6 Great Surplus Guns For Home Defense

6 Solid Surplus Guns For Home Defense

courtesy gunsguitars.com

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.

6 Solid Surplus Guns For Home Defense

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.

6 Solid Surplus Guns For Home Defense

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.

6 Solid Surplus Guns For Home Defense

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?

6 Solid Surplus Guns For Home Defense

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.

6 Solid Surplus Guns For Home Defense

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.

6 Solid Surplus Guns For Home Defense

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!


Sam Hoober is a contributing editor at Alien Gear Holsters and Bigfoot Gun Belts. He also contributes regularly to Ammoland, Daily Caller and USA Carry.


  1. avatar Draven says:

    Sig-Sauer P6, if you can still find them. Even tho it is only a single stack, mine is reliable as a hammer.

    1. avatar Pelvicpunch says:

      Hell yes, a West German P6 was the first pistol i ever owned. Sadly, like a fool, i sold it and it is one of the biggest firearms sales regrets Ive ever had. Probably the biggest one actually:(
      I was so excited that Sig brough the P225 back, i cant wait to get out of California and get a nice wood gripped one!

      1. avatar Draven says:

        Ha! same reason i bought mine, i went into Turners to get a SW Sigma and the saledperson steered me to getting the Sig.

    2. avatar Yolo says:

      a really big, really heavy, single stack pistol. gee thanks sig.

      1. avatar Draven says:

        For $200. Well, that’s what mine cost when they came in the country…

    3. avatar raptor jesus says:

      They’re pretty much all tapped out now.

      But, like was mentioned, you can get a surplus .40 cal 229 or 226 for peanuts. Even cheaper if it’s got the DAK trigger which everyone seems to hate but I personally like.

  2. avatar Logan says:

    I would definitely think that a surplus M-1 carbine would make a great home defense rifle. Yet Hoober leaves out any option of a rifle as “too powerful”. Oh how TTAG has fallen, long live Farago.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      If you know where to find M-1 carbines that are a “lot of value for money” I’d love to hear about it…

    2. avatar Fudds Mckenzie says:

      Expensive and there are mags and clones of questionable quality.

      This is a reason I’d hesitate to recommend Warsaw Pact surplus. It’s fine but you got to be aware of hot or corrosive ammo, spring being out of spec, bad batches of mags.

      Which reminds me; anyone thinking milsurp, I recommend being aware of the kind of mag release. Heel mag releases abound whereas a button is more common in new guns. You might not mind the heel kind, your call… even if I liked it I’d expect to pay less for that kind because that’s how it is. Something might look like a steal compared to push-button variants, but really just an OK deal.

    3. avatar Draven says:

      Inexpensive surplus M-1 Carbines don’t exist anymore. You can get lots of other things at a better price that would be cheaper to shoot.

    4. avatar Steve says:

      Had a job interview once with a guy asked what I did for hobbies – I told him target shooting. He then apologized for not being very prepared for the interview and told me just he had held a home invader at gunpoint with an M1 Carbine the night prior until the police arrived.

      The M1 Carbine worked fine for home defense, at least in this case.

    5. avatar anonymoose says:

      Maybe 30 years ago. Real M1 Carbines are collector’s items now, and AO remakes are like over $700. The only surplus semi-auto rifles hitting the shelves at almost-reasonably prices are SKSes, and you can build a cheapo budget M4gery for less. Bolt-action rifles are meh for confined spaces because you can’t cycle the bolt without breaking your grip.

      Also, there are more surplus Glocks for sale than just 19s and 17s. You can find all sizes (up to the 34/35) and all calibers and generations now.

      ALSO, there are Zastava 9mm Tokarev copies out there and Zastava P226ish things that are new-made and inexpensive.

      1. avatar Draven says:

        Heck, you can *buy* a reputably branded AR for less than an M-1 Carbine.

      2. avatar tmm says:

        Regarding Tokarevs, I don’t see many TT33s out threre, but M57s can be had at some online places, found easily enough, and M88s (chambered in 9mm Parabellum/Luger) is another option that solves the ammo availability of 7.62×25.

        Note to beginners on surplus… be prepared on some examples to clean off cosmoline. And I believe cosmoline in the barrel is a bore obstruction, so take care to clean it properly.

      3. avatar Andrew Ostertag says:

        Love my Glock 30 gen 3 LE trade. Great firearm. Had 2 Glock 22’s a 21 and 17 LE trades too but all my full sized are gone now. Kept all mags for my 27 LE trade, 19 and 30 . The 30 is my largest firearm these days. Good guns for decent money. Carried alot, and not shot much.

