Taurus G2c pistol
Image by Boch

Cheap handguns used to mean junk. Thirty or fifty years ago, cheap meant anemic calibers, lousy triggers, poor quality construction and malfunctions galore. No more. Thanks to a number of improvements in manufacturing and design, and a competitive marketplace, plenty of manufacturers offer affordable handguns that provide reliability, performance, comfort – and decent triggers.

Yeah, back in the day we had those .25 caliber autos that, assuming they penetrated an attacker’s leather jacket, might only serve to seriously anger him. Or there were the cheap .380s that would fire a shot or two, then malfunction a couple of times. By the time you cleared the problem, you had maybe a couple of rounds left in the magazine, assuming your attacker hadn’t already taken it from you and commenced beating you to death with it.

The last decade, though, has given us some great guns in serious calibers that actually shoot well, especially considering their price point. In fact, many of these guns come from big name manufacturers as basically no-frills versions of more full-featured models.

For those facing employment troubles related to COVID or just due to general economic uncertainty, millions of Americans don’t have $600 or $1000 to buy a handgun, an extra mag or two and a holster.  At the same time, during an era of zero bail and prosecutors who won’t, they feel they need to embrace gun ownership in order to protect themselves and their families.

If this describes you or someone you know, here are some quality, affordable defensive handgun options.

At the same time, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know gun stores have faced a huge run on guns and ammo. Supplies have tightened considerably, and due to the laws of supply and demand, gun prices have climbed. However, there are some good firearms out there that still sell for near or under $300 – in normal times at least. What’s more, you may find some of these in used gun counters or available through a private sale at even better prices.

Here are a few defensive pistols that will perform well for those on a budget, which frankly describes most of us mere mortals.

 

Gun Review: Taurus G2C 9mm Pistol
courtesy Taurus

Taurus G2c / G3-series

The Taurus G2c stands out in my experience as one of those rare bargain guns that outperforms its price tag by a wide margin. In normal times, judicious shopping and occasional rebates can bring the price down on this one to under $200. In fact, I’ve seen it at as low as $159. It’s reliable, accurate, very comfortable to hold and shoot and comes with a pair of 12-round magazines.

Add in a $30 trigger upgrade from Keep Tinkering and, well, here’s what I wrote about it back in 2019 under “Things That Don’t Suck: Taurus G2c With a Keep Tinkering Trigger Upgrade“:

Taurus USA has no love for me, and I have no love for them. However, their uber-affordable G2c pistol is a very good value for a handgun, especially with a price of under $200 if you shop around. What’s more, with a $30 trigger upgrade from Keep Tinkering, the G2c becomes a terrific performer for its price point…

To Taurus’ credit, even with the stock triggers, the G2c guns represent, in my mind at least, a big improvement for Taurus over the harsh triggers so common five or ten years ago in their production semi-autos.

So, not only does the Taurus G2c not suck (four stars from Sam Hoober), but with the Keep Tinkering trigger upgrade, it’s a truly stellar performer. I’ll even suggest its handling and performance reminded me of the couple hundred rounds I fired in a SIG P365 some time back. Yeah, that good, albeit minus the tritium sights.

Fair disclosure: I received no goods, services or good old cash money from any of the aforementioned companies.

How much did I like the G2c? I might have bought one for each of my twin boys…prior to their first birthdays. I don’t know of a stronger endorsement a person who knows their way around a handgun could make.

I’d add that the smallish grips will allow them to comfortably hold and shoot these well before their 10th birthdays. Those smallish grips also allow others with petite hands — like a lot of women — an equally pleasant and controllable grip.

I have limited experience with the G3 line from Taurus, but believe it to be in the same category of affordable, all-round performance, reliability and shootability.  Either the G2c or the G3 mated with an affordable Kydex inside-the-waistband holster will provide a terrific value you can stake your life on.  This is the best “budget” gun I’d first recommend for those wanting a semi-auto.

Courtesy Canik Firearms

Canik TP9SA Series

The TP9SA is a Turkish-made, full-sized 9mm handgun. The Canik TP9SA has generous standard-capacity magazines (18-ish+1), terrific, crisp triggers and tremendous reliability. Their sub-$400 price point on the street make them quite appealing to bargain hunters. Even better, the ones I’ve seen have come with three magazines, a Kydex range holster, a mag pouch and more.

