Due to my domestic situation, I have never felt comfortable spending a lot of money on guns. For me, $500 has always been “a lot of money.” My first real carry gun was an East German Makarov that I got for a couple of hundred dollars. I used to tote that and sometimes a 9mm Stallard Arms boat anchor. The Mak eventually wound up going to my oldest son, but in the meantime I had bought a Polish P-64 in 9×18 for about $250 . . .
It was originally bought, oddly enough, to give that same son a platform to use to make wooden grips that he sold over the ‘net. He made the maple-trimmed walnut grips on the gun now.
I carry the P-64 in a BLACKHAWK! pocket holster that set me back all of $10-$15 and it fits in the front pocket of pretty much every pair of pants I wear, with little to no printing. For where I am and what I do, it’s plenty of gun, solid and reliable, and I wouldn’t trade it for another (seriously, I can’t, what with those special-for-me grips it sports).