Home Guns for Beginners 6 Great Surplus Guns For Home Defense

6 Great Surplus Guns For Home Defense

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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.

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  1. Finding a TT-33 without an import safety is difficult. It’s a nifty little gun but the import safety sucks ass and looks like ass.

    • If you know a good gunsmith he can remove the offending ugly safety, weld up the hole and re-blue it. I had my Polish TOK done a few years ago and it looks great.

      • Should the TT33 without a safety be carried in Condition 3? Is that how they were carried in the Soviet military? I believe it’s chambered in 7.62×25, but I know nothing about the gun or caliber other than it had a good reputation, depending on country of manufacture. Any information is appreciated.

        • I have no idea about carrying it. I was just helping out with how I got rid of the ugly safety. For me it’s just an occasional shooter that resides in my safe. Sorry I can’t answer your question.

    • Regarding the negative comments on added safeties:

      Consider the Yugoslavian surplus TTC Tokarev Semi-Auto Pistol – 7.62×25 caliber.
      This currently imported model is usually found fitted with a trigger face safety – just like those found on Glock pistols!

      For purists, original solid triggers are usually available for retro fitting.

    • Got myself a Romanian Tok no safety, small gun shop trade in 200 bucks. Also just picked up a Beretta 92S for 199.00 about a month ago. Fired them both last Weekend. When I got the Tokarev, also picked up 70 surplus rounds he had also Romanian surplus, hot little rounds. And a bag of about 75 rounds of 30 Mauser, which shoot fine out of the Tok. The 92S’s are Military and Italian police trade ins. All Beretta 92 mags have both mag release cut outs but US military surplus do not have the lower mag cut out. But a dremel works.

    • A couple of years ago I bought a newly manufactured M57 Tokarev from Zastava Arms in Serbia. It has a designed and built in slide mounted safety exactly like that on the Beretta 92 or Walther PPK. It’s much better than those ugly trigger-block safeties that the U.S. Government mandates for Tokarevs that lack one. They run about $250. Fun gun to shoot at the range, too. You can get good brass-cased new ammo from PPU in 7.62 Tokarev (as well as many other calibers). I highly recommend.

    • I have 54-1,took saftey out drove walnut wedge in hole. Ha ha. I carry round in chamber half cock, sometimes I play glock and cock the hammer and shove down front of pants, dont pull trigger it wont go off. Ha ha. Also russians pretty smart I shoot.380 or 9×18 out of pa63. Sometimes .380 gets light primer strikes,

    • Or its civilian version, the CZ83 that comes in .380 and .32acp, if you can get your hands on one. That’s what I carried in ’90s.

  2. “an 870 will put bad guys down and/or meat in the freezer“

    I was reading that quickly and misread that as “put bad guys down for meat in the freezer.”

    • Only if you are expecting a cartel hit team. So tell me, are you involved in the drug trade or other criminal activities or a kidnapping target?

        • Ah, you’re right. He must be a member of 0.1%. he must have bought brand new 870s for his security team.

      • So if a random home invader or three breaks your window and tries to kill you, you should just shoot him with a pistol because he’s not a professional hitman, and therefore just needs a little persuading? He’ll say, “Ouch!!!” and turn around and leave. Definitely reliable enough to risk your wife and kids on. Only professionals need to actually be stopped immediately.

    • What if you need to make an accurate shot or the intruder is close to or holding one of your family members? If youre using buckshot its not wise to take that shot unless you want to risk hitting them too. If you’re using a slug then just use a rifle.

      • Regarding shotguns for home defense:

        Quality time with a patterning board will determine buckshot pattern spread at home defense ranges. Best to find this out before you need it!

        As for rifled slugs, most current slugs have a “hollow point” and usually pancake out into a partially fragmented lead doughnut with limited penetration at close range. And in some cases actually penetrate less than buckshot. Again, best to find this out before you need it.

