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Mega64
May 23, 2008



Welcome to the newbie thread v2.0. You can see the original newbie thread here: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3221380
This post was originally made by I like turtles, then handed off to me for some additions and editing. It contains healthy doses of my opinions and values.

First off:
Trolling, this thread, and keeping it accessible:
Newbies: You have a responsibility to read responses to your question, answer any follow up questions directed at you, and think about any new questions you have. Also, please do not come in here seeking validation for your preconceived notions.

Not-newbies: We occasionally get trolls pretending to be newbies. Assume the best about posters unless it's super blatant. And please, keep your mouth shut if you're not qualified to answer the question. If you find yourself quoting other people's advice, when you don't have any first-hand experience yourself, maybe that's a sign that the newbie thread doesn't need your input.

How this thread is structured

This index post contains general information that all gun owners need to know. It includes safety information, how to lawfully purchase a gun, cultural info, etc.
At the bottom, there will be a series of links to information related to specific types of guns. Read the generally applicable stuff first, then click through to the specific kind of gun you're interested in.

The four rules of firearms safety
This is the most important in this thread. That's why it's here at the top. Many years ago, an influential gun guy named Jeff Cooper codified the Four Rules of firearms safety. Pretty much everyone who has had an accident with a firearm did so by breaking one or more of these rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded. I don't care that your friend says it isn't, even if he just checked it. Check it whenever you pick it up, even if you just put it down. "I didn't think it was loaded" is no excuse after you negligently shoot someone.
  2. Never allow the gun to point at anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times, whether you're on the range, at home, loading, or unloading. "Safe direction" means "if a bullet shot out of the gun right now, it wouldn't hurt anyone or anything." Make sure to read the section on over penetration.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what's beyond it. Know what it is, what is in line with it and what is behind it. Again, see the section on over penetration further down.

In addition to the Four Rules, here are some additional safety items stolen from the NRA's gun safety rules*:
  • Know how to use the gun safely. Know how to safely load & unload the gun, operate any safeties, etc. This will help you follow the above Four Rules correctly.
  • Be sure the gun is in good, safe operating condition. Did you just buy a new Glock at the store? You're fine. Did you just buy an ancient revolver at a gun show? Maybe have a qualified gunsmith look it over before shooting it.
  • Always ensure that ammunition is the correct type for the gun. We'll get into cartridge naming conventions later. For now, if you're not sure what type of ammunition goes in your gun, ask a qualified expert like a gunsmith. The guy working the gun counter at the local big box sporting goods store may or may not be a qualified expert. And as a rule, stick to factory new ammunition. Factory remanufactured ammo should give you pause. Ammo reloaded by an individual, who isn't you, is a straight no-go.
  • Wear eye and ear protection. Many hunters don't wear ear pro while hunting. Many hunters are also deaf as a post, but it's up to you. At a range, always wear eye and ear protection. See the PPE section below.
  • Never handle firearms when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a no-brainer.
  • Store guns so they are inaccessible to unauthorized persons. Unauthorized persons include, but are not limited to, small children, thieves, and your dumb rear end friends.

*Yes, the NRA's political activities are...controversial, but they also do valuable work in promoting firearms safety, competition, and conservation. Me citing the NRA's safety rules shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the NRA-ILA's political activities.

Which brings me to "the gun culture."

Note about "gun culture"
There can be a lot of toxicity in US gun culture. Undertones, or even downright explicit examples, of racism, xenophobia, sexism, Nazi iconography, all of the Not Cool Things. TFR does not tolerate that poo poo. TFR is probably a little more on the right on average than the rest of SA, but we're downright commie pinko leftists on average compared to a lot of other gun forums and gun shops. Just remember that despite the subject matter, this is still SA.

Great, let's get to the gun content.

What are guns?
Broadly, a gun is a tool which propels a projectile of some variety towards a target down a barrel by imparting a large amount of energy to it. This might be by burning gunpowder, air pressure, electromagnets, etc.
There are specific legal definitions about what is and is not a firearm in the United States. That may be a little complicated this early in.

What kinds of guns are there?
Broadly speaking, TFR focuses on three types of firearms that use gunpowder to propel their projectiles. There's also the pellet palace subforum which talks about guns using compressed gas to propel the projectile.
Handguns - We can distinguish between "standard" handguns like a Glock, a 1911, a Smith and Wesson revolver, and a single action army revolver (cowboy guns!), and what are legally considered pistols in the US but don't fit into the traditional picture of what a handgun is - things like a CZ Scorpion pistol. In the US, a pistol may not have a foregrip, and may not be designed to fire from the shoulder. Generally speaking, handguns are far more difficult to shoot accurately than a rifle or shotgun.
Rifles - These are firearms with barrels 16" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. They have rifled barrels, grooves formed into the barrel that spin the projectile at a particular rate. They are designed to be fired from the shoulder. Classic examples include an AR-15 and a 10/22.
Shotguns - These are firearms with barrels 18" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. Generally these smooth bore, meaning there is no rifling in the barrel. The "shot" in "shotgun" refers to the projectiles commonly fired from these guns - more than one metal sphere that fly in a pattern. These are commonly used for bird hunting, and shooting clays. It is also possible to fire slugs. Those are just what they sound like, one large solid projectile. Classic examples include pump action shotguns like the Remington 870, double barrel coach guns, semi auto shotguns like the Benelli M4.

But but but there are so many other things you aren't covering - what about semi automatic revolvers like the Mateba 6 Unica or the Webley Fosbery revolver, or NFA items, or, or, or :smug:
Settle down, yes, you know a lot about guns. We're all very proud of you. Yes, there is a wide world of firearms and odd little niches. That is out of scope for significant in depth discussion in the first post of a newbie thread.

What kind of gun should I buy?

A better question is, what do you want a gun for?
Hunting?
loving around at the range because they're neat?
Competition?
Self protection?


Hunting - Generally speaking, birds are hunted with shotguns and mammals are hunted with rifles. However, what you're hunting and where will affect what the best choice is. For example: quail, turkey, and duck are all birds that you hunt with shotguns, but the specific shotgun that's ideal for each will be different. Your local laws might affect this too; for example, when I was growing up in IL, it was illegal to hunt deer with a rifle. It's best to ask in the hunting thread to get specific recommendations: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3474554

loving around at the range - This one has the most latitude. As long as the gun is safe to operate, and you have a range that allows you to shoot it, this can be anything that strikes your fancy. A rifle or pistol chambered in .22 long rifle is a great range gently caress-around gun because the ammunition is inexpensive and it doesn't kick much. Classic examples of these are the Ruger 10/22 (rifle) and Ruger MK IV (pistol). .22s can also be shot pretty much anywhere; most pistol-only ranges will allow rifles chambered in .22 long rifle.

Competition - There are so many different types of firearms competition that it's tough to write a catch-all guide for it. The only general advice I can give is to talk with people who ACTUALLY COMPETE in the sport you're looking to participate in, and ask them what equipment they use. A friend of mine once spent like $1000 having a custom shop build up a fancy Glock to shoot in matches, only to find out that it was all wrong for the equipment rules of the sport. As with many things, the guy at the gun counter of your local sporting goods store is probably not a good source of information here. You can ask competition questions here, or in the dedicated competition thread: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3285367

Self protection - First off, before you start trying to pick a gun for self defense, you need to understand the law governing use of lethal force in your state. Any use of (including brandishing) a firearm, or anything that looks like a firearm, is lethal force. I highly recommend the book The Law of Self Defense by Andrew Branca. You also need to understand that, if you shoot at someone, it is entirely possible that you've conducted yourself 100% morally and lawfully and yet you will still go to prison, and/or go bankrupt from legal fees. It is also possible to cross the line and conduct yourself unlawfully and/or immorally, which will be a tragedy even if you don't face legal or financial consequences. Therefore, it should be understood that shooting (or even pointing) a gun at a person is your last resort. I strongly encourage you to invest in some quality OC spray, as well as some quality training related to verbal deescalation skills and empty-handed self defense skills. Having options other than lethal force is an Unquestionably Good Thing.

As far as the actual guns, it comes down to your use case and your budget. Generally speaking, handguns are worse than rifles and shotguns in every conceivable way except that a handgun is portable, and can be operated one-handed. An obvious example is for protection outside the home: carrying a rifle or shotgun around, even if legal in your area, is both physically and socially awkward. However, even in your home, a handgun might be optimal. Do you have a small child that you'd need to run and grab? Do you not have a safe (and discreet) place to store a loaded rifle or shotgun near your bed? A handgun might be for you in those instances. However, if practicable, a shotgun or rifle is generally better. I won't get too far into rifles vs shotguns for defense in this post, other than: all else being equal, an AR-15 is superior to a shotgun for home defense, but a defensive-grade AR-15 is significantly more expensive than a defensive-grade shotgun. Can you afford $800+ for a quality AR-15? Get that. Otherwise, consider a shotgun. And no matter what home defense gun you get, PUT A LIGHT ON IT. You need to be sure of your target, which means you need to be able to SEE your target.

Now, for some other general gun topics.


My petite partner would like a gun. They're little and cute, so the gun I get them should be little and cute too, right?
Please don't. Mass has a significant impact on felt recoil. An 11.4oz scandium framed .357 magnum revolver is going to hurt like hell to shoot more than a few rounds or cylinders out of. That'll make it suck to train with, and unfun to shoot. Get them something that you'd actually want to shoot more than a couple rounds through. Or, you know, involve them in the process. Just an idea.


Over penetration
Huhuhuhuh he said penetration.
Guns make metal go fast. Fast moving metal tends to go through things. Including walls, into your neighbor's fridge. Or your neighbor. In a self defense scenario, your goal is to dump as much energy into your target as possible while avoiding sending rounds into the parakeet three doors down because they went through your target, or you missed. There are far, far too many factors to say definitively "use this, or terrible things will happen". Shooting somewhere that isn't a controlled setting meant for shooting is inherently dangerous because there are now one or more chunks of high velocity metal doing unpredictable things. If you pull the trigger, you are responsible for that round.
Research such as box o' truth https://www.theboxotruth.com http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall/index.html and http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall2/ indicate that .223/5.56, while a rifle caliber, is a decent choice for a self defense situation as its high velocity and low mass mean it tends to fragment or dump enough energy going through walls that risks to your surroundings are reduced. This is why TFR recommends AR15s for home defense guns. Will this stand up in court because you shot your roommate in the leg from your room into his room because there was a spider? gently caress no. "The internet said it was a good choice" will not save you.


What are the mechanics of buying a gun in the US?
There are often state level laws that come into play.
In the most permissive states in the US, it works like this:
Is the seller a private party that is a resident of the same state you are in, and that is where the transaction is taking place?
Give them money. They give you the gun. Optionally bullshit about the weather or something. Go home, that's it.
Is the seller in another state?
Give them the money. They will ship it to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder in your area. That FFL will work with you to fill out the appropriate forms. You'll pay the FFL for their time and effort, and you'll take your gun home. There are probably multiple FFLs in your area. It is worth some research to figure out who has that perfect mix of accessible hours, not batshit crazy personality, and affordable transfer fees. Also make sure if they are willing to accept guns from private parties directly, or if they prefer to only work with other FFLs.
It's a gun shop in your state?
They're an FFL. Give them the money. They'll do the form things and send you home. There's usually not a transfer fee for these transactions since you're buying the gun from them.
You're in CA, NY, MA, DC, Chicago
lol, sorry, good luck. You can get into the hobby, but know that your political leadership would really rather prefer that you didn't, and will make it as arbitrarily difficult, convoluted and expensive as they can without getting everything torn down by a successful lawsuit. People here can help.

Don't buy guns for other people
Your cousin Fast Jimmy just got out of jail and wants a gun to protect himself, but can't buy one because of that pesky "felony record"? If you do him a solid and buy the gun for him, that is called a straw purchase. It's also a federal felony. There is a question on the 4473 about if you are the actual purchaser of the firearm. This needs to be true. The only exception to this is when the firearm is intended to be a bonafide gift to another person. Still don't gift it to Fast Jimmy though, as he is a prohibited possessor! If your wife buys you a gun for your birthday, you're probably good. If Jimmy gives you a gift of $500, and you give him a gift of a Glock 19... That's not going to stand up. Especially with that prohibited possessor thing.
Even if Jimmy is a squeaky clean minister who would have no problem legally purchasing a gun on his own, you purchasing it for him is still a federal felony. That's right, two people who can legally purchase guns on their own MAY NOT transfer a gun for the other person.
I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Don't get your legal advice from Something Awful Dot Com Forums
In general, try to avoid pissing off the ATF. Your dog will live longer, and you'll avoid felonies and prison time.

PPE, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love health and safety
Guns are loud. Like, really loud. They're also little explosions in your hand that send crap flying. Mostly in one direction, maybe two - but sometimes, and unpredictably, stuff will go in a new and exciting direction. Or you'll catch shrapnel/ricochets. Wear eye protection. Wear hearing protection. Consider doubling up on hearing protection (muffs over plugs). Use your hearing protection properly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPNPZJingZA
Consider gloves. Consider sun exposure if you're outside. Passing out at the range because it's 110 and you've been out there for 4 hours with no cover or water isn't a good day.

Guns are dirty and can introduce unpleasant chemicals and heavy metals into your life. Wash your goddamn hands after shooting before you eat a burger or pick your nose. Lead removing soaps and wipes (D-Lead brand or similar) are available, too, and should be strongly considered.

On safety and security
I'm going to do my take on boxes with locks on them for storing guns. I see questions about this from time to time, and I've purchased a new one recently and wanted to share what I've learned.
First things first:
Literally anything is better than nothing, if properly attached to something immovable.
Literally anything can be broken into, with enough time and tools.
There is no perfect security.
Addressed in the first point, but bolt your box down.

