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Ruger SR9c courtesy

Reader Benny writes:

I recently took a friend of mine to get his first gun. Ever. To me, its a pretty big deal when you buy your first firearm as it’s basically you deciding to protect yourself and your loved ones with the best tools available. A little background first. My friend Dre works with me at FedEx and he just became a driver. He was told that he was going to be working and driving overnight and he would be leaving his 6-month old son and his girlfriend at the apartment by themselves . . .

Naturally, he didn’t want to leave their safety to fate so he called me one day.

“Hey Benny, I need your expertise, bro.” 
We’ve known each other for a while now and it was no secret by any means that I knew a few things about guns. As soon as he said that, I knew exactly what he meant.

“Sweet dude, you’ve called the right man! What are you looking for?”

“I need something for the crib. Since I’m working nights here soon, I don’t wanna leave my lady and my son at home alone. I can’t protect them if I ain’t there.”

“Tell you what, let’s hit up the local Bass Pro in Grapevine and see what you need.”

Two days later, we’re in his truck driving through DFW airport (thank you, terrible GPS) to the Bass Pro Shop. On the way he told me that he was looking for a pistol for his home defense weapon. Before any of you start grabbing torches and pitchforks and yelling how the shotgun is the home defense king, know that I asked why he didn’t want a shottie and he had a good reason.

His girlfriend is petite and afraid of the recoil. He’s discussed it with her, but she won’t budge. He didn’t want to buy something she wouldn’t use. I then asked if he wanted to be able to carry the same gun in public, but he said he would buy a different pistol for that.

Dre asked a whole bunch of other questions too, such as the difference between centerfire and rimfire, what bullets to buy and the granddaddy of them all: what’s the best pistol to buy. I told him what somebody on TTAG said one time in a comment.: “This isn’t Lord of the Rings, sadly. There’s no one pistol to rule them all. You have to find a gun that doesn’t feel like it’s a gun, but more like something that feels like an extension of you. In other words, find one that’s the most comfortable to hold and shoot.”

We pulled up to the adult Toys ‘R’ Us and immediately went into OMG ITS A HUGE OUTDOOR PLACE WITH TONS OF OUTDOOR STUFF AND GUNS AND BOWS OMG mode. But we were on a mission and went straight to the gun section. He immediately began eyeing every pistol he could find that didn’t cost $600+. While that was a little limiting, I knew he’d still find something. He almost settled on a Smith & Wesson SD9VE without even looking at anything else.

“Easy there, Seabiscut. Don’t commit to the gun until you’ve looked at everything. Five hundred smacks isn’t a decision you want to make hastily. Check out these M&P series pistols if you like the Smith guns.”

“Damnit, Benny I knew I brought you here for a reason.”

We looked at Springfield XD, GLOCKs, Rugers, the M&P series, the FNS-9 (used, of course) even a used STI Spartan 9mm. But just like in Highlander, there can only be one. The pistol he chose was the Ruger SR9C.

Yes, I’m well aware that the SR series is absolutely crawling with safeties. Yes, I’m also aware that they have stiff recoil springs so racking the slide requires the strength of an angry god. I made Dre well aware of both, but since he’s not going to be carrying it, the safeties won’t be a big concern. In fact he liked having so many because he knew it would that much harder for his son to fire in the HIGHLY unlikely event he ever got his hands on it.

“It fits like a velvet glove that sings.”
 Nothing else needed to be said. So $567 and one background check later, he was the proud owner of an empty gun.

“BRO we can’t leave until we get you some defense ammo. What is your girl gonna do? Use harsh language and throw it at em?”

Hornady’s Critical Duty ammo was perfect for the job. Getting Dre to buy the ammo was simple. Convincing him not go shoot some on Bass Pro’s range wasn’t as easy. He had the fever to see what it felt like to use his new-found power. We all remember the rush we got the first time we hold a pistol. I had to temper his with a sobering reminder.