Prices have inched up in the last couple of years as word has gotten out on the value and performance of these guns, but you can find the Mod.2 version online even now for $399.

Their recoil and ergonomics are also novice-friendly. My lovely bride isn’t a gun person and isn’t all that fond of most semi-auto 9mms. She prefers .38 revolvers. However, she admits she enjoys shooting the Canik TP9SA. For novices or those who will shoot to live (as opposed people like me who live to shoot), the Turkish semi-auto offers a lot of onboard boolit capacituy in an affordable package that’s beginner-friendly.

Yeah, some may think it’s boxy, or odd-looking. All I know is that fit and finish are very good and it shoots well. What more do you want (or expect) for about $400?

Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro pistol (courtesy taurususa.com)
Image via Taurus

Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro pistol

The PT-145 Millenium Pro was a predecessor to the G2c. It looks different, but it checks all the same important boxes: reliability, good trigger, a solid performer.

How does it differ from the G2c?  It’s a little clunkier in its design and wasn’t as popular. As such, there are fewer aftermarket accessories like holsters widely available. However, if you see one in a used gun case at your local gun store, I urge you to at least try it out.

These have great triggers — and trigger control is the single most important ingredient to good hits.  The specimen I hypothetically have the most experience with runs flawlessly as well. If you see these in the used gun displays or bargain bins, check it out.

Ruger SR9E

Ruger SR9E family

Like the Turkish Canik, the American-made Ruger SR9E offers great capacity and reliability for under $400. In fact, until recently, I’d seen them on sale in the low $300s. Again, the fact that these are American-made, full-sized pistols is all the more impressive. They don’t come in a fancy box with a lot of extra magazines, but they shoot well.

Unlike the old P85/P89/P90 series, these newer (since discontinued) affordable Ruger pistolas aren’t excessively bulky, or clunky. They have great triggers compared to the long, often-times lurching double-action triggers found on the older “affordable” line of Ruger handguns.

Taurus Model 85 (front)

Taurus Model 85/856 series .38 revolvers

Have you seen the price of Smith & Wesson revolvers lately? They’re approaching $700 to $800. Colts have returned as well and they’re well past $1000. Meanwhile, Taurus produces wheel guns that look and perform a whole lot like Smith & Wesson products for a fraction of the price.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the Taurus Model 85 (now the Model 856) as a great value-performer in small-frame, five-shot revolvers.

The simple, no-frills Taurus 85s used to go on sale occasionally for just under $200. Probably not now, given the strong demand for all defensive handguns, but they should still be well under $400. Taurus has replaced the Model 85 with the Model 856 line of six-shot, small-frame revolvers. Keep your eye out for used or remaining 85s for even lower prices.

I’ve had a few over the years and they have performed very well.  The stock triggers are usually pretty good, approaching that of Smith & Wessons which have set the market standard for decent revolver triggers.  What’s more, with a little gunsmithing, those triggers can be slicked up and made even better.

If the 856s are anything like their smaller brothers, then they should serve well in the self-defense role.  Given how I gave the Model 85 4-stars here, and Virgil gave the Model 856 4-1/2 stars, I’d say that’s a pretty fair assumption.

Ruger LC/EC line

The Ruger LC/EC series serve as another American-made great value.  Depending on the caliber (.380 vs. 9mm) and the model, prices can range from mid-$200s to closer to $400. Avoid the long trigger pull found on the double-action only models as they prove challenging for novice shooters. Buy the more recent striker-fired versions and you’ll be much happier.

 

Image via SCCY.com

SCCY

Another more worthy entrant into the affordable handgun niche is SCCY. Yeah, the company that half of folks reading this won’t know how to pronounce their brand name. These are another inexpensive defensive pistol that has been as low as $125 in the past couple of years, but are running roughly $200 today. Still, at $200 it’s a good value. The only downside is the long, relatively heavy-ish trigger pull.

Moving up a little in price-point, the newer SCCY lines with Crimson Trace red dot sights run about $350 including the sight!  They still have that long trigger pull but I don’t know of anywhere else you can get a good defensive handgun with a reputable red-dot sight for $350. In fact, many of the better pistol red dots sights run almost $350 or more all by themselves.