Mass market "safes" have a lot of very impressive sounding and very impressive looking security features. They have fancy looking vault door handles in the middle of your door, they have a door that is 10" thick, they are fire rated to survive 48 hours on the sun, they have upwards of 24 3" locking bolts to ensure that the neighborhood miscreants can't steal your Rough Rider BB gun.

Except, that door handle just makes sure you have more mechanical linkages inside the door that can be attacked. That door, while 10" thick overall, is light gauge steel wrapped around a piece of drywall, the rest of it is just covering the mechanism and provides no security factor. The "fire ratings" are tests designed by the manufacturers and performed themselves, or they give the test parameters to a third party who run the test and "independently certify" the safe. Those impressive locking bolts are held on with 1/4 bolts through light gauge steel linkages. There are also often significant gaps around the door, making it easy to get pry bars and crowbars in there. That light gauge steel doesn't hold up very long.

What are the important factors when choosing a safe/box/rsc/whatever?
How thick is the steel? The thicker, the better, and the heavier.
How heavy is the safe overall? If you look at it when it comes off the truck and realize you have 80%+ chance of being seriously injured or dying by trying to move it by yourself, you're on the right track.
How heavy is the door? It doesn't matter how thick the door is, it matters how thick the outer layer of metal on the door is. Does it take noticeable effort to start the door moving, and stopping it, due to the weight? Great!
Are the linkages made of decent, thick steel?
External hinges are not a weakness on a properly designed security container. It should be possible to literally cut them off completely and the door would not come off, because it is secured in place with internal bolts. Internal hinges take up room in the safe, and prevent the installation of fire protection at those spots.
Can you find independent verification of the fire hardiness, and/or does it come with some actual fire protection beyond drywall and concrete board?
Can you bolt it down where you want to install it? If you can, do it in a place where trying to maneuver tools, vehicle access, etc, is extremely difficult.
What are the tolerances on the door and frame? If you can't fit a business card between the door and the jamb when it's closed, there's no way for a pry bar to get purchase.

The downside of all of that? And to real UL rated safes, which operate on much the same principal as the discussion above, just more so? :homebrew:

Let's talk about a firearms security continuum of "how safe" a storage method is. This is my opinion, and I've skipped some things and/or am wrong about some things including ordering.
  • Leaving a gun at a supermarket and hoping it will be there when you get back
  • Keeping your gun in your car, in one of those stupid loving car magnet/holster things.
  • Keeping your gun in your car, under the seat
  • Keeping your gun in your car in a lock box secured to the frame of the car/seatbelt rails, etc
  • Keeping your gun on your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun in a lock box secured to your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun locked in a pelican case secured to something immovable
  • Keeping your gun in a stack-on box (they're basically your high school locker)
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap boutique maker safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive boutique maker safe
  • UL rated safe (aka a "real" safe)
  • Bank vault
  • Bank vault under a volcano
  • Add a team of gently caress off huge ravens to eat the bad guy's eyes
  • Under the ocean? gently caress, you're still reading this, the list is over

What are your risks? Do you live in a lovely neighborhood and you've been broken in to three times previously?
Do you have kids? Do you have friends or family members who may not be entirely trustworthy (drug problems, etc)? Do you want to stop the meth head that kicked in your back door and will be there for three minutes before he runs? Do you have a security system? A dog? Do you want to keep a professional burglar out? For how long?

How do you choose? Well, a decent approach might be to think about the things you want to store in the box, think about the value of those things, and figure 10-15% of that should go to the security of your safe/container/whatever. If you've got a Mosin and a 10/22 with no significant security threats? A stack-on might be fine for your purposes. You've got a few transferable machine guns and a smorgasbord of other expensive stuff totaling $100k+? Maybe look at the $10-$15k range.
Another angle on it is that spending that money on your security should hurt a bit, but not put you in any actual financial trouble. I'm not going to say that everyone needs to have $15k safes or it isn't worth it.
Spend as much money as you like, though. If you want to keep your Hi Point in the deposit safe from the bank down the road that went out of business and you got it for $50 at the auction, go for it.

Also, get safe interior lighting, they have kits/etc on Amazon. Really nice the be able to see into the far recesses of your safe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RlwGkO0hxE#t=147s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltK-bDbADa8#t=112s

Keep an accurate and updated inventory off site of any valuables. Also any items that aren't specifically something with sentimental value and minimal monetary value. Great grandma's silver christening spoon (that's a thing right?) may be worth $5 in silver, but is clearly much more important than that figure implies. Keep a record of that too, of course.

Anyone storing paper documents or paper money in a safe, store them as close to the floor as you can. I've seen some interesting pictures of safes where the pistols on the upper shelf have been really cooked, to the point of melting polymer guns, but the rifles below are just sorta singed looking. You could conceivably put a smaller fire safe inside the big safe for the truly important stuff. Or you could store the really important, irreplaceable, etc, stuff in a safe deposit box at your local bank. Your stuff isn't perfectly safe there either. There are robberies, fires, etc etc that could all hit a bank.

I ended up going with a Sturdy Safe, and I'm pretty happy with it. I upgraded the sides and jambs so the overall thickness is 7/16" steel, and the door is 3/8" steel. I went for the fire liner too, which is a significant amount of ceramic fire wool (like kaowool, the sorts of stuff they use to line forges, kilns, etc).
I also looked at Drake Safes out of NC but liked the features from sturdy a bit more.

There are a lot of gimmicks out there, but when it comes down to it, making a safe is a fairly straightforward proposition. Make a box big enough to hold the stuff you want to hold. Bolt it down. Make the steel as thick as you can afford, in as many places as you can afford it. Good continuous strong welds. Have a good lock. If you want fire protection, put in some stuff that's actually rated at burning house fire type temperatures, like firebrick, or kaowool, etc.
Just because it's straightforward doesn't mean it is easy or cheap, though. All of those things cost money, the labor to assemble big heavy metal boxes is higher than sheet steel getting cut and rolled around drywall.

I don't really want to buy a gun, but would like to try one out
Cool - there are often rental ranges near you. Call around. Go try poo poo out. What looks interesting?
Alternatively, someone you may know could be one of those filthy gun havers you've heard so much about. If you trust them and they're not assholes, ask to go shooting. Chances are they'd be excited to take you.


On "how a gun feels" and whether that should be a concern for new shooters:

BrianM87 posted:

Poopgiggle and Internet Wizard have pretty much said everything I could have. Like them and several others, I started out by buying what I thought was neat. My first modern (Manufactured after WW2) handgun was a Hi-Power, followed at some point by an XD, CZ Phantom, and Glock 19. I have probably 30-40 different handguns at this point but the only ones I shoot consistently are that first Glock 19 and my Gen 5 17. I don't even own the XD or CZ anymore. While owning different guns has given me an appreciation and understanding of how the different actions function, if I could go back in time I would have started with the Glock 19 and just stayed with that for the first several years of shooting handguns. I didn't just arrive at this position either. This came from years of competition, firearms schools, attending and running training classes, and just continuously trying to improve and understand what works and what doesn't. I'm not an expert, I will never claim to be, I just happen to have been given the opportunity to try a lot of different guns in a lot of different situations and environments.

Some of the things that really influenced my first handgun purchases were gun stores saying things like "glock grip angle is bad/wrong/uncomfortable," "try what feels right," and being harped at that Browning designs were the only true handguns to consider. At this point, any time someone asks me for advice for a first-time buyer I immediately tell them to get a Gen 5 19 with the Ameriglo Agent sights. How it feels to them is irrelevant if they can physically reach the controls and manipulate the firearm as it should be. Some people will argue that if it feels wrong then they wont practice. From teaching police academy recruits, veteran officers, friends, and the general public, I have absolutely not seen this to be true. Someone either has the mindset to practice and improve or they don't. Captain Log, if I recall when you started using a bicycle again it practically brought you to tears from the pain. But you persisted and now you bike what, 1.5 hours a day? So that certainly didn't feel comfortable and yet you did it anyways because you wanted to improve. You had the willingness and motivation to do so. If someone isn't going to practice because the gun feels uncomfortable then there are a million other things that would have stopped them from practicing anyways.

How a handgun feels is objectively not important.

Links to topic specific posts below

A newbie's guide to choosing a defensive pistol EDITED 6/17/20: also check out this great video by LuckyGunner, which is an update to their "handgun recommendations for new shooters" post.

Also valuable information: This blog post from Lucky Gunner was the stand-in until I wrote my thing, along with their "Shooting 101" series. That first post isn't especially complementary to "pocket" pistols, so read this later article on them for a more nuanced view.

Actually, Lucky Gunner is a pretty good source of information on a range of defensive shooting topics. They do a good job of a) getting information from recognized experts, and b) presenting it in an accessible way. They also put the info up in both video and text form.

An intro to blackpowder shooting

A highly opinionated list of quality defensive shooting info sources

MantisClaw wrote this great effortpost on how to grip a pistol. Gripping the thing right is key to shooting fast and accurate.

How do you know if a shooting school is good? Read this. Might help.

If you are a knowledgeable person on a specific firearms topic, please feel free to write an effortpost about it and I will link to it here.

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a Loving Dog
May 12, 2001


lol

BrutalistMcDonalds
Oct 4, 2012




Lipstick Apathy

https://a.uguu.se/nJykLnMB.mp4

BrutalistMcDonalds fucked around with this message at 21:28 on Sep 28, 2021

Trash Ops
Jun 19, 2012

im having fun, isnt everyone else?


lol

copy
Jul 26, 2007

top shit dog on campus

lolol

Alejandro Sanchez
Apr 24, 2010


lo;l

F Stop Fitzgerald
Dec 11, 2010



lmao

jarofpiss
May 16, 2009



can i get some really lightweight gun recommendations? i weigh 80lbs and i need something i can carry around

The REAL Goobusters
Apr 25, 2008



lol

Chillgamesh
Jul 29, 2014

I JUST CAN NOT FUCKING SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT BUNNYBOYS!!!!!!!! hOLY SHIT TAILS!!! THATS WHAT I CALL POGGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FUCK


:blastu::goonboot:

staticman
Sep 11, 2008

Be gay
Death to America
Suck my dick Israel
Mess with Texas
and remember to lmao


loool

Dustcat
Jan 26, 2019

Christian Mama



:lol:

FormaldehydeSon
Sep 30, 2011



Lol

Office Pig
Aug 1, 2010

YAY!


lol didn't read

mark immune
Dec 14, 2019



Mega64 posted:

Welcome to the newbie thread v2.0. You can see the original newbie thread here: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3221380
This post was originally made by I like turtles, then handed off to me for some additions and editing. It contains healthy doses of my opinions and values.

First off:
Trolling, this thread, and keeping it accessible:
Newbies: You have a responsibility to read responses to your question, answer any follow up questions directed at you, and think about any new questions you have. Also, please do not come in here seeking validation for your preconceived notions.

Not-newbies: We occasionally get trolls pretending to be newbies. Assume the best about posters unless it's super blatant. And please, keep your mouth shut if you're not qualified to answer the question. If you find yourself quoting other people's advice, when you don't have any first-hand experience yourself, maybe that's a sign that the newbie thread doesn't need your input.

How this thread is structured

This index post contains general information that all gun owners need to know. It includes safety information, how to lawfully purchase a gun, cultural info, etc.
At the bottom, there will be a series of links to information related to specific types of guns. Read the generally applicable stuff first, then click through to the specific kind of gun you're interested in.

The four rules of firearms safety
This is the most important in this thread. That's why it's here at the top. Many years ago, an influential gun guy named Jeff Cooper codified the Four Rules of firearms safety. Pretty much everyone who has had an accident with a firearm did so by breaking one or more of these rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded. I don't care that your friend says it isn't, even if he just checked it. Check it whenever you pick it up, even if you just put it down. "I didn't think it was loaded" is no excuse after you negligently shoot someone.
  2. Never allow the gun to point at anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times, whether you're on the range, at home, loading, or unloading. "Safe direction" means "if a bullet shot out of the gun right now, it wouldn't hurt anyone or anything." Make sure to read the section on over penetration.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what's beyond it. Know what it is, what is in line with it and what is behind it. Again, see the section on over penetration further down.

In addition to the Four Rules, here are some additional safety items stolen from the NRA's gun safety rules*:
  • Know how to use the gun safely. Know how to safely load & unload the gun, operate any safeties, etc. This will help you follow the above Four Rules correctly.
  • Be sure the gun is in good, safe operating condition. Did you just buy a new Glock at the store? You're fine. Did you just buy an ancient revolver at a gun show? Maybe have a qualified gunsmith look it over before shooting it.
  • Always ensure that ammunition is the correct type for the gun. We'll get into cartridge naming conventions later. For now, if you're not sure what type of ammunition goes in your gun, ask a qualified expert like a gunsmith. The guy working the gun counter at the local big box sporting goods store may or may not be a qualified expert. And as a rule, stick to factory new ammunition. Factory remanufactured ammo should give you pause. Ammo reloaded by an individual, who isn't you, is a straight no-go.
  • Wear eye and ear protection. Many hunters don't wear ear pro while hunting. Many hunters are also deaf as a post, but it's up to you. At a range, always wear eye and ear protection. See the PPE section below.
  • Never handle firearms when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a no-brainer.
  • Store guns so they are inaccessible to unauthorized persons. Unauthorized persons include, but are not limited to, small children, thieves, and your dumb rear end friends.

*Yes, the NRA's political activities are...controversial, but they also do valuable work in promoting firearms safety, competition, and conservation. Me citing the NRA's safety rules shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the NRA-ILA's political activities.

Which brings me to "the gun culture."

Note about "gun culture"
There can be a lot of toxicity in US gun culture. Undertones, or even downright explicit examples, of racism, xenophobia, sexism, Nazi iconography, all of the Not Cool Things. TFR does not tolerate that poo poo. TFR is probably a little more on the right on average than the rest of SA, but we're downright commie pinko leftists on average compared to a lot of other gun forums and gun shops. Just remember that despite the subject matter, this is still SA.

