6 cheap guns you'd want to own
courtesy Bud's Gun Shop and Range

There are lots of cheap (or inexpensive, if you prefer) handguns, but only so many you’d actually want to have in your safe, glove box, car safe…wherever you store it. Or, for that matter, your concealed carry holster. Granted, that involves some qualifications.

What constitutes a “cheap” handgun? Materials could be a good starting point – a lot of striker-fired pistols have a certain feel to the grip and frame that is, shall we say, less than premium – but for the most part we’re talking about price point here.

Pricing, of course, is relative. What’s affordable for you may not be affordable for me. And you can spend about $350 and get a semi-automatic pistol that will run just as well as one that costs almost double that amount. Then again, some $450 handguns are a bargain with the features they come with, so price points are not always what you’d think.

Additionally, you can easily spend less than $350 and get a serviceable handgun. What’s not necessarily as easy is to get a handgun you’d actually want. Hi-Point gets little love from most people… though there are a good number of owners who report their Hi-Point run better than guns from names that are much more highly regarded. The same can be said of Kel-Tec.

That said, what are some cheap handguns that almost anyone would be happy to have? Here are seven examples, with some qualifiers.

6 Cheap Handguns You Would Actually Want To Own

First, police surplus pistols deserve mention as a sort of catch-all here, as decent police surplus models are (often) affordable handguns that have been rode hard, put away yet (and look the part), but will usually be in fine working order mechanically. Mostly you’ll find modern semi-automatic pistols, but the odd revolver thrown in there too, from time to time.

image via Baekun108

Beretta 92 pistols are quite easily found as police surplus, as the 92FS is one of the most popular duty pistols worldwide. You’ll also find quite a selection of GLOCK, Smith & Wesson and SIG Sauer pistols as well. That said, the GLOCK, Smigh and SIG pistols will typically be .40 S&W models…but not always.

There are also a great many police surplus Model 10 .38 special revolvers, and you may find the odd Model 13 (same gun but in .357 Magnum) Model 19 or Model 66.

You aren’t going to find any surplus Colt Pythons, so forget it.

Surplus police pistols aren’t always the best concealed carry guns, though you will find a good number of GLOCK 23 and 19 pistols, Sig P229s, a few P228s and so on. For most, expect to spend $400 or less, but you can plan to part with a little more for the SIGs.

6 Cheap Handguns You Would Actually Want To Own
Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro pistol (courtesy taurususa.com)

Without doubt, one of the most popular cheap handguns is the Taurus PT111 G2, which has recently been rebranded the G2C. (The “C” is for “Compact.”) A lot more people than you’d think are carrying one. Don’t let Taurus’s reputation for spotty quality control fool you. The G2C is a very affordable option for both concealed carry and home defense, available for around $300 at Cabela’s and Brownells.

6 Cheap Handguns You Would Actually Want To Own

For those looking for a single-action .45 ACP, look no further than Rock Island Armory. The word has been out for some time that they offer a lot of bang for the buck. Is their fit and finish always the best? Maybe not, but it’s better than Colt pistols were back in the day.

The GI series is bare-bones but can be had for a song, going for under $500 in most stores. If you want a GI-spec(ish) 1911 or a project gun that you can get into for not much money, it doesn’t get much better. And the options don’t end there; you can find an RIA in 9mm, 10mm, even in .22 TCM and .380.

6 cheap guns you'd want to own
courtesy mfr

The 1911 crowd is also well-served by the Remington R1 1911. The base model pistol is often found for far less than its MSRP (which is $779) would suggest. Scoring one for around $550 is very easily done. It’s also American-made, rather than being Filipino in origin, for those who care about such things. Fitment on Big Green’s 1911s is as good as some guns costing double the price and they are silly accurate for a bare-bones gun… and they don’t come with those awful GI sights.

6 cheap guns you'd want to own
courtesy mfr

If a .22 LR pistol is what you want, a lot of people consider the Browning Buckmark to be one of the best you can get. The cheapest among them starts under $400 ($389 MSRP) but can often be found for around $300 and under in most stores. The Ruger Mark IV also deserves a mention here, as they can usually be found for about the same price and are one of the .22 long rifle pistols by which others are judged.

6 Cheap Handguns You Would Actually Want To Own

The Ruger LC/EC series certainly warrants mention as well. Basically every example can be had for less than $400; less than $300 is easily done. You have your choice of .380 or 9mm pistols, though the latter will be a little larger. While the .380 ACP models can be a had for a little less, it’s recommended that you select the striker-fired versions rather than the DAO models.