“Careful now Dre. You have to remember what it is you have here. A handgun is as close to being God we as humans will ever be. You literally have the power to take a life just by pointing your hand and moving your finger. You have to be careful with that.”

I also sent him a link to RF’s recent article about STFU after a defensive gun use. 
Afterwards, we left Bass Pro and drove home. Despite the whole thing only lasting about two hours, we were both tired. It felt like I had done my duty as a gun owner. Dre told me that he took it shooting the next day and it handled like a champ. I felt pretty damn good about that.

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  1. I love my SR40C. It has a thumb safety, which I enjoy. You have to hold the slide and push the grip, not pull back on the grip.

    • Wife has the SR9C, taught her exactly that same technique. Even with her not-so-strong hands, it works for her.

      • If I shoot a stiff pistol, (friends and I share the fun, especially cosmoline caked surplus – Which I later get to clean) I tend to “cradle rock” it. Grip the slide & frame, then use the skeletal arc of your arms to move the two iron Gibraltars apart. Just remember to keep the pistol downrange, and not at your feet as a lady friend tried to do.

    • When I decided it was time to upgrade my on-board ammo load from 5 or 6 I searched the gun shows and fell in love with the SR9c. It is now my EDC with the ten round mag, very easy to conceal, and the 17 round mag on my belt. 28 round available where before I carried only 5.

      The gun shoots sweet and the Crimson Trace laser is very sweet as an add-on for low-light or for folks who don’t have the eyesight we used to.

      One correction, and I know finding specific ammo is difficult these days, but Shootingthebull410 determined that in the short barrel 9mm pistols the Hornady Critical DEFENSE was the preferred round, the Critical Duty being designed for full-sized pistols.

      • I carry 165 grain Hornady Critical Defense in my SR40C. They refer to it’s brother as “Critical Doody” in short barrel pistols.

  2. good job. I would have taken him and his girlfriend to the range a couple of times just to be sure they both had safe handling down and knew the rudiments of clearing jams, etc.

    • He knew how to shoot. I’m not sure about his lady. I want to take them before I persuade him to buy a shotgun for home defense lol.

    • I’m kind of annoyed the author didn’t do that FIRST. From the story it sounds like this guy had little firearms experience, and he has now bought a gun without understanding how they feel when firing and more importantly, does he feel comfortable with the type of gun he bought?

      Also, where was the wife? If she is the person at home with the thing shouldn’t she be the one choosing it?

      I’m not trying to be a total whine-fest but too many people jump head-first into firearms ownership and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who regret the first firearm they purchase for a myriad of reasons – too big, too small, not comfortable, too much recoil, too heavy, etc.

  3. “Convincing him not go shoot some on Bass Pro’s range wasn’t as easy. ”

    Why the heck would you convince him NOT to shoot his new gun? How’s he gonna know what it feels like to shoot?

    Maybe I’m missing something, like you knew a cheaper range somewhere else?

    • I think it was because the only ammo they had on hand was the Critical defence. Or maybe they were under time-constraints.

        • Most people will advise you to try at least a few mags of the defense ammo you will be using, just to make sure the gun cycles. I personally think you don’t need to shoot more than 20-50 rounds of it, and probably best to wait until a few hundred rounds of ball go through just to break it in.

  4. I am still a fan of revolvers for newbies and home defense. Children in the house can complicate that a bit though. For an adult household the lack of safeties to manipulate, the stout trigger pull in DA, and the ability to store it ready to fire without a cocked action to worry about are all assets for a new shooter. A 327 magnum with 7 round cylinder are great. Quick learning curve. Once they get more used to handling arms, they can shoot what appeals to them.

    • I’m still a fan of revolvers – period. No, a beginner doesn’t want a J-frame, and even the best new DA/SA and DAO revolvers tend to have lawyer-weight triggers, but I can’t think of ANY handgun safer, simpler, or more dependable. Police trade in K-frames in .38sp. or .357mag can be found from $250.00 up to about $500.00. These guns are usually smoother shooting than brand new ones, easy to shoot accurately with a 4″ barrel, light recoiling with .38+P, and totally intuitive to use.

