Thinking of semi-auto pistol

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cbshtr posted this 09 April 2017

Thinking of getting a pistol for home defense. Never had a semi before. Looking at 9mm and 40 S&W and want ideas why one is better than the other. I want it to be a cast bullet shooter without a bunch of problems. I'm looking for gun suggestions and bullet designs that seem to work flawlessly. I'm looking for something in the 3 1/2” or smaller barrel size that can be easily carried conceal with a decent magazine capacity. I found a used Stoeger Cougar in 9mm which I really like but have no idea how they do with cast and new ones are apparently hard to find. A 40 would be nice since my son has one and we could share reloading equipment.

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 09 April 2017

Since you have decided on a S&W and ar not asking for gun recommendations, just caliber. Both calibers handload the same way with no peculiarities. The 3.5” will not make of much of a difference between calibers. I have many semi-auto handguns in both calibers and so what I say comes with experience. The only real difference between the two calibers is a slight edge in energy to the .40, but that comes with considerable more recoil. So unless you plan to do some extensive training with the .40, I would go with the 9mm. With all of the fine 9mm ammunition & bullets on the market today, you will have a good handgun for self defense. I wouldn't have said that 20 years ago. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

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cbshtr posted this 09 April 2017

David, 

I trust your advice on the 9mm vs 40 S&W question as I have heard the same thing from multiple resources. The 9 does make a lot of sense. I am interested in what guys are using in a semi-compact, sub-compact platform that have decent capacity and handle cast bullets well. The Cougar I mentioned was a 9 and very nice. I've seen in my research that some guns have feeding problems with cast and that's something I want to avoid. I'm sure round nose are most reliable but I want something with a flat nose that can transfer energy better. Any particular molds that function well in multiple guns?

David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 09 April 2017

Most semi-autos now are made with fixed feed ramps, which solves 75% of any feed issues, the mag design solves about 20%, leaving very little left to bullet design. My experience is that most semi-autos now being made have very few if any feed issues if you feed them quality made ammo. Most will feed semi-wadcutter or truncated cone bullets just as reliable as RN. 

My son and I carry Taurus PT111 Gen2 9mms. We started carrying these about getting a couple for about $180 each. Thinking that these would make good truck guns, we began shooting them extensively and became pleasantly surprised when they were not only accurate, but 100% reliable. Since then there has been a couple tests done on these guns and they stood up to and beat out most small 9mms, One test I recall they fired over or about 1500 rounds straight with no issues. 

We have tried many different jacketed and cast bullet designs over the past three years with no functioning issues. While I have a Star PD .45acp I bought in 1978 and carried as a back-up and off-duty gun for more than 33 years, I would not have hesitated to pick the Taurus in place of it. I just don't think you can go wrong with it. I see them advertised now all the time for less than $220.00, still a true bargain. With over 20 9mms in my safe, along with many more .40s, .45s and others to choose from including Smiths, Glocks, Springfields, etc, I still choose the Taurus. 

One other fine single stack 9mm, .40 & .45 is the Star Firestars. I still see them for sale and would not hesitate to use one of them. I have one in each caliber and they are very reliable semi-autos. 


 

 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

Bohica793 posted this 09 April 2017

My experience with cast and 9mm spans S&W M&Ps and Glocks.  Yes, I know you are NEVER supposed to shoot cast in Glocks (internet myth).  I have loaded and shot 125gr HPs and 135 RNFP (both Mihec molds) as well as 147gr TC (RCBS mold) with both powder coating and conventional lube, all sized to .356.  I have found all to be accurate and function properly.  I currently rotate between a S&W M&P Shield 9mm and a Glock 43 for daily carry.  Both are 8+1 (the 43 with the +2 extensions added)  I have also carried the Glock 19 and the S&W M&P full size during the winter months when I wear a jacket all of the time.  All are as reliable and accurate as you are with both lead and jacketed rounds.