Great, let's get to the gun content.

What are guns?
Broadly, a gun is a tool which propels a projectile of some variety towards a target down a barrel by imparting a large amount of energy to it. This might be by burning gunpowder, air pressure, electromagnets, etc.
There are specific legal definitions about what is and is not a firearm in the United States. That may be a little complicated this early in.

What kinds of guns are there?
Broadly speaking, TFR focuses on three types of firearms that use gunpowder to propel their projectiles. There's also the pellet palace subforum which talks about guns using compressed gas to propel the projectile.
Handguns - We can distinguish between "standard" handguns like a Glock, a 1911, a Smith and Wesson revolver, and a single action army revolver (cowboy guns!), and what are legally considered pistols in the US but don't fit into the traditional picture of what a handgun is - things like a CZ Scorpion pistol. In the US, a pistol may not have a foregrip, and may not be designed to fire from the shoulder. Generally speaking, handguns are far more difficult to shoot accurately than a rifle or shotgun.
Rifles - These are firearms with barrels 16" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. They have rifled barrels, grooves formed into the barrel that spin the projectile at a particular rate. They are designed to be fired from the shoulder. Classic examples include an AR-15 and a 10/22.
Shotguns - These are firearms with barrels 18" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. Generally these smooth bore, meaning there is no rifling in the barrel. The "shot" in "shotgun" refers to the projectiles commonly fired from these guns - more than one metal sphere that fly in a pattern. These are commonly used for bird hunting, and shooting clays. It is also possible to fire slugs. Those are just what they sound like, one large solid projectile. Classic examples include pump action shotguns like the Remington 870, double barrel coach guns, semi auto shotguns like the Benelli M4.

But but but there are so many other things you aren't covering - what about semi automatic revolvers like the Mateba 6 Unica or the Webley Fosbery revolver, or NFA items, or, or, or :smug:
Settle down, yes, you know a lot about guns. We're all very proud of you. Yes, there is a wide world of firearms and odd little niches. That is out of scope for significant in depth discussion in the first post of a newbie thread.

What kind of gun should I buy?

A better question is, what do you want a gun for?
Hunting?
loving around at the range because they're neat?
Competition?
Self protection?


Hunting - Generally speaking, birds are hunted with shotguns and mammals are hunted with rifles. However, what you're hunting and where will affect what the best choice is. For example: quail, turkey, and duck are all birds that you hunt with shotguns, but the specific shotgun that's ideal for each will be different. Your local laws might affect this too; for example, when I was growing up in IL, it was illegal to hunt deer with a rifle. It's best to ask in the hunting thread to get specific recommendations: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3474554

loving around at the range - This one has the most latitude. As long as the gun is safe to operate, and you have a range that allows you to shoot it, this can be anything that strikes your fancy. A rifle or pistol chambered in .22 long rifle is a great range gently caress-around gun because the ammunition is inexpensive and it doesn't kick much. Classic examples of these are the Ruger 10/22 (rifle) and Ruger MK IV (pistol). .22s can also be shot pretty much anywhere; most pistol-only ranges will allow rifles chambered in .22 long rifle.

Competition - There are so many different types of firearms competition that it's tough to write a catch-all guide for it. The only general advice I can give is to talk with people who ACTUALLY COMPETE in the sport you're looking to participate in, and ask them what equipment they use. A friend of mine once spent like $1000 having a custom shop build up a fancy Glock to shoot in matches, only to find out that it was all wrong for the equipment rules of the sport. As with many things, the guy at the gun counter of your local sporting goods store is probably not a good source of information here. You can ask competition questions here, or in the dedicated competition thread: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3285367

Self protection - First off, before you start trying to pick a gun for self defense, you need to understand the law governing use of lethal force in your state. Any use of (including brandishing) a firearm, or anything that looks like a firearm, is lethal force. I highly recommend the book The Law of Self Defense by Andrew Branca. You also need to understand that, if you shoot at someone, it is entirely possible that you've conducted yourself 100% morally and lawfully and yet you will still go to prison, and/or go bankrupt from legal fees. It is also possible to cross the line and conduct yourself unlawfully and/or immorally, which will be a tragedy even if you don't face legal or financial consequences. Therefore, it should be understood that shooting (or even pointing) a gun at a person is your last resort. I strongly encourage you to invest in some quality OC spray, as well as some quality training related to verbal deescalation skills and empty-handed self defense skills. Having options other than lethal force is an Unquestionably Good Thing.

As far as the actual guns, it comes down to your use case and your budget. Generally speaking, handguns are worse than rifles and shotguns in every conceivable way except that a handgun is portable, and can be operated one-handed. An obvious example is for protection outside the home: carrying a rifle or shotgun around, even if legal in your area, is both physically and socially awkward. However, even in your home, a handgun might be optimal. Do you have a small child that you'd need to run and grab? Do you not have a safe (and discreet) place to store a loaded rifle or shotgun near your bed? A handgun might be for you in those instances. However, if practicable, a shotgun or rifle is generally better. I won't get too far into rifles vs shotguns for defense in this post, other than: all else being equal, an AR-15 is superior to a shotgun for home defense, but a defensive-grade AR-15 is significantly more expensive than a defensive-grade shotgun. Can you afford $800+ for a quality AR-15? Get that. Otherwise, consider a shotgun. And no matter what home defense gun you get, PUT A LIGHT ON IT. You need to be sure of your target, which means you need to be able to SEE your target.

Now, for some other general gun topics.


My petite partner would like a gun. They're little and cute, so the gun I get them should be little and cute too, right?
Please don't. Mass has a significant impact on felt recoil. An 11.4oz scandium framed .357 magnum revolver is going to hurt like hell to shoot more than a few rounds or cylinders out of. That'll make it suck to train with, and unfun to shoot. Get them something that you'd actually want to shoot more than a couple rounds through. Or, you know, involve them in the process. Just an idea.


Over penetration
Huhuhuhuh he said penetration.
Guns make metal go fast. Fast moving metal tends to go through things. Including walls, into your neighbor's fridge. Or your neighbor. In a self defense scenario, your goal is to dump as much energy into your target as possible while avoiding sending rounds into the parakeet three doors down because they went through your target, or you missed. There are far, far too many factors to say definitively "use this, or terrible things will happen". Shooting somewhere that isn't a controlled setting meant for shooting is inherently dangerous because there are now one or more chunks of high velocity metal doing unpredictable things. If you pull the trigger, you are responsible for that round.
Research such as box o' truth https://www.theboxotruth.com http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall/index.html and http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall2/ indicate that .223/5.56, while a rifle caliber, is a decent choice for a self defense situation as its high velocity and low mass mean it tends to fragment or dump enough energy going through walls that risks to your surroundings are reduced. This is why TFR recommends AR15s for home defense guns. Will this stand up in court because you shot your roommate in the leg from your room into his room because there was a spider? gently caress no. "The internet said it was a good choice" will not save you.


What are the mechanics of buying a gun in the US?
There are often state level laws that come into play.
In the most permissive states in the US, it works like this:
Is the seller a private party that is a resident of the same state you are in, and that is where the transaction is taking place?
Give them money. They give you the gun. Optionally bullshit about the weather or something. Go home, that's it.
Is the seller in another state?
Give them the money. They will ship it to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder in your area. That FFL will work with you to fill out the appropriate forms. You'll pay the FFL for their time and effort, and you'll take your gun home. There are probably multiple FFLs in your area. It is worth some research to figure out who has that perfect mix of accessible hours, not batshit crazy personality, and affordable transfer fees. Also make sure if they are willing to accept guns from private parties directly, or if they prefer to only work with other FFLs.
It's a gun shop in your state?
They're an FFL. Give them the money. They'll do the form things and send you home. There's usually not a transfer fee for these transactions since you're buying the gun from them.
You're in CA, NY, MA, DC, Chicago
lol, sorry, good luck. You can get into the hobby, but know that your political leadership would really rather prefer that you didn't, and will make it as arbitrarily difficult, convoluted and expensive as they can without getting everything torn down by a successful lawsuit. People here can help.

Don't buy guns for other people
Your cousin Fast Jimmy just got out of jail and wants a gun to protect himself, but can't buy one because of that pesky "felony record"? If you do him a solid and buy the gun for him, that is called a straw purchase. It's also a federal felony. There is a question on the 4473 about if you are the actual purchaser of the firearm. This needs to be true. The only exception to this is when the firearm is intended to be a bonafide gift to another person. Still don't gift it to Fast Jimmy though, as he is a prohibited possessor! If your wife buys you a gun for your birthday, you're probably good. If Jimmy gives you a gift of $500, and you give him a gift of a Glock 19... That's not going to stand up. Especially with that prohibited possessor thing.
Even if Jimmy is a squeaky clean minister who would have no problem legally purchasing a gun on his own, you purchasing it for him is still a federal felony. That's right, two people who can legally purchase guns on their own MAY NOT transfer a gun for the other person.
I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Don't get your legal advice from Something Awful Dot Com Forums
In general, try to avoid pissing off the ATF. Your dog will live longer, and you'll avoid felonies and prison time.

PPE, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love health and safety
Guns are loud. Like, really loud. They're also little explosions in your hand that send crap flying. Mostly in one direction, maybe two - but sometimes, and unpredictably, stuff will go in a new and exciting direction. Or you'll catch shrapnel/ricochets. Wear eye protection. Wear hearing protection. Consider doubling up on hearing protection (muffs over plugs). Use your hearing protection properly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPNPZJingZA
Consider gloves. Consider sun exposure if you're outside. Passing out at the range because it's 110 and you've been out there for 4 hours with no cover or water isn't a good day.

Guns are dirty and can introduce unpleasant chemicals and heavy metals into your life. Wash your goddamn hands after shooting before you eat a burger or pick your nose. Lead removing soaps and wipes (D-Lead brand or similar) are available, too, and should be strongly considered.

On safety and security
I'm going to do my take on boxes with locks on them for storing guns. I see questions about this from time to time, and I've purchased a new one recently and wanted to share what I've learned.
First things first:
Literally anything is better than nothing, if properly attached to something immovable.
Literally anything can be broken into, with enough time and tools.
There is no perfect security.
Addressed in the first point, but bolt your box down.

Mass market "safes" have a lot of very impressive sounding and very impressive looking security features. They have fancy looking vault door handles in the middle of your door, they have a door that is 10" thick, they are fire rated to survive 48 hours on the sun, they have upwards of 24 3" locking bolts to ensure that the neighborhood miscreants can't steal your Rough Rider BB gun.

Except, that door handle just makes sure you have more mechanical linkages inside the door that can be attacked. That door, while 10" thick overall, is light gauge steel wrapped around a piece of drywall, the rest of it is just covering the mechanism and provides no security factor. The "fire ratings" are tests designed by the manufacturers and performed themselves, or they give the test parameters to a third party who run the test and "independently certify" the safe. Those impressive locking bolts are held on with 1/4 bolts through light gauge steel linkages. There are also often significant gaps around the door, making it easy to get pry bars and crowbars in there. That light gauge steel doesn't hold up very long.

What are the important factors when choosing a safe/box/rsc/whatever?
How thick is the steel? The thicker, the better, and the heavier.
How heavy is the safe overall? If you look at it when it comes off the truck and realize you have 80%+ chance of being seriously injured or dying by trying to move it by yourself, you're on the right track.
How heavy is the door? It doesn't matter how thick the door is, it matters how thick the outer layer of metal on the door is. Does it take noticeable effort to start the door moving, and stopping it, due to the weight? Great!
Are the linkages made of decent, thick steel?
External hinges are not a weakness on a properly designed security container. It should be possible to literally cut them off completely and the door would not come off, because it is secured in place with internal bolts. Internal hinges take up room in the safe, and prevent the installation of fire protection at those spots.
Can you find independent verification of the fire hardiness, and/or does it come with some actual fire protection beyond drywall and concrete board?
Can you bolt it down where you want to install it? If you can, do it in a place where trying to maneuver tools, vehicle access, etc, is extremely difficult.
What are the tolerances on the door and frame? If you can't fit a business card between the door and the jamb when it's closed, there's no way for a pry bar to get purchase.

The downside of all of that? And to real UL rated safes, which operate on much the same principal as the discussion above, just more so? :homebrew:

Let's talk about a firearms security continuum of "how safe" a storage method is. This is my opinion, and I've skipped some things and/or am wrong about some things including ordering.
  • Leaving a gun at a supermarket and hoping it will be there when you get back
  • Keeping your gun in your car, in one of those stupid loving car magnet/holster things.
  • Keeping your gun in your car, under the seat
  • Keeping your gun in your car in a lock box secured to the frame of the car/seatbelt rails, etc
  • Keeping your gun on your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun in a lock box secured to your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun locked in a pelican case secured to something immovable
  • Keeping your gun in a stack-on box (they're basically your high school locker)
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap boutique maker safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive boutique maker safe
  • UL rated safe (aka a "real" safe)
  • Bank vault
  • Bank vault under a volcano
  • Add a team of gently caress off huge ravens to eat the bad guy's eyes
  • Under the ocean? gently caress, you're still reading this, the list is over

What are your risks? Do you live in a lovely neighborhood and you've been broken in to three times previously?
Do you have kids? Do you have friends or family members who may not be entirely trustworthy (drug problems, etc)? Do you want to stop the meth head that kicked in your back door and will be there for three minutes before he runs? Do you have a security system? A dog? Do you want to keep a professional burglar out? For how long?