6 Cheap Handguns You Would Actually Want To Own

The last (but certainly not least) cheap handgun that’s well worth the price of admission? The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. Sourcing one for less than $350 is easily done. As far as concealed carry goes, it’s one of the most popular guns for that purpose in production to date. Accurate, reliable, and far easier on the shooter than its small size would suggest… what more could you ask for?

You’ll no doubt have lots of other cheap handguns that you like better than those in this group. Sound off in the comments!

100 COMMENTS

  1. I believe that Taurus pictured would be part of the class action lawsuits / recall for not being drop safe, despite having a thumb safety.

    Maybe want to pick a newer generation.

    • +1 on the EAA witness (tangfoglio), buddy bought one a few years ago around $300. Good trigger, full rail and can swap slides for different calibers. CZ 75(ish) uses the same mags anyway. Good shooter for the price, just not alot of options for sights and such if i remember.

  2. The Heritage Rough Ryder is an inexpensive yet fun plinking handgun. It cheaply scratches the single action cowboy revolver itch, and goes nicely with a Henry lever action. I wouldn’t want to use it for defensive purposes, but for a fun gun, it is alright. Mine was $129, a couple years ago (only 22lr cylinder). I have even seen them for under $100.

    Ruger has really dropped prices on their LCP, Security 9, and EC9/LC9 lines. I’ve seen basic LCPs going for as low as $169 new. That isn’t bad, and the LCP is a decent pocket gun. AimSurplus currently has police trade in M&P40s for $259.

    • Agreed!
      I have a Rough Rider and it is a LOT of fun to shoot (cheaply) in .22lr and a downright hoot using the .22mags! The finish could be better but it reliably goes bang, the ergos are good and the price was absurdly cheap.

  3. Cheap vs inexpensive; a substantial variance in meaning.
    The later is more appropriate for this article.

    And Sam, you should have posted this article prior to Black Friday/CyberMonday weekend. Prices being offered on even more handguns (and similar story models) are below what you’ve mentioned.

  4. OTOH, I paid $229 for a new Ruger EC9 last spring. Surprisingly accurate and the recoil is tolerable for a relatively light polymer frame pistol. Though not tiny like an LCP, without the bulk (or price) of a comparable Glock, it’s still pocketable.

  5. Sccy 9mm.

    Walther Creed – 269 or less from CDNN.

    Ruger SR9c – around 300 on the some sites.

    JFrame Smiths – around 300 for many models.

    Smith SD9VE -249 on a couple of sites

    It is a buyers market right now…..enjoy while you can.

    • I bought my 642 for $280 a year and a half ago. That’s a lot of gun for that price. Lifetime s&w warranty. Very likely the highest quality firearm you can purchase for around $300.

  6. I love my shield 45 and use it for EDC. I have a tight pattern at 15 yards, never a misfire or jam in 2000+ rounds at the range. And… 45… I eagerly await all 9mm lovers flames…for some reason I am more accurate with 45. Inexpensive…. What about Charter revolvers? They look like a great value for nightstand that would make an Excelent club after emptying.

    • My Charter Pitbull had to take a trip to the factory, because the barrel kept unscrewing by itself. Seems fine now.

      My Shield 45 was affected by a bad case of mag drop. But it was cured by the new mag followers with the channels for the mag catch. It’s a great gun, but when I bought it, it wasn’t cheap. I paid $465, IIRC.

      • I’ve had two Charters, a .22 snubbie that wouldn’t keep time and a .38 that, like yours, would unscrew its own barrel. That was 25 years ago, and I can’t say what the new ones are like, but I’m pretty much soured on Charter Arms.

  7. I have 2 9mm Shields and a LC380 on my CCW card. All bought for close to $400 each. If I never get it back after a DGU, it would not be much of a loss, compared to loosing the Sig P229 Elite. But after a DGU, I would have to deal with bigger issues living in CA.

  8. My Taurus 111g2 & 709 work fine-especially the Slim. As does my cheap Maverick88. Not being inept helps. Realize Taurus ain’t a Glock…

    • YEP! PLUS 1 Here with You 10x25mm :
      Myself and I guy I turned on to shooting here at work… We say it ALL the Time, that BERSA is 1 of the Most Under Rated SemiAutos out there! Why?

      • Bersa only sold guns that broke frames for a few years, and that reputation is sticking with them for a long time after the problems were resolved. It was a nasty failure though, you could lose a finger.

