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From the category archives: Beginner Gun Reviews

Reviews of guns from a beginners point of view. Not so much "is it a good gun" but more "is it a good FIRST gun".

Beginner Gun Review: FNH FNS-9

FNH FNS-9Although this is a review for the FNH FNS-9 pistol, I’m going to take a moment and talk about the Glock 19. The G19 is actually the very first gun I ever reviewed on this site. Ever since that review, I have referred to the Glock 19 as a “Goldilocks gun”. It’s size allows it to easily be concealed for daily carry but it’s not so small that it’s uncomfortable to shoot. In fact, you can spend a whole day at the range with this gun with no problems at all.

There’s a good reason why the Glock 19 is Glock’s most popular model if not one of the more popular guns on the market. It’s no wonder that just about every company makes a striker fired handgun in a similar shape, size and frame. Smith & Wesson has the M&P 9c, Springfield has the XDm 3.8 and, of course, FNH has the FNS-9 pistol. See how I brought that back around?


Rest of the review after the jump!

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Beginner Gun Review: Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device Carry Edition

Two years ago, at my first SHOT Show, I got a special invite to view a fascinating prototype. Unfortunately I was under an NDA that included the words “execution with extreme prejudice” as part of the “repercussions” section for violation. Needless to say, I didn’t even tell my dog. Imagine my surprise when two armed representatives of Aperture Science showed up at my door with to personally deliver a T&E weapon to review! The NDA has been lifted and I can talk about this amazing new direction for personal defense.

Full review after the jump!

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Beginner Gun Review: Taurus 627 Revolver

Taurus 627You may remember that I reviewed the Smith & Wesson 686 a couple months ago. In that review, I discovered that I don’t, in fact, hate revolvers. Who knew? Anyway, tragedy of tragedies: I had to give the 686 back to my friend. Pro tip: buy the gun from a person BEFORE you publish a glowing review of it. So there I was revolverless and in need of a revolver. We’re not talking “honey, I really need this Desert Eagle .50AE for...uhm...reasons.” but more of “In order to get this certification, I need a revolver with which to practice.”

Full review after the jump...

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Beginner Gun Review: Taurus PT-1911

Taurus PT-1911For some reason, I've had this deeply held belief that a 1911 shouldn't be a noob's first gun. It’s an expensive, complex gun with a large and powerful caliber round that spits forth from it. While I've shot 1911s on many occasions, I've yet to put one through the tests. Granted, this is partially because I haven’t been able to get my hands on one long enough to actually run my gauntlet. For some odd reason, people don’t like the idea of me conducting my “limp wrist test” on their $1500 Dan Wesson Custom. Can’t say I blame them, mind you, I cringe a bit when I do it to my own guns.

That’s the other problem with 1911s: most people aren't going to drop more than $600 on their first pistol and, for the most part, a solid 1911 falls in the $800+ range. There are a couple of exceptions, however. 

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Beginner Gun Review: SIG Sauer P220

I have a list of firearms I refer to as my “Bucket List Guns”. These are guns, gun or bad, that I want to own, or at least shoot at some point in my life. Of course there’s the obligatory Desert Eagle .50 and the 50 BMG and so on. Other ones might puzzle some people. One such gun is the SIG Sauer P220. “That’s a bucket list gun?!” some might say. It’s a fairly common pistol, in the grand scheme of things. While it’s not exactly cheap, it’s not prohibitively expensive either coming in at around $850-$950 depending on your location. It also doesn’t have some super special technology like the Desert Eagle’s piston system either.

So why is this on my list? I’ll be honest, it’s purely for aesthetic reasons. It’s a deeply ingrained part of my personality that fell in love with the looks of this gun. I like mechanical things. I like machines. I like levers and switches and buttons. Look at the side of a P220: three levers and a button. It looks industrial. It’s beautiful.


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Beginner Gun Review: Smith & Wesson Model 686

Smith & Wesson Model 686In the interest of full disclosure, I feel the need to make a confession: I’ve never really liked revolvers. Now, I recognize that there are people that love them and swear by them but I’m not one of them. Suffice to say, it comes down to the fact that I just don’t like the way they feel. While there hasn’t been many, every revolver I’ve shot to this day was clunky and downright painful to shoot. Give me a nice, semi-automatic pistol of any caliber any day and I’m happy.

