First Pistol Shots

I’ve taken a ton of people off to the gun range to fire their first shot from a gun. I don’t know if its a sign of the times, or if its just my own personal bias rubbing off on my students, but most of my recent newbies want to shoot handguns exclusively. Now what’s been talked about a lot these days is semi-autos vs. Revolvers for new shooters. Bottom line some people prefer semi-autos some prefer revolvers, and that’s just a personal preference. Because there’s no way to know I like to bring some of each to the range.

Still what gun first? I prefer them to take their first shot on an all-steel .22 LR revolver, preferably a double-action with an exposed hammer. Why, well first lemme share my gripe from Caleb:

The problem with that line of thought is that it’s VERY difficult to wring accuracy out of a DA revolver when you’re a new shooter and you shoot it DA. If you’re allowing them to shoot a DA revo single action, then you’re actually hurting their development as a shooter.

Gahhhh! Well he’s 100% correct, shooting a DA revolver in double action is difficult to do accurately if you don’t have all the shooting basics down….but don’t allow them to cock the hammer?

Before I go on, I am of the school where one must master shooting a revolver double-action only, the skills you learn doing that translate to all other handguns. Still I agree that the DA trigger pull comes later. Caleb recommends using a .22 Semi-auto, I don’t for these reasons.

#1. .22 auto-loaders malf. That’s not your gun, .22 ammo sucks, bad priming compound, odd specs, soft lead fouling in the chamber. You’re going to have stoppages with a .22 semi-auto, and stoppages are very distracting to a new shooter overwhelmed with new experiences and safety rules.

#2. Getting hit with brass is no fun, and can distract a new shooter.

Also I could blab about added controls also distracting, but more-or-less that’s moot, the only “control” I think can distract a new shooter is the grip safety on a 1911, some hands will always press it, some can grip the gun but not the safety, and without the knowledge of what a trigger is supposed to feel like this can cause problems, but that isn’t an issue with most .22s

Drawbacks of the DA revolver is that long heavy trigger pull can mess up your shot in so many ways. Solution cock that hammer, get a good grip, align your sights and put your finger in the trigger guard and initiate the shot. One thing cool about my S&W 617 is they can do that 10 times in a row before needing to reload.

I let them shoot Single action until it looks like they’re comfortable or board with that, then I tell them to only shoot double-action, and tell them to make the trigger pull as slow as they comfortably can do.

In other words once they have grip, sights, and recoil, as well as safely handling a gun down, then I let them keep the hammer down and work on trigger pull. After the 617 we could go anywhere, but that’s how I like to start a new shooter on a handgun.

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0 Responses to First Pistol Shots

  1. Sailorcurt says:

    If you buy decent .22lr ammo, the quality control issues are not nearly as bad as they were when I was a kid. I don’t own a .22lr revolver (a deficiency I hope to alleviate some day) so I generally start new shooters out on my S&W 22A. It’s not even an expensive .22 pistol, but the first thing I did was try out a bunch of different ammo to find out what it likes. There are several brands and types that work well in terms of dependability and accuracy, but the best all around for reliability, accuracy and price, is CCI Stinger.

    With that ammo, I’ve never had an ammo related malf. Two handed, unsupported, I can ping 8 inch steel plates from 50 yards all day long with that gun. I can even hit those little animal silhouettes from 50 yards with it, but not every time mainly because my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.

    Anyway, my point is: I’m not arguing your points about the controls or instructional techniques…different strokes for different folks…but if your primary complaint about .22 autoloaders is reliability, I’d say either your gun needs some work or you’re using the wrong ammo.

    Just my .0158396 Euros

    • Weerd Beard says:

      You are probably right with that, Using Federal HV or Federal Bulk Pack .22 (Pretty much the only .22 ammo I bother with) doesn’t lend me any memories of failures-to-fire. As for reliability I’m probably one of the worst people to comment as my .22 stable consists of above-mentioned 617 (FYI Curt, I couldn’t recommend this specific pistol more) the often mentioned Jennings J-22 “Saturday Night Special”, and a Glenfield (nee: Marlin) Model 60 that appears to be of a 1970s vintage, beat-to-shit, under-loved, and bought for $60 cash and I believe was my 3rd gun bought. The Jennings is supposed to Jam, if it didn’t I’d want my money back! 😛 the Marlin tends to run well on the Federal supersonic stuff but will jam, this could be ammo or rifle issues, but I have never disassembled the marlin, I have no idea how much shit and lead is on the bolt or the rails or raceway, and I have no idea how weak the springs are….but on a $60 rifle that looks the part, I really can’t see it worth my bother to tinker with it, if I break it I’ll just buy another! 🙂

      Of course all guns are impressively accurate (the Jennings being the biggest surprise given its poor quality) I will say that the only other .22s I really have any interest in are “trainers” like the Walther P22, or the Sig Mosquito, but both guns don’t impress me with their build quality, and complaints of jamming are much higher than I’d like.