      • How is a revolver safer/simpler?

        I like revolvers but they are much more complicated (both mechanically and operationaly)than a run of the mill pistol. That + slow loading and small capacity puts the revolver IMO in the category for proffessionals.

        • No safety to remember, no slide to manipulate, no magazine to accidentally drop or try to load backwards, no invisible round in the chamber, no problems with loads too light to cycle the action, no extra manipulation for a misfire – just pull the trigger again, no springs under tension if it just sits in a drawer for years, doesn’t need to be dismantled and reassembled for cleaning. Yes, the internal mechanism is complicated, but there is no reason to go there. I’ve owned revolvers for more than fifty years now, with NO failures. Friends who want a house gun for protection but are otherwise uninterested in guns as a hobby who are confused and intimidated by the manual of arms for a semi-auto grasp and retain the operation of a revolver immediately.

    • I remember the 327 cartridge, it sounded like a good idea but I don’t ever hear anything about it these days.

        • ammo underproduction killed the sale of the guns. and so they both went the way of the buffalo.

        • For a home defense gun for a non-potg, it is still a great caliber. Especially for women. Use 32 S&W long or 32 H&R magnum if you want, you can even get an S&W 8 shot revolver for it.

    • Shooting the Bull says a better choice would be Critical Defense–Critical Duty is designed for barrier penetration, and thus overpenetrates and expands less than Critical Defense. A test of Federal HST 147 gr was posted here (yesterday I think) and it preformed extremely well.

      • I was also thinking about StB’s video regarding Duty vs. Defense ammo when I read this. Duty seems to be more geared towards cops who are expected to shoot through car doors, windshields, etc. whereas the Defense ammo is exactly what it says it is – shooting a bad guy for defensive purposes.

  5. Congratulations and I hope he never has to use it. Just a bit of advice for future purchases that don’t have any time constraints, you could go someplace like here or here and pay WAY less than places like Bass Pro. Most FFL transfer fees range from $20 to $50. Mine charges $20. Even after paying a $50 transfer fee, you still would have saved nearly $130.

    • Yeah in retrospect, I should have had him look online or at a different gunstore.
      But there’s the whole bass pro experience….lmao

  6. This confused me a lot. Was he buying a home defense gun for himself or his wife? If his wife, why was she not there, and why didn’t they go to a range at least three or four times, rent guns off the wall and have her try them out? Which was it?


  7. should have been a family thing since g/f gonna be the main user and she was left entirely out of the loop. you want to train her so she cannot use the accident defense when she shoots you many times when you come in late.

  8. So he helped somebody get a gun for a person who sounds like has never fired a gun? Doesn’t sound like they have any experiences with weapons, is not aware of if the person has any fire arms training, never fired it, wife never fired who it is suppose to be for, and chose the gun cause in case his son got it, it would be harder to fire? Does this sound responsible at all?

    • Could be a prior mil guy. I knew lots of guys in the service had never owned a firearm prior to enlisting ( a few still dont). You are right the article doesnt give much detail but I dont know that I would assume irresponsibility.

      • As a current military member, who is qualified to RSO any weapon capable of being fired by a man, able to run live fire night cqb, and at one point had the crappy job of being a weapons instructor for a security force, I can say just cause somebody is military doesn’t mean crap, even the combat arms are full of guys who should be nowhere near a weapon. Nothing the guy wrote sounded responsible at all.

        • Sorry I didn’t meet your requirements, but I don’t remember him asking you to go with him. I did the best I could with the situation at hand.
          I know him and I trust him. That’s enough for me. Try not to paint me as irresponsible for simply doing what I was asked.