    • I hear a lot of people are happy with their Bersa’s, but I know three people (myself, grandfather, cousin) who’ve had nothing but problems with them. I had a CC model, the others were standard models. Tried with all kinds of good ammo and nothing but problems with all 3!

    • ^This

      See them occasionally for $259. I have purchased four used ones over the last few years. Never paid more than $225 with at least one extra mag. All of them were nearly new condition as many see them as beginner pistols. Have one in each car (back ups to edc) and two in the cabin. They have run with zero issues and have a similar manual of arms to about ten different polymer pistols. Only gripe is finding good prices on the magazines.

    • Concur. EDC TP9SF Elite with Talon Grips. Own 3 TP9V2 & one TP40V2. Not one over $300. IMHO these have the finest striker fired trigger on the market out of the box.

    • I was suprised the caniks did not make the list as well. I own one of the tp9s and it is a great gun, as is the pt 111. And for those who don’t know Taurus g2c s work great with Canik mags. I genally carry a 2 spare mags, both Canik 20 rounders. That way I have spare mags for what er gun I carry

  9. My inexpensive but very reliable handguns are: Taurus PT-111 G2 $199, S&W SD9VE $279 (or less), Heritage Rough Rider $129 or less, Taurus TCP $199 or less, RIA 1911 in 9mm under$500 for upgraded model, Taurus 605 357 magnum $300.

  10. Yep Canik is a pistol I’d go to war with and they are crazy cheap. It shits over all the other guns on this “list.”
    The TP9SF and TP9SFX are amazing Walther clones.

  11. I think you missed a bunch of good handguns that are cheaper than most of those on your list:

    Ruger Security 9 can be found on sale new in the low $300s and has a 15+1 capacity and a 4-inch barrel. $309.99 on the interwebz. I had one, it was pretty good for the price but I was willing to pay more to get a little more and traded it in on a Glock 17 Gen 5.

    Ruger EC9s – you mention it but you don’t give clear information. You can get a EC9S in the in the lower $200s. Right now Bass Pro has them for $224.97 and Sportsman Guide has them for $209.99 for members according to the interwebz as of 26 NOV 2018 at 1356 eastern time. (I have no first-hand knowledge of “Sportsman Guide” and have never purchased from them.)

    https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/ruger-ec9s-semi-automatic-9mm-312-barrel-71-rounds?a=2180360

    Note, it is very small but still significantly larger than an LCP in .380. I have both an EC9s and a LCP II.

    Ruger LCP II can be found on sale in the low $200s new. I bought mine for $249 a year or two ago and recently I saw them cheaper, I can’t remember whether they were $219 or $229.

    All 3 of them are pretty good guns at great prices.

  12. I like my Turkish made Sarsilmaz CM9 Gen 2, (nice polymer framed CZ 75 derivative 9mm with 17 round mags) with 2 extra mags ran about $325!

  13. The best cheap gun I own is a Taurus M85. I lucked into a great deal on one last year during the height of the “Trump slump.” $215 online from Bud’s, with the bonus of Taurus running a $40 mail in rebate on that model. Wish I’d bought 2 at that price, looking back. The 85’s been a good little snubbie.

    Worst cheap gun I own so far is looking like my Taurus Spectrum. Jury is still out at this point, but I am not hopeful.

  14. We must have different definitions of “cheap”. For me, that’s under $350 NIB. Certainly that doesn’t include anything in the 1911 class, not even the SRs.

    • There are a few in that ball park. Some Phillipine and Turkish made 1911’s can be found for under $400 (RIA, ATI, TISAS, Girsan, to name a few).

  15. My Kahr CW9 was just under $400, and I have seen them for $325 on sale from time to time. It has always performed without fail. The first pistol I bought for my daughter was a Taurus Millenium Pro, which she liked and had no issues with before she sold it. She remarked that it had a large fireball and made a lot of noise when fired. She prefers her FNX 45 (though that was NOT cheap). I recently bought her an Ruger EC9 for CCW, for a touch over $200, and with a High Noon holster I was still under $300.

  16. Sig P225/P6, the original ones, not the new re-introduced one.
    They can usually be found for around 500 bucks. They made need a spring kit though!

  17. Random question… does TTAB run their cover photos through a weird filter or something? The photos are like first generation HDR filters with a ton of ambient occlusion added and frankly, it looks terrible; like someone learning to use Photoshop for the first time, or something.

