but also lead and copper fouling. To maintain accuracy and barrel life, it is important to clean your gun. Revolvers are the easiest guns to clean because you don’t have to take them apart as you do with semi-automatics. Revolvers especially, I find need cleaning. The residue left in the cylinders and on the ejector rod of my revolver makes my hands dirty when ejecting the spent cylinders, especially when I shoot the cheaper factory reloads, which are cheaper to shoot for practice but not as “clean” as the non-reloaded ammo. It takes me about 15 minutes to properly clean and lubricate my gun. A box of ammo holds 50 rounds and I clean my revolver about every 200-300 rounds, not because I have to, but because I enjoy shooting a clean gun.
How often you clean your gun depends on the type of firearm, what it is primarily used for, and what ammunition and elements it has been exposed to. Do your homework when you purchase your first gun and learn about the conditions under which you are shooting.
My Pride and Joy
When it came time to choose a revolver for myself, I decided to go with a Ruger GP100. I have shot Smith & Wesson, Colt and a few others but when I shot a friend’s 4″ GP100, it felt very comfortable and I shot great that day. We were at a gun show and came across a Ruger GP100 with a 3″ barrel. 3″ barrels are not common and I immediately decided that this was a great compromise between a 4″ barrel and a snubby (2″ barrel) for reasons I will explain in another blog post. Chuck called his favourite dealer and asked if he had any Ruger GP100’s with a 3″ barrel. He confirmed that not only did he have the 3″ barrel, the particular model he had on hand was the Wiley Clapp edition. I did my homework. The Wiley Clapp edition was a limited edition. It featured a match grade barrel, Novak adjustable low-mount sites, combination rubber/wood insert grips and a lightened trigger. These are all features normally not found on a GP100.
Much to the chagrin of my revolver enthusiasts friends, I changed out the combination rubber/wood insert grips for Hogue grips. I had shot many times with the original grips and found they hurt the palm of my hand. I much prefer the finger indents along with the security of lightly stippled rubber of the Hogue grips. Rubber grips also absorb recoil more. You can buy and change out the handles or grips of many handguns.
So ladies (and gentlemen), today, I am not only very happy with my revolver, I find myself very attached to it. It’s mine. It feels like an extension of me when I shoot it. I have developed the muscle memory that comes with loading, unloading the spent cartridges and shooting this gun over time. I liken it to becoming attached and comfortable with a car that you love. You learn how it handles and you become confident driving it. The same holds true for a handgun. Pride of ownership makes having your own handgun a worthwhile experience.
When buying your own gun, the one thing I cannot stress enough is that it must feel comfortable in your hand. It’s like buying a pair of shoes – they need to fit or else they will hurt your feet. Don’t let anyone talk you into anything you aren’t sure of. The best place to handle many guns is at a major gun show. Touch and handle many guns. Ask questions. Do your homework.
If you would like assistance in purchasing your first gun, GSP offers a Personal Shopper for the gun show experience.
Check back here for future blogs where I will discuss the difference between the .38 caliber and the .357 magnum and why it was part of my decision to go with the revolver I did.
Liane Banse – A Woman’s Point of View