SCCY’s website talks up their newest model, the DVG1 that’s a 5.5-pound trigger that might solve the biggest drawback to the SCCY line of guns…the long, 9-pound trigger pull. The gun will likely sell at that same mid-$300 price point.

 

Bottom line:  Don’t give up hope if you can’t afford a GLOCK, SIG or S&W defensive pistol.  You can get virtually identical performance for a fraction of the price.

87 COMMENTS

      • I got my APX for $350. First time I shot it I took first in production at our local IDPA weekly. I carry it appendix and it is light, accurate, reliable and beautiful.

    • Yeah, first thing I noticed. Grateful for the article discussing, you know, actual guns, but no mention of GLOCKs, arguably the most common handgun brand?

      G17? G19? G26? G43?

      I guess they don’t make the cut anymore…

      • ….and that’s the reason I didn’t buy Glock. I can get 2+ SCCY’s for the price of a Glock. Or…I can get 2 Rugers. Both nice, work well.
        If you have a family of 5, one nice Maserati won’t do.

        • well said. the list was specifically “budget” guns. Glocks aren’t. SD9VE should have made the short list as the “GLOCKALIKE” option though.

        • Joel. The sd9ve works. I recently gave one to a person that had no gun. And some ammo. That gun cost less than 300 new.

        • My Glock 43 was barely more expensive than several on this list, and I like it better than my Ruger LC9s. I think some of the Glocks have a place in a list like this.

        • I have an SD40VE. Works great, though the quality of that first-gen polymer frame wasn’t up to today’s standards.

      • When did Glocks become high dollar guns? Even here in CA with it’s ludicrous laws designed to drive prices up the Glock 19 I have was not a high dollar gun.

        • Glocks aren’t high dollar, or budget handguns. They are great firearms in the midrange of price.

          A glock 19 is a great $500ish gun. A G2C is an outstanding $200ish gun. I think the true “budget” guns probably run $300 or less new. I have seen Shields, SD9s, and Security 9s in that price range.

          Of course budget is all relative

  1. Cheap guns used to translate to ‘Saturday night special’. One of many words and phrases that the left conjures up to scare everyone. The truth is that if it were not for control freaks in government, we would have seen high quality for less money a long time ago.

    • “Cheap” or law cost guns are made very well. And have been that way for decades now. It’s past time the “gun community” promote the use of low cost firearms. That is one way to help grow the community. The Left created the racist term “n!gger town Saturday night special” way back in the 1960s I think. That was the full title of this term. It came from a British author who never lived in the USA.

      And a kids gun. A “Little Cricket”, bolt rifle, ($125) in 22 caliber. Is better than harsh language. And a 10 year girl used her rifle to stop three home invaders.

  2. I have both a Taurus G2 and a SCCY. Both have been great with never a malfunction. I also have Taurus 856 and 605 revolvers. They have both been flawless. 357 Magnum in the 605 really gets your attention.

    • I own several Taurus pistols in several different calibers. Mostly, they’re clunky and unrefined. But they have never failed me, not in any way and not at any time. And, there once was a time when it made a difference.

      Besides, at 270 lbs. I’m a bit clunky too. I don’t mind heavy recoil from the .45 and I could care less about long trigger pulls.

      Besides, in a pinch who’s worried about trigger pull? I just want it to go bank while on target. Taurus pistols have never failed me.

  3. Well there are two I thought I wanted, but after handling them, changed my mind. The SCCY and the Ruger LC. Prefer my Mossberg MC1sc over either of these.

    • Yes but you’ve compared a $350 pistol to 2 $200 pistols.

      SCCY fulfills that needs, pull the trigger and goes bang without the need for cleaning the pistol. It’s intended for the gun owner who buys it, loads it and never cleans or oils it for 5 years but needs it to go bang when they need to to go bang.

  4. If you don’t have much money. You won’t be able to go to the range very much, and practice. And you may not be able to afford more than just the one “Introduction to Guns” class. I suggest you buy a revolver. In 22 or 32 caliber. The ammo is easier to find than 9mm. Heritage Arms single six shooters go for around $125 to $150. Or a Ruger in .327 has a six round capacity. And they can use I think 5 different size bullets.

