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  #1  
Old 05-22-2008, 08:21 AM
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I need advice - Compact small caliber pistol - please help


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I am in the market for a small caliber, compact, lightweight handgun for self defense and critters. The smaller the better. I will carry this gun on hiking trips, fishing excursions, and overnight camping trips. I have been looking at the Walther p22 and the Ruger LCP .380. I want something extremely reliable. Accuracy is only important at close range. My only stipulation is that it penetrate human flesh if necessary. I have heard horror stories about
.380 caliber being sub-par if the gun barrel is short. PLEASE HELP, any advice and or pics are greatly appreciated.

Last edited by RM33; 05-22-2008 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 05-22-2008, 08:42 AM
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I carry a Taurus model 94 22LR with a two inch barrel when I am fishing or just messing around in the backwoods. This small frame gun fits just right in my back pocket and you can carry a boat load of 22LR rounds in the other pocket. The gun is an eight shot and Loaded with the Aguilla hyper velocity rounds it will definately penetrate human flesh. Being a 22 LR it is cheap to feed and is relatively accurate out to 20 yards or so. I carry a couple of speed loaders to make loading easy. Just my humble opinion. But if I am expecting any major trouble, I would have my S&W 642 38 special 2 inch (as shown in my avatar above) in my pocket. But the 22 is just fun to shoot.
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Last edited by jodum; 05-22-2008 at 08:47 AM.
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  #3  
Old 05-22-2008, 08:59 AM
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why look for small cal. .. what you described would allow you to carry
the small 40s an 45s..in the woods you never sure what you gonna run into..
mabe a mad charlais bull or something..i watched one of them take over a sale barn one day.. so id be huntin a tree no matter what i had..but a 38 or .380 an such are about the most powerful smalls that i would still call a small cal.of course thats up to individual perception. good luck.
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  #4  
Old 05-22-2008, 09:07 AM
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Welcome to the forum RM33. Rules are simple, be nice and join in.

Like Joden I carried a small 22 revolver for years, a four inch S&W j frame kit gun then a Rossi stainless the same size. Now that times seem a little more dangerous I carry a Taurus 38 Special snubby loaded with Speer 125 grain Gold dots. This little under 20 ounce gun is accurate at close ranges and just disappears in an Uncle Mikes pocket holster in a front jeans pocket. There is no safety to worry about on a revolver, no clip to loose and it's always ready to go. The learning curve to shoot it is very short.

Here's what one looks like.



This is the pocket holster it fits in. The holster stays in your pocket if you need to get it out. It's shown here by the little J frame size 22 revolver I carried for years in the woods.



Here's my old hunting partner's 40 S&W Taurus compact side by side with the little snubby revolver. Notice all the buttons and switches on the semi-auto. Way more stuff than I want to fool with if I need a firearm in a hurry and way more stuff to think about to get a gun in action.



If your new to shooting handguns I always recommend a 22 to start with. It allows you to learn to shoot at a reasonable cost and the low recoil makes handgun proficiency much easier to obtain. For a learning gun get a four inch barrel version with adjustable sights.

my 2 cents.
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Old 05-22-2008, 09:23 AM
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Numerous guns fit this description - more added every day because it's a very common need.

A Kel-Tec or other 32 would do, as would many 380s and even some 9mm guns.

You can get a 22LR or 22WMR revolver small enough to be made into a belt buckle, and there are tiny little semi-autos also. I have and carry a now-discontinued Jennings J-22 (that I had to work over to get it to be reliable) as a fishing gun, but would not recommend it for self-defense.

All in all, however, the suggestion of a 38 revolver is probably best of all. Small and light enough to carry unobtrusively, mild enough to plink with but powerful enough to do the job on man or beast if need be. Ammo choices are legion, and all are good.
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Old 05-22-2008, 09:43 AM
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I like the idea of .38 snubby hammerless. I'll have to check a few of those out. Weight is a major issue for me though. The first gun I used for the above stated purpose was a Davis industries p380. This gun was a little heavy but it did the trick until the reciever cracked. I guess this can be expected from a Davis though. I replaced the .380 with a Ruger SP101 .357 mag, love this gun. The only problem with the Ruger is that about day 3 on the backpacking trail it feels more like I'm carrying a brick than a gun. Thanks for the advice so far. Keep it coming, I greatly appreciate it. Anyone have any experience with that Ruger LCP .380?
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  #7  
Old 05-22-2008, 10:59 AM
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The only experience I have with the new Ruger LCP 380 is the WAITING LISTS I run into everywhere! Must say something.
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  #8  
Old 05-22-2008, 11:00 AM
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he makes a good case for the revolver.. but go S&W or something on the gun .. id never buy cheap again.. if its an imitation of a S&W just go on an buy the smithe to start with..
plus you always got the resale value when you go top line.. jmo
not saying all cheaper revolvers are junk .. they are not. but some are pretty junkie..