        • Benny in no way am I saying you are a bad guy, but what you did sounds pretty irresponsible. You didn’t even have the guy test the gun with the ammo he will be carrying. I am all for people owning guns, but when somebody needs to get a gun that day and won’t take no for a answer its is a red flag. I worked at a range where a guy shot himself in the heart with a pistol cause somebody put a gun in his hand when he was not ready. The RSOs were short on time, new the guy wasn’t going to actually ever use the weapon, and didn’t feel like making the guy repeat the training.

        • Fair enough. That’s the problem with the Internet, I can’t hear the tone of what your saying.
          I do trust the guy enough to handle a weapon safely and I showed him a lot of good places to do research or to call me with questions. I do appreciate what you’re to say though.

    • He’s been to the range with me a few times. If I thought him irresponsible, I would have declined to take him.

        • I don’t have any police or military. I’m a civilian shooter. I really can’t assign myself a level. I don’t go to the range often due to money, and I’ve never had any professional classes. I’ve been taught by experience and my LEO friend.
          She has not. His shift at work is changing so his schedule is fluctuating. I have told him that I want to take them both as soon as possible.

  9. “So my buddy calls me up because he knows I’m an amateur woodworker and he wants a new hobby. I took him to Home Depot to pick out his new hammer. Yay! Now he’s a carpenter!” Uhhh, no.

    I hope both of them can get some range time ASAP. I’d want confidence that this gun feeds this ammo. They also need to get used to what shooting feels like and get some experience clearing malfunctions. Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of spending some quality time around the kitchen table with a stack of patches and some Hoppe’s #9. Stripping, cleaning and reassembling a gun is the best way to transform it in your mind from being your magic bad guy vaporizing talisman to seeing it as the tool that it actually is.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh. The article makes it seem like the author declared victory many steps too soon. Maybe there was more that didn’t get included but as written it is an incomplete introduction to armed self defense.

  10. As I said, it’s a good start. But your friend definitely needs to persuade the wife to come along and participate, and more imporantly, in a constructive and enjoyable manner. Me personally, I would have split the $600 budget and gone with 2 Rugers – a 22/45 and a P95DC, if either had been available. Or alternatively, the SR22. Even though the .22LR ammo situation has gotten worse than ever, it’s still possible to get some for less than centerfire, and what both folks need is practice. No, make that FUN practice…like plinking. Plant the seed, dude. Get the wife over her natural fear of guns, etc. But at the same time you have to instill a healthy dose of respect and caution. And THAT’s the hard part. Like I said, your job is just beginning 🙂


    • Thanks man. It felt REALLY good to help him, and we didn’t even shoot anything! I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
      And I will DEFINITELY consider that next time someone wants my help!

  11. *Yes, I’m also aware that they have stiff recoil springs so racking the slide requires the strength of an angry god.*

    As an SR9C owner i didn’t realize I had the strength of an angry god….. maybe a slightly peeved demi-god….

  12. Agree with some others above that the MOST important person was left out – the girlfriend who was to use the gun. Does this guy buy her shoes, bras, or panties. I’ll bet not. A firearm is just a personal to the female and unfathomable to the male.

  13. Nothing wrong with Critical Duty out of a full size but for a shorter carry gun you need Critical Defense. Shootingthebull410 is a very helpful man

  14. First let me say that the SR9c is a great pistol. It’s my go-to when I’m covering enough urban territory on foot to make me balk at pocketing a tiny .380 only.

    Due to reliability I prefer revolvers for getting beginners started, but I’ve found that heavy double-action triggers turn off more petite women (particularly older ones with less grip) from shooting than anything else. So a pistol wasn’t a bad move…I’d be more interested in the non-C version for home (better recoil management and easier racking), but the full-size mag can be stuffed in there, at least.

    If it’s going to be left loaded in a drawer or something, the only things to worry about is keeping the resident crumb-snatcher away from it (a drawer safe, maybe?) and making sure Mom’s firing grip is firm enough to allow proper slide cycling. Range time will help that. Might want to use some lower recoil ammo to start her off with…I know Federal HST 147gr. is listed as low recoil, but I’m not sure about cheap FMJ range stuff coming in that variety.

