Jon Wayne Taylor (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

RF asked which three guns I recommend to someone without reservation. They had to be currently made, and I limited myself to the lower middle end of the price range. That cut out a whole lot of very good guns. Still, this question was a pretty easy one to answer. There are at least three guns that I recommend, regularly, without hesitation, to any skill level shooter. Note: there are no shotguns on this list. Yes, I think everyone should own a pump-action shotgun, but there isn’t a mid priced manufacturer out there that I’ve seen perform universally well, like the guns below . . .

CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical (courtesy czusa.com)

1.  CZ75 9mm

This is the pistol that I think everyone should own. It’s spectacularly reliable. I’ve fired well over 10,000 rounds through a CZ75 without a malfunction, and I’ve never heard of a bad one. They can be quite accurate, they have an external safety or decocker that is intuitive and easy to manipulate, they point naturally, and won’t break the bank.

You just can’t go wrong with a CZ75. I’ve recommended many, and so many people have come back telling me how much they love the gun. If you want to make it even better, there are some folks out there, like Cajun Gun Works, that can make this gun absolutely world class. If this is your first pistol, dollars to donuts says that after a few years of shooting everything else you’ll come back to this gun.

The Paul Revere 5.56 Combat Grade Carbine (courtesy sonsoflibertygunworks.com)

2.  Sons of Liberty M4 5.56 NATO

These are mid-priced working guns that shoot MOA and will absolutely pour out rounds. There are a lot of AR manufacturers out there. Hell, I’m one of them. But for a direct impingement 5.56 at this price point, SOL gives you an exceptional value.  I’ve seen one of their guns go 17K rounds, full auto, without a malfunction, with no more maintenance than a bore snake and Frog Lube. Their customer service is outstanding. Again, every person I know that’s bought one has reported the same experience and satisfaction.

10/110 Trophy Hunter XP (courtesy savagearms.com)

3.  Savage 110 in .30-06

For the price, it’s difficult to beat the Savage 110 in accuracy and reliability. I have one that was made in 1958. I bought it in 2011. With factory ammunition, it shot one-inch groups at 100 yards. With hand loads, I cut that in half.

This year, I went hunting with a friend who bought his, made just a few years ago, based on my recommendation. With my hand loads, he shot 3/4 MOA and shot just barely over 1″ groups with factory federal hunting loads.

Want a .280AI or a .338-06 instead? Because of the outstanding design of the rifle, you can do it yourself in minutes. Plus, it is now the oldest continually produced bolt action rifle in America. Reliable? If your hand still works to cycle the bolt, the rifle will not fail.

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128 Responses to Three Guns TTAG Recommends: Jon Wayne Taylor Edition

    • 2 Grocks?

      My bare minimum would be Glock 17, AR-15 of your choosing, and a Mossberg 500.

      Know what a dark horse good shooter is for a bargain price? Smith and wesson 910. I got it for 275 bucks and it has an outstanding DA/SA trigger, with an unbelievably light reset that makes a Glock level CLICK when it resets.

      Carry gun is a Shield with no safety and night sights. Gotta have a good .22 also.

      Crap.. limiting it to 3 is so hard.

      • “I think everyone should own a pump-action shotgun, but there isn’t a mid priced manufacturer out there that I’ve seen perform universally well”

        There you have it. There are no mid priced shotguns that perform “universaly” well.

        “I’ve always felt like if I had to walk out of the door with one gun, a pump scattergun would be it.” J.W.T.

    • If you recommend a Glock over a CZ you probably haven’t spent much time behind a CZ.

      I shoot with a product development guy at Glock who bleeds black, and even he is envious of my Shadow and what the trigger does.

      of course he dismisses it as a unreliable safe queen, which isn’t accurate, but you have a tough time arguing with how they shoot and the quality of a tuned trigger on it.

    • 22 magnum , ( 30 grain – 50 grain )
      223 [1.56 ] , ( 55 grain – 77 grain )
      30.06 , ( 90 grain – 220 grain )
      and or a 20 gauge shotgun from birdshot to a 280 grain sabot .
      ………….. darn , it’s always narrowed to 3 .
      I’ll go with the first three .

  1. Love the Savage 110, and love America’s rifle cartridge, the .30-06. There isn’t much that the .30-06 hasn’t brought down, from moose to Nazis.

    • 1)30 -06 America’s 1st do it all cartridge, it will still do more than America’s Newer cartridge 5.56, though for general defense 5.56 cheaper to run.
      2)12 gauge,
      3)9mm pistol or 38 revolver.

        • .308 is great with its efficiency in bullets in the 150-168g range, but heavier bullets use up case capacity if you load to SAAMI length.

          The extra capacity in .30-06 is useful for launching 180-220g bullets at useful velocities. The .30-06 is good with its flexibility to use 55g (sabot accelerator projectiles) or 120-200g bullets on almost any game you care to imagine. And almost every gun maker in the world has a .30-06 in their lineup.

          Can’t argue with a Savage 110. If you want a gun that shoots out of the box, you buy a Savage. The only reason to buy a Remington 700 is go nuts with a Brownells’ catalog on a full custom gun.