How do you choose? Well, a decent approach might be to think about the things you want to store in the box, think about the value of those things, and figure 10-15% of that should go to the security of your safe/container/whatever. If you've got a Mosin and a 10/22 with no significant security threats? A stack-on might be fine for your purposes. You've got a few transferable machine guns and a smorgasbord of other expensive stuff totaling $100k+? Maybe look at the $10-$15k range.
Another angle on it is that spending that money on your security should hurt a bit, but not put you in any actual financial trouble. I'm not going to say that everyone needs to have $15k safes or it isn't worth it.
Spend as much money as you like, though. If you want to keep your Hi Point in the deposit safe from the bank down the road that went out of business and you got it for $50 at the auction, go for it.

Also, get safe interior lighting, they have kits/etc on Amazon. Really nice the be able to see into the far recesses of your safe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RlwGkO0hxE#t=147s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltK-bDbADa8#t=112s

Keep an accurate and updated inventory off site of any valuables. Also any items that aren't specifically something with sentimental value and minimal monetary value. Great grandma's silver christening spoon (that's a thing right?) may be worth $5 in silver, but is clearly much more important than that figure implies. Keep a record of that too, of course.

Anyone storing paper documents or paper money in a safe, store them as close to the floor as you can. I've seen some interesting pictures of safes where the pistols on the upper shelf have been really cooked, to the point of melting polymer guns, but the rifles below are just sorta singed looking. You could conceivably put a smaller fire safe inside the big safe for the truly important stuff. Or you could store the really important, irreplaceable, etc, stuff in a safe deposit box at your local bank. Your stuff isn't perfectly safe there either. There are robberies, fires, etc etc that could all hit a bank.

I ended up going with a Sturdy Safe, and I'm pretty happy with it. I upgraded the sides and jambs so the overall thickness is 7/16" steel, and the door is 3/8" steel. I went for the fire liner too, which is a significant amount of ceramic fire wool (like kaowool, the sorts of stuff they use to line forges, kilns, etc).
I also looked at Drake Safes out of NC but liked the features from sturdy a bit more.

There are a lot of gimmicks out there, but when it comes down to it, making a safe is a fairly straightforward proposition. Make a box big enough to hold the stuff you want to hold. Bolt it down. Make the steel as thick as you can afford, in as many places as you can afford it. Good continuous strong welds. Have a good lock. If you want fire protection, put in some stuff that's actually rated at burning house fire type temperatures, like firebrick, or kaowool, etc.
Just because it's straightforward doesn't mean it is easy or cheap, though. All of those things cost money, the labor to assemble big heavy metal boxes is higher than sheet steel getting cut and rolled around drywall.

I don't really want to buy a gun, but would like to try one out
Cool - there are often rental ranges near you. Call around. Go try poo poo out. What looks interesting?
Alternatively, someone you may know could be one of those filthy gun havers you've heard so much about. If you trust them and they're not assholes, ask to go shooting. Chances are they'd be excited to take you.


On "how a gun feels" and whether that should be a concern for new shooters:

Links to topic specific posts below

A newbie's guide to choosing a defensive pistol EDITED 6/17/20: also check out this great video by LuckyGunner, which is an update to their "handgun recommendations for new shooters" post.

Also valuable information: This blog post from Lucky Gunner was the stand-in until I wrote my thing, along with their "Shooting 101" series. That first post isn't especially complementary to "pocket" pistols, so read this later article on them for a more nuanced view.

Actually, Lucky Gunner is a pretty good source of information on a range of defensive shooting topics. They do a good job of a) getting information from recognized experts, and b) presenting it in an accessible way. They also put the info up in both video and text form.

An intro to blackpowder shooting

A highly opinionated list of quality defensive shooting info sources

MantisClaw wrote this great effortpost on how to grip a pistol. Gripping the thing right is key to shooting fast and accurate.

How do you know if a shooting school is good? Read this. Might help.

If you are a knowledgeable person on a specific firearms topic, please feel free to write an effortpost about it and I will link to it here.

lol

mark immune
Dec 14, 2019



Mega64 posted:

Welcome to the newbie thread v2.0. You can see the original newbie thread here: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3221380
This post was originally made by I like turtles, then handed off to me for some additions and editing. It contains healthy doses of my opinions and values.

First off:
Trolling, this thread, and keeping it accessible:
Newbies: You have a responsibility to read responses to your question, answer any follow up questions directed at you, and think about any new questions you have. Also, please do not come in here seeking validation for your preconceived notions.

Not-newbies: We occasionally get trolls pretending to be newbies. Assume the best about posters unless it's super blatant. And please, keep your mouth shut if you're not qualified to answer the question. If you find yourself quoting other people's advice, when you don't have any first-hand experience yourself, maybe that's a sign that the newbie thread doesn't need your input.

How this thread is structured

This index post contains general information that all gun owners need to know. It includes safety information, how to lawfully purchase a gun, cultural info, etc.
At the bottom, there will be a series of links to information related to specific types of guns. Read the generally applicable stuff first, then click through to the specific kind of gun you're interested in.

The four rules of firearms safety
This is the most important in this thread. That's why it's here at the top. Many years ago, an influential gun guy named Jeff Cooper codified the Four Rules of firearms safety. Pretty much everyone who has had an accident with a firearm did so by breaking one or more of these rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded. I don't care that your friend says it isn't, even if he just checked it. Check it whenever you pick it up, even if you just put it down. "I didn't think it was loaded" is no excuse after you negligently shoot someone.
  2. Never allow the gun to point at anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times, whether you're on the range, at home, loading, or unloading. "Safe direction" means "if a bullet shot out of the gun right now, it wouldn't hurt anyone or anything." Make sure to read the section on over penetration.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what's beyond it. Know what it is, what is in line with it and what is behind it. Again, see the section on over penetration further down.

In addition to the Four Rules, here are some additional safety items stolen from the NRA's gun safety rules*:
  • Know how to use the gun safely. Know how to safely load & unload the gun, operate any safeties, etc. This will help you follow the above Four Rules correctly.
  • Be sure the gun is in good, safe operating condition. Did you just buy a new Glock at the store? You're fine. Did you just buy an ancient revolver at a gun show? Maybe have a qualified gunsmith look it over before shooting it.
  • Always ensure that ammunition is the correct type for the gun. We'll get into cartridge naming conventions later. For now, if you're not sure what type of ammunition goes in your gun, ask a qualified expert like a gunsmith. The guy working the gun counter at the local big box sporting goods store may or may not be a qualified expert. And as a rule, stick to factory new ammunition. Factory remanufactured ammo should give you pause. Ammo reloaded by an individual, who isn't you, is a straight no-go.
  • Wear eye and ear protection. Many hunters don't wear ear pro while hunting. Many hunters are also deaf as a post, but it's up to you. At a range, always wear eye and ear protection. See the PPE section below.
  • Never handle firearms when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a no-brainer.
  • Store guns so they are inaccessible to unauthorized persons. Unauthorized persons include, but are not limited to, small children, thieves, and your dumb rear end friends.

*Yes, the NRA's political activities are...controversial, but they also do valuable work in promoting firearms safety, competition, and conservation. Me citing the NRA's safety rules shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the NRA-ILA's political activities.

Which brings me to "the gun culture."

Note about "gun culture"
There can be a lot of toxicity in US gun culture. Undertones, or even downright explicit examples, of racism, xenophobia, sexism, Nazi iconography, all of the Not Cool Things. TFR does not tolerate that poo poo. TFR is probably a little more on the right on average than the rest of SA, but we're downright commie pinko leftists on average compared to a lot of other gun forums and gun shops. Just remember that despite the subject matter, this is still SA.

Great, let's get to the gun content.

What are guns?
Broadly, a gun is a tool which propels a projectile of some variety towards a target down a barrel by imparting a large amount of energy to it. This might be by burning gunpowder, air pressure, electromagnets, etc.
There are specific legal definitions about what is and is not a firearm in the United States. That may be a little complicated this early in.

What kinds of guns are there?
Broadly speaking, TFR focuses on three types of firearms that use gunpowder to propel their projectiles. There's also the pellet palace subforum which talks about guns using compressed gas to propel the projectile.
Handguns - We can distinguish between "standard" handguns like a Glock, a 1911, a Smith and Wesson revolver, and a single action army revolver (cowboy guns!), and what are legally considered pistols in the US but don't fit into the traditional picture of what a handgun is - things like a CZ Scorpion pistol. In the US, a pistol may not have a foregrip, and may not be designed to fire from the shoulder. Generally speaking, handguns are far more difficult to shoot accurately than a rifle or shotgun.
Rifles - These are firearms with barrels 16" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. They have rifled barrels, grooves formed into the barrel that spin the projectile at a particular rate. They are designed to be fired from the shoulder. Classic examples include an AR-15 and a 10/22.
Shotguns - These are firearms with barrels 18" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. Generally these smooth bore, meaning there is no rifling in the barrel. The "shot" in "shotgun" refers to the projectiles commonly fired from these guns - more than one metal sphere that fly in a pattern. These are commonly used for bird hunting, and shooting clays. It is also possible to fire slugs. Those are just what they sound like, one large solid projectile. Classic examples include pump action shotguns like the Remington 870, double barrel coach guns, semi auto shotguns like the Benelli M4.

But but but there are so many other things you aren't covering - what about semi automatic revolvers like the Mateba 6 Unica or the Webley Fosbery revolver, or NFA items, or, or, or :smug:
Settle down, yes, you know a lot about guns. We're all very proud of you. Yes, there is a wide world of firearms and odd little niches. That is out of scope for significant in depth discussion in the first post of a newbie thread.

What kind of gun should I buy?

A better question is, what do you want a gun for?
Hunting?
loving around at the range because they're neat?
Competition?
Self protection?


Hunting - Generally speaking, birds are hunted with shotguns and mammals are hunted with rifles. However, what you're hunting and where will affect what the best choice is. For example: quail, turkey, and duck are all birds that you hunt with shotguns, but the specific shotgun that's ideal for each will be different. Your local laws might affect this too; for example, when I was growing up in IL, it was illegal to hunt deer with a rifle. It's best to ask in the hunting thread to get specific recommendations: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3474554

loving around at the range - This one has the most latitude. As long as the gun is safe to operate, and you have a range that allows you to shoot it, this can be anything that strikes your fancy. A rifle or pistol chambered in .22 long rifle is a great range gently caress-around gun because the ammunition is inexpensive and it doesn't kick much. Classic examples of these are the Ruger 10/22 (rifle) and Ruger MK IV (pistol). .22s can also be shot pretty much anywhere; most pistol-only ranges will allow rifles chambered in .22 long rifle.

Competition - There are so many different types of firearms competition that it's tough to write a catch-all guide for it. The only general advice I can give is to talk with people who ACTUALLY COMPETE in the sport you're looking to participate in, and ask them what equipment they use. A friend of mine once spent like $1000 having a custom shop build up a fancy Glock to shoot in matches, only to find out that it was all wrong for the equipment rules of the sport. As with many things, the guy at the gun counter of your local sporting goods store is probably not a good source of information here. You can ask competition questions here, or in the dedicated competition thread: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3285367

Self protection - First off, before you start trying to pick a gun for self defense, you need to understand the law governing use of lethal force in your state. Any use of (including brandishing) a firearm, or anything that looks like a firearm, is lethal force. I highly recommend the book The Law of Self Defense by Andrew Branca. You also need to understand that, if you shoot at someone, it is entirely possible that you've conducted yourself 100% morally and lawfully and yet you will still go to prison, and/or go bankrupt from legal fees. It is also possible to cross the line and conduct yourself unlawfully and/or immorally, which will be a tragedy even if you don't face legal or financial consequences. Therefore, it should be understood that shooting (or even pointing) a gun at a person is your last resort. I strongly encourage you to invest in some quality OC spray, as well as some quality training related to verbal deescalation skills and empty-handed self defense skills. Having options other than lethal force is an Unquestionably Good Thing.

As far as the actual guns, it comes down to your use case and your budget. Generally speaking, handguns are worse than rifles and shotguns in every conceivable way except that a handgun is portable, and can be operated one-handed. An obvious example is for protection outside the home: carrying a rifle or shotgun around, even if legal in your area, is both physically and socially awkward. However, even in your home, a handgun might be optimal. Do you have a small child that you'd need to run and grab? Do you not have a safe (and discreet) place to store a loaded rifle or shotgun near your bed? A handgun might be for you in those instances. However, if practicable, a shotgun or rifle is generally better. I won't get too far into rifles vs shotguns for defense in this post, other than: all else being equal, an AR-15 is superior to a shotgun for home defense, but a defensive-grade AR-15 is significantly more expensive than a defensive-grade shotgun. Can you afford $800+ for a quality AR-15? Get that. Otherwise, consider a shotgun. And no matter what home defense gun you get, PUT A LIGHT ON IT. You need to be sure of your target, which means you need to be able to SEE your target.

Now, for some other general gun topics.


My petite partner would like a gun. They're little and cute, so the gun I get them should be little and cute too, right?
Please don't. Mass has a significant impact on felt recoil. An 11.4oz scandium framed .357 magnum revolver is going to hurt like hell to shoot more than a few rounds or cylinders out of. That'll make it suck to train with, and unfun to shoot. Get them something that you'd actually want to shoot more than a couple rounds through. Or, you know, involve them in the process. Just an idea.


Over penetration
Huhuhuhuh he said penetration.
Guns make metal go fast. Fast moving metal tends to go through things. Including walls, into your neighbor's fridge. Or your neighbor. In a self defense scenario, your goal is to dump as much energy into your target as possible while avoiding sending rounds into the parakeet three doors down because they went through your target, or you missed. There are far, far too many factors to say definitively "use this, or terrible things will happen". Shooting somewhere that isn't a controlled setting meant for shooting is inherently dangerous because there are now one or more chunks of high velocity metal doing unpredictable things. If you pull the trigger, you are responsible for that round.
Research such as box o' truth https://www.theboxotruth.com http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall/index.html and http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall2/ indicate that .223/5.56, while a rifle caliber, is a decent choice for a self defense situation as its high velocity and low mass mean it tends to fragment or dump enough energy going through walls that risks to your surroundings are reduced. This is why TFR recommends AR15s for home defense guns. Will this stand up in court because you shot your roommate in the leg from your room into his room because there was a spider? gently caress no. "The internet said it was a good choice" will not save you.


