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How to test-fire and choose a new gun and/or rifle

15286 Views 26 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  hhdorcy
Hello all,

I'm a long-time reader, first-time poster, and a law student. I'm also a recent graduate of SwampRat's CCW course (I'm looking forward to taking some of his advanced courses). It's very nice to see so many members sharing friendly, constructive, and reliable advice!

I'm interested in buying my first handgun and first rifle. It's in my character to shop around A LOT before making a big buying decision like this. I have an idea of what I'm looking for:

- 9mm or .40 S&W semi-automatic, tending towards compact but not sub-compact (considering G17 or G19, some XD's, some Sigs, etc.)

- Small-caliber (but larger than .22LR) bolt-action rifle for use at the range (considering several .223 rifle/scope packages from Remington, Savage, etc.)

I've read many reviews and recommendations online (here, on other forums, and on manufacturer and retailer websites), but what I'd really like to do is get out and fire 8-10 different brands and models and find what feels best to me. What is the best way to accomplish this?

- Do gun shops allow you to test-fire 10 different handguns before you make a purchase?
- Is there anywhere you can 'rent' several different models and take them to the range?
- Are there shooting clubs that own/share a variety of guns that all members may use?
- Does the forum ever have group outings where several of you meet up and shoot together? Would a beginner be welcome?
- Is it inappropriate to see someone at the range, tell them I'm considering buying what they're shooting, and ask to try it out (paying for my own ammo, of course)?
- Is there any service or individual that comes out to the range and allows beginners to try out a variety of guns?
- I'm currently in Missouri, and I recall hearing about a gun show last year where you could buy bags of bullets for $5 each and test-fire any gun at the show. Is there anything like that in Florida (or Missouri, if there are any fellow Missourians reading)?

Thank you all very much! I'm learning a lot here!



PS - Forum etiquette maintained. I did a search for "choosing OR selecting" before posting. 107 hits, but none seemed on-point for my question.
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That should work for me! I'll plan on seeing you there.
Hi hhdorcy
If you'd like, the range I shoot at is in St. Augustine right off I 95 (about one hour north of Edgewater). I have an XD45, a Kel Tec PF9 and P3AT and a Sig. 232.
We may be able to get a few other members here to join us and you could try their guns as well. My guns are .45, 9 mm, and .380.
My buddies are 9 mm and .40. I say this because you'd need to bring your own ammo.
Let me know.
If interested, PM me and I'll send you my cell phone.
Happy Thanksgiving.
I'm thankful and sure you are too!
I may be able to do that. I'll PM you and let you know. Thanks!
Scott, thanks again for meeting up with me! I really enjoyed shooting your rifles, and was very surprised (though I probably shouldn't have been) at the accuracy a person can get with the iron sights.

Range Report

Today I shot:
- Several Taurus .38 Revolvers (all of my family use them for EDC)
- Sig P226 (9mm)
- Kel-Tec sub-compact (9mm)
- Glock 19C (9mm) (thanks, guy-in-the-stall-next-to-me!)
- Scott's AR (shot with .223)
- Scott's AK (7.62x39mm)

All handguns were at 7 yards. Rifles were at 100 yards.

I shot as well as I usually do with the revolvers, which I've used several times. I shot almost as accurately one-handed as I did two-handed, but only when I pre-cocked. Shooting with the full trigger-pull, I was very inaccurate; I need to practice this.

The Sig was very accurate and comfortable, and I was punching out 4" groups (plus 1 or 2 outliers) with every mag.

I borrowed a Glock 19C from the guy next to me. This was the first time I've been able to shoot a Glock, and it was as good as all the rave reviews have led me to expect. I shot 2 full mags and kept every shot within the 4" ring. Barring an unexpected love of the XD-9 (which I haven't shot yet), I'll be getting myself a Glock 19.

I shot the Kel-Tec poorly. I imagine it was due in equal parts to the smaller grip, the shorter barrel, and the condition of the gun (a flea-market acquisition of my uncle's, which looked to be in mediocre shape).

I shot Scott's AR and AK at 100 yards using iron sights. I was really impressed at the accuracy a first-timer like myself could attain with only iron sights. With my very first try on the AR, I put approx. 12 of 30 on an 8" target. I'm not sure about my accuracy with the AK (Scott and I shot at the same target), but it felt just as accurate.

I really enjoyed the AR; I don't think I'll be getting a .223 or .308 bolt-action, as I discussed in my original post. I'll probably get a .22 rifle and scope for plinking at the range, and hold off on a .308 until I have a desire to go hunting (which may never materialize). I would be utterly unsurprised to find myself assembling an AR in the future.

Thanks everyone for your help and input!

- Harry
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Glad you liked the rifles! Somehow, iron sights have gained this reputation as being wholly unsuitable for anything more than 100 feet away. I'm happy to have been able to have you prove to yourself that its not impossible, or even terribly difficult. With practice and sights that fit you, you'll be able to do quite fine. And like I said, theres hardly ever a wait for the 100 yard line :cool:

Let me know next time you go out to Strickland, who knows what neat new toys we'll have.

Sorry that I'm a bit late on this. I'm bored and looking up older threads. :D

One word of advice for learning to shoot rifles. I believe it is very important to start with rimfire and work your way up the power range of centerfire rifles. If you start with a heavily kicking rifle early on you are going to develop bad habits that will be difficult to undo later. Trust me, I know... a particular very lightweight .300 Win Mag that I shot early on really messed me up and it took a long while finally get the bad habits gone.

I would stay start with a .22, .22 mag, or .17 rifle.
Then go to a 9mm carbine or something similar.You could jump right to .222, .223, etc.
Then .243s, .257, 6mm, 6.5 mm, or .30 caliber intermediate cartridges like 7.62x39.
Then go for high power 30 calibers and larger.

Now some would say this is excessive, and it may be. Just my opinion and how I wish I would have done it, and how I would teach people nowadays. You can feel free to skip a step or so. But the biggest thing to do is get to the point where you have zero flinch, have controlled your breathing and kept your heart from pounding, are sort of surprised when the trigger releases (part of this is having a great trigger on the rifle), don't rush the shots, and have absolutely no flinch or fear of the scope hitting you in the face. I have found that if you are keeping your eyes open as the shot goes off you are probably doing fine.
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Thanks, CrazyFingers. That's basically what I decided to do.

I'm going to get a .22 rifle with a scope for fun and practice at the range. After that, I will likely build or buy an AR. And if/when the day comes that I want to shoot at something not made of paper, I'll look into the .308 or larger.

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