        • .30-06 obsolete? Tell that to a former bull elk in Colorado that met this round from my Savage 111 last October.

        • .45 colt, .45-70, .38-55, .30-30, .30-06, etc. so many obsolete calibers still getting it done while everybody stresses out over the latest whiz bang new hotness. Pay more attention to marksmanship and less attention to marketing.

        • .308 came first?

          Uh… the .308 was introduced to the commercial/civilian market in 1952.

          The .30-06 was introduced in 1906.

          Rifles chambered for the .30-06 (or a derived cartridge, such as the .280 Remington, .25-06 or .35 Whelen) are using what is called a “standard length” action. That nomenclature came about because of how ubiquitous the .30-06 is.

          I can walk into any hardware store, drug store, gas station, gun store/gunsmith hangout here in the west, and I can guarantee that you will find at least a couple of boxes of hunting ammo in two calibers: .30-06 and .270 Winchester. Everything other than those two will be subject to how large the town or store is.

        • It’s just barely possible, DG, that he was comparing it, timewise to the 5.56 / .223. Still, not a very relevant statement.

  2. Great recommendation on the Savage. You make me want to buy a CZ. I’m meh on the AR recommendation – there’s lots of good ones, pick one.

    What about Mossberg shotguns? It’s a pity that Remington has fallen into the quality crapper. Decline of a once great company. I like Italian shotguns like Beretta and Benelli – but no they are not mid-priced.

    • AR platform Doesn’t get much simpler and flexible. Try changing anything about a Ruger Mini 14 or most other rifles in a matter of moments. Ok, the mag doesn’t count.
      Heck, an AR, with an upper change I can even shoot (out of it) soda cans or T-shirts, lets see that with a 10/22.
      I think about the only thing an AR won’t do is Dishes, but I could be wrong.

        • “Mom says you have to come in and do the dishes.”
          “Pull!” Boom – “The dishes are done man.”

          A little gem from the late 80s.

        • Touche’……………I was thinking “Palmolive” not “Pull”! I guess it Can do them at least once!

    • Love my 500a. But I’ve seen some that didn’t hit the QC mark for me either. That took them off the list.

      • Just out of curiosity, what QC issues did you see with the mossbergs? I’ve been lucky with my 500, no issues. I bought a new 870 2 years ago and it wouldn’t eject the fired shells, I would have to pry them out with a knife. I was able to fix the issue by polishing the ever loving crap out of the chamber, but I sold it as quickly as I could (wth full disclaimer that the gun had issues).

    • If you are going to spend the coin on a CZ go with a SP01 Shadow or a 75 shadow (do a search for the 75, they are available online)

      • I EDC a SP-01 Shadow, it’s never out of arm’s reach. The look on the faces of plastic gun owner’s when they try a real gun with a real hammer and a real trigger is priceless. My wife carries a P-01, same as NATO. Also an excellent gun.

      • You make it sound as if CZs are hugely expensive…and that therefore you need to spend the money on one that really is hugely expensive.

        I suspect JWT was trying to emphasize relatively affordable, yet solid guns. Bone stock 75 variants (anything from a classic 75B to the 01) qualify (they’re not that far off in price from a Block, comparatively speaking); those near race guns do not (on cost).

      • I EDC a 75B, next year I hope to up my game to an SP01 Shadow or 75 Shadow, with Thin Grips, shadow thin Safeties they’re pretty svelt.

  3. I very much suspect that these are very wise choices. Unfortunately wisdom is not the prime consideration for most of us. We like what we like, and rationalize it. This is as true of me as anyone I know.

  4. No recommendation of multiple guns is complete without a .22lr. It’s the world’s most useful cartridge. It’s THE survival round (lightest common round, you can bring down small game all day with it, and it will do self-defense in a pinch if you’re good). Practically speaking, it can be totally silenced. Weight to lethality ratio of .22lr is the best.

    I vote for a pistol with a threaded barrel (Ruger or Browning, say) and a suppressor, but my argument is for the caliber, not for a specific model.

    My three guns would be a SA suppressed .22 (e.g., Ruger 22/45), an AR in 5.56 (Build your own), and a relatively compact, relatively high-capacity 9mm SD gun (e.g., Kel-Tec P11 or the Skyy clone).

    • My selection method is laborious and looks pretty damned scientific too. It’s just that in the end, I find myself with the choice that tweaked my fancy as much as my reason.
      I meant to respond to your comment below but ended up here somehow.

    • that may have been true in 2012 but its not true now. .22 is a rare, expensive boutique round now. 9mm is the new .22

    • I don’t think the question posed was: “If you could only have 3 guns, what would they be?”
      Rather, I think it is a question of: “What are 3 great guns, that you would strongly recommend?”

      If I only had 3 guns, I’d want one to be a .22 rifle.

      For example, I’d strongly recommend a Glock 19, a S&W 642 (not for recoil shy folks) and a Security Six (not currently manufactured – maybe a GP100 instead).

      Those are all great guns, and I love them. They are wonderful firearms to have as a part of a collection of 10 or more guns.