What are the mechanics of buying a gun in the US?
There are often state level laws that come into play.
In the most permissive states in the US, it works like this:
Is the seller a private party that is a resident of the same state you are in, and that is where the transaction is taking place?
Give them money. They give you the gun. Optionally bullshit about the weather or something. Go home, that's it.
Is the seller in another state?
Give them the money. They will ship it to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder in your area. That FFL will work with you to fill out the appropriate forms. You'll pay the FFL for their time and effort, and you'll take your gun home. There are probably multiple FFLs in your area. It is worth some research to figure out who has that perfect mix of accessible hours, not batshit crazy personality, and affordable transfer fees. Also make sure if they are willing to accept guns from private parties directly, or if they prefer to only work with other FFLs.
It's a gun shop in your state?
They're an FFL. Give them the money. They'll do the form things and send you home. There's usually not a transfer fee for these transactions since you're buying the gun from them.
You're in CA, NY, MA, DC, Chicago
lol, sorry, good luck. You can get into the hobby, but know that your political leadership would really rather prefer that you didn't, and will make it as arbitrarily difficult, convoluted and expensive as they can without getting everything torn down by a successful lawsuit. People here can help.

Don't buy guns for other people
Your cousin Fast Jimmy just got out of jail and wants a gun to protect himself, but can't buy one because of that pesky "felony record"? If you do him a solid and buy the gun for him, that is called a straw purchase. It's also a federal felony. There is a question on the 4473 about if you are the actual purchaser of the firearm. This needs to be true. The only exception to this is when the firearm is intended to be a bonafide gift to another person. Still don't gift it to Fast Jimmy though, as he is a prohibited possessor! If your wife buys you a gun for your birthday, you're probably good. If Jimmy gives you a gift of $500, and you give him a gift of a Glock 19... That's not going to stand up. Especially with that prohibited possessor thing.
Even if Jimmy is a squeaky clean minister who would have no problem legally purchasing a gun on his own, you purchasing it for him is still a federal felony. That's right, two people who can legally purchase guns on their own MAY NOT transfer a gun for the other person.
I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Don't get your legal advice from Something Awful Dot Com Forums
In general, try to avoid pissing off the ATF. Your dog will live longer, and you'll avoid felonies and prison time.

PPE, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love health and safety
Guns are loud. Like, really loud. They're also little explosions in your hand that send crap flying. Mostly in one direction, maybe two - but sometimes, and unpredictably, stuff will go in a new and exciting direction. Or you'll catch shrapnel/ricochets. Wear eye protection. Wear hearing protection. Consider doubling up on hearing protection (muffs over plugs). Use your hearing protection properly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPNPZJingZA
Consider gloves. Consider sun exposure if you're outside. Passing out at the range because it's 110 and you've been out there for 4 hours with no cover or water isn't a good day.

Guns are dirty and can introduce unpleasant chemicals and heavy metals into your life. Wash your goddamn hands after shooting before you eat a burger or pick your nose. Lead removing soaps and wipes (D-Lead brand or similar) are available, too, and should be strongly considered.

On safety and security
I'm going to do my take on boxes with locks on them for storing guns. I see questions about this from time to time, and I've purchased a new one recently and wanted to share what I've learned.
First things first:
Literally anything is better than nothing, if properly attached to something immovable.
Literally anything can be broken into, with enough time and tools.
There is no perfect security.
Addressed in the first point, but bolt your box down.

Mass market "safes" have a lot of very impressive sounding and very impressive looking security features. They have fancy looking vault door handles in the middle of your door, they have a door that is 10" thick, they are fire rated to survive 48 hours on the sun, they have upwards of 24 3" locking bolts to ensure that the neighborhood miscreants can't steal your Rough Rider BB gun.

Except, that door handle just makes sure you have more mechanical linkages inside the door that can be attacked. That door, while 10" thick overall, is light gauge steel wrapped around a piece of drywall, the rest of it is just covering the mechanism and provides no security factor. The "fire ratings" are tests designed by the manufacturers and performed themselves, or they give the test parameters to a third party who run the test and "independently certify" the safe. Those impressive locking bolts are held on with 1/4 bolts through light gauge steel linkages. There are also often significant gaps around the door, making it easy to get pry bars and crowbars in there. That light gauge steel doesn't hold up very long.

What are the important factors when choosing a safe/box/rsc/whatever?
How thick is the steel? The thicker, the better, and the heavier.
How heavy is the safe overall? If you look at it when it comes off the truck and realize you have 80%+ chance of being seriously injured or dying by trying to move it by yourself, you're on the right track.
How heavy is the door? It doesn't matter how thick the door is, it matters how thick the outer layer of metal on the door is. Does it take noticeable effort to start the door moving, and stopping it, due to the weight? Great!
Are the linkages made of decent, thick steel?
External hinges are not a weakness on a properly designed security container. It should be possible to literally cut them off completely and the door would not come off, because it is secured in place with internal bolts. Internal hinges take up room in the safe, and prevent the installation of fire protection at those spots.
Can you find independent verification of the fire hardiness, and/or does it come with some actual fire protection beyond drywall and concrete board?
Can you bolt it down where you want to install it? If you can, do it in a place where trying to maneuver tools, vehicle access, etc, is extremely difficult.
What are the tolerances on the door and frame? If you can't fit a business card between the door and the jamb when it's closed, there's no way for a pry bar to get purchase.

The downside of all of that? And to real UL rated safes, which operate on much the same principal as the discussion above, just more so? :homebrew:

Let's talk about a firearms security continuum of "how safe" a storage method is. This is my opinion, and I've skipped some things and/or am wrong about some things including ordering.
  • Leaving a gun at a supermarket and hoping it will be there when you get back
  • Keeping your gun in your car, in one of those stupid loving car magnet/holster things.
  • Keeping your gun in your car, under the seat
  • Keeping your gun in your car in a lock box secured to the frame of the car/seatbelt rails, etc
  • Keeping your gun on your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun in a lock box secured to your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun locked in a pelican case secured to something immovable
  • Keeping your gun in a stack-on box (they're basically your high school locker)
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap boutique maker safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive boutique maker safe
  • UL rated safe (aka a "real" safe)
  • Bank vault
  • Bank vault under a volcano
  • Add a team of gently caress off huge ravens to eat the bad guy's eyes
  • Under the ocean? gently caress, you're still reading this, the list is over

What are your risks? Do you live in a lovely neighborhood and you've been broken in to three times previously?
Do you have kids? Do you have friends or family members who may not be entirely trustworthy (drug problems, etc)? Do you want to stop the meth head that kicked in your back door and will be there for three minutes before he runs? Do you have a security system? A dog? Do you want to keep a professional burglar out? For how long?

How do you choose? Well, a decent approach might be to think about the things you want to store in the box, think about the value of those things, and figure 10-15% of that should go to the security of your safe/container/whatever. If you've got a Mosin and a 10/22 with no significant security threats? A stack-on might be fine for your purposes. You've got a few transferable machine guns and a smorgasbord of other expensive stuff totaling $100k+? Maybe look at the $10-$15k range.
Another angle on it is that spending that money on your security should hurt a bit, but not put you in any actual financial trouble. I'm not going to say that everyone needs to have $15k safes or it isn't worth it.
Spend as much money as you like, though. If you want to keep your Hi Point in the deposit safe from the bank down the road that went out of business and you got it for $50 at the auction, go for it.

Also, get safe interior lighting, they have kits/etc on Amazon. Really nice the be able to see into the far recesses of your safe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RlwGkO0hxE#t=147s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltK-bDbADa8#t=112s

Keep an accurate and updated inventory off site of any valuables. Also any items that aren't specifically something with sentimental value and minimal monetary value. Great grandma's silver christening spoon (that's a thing right?) may be worth $5 in silver, but is clearly much more important than that figure implies. Keep a record of that too, of course.

Anyone storing paper documents or paper money in a safe, store them as close to the floor as you can. I've seen some interesting pictures of safes where the pistols on the upper shelf have been really cooked, to the point of melting polymer guns, but the rifles below are just sorta singed looking. You could conceivably put a smaller fire safe inside the big safe for the truly important stuff. Or you could store the really important, irreplaceable, etc, stuff in a safe deposit box at your local bank. Your stuff isn't perfectly safe there either. There are robberies, fires, etc etc that could all hit a bank.

I ended up going with a Sturdy Safe, and I'm pretty happy with it. I upgraded the sides and jambs so the overall thickness is 7/16" steel, and the door is 3/8" steel. I went for the fire liner too, which is a significant amount of ceramic fire wool (like kaowool, the sorts of stuff they use to line forges, kilns, etc).
I also looked at Drake Safes out of NC but liked the features from sturdy a bit more.

There are a lot of gimmicks out there, but when it comes down to it, making a safe is a fairly straightforward proposition. Make a box big enough to hold the stuff you want to hold. Bolt it down. Make the steel as thick as you can afford, in as many places as you can afford it. Good continuous strong welds. Have a good lock. If you want fire protection, put in some stuff that's actually rated at burning house fire type temperatures, like firebrick, or kaowool, etc.
Just because it's straightforward doesn't mean it is easy or cheap, though. All of those things cost money, the labor to assemble big heavy metal boxes is higher than sheet steel getting cut and rolled around drywall.

I don't really want to buy a gun, but would like to try one out
Cool - there are often rental ranges near you. Call around. Go try poo poo out. What looks interesting?
Alternatively, someone you may know could be one of those filthy gun havers you've heard so much about. If you trust them and they're not assholes, ask to go shooting. Chances are they'd be excited to take you.


On "how a gun feels" and whether that should be a concern for new shooters:

Links to topic specific posts below

A newbie's guide to choosing a defensive pistol EDITED 6/17/20: also check out this great video by LuckyGunner, which is an update to their "handgun recommendations for new shooters" post.

Also valuable information: This blog post from Lucky Gunner was the stand-in until I wrote my thing, along with their "Shooting 101" series. That first post isn't especially complementary to "pocket" pistols, so read this later article on them for a more nuanced view.

Actually, Lucky Gunner is a pretty good source of information on a range of defensive shooting topics. They do a good job of a) getting information from recognized experts, and b) presenting it in an accessible way. They also put the info up in both video and text form.

An intro to blackpowder shooting

A highly opinionated list of quality defensive shooting info sources

MantisClaw wrote this great effortpost on how to grip a pistol. Gripping the thing right is key to shooting fast and accurate.

How do you know if a shooting school is good? Read this. Might help.

If you are a knowledgeable person on a specific firearms topic, please feel free to write an effortpost about it and I will link to it here.

oops, double post

Buck Wildman
Mar 30, 2010

I am Metango, Galactic Governor


Grimey Drawer

Mega64 posted:

Welcome to the newbie thread v2.0. You can see the original newbie thread here: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3221380
This post was originally made by I like turtles, then handed off to me for some additions and editing. It contains healthy doses of my opinions and values.

First off:
Trolling, this thread, and keeping it accessible:
Newbies: You have a responsibility to read responses to your question, answer any follow up questions directed at you, and think about any new questions you have. Also, please do not come in here seeking validation for your preconceived notions.

Not-newbies: We occasionally get trolls pretending to be newbies. Assume the best about posters unless it's super blatant. And please, keep your mouth shut if you're not qualified to answer the question. If you find yourself quoting other people's advice, when you don't have any first-hand experience yourself, maybe that's a sign that the newbie thread doesn't need your input.

How this thread is structured

This index post contains general information that all gun owners need to know. It includes safety information, how to lawfully purchase a gun, cultural info, etc.
At the bottom, there will be a series of links to information related to specific types of guns. Read the generally applicable stuff first, then click through to the specific kind of gun you're interested in.

The four rules of firearms safety
This is the most important in this thread. That's why it's here at the top. Many years ago, an influential gun guy named Jeff Cooper codified the Four Rules of firearms safety. Pretty much everyone who has had an accident with a firearm did so by breaking one or more of these rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded. I don't care that your friend says it isn't, even if he just checked it. Check it whenever you pick it up, even if you just put it down. "I didn't think it was loaded" is no excuse after you negligently shoot someone.
  2. Never allow the gun to point at anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times, whether you're on the range, at home, loading, or unloading. "Safe direction" means "if a bullet shot out of the gun right now, it wouldn't hurt anyone or anything." Make sure to read the section on over penetration.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what's beyond it. Know what it is, what is in line with it and what is behind it. Again, see the section on over penetration further down.

In addition to the Four Rules, here are some additional safety items stolen from the NRA's gun safety rules*:
  • Know how to use the gun safely. Know how to safely load & unload the gun, operate any safeties, etc. This will help you follow the above Four Rules correctly.
  • Be sure the gun is in good, safe operating condition. Did you just buy a new Glock at the store? You're fine. Did you just buy an ancient revolver at a gun show? Maybe have a qualified gunsmith look it over before shooting it.
  • Always ensure that ammunition is the correct type for the gun. We'll get into cartridge naming conventions later. For now, if you're not sure what type of ammunition goes in your gun, ask a qualified expert like a gunsmith. The guy working the gun counter at the local big box sporting goods store may or may not be a qualified expert. And as a rule, stick to factory new ammunition. Factory remanufactured ammo should give you pause. Ammo reloaded by an individual, who isn't you, is a straight no-go.
  • Wear eye and ear protection. Many hunters don't wear ear pro while hunting. Many hunters are also deaf as a post, but it's up to you. At a range, always wear eye and ear protection. See the PPE section below.
  • Never handle firearms when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a no-brainer.
  • Store guns so they are inaccessible to unauthorized persons. Unauthorized persons include, but are not limited to, small children, thieves, and your dumb rear end friends.