    I noticed this last year on some articles and just started noticing it again in the following:

    7 Cheap Handguns You Would Actually Want To Own by Sam S
    Gun Review: Alamo Precision Rifles Custom 6.5 Creedmoor by Chris H

  18. I’d add the S&W SD-9, especially when upgraded with the Apex trigger spring kit. 15+1 of 9mm, reasonably accurate, dead reliable, and when I take it and my Glock apart side by side, there’s surprisingly little difference (the biggest is on the receipt). It’s a great, underappreciated bargain that can always be found around $300, sometimes less.

    I’ll +1 the RIA 45, mine is scary accurate and never a hiccup.

  19. I’ll probably get toasted for even daring to mention Springfield, but the XD line fits this bill nicely. It’s not hard to find them new for $350 or less.

    • If I boycotted every gun manufacturer who sucked up to anti-gun politicians I would have to give away most of my guns so you won’t get flamed by me. Beretta is the only major gun manufacturer to go tell anti-Second Amendment politicians to pound sand. It was one of the factors that led to my choice of the APX over the P320. That and the fact that unlike Sig (or Glock) Beretta doesn’t use their customers to beta test their products. They are ready to go when they hit the market.

      I still have 5 Springfield products that I am happy to own.

    • Springfield is in a tough spot. Being in an anti-gun/anti-business state like Illinois. I know I live here. My wife can’t move out of state till her son, my stepson, graduates high school. Wouldn’t be surprised if Springfield packs up shop and leaves Illinois. I believe it will be because of our high taxes and not as much as the anti 2nd amendment that the state govt takes. It is only going to get worse though. The Dim Democrats in the state have a super majority in the Illinois General Assembly come January, so I am sure we will see more taxes, and more gun control. I didn’t really have the money with Christmas coming up but I went and got my AR-15 lower for my .458 SOCOM build because I am afraid of what legislation they are going to pass. Also have my friends in Missouri on standby whom I can transfer any firearms that I own that the anti-gunners might ban without grandfather clauses.

  20. In truth there are a boatload of affordable reliable handguns. No need to buy a Hipoint or a Jimenez…choice is good.

  21. Own a couple of Bersa Thunder pistols that I picked up for under $300 each. Definitely inexpensive, but not cheaply made. Extremely happy with both pistols.

  22. I picked up my lcp for $189, and my favorite 380 is my s&w bodyguard I think I got for $220 after a rebate. I also see Ruger security 9s for $299 locally. I like “cheap” guns, I have a pile of Jennings and hi points and Phoenix, but there are plenty of great guns in the $200 price range. Low price used to mean junk, but anymore the price difference between junk and fair quality is so small there is no reason to trust your life to a questionable gun

  23. If I didn’t have my EDC and was jn “the situation”, I’d take about anything that was reputed to go BANG! if I squeezed/jerked/yanked/pulled/manipulated the trigger.

  24. In August I bought a S&;W M&P 9c 2.0 4″ for $350. 00 , this included a logo hat and t-shirt, range bag, 3 , 15 rd.mags and 2 X-grips for 17 rd. magazines.

  25. You should include the Bersa TPR9c on this list. It is my EDC. It is only ~$389.00 and it has the absolutely easiest takedown ever! It is also extremely easy to shoot. I love the pistol. It has eaten everything I have put through it.

  26. An Astra A100 is a reliable 9mm that can be had for around 250 bucks. Trigger sucks in DA but it’s a good carry gun you can forfeit after a DGU.

    Carry guns need to be disposable not heirlooms.

  27. Surplus is a good cheap option. Other than expensive hard to find magazines the Star BM is a great deal for $180-200. It’s a Browning single action halfway between the 1911 and the Hi-Power with a good trigger and several thousand ex Guardia Civil items in Century’s warehouse.

  28. My favorite and inexpensive gun I keep by my bed is an early import, (B-West) IJ70, Russian Makarov, converted to .380 Auto. Paid all of approx. $160 + tax, title & license, back in the day. Totally reliable workhorse, not to mention accurate!

    (hard chromed lower & barrel, blued slide)

  29. King’s Firearms has $470 H&K USP45 police trade ins with 3 mags and (dim) tritium sights. I can’t think of a pistol under $500 I’d rather have!

    • You have my attention! I packed a USP. 40 for a long while. It was a behemoth to conceal, but ran like a champ, was more accurate than I was and built like a tank, with better machining. I miss that pistol.

