Choosing a Gun for Yourself: Handguns
Picking your first gun can be a daunting task. By the time you reach the gun store counter you've likely been given more advice from friends and family than you can remember. Unfortunately, much of that advice might have been contradictory.
Your Uncle Jim said to buy a revolver, the guy at work said to buy a "compact. 22", your buddy from the gym said "get a glock". What's a person to do?
Question #1: What is your reason for buying a handgun?
If you simply want to learn how to shoot and practice marksmanship a pistol or revolver chambered in .22LR (Long Rifle) is a good place to start. The .22LR cartridge is inexpensive, offers very little recoil (kick) and relatively quiet when compared to larger cartridges. Handguns chambered in .22LR are fantastic training tools.
Should your desire be Home Protection, you will want to purchase a center-fire pistol or revolver chambered is a larger caliber, such as .380ACP, .38Special, 9mm Luger, etc. If the gun is to be kept in the house for security it doesn't need to be compact or light-weight. A large gun that fits in your hands will feel better to practice with and is more easily managed.
Lastly, if you are looking for a firearm that you can conceal comfortably on a daily basis, size and weight are considerations. It must be kept in mind that small, lightweight firearms are less forgiving of marksmanship errors and more difficult to learn to shoot effectively. These guns can indeed be mastered but the shooter must be dedicated to training and practice. It does no good to carry a firearm for self-defense if you can't hit an elephant at five paces with it.
Picking the Gun
Handguns are comprised on three major component groups: the Barrel, the Stock/Grip, and the Action. The action causes the round to fire, the barrel directly the flight of the bullet, and the grip supports the entire package.
Action: The action is the operating mechanism of the handgun. Generally speaking, all the moving parts of a handgun make up its action. Action as it refers to trigger function is broken down into two primary categories: Single Action and Double Action.
In a Single Action handgun the trigger is responsible for one, single action: releasing the sear, hammer or striker. The hammer or striker is already cocked by some other means. A single action trigger by design travels only a short distance and has a relatively light pull.
A Double Action trigger performs two actions; cocking the hammer/striker and then releasing it. Therefore, by design the trigger on a double action handgun travels farther and has a heavier pull weight.
Semi-automatic Pistols: A semi-automatic pistol has as reciprocating slide and is fed by a magazine of some sort. After a cartridge has been chambered and subsequently fired, the pistol will cycle and automatically chamber a fresh cartridge. The pistol is then staged to fire another round.
Double-Action Revolvers: Ammunition for a double-action revolver is loaded into revolving cylinder. Pressing the trigger on such a handgun causes the cylinder to rotate a fresh cartridge into alignment with the bore (barrel) of the gun. This action simultaneously cocks the hammer/striker and then releases it causing the cartridge to fire.