    6. avatar VSN says:

      When did Farago leave?

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        A number of months ago, when he sold to the current owner.

    7. avatar Aaron says:

      m-1 carbines have been out of service in most places for many decades. i have not seen a surplus one at a gun store in forever.

  3. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Pretty sure 12 gauge slugs and buck will roll through a house like an 8mm Mauser.

    The Tok was also also known for puncturing light armor like it was aluminum foil.

    Not saying they arent viable, just not indoor friendly rounds. Maybe you WANT to shoot through walls. Just maybe.

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      I can tell you from experience that those PDX1 rounds, the buck and ball combos, are horrible for indoors. The buck will go through a couple sheets and stop, but the slug goes on forever. 6 sheets of drywall, a metal closet door, a corner of 2×4’s, and then a tub stopped it. Bad ideas for the house.

    2. avatar Windingo54 says:

      You are correct, a 1oz slug or 00 buckshot will over penetrate in a home defense scenario. I wouldnt recommend them for anyone living in town but for folks in the country where a bear is as likely to break in as a burgler they can be a great option. For in town i recommend a 12 guage load of #4 buckshot or even copper plated BBs. Plenty of defense penetration within the tight confines of a home but less chance of over penetration through walls. Just my opinion though…

  4. avatar TheUnspoken says:

    Surplus m&p pistols are pretty cheap. Actually I have seen some police surplus Sig p320 pistols as well. HK USP and p2000 also great guns, actually my EDC p2000 is a police trade.

    I love my surplus Beretta 81 and 85, though not the best for home defense.

    You can still get the Star BM for around $200, p-64…

    Honestly though the c&r and surplus guns are priced about the same or higher than a lot of decent brand new guns. Ruger has lcp, LC9, and Security 9, the Ruger American is pretty cheap, and a lot of the new Remington guns didn’t really catch on and can be had for cheap. The Walther pps is pretty cheap and there are some other models for cheap, ppx, etc.

    The $100-165 surplus guns of 5-10 years ago or more are pretty well gone, but a brand new 9mm may well be better than a beat up 9×18 or even a hi point, Taurus, or the bottom feeder unreliable brands.

    1. avatar tmm says:

      Good call on the S&W options

  5. avatar Buff cousin Elroy from WA says:

    Oh come on dude… A 12 ga slug will penetrate your and your neighbors house. Also, saying rifles are poor choices is ridiculous. An ar-15 is possibly the best “home defense” weapon. Light recoil, 30-round capacity, can be purchased for cheap, and does not penetrate very much.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      There are videos out there showing that it penetrates a lot. I saw one where a PDX1 round went through 16 gauge steel.

      1. avatar Bearacuda says:

        The key is ammo selection–77gr OTM is NOT barrier blind and as such is a poor choice for defeating barriers but excellent if you want reliable fragmentation to and past the 12″ minimum penetration standard set by the FBI.

  6. avatar Winterborne says:

    The third generation S&W semi autos can be found for well under $400. Surplus CHP and Brinks guns. Carried a lot, shot very little. In 9mm, .40S&W, 10mm and .45 ACP.

    1. avatar BeoBear says:

      You’re lucky if you are seeing them under $400. I haven’t seen one under that price for 8 or 10 years. Even the least popular models are at or over $400 around here. I love the 3rd gen S&W’s, the first handgun I ever bought as a young LEO was a used model 59. Great gun and excellent capacity for its day.

      Unfortunately, S&W doesn’t support the 3rd gen guns anymore so no factory help when things go wrong and parts are both getting harder to find and more expensive.

  7. avatar Jon in CO says:

    I’m sorry, but who the hell is deciding pictures for these articles lately? We had a Glock one the other day full of Kahr pistols, now we have a “surplus” article with the main shot on the home page being a counter of new production handguns. Might be a minor gripe, but we complain about the “mag/clip, cal/mm” things, but can’t actually articulate photos of the guns an entire post is supposed to represent.

  8. avatar Nanashi says:

    SKS for ban states.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    Yeah I kinda’ agree with the meh…I can and have bought cheap new guns I’ve made reliable. I’m not a collector,hunter or competitor. No buddies who can help me out(locally!). Should’ve gotten the $69Mosin rifle from Cabelas in 2011😖

  10. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    You’d recommend ComBlock surplus (some of which are rougher than a cob) over surplus LEO revolvers, like a S&W Model 10?