Ed Harris posted this 10 April 2017

If you have not owned an autopistol before, I would recommend very highly that you either you find a range which has the model you are interested in available as a rental, and shoot one, or shoot one belonging to a friend who owns the same model and has confidence and experience with it.  Perhaps you might consider using a rental or loaner in a class, in which you could get personalized instruction and fire several hundred rounds before committing to a model and caliber of pistol you have never fired before. 

I don't know your level of experience, but I would not consider for defense a gun which I was unfamiliar with.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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cbshtr posted this 10 April 2017

I read reviews about the Taurus PT111-G2. They were mixed with high praises and complaints. Was wondering if all the bugs they had with these guns have been cleared up. Nice looking gun and great price. I'm encouraged that cast can be successfully used in these guns.

David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 10 April 2017

I don't usually take much heed in reviews online, too many amateurs and crackpots. I have never heard of any issues with the GEN2 models and can only report what has been our experience with it. I wish I could remember the mag article I read and when I do, I will let you know. When you open up most of the striker fired handguns today, there is little difference in any of the models. You may have noticed I did not bad mouth any of the ones I own, because they are very similar in construction and function. I don't think you would be displeased with any of them. However I will add one thing, the trigger pull on them can vary. I would rate the trigger pull on the PT111 GEN2 to be the best I have tried. When my son was looking for a concealed carry gun, he went to several stores to look at the models. The comment he had each time was he liked the feel of the gun, but not the trigger pull. Upon trying the first one I ordered, he immediately feel in love with the trigger pull. Before you buy, see if you can see one up close, but if you can't I don't think you would be disappointed. You can't beat the price on such a good little gun. One last thing, it is very carry friendly with the cutouts on the slide and other ergonomic features. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 10 April 2017

Here it is for $210. http://palmettostatearmory.com/taurus-pt111-gen2-9mm-1-111031g2-12.html And if you consider reviews, look at the 200 plus there, almost 100% satisfaction.

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

SierraHunter posted this 10 April 2017

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest something completely different.

Commander sized 1911. Yes the barrel is a bit longer coming in at 4.25", but you can get it in either 9mm or 40 (or better yet get a 45), alloy or steel frame. The 1911 is slim enough to easily conceal (I carry a full size 45 every day), and with the alloy frame is not really that heavy. You can get it in single or double stack. You can get shorter barrels, but it being your first auto I suggest the longer one, as it will be easier to shoot, and will be a bit better as a range gun to practice with.

The feeding myth is no existed with 1911s now as well. The bugs were all worked out 20 years ago, and I having owned a single modern 1912 that would not feed everything I threw at it.

As for calibers I firmly believe bigger is better. We spend all this money in 9mm bullets that open up to just under half inch, and the 45 already starts out that big. If you really.dont want a 45, 40 would be my second choice.

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 11 April 2017

Have no comments against SierraHunter's suggestion except unless it is a fixed ramp barrel you may have issues with feeding most all CBs unless a little ramp work is done.

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

Westhoff posted this 11 April 2017

I'm not going to recommend either one, but I am going to add something you should include in your decision making.

If you have a failure to fire, for any reason, you will need both hands to clear an Auto. With a revolver,. another pull of the trigger will almost always reward you with another bang.  If somebody is shooting at you, there is a always a possibility you may find yourself with only one arm that works.  Kind of hard to rack the slide of an auto with only one hand.

Just to prove I'm not simply partial to revolvers, I probably should mention that I shot  Bullseye Pistol competition for a lot of years.  I earned my Distinguished Pistol Shot badge with a 45 Auto in 1984, and I shot well enough to win 1st Civilian Expert in the .45 aggregate at the National Championship, at Camp Perry in either '82 or '86 (Can't remember which year, and it's past my bedtime tonight) .