    Revolvers are more simple to operate than a semi auto gun. Wad cutter bullets make a great choice for low velocity defensive ammo.

    Everyone should invest in Snap Caps and Dry fire practice. It’s really cheap. And its what the pro’s do to win shooting matches.

  5. A Ruger SR9 was my first pistol. At the time I couldn’t afford the Glock I wanted to I felt like I was settling for less. A few years ago I bought a Glock 34 Gen 5 and … I think I like the Ruger better.

    I’ve been carrying a S&W .30 snubby but I wanted to switch to a semi-auto. I’m going to take a look at the first Taurus you listed. Thanks!

  6. I have nothing but praise for the Taurus Millennium PT111 and G2C. Paid $199 for the PT111 and $169 for the G2C. 1500+ rounds through the PT111 and 750+ rounds through the G2C. No jams with either weapon expect if it was an operator error (example; racking twice at the range if distracted).
    What I like about the guns is:
    * Two, 12 round magazines with each gun.
    * Heavier trigger. Maybe not as much fun at the range as a lighter trigger, but I believe that it reduces the risk of an unintentional discharge.
    * Ease of cleaning and maintenance.
    * 9mm caliber. The sweet spot for my needs and comfort.
    * Light. Comfortable to carry anytime of the year. I don’t notice I’m carrying with my Alien Gear Shapeshifter holster.
    * Easy to shoot.
    * Indicator flag that tells you that there’s a round in the tube.
    * Reliable. I saw high ratings at the time I was shopping for my first one.
    * Great price. I don’t know what they sell for now, but I bought mine long before the “panic buy” of guns & ammo.

    I’ve been carrying for 3+ years and would gladly recommend the PT111 or G2C. However, buying/owning/carrying a gun is very subjective. They may not be the right fit for everyone.

  7. I was emailed an advertisement from an online store for the SCCY $350. I remember a few years ago the Gen 1 M&Ps selling that cheap and the local stores selling the SCCY for $225.

  8. If you’re looking at the Ruger LC9s or the EC9s, go with the LC9s. I have the EC9s and the sights are molded into the slide. They are spot on when shooting but once it gets low to no light out…good luck finding the front sight (even with paint on it). With the LC9s, at least one can swap the sights. Now if Ruger would bring back the LC9s Pro model, I’d dump the EC9s in a heartbeat.

    As for SCCY, I will say they have phenomenal customer service at least in my experience. As for their products…not the best or maybe it’s just the CPX-2 I own. Just mailed it off again last week for its 3rd trip back to SCCY.

    Trip 1) after about 1,200 rounds through it over the years, firing pin broke.
    Trip 2) about 300 rounds after I get it back, hammer broke.
    Trip 3) a year after trip 2 & maybe another 400 rounds through it, firing pin broke again and also noticed the ejector was broke. (Yes, the CPX will still eject shells with a broken ejector. Granted, they pretty much go straight up in the air & fall on you but…they still eject.)

    • I’m rather far sighted so finding the front sight in the daylight is near impossible for me so my EC9s is equipped with a LaserMax trigger guard laser (and still cheaper than the LC9 ). This works just fine for me. I had a G2C and gifted it to my brother… just couldn’t get used to the crappy trigger. Just bought a Taurus 605, 2 inch .38/.357 mag (similar in size to the 85, 2.5 inch 38 special) as my X-Mas present to myself. I finally got my hands on some ammo for it but have yet to take it to the range.

      • How do you like the LaserMax trigger guard laser you have? Pros/cons?

        I’ve thought about getting a laser for my EC9s but keep putting it off due to not sure which one to get and the possibility I trade the gun for something different.

        • It works very well but I would recommend spending the money for the GREEN laser. In low light the RED laser is great, but in the light of day it can be hard to pick up. The green laser is much easier to see, even in bright daylight, and seems to carry much farther down range. I love the fact that the power button falls directly under your finger while practicing normal trigger discipline. No need to think about turning it on, it’s literally at your finger tip. The only con I can think of at the moment is, after changing the battery I needed to re-zero the laser. Oh, and get a good holster so you don’t turn it on accidentally in your pocket and run the battery down.

  9. None of the above except for the Canik. The silver on the two tones tends to flake. The all black is the one to have.
    I looked for my beloved Sar9s to be on the list. Best bang for the buck out of all listed. IMO

    • Carrying a SAR9 is a perfect way to let the world know you’re a traitor to America who has also given up on your hopes and dreams.