*Yes, the NRA's political activities are...controversial, but they also do valuable work in promoting firearms safety, competition, and conservation. Me citing the NRA's safety rules shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the NRA-ILA's political activities.

Which brings me to "the gun culture."

Note about "gun culture"
There can be a lot of toxicity in US gun culture. Undertones, or even downright explicit examples, of racism, xenophobia, sexism, Nazi iconography, all of the Not Cool Things. TFR does not tolerate that poo poo. TFR is probably a little more on the right on average than the rest of SA, but we're downright commie pinko leftists on average compared to a lot of other gun forums and gun shops. Just remember that despite the subject matter, this is still SA.

Great, let's get to the gun content.

What are guns?
Broadly, a gun is a tool which propels a projectile of some variety towards a target down a barrel by imparting a large amount of energy to it. This might be by burning gunpowder, air pressure, electromagnets, etc.
There are specific legal definitions about what is and is not a firearm in the United States. That may be a little complicated this early in.

What kinds of guns are there?
Broadly speaking, TFR focuses on three types of firearms that use gunpowder to propel their projectiles. There's also the pellet palace subforum which talks about guns using compressed gas to propel the projectile.
Handguns - We can distinguish between "standard" handguns like a Glock, a 1911, a Smith and Wesson revolver, and a single action army revolver (cowboy guns!), and what are legally considered pistols in the US but don't fit into the traditional picture of what a handgun is - things like a CZ Scorpion pistol. In the US, a pistol may not have a foregrip, and may not be designed to fire from the shoulder. Generally speaking, handguns are far more difficult to shoot accurately than a rifle or shotgun.
Rifles - These are firearms with barrels 16" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. They have rifled barrels, grooves formed into the barrel that spin the projectile at a particular rate. They are designed to be fired from the shoulder. Classic examples include an AR-15 and a 10/22.
Shotguns - These are firearms with barrels 18" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. Generally these smooth bore, meaning there is no rifling in the barrel. The "shot" in "shotgun" refers to the projectiles commonly fired from these guns - more than one metal sphere that fly in a pattern. These are commonly used for bird hunting, and shooting clays. It is also possible to fire slugs. Those are just what they sound like, one large solid projectile. Classic examples include pump action shotguns like the Remington 870, double barrel coach guns, semi auto shotguns like the Benelli M4.

But but but there are so many other things you aren't covering - what about semi automatic revolvers like the Mateba 6 Unica or the Webley Fosbery revolver, or NFA items, or, or, or :smug:
Settle down, yes, you know a lot about guns. We're all very proud of you. Yes, there is a wide world of firearms and odd little niches. That is out of scope for significant in depth discussion in the first post of a newbie thread.

What kind of gun should I buy?

A better question is, what do you want a gun for?
Hunting?
loving around at the range because they're neat?
Competition?
Self protection?


Hunting - Generally speaking, birds are hunted with shotguns and mammals are hunted with rifles. However, what you're hunting and where will affect what the best choice is. For example: quail, turkey, and duck are all birds that you hunt with shotguns, but the specific shotgun that's ideal for each will be different. Your local laws might affect this too; for example, when I was growing up in IL, it was illegal to hunt deer with a rifle. It's best to ask in the hunting thread to get specific recommendations: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3474554

loving around at the range - This one has the most latitude. As long as the gun is safe to operate, and you have a range that allows you to shoot it, this can be anything that strikes your fancy. A rifle or pistol chambered in .22 long rifle is a great range gently caress-around gun because the ammunition is inexpensive and it doesn't kick much. Classic examples of these are the Ruger 10/22 (rifle) and Ruger MK IV (pistol). .22s can also be shot pretty much anywhere; most pistol-only ranges will allow rifles chambered in .22 long rifle.

Competition - There are so many different types of firearms competition that it's tough to write a catch-all guide for it. The only general advice I can give is to talk with people who ACTUALLY COMPETE in the sport you're looking to participate in, and ask them what equipment they use. A friend of mine once spent like $1000 having a custom shop build up a fancy Glock to shoot in matches, only to find out that it was all wrong for the equipment rules of the sport. As with many things, the guy at the gun counter of your local sporting goods store is probably not a good source of information here. You can ask competition questions here, or in the dedicated competition thread: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3285367

Self protection - First off, before you start trying to pick a gun for self defense, you need to understand the law governing use of lethal force in your state. Any use of (including brandishing) a firearm, or anything that looks like a firearm, is lethal force. I highly recommend the book The Law of Self Defense by Andrew Branca. You also need to understand that, if you shoot at someone, it is entirely possible that you've conducted yourself 100% morally and lawfully and yet you will still go to prison, and/or go bankrupt from legal fees. It is also possible to cross the line and conduct yourself unlawfully and/or immorally, which will be a tragedy even if you don't face legal or financial consequences. Therefore, it should be understood that shooting (or even pointing) a gun at a person is your last resort. I strongly encourage you to invest in some quality OC spray, as well as some quality training related to verbal deescalation skills and empty-handed self defense skills. Having options other than lethal force is an Unquestionably Good Thing.

As far as the actual guns, it comes down to your use case and your budget. Generally speaking, handguns are worse than rifles and shotguns in every conceivable way except that a handgun is portable, and can be operated one-handed. An obvious example is for protection outside the home: carrying a rifle or shotgun around, even if legal in your area, is both physically and socially awkward. However, even in your home, a handgun might be optimal. Do you have a small child that you'd need to run and grab? Do you not have a safe (and discreet) place to store a loaded rifle or shotgun near your bed? A handgun might be for you in those instances. However, if practicable, a shotgun or rifle is generally better. I won't get too far into rifles vs shotguns for defense in this post, other than: all else being equal, an AR-15 is superior to a shotgun for home defense, but a defensive-grade AR-15 is significantly more expensive than a defensive-grade shotgun. Can you afford $800+ for a quality AR-15? Get that. Otherwise, consider a shotgun. And no matter what home defense gun you get, PUT A LIGHT ON IT. You need to be sure of your target, which means you need to be able to SEE your target.

Now, for some other general gun topics.


My petite partner would like a gun. They're little and cute, so the gun I get them should be little and cute too, right?
Please don't. Mass has a significant impact on felt recoil. An 11.4oz scandium framed .357 magnum revolver is going to hurt like hell to shoot more than a few rounds or cylinders out of. That'll make it suck to train with, and unfun to shoot. Get them something that you'd actually want to shoot more than a couple rounds through. Or, you know, involve them in the process. Just an idea.


Over penetration
Huhuhuhuh he said penetration.
Guns make metal go fast. Fast moving metal tends to go through things. Including walls, into your neighbor's fridge. Or your neighbor. In a self defense scenario, your goal is to dump as much energy into your target as possible while avoiding sending rounds into the parakeet three doors down because they went through your target, or you missed. There are far, far too many factors to say definitively "use this, or terrible things will happen". Shooting somewhere that isn't a controlled setting meant for shooting is inherently dangerous because there are now one or more chunks of high velocity metal doing unpredictable things. If you pull the trigger, you are responsible for that round.
Research such as box o' truth https://www.theboxotruth.com http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall/index.html and http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall2/ indicate that .223/5.56, while a rifle caliber, is a decent choice for a self defense situation as its high velocity and low mass mean it tends to fragment or dump enough energy going through walls that risks to your surroundings are reduced. This is why TFR recommends AR15s for home defense guns. Will this stand up in court because you shot your roommate in the leg from your room into his room because there was a spider? gently caress no. "The internet said it was a good choice" will not save you.


What are the mechanics of buying a gun in the US?
There are often state level laws that come into play.
In the most permissive states in the US, it works like this:
Is the seller a private party that is a resident of the same state you are in, and that is where the transaction is taking place?
Give them money. They give you the gun. Optionally bullshit about the weather or something. Go home, that's it.
Is the seller in another state?
Give them the money. They will ship it to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder in your area. That FFL will work with you to fill out the appropriate forms. You'll pay the FFL for their time and effort, and you'll take your gun home. There are probably multiple FFLs in your area. It is worth some research to figure out who has that perfect mix of accessible hours, not batshit crazy personality, and affordable transfer fees. Also make sure if they are willing to accept guns from private parties directly, or if they prefer to only work with other FFLs.
It's a gun shop in your state?
They're an FFL. Give them the money. They'll do the form things and send you home. There's usually not a transfer fee for these transactions since you're buying the gun from them.
You're in CA, NY, MA, DC, Chicago
lol, sorry, good luck. You can get into the hobby, but know that your political leadership would really rather prefer that you didn't, and will make it as arbitrarily difficult, convoluted and expensive as they can without getting everything torn down by a successful lawsuit. People here can help.

Don't buy guns for other people
Your cousin Fast Jimmy just got out of jail and wants a gun to protect himself, but can't buy one because of that pesky "felony record"? If you do him a solid and buy the gun for him, that is called a straw purchase. It's also a federal felony. There is a question on the 4473 about if you are the actual purchaser of the firearm. This needs to be true. The only exception to this is when the firearm is intended to be a bonafide gift to another person. Still don't gift it to Fast Jimmy though, as he is a prohibited possessor! If your wife buys you a gun for your birthday, you're probably good. If Jimmy gives you a gift of $500, and you give him a gift of a Glock 19... That's not going to stand up. Especially with that prohibited possessor thing.
Even if Jimmy is a squeaky clean minister who would have no problem legally purchasing a gun on his own, you purchasing it for him is still a federal felony. That's right, two people who can legally purchase guns on their own MAY NOT transfer a gun for the other person.
I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Don't get your legal advice from Something Awful Dot Com Forums
In general, try to avoid pissing off the ATF. Your dog will live longer, and you'll avoid felonies and prison time.

PPE, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love health and safety
Guns are loud. Like, really loud. They're also little explosions in your hand that send crap flying. Mostly in one direction, maybe two - but sometimes, and unpredictably, stuff will go in a new and exciting direction. Or you'll catch shrapnel/ricochets. Wear eye protection. Wear hearing protection. Consider doubling up on hearing protection (muffs over plugs). Use your hearing protection properly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPNPZJingZA
Consider gloves. Consider sun exposure if you're outside. Passing out at the range because it's 110 and you've been out there for 4 hours with no cover or water isn't a good day.

Guns are dirty and can introduce unpleasant chemicals and heavy metals into your life. Wash your goddamn hands after shooting before you eat a burger or pick your nose. Lead removing soaps and wipes (D-Lead brand or similar) are available, too, and should be strongly considered.

On safety and security
I'm going to do my take on boxes with locks on them for storing guns. I see questions about this from time to time, and I've purchased a new one recently and wanted to share what I've learned.
First things first:
Literally anything is better than nothing, if properly attached to something immovable.
Literally anything can be broken into, with enough time and tools.
There is no perfect security.
Addressed in the first point, but bolt your box down.

Mass market "safes" have a lot of very impressive sounding and very impressive looking security features. They have fancy looking vault door handles in the middle of your door, they have a door that is 10" thick, they are fire rated to survive 48 hours on the sun, they have upwards of 24 3" locking bolts to ensure that the neighborhood miscreants can't steal your Rough Rider BB gun.

Except, that door handle just makes sure you have more mechanical linkages inside the door that can be attacked. That door, while 10" thick overall, is light gauge steel wrapped around a piece of drywall, the rest of it is just covering the mechanism and provides no security factor. The "fire ratings" are tests designed by the manufacturers and performed themselves, or they give the test parameters to a third party who run the test and "independently certify" the safe. Those impressive locking bolts are held on with 1/4 bolts through light gauge steel linkages. There are also often significant gaps around the door, making it easy to get pry bars and crowbars in there. That light gauge steel doesn't hold up very long.

What are the important factors when choosing a safe/box/rsc/whatever?
How thick is the steel? The thicker, the better, and the heavier.
How heavy is the safe overall? If you look at it when it comes off the truck and realize you have 80%+ chance of being seriously injured or dying by trying to move it by yourself, you're on the right track.
How heavy is the door? It doesn't matter how thick the door is, it matters how thick the outer layer of metal on the door is. Does it take noticeable effort to start the door moving, and stopping it, due to the weight? Great!
Are the linkages made of decent, thick steel?
External hinges are not a weakness on a properly designed security container. It should be possible to literally cut them off completely and the door would not come off, because it is secured in place with internal bolts. Internal hinges take up room in the safe, and prevent the installation of fire protection at those spots.
Can you find independent verification of the fire hardiness, and/or does it come with some actual fire protection beyond drywall and concrete board?
Can you bolt it down where you want to install it? If you can, do it in a place where trying to maneuver tools, vehicle access, etc, is extremely difficult.
What are the tolerances on the door and frame? If you can't fit a business card between the door and the jamb when it's closed, there's no way for a pry bar to get purchase.

The downside of all of that? And to real UL rated safes, which operate on much the same principal as the discussion above, just more so? :homebrew:

Let's talk about a firearms security continuum of "how safe" a storage method is. This is my opinion, and I've skipped some things and/or am wrong about some things including ordering.
  • Leaving a gun at a supermarket and hoping it will be there when you get back
  • Keeping your gun in your car, in one of those stupid loving car magnet/holster things.
  • Keeping your gun in your car, under the seat
  • Keeping your gun in your car in a lock box secured to the frame of the car/seatbelt rails, etc
  • Keeping your gun on your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun in a lock box secured to your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun locked in a pelican case secured to something immovable
  • Keeping your gun in a stack-on box (they're basically your high school locker)
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap boutique maker safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive boutique maker safe
  • UL rated safe (aka a "real" safe)
  • Bank vault
  • Bank vault under a volcano
  • Add a team of gently caress off huge ravens to eat the bad guy's eyes
  • Under the ocean? gently caress, you're still reading this, the list is over

What are your risks? Do you live in a lovely neighborhood and you've been broken in to three times previously?
Do you have kids? Do you have friends or family members who may not be entirely trustworthy (drug problems, etc)? Do you want to stop the meth head that kicked in your back door and will be there for three minutes before he runs? Do you have a security system? A dog? Do you want to keep a professional burglar out? For how long?