I’m also working on becoming an NRA certified instructor. One of the requirements is that I have to demonstrate ability with a revolver.


Well, time to get ahold of a revolver I guess. Fortunately, a close friend of the family had one he was planning on selling and he let me try it out first. The revolver in question is the Smith & Wesson Model 686. This is a double action revolver chambered in .357 Magnum which means it can also shoot the cheaper and lighter shooting .38 Special as well. The gun is based off of Smith & Wesson’s L frame which is what they call their “medium-large” pistols. It holds 6 rounds but there are also 7 round options and It also has adjustable rear sights.


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Beginner Gun Review: Stoeger Condor Over/Under

Stoeger CondorFor those that have been reading my site for a while, you might remember that I developed a love of skeet shooting after spending a day with Jacksonville University’s Shooting Team. For those that haven’t been reading long, go back and read the archives. I’m not joking. Go and read them. Admittedly, it’s not required but I could really use the page views.

Anyway, the preferred gun of choice for clays is the good ole over under style shotgun. These double barrel guns hold 2 shells and are accurate as can be. They also have almost no moving parts at all so, in theory, they should be way less money than pump action and semi-automatic shotguns, right?’re not. Over under shotguns tend to be the most expensive shotguns out there. The most expensive semi-automatic shotgun I can find in a 30 second search is the Benelli Performance Shop Super Sport at a respectable $3000. By contrast, a 30 second search for the most expensive over under I can find is a Perazzi over under that comes in at $21,000 but I’ve personally seen some by that manufacturer listed at $80,000 or more. 


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Beginner Gun Review: Taurus 738 TCP

For the longest time, if you wanted a small gun to carry in your pocket your choice was the Walther PPK, a little .22LR folding revolver, a 2 shot derringer, a J-frame style revolver or a .25 caliber pistol that probably won’t work. While the PPK was the choice of James Bond, it’s also remarkably heavy. The .22LR folding revolvers are spotty in reliability due a combination of the .22LR round itself as well as shoddy craftsmanship. Plus, there’s a lot of fumbling involved before you can shoot it. The derringers have the same problem: too much fumbling. Combine that with only 2 rounds and a complicated reload process, they’re best reserved as a “last ditch effort” gun instead of primary defense. The J-frame revolvers good and reliable but those .38 special or .357 Magnum rounds hurt like the dickens in that little pistol and, personally, I’m not fond of revolvers. Don’t even get me started on those cheap .25 caliber pistols. While I’ve spoken at great lengths about my love of the .25 round, there hasn’t been a decent pistol made for it yet. 

In the end, it was looking like pocket carry was a lost cause. In many ways, it was a niche market. Then, along came Ruger and their LCP. That gun captured the imagination of the consumer and suddenly every company out there was marketing their own .380 pocket pistols like crazy trying to keep up with consumer demand. You couldn’t open a magazine without seeing ad after ad about some company’s tiny gun.


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Beginner Gun Review: Maverick 88 Defense Shotgun

There is some significant debate as to what constitutes a good home defense gun. Many argue pistol, other argue something like an AR-15 or AK-47. To this day, however, if you walk into a gun store and say the words “home defense” the salesperson will shove a pump action shotgun into your hands before you can even finish the question. While I have my own opinion, I also can’t disagree with the choice. It’s almost a movie/TV cliche at this point. Bad guy breaks into a house. As he’s sneaking around he hears that instantly recognizable “schlick-schlock” sound. He’s busted by the homeowner. The only thing left to do is sit quietly and wait for the police to come. At the same time, name one zombie video game or movie that doesn’t have a pump action shotgun in it. Go ahead. I’ll wait. That’s what I thought...

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Beginner Gun Review: Springfield XDs .45

Springfield XDsLove is a funny thing. True love can last forever. Sometimes, it’s love at first sight. Other times, sadly, lust is mistaken for love and that never ends well.

I’ve carried an LC9 for a long time now. It’s not a bad gun, by any stretch. It’s a great choice for a pocket 9mm pistol. I love that gun but I have never been “in love” with it. It’s never been a gun that I’ve gotten excited about. I don’t sit and talk about it with fellow gun nuts the way I talk about my Glock 19 or Taurus PT-92 or Cobray M-11/9. I don’t light up when I mention my LC9. 

Then, I saw it at a gun store. It was a Springfield Armory XDs .45 with a stainless steel slide

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