      But, if I could only have three guns, I’d probably go Glock 26, 10/22, and AK.

      The thought of only having 3 guns is terribly depressing.

      • No need to be depressed. This isn’t that list. This is what 3 guns would I recommend without hesitation, not what are the 3 guns I would recommend if you could only have 3 guns.

        • JWT..
          Just a note to say, Great that you don’t just write and run. Nice to see you engage with and in, the comments. Thanks.
          P.S. Goats are Great!

        • What single handgun would you own if you could only have one ?
          I thought awhile about different scenarios , reloading included , and I have concluded , personally speaking of coarse , my choice would be my Ruger Single Six 22 LR with 22 WMR wheel , with the 9.5 inch barrel . I can shoot the wings off a fly with this pistol and I currently inventory around 30 thousand rounds of 22 LR and 22 WMR so I could go awhile on this old reliable friend .

      • Then I don’t understand the “three recommended guns” concept. Is there a purpose? None that I can see. In an article of about the same size, 10 good guns could be recommended. If not “if you only had three guns”, whats the point? If it is not a rounded stable, then why not recommend:
        1) Glock 17
        2) Glock 19
        3) Glock 26

        You can’t recommend any shotgun out there? Maybe you should design one and make a billion dollars.
        My point is, by limiting this list to only three, you have to consider “if I could only have three” otherwise, there isn’t much rational for leaving others off the list or naming the three on the list. Not saying those are not good guns. Just can’t see the logic in the list or this article.

        • Perhaps you need to write an article, and submit it, if this one isn’t up to your exacting standards.

        • It’s not about my standards. It’s the author’s. He set the criteria then went off script.
          If there is no mid priced shotgun he could recommend, then recommend a high end one. Didn’t stop him when it came to the AR.

        • The Tri-Star Viper is a well made light duty SA shotgun with a whole lot of bang for the buck , unless you plan on running 200 shots through it every day . I have found it to be reliable and stout and I think I only paid around 500 bucks for a new 20 gauge .
          I’ve put a bunch of steel through that thing and can’t recall a hick-up .

        • The Cz 75 family guarantees a reliable, extremely accurate and reasonably inexpensive high quality large ‘magged’ semi-automatic pistol that fits all grip sizes. Loving a Glock has its merits too…but feeling that the article is out of whack because one gets their balls in a twist as CZ was the chosen pistol , is, well…silly. My model is a simple Sp-01 w/ Shadow ‘upgrades’.
          For my druthers, the 2nd choice would be the upgraded rifle of the same /similar model(that is still a Savage 110 FAMILY) but a 10 FPXP HS .308 …after all it comes with a hell of a scope as well. Finally, as I’d still have a bit of a budget to work with as I am dropping the relatively not terribly inexpensive ‘spit-fire’ of the group, and I’d put a few extra bucks into my third choice…the just above mid priced (about $750).. Mossberg 930 JM PRO. A modern high volume shotgun IS more to what I see my needs are…and for a relatively moderate budget (in comparison to the author’s choices) I have a well rounded set of tools. Three really is enough for usage, right down to a ‘dawn of the dead’ invasion.

  5. Really, an AR from a company that hasn’t been around as long as the batteries in some of my flashlights (2012)?

    Get back to me when ALL of their guns have been in use for at least 10 years by a variety of people, and the guns AND company have a decade of history that we can look back on.

    • Yup. Really. I looked at those companies and none of them beat what I’ve seen from Sons. They aren’t bad guns at all, just not as good.

      • You can’t recommend an $1,100 shotgun because it is not midrange price, yet you recommend an AR that is over $2,000 after a few factory upgrades. If 2 grand is midrange, I’d like to see that 4 grand AR.

  6. APM, while I do not declare myself free of bias, I can honestly say that I like what I like because I looked at guns in a rigorous way. I was not raised in a family into shooting, so I entered the gun world “cold,” as it were. That’s why I have no love for .45s, for example, and chose the un-sexy 9mm instead.

  7. CZ75’s break the bank.

    So I recommend the following:
    CZ75
    Tristar T-120 9mm at your local academy. Looks exactly like a CZ75 – made in turkey.
    Or… a EAA Witness all steel 9mm (slightly more expensive than a tristar) – made in italy – also a CZ75 copy.
    Or.. a Canik Stingray 9mm – also made in turkey – also a CZ75 clone.

    AR15
    There are a billion out there. They all basically work the same.
    Look around and you can find them for $499 (less than a CZ75).
    Bear Creek Arsenal, Palmetto State Armory, etc.

    Savage 110
    I can’t argue with a savage 110. I don’t even have one, but I know people that do and they love them. Try to splurge for the accutrigger and good glass if possible. If you don’t have the funds you can go with the Savage Axis with the polymer stock. In 308, they can be had brand new for less than $300. Find a slightly used one on armslist for less.

    I would recommend a shotgun as well. I know that doesn’t make three – makes four. But a shotgun is a must have. Mossberg 88’s are dirt cheap.