      • And the Toyotas, BMWs, Hondas? Are the owners traitors too?

        The Army’s service pistol was a Beretta for how long?

        And which TVs/Electronics are made where?

        The M249 SAW is based on what design?

        You get the point, and as far as Sar9 goes I might seek one out to try.

        • Apples and oranges. Japan, Germany, and Italy are all current allies of the United States. Turkey may still be a member of NATO, but their strategic partnership with the USA is over. They are somewhere between friend and foe.

          You may not be able to avoid Chinese electronics easily (if at all), but you can sure avoid Turkish guns pretty easily.

  10. I don’t want one but for all their kinda’ ugly, basic blow-back operation, Hi-Point has a good reputation for service and a low price. Look up videos on YouTube of people being all mean, cruel and heartless to their Hi-Points. Wow.

    Then there’s Charter Arms. Now, my Off-Duty is an old one from the latter days of the original company and has always performed flawlessly. Of course, the CHARCO or Charter 2000 periods are not well thought of. But of the current company I’ve heard no complaints.

    No problems with my KelTec mouse gun either. Eats whatever .380 ball or JHP I feed it.

    • The only ones that are on the CA Roster of Approved Handguns are the Taurus 856 and the Hi Point 9mm/380 pistols.
      I actually own both and would trust my life to either… of course they both are backup to my Glocks and S&W .357, but they still can hold their own.
      Charter has also been great for me – my Undercover is still running like a champ after 10 years of abuse from me.

      • Some helpful chatter here on the Chart Arms brand:
        https://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=407769

        A number of people talk about only the brief period the company was known as “CHARCO” are guns to be avoided. I don’t know if that means avoided at any price or what. Never saw or touched a CHARCO.

        My Off Duty was made in Startford. It has a serial number in the 900,000’s. So my guess is no newer than 1990, as Stratford was the 1970’s and 1980’s. No shroud on the ejector, kas the transfer bar under the hammer. and original wood grips. I’ve had this one maybe ten years or so.

        Can’t see any reason to say no to a Charter Arms at a fair price, the condition and caliber being acceptable to the buyer.

        • somehow parts of that make sense.
          like the parts where you own charter arms.
          i mean, bulldog pug and all but, why are you here?

  11. The Ruger Security 9s would also be a good choice for an MSRP of (I think) $379. Been thinking about picking up a compact just for a spare gun.

    • I have a Security 9 – an early one – and love it. The trigger is fantastic and my friends who love Glocks are always raving about it when I let them shoot it. I paid $300 in the long long ago (pre-COVID).

      It’s been a great gun and I’m looking at getting a compact one when the prices return to normal levels…but folks might be ice skating in hell before that happens.

      IMHO – Security 9 should have made the list vs the discontinued SR9. It’s often overlooked but it’s great.

  12. These lists always leave out the FMK 9C1. Made in the US.. It’s basically a glock 19 with good customer service and at half the price.

  13. For those who do not know, Canik TP9 magazines work in PT111 and G2Cs.

    I have run both guns for years, and pick up new ones when on sale.

  14. I thought they might include the EAA Tanfoglio Witness (steel) 9MM, my brother bought one a couple of years ago at a great budget price, I’ve shot it a few times and it’s accurate and reliable as hell. I have looked for awhile for one to add, but none are available anywhere unless you want pay 3-4 times plus for the original MSRP !

  15. 7 guns I will never own especially the Taurus’es. Had a model 92 and a 85. They both broke while shooting. There will never be another in my inventory. A long time ago I was bitching to one of my shooting mentors about what one of his recommended guns cost and he replyed, “what is your life worth?”

    • @JIMMY JAMES
      No to all the above and you sir said it best , what’s your life worth? Same can be said about armor choices today.

    • What is your life worth?
      Well in this case it is worth whatever you can afford.
      I probably wouldn’t normally consider some of the guns in this list at all. I can afford what I really want, but not everyone is as fortunate.
      What about the person on a fixed income or in a low wage job with a spouse and kids to feed?
      Should they go without groceries, heat, and lights and put all that money down on a thousand dollar gun or should they try to buy the best they can afford without sacrificing necessities, or being belittled by range divas and gun shop snobs who think anything that cost less than a grand isn’t worthy of their attention?