WES

 

David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 11 April 2017

I trained police officer for most of my 33 years in law enforcement and if there is one thing I learned, it is that is much easier to train someone to use a semi-auto than a revolver. It takes many years of training to master the revolver, but with a semi-auto it is easy to gain self confidence early on and that goes a long way to getting proficient. This is why you see most departments now issuing semi-autos instead of revolvers. I carried a revolver by choice, but I would not start someone out on one. It makes no difference how often a revolver will go bang if you can't hit your target.

As a last note, any semi-auto can be racked with one hand if trained properly. That is standard police or defensive training, you never know when you will have an injured hand.

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

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cbshtr posted this 13 April 2017

Sorry, been side tracked. A lot of good comments. The Taurus PT111 has me really checking that one out. It seems like a great gun for the money. I still have time to sort things out.

cbshtr posted this 2 weeks ago

Taking the advice of David Reiss I ended up buying the Taurus PT111 G2 in 9mm. For $200 it looks like a really nice gun, simple to break down and feels really good in the hand. I want to run a couple hundred jacketed bullets through it to smooth up the bore as well getting as getting familiar with it. What works better in these guns, truncated cone or round nose flat point cast bullets? Also, is there one bullet weight that works better?

Duke M posted this 2 weeks ago

SierraHunter, apparently you have found a holster/system for carrying a full size 1911 .45. Care to share a few more details?

Duke

John F. posted this 2 weeks ago

While I'm not SierraHunter, I can share a holster that has worked very well for me and for many others, for easily and comfortably concealing the Colt 1911 and other service-sized handguns.  For over 25 years, I carried a Gordon Davis version of the Milt Sparks Summer Special, used it in IPSC matches, etc.  It was always uncomfortable, but i just assumed that carrying a 1911 inside the waistband was never going to be a pleasant experience, and "dealt with it."

I then learned of the Milt Sparks Versa-Max 2, which at that time was in so much demand that they took 8 months to get, were rationed by the maker, and on their website they noted that if they caught you flogging them at black-market prices on Ebay you would be banned from their customer list.  They were bringing twice the retail price on Ebay in 1911 models.

It is different from many IWB models, in that it doesn't put the belt loops over the pistol itself (making it even thicker.) Rather, it has extensions to both sides of the pistol, and this keeps the profile slim while spreading out the weight of the pistol across a wider area of the belt for greater comfort.  The build quality, leather quality and excellence of this design are 100% top-notch!!

It has the ability to use either snap-on leather belt loops of different sizes for different belts (attaching with an allen screw), or Kydex clips if you want to use it with your shirt tucked in over the pistol for ultimate concealment.  The day I got mine, I was amazed at how comfortable and effective it was.  I actually took a 2-hour nap on the couch with it on -- something I could never have done with my previous holster!  

The backlog at Milt Sparks has largely been cleared up now, last I heard, and these holsters are not expensive for the lifetime, top-quality product that you get.  I now own several of them for various different pistols.  They even make carrying a 4" Model 29 Smith .44 Mag IWB practical and comfortable!  (I don't, but a friend does regularly.)  

As for carrying spare magazines, I long ago abandoned using belt pouches for this, for CCW.  They take up too much real estate on the belt and add to the load on your belt, things digging into your sides, etc.  Instead, a local leather maker makes a "magazine wallet" that has 2 pouches for 1911 magazines (or your choice of single-stack magazines).  I carry 2 spare mags in my left hip pocket, and they are so comfortable there that I don't even notice theyr'e there.  The carrier has a flat, square leather outer profile that makes it resemble a wallet, if it prints at all.  When I got it, I carried 2 mags loaded with 230 gr. hardball everywhere I went (even to work, where I can't carry a pistol) just to get the feel of it.  By day 3, I no longer noticed them at all.  With the 185 gr. JHP's I carry, it is even less noticeable than with hardball, and the mags are readily accessible. The mag pouches are inexpensive enough that I've bought a couple of spares, in case he ever quits making them. 

Likewise, while the steel frame 1911 is ok to carry, using a Lightweight Commander makes carrying a 1911 significantly more pleasant.

Hope this helps!

John

 

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