Originally Posted by Augusto86
I've never before had the opportunity to shoot: anti-gun parents, a camp that banned shooting the year I was old enough on account of Columbine, Mass. laws, etc.
I'd like to learn how to operate and shoot a firearm, and I was wondering what people would suggest for a first handgun. I would probably go down to the local shooting range and take some courses in the basics of shooting, safety, cleaning, etc, but eventually I'd like to own a gun, probably a handgun, and I was hoping to get some advice on what sort of gun is good for a novice to the world of weaponry.
Augusto, go to the range and take the course first before you buy anything. Try to find an NRA Certified instructor to teach you the Basic Handgun course. In doing so, you should be able to fire several different handguns. The range probably has rental guns, too. Learn, train, then purchase. You'll be much happier.
The people telling you to get a .22 as a first gun are correct. However, depending on what you want it for, you can "outgrow" it after a box of ammo. I broke my 14 year old niece in with a .22 S&W 422 Semi-auto. After 50 rounds, she had learned what she needed and picked up my Ruger Vaquero (cowbow style gun) in .44 magnum with a 7.5 inch barrel (loaded with less powerful .44 Specials), knocked down 6 out of 6 steel plates and never looked back. That .44 is now her favorite plinking gun.
To answer your question more simply, if I had to pick one handgun for an inexperienced shooter, it might be a .357 Revolver with a 4 inch barrel. You can shoot .38's for fun, and .357's for defense. Low maintenance, no mag problems, the failure drill is, basically, pull the trigger again. That being said, I carry a .45 Glock 36 and keep a .45 Glock 21 bedside. But I have trained and am committed to continued training "like my life depends on it."
For now, forget the gun, concentrate on the training. The gun selection will become clear once you are trained.