How do you choose? Well, a decent approach might be to think about the things you want to store in the box, think about the value of those things, and figure 10-15% of that should go to the security of your safe/container/whatever. If you've got a Mosin and a 10/22 with no significant security threats? A stack-on might be fine for your purposes. You've got a few transferable machine guns and a smorgasbord of other expensive stuff totaling $100k+? Maybe look at the $10-$15k range.
Another angle on it is that spending that money on your security should hurt a bit, but not put you in any actual financial trouble. I'm not going to say that everyone needs to have $15k safes or it isn't worth it.
Spend as much money as you like, though. If you want to keep your Hi Point in the deposit safe from the bank down the road that went out of business and you got it for $50 at the auction, go for it.

Also, get safe interior lighting, they have kits/etc on Amazon. Really nice the be able to see into the far recesses of your safe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RlwGkO0hxE#t=147s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltK-bDbADa8#t=112s

Keep an accurate and updated inventory off site of any valuables. Also any items that aren't specifically something with sentimental value and minimal monetary value. Great grandma's silver christening spoon (that's a thing right?) may be worth $5 in silver, but is clearly much more important than that figure implies. Keep a record of that too, of course.

Anyone storing paper documents or paper money in a safe, store them as close to the floor as you can. I've seen some interesting pictures of safes where the pistols on the upper shelf have been really cooked, to the point of melting polymer guns, but the rifles below are just sorta singed looking. You could conceivably put a smaller fire safe inside the big safe for the truly important stuff. Or you could store the really important, irreplaceable, etc, stuff in a safe deposit box at your local bank. Your stuff isn't perfectly safe there either. There are robberies, fires, etc etc that could all hit a bank.

I ended up going with a Sturdy Safe, and I'm pretty happy with it. I upgraded the sides and jambs so the overall thickness is 7/16" steel, and the door is 3/8" steel. I went for the fire liner too, which is a significant amount of ceramic fire wool (like kaowool, the sorts of stuff they use to line forges, kilns, etc).
I also looked at Drake Safes out of NC but liked the features from sturdy a bit more.

There are a lot of gimmicks out there, but when it comes down to it, making a safe is a fairly straightforward proposition. Make a box big enough to hold the stuff you want to hold. Bolt it down. Make the steel as thick as you can afford, in as many places as you can afford it. Good continuous strong welds. Have a good lock. If you want fire protection, put in some stuff that's actually rated at burning house fire type temperatures, like firebrick, or kaowool, etc.
Just because it's straightforward doesn't mean it is easy or cheap, though. All of those things cost money, the labor to assemble big heavy metal boxes is higher than sheet steel getting cut and rolled around drywall.

I don't really want to buy a gun, but would like to try one out
Cool - there are often rental ranges near you. Call around. Go try poo poo out. What looks interesting?
Alternatively, someone you may know could be one of those filthy gun havers you've heard so much about. If you trust them and they're not assholes, ask to go shooting. Chances are they'd be excited to take you.


On "how a gun feels" and whether that should be a concern for new shooters:

Links to topic specific posts below

A newbie's guide to choosing a defensive pistol EDITED 6/17/20: also check out this great video by LuckyGunner, which is an update to their "handgun recommendations for new shooters" post.

Also valuable information: This blog post from Lucky Gunner was the stand-in until I wrote my thing, along with their "Shooting 101" series. That first post isn't especially complementary to "pocket" pistols, so read this later article on them for a more nuanced view.

Actually, Lucky Gunner is a pretty good source of information on a range of defensive shooting topics. They do a good job of a) getting information from recognized experts, and b) presenting it in an accessible way. They also put the info up in both video and text form.

An intro to blackpowder shooting

A highly opinionated list of quality defensive shooting info sources

MantisClaw wrote this great effortpost on how to grip a pistol. Gripping the thing right is key to shooting fast and accurate.

How do you know if a shooting school is good? Read this. Might help.

If you are a knowledgeable person on a specific firearms topic, please feel free to write an effortpost about it and I will link to it here.

oic

ShallNoiseUpon
Sep 10, 2010



lmao

Malah
May 18, 2015




lmao

The Protagonist
Jun 29, 2009

The average is 5.5? I thought it was 4. This is very unsettling.


lol

Pener Kropoopkin
Jan 30, 2013

Fully Automated Luxury Space Dog


who the gently caress didn't vote 5?

Judakel
Jul 29, 2004

MAGA FAN #1


lol

LGD
Sep 25, 2004



actual true sustained irl lol

nomad2020
Jan 29, 2007



nice

Buck Turgidson
Feb 6, 2011


any recommendations for boots with a bulletproof toeguard? will steeltoe boots work?

asking for a friend

exmarx
Feb 18, 2012


The experience over the years
of nothing getting better
only worse.


what kind of freak buys a gun for "self protection"?

skewetoo
Mar 30, 2003



Lmao

In the Colosseum
Jan 2, 2008

They train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes because it is obscene.


lol

Chuka Umana
Apr 30, 2019

shadow posting secretary




(le)l

frankenfreak
Feb 16, 2007

I SCORED 85% ON A QUIZ ABOUT MONDAY NIGHT RAW AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY TEXT

#bastionboogerbrigade

Pener Kropoopkin posted:

who the gently caress didn't vote 5?
1.0: ruskerdax
1.0: smarxist

Pener Kropoopkin
Jan 30, 2013

Fully Automated Luxury Space Dog


frankenfreak posted:

1.0: ruskerdax
1.0: smarxist

can't say I'm surprised

F Stop Fitzgerald
Dec 11, 2010



frankenfreak posted:

1.0: ruskerdax
1.0: smarxist

ahahaha

mark immune
Dec 14, 2019



Mega64 posted:

Welcome to the newbie thread v2.0. You can see the original newbie thread here: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3221380
This post was originally made by I like turtles, then handed off to me for some additions and editing. It contains healthy doses of my opinions and values.

First off:
Trolling, this thread, and keeping it accessible:
Newbies: You have a responsibility to read responses to your question, answer any follow up questions directed at you, and think about any new questions you have. Also, please do not come in here seeking validation for your preconceived notions.

Not-newbies: We occasionally get trolls pretending to be newbies. Assume the best about posters unless it's super blatant. And please, keep your mouth shut if you're not qualified to answer the question. If you find yourself quoting other people's advice, when you don't have any first-hand experience yourself, maybe that's a sign that the newbie thread doesn't need your input.

How this thread is structured

This index post contains general information that all gun owners need to know. It includes safety information, how to lawfully purchase a gun, cultural info, etc.
At the bottom, there will be a series of links to information related to specific types of guns. Read the generally applicable stuff first, then click through to the specific kind of gun you're interested in.

The four rules of firearms safety
This is the most important in this thread. That's why it's here at the top. Many years ago, an influential gun guy named Jeff Cooper codified the Four Rules of firearms safety. Pretty much everyone who has had an accident with a firearm did so by breaking one or more of these rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded. I don't care that your friend says it isn't, even if he just checked it. Check it whenever you pick it up, even if you just put it down. "I didn't think it was loaded" is no excuse after you negligently shoot someone.
  2. Never allow the gun to point at anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times, whether you're on the range, at home, loading, or unloading. "Safe direction" means "if a bullet shot out of the gun right now, it wouldn't hurt anyone or anything." Make sure to read the section on over penetration.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what's beyond it. Know what it is, what is in line with it and what is behind it. Again, see the section on over penetration further down.

In addition to the Four Rules, here are some additional safety items stolen from the NRA's gun safety rules*:
  • Know how to use the gun safely. Know how to safely load & unload the gun, operate any safeties, etc. This will help you follow the above Four Rules correctly.
  • Be sure the gun is in good, safe operating condition. Did you just buy a new Glock at the store? You're fine. Did you just buy an ancient revolver at a gun show? Maybe have a qualified gunsmith look it over before shooting it.
  • Always ensure that ammunition is the correct type for the gun. We'll get into cartridge naming conventions later. For now, if you're not sure what type of ammunition goes in your gun, ask a qualified expert like a gunsmith. The guy working the gun counter at the local big box sporting goods store may or may not be a qualified expert. And as a rule, stick to factory new ammunition. Factory remanufactured ammo should give you pause. Ammo reloaded by an individual, who isn't you, is a straight no-go.
  • Wear eye and ear protection. Many hunters don't wear ear pro while hunting. Many hunters are also deaf as a post, but it's up to you. At a range, always wear eye and ear protection. See the PPE section below.
  • Never handle firearms when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a no-brainer.
  • Store guns so they are inaccessible to unauthorized persons. Unauthorized persons include, but are not limited to, small children, thieves, and your dumb rear end friends.

*Yes, the NRA's political activities are...controversial, but they also do valuable work in promoting firearms safety, competition, and conservation. Me citing the NRA's safety rules shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the NRA-ILA's political activities.

Which brings me to "the gun culture."

Note about "gun culture"
There can be a lot of toxicity in US gun culture. Undertones, or even downright explicit examples, of racism, xenophobia, sexism, Nazi iconography, all of the Not Cool Things. TFR does not tolerate that poo poo. TFR is probably a little more on the right on average than the rest of SA, but we're downright commie pinko leftists on average compared to a lot of other gun forums and gun shops. Just remember that despite the subject matter, this is still SA.

Great, let's get to the gun content.

What are guns?
Broadly, a gun is a tool which propels a projectile of some variety towards a target down a barrel by imparting a large amount of energy to it. This might be by burning gunpowder, air pressure, electromagnets, etc.
There are specific legal definitions about what is and is not a firearm in the United States. That may be a little complicated this early in.

What kinds of guns are there?
Broadly speaking, TFR focuses on three types of firearms that use gunpowder to propel their projectiles. There's also the pellet palace subforum which talks about guns using compressed gas to propel the projectile.
Handguns - We can distinguish between "standard" handguns like a Glock, a 1911, a Smith and Wesson revolver, and a single action army revolver (cowboy guns!), and what are legally considered pistols in the US but don't fit into the traditional picture of what a handgun is - things like a CZ Scorpion pistol. In the US, a pistol may not have a foregrip, and may not be designed to fire from the shoulder. Generally speaking, handguns are far more difficult to shoot accurately than a rifle or shotgun.
Rifles - These are firearms with barrels 16" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. They have rifled barrels, grooves formed into the barrel that spin the projectile at a particular rate. They are designed to be fired from the shoulder. Classic examples include an AR-15 and a 10/22.
Shotguns - These are firearms with barrels 18" or longer, and an overall length of 26" or more. Generally these smooth bore, meaning there is no rifling in the barrel. The "shot" in "shotgun" refers to the projectiles commonly fired from these guns - more than one metal sphere that fly in a pattern. These are commonly used for bird hunting, and shooting clays. It is also possible to fire slugs. Those are just what they sound like, one large solid projectile. Classic examples include pump action shotguns like the Remington 870, double barrel coach guns, semi auto shotguns like the Benelli M4.

But but but there are so many other things you aren't covering - what about semi automatic revolvers like the Mateba 6 Unica or the Webley Fosbery revolver, or NFA items, or, or, or :smug:
Settle down, yes, you know a lot about guns. We're all very proud of you. Yes, there is a wide world of firearms and odd little niches. That is out of scope for significant in depth discussion in the first post of a newbie thread.

What kind of gun should I buy?

A better question is, what do you want a gun for?
Hunting?
loving around at the range because they're neat?
Competition?
Self protection?


Hunting - Generally speaking, birds are hunted with shotguns and mammals are hunted with rifles. However, what you're hunting and where will affect what the best choice is. For example: quail, turkey, and duck are all birds that you hunt with shotguns, but the specific shotgun that's ideal for each will be different. Your local laws might affect this too; for example, when I was growing up in IL, it was illegal to hunt deer with a rifle. It's best to ask in the hunting thread to get specific recommendations: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3474554

loving around at the range - This one has the most latitude. As long as the gun is safe to operate, and you have a range that allows you to shoot it, this can be anything that strikes your fancy. A rifle or pistol chambered in .22 long rifle is a great range gently caress-around gun because the ammunition is inexpensive and it doesn't kick much. Classic examples of these are the Ruger 10/22 (rifle) and Ruger MK IV (pistol). .22s can also be shot pretty much anywhere; most pistol-only ranges will allow rifles chambered in .22 long rifle.

Competition - There are so many different types of firearms competition that it's tough to write a catch-all guide for it. The only general advice I can give is to talk with people who ACTUALLY COMPETE in the sport you're looking to participate in, and ask them what equipment they use. A friend of mine once spent like $1000 having a custom shop build up a fancy Glock to shoot in matches, only to find out that it was all wrong for the equipment rules of the sport. As with many things, the guy at the gun counter of your local sporting goods store is probably not a good source of information here. You can ask competition questions here, or in the dedicated competition thread: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3285367

Self protection - First off, before you start trying to pick a gun for self defense, you need to understand the law governing use of lethal force in your state. Any use of (including brandishing) a firearm, or anything that looks like a firearm, is lethal force. I highly recommend the book The Law of Self Defense by Andrew Branca. You also need to understand that, if you shoot at someone, it is entirely possible that you've conducted yourself 100% morally and lawfully and yet you will still go to prison, and/or go bankrupt from legal fees. It is also possible to cross the line and conduct yourself unlawfully and/or immorally, which will be a tragedy even if you don't face legal or financial consequences. Therefore, it should be understood that shooting (or even pointing) a gun at a person is your last resort. I strongly encourage you to invest in some quality OC spray, as well as some quality training related to verbal deescalation skills and empty-handed self defense skills. Having options other than lethal force is an Unquestionably Good Thing.