    • I have caniks (tristar) witnesses and CZs. Unless there is a specific reason, just get the CZ. Especially if you are relatively new to shooting. A steel fame witness is going to be very close to the CZ in price. I really like tristars, and I carry a C-100, but if I have to replace parts, I can’t just go online and order one. I can get parts for CZs all day long

      If you are going to go with tristars, stick with the C-100. It is externally identical to a CZ steel frame compact, so uses the same holsters, springs, magazines, grips and sights (all have been replaced on mine)

    • The 75B series is $500-550 street, same as any glock. SP01s come in at 600-650, P series comes in 500 or less.

      I’m not sure why you’d compromise on purchase price of a handgun over $100, especially if you’re a shooter.

      • I’m not sure why you’d compromise on purchase price of a handgun over $100, especially if you’re a shooter.

        That depends on your point of view of the term “compromise.” To me, the EAA witness is every bit as good as a CZ. I have the SP01 equivalent for $415. Takes high quality Mec-gar mags. No compromise there – only a better deal.

  8. I’m with you except for the $800 AR selling for $1800.

    It’s not 2012 anymore. A wall of text describing a $500 AR-15 with $300 worth of foregrip, sights and ambi safety does not an $1800 rifle make.

    • I hear how all ARs are pretty much equal all the time. That’s just not the case, and it’s not just furniture. Are they the same for 200 rounds? Sure. 500 rounds, maybe. 5,000 rounds? 10,000? 20,0000? Shoot them that much, and I have, and you’ll start to really see the difference. I put a very high bar up for an AR maker, and SOL meets the bar.

      • Makes even more sense to get a MP-15 sport (I have 2k rounds threw mine with no issues, and being an early 5r shoots 1MOA with 55 grain of all things) and then figure out what exactly you want in an AR before spending north of $1000 on one

      • That’s true, and it’s good you have high standards. For most people looking for an AR, they’re only going to shoot it a couple times a year, and in that case it makes more sense to get something more economical, like the M&P sport II or an AR556.

        If they’ve got the money for the SOL, it’s looks like a great gun

  9. Hi-point C9
    Hi-point carbine
    Mighty Mosin

    They ain’t pretty, but they’re affordable and can be buried in multiple locations.

    • The Mosin and the Hi-Point carbine are reasonable recommendations for the budget conscious, or just cheap gun owner (I own both).

      I’d stay away from the Hi-Point pistol. I had one. It is way too bulky for what it is. Mine jammed a lot as well. I’d totally prefer a used Rossi revolver (or Kel-Tec P11/SKYY/Makarov/P-64/CZ-82 pistol) over the C-9.

      Heck, the EAA CZ-75 clones and the S&W SD9 are available for under $300 new if you look around, and the 9X18’s have shot up in price.

      • Highly recommended the witness PS in 9mm. I have one in my BOB kit. Not as nice a my CZs but will not cry if lost. Also they make a nice 22 conversion slide for it

      • If you’re on a Hi-Point budget, a Taurus PT-111 G2 is a lot more gun for only $50 more. It actually handles like a pistol, not a brick glued to a piece of 2-inch PVC pipe. And you can conceal it without people thinking you have a cinder block strapped to your belt.

        It isn’t the best gun on the market, but it’s definitely the best defensive handgun you can get new for $200.

    • 10 years ago the Mosin might have made the list. Now the price between a used 110 (I paid $250 for mine) and a decent quality mosin isn’t enough to justify losing the accuracy and availability of ammo the Savage brings.
      Oh, and the rules were they all had to be currently made.

      • Cheap surplus commie guns and cheap surplus commie ammo was a boon to American shooters in the 90’s. A real gift to us. 69 dollar nagant revolvers. Moist Nuggest for under 75. SKS for 99. Makarov for 89.

        But those days are gone now. SIGH.

        • A few years back I picked up a Finnish Nagant for 170 as they had run out of the Russian ones and they only wanted like 25 more for the Finn. I never even tried the trigger since they are usually terrible, turns out it has the lightest trigger of any gun I own averaging right at 1.75 lbs (yes a Mosie with a sub two pound trigger). That makes it slightly lighter than my Savage M10. Ammo is still fairly cheep, so it is a fun shooter, if limited to what my eyes can do with the iron sights.

        • The Finns took Russian 91’s and scrapped all but the actions. They completely rebuilt their rifles using barrels from sako, tikka and sauer.

          The Finns took the M_N to the level it should have been at the start.

        • The Finns sometimes did that. Often they cleaned them up, and sent them back out. Especially the Russian captures. Sometimes they proofed them.

          http://7.62x54r.net/MosinID/MosinRareFinnMarks.htm

          It’s common mythology and until one goes down the rabbit hole, one doesn’t know. I only know because I have an early 1900s Ishevsk Capture in my small collection.

  10. So many guns .. so little time.

    To newbies I often recomend.

    Walther PPX – CDNN still has the best price I believe. Home and Vehicle defense.

    S&W SD9 or 40. Most newbies shoot it better than a Glock when trying.

    Carry – Ruger SR9C. I shoot it better than the full sized version. Easy to conceal.

    22 Rifle. S&W 15-22. Mine has over 3000 rounds. Never cleaned. Never failed (Experiment in progress)

    Shotgun. Too many great used ones out there to worry about current production. Same could be said of centerfire and rimfire rifles.

