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  1. #1
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Lexington, SC

    Bad advice for beginners?

    Over the last year, since I started getting into shooting (initially for sport, and now for protection as well), I've received some bad advice. Scratch that. I've received some horrifically EXPENSIVE and even DANGEROUS advice. I'm hoping that other folks here can chime in with some of the worst advice they've been given (or heard given) and hopefully spare some other newcomers the pain as well.

    Here are some of the worst pieces of advice I've been given in the last year, and what my experience and learning since then has turned out to be:

    * "You need to be able to release a slide lock with the hand holding the gun." This is the main reason why my first pistol was an XD and not a Glock, because I couldn't reach the Glock slide release with my strong hand thumb. My current understanding (correct me if I am wrong) is that a strong hand thumb release isn't necessary at all, you can do a "slingshot", an overhand release, or a weak hand thumb release and they are all just as valid.

    * "The grip safety on a pistol adds an important measure of safety." This played a lesser role in that first pistol decision. I now know that while the grip safety may add some protection for a gun that is stored with the trigger exposed (tossed in the glove box comes to mind), you should never be storing a gun like that anyways. A grip safety may help protect a child too small to get their hands properly on the gun. But for an adult, almost all of the manipulations of the gun that could result in an accidental discharge happen to involve having the gun in a position that the grip safety is depressed anyways (reholstering, chambering a round, disassembling for cleaning, etc.).

    * "1911's are a rock solid, idiot-proof design." I'm not saying that it's impossible to have a great 1911, or even a good one, but for all of you who've been raised on an endless diet of action films, let the message be clear: the 1911 has inherent traits which mean that even a really well-built one will need periodic maintenance that you may not care to perform to ensure proper functioning. Oh, and every tweak or fix you make can cost you a small fortune in ammunition to make sure that it's working right. I burned through $100 in ammo just twiddling an extractor that I didn't need to replace in the first place...

    * "A low-end 1911 can be a great gun." Probably not likely, until you've poured enough money into it that you could have bought a good or great 1911. Or something else entirely. For the cost of a really good 1911, you can often get two or three other pistols in .45 which will be just as good for your needs. Again, not knocking the 1911, I truly enjoy shooting mine, but it's not a good choice for a novice. I've got a low-end 1911 with almost as much money in after-market parts in it and a few hundred bucks in ammo just testing those after market parts.

    * "ARs are cleaning queens." I've since learned (not personally verified, but the information I've been given is based on experience much deeper than I'll ever have) that ARs do like to be lubricated... but that they do not need meticulous cleaning for reliable operation.

    * "The AK design is insanely reliable." I've learned that there are lots of AK variations that are *not* "insanely reliable". My Saiga 12, like many others of the breed, took a bit of work to cycle low velocity rounds (especially birdshot) reliably. My PSL/FPK has failures to feed, caused by a combination of ugly feed lips and the rimmed cartridges. Some AK builds are junky enough to overcome the inherent reliability of the AK platform.

    * "The Saiga 12 is the best shotgun ever." You know what? I like my Saiga 12, a lot. But its advantages aren't quite as brilliant as one would think. Magazines sound great, until you combine the lack of a last-round bolt hold-open, the difficulty of inserting a full magazine on a closed bolt, the sheer bulk/weight of those magazine, and the difficulty in the AK "rock 'n lock" magazine design. For me, I thought a Saiga 12 unloaded with magazines in a gun safe would be a good, kid-proof way of having a quickly loaded shotgun around. Now, I feel that the Saiga 12 with anything less than an 6 round magazine has no advantages over any other short semi-auto shotgun, and those 8+ round magazines are too big to big into most nightstand safes. So I'm back to the idea of having a loaded shotgun in the closet... for what I spent on a Saiga 12 (just up-front price, at that), I could have gotten a short, home defense shotgun and a decent shotgun for the skeet range, and that's before I started pouring money into improving reliability and the whole host of other upgrades.

    * "7.62x54R is a great, inexpensive alternative to .308 or 7.62x51." In terms of ballistic they are about the same. But the choices of 7.62x54R in a high quality round are very limited. Right now, there are mountains of mil surp stuff from Eastern bloc countries all over the place (I suspect the supply is starting to dry up) and you can get the stuff for $0.19/round or so after S/H. It's a great deal if you want to do high powered plinking, but the accuracy leaves much to be desired.

    * "Hornady Critical Defense is the best ammunition around for personal protection." HCD may be good ammunition, but when I asked the folks here, I found out that there really aren't many independent tests of the stuff. Some of it is gimmicky (you don't need nickel plated shells for reliable feeding, and if you do, you need a new gun) as anything. Buy the well known LE rounds like Federal HST or Winchester Ranger Talon, and save a ton of money in the process.

    * Just about anything involving holding a pistol and shooting stance. It turns out, that most of what I'd been told was absolute junk. Thankfully, some of what I learned in the world of powerlifting about grip and stability carried over here, and I promptly realized that I was being given a lot of bad information. While my grip and stance isn't great, and it's something I've started putting a lot of work into with reading and videos from competent sources, the stuff I had experimented with on my own was certainly an improvement from the bad information I had been given.

    Every single piece of advice on this list came from someone who I had hoped knew what they were talking about, mainly due to professional status or being around firearms long term. My buddy who hunts 1 - 3 days a week during deer season *doesn't know what a 1911 is*. Why should I take pistol advice from him? I've got a friend who has a really nice AR (LMT) that he never shoots because he is of the opinion that it's not worth shooting with anything less than an ACOG on it, and he would prefer a Nightforce, but he can't afford them. So how much hands-on experience does he have with his AR? Almost none of the people I solicited advice and information from have taken any kind of training courses, read any books, or have anything better than what they learned from their dad or drill sergeant or boss. Too many pieces of advice were motivated by what's in stock or what has the best profit line. On the other hand, information I've found on this forum has been superb. The folks here have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and training. Many are professional instructors or have served in combat zone in military or law enforcement capacities where their lives depended on having the right information, tools, and training. I wish I had found this site a year ago, I would have saved a lot of money and time.