      This article wasn’t about who makes the best personal defense handgun. It is about helping people who don’t have a bunch of money find something suitable to protect themselves and those they love.

      • Anon, you put that perfectly.

        I hate the comments sometimes because there are some that just can’t let it be.

        A perfectly informative article. Sorry your favorite didnt make the cut.

        Write your own damn story, I’m sure there will be plenty of pot shots from the Peanut Gallery.

  16. PT145 was part of a class action suit. I wouldn’t be recommending those to anyone. Although I had one, carried it regularly, like the size, weight, capacity and caliber. 10 rounds of 45 in a gun the size of a glock 26?! What’s not to love…
    Anyway, they quit making these years ago, why is it in the list?!

    • I was going to post the same thing. They are discontinued& defunct. Had a Millennium Pro 111&140 that ran perfectly. Both highly accurate too. I’d think Boch knew that. Obviously not…fwiw I’ve had 6 Tauruses that have been perfect. I’m not inept😏

      • Same, I’d still be carrying that pt145 had it not been for the suit. Once I heard about the suit I even TRIED to make mine go off without touching the trigger. I pulled a bullet, dumped the powder and put the primed case in chamber, flipped on the safety and the proceeded to abuse a pretty cool firearm to see if it would go off. It did not. I used a mallet, a concrete floor, I even tossed it up an unreasonable height for what would be considered a “drop”. I could not get the thing to pop. After about 10 minutes of wailing on this poor little pistol, safey ON and OFF, I stuck it out the back door, dropped the safety, squeezed the trigger and BANG, the primer popped like it was supposed to. I hated letting that one go, but the G2C they sent me is still running 100%…

  17. “Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro pistol
    These have great triggers — and trigger control is the single most important ingredient to good hits. The specimen I hypothetically have the most experience with runs flawlessly as well. If you see these in the used gun displays or bargain bins, check it out.”

    I disagree. I’ve owned one for years and it’s both ergonomic and economic (packs 10+1 .45 into a very concealable handgun). It handles recoil very well. But the trigger is far from great. It has a mile-long takeup yet it’s not heavy enough (imo) to carry without the safety engaged. It HAS a ‘double action’ but it only gets engaged if there’s a FTF, in a double-strike capability. There is no decocker, so if you prefer carry with the double action… too bad. And it’s pretty gritty anyway.

    I also had to send it back because the mag would drop by itself during firing due to a poor disconnect. They fixed it and it’s fine now but while it was recommended to me, I’d suggest other options, particularly if you can’t test fire it first.

  18. I second the praises of Taurus handguns, both semi-auto pistols and revolvers, manufactured in the last 10 to 15 years or so.

    I also want to key people into Ruger’s 9E series of full-size semi-auto handguns (chambered in 9mm Luger). They are an even less expensive version of Ruger’s SR9 series and virtually interchangeable — and identical in terms of magazines and holsters. If I remember correctly, someone that I know purchased one on sale a few years back for something like $280 brand new. And they are super-duper reliable: everyone confirms that they cycle reliably no matter what kind of 9mm factory ammunition you run in them.

    • I second your comment on the Rugers. I have the SR9E with a Spartan lazer bedside and my edc is LC9s Pro. Love the trigger on both of them!

  19. This article failed to mention Rock Island Armory out of the Philippines. Seems like they make some decent budget guns. Their model 206 revolver chambered in .38 Special has a surprisingly good trigger and, being a revolver, should reliably shoot all .38 Special factory ammunition. The best part: two years ago they would occasionally go on sale for less than $200 brand new!

  20. I agree with all of the choices except the Taurus 85. I have had 3 of them, and they were all crap; cylinders not trued (caused binding against the forcing cone), triggers that swung loosely in the frame while accomplishing nothing, and the internal parts breaking under moderate use. Mind you, these were al purchased as new guns.

    Finally, I was at the range with a friend who had just bought herself a brand new 85. I was interested to see how it performed. True to form, she fired 10 rounds out of it and, when she went to reload for her third cylinder full of ammo, the cylinder and the crane fell off of the gun on to the floor.