      The 617 was one of the best gun buys I’ve made.

      • Sailorcurt says:

        I have an old Marlin model 60 too. I bought it used about 20 years ago and it was probably 20 years old then.

        Mine’s actually in pretty good shape cosmetically. Finish is 90%+, stock isn’t too beat up. Has some minor character marks, but not too bad. It’s been shot a lot, but has been well cared for.

        However, I keep meaning to do some work to it because of feeding problems. If I clean it really well, it will run fine for about the first two or three magazines (17 shot tube mag for those who don’t own one), but the action starts getting gummed up fairly quickly and the rounds start failing to chamber correctly or the ejecting brass will stovepipe. By the end of a decent range session, it will be malfunctioning every 5 rounds or so. Very frustrating.

        I’m thinking new springs would do a world of good, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I’d even be willing to replace the bolt and/or feeding mechanism parts if it needs it because it’s a great little gun other than those feeding issues.

        Anyway, just thought it was interesting that we own the same .22 rifle.

        BTW: I’ve heard about the problems with the Walther and Sig .22 pistols as well. The Ruger Mark(series) and Buckmarks are always a good bet, but if money is a concern, the S&W 22A is an excellent, low cost alternative. I’ve got the 5.5″ barrel model. I Paid $210 for it brand new and I’ve seen them priced new for $199 at some fairly recent gun shows.

        My only complaints: The rail on top doesn’t have enough cross grooves and the ones that are there are not spaced for any production accessory known to man. Or at least not any that I’ve found. If you want to mount a red-dot or other optic, you’ll probably have to file or mill an additional slot in the rail at the appropriate location.

        I really like the location of the magazine release (front center of the grip) as it makes the release ambidextrous and easy to use…the only issue is that it’s the only gun I’ve ever encountered with the mag release in that location, so, although I like the setup, it is kind of an oddball.

        It has a magazine disconnect safety which I HATE. On mine, it is possible to have the magazine inserted and locked, but not in firmly enough to disengage the mag safety. When you go to fire, the trigger won’t pull. Very annoying when it happens at a pin shoot where every hundredth of a second counts. You have to slap the magazine in with authority to ensure that you’ve got it in firmly enough to disengage the magazine safety.

        I fully intend to defeat this safety at some point, but…again…just haven’t gotten around to it.

        Other than those minor complaints, it is a great gun…very accurate, excellent (in my opinion) trigger, fully adjustable sights, simple breakdown for cleaning, totally reliable (other than the mag disconnect safety), Just an all-around good, entry level target gun. For what that’s worth.

    • Sailorcurt says:

      CCI Stinger

      Oops. I meant CCI BLAZER, not Stinger. I’ve had quality issues with Stinger before, but the Blazer works great in my experience.

      Not enough coffee this morning I guess.

  2. mike w. says:

    “If you buy decent .22lr ammo, the quality control issues are not nearly as bad as they were when I was a kid.”

    Yup. When I bring a new shooter out the 1st gun that comes out is my Firestorm FS22, which is pretty damn reliable with .22lr Mini-Mags.

  3. wrm says:

    As I said back on Alan’s place… new shooters limp wrist the damned thing, I don’t get failures, they do…

  4. Thomas says:

    I give people one of my Contenders with one of the .22LR barrels on it AFTER we do the single shot .22LR bolt rifle, as I never have owned a buttstock for a T/C Contender or Encore.

    No double-action worries. No semi-automatic handling worries. Just sight picture, breathing, and trigger control.

    SIMPLER than your method, no offense. 🙂

    Everybody always wants to shoot the 1911s/BFRs/ARs/BRENs/Magnum Rifles/etc, but those aren’t the right place to start.

    FWIW, some of my brothers in arms at Wise Lite Arms have put together the first ever 922(r) compliant BREN semi-conversion parts kit FOR UNDER $300 bucks, with most all of the machine work done…in case anybody else wants a tack driver .303 semi-auto or three, once you own one they’re like Lay’s potato chips… Actually be an OK starter rifle for teaching to shoot .303, being a 24.5lb rifles with bipods don’t kick too much. Heehee.

  5. Caleb says:

    Okay, I had never thought of the Contender in .22 option, but that is actually BRILLIANT. It’s basically the simplest thing on the planet to shoot, and if you can use it to learn the fundamentals of sight picture and trigger control then graduate to more challenging guns, that’d be perfect.

    Seriously, genius.

  6. Pingback: Weer'd World » Ok I Agree

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