  15. You tell ole bro to man up and marry the gal he violated and knocked up? Puts him in a much better legal position as well if she ever uses his new gat to cap some other bro in the crib.

    Get him some 9mm ball and take both shooting.

    • Lol RIGHT?!
      Nah, it’s all good. I knew I was gonna trolls and negative comments. I was tired of seeing depressing articles about CT and NY, so I figured I’d change it up a bit

      • Put me down for a “thanks”.

        You are going to get shit, but hopefully you take it as notes. I would love to see a follow up with the girlfriend getting a chance to use the gun she will ostensibly be protecting herself with. I’ll bet she might have liked the LCR in .38 more than her man liked the SR9c for her.

        Also, as an owner of a full sized SR9, I’m a little scared of how strong I must be to rack that slide.

  16. Benny, one thing I might have missed in your story. Does your friend have secure storage for the pistol?

    I was in the same boat as you. My friend was looking to get a pistol. We went to the range several times to try out the rentals. He had difficulty shooting most of the handguns I had recommended (standard Glocks, M&Ps, CZs, etc. in various calibers). The one he shot the best with was the Beretta PX4 in 9mm. That gun wasn’t even on my radar so it reinforces that you should try as many different types as you can. We went to the next gun show in the area and found a great deal on a new one. Now another buddy is looking. It’s really fun seeing new shooters getting interested.

  17. Thanks for reading my article!
    I know I left out too many details, I realized that immediately after hitting send. I’ll get better with time (should I write another lol)

    To those who liked it and enjoyed it: thanks! !
    To those who had advice on what should have done in a constructive way, thanks as well! Any advice is good advice.

    To those who are trolls and have nothing worth saying…..well….bye.


    • Don’t worry about the trolls. There seem to be some around here who surf TTAG looking for something to cause some kind of drama over. Keep reading and posting. I’m glad you happened along, and if I lived anywhere near you and your friend (and his family) I’d donate a box of 9mm to help him get some practice.

    • Thanks for posting the article. I think it has spurned some good discussion and helped to educate folks about what’s involved.

      I’m not going to say your trip was perfect (it’s not as if any of us are perfect) but I will say that the discussion that has followed has been helpful to everyone – multiple minds will bring up different issues to be discussed, and that’s a good thing. It helps everyone learn what they’ve missed so they can do better the next time.

      I expect I’ll be helping a friend of mine purchase a gun sometime in the future. Neither him nor his wife are physically imposing in any way, and I think they will be better off armed while at home (in the PR of NJ).

  18. The SR9c was my first handgun too. Still is my only centerfire pistol. When I bought it the only 9mm I could find was Hornady’s Zombie Max which is virtually the same as Critical Defense except for the green tip. I started reloading not long ago and after a few small 20 – 25 round batches of test rounds to dial in my recipe I’ve started cranking out almost more ammo than I can shoot… almost 😉

  19. Why not buy him a box of standard 115 grain or 124 grain 9mm FMJ and send him into the Bass Pro Shop range to get familiarized?
    Better yet, invite his girlfriend next week and have them both get a little experience with the new Ruger.

    Seriously… get those people to the range.

  20. I didn’t hear about any trips to the range with the girlfriend to try out the guns to find out what fits her hand (while shooting it, that is). When I read this: “It fits like a velvet glove that sings” it seemed as if the man who has the girlfriend was trying out the gun. I can’t say for certain about this case, but I know that in all cases I’m aware of, the girlfriend’s hands will be a different size and strength than the man’s hands. That doesn’t always mean she’ll need a different gun but in many cases it will. The nice thing in this case is that if she shoots the gun and complains that it doesn’t fit her hand, we know it fits his hands so it won’t be a loss. When you take both of them to the range, get some range ammo (ball or something without the self-defense moniker) and have her shoot that normal ammo. If it works out, then have her shoot the self-defense ammo. She will likely not enjoy the kick of the self defense ammo (I know I don’t). Make sure she understands this won’t be an issue should she need it in an emergency.