    When it finally returns from the Taurus Repair Shop, she’s going to trade it in for an S&W.

    • Ebd10,

      What you describe is bordering on statistically impossible.

      The only remotely plausible explanation that I can imagine is Taurus happened to have a bad manufacturing run of those revolvers and all FOUR of the revolvers that you described came from that manufacturing run. And that is getting really hard to believe.

      Having said all that, I have heard a lot of stories from people that Taurus had quality problems something like 25+ years ago. If all four of the revolvers that you described were manufactured 25+ years ago, that might explain it.

      Personally, I have handled/shot at least four Taurus revolvers and at least three Taurus semi-auto pistols and all of them have run flawlessly. If I were in need of a handgun and found a Taurus model that met my needs, I would not hesitate to buy it, especially if it was manufactured in the last 10 years.

  21. I have two Taurus handguns. A 357 revolver with a 6 inch barrel that I use for hog hunting and a .45 millennium and I love both of them. Never had a problem and accurate. Plus, I bought a few mec-gar P14 .45 mags which work in the millennium and give it 14 rounds of .45. I use those as my reload mags. They work great but are a bit heavy to be concealed carried in the firearm. So if 10 rounds isn’t enough I have 14 more to go. If 25 rounds of .45 isn’t enough then I will just hand them the pistol and call it a day.

  22. I remember seeing those G2Cs for $160 or so at PSA, but I was still shy after my previous Taurus experience.

    I’d like to see a 3-5 years later review series where the ownership, reliability, etc is summed up. Would be helpful for those of us that are sitting on the fence for too long.

    • go to youtube and search for it. LOTS of people doing “torture tests’ on those little pistolas, they are a remarkable value. Trigger IS wierd, but I wouldn’t call it bad.

      • The trigger on my G2c was uncomfortably long and seem to have a breaking point that was inconsistent. After about 350/400 rounds I simply gave it away to my brother who had no pistol of his own. I only paid around $200 w/shipping so no great loss.

  23. “….Yeah, back in the day we had those .25 caliber autos that, assuming they penetrated an attacker’s leather jacket, might only serve to seriously anger him…..”

    I knew a guy who, in the 70’s took a .25 acp square in the chest, point blank and promptly beat the crap out of the guy who shot him. He picked the bullet out of his chest with his fingers because it was still sticking out a little. I don’t think he even went to the hospital.

    I know 25’s have killed plenty of people and that may have been a fluke, but it happened.

  24. I’m partial to revolvers because of their safety and reliability, plus simple operation. My personal defensive choice is the Ruger LCR .357. Easily concealed, weighs less than a pound and every bit as accurate as my S&W 4″‘s. Down side is absolutely brutal recoil and only 5 shots, but its a trade off I can live with. And its butt ugly.

  25. My Taurus 85 has been solid. It’s not the most refined weapon I’ve ever owned, but it goes bang every time and it’s accurate at self-defense distances. Paid $215 for it out the door. Can’t complain about that.

    One pistol that didn’t make the list, but I think worth mentioning, is the Beretta APX. It’s not a budget gun in the same price range at the G2C or Ruger, but I’ve seen them at $400-430 online. That’s not much more than the Canik, and way less than what you’re gonna pay for a GLOCK or SIG these days. Darn good pistol, too.

  26. Ruger has some excellent offering and the SR 9s are great guns. They fit smaller hands often better than the Glock. Several of my family carry them.

  27. i love this website and read daily, but for the love of all that’s holy the gun industry has got to stop promoting these Turkish guns, they are NOT our friends and never will be, they hate us and everything we stand for, and yet the gun industry promotes them like crazy.

    whats next? the newest offerings from AL Qaeda Arms and Taliban Tactical?

  28. Hmm, nothing on the list I would want to own and a Taurus or SCCY I would never own.
    Best “affordable” pistol I ever bought was my SIG SP2022 but the days of them being around $300 are long gone.

    I agree with those that say the S&W SD9 VE should be on the list. I still think in more normal times a used Glock is a great way to go for a more affordable pistol. If one gets a sweet deal on a 9MM used Glock in decent condition they should be able to sell it and get their money back if they find something else they like better.

    I am kicking myself for not getting the the M&P 2.0 Compact when they were around $325 after rebate for a while during the good old days.