        • Sounds like you haven’t spent much time shooting shotgun slugs. 12ga 1 oz (437.5 grain) slugs going 1600-1700fps are pretty devastating. Even 20ga 3/4 to 7/8 oz slugs are devastating (with less recoil). I’d personally recommend the Winchester Defender segmenting slugs. Notched to break into 3 pieces upon impact and thus 3 separate wound channels. Here’s a nice video of the 20ga:

    • Are you going to sling that long gun and carry it as you walk around all the time? When you go down to get a snack? Take the garbage out? If not, a handgun is a better primary choice unless you are in a war zone. Yes, a long gun is a better firearm for the gunfight, but a handgun is the gun you’ll probably have ready for the gunfight at all times. Sometimes you have plenty of time when you hear a bump in the night, sometimes you don’t.

      • Isn’t this article possibly about having extra value price reliable guns staged around the house? I believe a few of you folks already do this. If I had my choice and could get to it, it would be a PDW in addition to my home carry handgun. A PDW can be handled one-handed, can be given to most family members, and accuracy would be better than a pistol.

        • I got in the “staging” habit years ago when it was kind of a necessity and it dies HARD. In my house you’re never more than a couple steps away from a gun of some type even though a casual house guest would never know it. Is that a mild form of paranoia? Maybe at this point in my life it is but it certainly wasn’t when I started doing it.

          That said, obviously this tactic has to change if you have kids and it does present certain risks in terms of break-ins if the house is left unattended. Also, doing this obviously doesn’t negate the option of “home carry” in certain regards but merely reduces your need for it under certain circumstances.

          The tactic does however lend itself to compact weapons because they’re easier to keep out of sight pretty much anywhere. That’s my general strategy but then I’m not a fan of rifles for home defense and with pistols everywhere, should it really, really hit the fan you can get to a shotgun by using a pistol/revolver.

        • I get that. Before I moved out to the sticks and had kids I lived rough area. I had 3 lever actions and a 12 gauge stashed in different spots plus a an AK in the truck that came with me in the house and lived by my bedside, plus my carry gun. Now I don’t have the need for that load out, but I still have a long gun handy for critters at home and truck with my carry gun.

        • That works great until one of the kids or their friends finds the gun. If you home carry you have a gun at hand that is always under your control.

    • I agree. A shotgun is the only guaranteed man stopper in the market today. Handgun or rifle will wound them. It takes time for bad guys to bleed out. Enough time to allow them to kill you before they die. A 12 gage shotgun blast is over 200 ft pounds more energy than a single 223 round. Also that shotgun blast is spread over a larger area of the body. Overwhelming the bodies nervous system.


      or you can do your own math calculations.


      • Most rifle rounds are high enough velocity to cause secondary trauma through hydrostatic schock. Buckshot is basically a .32 caliber used in a cap and ball revolver. The muzzle energy for shot is a composite. Each individual ball does not have the same muzzle as the total. 00 buck is a 60 grain projectile. The Remington Express 00 round has muzzle velocity of 1290 fps. Each projectile delivers 221 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle. A more correct statement is that you are hitting your attacker with nine .32 caliber pistol rounds. That is only going to be the case at very short range. From 50′ you are unlikely to put all the rounds in a vital area. Only rifle rounds are “man stoppers” at anything other than point blank range.

    • My last grab was a S&W 4” 686. The lot was from the Oregon State Police honor guard. Shoots great, probably had a low round count before it got to my safe. No Hillary hole either!

    • AIM Surplus had several batches of them come in a little while back. They still have some nice S&W .38’s – Model 10 and Model 64 – and a Model 65 .357 with a bobbed hammer. The Model 10’s are $299. If they are in decent shape, I may have to snag one.

  3. Welcome to the world of the < $500.00 AR. These days will be legendary in years to come. Remember the sub $400.00 AK? Go out and grab an AR and stick it under the bed in a few years you maybe kicking yourself at these prices.

    • That’s completely true. Cheap ARs wont last forever even though it seems like it will. Even without some kind of ban, at some point as market saturation decreases desirability manufacturers will stop production. Then there will only be a handful of companies still producing and you’ll have to pay a premium for a basic AR.

    • Yep. Built a few, and still have one more receiver available. Think I’ll get another kit, then expand out to spare parts for all the ARs in the collection. After all, now that Newsom has passed AB 879 into law, we Californians only have until 2024 before even parts(!) will require FFL involvement and background checks.