Last edited by slim 60; 05-22-2008 at 11:02 AM.
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  #9  
Old 05-22-2008, 11:36 AM
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Since the early 70's I've been carring a OMC Back up in a shoot through Tex Shoemaker holster in my back pocket. While with the P.D. I used it to qualify on the snubby pistol course, and never had a failure to fire or a failure to feed. even after over a 1000 rounds, it still functions without a bobble. Note: (OMC is now AMT.)
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  #10  
Old 05-22-2008, 11:57 AM
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Some of the S&W revolvers out there are less than a pound, unloaded! They'd be a pure joy to pack, but a pure pain to shoot much, though.

Back when they introduced the first .22 in that line, they had the demonstration gun suspended from a small helium balloon! Brother, THAT raised some eyebrows.

One of the original Charter Arms revolvers would do ya, also. They came in .32, .38 and .44 Special. My own Bulldog .44 weighs under a pound and 12 ounces, loaded and in its holster! I can wear it and truly not know it's there. Here it is...

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  #11  
Old 05-22-2008, 01:23 PM
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I have 2 P22s. They are great guns. Pretty accurate and great to learn on. They are picky about their ammo though. Not much good for anything besides targets, training and plinking when I am low on expendable ammo or income. If you dont have one, get one for the heck of it. I paid $250 NIB for each of mine and never thought twice about it.

But for what you want, you really cant beat a good old revolver. Really, it doesn't get any more reliable. I'm a bit dismayed that you didn't like the weight of the SP101. Its a great gun. I carry my 3" .357 Gp100 all over the place, even if it is a bit heavy. A much lighter option may be either the Taurus Ultra-Light Titanium or the Hy-Lite In Magnesium. They are at least a little cheaper than the S&W scandiums. Honestly, give me good old stainless any day over these new alloys.

If you have big hands or weak hands, a small auto might not be a great choice. Nothing against them, but they are very susceptible to limp-writsing or a bad grip. They require all the inertia they produce to cycle the action. That being said, I have giant hands and I really like the Ruger LCP. Can't find many, but $350 will get you one off gun broker. A little more than MSRP, but if you want it and you want it now, it might be worth it. I'm going to wait till they catch up with production. I also liked the Beretta ?Tomcat? in .32acp. Not bad for a little gun. I would be hesitant to go much smaller than the .380 for anything besides shooting paper and squirrels. Just an opinion. A well placed pebble would probably do the trick, but why worry about hitting the perfect spot. If you are going to make a hole, make a big one.

Where you are in the woods and looking for 2 and 4 legged defense, I probably wouldn't be caught with less than a .357 and in large game country, a 44 mag. But again thats just me.

To answer your question, Taurus makes some innovative revolvers at a good price, I would explore what they have to offer. But really, to me, it sounds like you have a great gun for the job already. Maybe try a new way to carry it??

Good luck.
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  #12  
Old 05-22-2008, 01:37 PM
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During Upland season in PA I cannot legally carry a gun, other than my shotgun, larger than a .22. I have been carrying a S&W 317 Airlite; it only weighs 11oz. loaded.
Other than that, I have a Taurus titanium .38 snubbie that is very light also - got it from a friend who is ill and can no longer shoot.
Both are easy carries.
Pete
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  #13  
Old 05-22-2008, 02:30 PM
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I'd suggest a MkII Ruger semiauto .22 with 5.5" bull barrel~have to find one used (wouldn't recommend the MkIII with its idiot mag safety thing)...10rds, utterly reliable...accurate with selected loads, and easy to carry.

Back in the day we'd practice shooting empty soup cans tied in against haybales~the goal was to keep all 10 shots in the can at 20' as fast as possible; that's good training

Load it up with whatever shoots the best~especially some of the hypervelocity stuff~and you'll have a good time in the woods...if you want to go with a .22~you didn't say if you were in bear country; you'd probably want something more.

Do you own any handguns or have you been trained in their use?
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  #14  
Old 05-22-2008, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle jerky View Post
The only experience I have with the new Ruger LCP 380 is the WAITING LISTS I run into everywhere! Must say something.
I am still trying to figure out what it is saying!!! A Bersa is 100 X the gun, in my opinion.

