This is a great email

I normally don’t post emails that I get… namely because I just flat out get too many of them. And I may not answer them all. But I do read all of them.

Hi Ogre,

My wife and I have been batting around the idea of purchasing a pistol or two for a few years now. Considering some recent events, on both national and local scales, we are making that more of a priority. We’ve visited our local Cabellas and a couple of independent shops, test fired a few pistols, and so on, but we’ve still got some lingering uncertainties about exactly what we want. With that in mind, I thought it might be worthwhile to ask someone who knows about guns, and isn’t going to try to swamp us with a load of BS in hopes of making a big sale – i.e. you. (If you already have something like this on your site, I apologize for missing it.)

I understand that “what do you recommend” is a difficult question to answer without some additional info, so here’s what I think you will need to know to provide some useful advice:

1 – The primary purpose will be home/personal defense, and by extension target shooting to build up the relevant skill and confidence that we’ll need to use the weapon properly.
2 – We’re reasonable sure that 9mm is the ammo size we want – Good stopping power with not so much recoil as to be problematic for inexperienced users like ourselves.
3 – We want our weapon(s) to be semi-automatics. I’ve seen enough that I am confident in the mechanical reliability of newer weapons, and we also like their recoil-damping capabilities compared to revolvers.

Here’s what we’ve tried so far, and our impressions:
Beretta 92FS / M9A1 – This is our overall favorite to date. We especially like how the decocking lever and slide release work, although when test-firing, the accuracy seemed a bit random. That could be our lack of skill, or because the specific weapon is a range gun that anyone can use, and has probably had 50,000+ rounds shot through it by now. We found the slide to be a bit stiff when racking in a round. I thought it would have been a bit large for my wife’s hand, but she said she was comfortable with it. I kind of wish the decocking lever were below the slide, but you can’t have everything.

Beretta PX4 – This was the easiest for my wife to use, and she also likes how the slide will not manually operate one a round has been chambered. I don’t care for that as much, as it seems to make removing a dud round without dropping the magazine difficult. The rotating bolt also seems to be more mechanically complex.

CZ 75 – This one seemed to be a knockoff of the Beretta 92 – This one seemed loose, our shots went all over the target, otherwise the differences we noted were mainly superficial.

Kimber Team Match II – This one was a near-immediate reject for us. The slide was so stiff my wife could barely operate it, and while the grip safety is nice, it seemed that when we racked the the slide, the lever safety would come off and we would have to manually re-engage it. Neither of us liked the thought of accidentally firing a round because the safety came off when we didn’t expect it.

I know there are many other manufacturers out there – S&W, Springfield Armory, Sig, Glock, Wathers, HK, etc. etc. etc. Each with various pros and cons, but if we spent the time to handle and test every one, we’d spend months thinking about it and enough money on range fees to have bought one or two pistols.

If there is anything else you need to know in order to make recommendations/suggestions, please drop me an e-mail.

Thanks much!

This is how to write an email of this type… he gives me enough background information so that I might be able to give the best possible response. Because normally my response would be “Get a SHOTGUN and a GLOCK.” Because I know those work and without any additional information, that’s the best that could be done. “Oh, for you, I’d get the SIG 226. Absolutely the SIG 226.” Yeah, see, I can’t do that, because I don’t know you and that means everything. How big you are or are not, how you dress, where you go and how you get there etc. And this guy knows that I don’t know him, so he fills in the details.
No, don’t send photos of yourself… Unless you are a Smokin Hot Mamma wearing something small and thin. Other than that, just fill in the information like this guy did.

Now, to answer the question.  Let’s get to it!

The Beretta is indeed one of the finest fighting hanguns you can get, and if your wife can handle it, it’s a solid choice.  They are extremely accurate and reliable.  Your evident problems with accuracy though, means it would require some additional range time with the gun, which is great, but you need to do that before you can carry it.  So while I would recommend it… that’s a commitment you would have to make.  I’ve sold several to women who say that like the feel and have no problem with the gun’s grip size, but it is large.
Mechanically the CZ and the 92 are about as different as a V-8 and a Wankle Rotary Engine.  Both are great, but operate differently.  And like the guns, I like both engines.  The CZ is a great handgun, one of the best.  In fact, the late Jeff Cooper hailed it as one of the most advanced 9mm pistols you could get.  I’ve had several and all of them were very good.   You can’t go wrong.
The Px4 Storm, is once again, a very different system mechanically and operates just like the 92 from the Operators standpoint when shooting.  The upshot to the Storm is that more novice shooters will find the Storms to be more accurate and softer shooting thanks to that rotating action taking some energy from recoil.
For general use as you indicate, I’d say go for the Beretta Storm and get to know it better.  The barrel and locking lug should be lubricated with some Slipstream Grease while the rest oiled normally with a good gun oil… such as Slipstream Styx.  You can order those off or as you wish.
For some other pistol options, I am of course a fan of the Glocks.  A Model 19 would fit the bill perfectly for both of you, if you can both handle a 92, the 19 would be no problem.  A Gen 3 19 is the way to go as pulling the slide back for your wife will be no problem.  Another pistol to look at if you can find one, is the Caracal F.  Much like the Glock in that there is no exterior manual safeties, but the internals are different and the trigger is better, smoother.  I really like the Caracal and have shot one rather a lot.  I could probably be tempted to trade off something to get one.  The Caracal has a grip more like the CZ and much less blocky like a Glock.  Butter smooth action too.   Take a look.