    OK, well, whatever.

    1. avatar bontai joe says:

      I have to totally agree with DG. I’m seeing a lot of used S&W and Colt revolvers at local auctions selling in the $200-$350 range. I picked up a pre-war S&W Model 10 last year for around $225 and it is in really good condition, cylinder is tight as is the lock-up. There are a few freckles of rust sprinkled around the outside, but the bore is beautiful. I’ll take that over pretty much any Soviet bloc left-overs with wonky sized ammo that my local guy doesn’t carry, Walmart doesn’t carry, hardly nobody carries.

      1. avatar Dave Lewis says:

        Yeah but wheel guns are so last century. With only six shots on board you can’t fight off hordes of ISIS terrorists or an invasion of zombies (although Rick Grimes seems to do pretty well with his Python). Nobody can operate operationally in a tactical manner with an old horse pistol that shoots the anemic .38 special round. Even hot .357s just bounce off our modern bad guys. Seriously those old Smiths and Colts are works of art. They work first time, every time and will give good service against two and most four legged critters.

    2. avatar New Continental Army says:

      There really isn’t even combloc surplus anymore, at least not like there used to be.

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Exactly. We’ve finally exhausted the supply of cheap surplus light arms from WWII and the Cold War.

        Amazing, but true. 30 year ago, it seemed an inexhaustible supply.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Worse yet is the supply of cheap as dirt surplus ammo that made buying those milsurp guns such a deal is gone now. When you could buy a Mosin Nagant for under 60 bucks and a twenty round packet of ammo was 1.25 per they were a great bargain.

          But those days are gone. I have a Makarov that I really enjoy shooting. But I can now get 9×19 cheaper than 9×18. When I can find 9×18.

          A used duty revolver is a good piece to have, just cause. But you can get a new in the box glock 19 for around 550. And that is a surplus level bargain in todays economy.

    3. avatar Ardent says:

      Indeed! I’m still seeing like new model 10 and 64 SW police trade ins locally in the $275 to $450 range. If a full size .38 Special from a brand like SW isn’t a good home defense piece, one wonders against what is one defending? As DG said, these are surely preferable to questionable specimens of com bloc weapons, especially one’s chambered in unusual calibers.

  11. avatar El Duderino says:

    I’ve had a couple 7.62×25 handguns. I shot a metric buttload of corrosive surplus through each, eagerly awaiting someone — anyone — who would make a defensive load. An absolute grenade-in-flesh 85gr @ 1400-1600fps JHP, possibly an all-copper like the Barnes. But no one ever did.

    I would never carry a 7.62×25 with FMJs. 30 inches of tissue penetration would be just the beginning.

    1. avatar Draven says:

      Privi makes a 7.62×25 JHP…

      1. avatar LazrBeam says:

        Wolf does, too.

        1. avatar Draven says:

          from the pics i could find, the Wolf was/is made by Privi.

      2. avatar El Duderino says:

        Came too late. I sold my last 7.62×25 circa 2012.

        I did I quick search, only 1 online retailer with the Prvi JHP ammo and you have to buy a case of 500.

        I almost had Reed’s make a batch to my specs, but it would have been expensive.

        The itch is still there. Maybe I’ll build a 9×25 Dillon 1911. 125gr bonded JHP @ 1700fps just might scratch it.

  12. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    The market has changed over the years but let’s consider some of the old time guns which aren’t “fashionable” but still are absolutely reliable and effective.

    Smith and Wesson revolvers are solid pistols. They’re accurate and easy to maintain and a hot .38 or .357 round is still an excellent fight stopper. Many of the old Smiths are ex-police guns. The blued guns may look a little rough from years of carry wear, but they’ll shoot straight and go bang every time for the next hundred years. The early Smith automatics – the so called first and second generation pistols – are also very nice pistols. Very solid and reliable and you can still find good model 59s – the first double stack 9mm Smith auto – at a reasonable price.

    Makarov’s and the various eastern European variants are decent shooters but in my limited experience they’re very heavy for their size and have terrible triggers. As has been noted most have heel mounted magazine releases which may bother some folks. 9mm Mak rounds may be a little hard to find. I carried a Russian Mak in .380 for a while. It was a heavy lump of iron but worked every time.

    The supply of cheap SKS rifles has dried up. When they were a hundred bucks and ARs sold for seven or eight hundred the SKS was a deal. Now SKS rifles are three or four hundred if you can find one and entry level ARs are about the same. As long as the AR is legal in your state its a much better rifle for the price.