Jim
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  #15  
Old 05-23-2008, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle jerky View Post
The only experience I have with the new Ruger LCP 380 is the WAITING LISTS I run into everywhere! Must say something.
Heheh. I think it really just says there's a big demand for pocket guns, and people are excited to see a name like Ruger on one.

"but if you want it and you want it now"

More like, if you want it and you want it in less than a year's time. Seriously. Those LCPs are so backordered, it's insane.

I'm going to second the statement that pocket autos are really picky about how tight you hold them. The NAA Guardian .32 ACP and .25 NAA frame is too small for me to hold well enough, because I can't get both my middle and ring finger on the grip. It just wouldn't feed anything reliably because I couldn't hold it well enough. I scaled up to the .380 Guardian, and it's been great.
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Old 05-23-2008, 12:14 PM
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There's been a lot of banter here on which is better for a small self defense gun. Is an auto or revolver the best. I like the revolver because it's simpler and there's no magazine nor safety. It's a matter of pointing and shooting. They hide well in a pocket and seem very reasonable to own.

One of the folks above mentioned get the S&W and they are very fine guns, but Taurus and Charter Arms also build fine guns. I spent lots of years tuning and working on handguns and especially Smith and Wessons and the little Taurus I carry has an out of the box trigger that most folks pay a gun smith good money to make an S&W J frame feel like.

The little Charter Arms Rocky mentioned above are simple and reliable. For the folks that want to carry a semi-auto there's nothing wrong with that, but after teaching self defense courses for several years I've found it much easier for a person to learn to use a revolver than become proficient with a semi-auto.

Carrying one type of gun or another really depends on how much time you are willing to put into learning to shoot it well enough to protect yourself. For me that means the littel 38 snubby. For each of you it depends on what you really like and feel comfortable with.

If your setting up your wife or daughter or son with a self defense gun and they are not a diehard shooter then I sure recommend a small frame revolver. I also recommend that any new shooter start out with a 22 to learn to shoot with. This offers a no recoil way to get a person started shooting. Learning to shoot a light self defense gun in 32, 38, 9mm or 40 caliber is almost impossible. Start them out with something that is easy to shoot and those skills will pass along to a centerfire. It's also much less expensive to become a passable shot with a 22 than a centerfire.

Just keep in mind that whatever you get you need to shoot it to become proficient. Taking a concealed carry course is a dandy way to do that and a really good investment in your safety.
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Old 05-23-2008, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by RM33 View Post
I like the idea of .38 snubby hammerless. I'll have to check a few of those out. Weight is a major issue for me though. The first gun I used for the above stated purpose was a Davis industries p380. This gun was a little heavy but it did the trick until the reciever cracked. I guess this can be expected from a Davis though. I replaced the .380 with a Ruger SP101 .357 mag, love this gun. The only problem with the Ruger is that about day 3 on the backpacking trail it feels more like I'm carrying a brick than a gun. Thanks for the advice so far. Keep it coming, I greatly appreciate it. Anyone have any experience with that Ruger LCP .380?
Well I own three Keltec's and from what I've read on the Keltec forums the Ruger has some bugs to be worked out, the new P3AT's seem to be pretty trouble free after many upgrades. I would be leery about buying a first generation semi auto, from any manufacturer, check out the PF9 in hard chrome I have one and it's small light and very powerful for such a small package just make sure if you do buy a Keltec that you find out the latest serial numbers to get all the latest upgrades, new trigger frame ect.

Tom j.
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Last edited by Curt31; 05-23-2008 at 10:56 PM.
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  #18  
Old 05-24-2008, 02:22 AM
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I have owned probably 40 semi auto handguns. Finally decided they are not for me. But, the only one I ever had that never malfunctioned with any ammo. Was a Sig P230. So if I wanted what I consider the ultimate in reliable, light, small, concealable, I would get a Sig P232 today.
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Old 05-24-2008, 09:42 AM
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small carry gun

berretta tomcat semi-auto in 32 acp--small light--best I can find for the money
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  #20  
Old 05-24-2008, 10:27 AM
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I like the 25acp and 32acp calibers. The Taurus PT 25 is an awesome DAO gun holding 10 rounds. The Firestorm/Bersa 32, resembling a Walther PP, is also very good, holding 10 rounds as well. I own and thouroughly enjoy both.The Taurus cost $250.00 and the Firestorm/Bersa was $299.99. They are each very accurate, mechanically sound and reliable. And, both will penetrate human flesh, any other kind of living tissue and non living material. The recoil is very soft on each gun,allowing you to maintain target acquistion and accuracy with 1 shot or multiple shots fired. Remember, it's not the gun,but the gunner.Good luck on your search.
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