  11. I go back to my first three guns. In 1973 I turned 15 and proudly purchased with my hard earned grass cutting money a Marlin 39A which I still have. When I turned 16 my Dad gave me an 870 20ga, which I still have. When I turned 21 I bought a Colt Series 70, (lost in a robbery) If I had to start over, it would be a 22 rifle, 12 gauge and 45. You can plink, hunt small game,take deer and defend your castle.

  12. $1800 “mid range” AR from a short term AR manufacturer? Give me an LMT all day every day in that price range.

  13. I wholly agree on the Savage 110. They shoot better than their price class most of the time. Easy to work on with minimal tooling, making it possible for the owner to change out barrels when you shoot one out. Parts readily available and cheap.

    Double my level of agreement on the CZ-75. The CZ-75 is the 1911 of the com-block countries. Rugged as a rock, reliable, also easy to work on. Other than trigger work, I’ve never had a C-75/85/etc owner approach me for a thing about these pistols.

    Your AR choice: Well, I reckon you know more about one AR vendor vs. another, so I’ll defer to you on that point.

    I’d be recommending a shotgun in here somewhere, and if someone wants a pump gun, it would be an Ithica 37, or a used Winchester Model 12. If a person just “has to have” a semi-auto shotgun, my recommendation is a Beretta 390. They’re reliable as a rock, few moving parts, easy to clean and work on. It boggles my mind why Beretta screwed around with the design. But for pump guns, the last competently made US pump gun is the 37, sadly. The quality of the 870 and 5xx’s has really gone down like a airplane with one missing wing in the last 10+ years.

    • Must the shottie be current production?

      Because for $350-ish a Remington Model 11 or the Browning A5 version, are both available in the pre-owned market. They may be older than your parents (my Model 11 is almost as old as my long-dead grandfather) and in my couple of decades of ownership hasn’t skipped a round.

      The only reason that I’ve seen for non-semis is accuracy for the last hundred years. A manual shotgun seems to me an invitation to short-stroking unhappiness in a pressure situation. I get preference and all, but I’m not Linda Hamilton, and if something should go wrong, I want to fire without needing more than a finger depressing the trigger and my hand sorta wrapped around the grip, at least until my 8 rounds are gone anyway.

      • I love me some A5’s. On the Model 11, be sure to check the condition of the fiber recoil buffer riveted into the back end of the receiver.

        The A5 is a built-for-the-ages shotgun. Is is, without any reservations or qualifications, a quality gun. The only downside it has for modern gun owners is that the recoil rings on the magazine tube have to be set correctly for the power of load you’re using, and modern gun owners aren’t used to that. Hence my recommendation on the 390 – it’s pud simple to own and operate. The A5 requires some skill to detail strip for cleaning. My 390 has a synthetic stock, and a phosphate finish. It’s been dropped down mountainsides, and it shows – but it never, ever fails to work. Sadly, you have to look in the used market for a 390 now.

        • Egads. I looked for a 390 on armslist and there were a total of 2 available. Nationwide. At $700 and $800 respectively.

          That’ll get a very nice A5. Not disagreeing with you that it’s a great gun, but how many did they even make?

  14. The Mossberg Maverick 88 12 GA shotgun can be had for under $250 – very reliable. No need to leave a shotgun off the list!

  15. Everyman:
    G17
    Mossberg 500
    AR15

    Canonical Handguns:
    1911
    G17
    Model 19

    Sportsman:
    Remington 870
    CZ 455
    Savage 10 (.308)

    Three Guns:
    G34
    FN SLP
    AR15

    Contrarian:
    1911
    Ithaca 37
    M14

    Plinker:
    Ruger MK III
    CZ 455
    Ruger 10/22

    Pennsylvanian:
    Lyman Flintlock
    Marlin 336
    Remington 700 (.30-06)

    Californian:
    Airsoft
    Daisy
    Nerf

    Revolver Lover:
    Model 60
    Model 686+
    Model 629

    Not actually a gun guy:
    Taurus Judge
    Ruger SR9
    Keltec P32

    More Money than Sense:
    Desert Eagle
    S&W 500
    FN FiveSeven

    Movie Fan:
    Desert Eagle
    Walther PPK
    Model 29

    Robert:
    Caracal-9C
    FN SCAR 16
    Marlin 1894 (Remington manufacture, unintentional folding stock version)

    Drinks Bud Light Lime:
    G19 (poorly stippled)
    Mosin Nagant
    Self-Built over-gassed AR15

      • Had a chance years ago to holster an absolute beauty Python and walked away not wanting to fork out the ( firm ) asking price . I was a little weak in the wallet at the time and much weaker in the head because I would have seen a ten fold flip in value if I would have bitten . I mulled it over for a few days and went back to get it and it was gone . I divorced two women and they were much easier to get over than that beautiful Colt Python Elite in 357 magnum . I chased down the new owner and offered him 3 bills more for it than what he paid and he laughed . I think he knew something I didn’t know . Sure proved himself to be the smarter man , if he hung onto that pistol .
        Memories , good or bad , I’m sure happy to have em .