    Mossberg 500s and Remington 870s are cheap enough at new prices. The tariff on the Maverick is a bit lower and they’re also pretty good guns. I don’t think that I’d bother with a used shotgun unless I found one at a very cheap price – or it was a very high end gun. #4 buckshot has potential as an indoor defense load. Big enough to hurt the bad guy, but not so big as to go through three or four walls.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I bought my sks for 99 bucks, I bought it cause I live in CA. And surplus ammo was cheap.

    2. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

      Respectfully have to disagree with your inclusion of the S&W M59 auto. Bought one new in 1973 and don’t think I ever got all the way through a full magazine without a failure…or two…or three. Smith worked on it, local police gunsmith tried to make it work…no go. Biggest POS ever made by S&W!

      1. avatar Big Bill says:

        You make the same mistake a lot of people do.
        “Mine doesn’t work, so the entire production run doesn’t work.”

        1. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

          YMMV…Most of the people I’ve known who owned a M59 had similar experiences to mine. If you have one that works…more power to you.

      2. avatar BeoBear says:

        I purchased a well worn model 59 as my first duty gun in the late 80’s. I never had any reliability issues with it. I came to really love that gun and regret selling it more than any other. Reliability was never an issue for me or the others I know who own and still shoot the original 59. Your experience may have been different but there are a whole lot of us folks who have used this model without the problems you had.

        1. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

          I had a poor enough experience with the 59 that it soured me on S&W autos for quite a while…even today I only own two Smith autos: an old model 41 (with both barrels) and an even older model 52 (my Dad’s Bullseye pistol)…both of which are flawless shooters. Glad that the 59 worked for you.

  13. avatar MikeJH121 says:

    Got’s me 2 Mak’s. Just bought a Romanian Tok for $199.00, just 3 weeks ago. It is not about what is the best to defend your home. It is about the ability to do so which we must continue to fight for.

    7.62×25 will go thru level 3 soft body armor. So will Liberty ammunition’s Civil Defense rounds.

  14. avatar jwm says:

    Um, the 7.62×25 is not a .32 caliber. It is a .30 caliber. Designed off the .30 mauser. I had a tt33 when the iron curtain was still in place. You could shoot .30 Mauser in it if you could find some. Commie ammo and guns were not surplus then.

  15. avatar BLAMMO says:

    Not sure I even understand (or agree with) the whole premise of the article. Most surplus guns that are worth a shit are sought after and pricey. The ones that aren’t, either aren’t very good or they’ve been shot to hell. And if I’m selecting a gun to defend my life and my loved ones, I’m going to put some thought into it and I’m not concerned with going cheap.

    That said, … the gun you have …

  16. avatar Chris Morton says:

    1. Israeli Browning Hi Power – Great, usually affordable guns. I’ve carried a commercial gun often.

    2. Walther P-1 – The post-war alloy P-38. Get one with the reinforcing pin in the frame.

    3. Beretta 1951 – The single action, single stack predecessor of the Beretta 92. Israeli guns are better than Egyptian.

  17. avatar Hoyden says:

    CZ 75 turn ins. The Israeli prison system turn ins were particularly sweet, shot little/carried much, so bright bores and holster wear.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The CZ line doesn’t get enough love here. They’re fine pistols, the “High Power of the Commies” as it were.

      I have no idea why anyone would want a Mak or Tokarev over a CZ, older S&W or other quality, surplused pistols. The Maks and Tokarev’s are rough, nasty pieces. When you open them up, you come face to face with the totality of mere sufficiency that was the production theory of the Commies. As ferroconcrete was to their architecture, the machine marks inside their small arms are to their idea of gun production. Sufficient – and that’s all.

      1. avatar Ardent says:

        Agreed. Any CZ I’ve ever used is in a different class from Maks and Toks. I have loved a CZ75 B, I don’t think I could love a Mak or Tok.

        1. avatar LazrBeam says:

          I’ve got Tok’s, Nagant Revolver, Mak’s, FEG 63, PA 64, CZ’s 52, 70, 82, and 83. These pieces are comprised of 7.62 x 25, 7.62 x 38, 9×18 Mak, 7.65 Browning (.32 ACP), and .380 ACP calibers. Their difference is why I love them all (the CZ’s do have a refined feel, tho). As my dear, departed mother used to say about her three boys, she loved us all just as much just in different ways since we were different, unique people. I do love my Comblock guns (including the long guns e.g, Mosin-Nagant’s, SKS’s, and AK’s) and they really are a hoot to shoot.