      Seriously. That was one of the 15 gun control laws he just signed. You know, right before he told the press that the State “still has a long way to go”.

      Buy now while they’re cheap.

  4. Are Hi-Power’s still manufactured? What’s a “police revolver”? Just kidding, but I’ll bet some readers don’t remember when LEO’s carried wheel guns. I assume today’s trade-ins are Glocks, Sigs, Berettas, etc.

    • Believe it or not, there are some LEOs that still do- though not at major metropolitan departments (where you used to still see guys approaching retirement grandfathered in).

      • The last batch of surplus revolvers, S&W mod 15’s, that i saw for sale were trade ins from a security company. Outside of holster wear they were good. Still wish I’d bought one. My model 10 was a police trade in. But i’ve had that gun for close to 20 years. Maybe more now that I think on it.

    • There’s an older sheriff’s deputy here in my admittedly mostly rural Texas county who still packs a sixgun, specifically, a 6″ S&W 686. (6″ is not a typo!)

  5. RPG
    Claymores of the original bang variety were not that weather proof. Friends were at bass that was being left. Some mines had been in place for years. In the “mass detention” attempt about 6 of a 1000 went off. About as useful as when we got mortar charges in paper bags.

    Now if we could get surplus MP40 or similar that would be great.

    • One would think they’d be waterproof. This rates right up there with life’s other major disappointments, such as finding out the rubber wiggly dashboard hula dancers are really ceramic and springs…

  6. I have to believe that a fair number of Smith and Wesson M&P40 (Gen 1) full size handguns that were police issue are available, although I have not looked recently. Those make an excellent home-defense handgun.

    Yes, people say that .40 S&W recoil is snappy. I don’t notice it when I shoot 9mm Luger and .40 S&W side-by-side in full-size handguns. Besides, if you don’t like so much recoil, then simply shoot lighter loads or cartridges with light-for-caliber bullet weights, which would be 135 grain bullets in the case of .40 S&W cartridges.

      • Between my main shooting buddies, I’m the 9mm guy, one is the .40 guy and one is the 45 guy. Guess who shots the most and is most accurate…me! 🙂 but they are better than me on the AR.

    • There is a hidden benefit to .40 S&W as well: it was available during the Great Ammunition Drought of 2013 – 2017.

      Granted, availability was limited and you could not always find all brands (and bullet styles) at all times. Something was always available, though, at your local gun store. Whereas 9mm Luger was frequently totally out of stock.

  7. You can get an improved 1911 design in 9mm for less than $200 these days.

    The Star Model BM.

    All steel and pretty indestructible. I’ve got a few and take them our regularly. No issues if you don’t mind a worn finish.

    • I wonder how it runs when dirty. I have a Firestar, my first gun, and got it when it first came out. It jammed the one time I ran it dirty. It currently is the cleanest gun in my safe.

    • Love my little BM. Made some grips out of Mexican Becote wood, looks great against the blue steel. Picked up a second mag. I think Classic Firearms has mags also. Always see Star mags in LGS’s but they are usually in 9mm Largo.

  8. Around 1990 while on active duty with 1st CAV, an FFL friend acquired 10 Makarovs. I lucked out and got the East German model made in 1964 and still in excellent condition with holster, manual and cleaning kit in the box. I own several autos, but, this was my first and sentimental favorite.

  9. Really hard to beat a Rem 870 or Mossy 500 for a defensive weapon or truck gun. they make these in a shorter youth model in 20 gauge. Great, small, easy handling and super reliability. What else would you want in a home defense weapon. And lets not forget the added audible warning signal when you rack the slide. A sound that cannot be attributed to anything else, nationally recognized sound by any burglar’s union member that something bad is about to happen.

  10. Drop in replacement barrels in 9mm are available for all the police trade-in 40S&W Glocks. Watch for sales at $105.

  11. I don’t feel unarmed having a makarov. With an East German surplus holster that carries an extra mag and a leather cross body strap I took off a messenger bag it is a perfect grab and go gun. I made a home defense package by adding a clip on flashlight and pepper spray pouch with pepper spray to said cross body shoulder strap.


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