    Any and all contributions to this thread would be great to hopefully serve as a resource for other newcomers.

    J.Ja
    Owner/President of Titanium Crowbar, LLC

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Ohio
    I had no fewer than three older gentleman who have been shooting firearms for a long time and have massive collections of such, recommend a Judge as a self defense gun to the new girl I was teaching to shoot. I then had to take her aside and go into a very long explanation of why she should trust *my* judgment (as a young guy who has been shooting for about two years) and get a Glock instead.

    I was told that I should get a revolver as a first gun, because semi-automatics are too complicated. None of the completely-new-to-handguns people I have taught have had a problem picking up the concept of the extra buttons on a semi-auto in the first five minutes, or failure drills in as much time as it took to learn how to reload with a speedloader.

    I have been told over and over that 9mm is the bare minimum for a self defense cartridge, and you should really carry something that begins with a '4' or ends with a 'magnum'.

    My grandpa (a military vet and hunter since he was 10) tried to correct my thumbs-forward grip to holding my wrist with my offhand, because he was sure I was going to catch my fingers on the slide.

    Mostly, I am amazed at how much more I have learned about guns from this forum and a couple blogs, compared to people I know who have been gun nuts for ages, hold carry permits, have huge collections of weaponry, and even have volunteered with the local firearms rights groups for years. It does occasionally make me concerned, because these people do still know much more than I do in some areas, but it's difficult to always know what you can take at face value and what needs a large grain of salt.

  3. #3
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Lexington, SC
    I've had all of these experiences too, except for the issues with a family member teaching me something wrong.

    J.Ja
    Owner/President of Titanium Crowbar, LLC

  4. #4
    Lesser Non-Operator Being
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Nebraska
    Generally speaking of course, free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it. As a beginner, a shooter is eager to get help but sorting the wheat from the chaff is a challenge.

    I'm glad I got good training early on. Smartest thing I've ever done and I'm still amazed I was bright enough to do it.
    In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. ― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Columbia SC
    Two biggest sources for dis-information (IMHO) is media and gunshop employees. Third on the list is former cops and military guys.

    Local gun store hired a guy who has zero credentials. The amount of foolish advice he dispenses is staggering. Talked to the manager, got the shrugged shoulder.

    I've had to ask older guys who horn in on teaching sessions to go away before. Luckily the range I use now is much more conducive to private classes staying private.

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    NJ
    Quote Originally Posted by Al T. View Post
    Two biggest sources for dis-information (IMHO) is media and gunshop employees. Third on the list is former cops and military guys.
    I would agree with this...especially on the military part.
    "The history of the 20th century is largely people exchanging Freedom for "security" and "equality", then getting gulags, shortages, and oppression instead."- JoeinPNG

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    "Get a DB380 or something small because you won't want to carry a Glock."

    I've found it's very easy to conceal a G26, and I kinda wish I bought a G19.
    Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    my fingers for battle.
    -Psalm 144:1

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    NJ
    After thinking about it, I think there's two overused phrases that are bad advice for beginners:

    1) First rule of a gunfight is to bring a gun.

    2) The mousegun you have all the time is better than the service gun you left at home.

    Why do I think these are bad pieces of advice for a beginner? Well, because they're usually given as an excuse for being lazy or cheap and not bringing what you could1 and should2. I most often hear people using these phrases as approval for doing the easier thing, instead of using them as actual thinking points for carry methods.

    So, I think they're dangerous without actual discussion and thinking.
    ___________
    1. If you're getting bent out of shape because you carry a mousegun when running, at the gym, medical condition, whatever, that's different. Don't get bent out of shape.
    2. If you're a progressive existentialist and don't think it's right to be telling people what they should be doing because we're humans and have the right to make our own decisions, or because our threat/risk thresholds are different......well, I don't care.
    "The history of the 20th century is largely people exchanging Freedom for "security" and "equality", then getting gulags, shortages, and oppression instead."- JoeinPNG

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Central California
    the 'women can't learn to shoot anything but a revolver' mentality.

  10. #10
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Lexington, SC
    Quote Originally Posted by TGS View Post
    After thinking about it, I think there's two overused phrases that are bad advice for beginners:

    1) First rule of a gunfight is to bring a gun.

    2) The mousegun you have all the time is better than the service gun you left at home.

    Why do I think these are bad pieces of advice for a beginner? Well, because they're usually given as an excuse for being lazy or cheap and not bringing what you could1 and should2. I most often hear people using these phrases as approval for doing the easier thing, instead of using them as actual thinking points for carry methods.

    So, I think they're dangerous without actual discussion and thinking.
    ___________
    1. If you're getting bent out of shape because you carry a mousegun when running, at the gym, medical condition, whatever, that's different. Don't get bent out of shape.
    2. If you're a progressive existentialist and don't think it's right to be telling people what they should be doing because we're humans and have the right to make our own decisions, or because our threat/risk thresholds are different......well, I don't care.
    You know, I hear these all the time, and I agree with what you are saying... but I never really thought about them because I always just dismissed these sayings out of hand. Thanks for bringing this one up! You're right, and it's usually a sales device to get the price conscious consumer to spend some money on a piece of junk rather than walking out the door empty handed. The routine seems to be standard... show the the XDs, Glocks, cheap 1911's and M&P's first... but as soon as they say, "got anything cheaper than a Glock?" out comes the Hi Point.

    J.Ja
    Owner/President of Titanium Crowbar, LLC

 

 

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