    • Awesomely done!
      And proud to say I am closer to the “Everyman” category.
      Glock 19 $429
      CMMG MK4 RCE $1,150
      Mossberg 930 JM Pro (used, resmithed at Mossberg) $449

  16. Good stuff. CZ’s are great values, and I definitely can’t argue against the Savage 110 in .30-06. My ’06 is a Winchester 70 Ultimate Classic in stainless steel with a BOSS. I replaced the brake with the muzzle weight since recoil isn’t much of an issue. The AR is a no-brainer. It’s the most versatile modern rifle platform in existence.

    I’d say AR, Glock 19, and a good shotgun. And a 686. A classic Winchester 70. The Ithaca is a great shottie. Pretty much anything made by Wilson Combat. A Smith .460. Agree with JWM on the J frame. An old Marlin 336. Sig 226 Tac Ops. An old Winchester .22 lever gun. A 10/22 takedown. A Sako 85. Mossburg 930 on the bang for buck firepower ratio. An old 870 Wingmaster.

    No way I could write this article unless I had a dozen recommendations or so.

    • Dude, you owe it to yourself to shoot a glock back to back with a CZ. Run the trigger. You can hold the groups to the same size if you’re experienced, but it’s much easier to do with a CZ. If you have a tuned CZ triggers it becomes ridiculously easy to make longer/harder shots as your trigger will break super clean at 2#.

  17. 3 great guns

    Savage 110 (I have had 2 in 30.06 that were sub 1″)
    Glock 21…first one I owned has over 30000 rounds, second one approaching 10000. Not everyone likes the size and grip angle, but fits my hands great

    AR- s&w- 10,000+ rounds, still shoots great.

    And none will break the bank.

  18. I can’t recommend the CZ enough. It isn’t really an alternative for the DAO/striker/plastic gun crowd, as they don’t seem to be pistol guys to me in the first place, seeing it as a secondary (at best) weapon. If you actually LIKE pistols, and like shooting them, there’s no substitute for an all-metal hammer-fired DA/SA or SAO gun. So I have found trying to convert glock/etc types is pointless, because they just don’t “get it”.
    The CZ is really more of an alternative to the 1911 – simpler action, fewer parts, more reliable (typically – there are some very reliable 1911s out there, like the Dan Wessons [made by CZ, coincidentally], but you pay for them), just as accurate, a trigger that can be just as good in SA with the added option of DA, no magazine tuning necessary at all, and at about half the price of a comparably-performing 1911. The CZ clones just don’t have the customizing and parts availability, but the Tanfoglio’s and full-size Sphinx’s (when you can get them) are really nice.
    Yes, they are heavy and they are large – I’m 5’11” 165 with a 31″ waist – and can be challenging to conceal. I feel they are worth it, though, because IMO you should carry what you shoot, and shoot what you carry. The familiarity makes a big difference, to me anyway, and I don’t want to need my gun, reach for it, and pull out the result of way too many compromises to defend my life with. I feel like my gun is a part of me, and I wouldn’t a part of me to be cheap plastic with an earned reputation for discharging a bullet into my leg. The CZ does everything well, from self-defense to competition (it’s the most popular competition pistol in the world) to combat – the CZ P-01 is the official side-arm of NATO and the gun my wife carries. And shoots. It makes no compromises to reliability, accuracy, or performance, and it just feels right. High-capacity and a real hammer you can see and feel – what more is there?
    Out of every pistol in the world, if I could only have one, I would definitely choose my CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow. Until the Shadow 2 comes out. Maybe.

    • I would say 75 Shadow simply because it’s a bit lighter if you could only have one.

      You echo my sentiment, CZ’s are starting to catch fire in town here thanks largely to the competitive community.

      The practical accuracy and ease of firing is immense.

    • If you actually LIKE pistols, and like shooting them, there’s no substitute for an all-metal hammer-fired DA/SA or SAO gun. So I have found trying to convert glock/etc types is pointless, because they just don’t “get it”.

      Preach it, brother!

      • Balderdash and cow-pasture-pies.

        I choose to carry and use Glocks BECAUSE of my wide base of experience and knowledge, not due to a lack of either. I’ve progressed past the old/heavy boat-anchor designs with a myriad of additional unneeded parts, and the “gun of the month” new-but-not-really-new designs to a simple, compact, reliable handgun that is completely user-serviceable (except it rarely needs any kind of service at all) and shoots just as well as the vast majority of non-target firearms in the same size/weight class (and better than most). I have other “safe queen” guns, so I have no need to baby the tool(s) I use to defend my life or place highly in defensive competitions, to protect their mirror finish or deep blue jobs.

        I’ve tried most everything on the market, and have happily settled on Glocks for most serious uses. Yeah, something better might come along someday (heck, it might be out there right now), but it won’t be enough better for me to make it worth throwing away 25 years of training and shooting with a single design just so I can start over again from scratch, with poorer vision, slower reflexes and weaker muscles, to boot.

        Y’all enjoy being the beta testers for the current cut-product-testing-to-the-bone manufacturers, and I hope whatever you choose works when you need it, and allows you to get the job done.

