Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Kid Is Alright!

My first gun was a Daisy BB rifle at age 10. At 12 grandad bought me a Winchester lever action .22 rifle and I still have both of them.

On summer Sundays during my youth my grandparents would pick us up in the Cadillac and drive us out to the family farm where we would shoot his many guns. He was very careful to teach me respect for firearms and started me on small calibers before working up to the big guns a few years later.

My son Andy called today and completely stumped me.

He told me he was going to buy a gun soon and asked for my opinion.

If you read my blog entries you would know that I do not pretend to be a firearms expert. I am not a collector, competition shooter or John Moses Browning 1911 worshiper. I do not own military-style weapons. I am a hunter and recreational shooter. My guns are tools. My guns provide me with enjoyment outdoors and help put food on the table. I do however own two handguns for self-protection.

In raising our children we decided to never force them into any activity but to allow them to choose what they wanted to do.

Andy has shot my rifles, pistols and muzzleloader many times in the past. I taught him gun safety and respect for firearms at a young age. He’s hunted birds with me and downed more than a few pheasants too. He also hunted deer with his bow for a while when he had the opportunity to hunt productive land. He is no stranger to firearms but never was very interested in having his own gun. He usually borrowed one of my shotguns when we went on a hunt together.

Now he wants his own handgun and called to ask which would be the best for him. He mentioned his interest in a Glock 9mm.

Being a proud dad but a common sense gun owner my first comment was, “what will you be using the gun for?” Then I thought, why ask? He’s 27 years old, has handled firearms before but for some reason the father instinct in me caused some concern.

He seemed to be in a hurry to buy his first gun. There are tons of guns for sale cheap in the interwebs he said.

My advice to him was to go to a reputable local gun store with a range (he lives in Indianapolis). I told him to speak with the guys behind the counter and inquire about taking lessons in firearm safety with a licensed professional. Then he told me of his recent experience at a local gun shop. He explained that the guy behind the counter tried to sell him a gun on the spot, as if he were buying a used car. My response was when encountering this type of behavior to turn around and walk out.

He agreed that buying his first gun was not something to do in haste. I referred him to some gun blogs and encouraged him to read up on and study the vast variety of weapons available but most important was for him to shoot a few different types of handguns before making a purchase.

Suddenly I remembered that the annual LITGM event Gunstock lll is coming up on September 26 on our family farm in Newton County Indiana.

Since the guys bring out a variety of fine weapons to shoot it would be a good opportunity for him to try out many fine guns from small caliber to large, from revolvers to semi-autos. Andy could try out all sorts of handguns and find out what he was most comfortable with from grip to caliber to recoil.

He agreed to hold off on his purchase decision and would be studying and learning all about guns until then. He will be coming back for a visit soon and when he does we’ll go shopping and shooting at the local range and making shopping trips to the Gander Mountain, Cabela’s and the Bass Pro Shop gun departments.

If he were to go out and buy a gun tomorrow my advice was for him to buy a Browning Buckmark or a Ruger Mark lll .22 before spending a lot of money. .22 ammo is cheap and either gun would allow him the opportunity to send a lot of lead downrange for less than the range fee. It would sharpen his eye and make him more comfortable shooting, cleaning and properly storing his weapon. After a while he could upgrade to a more substantial carry piece since here in the free world of Indiana it is legal for us to do so.

I’m very pleased that he called and asked for my opinion. It says a lot about how he was raised and it makes me a very proud dad. This kid is alright.

I know many of the LITGM readers are gun enthusiasts. Your advice would help him (and me). He reads the blog often, which is one reason why I blog.

So here’s the question, if you were the father of a responsible young adult with some firearms experience and suddenly he had the urge to buy his own handgun what advice would you give him?

Any and all advice or opinions will be greatly appreciated : )


Chris from Colorado said...

I would recommend, that over the next 3 years Andy buys 3 hand guns. A target shooter (mine is a .22 Ruger Mark II), a home piece (mine is a Glock model 23, 40 S& W) and a carry (CCW) piece (mine are a Ruger SP101 .357 and a Ruger LCP .380).

I don't know that the order is important, just shoot that damn things, a lot.

BTW, I smoked some chicken leg quarters tonight. Melted in our mouths, good god. Washed it down with some really good New Mexico red wine. Mercy.

Dan from Madison said...

Chris - I am thinking that those smoked chicken quarters may be worthy of a guest post, please forward to Gerry and he could maybe put it up.

As for the guns, I would have asked the same question as you thought - what is he buying the gun for? If he is just plinking, I would get a used Mark 2, not a Mark 3. I own a Mark 3 and it is too lawyered up for my tastes. There are literally millions of Mark 2's out there and a lot of Mark 1's that he would have a lot of fun shooting. That said, I will have my Mark 3 at Gunstock and he is more than welcome to shoot it.

If he is interested in self defense, then we need to get into bitter calibers, and perhaps semi-autos. I am not a Glock guy - many swear by them, but they just don't fit right in my hand. Neither did my HK USP .45. The Beretta fits me great. Just me. But to me, the original and best weapon for self defense is my .357 revolver. Built in safety is the massive trigger pull, simple gutter sights, and you can practice with relatively cheap .38 loads.

I would also strongly recommend to him to read James Rummel's blog, he has teased this subject to death over there. You could even email him, he would more than likely reply. I invited him to Gunstock, and if he shows up I would recommend your boy pull him aside and have a chat.

To buy a Ruger AND a decent semi auto or revolver you are looking at under a grand right now so that is a ball park number for him.

I am looking forward to shooting your dad's revolver again this year, my favorite gun of all of them on the table bar none.

Dan from Madison said...

Bitter = bigger calibers - heh.

Jonathan said...

Try different guns. Consider also the cost of ammo -- 22 and 9mm are cheapest. Consider maintenance -- some manufacturers force you to send the gun to them for any repair, with others you can easily buy spare parts. If he likes Glock, they have a good discount purchase deal if you join GSSF.

If he can't make up his mind, start with a Browning or Ruger 22 or a high-end 22 revolver.

Carl from Chicago said...

Nice logo for Gunstock Three! This time I will be there with shirts. Cleared my calendar and I will NOT get SICK!

johnnyj said...

...Fantastic stuff Gerry...

My old man will probably send him a fancy "site" for one of your old mausers when he's ready for it! .22 is always good (I'm sure you have a Winchester somewhere?) and great for getting "used" to firearms...

...I grew up around firearms, I think that's why I have larger arsenal of bamboo fly rods...
...Keep that in mind---and a 9mm will work, just remind him not to shoot it like a gangster.

Annie said...

Once you get the basics down with a .22, you can shoot just about ANY caliber well (unless you have a physical limitation, of course).

I'd encourage any purchase to be followed with at least some formal basic's only smart.

Other than that, I've heard the MKIII is a BEAR to take down. I can't speak to that because I have a Smith & Wesson 22A that I lurrrve and I'm no traitor. :)

Whatever the decision, post up some pics of the purchase and maybe some targets!

Dan from Madison said...

The Mark 3 isn't the easiest to take down/put back together.

Annie said...

By the way, many of the gun owners that frequent the Indiana board are located in the Indy area and love to share with new shooters.
They can probably help out with names of reputable places vs Don's Guns, and probably give some instructors names with references of former students, too.
Check it:

Annie (a.k.a JetGirl)