With these options, it’s just a matter of taste as to which one would best suit your needs.

6 thoughts on “This is a great email”

  1. Considering the policical climate Ogre do you think a hi cap is the best for a first pistol. What if in a short period of time they can’t use their 15 round mags. like NY where you are now limited to 7 or more likely they are limited to 10 in the near future and can’t find mags to work or that are legal? Me thinks a single stack would be a better choice all things considered now…..

    1. I can’t make WHAT IF recommendations. I don’t have a crystal ball. And besides, what if none of that happens outside of New York?

  2. I would like to add my 2 cents here and say that like any RESPONSIBLE firearms noobs they seem to be overly concerned with external safeties. My wife was the same way when she first got her concealed license. I tried to explain the lack of need for an external safety because thou keepest thy booger hook off of the bang switch, but she didn’t get it until she shot a bit.

    I know I’m off topic but would like to add that no matter what weapon you choose, safeties are a mechanical device and mechanical devices can fail (usually because it hasn’t been cleaned in far to long). A safety is not a trigger lock and should not be expected to function as such.

    I know some firearms instructors and most all of the military are overly preoccupied with safeties, but they are over rated. A safety is really just a substitute for not following the 4 rules of gun safety.

    My PD and most issue weapons without external safeties because in a life or death situation the last thing you want to worry about is whether you flipped a switch.

    PS The slide release is only to hold the slide to the rear for stoppages and dis-assembly, other wise you use your off hand to pull the slide to the rear to chamber a round. If I sound preachy I don’t mean to, its just that there are a lot of instructors and friends of new shooters that dont provide good info.

    PPS X2 on the Smoking hot mamma in something thin!

  3. I would say that either the Storm or 92 would be a great first gun…key word is first gun. They already have limited experience with them and found them to be comfortable and at the time reasonably accurate and a full sized pistol makes more sense for home defense and general recreational use. In time along with practice I’m sure both will be proficient enough to be able to hit exactly where they are aiming with little effort. Once that happens then looking into another purchase (possibly the G19 that George recommended) would be the next logical step. I’ve only handled a Caracal F but never had the opportunity to fire one. The only problem I see at this time is magazine availability. Beretta & Glock magazines are still extremely plentiful…now expensive but available…so those choices seem to make more sense at this time.

    As far as possible NY legislation going nationwide…I don’t see it happening as the NY law will be challenged and 99.9% will be shot down as unconstitutional for being too restrictive (among other things). What the fudds don’t realize yet who say that the law doesn’t affect them will soon have to register their Remington 100 Turkey Hunter (semi auto + thumbhole stock), Browning BAR w/BOSS System (detachable magazine + muzzle brake) and other hunting firearms that meet the “assault weapon” requirements and will hopefully finally see the light and finally join the fight alongside the rest of the gun owners. That POS law basically banned at least 80% of the modern firearms made today. Think about it.

  4. Ogre,

    As a former IDPA match director, US Marine, and avid shooter I, too, get asked this question by new shooters that think I actually know something (hah, joke’s on them!). Anyway, as I explain that I only have more exposure and experience, not expertise, I tell them that this is a process and that there is no “magic wand”. My favorite analogy, especially for the women, is shoes. I simply explain that a gun is like a pair of shoes. You have a pair for work, for going out on the town, for running, etc; light bulb, ON. The point being that there is no “one gun” for every situation.

    So, my only humble suggestion to you when fielding the “home defense” question is to inform the prospective new gun owner that they also need to consider the ability to add illumination, and, if feasible, a Crimson Trace laser. Obviously, this adds considerable cost to a new shooter’s budget since he/she/it has been trying to budget the cost of the gun alone. For those shooters that are new and merely want a nightstand gun I inform them that the cost of adding these “accessories” is less than the cost of an attorney for a post-defensive shooting, even if you are completely justified. The cost of NOT having a SureFire X300, CT LightGuard, or Streamlight TRL-1 is significantly higher than the cost of engaging a target that you couldn’t identify as friend or foe!

    Like you already responded, Glock, S&W M&P, XD, Beretta, et al are all solid choices for a nightstand gun, but the gun is not a life insurance policy or a will that you simply create/acquire and then put in the safe. Too many people, as in new shooters, treat buying a “home defense” weapon like an item to be bought at the hardware store one Satruday; a box to be checked, if you will. Wrong again. Practice and training need to be “budgeted” into the equation.

    Oh, and one more comment; it’s good that they tried a 1911 platform gun, but I never recommend a 1911 to ANY new shooter as a first handgun. As a self professed 1911 “bigot”, it pains me to recommend a “plastic gun”, but the reality in 2013 is that the 1911 truly is, in the words of Larry Vickers, “an enthusiast’s gun”. To quote another gun legend, Ken Hackathorn, the 1911 is….”the finest close quarters combat pistol ever invented, and the king of the feedway stoppage.” Both men, IMHO, are correct.

    Anyway, I’ve made my point. Continue the good work and good advise for all of us, old and new shooter alike.

    Semper Fi,

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