        • This is exactly what I mean by not getting it, thanks for proving my point. Don’t worry, I’ll keep beta-testing my 40yo design that pre-dates all polymer pistols. Meanwhile, I sincerely hope you don’t catch glock-leg from your tupperware.

        • Thanks for your concern.

          And your 40-year-old design doesn’t pre-date the polymer HK VP-70Z, which was first offered (in its base form) in 1970.

          BTW, the last 3 drawing/reholstering-related ADs/NDs that I personally witnessed at competitions were all with handguns which had a plethora of safeties. They had so many safeties, the user didn’t even have to worry about safe handling any more, because the guns themselves were already so safe! Then we hear the “Bang!’, and the bandages come out, and we find out how wrong this attitude is.

          (all 1911s, in case anyone was wondering)

        • Sorry, glocks are for those who have never experienced a real trigger. In my opinion that alone makes them seriously deficient.

        • You’re sorry, all right. My condolences.

          Folks that can’t shoot well unless they have a 2-pound glass-rod-breaking trigger, really just can’t shoot at all, IMO. ANYONE can shoot a Colt Python well in SA mode; the real challenge is shooting the Ruger Security-Six well (in DA mode, even), or a box-stock Glock well enough to smoke most of the shooters with the $2000+ 1911s. People who do this HAVE to know how to shoot well no matter WHAT they are shooting, because they don’t have an expensive finely-tuned crutch to fall back on, to make them look better than they really are.

          Almost ANYONE can shoot a great pistol well.
          Only a great shooter can shoot a poor-to-average pistol well.

          And statistically, I was probably already experiencing great triggers while you were still crapping in diapers.

        • That’s like saying ANYONE can drive a Ferrari well (they can’t) and a REALLY good driver could win a formula race with a ’73 Ford Pinto – which will happen long before anyone shoots “a box-stock Glock well enough to smoke most of the shooters with the $2000+ 1911s…”, assuming all are of remotely similar skill level. But then again you say “Almost ANYONE can shoot a great pistol well”, so logically that means the glock loses no matter WHO is shooting it.
          Apparently, every time you’re out-shot, you’ll always have that glock to blame it on.
          P.S. I don’t think “statistically” means what you think it means. Nor does “beta-testing”. In fact, I would suggest you purchase a dictionary.

        • BUY a Dictionary? Like, printed on paper? Said by a person who is actually in the process of using the Internet to post a comment? Wow. Quite a disconnect, there. Anyway…

          be·ta test

          1. a trial of machinery, software, or other products, in the final stages of its development, carried out by a party unconnected with its development.

          Which is what most gun manufacturers USED to do in-house, or hire others to do for them (gunwriters, perhaps). Now, the evidence indicates that they release half-tested products to the public, and allow the buyers the honor of PAYING to be the beta testers. How else can you explain major manufacturers releasing pistols that simply do not function (Remington), or of pistols being released that are not drop-safe (Ruger)? I used the term correctly; it’s not my fault you don’t (or can’t) understand the concept.

          Using the race/racecar comparison is an extreme example; I never said a Glock shooter could compete and win against a 1911 shooter if the test was a bullseye pistol match. The bullseye match was designed around the 1911, and as such, most other guns would be found wanting in that situation. But it demonstrates the basic comparison is sound; you will not become a better driver across a wide range of situations by ONLY using a racecar. The difference here is, NO ONE learns driving and limits themselves to driving only a racecar; but this happens quite regularly in the gun world, where the new(ish) shooter buys the gun equivalent of a racecar and only shoots that gun on a square range, and thinks that makes him a well-rounded shooter. Put the racecar-only trained driver in the woods in a 4×4 pickup, or on an icy Minnesota highway in a sedan in January, and you’ll find out just how useful those racecar-only skills are in the real world.

          The test for being a well-rounded shooter is fairly simple; say you have 3 competent shooters, who all own different handguns (for example, a Glock, a S&W DA revolver, and a high-end 1911). Set up a target at a moderate distance that rewards accuracy, and have each of them shoot each pistol, and record the average of the scores. The well-rounded shooter will do well with all the guns; the specialized shooter(s) will do VERY well with some, and very poorly with others. Average shooters who only have exposure to expensive guns with glass-rod triggers will NOT do well in this comparison, but the folks who are used to fighting their way through a long or rough trigger pull and applying the fundamentals all the way through will do very well.

          It’s the difference between BUILDING or DEVELOPING skill (with experience, over time, by shooting different guns until you shoot them well), and trying to BUY skill. Lots of people that only own expensive target-grade guns don’t want to admit that you can’t buy skill; it sounds like you are firmly in that camp. They shoot their expensive guns very well in specific circumstances, but like the (admittedly mythical) racecar-only driver, get them on a different platform or shooting under different circumstances, and they will usually fail quite badly.

  19. Yes, I think everyone should own a pump-action shotgun, but there isn’t a mid priced manufacturer out there that I’ve seen perform universally well,
    Benelli Nova, Super Nova, Browning BPS, Mossberg 500, Escort. Name a few.

