Surplus guns offer a whole lot of value for money, as you can get a lot of bang for just a few bucks. Granted, there are some real turkeys to avoid out there, but there are also some incredible bargains…the best guns that’ll run all day that can be picked up for a relative pittance, and will more than hold their own in a home invasion.
You aren’t likely to find a precision target rifle and pickings for concealed carry pistols are usually on the slim side. But if you wanted a gun for home defense, surplus guns are actually a great way to get a good one without draining your wallet and which family members can use.
Since surplus firearms are typically former police or military issue, you know they’re a good choice for self-defense. Some may be new, some may be used, many won’t be American. However, first-time surplus shoppers can still find plenty of great guns on the market that are well worth the investment.
Here are six common surplus firearms that are well worth looking into.
The Sig P226 is one of the most common duty pistols for police and military personnel worldwide. Iron-tough and accurate to boot, it’s without doubt one of the all-time great handguns. Initially sold stateside as the Browning BDA (it was billed as the Browning Hi Power Double Action, though it shares little DNA with the BHP) it quickly became one of the standards by which all other handguns are judged.
They’re most commonly found as police surplus, but be aware that 9mm models go like hotcakes. If you don’t mind a .40 S&W pistol, they’re fairly common and cheap (for a Sig). In either ammo caliber, there aren’t too many better home defense guns, with plenty of magazine capacity, high ease of use, suitable barrel lengths, and fast reloads.
One of the most popular Cold War-era surplus pistols is the Makarov, former sidearm to the Russian Army. The Makarov used a number of design elements from the Walther PPK, but simplified the internals to make it more reliable (even takedown is even the same).
The Russkis created a slightly bigger bullet (9x18mm Makarov) for it and then told all the satellite states to make a gun like it, which is how you get the FEG PA-63, CZ 82 and PA64 military surplus pistols. It’s light, compact, reliable and accurate to boot, so it makes a very serviceable choice for home defense situations.
Another common surplus gun in the United States is the Beretta 92 and its variants. You’d think a few more would be coming from the Army (and they may be hitting the CMP in the near future) but it’s far more common – just like the Sig Sauer – as a former police duty pistol. A lot of 92FS and 92G (decocker-only) guns get decommissioned by law enforcement and sold to civilians. They might need some TLC — as almost any surplus gun will — but it’s one of the most proven pistol platforms available for personal defense.
As far as home defense guns go, military surplus rifles are, in fact, poor choices. To paraphrase Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch, handgun rounds go into people, rifle rounds go through people, including loved ones.
Don’t get me wrong, surplus bolt-action rifles such as the Mosin Nagant, a Yugo M48 and other surplus Mausers or the SKS are all fantastic rifles. As implements of self-defense in a more general sense, they’re awesome. As ranch rifles, they’re fantastic. As a cheap iron sight hunting rifle? An 8mm Mauser will punch a buck or a hog like it owes it money. In the home environment though…they aren’t the most appropriate option.
What is the best home defense choice, though?
Keep an eye out for police surplus Remington 870 pump-action shotguns. Loaded with buckshot or slugs, you’re more than good to go. Yes, it’s a pump rather than a semi-automatic shotgun like you see in the movies. The 870 is still one of the most proven shotgun designs…basically ever. They’re cheap and an 870 will put bad guys down and/or meat in the freezer alike without issue, and over penetration is less of a factor.
Ask the waterfowl guys. There are probably a few folks reading this who have left that Benelli SBE at home and taken their 870 (or Mossberg 500) pump shotgun and birdshot shotshells into the duck blind or goose field more than a time or two, just because they’re that confident in those long guns.
For the gun owner who prefers idiosyncrasy, another frequently found commie gun is the TT-33, the Tokarev pistol. Another common military surplus pistol, it chambers a very hot .32-caliber round, 7.62mm Tokarev. The 7.62 Tokarev cartridge may use the same size of bullet as .32 ACP, but has a power level closer to .38 Super.
Think of it as .327 Federal in a semi-auto. Don’t worry if you can’t find one at your local gun store or pawn shop; Zastava Arms makes a replica called the M57 which is fairly easy to source. The Tokarev even makes a decent carry pistol, as it’s quite slim, and packs serious zing.
Of course, what list of surplus guns would be complete without mentioning police surplus GLOCKs? There are plenty of them out there, but don’t expect to find too many GLOCK 17s or GLOCK 19s. Such home-defense handguns usually gone within seconds of hitting gun store shelves. Instead, you’re most likely to spot a GLOCK 22 or GLOCK 23 in, of course, .40 S&W. They’re not 9mm guns, that is true, but they’re still full size GLOCKs, which make them one of the best and most reliable self-defense implements available, especially with hollow points.
What about you, though? Any other surplus guns that you think deserve mention? I know there are a lot of 45 ACP fans out there. How about Ruger and Smith & Wesson owners? Got a cheap carbine choice with stopping power that’s right as a home defense weapon? What do you like at close range? What about the Taurus Judge for close-quarters use? Do you want night sights, or is a flashlight a better accessory to illuminate home invaders?
Sound off in the comments and tell us your weapon of choice for a home defense firearm!