      • I carry the USP45 fullsize concealed all the time. I use a Crossbreed holster on an Andrews Custom Leather belt with an Andrews single mag carrier. The belt is so rigid I don’t even feel the weight and all I need is a loose golf shirt over it. I’ve also carried it the way I originally bought it, as an Elite with the 6″ barrel and long slide, in an Andews OWB holster. THAT’s kinda clunky, need a long Cuban shirt over it and it bumps my elbow. You’re right about accurate, I can consistently ring a steel torso at 100 yards with the standard slide, 160 yards with the longer sight radius on the long slide.

  30. “Is their fit and finish always the best? Maybe not, but it’s better than Colt pistols were back in the day.”

    So…we’re all just gonna ignore this line?

  31. The Socialist People’s Republic of Massachusetts….2 WAL-MART TeeBall Bats near front door and bedroom. TTAG photo of firearms Emporium only a dream in this ANTI-second Amendment state…

  32. I’ve never really had much use for cheap handguns, both having the resources and the desire to get along with fewer guns of higher quality. That said, I do appreciate bargains on good guns, and those are usually what are pressed into rough use or questionable storage when needed…such as police trade in SW mod 10s or used Glocks…but really, outside of a dress primary, an EDC primary, a farm/rough out primary, a secondary, a truck gun, a bedside gun, one for my seat on the couch, one for the bathroom and one for the barn…what other handguns could a person need?

    • oh my god. another one of these guys.
      you know price does not denote quality.
      but thanks for bragging on urself
      douche

      • Ouch! Were you looking for someone to insult or just failing reading comprehension today? I noted that I have fewer guns because I spent more on them, so not exactly bragging here. I don’t think there is much of an argument that SW and Glock tend to be of better quality that Taurus and Kel Tec, regardless of price. The last part is on me, the litany of handguns one “needs” was a coy joke about how PoTG tend to end up with many more guns than strictly necessary, but perhaps the joke was a bit too coy at that.

    • I bought a mid range model 3 years ago for 600. The only mod I made to it was an extended slide release. Its a fantastic gun. I have a friend that is a Colt fanatic, and he loves the RIA. I have used it in 5 competition shoots, and took second or third in all of them. They are fantastic guns.

  33. I can vouch for the Rock Island 1911 in .45 ACP. I think I paid right at $500 for a Government model and put well over a 1k rounds through it with no failures of any kind. It literally eats anything you put through it. Fit and finish aren’t the greatest but I believe they’re made on Colt tooling. A well made all steel pistol for a reasonable price.

  34. The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield is a bargain, the first one I picked up for under $200 after rebate! I liked it but then I upgraded to a Kimber micro 9 which was just a little bit smaller and prettier as my everyday carry when I found a sale. I sold the S&W to my daughter’s boyfriend and he likes it a lot. Then I bought one for my daughter too because she liked shooting his.

  35. Enjoyed the list and the reader’s comments. Always looking to learn from others. Most have their favorite “cheap” gun. On “Black-Friday,” I got a Taurus G2c out the door for $185 at Academy. Looks great. Feels really good in the hands. 12 round magazine (2 mags in the box). For me, the safety switch is not an issue. Sights are fine. The trigger is not the best, but with practice, it shoots well. Just give yourself time getting use to the trigger. It’s worth it. The Taurus G2c is almost the same size of the Walther PPS M2 that I got at Rural King for $319 + tax (6 rd and 7 rd mags). Personally, the Walther is a step up in quality. At $319, I would suggestion looking into it as an option. Both fire-arms are easy to conceal. Note: as I understand, the Taurus has a 1 year warranty. The Walther has a life time warranty. With all the “social media” and political challenges we face as lawful firearm owners, we are blessed in America to have many firearm options. Thank the Lord for ALL of our Constitutional Rights. God Bless America.

  36. In addition to the Ruger EC9, I’ll also nominate the S&W SD9VE, Beretta 92s and Bersa 380 for this list, and add the Yugo M57. This reliable, all-steel Soviet modification of a classic Browning design that shoots a very powerful cartridge, is a bargain at around $200. The numbers of these TT pistols made by different countries over many decades means parts are not too expensive or hard to find, though the higher cost and less common ammo may be a turn off for some.
    Plus the Star BM, if you can get one for around $200.
    I paid a bit more for my near-NIB example. But the beautiful blued finish on mine wouldn’t make it the best choice for a barn/trunk gun. However, it’s OK for the nightstand and a superb shooter.

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