  18. avatar Tony says:

    I would respectfully disagree on the difficulty of finding used G17/19s. They’re thick on the ground around here, at least. Seems like every gun and pawn shop has 5-10 of each on any given day.

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      Seeing the same here in the OH, WV, KY tristate area. Loads of used Glocks in new condition for about $100 off new cost. 17s and 19s abound, as do holsters, mags and various other accoutrements for them. They’ve been around so long that many departments are on their 2nd or 3rd round of trade in cycles.

  19. avatar The Rookie says:

    On the subject (kinda) of surplus guns, a rookie question:

    A few months back, one of the sellers I follow on gunbroker was selling several older model S&W semi-autos that I didn’t recognize. One type was a 915, the other model a 9504. Anyone have experience with either of these guns? Would it be worth picking one up in $300-$350 range?

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The S&W Second-gen and Third-Gen pistols are fine sidearms. Nothing wrong with them.

      S&W’s semi-auto pistol model numbers work like this:

      First generation: Model 39 or 59. NB two digits.

      Second generation: Model 9xx. Three digits.

      Third generation: Model 5904 (I think you transposed two digits there). Four digits = gen 3.

      The 915 was a budget gun in the Second Gen line. Fewer options, fewer features.

      The 5904 was a fine double-stack 9×19. I’ve shot ’em. They work fine. They’re pretty accurate for a duty weapon. Their trigger is improved over the Second Gen pistols. There are plenty of parts available for them.

      If I saw a 5904 or 5906 in good condition come up for less than $300, I’d have my wallet out fast enough to suck lint out of my pocket. At $300, I’d check it over very carefully and be haggling for a second magazine. At $350, it had better be in very good condition. My preference in a carry piece would be the 5906, because it is stainless. They’re both fine pistols. I consider the S&W Third Gen pistols to be very good CCW pistols; durable, built tough, DA/SA so you can carry with the hammer down and still pull through a first shot, good sights (adjustable, even!) and long-wearing.

      From my perspective, there’s little gunsmithing to be done on these pistols; anything I’ve had to do was only changing parts. That’s less gunsmithing and more armorer-type work. That’s been true of S&W’s semi-autos going back to the 39, BTW. I’ve never had a complaint about any of them other than their early magazines.

      1. avatar The Rookie says:

        Thank you very much! And you’re right, I *did* switch those numbers around. D’OH!

  20. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Are there boxes of 7.62mm Tokarev or 9×18 Makarov on the shelves at Wally World? Can you find either of those calibers with modern expanding bullets that meet FBI standards for defensive ammo?

    Whatever the cartridge, you need two things: 1) Practice ammo, abundant and cheap, and 2) Purpose-built defensive rounds designed to penetrate clothing and perforate thugs without overpenetration.

    Don’t buy a gun for self-defense if you can’t properly feed it.

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      Indeed. Both the Mak and the Tok are going to be between difficult and expensive to feed properly. Also, the Tok has a decided penetration problem where such is important. And again, why no love in the OP for all the high quality .38 and .357 revolver trade ins that are low cost but superior quality, easy to use, effective, easy to feed and have a simple manual of arms? I like a high cap out walking around, but for HD? I have model 10s and 64s seeded where I’m likely to need them, by the bed, by the door, in the bathroom, in the kitchen…if 6 won’t get me to the next nearest loaded revolver, 15 wasn’t apt to help either. I bought ugly ones cheap, because they had worn finishes, but like most police guns, they’ve barely been shot. I absolutely love 64s and 10s, lots of them. They can lay about for a decade without maintainence and still be nearly 100% reliable. They are easy to use, being the original point and click interface. Good ammo is readily available; I personally favor either hornady critical defence or 125+p semi jacketed HPs from Remington in them, but Hydra Shock and Silvertips are great as well. Throw in a couple of speed loaders with one in a kitchen drawer or in the pocket of a coat behind the front door, or under the sink in the bathroom and I’m never actually disarmed, even while nude, and not only armed, but very well armed at that!

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Very, very sage words right there.

  21. avatar Kevin Deeter says:

    12gauge pump shotgun period !!!!

