Basic Care & Feeding of the Semi-auto Pistol
Semi-autos are the standard for handguns these days, so I thought a thread on basic accoutrements for semis might be useful for new hand gunners. Not lights and lasers, but the more pedestrian stuff like ammo, magazines and cleaning kits. The stuff you want to have when you take home your new pistol.
Some semis have a reputation for digesting anything that's fed them, others are more persnickety. Some ammunition works better for specific purposes, say defense, hunting, target shooting, or just cheap plinking. You may also have planned on hand loading your own ammunition but hand loading is out of the scope of this thread.
For your first semi handgun, unless it is picky, consider starting with budget loads from Winchester USA, Remington UMC, Federal America Eagle, Magtech, Blazer Brass, etc... These are less costly (so you can shoot more) Feature reloadable cases (so you can build up your own stash in case reloading is in your future, or for brass you can "trade in" to reduce the expense of commercial reloads if that is your preference)
These rounds are full metal jacket (or case) which generally are the most reliable for feeding and ease cleaning--- no leading problems!
Any manufacturer can put out occasional defective rounds, or even an entire lot of rounds, but new ammunition manufacturers are more reliable than commercial re-loaders (which tend to range the whole gamut from "excellent" to downright dangerous.) Until you can figure out a reliable commercial re-loader in your area, I recommend sticking with brand names with good reputations.
When you are confident you can employ your pistol in it's role (defensive, hunting, or target shooting) it is time to look at ammunition more specific to your needs.
We'd hope your new pistol came with more than one magazine, but perhaps not. The main advantage to having multiple magazines at this stage of the game is that, once your magazines are loaded you can spend more time concentrating on your shooting and less time thumbing cartridges into your magazine. An extra magazine is nice indeed. Two extra magazines are nicer, three is even better. Aftermarket magazines run all over the place in terms of cost and reliability. Who makes good magazines and who doesn't is a point of contention for many shooters, as is how much is a fair price.
Original equipment---the magazines that come from the same outfit that made you pistol---is a safe bet although most pistol manufacturers actually source their magazines from specialty suppliers such as Mec-gar, Metalform and Checkmate.
Wilson Combat, Chip McCormick, and others have fiercely loyal fans, particularly among LEOs and competitive shooters, and whether or not you want to pay a considerable premium for them, well, that's going to be up to you.
I will avoid cheap, no name magazine manufactured abroad and humbly suggest you do the same.
Cleaning Kits and Chemistry
This is another field where there is considerable difference of opinion. Some pistols come from the factory with cleaning rods but many do not. Since the scope of this post is about basic supplies to get you started shooting your new semi auto I'll hazard to suggest, for centerfire pistols, one of those ubiquitous plastic pouches from Outers or Hoppes containing a pistol cleaning rod with a plastic jag and patch loop to get you started. Add a bronze bore brush and an old tooth brush. If your pistol is a rimfire, a Hoppe's Bore Snake is a viable alternative, along with an old tooth brush for cleaning unburned residue from your pistols innards.
A shop towel or old cloth diaper or even an old t-shirt makes a good cloth for wiping down the exterior and cotton flannel patching is IMHO superior to synthetic patches, although t-shirt "jersey" patches are acceptable.
Solvents and lubricants have gotten high tech. Certainly old school two step "bore solvent" and "gun oil" are still around but CLP type chemicals abound. Take your pick.
In my state there is a requirement that a pistol has to be transported to the range in a locked container separate from your ammunition. MTM makes low cost plastic pistol boxes which I recommend. Plano and Flambeau also make good stuff. That you can cut away the plastic tabs that hold on the padlock in short order with a pair of dikes or even a sharp knife is apparently of no concern to the State authorities, so I'm not going to worry about it either.
Whatever floats your boat---FBI, Zombies, bulls eye, tin cans, Necco wafers--your call. I like paper plates, but only because I'm cheap.
There may be legal requirements in your jurisdiction for a trigger lock or even a safe. If you're keeping a pistol for protection where you'll need quick access, that is going to be an issue you'll need to address as it pertains to your location while mindful of other people in your home or workplace---children in particular.
To keep your pistol safe from scratches wherever you keep it, and your pistol is not being kept "at the ready" you'll find a variety of pistol rugs and cases (and yes, holsters) but these are not intended for long term storage, where any moisture accumulated or trapped inside could eventually cause rust. If you simply want to protect your pistol's finish and speedy access isn't required you can keep it in an old sweat sock. Green wool GI socks are excellent.
For many new shooters, there is a great temptation to customize their pistols with aftermarket accessories. Other shooters you might meet at the range will try to sell you on the latest gadgets (lights, grips, sights, etc...) Master shooting your stock pistol first, before contemplating adding "stuff" or modifications.
So what are the thoughts of those here? What needs to be added? Deleted? Is this useful? Or not?
Why certainly it's useful, John, and then some. You covered it very nicely. The only thing I might add is a paragraph on the proliferation of aftermarket mods and what they are, sights, triggers, lights, grips, etc., with a recommendation for the new auto shooter to concentrate more on learning to shoot his gun than on the (usual) pursuit of modifications and upscale gee-gaws. i.e. "Learn to shoot it first, hang crap on it later" would be my message.
John, and Jaypee,
Well said! I agree with JayPee...especially, about after market crap hung all over you're weapon. Learn to shoot first. Work on tactics and NEEDED add-ons later.
If it shoots good from the box with the factory mags and recommended factory ammo. then I think that most folks are good to go with their new firearm. As for the "other stuff", I would beg a question, "do you want to look good on the range or shoot well". I've spent too much time and modifying things over the years that didn't need any "modifying" and it didn't improve my skills the least bit.... I should have saved my money on ammunition..
Thanks guys, I edited the post as per your suggestions.
I like it a lot. A lot.
Is it sticky-worthy?
I would just one item to your range bag and that item would be the Outers Tri - Care gun cleaning and protect-ant gun cloth. Although there are other manufactures out there like Gunslick that manufacture the same item. All work very well and will take off the finger tip and body acids that can certainly cause a firearm to rust. Here in Southwestern Florida or any humid climate for that matter you really need one of these treated gun clothes in your bag.
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