    The only one on this list I would recommend to someone who is looking for a more affordable pistol would be the Ruger SR series. Though not for me they seem like a solid choice as far as reliability AND customer service. If someone only wants one pistol IMO it is their best interest to get one from a company known for excellent customer service.

    When someone asks me about purchasing a new pistol I try to find more information like if they actually intend to shoot it and if so on a regular basis or not. Assuming they are not dead broke, IMO spending a little extra could mean a lot more fun for them at the range with a better pistol.

    Hard to believe that these days that 10 boxes of 9MM range ammo is worth what a lot of 9MM handguns are selling for new.

  29. I don’t go any cheaper than Glock Gen 4 / 5 or Sigs. HiPoints work, but they aren’t impressive. I’d try these, but happy with what I currently carry – Sig P365XL, Sig P365, Glock 19 Gen 5, Sig P320 AXG (my expensive carry), M&P .380 in board shorts, and a few others. Budgets happen, so I don’t look down on who carries what – and hopefully it works.

    At any rate we have bigger problems with a catastrophically anti-gun administration.

    • For some reason, I keep bumping into this $449 price point. First gun purchase was a new, in box return, Gen 3 Glock 19, $449.
      Second, a day later, was a new Beretta Nano for my wife, $449.
      Third was used, like new Mosberg 930 JM Pro, $449. Found out why it was like new. It didn’t function after two rounds so the guy took it back to the shop. That shotgun had barrel cant issues and Mossberg paid for two way shipping and did a warranty overhaul and the gun has been running strong ever since even through rigorous 3gun competitions.
      Sold the wife’s Nano and bought a new Glock 43, $449 again.
      Guess what I paid for a new Mosberg MVP Predator in 5.56? If you said $449, you are correct sir.
      The reason the wife traded the Nano for the Glock 43 is she liked the Glock trigger. I advised her that if she is only going to purse carry, she might as well pack the Glock 19. She did.
      So my streak of $449 guns ended with my choice of expensive carry guns. I’m now the proud owner of the Walther Q5 Match. Same 15 round mag well as the Glock 19 so concealment isn’t an issue with IWB holster.

  30. Good read. There are plenty of reliable guns for $300-400 thanks to improved manufacturing methods being applied to some rather mature designs. I own a few of these low cost guns (Taurus, Keltec, Ruger) and while they do get the job done (go bang and hit a target at self defense distance), they fail at something else, being fun to shoot. It may sound trivial, but a gun that is fun to shoot and allows you to stretch your skills to shooting at a farther distance and under time constrains is a better gun in the long game because your skills improve. The is the reason I spend a bit more than I have to, not because I am in fear of my life that an inexpensive gun won’t go bang.

  31. I have a few Taurus fire arms they work just like my Sigs and Bersa’s. No complaints here. To each his own . Just be prepared. Nuff said.

  32. Went to the range with a friend. I had my Glock 19 and he reluctantly and with apologies, brought his KelTec pf 9. He said “all I have is this KelTec”.
    I have never badmouthed anyone’s choice of gun so his attitude was from another source.
    I said, let me try it.
    Silhouette target at 7 yards, first shot drilled the x. Fired second shot and didn’t see another hole. I’m thinking, no way did I just put two rounds through the same hole. So I fired again, still only one hole, not a jagged hole. In disbelief, I aimed up at the #9. Drilled the number.
    Maybe I was concentrating more to get the most performance out of “just a KelTec”, but I have never, with any handgun, been able to repeat a four shot group like this.

  33. Before the madness became even crazier with Biden getting elected, I was still able to get a G3C with extra magazines and a Viridian laser separately in a special offer at Academy for well below $ 300. That said, I would suggest adding one more budget pistol to this list – the Mossberg MC1 SC. The one that I bought was a long time ago (just after the first lockdown started) and it has proven to be another superbly reliable inexpensive pistol. It is also very slim and conceals particularly well under a jacket in a shoulder holster, especially for those of us who need to wear a suit. Prices are currently up by around $ 100 over what I paid for my MC1 wherever I’ve looked in the Greater Houston and DFW areas, but that is because people have been quietly recognizing the value of the design. Most sell fast from what sales people tell me. And, no, I have no financial interest or whatever in Mossberg or in any other firearm company.

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