  22. avatar OldProf49 says:

    Nobody mentioned the H&K PSP/P7 so I will. The only ones I’ve seen have been police trade-ins at gunshows and they weren’t cheap. I couldn’t afford one, but I’ve read multiple articles that labeled them outstanding. From what I’ve seen, the only “deals” are in used revolvers because everyone wants a hi-cap 9mm. The best revolver deal I ever saw was several S&W 41 magnum, 4 inch barreled trade-ins; excellent blue finish, pristine bores, very little evidence of use on the forcing cone, standing breech, etc. I would have bought one, but I’d want at least a 6 inch barrel in that caliber.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The S&W .41 Magnum revolvers made for some police departments are some of the nicest revolvers you can find in the used market – mostly because most .41’s will not have seen much use.

      The tragedy of the .41 Mag was that S&W put it up in a N-frame. They’re quite heavy to pack around all day on your hip. If any cop wanted to pack a N-frame, S&W was already shipping the .44 Mag in a N-frame. Well, most cops don’t like packing a N-frame around – they’re just too doggone heavy, and eventually you’ll get tired of packing that weight around.

      If S&W had shipped a 5-shot L-frame in .41, history might have been a bit different.

      That said, there’s almost nothing the .41 can do that a hot .357 or .44 Mag cannot do. The entire reason for the .41 seems to have been an over-refinement of a couple of wheels that were already rolling quite nicely on their own.

  23. avatar Ardent says:

    The group pretty well covered the problems with the Mak and the Tok, and the penetration issues with the latter as well as with most serious 12ga ammunition. DG covered the complete failure to mention revolvers, which is absolutely mystifying, apparently, to us both.

    Also covered was the fact that like new G19s and 17s are readily available in many markets and the rising price of both com bloc guns and ammo.

    Someone mentioned that appropriately loaded, the AR in 5.56 is not severely over penatrative, and that decent one’s can be had for the cost of some of these ‘surplus ‘ arms. Likewise it was pointed out that most carbine are far better HD weapons than most handguns.

    Meanwhile all 12ga not a 870 were ignored while Mossburgs 500 series shotguns are in many ways superior and readily available as surplus, not to mention the venerable Mossy Maveric 88s being inexpensive new, and very functional, reliable guns.

    I seldom complain about an article, I like articles, even one’s I don’t tend to agree with, and hate discouraging the writing of more posts, however, this frankly reads like it was written by someone who guessed at most of it, supported by supposition, and a 1990s understanding of the surplus market, and as if it were written as a sort of after though.

  24. avatar jwm says:

    I love my Makarov. It’s one of my favorite pistols. But it does no duty in the self defense line up. It is very reliable. But since we can no longer get mail order ammo shipped to our porch the decent hollowpoint rounds are practically unavailable. I stocked up on range ammo. Cheap fmj. It’s mostly a range toy now.

    My go to self defense weapons for home are a variety of shotguns. A j frame I bought new and a Model 10 that was a cop gun. That mod 10 has lots of finish wear on it but locks up like a new gun.

    My biggest gripe with S&W semi autos is the cost of the spare mags. 35+ bucks for most models.

  25. avatar A. Daniels says:

    Please note that the Browning Hi-Power BDA (which FN called the HP-DA in Europe) is not the same weapon as the Browning BDA based on the Sig-Sauer P220 (not the P226), and neither are the same weapon as the Browning BDA in .380 ACP (which FN called the FN 140 DA) based on the Beretta 84BB. I often wonder what Browning’s marketing people were thinking back in those days.

  26. avatar Mr Wolf says:

    If your gonna have one for home protection, and a gun that will take all kinds of game is the 870. That’s what’s propped up by my side of the bed. It’s just an old 870 express magnum that I put an extension on to hold 8 shells and a side saddle w an extra 5 at the ready. Sawed the barrel down to just over 20 inches and mounted a light on it. Also keep a 25 round belt of shells by it just for the hell of it. Loaded w all BUCK Shot. Most lethal weapon on the list

  27. avatar Wally1 says:

    I’ll second the H&K P7 series, not cheap but possibly one of the finest, most accurate and safe pistols ever made. Many people have never seen one, and yes they do look odd, but that goes away when you shoot one. The P7M10 (.40 cal ) is a bit heavy but the P7M8 (9mm) is perfection.

  28. avatar John Galt says:

    I bought 2+ cases of sks’s 15+ years ago for $67 per rifle.

    I regret every one I sold. (But I regret selling every gun I ever sold)

  29. avatar gilbert jones says:


    1. avatar OldProf49 says:

      Us old guys who relied on “6 for sure” (or 5,7, 8, etc.) knew a good thing when we saw it. Nothing against the new fangled plastic fantastic square guns, but a good revolver still feels more reassuring in my old hand.

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