        • That’s like saying the Mercedes S Class Cabriolet is a mid priced convertible due to the existence of the Ferrari 488 Spider.
          Out here in the real world, $1,750 for an AR 15 is a big chunk. I just broke the bank for a 2007 Solara for the wife on her birthday at $12,000. That’s what mid priced means to me.

  20. Can’t agree strongly enough with the CZ handgun recommendation. They, and their variants/clones constitute the single largest bloc in my family: genuine CZ Phantom, P01, P09, P07 and RAMI, IMI Jerichos, Tanfoglio Witnesses, various Canik/Tristar models (there’s so damn many, and, like Pokemon, gotta get them all! 😀 ), Sarsilmaz K2 (Very heavily CZ influenced variant, built around the Para P14 magazine.), all of the aforementioned in 9MM, .40S&W and .45 ACP flavors.

    Just wish CZ proper and the Turks would get on the 10MM bandwagon.

    Shotgun-wise, I’d get rid of my Benelli M4 last. Though the VEPR12 is also a formidable beast.

    Rifles… Just too damn many that I’d never want to part with. I’ve discovered a love for quality AKs, like the SLR-107 and the VEPR K. Or the Galil.

    Truth be told, 3 is just too damn few.

    • The problem with the 10mm bandwagon is that the wagon is parked in front of the local tavern, with the people who were on the bandwagon inside said tavern, getting pretty tight as they say “Hold muh beer and watch this…” as they show the guys who prefer to carry S&W 629’s how fast you can reload a 10mm.

      The 10mm just isn’t a growing market. That’s the problem for all “high power” pistol cartridges, whether they’re the 10mm, .45 WinMag, or something else. There’s been at least a dozen “holy crap!” hot cartridges loaded into a semi-auto for decades now – and they all die out in a decade or so down to a small group of shooters who really love the cartridge and keep it alive.

      • If you need more than a .44 magnum you need a rifle or shotgun. In the real world. If all you need are range toys…….

      • I really dig the 10mm. But every time I was going to take one hunting, my SW model 29 was sitting there saying, anything you can do I can do better…

      • The obvious reason that the big caliber pistols are ending up drawing dust and on the used gun shelves is the incredible advancements in smaller caliber ammo recently . If you can closely achieve the terminal ballistics of a 45 cal. with a 9 mm that weighs 2 pounds and holds 17 rounds over the 4 pound 45 that holds 7 , well , don’t take a rocket scientist .
        Not many folks will try a tuck a 10mm pistol inside their trousers or purse .

  21. So happy to see CZ on the list. You can say there’s a “better” 9mm, but if you’ve not spent an appreciable amount of time with the CZ, you’d be wrong.

  22. Wow with all the CZ love I am seeing here… you would think they’d be common.

    I don’t see them in people’s hands (other than mine, that is) very often.

    • Go to a USPSA match and see what the production dudes are shooting. Probably CZ.

      That said, it’s not quite infiltrated the “average” square range community yet, at least in my area.

  23. Quote: “RF asked which three guns I recommend to someone without reservation”

    Someone, or anyone? For what purpose?

    – those are the questions.

    When the 85 year-old widow next door asked for my input, none of the JWT suggestions would be acceptable.

    When my other neighbor asked what should she get for her 12 year-old kid, none of the JWT suggestions would be acceptable.

    RF’s question was obviously either poorly articulated or poorly reported.

    Or perhaps JWT has gone off the reservation.

  24. I’m a CZ fanboy, so my opinion is obviously biased. My three-gun list reads like

    1) CZ75D PCR – best carry gun ever made
    2) Vz. 58 Rifle – lighter, more accurate and less prone to sand/dirt failure than the AK
    3) CZ 527 in 7.62×39 – shares ammo with the ’58 and an incredibly light and accurate deer rifle for forested land

  25. Guns I’ve recommended for years with no complaints from anyone who took the advice: Ruger SP101 or GP100, PSA build it yourself AR15, Remington 1100/1187, Remington 700 SPS Tac 20″ bbl in 308. I’ve owned a CZ, past tense. Savage rifles in my locale are considered low grade fence posts or boat oars depending on which part of the state you are from and if I showed up with an $1800 AR I would have to buy lunch everyday for my shooting buds as they would think I had won the lottery.

  26. Here’s a good topic (to me anyway…at this moment): what are the first three guns you bought? Do you still own them? Did you sell them to a friend or did you put them up for anyone? What guns have you given a loved one?
    Discuss.

    • Bulgarian pa 63 in 9×18. mosin nagant, winchester sxp. still have all three. been happy with all three. have killed a lot 9f dove with sxp. It has been a cheap pump gun that I have had no issues with in the 7 or 8 seasons I’ve dove hunted with it.

    • My first was the GLOCK 19. I took Hickok45’s recommendation. The next gun was a Yildiz 12 gauge O/U. I got it to shoot trap but didn’t realize it was a field gun. Too light to have fun shooting more than one round of clays. Then I got my AR. CMMG MK4. I tried to sell the O/U to a bird hunter but the wife likes the wood and engraved receiver so it decorates our mantle.

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