As far as the actual guns, it comes down to your use case and your budget. Generally speaking, handguns are worse than rifles and shotguns in every conceivable way except that a handgun is portable, and can be operated one-handed. An obvious example is for protection outside the home: carrying a rifle or shotgun around, even if legal in your area, is both physically and socially awkward. However, even in your home, a handgun might be optimal. Do you have a small child that you'd need to run and grab? Do you not have a safe (and discreet) place to store a loaded rifle or shotgun near your bed? A handgun might be for you in those instances. However, if practicable, a shotgun or rifle is generally better. I won't get too far into rifles vs shotguns for defense in this post, other than: all else being equal, an AR-15 is superior to a shotgun for home defense, but a defensive-grade AR-15 is significantly more expensive than a defensive-grade shotgun. Can you afford $800+ for a quality AR-15? Get that. Otherwise, consider a shotgun. And no matter what home defense gun you get, PUT A LIGHT ON IT. You need to be sure of your target, which means you need to be able to SEE your target.

Now, for some other general gun topics.


My petite partner would like a gun. They're little and cute, so the gun I get them should be little and cute too, right?
Please don't. Mass has a significant impact on felt recoil. An 11.4oz scandium framed .357 magnum revolver is going to hurt like hell to shoot more than a few rounds or cylinders out of. That'll make it suck to train with, and unfun to shoot. Get them something that you'd actually want to shoot more than a couple rounds through. Or, you know, involve them in the process. Just an idea.


Over penetration
Huhuhuhuh he said penetration.
Guns make metal go fast. Fast moving metal tends to go through things. Including walls, into your neighbor's fridge. Or your neighbor. In a self defense scenario, your goal is to dump as much energy into your target as possible while avoiding sending rounds into the parakeet three doors down because they went through your target, or you missed. There are far, far too many factors to say definitively "use this, or terrible things will happen". Shooting somewhere that isn't a controlled setting meant for shooting is inherently dangerous because there are now one or more chunks of high velocity metal doing unpredictable things. If you pull the trigger, you are responsible for that round.
Research such as box o' truth https://www.theboxotruth.com http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall/index.html and http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall2/ indicate that .223/5.56, while a rifle caliber, is a decent choice for a self defense situation as its high velocity and low mass mean it tends to fragment or dump enough energy going through walls that risks to your surroundings are reduced. This is why TFR recommends AR15s for home defense guns. Will this stand up in court because you shot your roommate in the leg from your room into his room because there was a spider? gently caress no. "The internet said it was a good choice" will not save you.


What are the mechanics of buying a gun in the US?
There are often state level laws that come into play.
In the most permissive states in the US, it works like this:
Is the seller a private party that is a resident of the same state you are in, and that is where the transaction is taking place?
Give them money. They give you the gun. Optionally bullshit about the weather or something. Go home, that's it.
Is the seller in another state?
Give them the money. They will ship it to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder in your area. That FFL will work with you to fill out the appropriate forms. You'll pay the FFL for their time and effort, and you'll take your gun home. There are probably multiple FFLs in your area. It is worth some research to figure out who has that perfect mix of accessible hours, not batshit crazy personality, and affordable transfer fees. Also make sure if they are willing to accept guns from private parties directly, or if they prefer to only work with other FFLs.
It's a gun shop in your state?
They're an FFL. Give them the money. They'll do the form things and send you home. There's usually not a transfer fee for these transactions since you're buying the gun from them.
You're in CA, NY, MA, DC, Chicago
lol, sorry, good luck. You can get into the hobby, but know that your political leadership would really rather prefer that you didn't, and will make it as arbitrarily difficult, convoluted and expensive as they can without getting everything torn down by a successful lawsuit. People here can help.

Don't buy guns for other people
Your cousin Fast Jimmy just got out of jail and wants a gun to protect himself, but can't buy one because of that pesky "felony record"? If you do him a solid and buy the gun for him, that is called a straw purchase. It's also a federal felony. There is a question on the 4473 about if you are the actual purchaser of the firearm. This needs to be true. The only exception to this is when the firearm is intended to be a bonafide gift to another person. Still don't gift it to Fast Jimmy though, as he is a prohibited possessor! If your wife buys you a gun for your birthday, you're probably good. If Jimmy gives you a gift of $500, and you give him a gift of a Glock 19... That's not going to stand up. Especially with that prohibited possessor thing.
Even if Jimmy is a squeaky clean minister who would have no problem legally purchasing a gun on his own, you purchasing it for him is still a federal felony. That's right, two people who can legally purchase guns on their own MAY NOT transfer a gun for the other person.
I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Don't get your legal advice from Something Awful Dot Com Forums
In general, try to avoid pissing off the ATF. Your dog will live longer, and you'll avoid felonies and prison time.

PPE, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love health and safety
Guns are loud. Like, really loud. They're also little explosions in your hand that send crap flying. Mostly in one direction, maybe two - but sometimes, and unpredictably, stuff will go in a new and exciting direction. Or you'll catch shrapnel/ricochets. Wear eye protection. Wear hearing protection. Consider doubling up on hearing protection (muffs over plugs). Use your hearing protection properly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPNPZJingZA
Consider gloves. Consider sun exposure if you're outside. Passing out at the range because it's 110 and you've been out there for 4 hours with no cover or water isn't a good day.

Guns are dirty and can introduce unpleasant chemicals and heavy metals into your life. Wash your goddamn hands after shooting before you eat a burger or pick your nose. Lead removing soaps and wipes (D-Lead brand or similar) are available, too, and should be strongly considered.

On safety and security
I'm going to do my take on boxes with locks on them for storing guns. I see questions about this from time to time, and I've purchased a new one recently and wanted to share what I've learned.
First things first:
Literally anything is better than nothing, if properly attached to something immovable.
Literally anything can be broken into, with enough time and tools.
There is no perfect security.
Addressed in the first point, but bolt your box down.

Mass market "safes" have a lot of very impressive sounding and very impressive looking security features. They have fancy looking vault door handles in the middle of your door, they have a door that is 10" thick, they are fire rated to survive 48 hours on the sun, they have upwards of 24 3" locking bolts to ensure that the neighborhood miscreants can't steal your Rough Rider BB gun.

Except, that door handle just makes sure you have more mechanical linkages inside the door that can be attacked. That door, while 10" thick overall, is light gauge steel wrapped around a piece of drywall, the rest of it is just covering the mechanism and provides no security factor. The "fire ratings" are tests designed by the manufacturers and performed themselves, or they give the test parameters to a third party who run the test and "independently certify" the safe. Those impressive locking bolts are held on with 1/4 bolts through light gauge steel linkages. There are also often significant gaps around the door, making it easy to get pry bars and crowbars in there. That light gauge steel doesn't hold up very long.

What are the important factors when choosing a safe/box/rsc/whatever?
How thick is the steel? The thicker, the better, and the heavier.
How heavy is the safe overall? If you look at it when it comes off the truck and realize you have 80%+ chance of being seriously injured or dying by trying to move it by yourself, you're on the right track.
How heavy is the door? It doesn't matter how thick the door is, it matters how thick the outer layer of metal on the door is. Does it take noticeable effort to start the door moving, and stopping it, due to the weight? Great!
Are the linkages made of decent, thick steel?
External hinges are not a weakness on a properly designed security container. It should be possible to literally cut them off completely and the door would not come off, because it is secured in place with internal bolts. Internal hinges take up room in the safe, and prevent the installation of fire protection at those spots.
Can you find independent verification of the fire hardiness, and/or does it come with some actual fire protection beyond drywall and concrete board?
Can you bolt it down where you want to install it? If you can, do it in a place where trying to maneuver tools, vehicle access, etc, is extremely difficult.
What are the tolerances on the door and frame? If you can't fit a business card between the door and the jamb when it's closed, there's no way for a pry bar to get purchase.

The downside of all of that? And to real UL rated safes, which operate on much the same principal as the discussion above, just more so? :homebrew:

Let's talk about a firearms security continuum of "how safe" a storage method is. This is my opinion, and I've skipped some things and/or am wrong about some things including ordering.
  • Leaving a gun at a supermarket and hoping it will be there when you get back
  • Keeping your gun in your car, in one of those stupid loving car magnet/holster things.
  • Keeping your gun in your car, under the seat
  • Keeping your gun in your car in a lock box secured to the frame of the car/seatbelt rails, etc
  • Keeping your gun on your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun in a lock box secured to your nightstand
  • Keeping your gun locked in a pelican case secured to something immovable
  • Keeping your gun in a stack-on box (they're basically your high school locker)
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive mass market safe
  • Keeping your gun in a cheap boutique maker safe
  • Keeping your gun in an expensive boutique maker safe
  • UL rated safe (aka a "real" safe)
  • Bank vault
  • Bank vault under a volcano
  • Add a team of gently caress off huge ravens to eat the bad guy's eyes
  • Under the ocean? gently caress, you're still reading this, the list is over

What are your risks? Do you live in a lovely neighborhood and you've been broken in to three times previously?
Do you have kids? Do you have friends or family members who may not be entirely trustworthy (drug problems, etc)? Do you want to stop the meth head that kicked in your back door and will be there for three minutes before he runs? Do you have a security system? A dog? Do you want to keep a professional burglar out? For how long?

How do you choose? Well, a decent approach might be to think about the things you want to store in the box, think about the value of those things, and figure 10-15% of that should go to the security of your safe/container/whatever. If you've got a Mosin and a 10/22 with no significant security threats? A stack-on might be fine for your purposes. You've got a few transferable machine guns and a smorgasbord of other expensive stuff totaling $100k+? Maybe look at the $10-$15k range.
Another angle on it is that spending that money on your security should hurt a bit, but not put you in any actual financial trouble. I'm not going to say that everyone needs to have $15k safes or it isn't worth it.
Spend as much money as you like, though. If you want to keep your Hi Point in the deposit safe from the bank down the road that went out of business and you got it for $50 at the auction, go for it.

Also, get safe interior lighting, they have kits/etc on Amazon. Really nice the be able to see into the far recesses of your safe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RlwGkO0hxE#t=147s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltK-bDbADa8#t=112s

Keep an accurate and updated inventory off site of any valuables. Also any items that aren't specifically something with sentimental value and minimal monetary value. Great grandma's silver christening spoon (that's a thing right?) may be worth $5 in silver, but is clearly much more important than that figure implies. Keep a record of that too, of course.

Anyone storing paper documents or paper money in a safe, store them as close to the floor as you can. I've seen some interesting pictures of safes where the pistols on the upper shelf have been really cooked, to the point of melting polymer guns, but the rifles below are just sorta singed looking. You could conceivably put a smaller fire safe inside the big safe for the truly important stuff. Or you could store the really important, irreplaceable, etc, stuff in a safe deposit box at your local bank. Your stuff isn't perfectly safe there either. There are robberies, fires, etc etc that could all hit a bank.

I ended up going with a Sturdy Safe, and I'm pretty happy with it. I upgraded the sides and jambs so the overall thickness is 7/16" steel, and the door is 3/8" steel. I went for the fire liner too, which is a significant amount of ceramic fire wool (like kaowool, the sorts of stuff they use to line forges, kilns, etc).
I also looked at Drake Safes out of NC but liked the features from sturdy a bit more.

There are a lot of gimmicks out there, but when it comes down to it, making a safe is a fairly straightforward proposition. Make a box big enough to hold the stuff you want to hold. Bolt it down. Make the steel as thick as you can afford, in as many places as you can afford it. Good continuous strong welds. Have a good lock. If you want fire protection, put in some stuff that's actually rated at burning house fire type temperatures, like firebrick, or kaowool, etc.
Just because it's straightforward doesn't mean it is easy or cheap, though. All of those things cost money, the labor to assemble big heavy metal boxes is higher than sheet steel getting cut and rolled around drywall.

I don't really want to buy a gun, but would like to try one out
Cool - there are often rental ranges near you. Call around. Go try poo poo out. What looks interesting?
Alternatively, someone you may know could be one of those filthy gun havers you've heard so much about. If you trust them and they're not assholes, ask to go shooting. Chances are they'd be excited to take you.


On "how a gun feels" and whether that should be a concern for new shooters:

Links to topic specific posts below

A newbie's guide to choosing a defensive pistol EDITED 6/17/20: also check out this great video by LuckyGunner, which is an update to their "handgun recommendations for new shooters" post.

Also valuable information: This blog post from Lucky Gunner was the stand-in until I wrote my thing, along with their "Shooting 101" series. That first post isn't especially complementary to "pocket" pistols, so read this later article on them for a more nuanced view.

Actually, Lucky Gunner is a pretty good source of information on a range of defensive shooting topics. They do a good job of a) getting information from recognized experts, and b) presenting it in an accessible way. They also put the info up in both video and text form.

An intro to blackpowder shooting

A highly opinionated list of quality defensive shooting info sources

MantisClaw wrote this great effortpost on how to grip a pistol. Gripping the thing right is key to shooting fast and accurate.

How do you know if a shooting school is good? Read this. Might help.

If you are a knowledgeable person on a specific firearms topic, please feel free to write an effortpost about it and I will link to it here.

can someone tldr this 4 me?

FormaldehydeSon
Sep 30, 2011



mark immune posted:

can someone tldr this 4 me?

Buy a gun or multiple guns and shoot them

Jabberlock
Nov 29, 2014





i get it

Pablo Nergigante
Apr 16, 2002



/me reading the entire OP

tmfc
Sep 28, 2006



lmao

Buck Wildman
Mar 30, 2010

I am Metango, Galactic Governor


Grimey Drawer

mark immune posted:

can someone tldr this 4 me?

https://youtu.be/JA0KvG8KFDQ

Pener Kropoopkin
Jan 30, 2013

Fully Automated Luxury Space Dog


mark immune posted:

can someone tldr this 4 me?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca7IhkfBMes

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Elite Taco
Feb 3, 2010


god bless.

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