Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The First Gun You Buy For Yourself

GunDiva's note: Tara asked me to post this on her behalf.

Me and my XDM, taking our bad selves down to the range.

From a novice’s point of view, buying your first gun might sound like a fairly straightforward, if not exactly simple, process:  go to a gun shop or sporting good’s store, try a few pistols or revolvers out for size, see how they fit, look for a good deal, lay down your money, and you’re good to go.  With expert advice at hand, I have done that more than once, the first time ending up with a Springfield 1911 that I love shooting.  But even though the 1911 was the first gun I paid for and brought home, it wasn’t the first gun I bought for myself.  Coming up with that firearm took five more years.


The difference is subtle but profound.  Buying a gun based on someone else’s expert advice is a very long way from having enough knowledge to make your own informed, personal choice.  This being The GunDivas' blog, I’m specifically curious about women buying guns for themselves.  As for facts, I was unable to find any statistics on the number of women buying guns.   Gun retailers don’t track sales by gender.  A Gallup Poll in Feb. 2012 stated that 23% of women are gun owners, up from 13% in 2005.  What I’m wondering is how many of those women gun owners chose and bought their own guns.  If anyone out there knows, I’d love to hear from you. 


In my experience, personal and anecdotal, men buy most of the guns women own.  Of my own personal firearms, six were either bought for me, or expertly advised for me long before I knew which end was up on a gun, two were inherited, and then there’s the one I bought for myself.  It was a watershed moment in my life as a shooter.


The epiphany came on the second day of a two day, thousand round, barely above freezing, kicked-my-butt tactical class.  I took my handgun to the class, my Springfield 1911.  I took a thousand rounds of .45 ACP ammo (can you hear the cash register ringing?), and I took a good bit of misplaced confidence.  The class was amazing.   It beat the crap out of me, and I couldn’t help but notice that all the guys I was shooting with were faster and smoother and more accurate than me.   Almost to a man, they had these sleek, semi-automatic, 9mm polymer pistols. 

What I was up against at that kick-butt class,
I'm fourth in line, you can see my leg and boot.

We had drills where we practiced racking the slides one-handed, using our boots and our holsters, and all I can say is “unprintable.”  With a leather holster, a 1911, and an 18 lb. recoil spring, I was well on the other side of “not a good idea.”  All the guys with their polymer guns and polymer holsters were breezing through the drills.  When we “buried” a snap-cap in our magazines so we could practice our tap-rack-n-shoot drills, I spent half my time at the reloading table while they were going through their double stack magazines. 


And then it hit me.  I needed a gun I could handle, a gun I could manipulate with ease.  If I wanted to be fast and smooth and safe and in charge, I needed a gun that fit me like it was part of my hand.  Nothing less would do.   The next few months of the hunt were some of the most fun I’ve had.  GunDiva and I spent a lot of time at the Springfield booth at SHOT Show, and in the end, I bought for myself a Springfield XDM 4.5” 9mm.   And it has been exactly what I expected it to be.  Yes, I still shoot all the guns I was given, all the guns the experts advised me to buy, but it wasn’t until I accumulated enough knowledge to figure it out for myself that I got a gun that feels natural in my hand, easy, the gun that fits me like a glove.
--Tara Janzen
The first gun I bought myself,
Springfield XDM 4.5" 9 mm


agirlandhergun said...

I was so clueless when I bought my first gun, I didn't even know what to ask. I had never heard the word Glock or 1911. I was that behind, so I had to rely on others. A few people said Glock, so Imbought one. Now, that turned out to be a fine choice, but it wasn't until I had been shooting about a year that I truly knew what I wanted, what I needed in a firearm. I carry an M&P now. It's a little thinner and it fits me a little better.

Red Shoes said...

A Springfield 1911... You had my attention right there!


Reddunappy said...

20+ years ago I bought my first gun. My husband had gotten me a .22 auto a few years before, but I wanted something bigger. I traded it plus some cast for an AMT .45 backup! LOL I still have that little gun.(my husband hates it! LOL) It fits me and I am comfortable carrying it. The second gun I bought for myself was about 8 years ago, I bought a Winchester featherwwieght .270. Love that rifle!!
I now want a .40SW revolver, dont know why but.... I have to find one I like and save my pennies :o)
(I did like the feel of one of the poly revolvers! but would like to shoot one in that large of a caliber, before I bought one)
I dislike glocks, they are ugly and have no asthetics, LOL to me at least.

tara said...

Hi Reddunappy - I definitely agree in shooting larger calibers whenever possible. Like Red Shoes said, there's nothing like a 1911 to get somebody's attention :-) The first time I pulled a trigger on a .45, I got this huge grin on my face, and the second time I pulled the trigger I was officially in love.

And agirlandhergun, I'm fascinated that you'd never heard Glock or 1911 when you went to buy your first gun, and curious as to what prompted the purchase -- self defense? (brilliant idea to get a gun for that - wish more women would do this!!) or like me, was it research?

The Lowry Kitchen said...

Sweet! I love my springfield it holds a special place in my heart.

agirlandhergun said...

Yes Tara, self defense. I was mugged and 3 days later I bought my gun and 2 weeks after that took my first training. I have been hooked every since:)

finski said...

My first gun was bought with a concealed carry permit in mind. The gun? A Glock 22!! It was huge and there was no way I could conceal it. It was a great first gun though and I love shooting it. Now that I am more informed I appendix carry a Ruger SR9C.

We tend to collect guns like they are lost little pets. We have a large number of differing pistols, rifles and shotguns and I have a name for almost every one of mine... LOL!

Glocks are my favorite though and we have quite a selection. I recently won first female in Guardian at my last GSSF match!

tara said...

agirlandhergun YOU ROCK!! A great smart choice - to level the playing field with a firearm - the one thing you KNOW is gonna work. And yes, Lowry Kitchen, I've got the Springfield bug - own three of their pistols and love them all. Congratulations, finski :-) I've never won anything with a pistol, though I've been thinking about our local Steel Challenge.

The Lowry Kitchen said...

I'm eye balling there new XD-S I like the size I wasn't sure if I liked how the grip felt. To much checkering which bothers me.