    Normally, I would start a new person out on a 22. It might be worth renting a 22 at the range to get her started, then move up to a full size 9 to get the feel of a 9 without suffering the sharper kick of the 3.5″ barrel’d 9. Since this purchase was for a home-defense gun and she has already talked about recoil, I would have gone for a 4.5″ or 5” barrel and heavier gun to soak up recoil. However, that Ruger is a very nice gun and she shouldn’t have any difficulty with it once she has practiced fundamentals. It’s actually a pretty good multi-purpose gun in that it can be carried quite easily. I could see that gun becoming his carry gun and her getting something that fits her better for home defense.


    • Thank you for truthiness.

      Good grief, this whole thing makes me want to pound my head on a wall.

      My main comment, since most of the others have been addressed, is this:

      If she is worred about defending herself and her baby, then SHE needs to take the initiative and go get her gun and training.
      This is not something she can have her man do for her. It won’t work, and 9 times out of 10, it’s the man being a dip and trying to force something on her she doesn’t really want in the first place, which REALLY doesn’t work.

      If she doesn’t want to take the time and put in the effort, then you, as a responcible gun owner, need to hand her a baseball bat and say “honey, you don’t get a gun unless you do it right.”

      I have absolutly no patients with chicks who won’t put in the effort, gun owners who don’t force the issue and men who can’t understand woman are perfectly capable of going though the same steps as they do.

  21. You let someone pay $567 American dollars for a Ruger SR9C? The same SR9C I can buy for $425 any day of the week?

    I hope it came with a bottle of astroglide.

      • Still stunned that Cary allowed BP to be built there. You KNOW the busy-bodies in the Containment Area for Relocated Yankees were foaming at the mouth about a big store that sells guns being built…

        Haven’t made it over there yet, but how did they handle the signage for the store? Cary has that silly monument/road sign ban, and every BP I’ve ever been to has a monument sign roughly half the size of the store itself out front.

  22. Great gun, good for a CCW and Home Defense. Love mine.

    One Caveat:

    The Mag safety can cause stovepiping with shooters who have smaller or weak hands. Its easy to remove, plenty of tutorials abound on the internet.

    Also,Lefty Glock Folks may not like the safety placement, it can screw with your grip based on what you’re used to.

    Just sayin.

  23. Bought a fun without going to the range to try it out first ???? Very brave!!! That’s like buying a car without driving it, not very smart!!

  24. So my question is this: If the gun was intended for the “lady” of the house, why wasn’t she along for the Bass Pro trip? Buying a pistol for someone else, particularly their first and/or particularly if they are “petite”, without them coming along is not advisable.

  25. My pistol of choice is also an SR9c. A worse story for me helping a friend came recently. He is eager to learn about shooting and said he wanted a firearm for home defense, car carry, and general range time. Money is tight for gun amd ammo. I said: .357 revolver. I already reload for it, share ammo, no mag springs to wear out keeping it loaded 24/7, uber-reliable, easy to learn.
    He says, “I want an auto.” Ok.
    I then recommended an Smith & Wesson SD9 or 40. $339 at a LGS, good rep for reliability and capacity.
    He goes to the LGS and calls me. I think I am more excited than he is. “What did ya get?!”

    Hi-Point 40 S&W
    I know I’m a snob for looking down at those…things, but… Come on.
    My only hope is that the damn thing works this is not his last purchase.

    What’s that saying? Something about a horse and water?

    • I really do enjoy my hipoint carbine, but come on man!! You tried, your first instinct was best, your second one commendable as well, but people will do what they want. Hipoints have a purpose, even low income persons should be able to defend their self, home, and family; but if you can afford something better I would think you would find those things worthy of the extra expense. A couple hundred dollars doesn’t help much when planning a funeral for a family member.


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